Graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1908, he served aboard the battleship USS Nebraska in the Great White Fleet. Annapolis in 1908. Becoming an ordnance specialist, he received advanced technical training at the Naval Postgraduate School, and was the gunnery officer of USS Arizona in the First World War. 
After the war, he graduated from the Naval War College, he graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1913 and served as gunnery officer on USS Arizona during the First World War. He graduated from the Naval War College in 1930, commanded cruiser USS Indianapolis in 1937-1938, and served as naval attaché in Rome and Belgrade, then commanded a destroyer squadron at the end of 1941.
Early Second World War
Promoted to rear admiral, he accompanied Frank Jack Fletcher's Reinforcement of Wake Island, and believed it was the correct decision for Admiral Pye to recall it. and was present as prospective commanding officer with Fletcher's task force in the abortive Wake expedition.
I am extremely glad that Pye and Fletcher made what I consider to be sound decisions in those very difficult circumstances.... By their decisions they prevented the useless sacrifice of valuable ships which later was action with our enemy in circumstances of vital importance.