Ernest J. King’s long military career began by him asking to be placed on a ship in the Spanish American war, instead of heading out on leave with the rest of his freshman Naval Academy class. He definitely had the best after leave story when he and his class returned for sophomore year.
King joined the Naval Academy in 1897. However, The USS Maine blew up in the Havana Harbor in the beginning of 1898. The midshipmen, or cadets, stayed with their studies until April.
The U.S. officially declared war. The seniors at Annapolis were sent to the ships to serve as midshipmen, and the juniors went if they passed their exams.
All of the lower level classmen went home for leave. King wanted to serve. Four other classmates went with him to Washington to petition for a fleet assignment. He was sent to serve on the USS San Francisco.
The ship was a patrol ship guarding the ports cities and surrounding waters. The San Francisco even went to Havana Harbor to stop the Spanish ships. The ships exchanged fire, but the San Francisco eventually withdrew.
Launching Point For A Promising Career
The fight was short, but King received two medals for the skirmish, the Spanish Campaign Medal and the Sampson Medal. All who served in the short war received the Campain Medal, but the second was reserved for the sailors who were under the command of Rear Adm. William T. Sampson.
King went on to serve in World War. After the war, he served on submarines. Later he became an aviator and was in charge of the USS Lexington.
He made quite the name for himself by the time World War II came around. He was an incredibly experienced sailor and was also one of the only men to make fleet admiral, only three other also achieved that rank.