Herbert Victor Wiley, Rear Admiral, born May 16, 1891, Wheeling, MO.
He was appointed a midshipman at the USNA in 1911. In January 1944,
Capt. Wiley, assumed command of the USS West Virginia.
Under his command the ship participated in the liberation of the
Philippines where the invasion of Leyte in October 1944 saw the first
landing of the United States troops. On October 25, the West Virginia
participated in the Battle of Surigao Strait. The first battleship to
fire, she hit a Japanese battleship 13 miles away on the first salvo
and fired more rounds than any other battleship. Later, under Wiley's
command, the Wee Vee saw action at the landing on Mindoro and shelled
the coast at Lingayen Gulf during landings there.
For "extraordinary heroism" as commanding officer during the action of
Surigao Strait, Adm. Wiley was awarded the Navy Cross. The citation
reads in part, "A brilliant and fearless leader,
Capt. Wiley conducted a vigorous and unrelenting attack against the
Japanese in the face of intense opposition, thereby rendering
invaluable assistance in sinking 10 hostile combatant vessels,
including two of the enemy's powerful battleships. His expert
seamanship, indomitable spirit and unwavering devotion of duty during
combat contributed to the success of a significant naval battle."
During naval operations at Iwo Jima during February and March 1945,
Capt. Wiley brought the West Virginia in so close to the beach that
medium caliber guns were able to be used against the entrenched enemy's
bunkers and caves. For this and the Philippine action, Capt. Wiley was
awarded the Legion of Merit, "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in
the performance of outstanding services during operations against enemy
Japanese forces." At Iwo, Capt. Wiley "fought off repeated heavy enemy
air attacks throughout this extended combat and, maintaining superb
control of his gallant ship, delivered devastating barrages of heavy
caliber fire against hostile installations and troop concentrations."
Still under Wiley's command, the West Virginia moved on to Okinawa and
was hit by a kamikaze on April 1, 1945, but was not taken out of
action. During 30 days and nights, Capt. Wiley remained on the bridge.
For his achievements in this campaign he was awarded the Bronze Star
for "heroic achievement against enemy Japanese forces at Okinawa, from
March 25 to April 20, 1945." During the pre-assault bombardment of
Okinawa and in supporting operations following the amphibious landings,
"Capt. Wiley skillfully maneuvered through dangerous navigational
waters within unusually close range of the island and, with his vessel
exposed to intense fire and enemy shore guns, delivered prolonged and
effective point-blank, counter-battery fire against Japanese
installations." Capt. Wiley led the ship in "fighting off repeated
aerial attacks and, maintaining his vulnerable positions despite the
constant threat of enemy planes, suicide boats and midget submarines,
[and] provided devastating barrages to cover special off-shore
operations and to support the ground units combating a ruthless and
Rear Adm. Wiley was commissioned ensign upon graduation from the USN
Academy in June 1915. On Feb. 5, 1925, Wiley was designated a naval
aviator (lighter than air) and subsequently served aboard the rigid
airship USS Shenandoah and the USS Los Angeles which he commanded from
May 1929-April 1930. He served as executive officer aboard the airship
USS Akron until her loss off Barnegat Light, NJ, on April 4, 1933. He
was the only officer to survive the crash.
In June 1934, Capt. Wiley assumed command of the airship USS Macon,
sister-ship of the Akron. The Macon was lost in the Pacific off Point
Sur, CA, on Feb. 12, 1935. Wiley was commended
by the Secretary of the Navy for his handling of the ship during the
emergency and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for swimming
to the rescue of a fellow officer.
Rear Adm. Wiley served aboard and commanded a number of other surface
ships and was several times an instructor at the USN Academy where he
later served as head of the electrical engineering department. At the
outbreak of WWII, Wiley was commander of Destroyer Sqdn. 29 under Adm.
Thomas C. Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet. A daring attack by the
aging destroyers under Wiley's command temporarily stalled the Japanese
and Balikapan, Borneo and in the Battle of the Makassar Strait on Jan.
24, 1942, his destroyers made a night torpedo attack which inflicted
heavy damage on an enemy convoy. Under Wiley's command the destroyers
continued to fight in the Battle of Java Sea before withdrawing to
Retiring from the USN in 1947, Rear Adm. Wiley became a professor in
the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
He passed away in California in May 1954.
Reprinted with permission from Turner Publishing
Herbert V. Wiley was the captain of the USS West Virginia from
January 14, 1944 until May 2, 1945. After leaving the USS West
Virginia, he was the CO of the US Naval Facility at Trinidad where he
suffered a heart attack and retired. He became assistant dean of
engineering at UC Berkeley. He passed away during a lecture trip to
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