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The McCandless Family
Of
Florence, Colorado

Few families in American history can match the rich heritage of the McCandless Family of Florence, Colorado. The accomplishments of three generations, including one who earned the Medal of Honor, are virtually unmatched in U.S. Naval history. Not withstanding the accomplishments of the McCandless men, the city itself is named for Florence McCandless.

Commodore Byron McCandless

The McCandless Family moved to what is now Florence in the late 1800's where the family patriarch operated a hardware store. His son Byron, who had been born September 5, 1881 at Endicott, Nebraska, left Florence to attend the Colorado School of Mines and then the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he graduated in 1905.

In his early Naval career he cruised around the world with the Great White Fleet, and later was flag lieutenant and aide to Rear Admiral Charles J. Badger, Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet. During 1915-1917, he was aide to the Chief of Naval Operations William S. Benson and to the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

During World War I, as Commanding Officer of the destroyer U.S.S. Caldwell, Commander McCandless was awarded the Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor. His citation reads:

For distinguished service in the line of his profession as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Caldwell, engaged in the important, exacting and hazardous duty of patrolling the waters infested with enemy submarines and mines, in escorting and protecting vitally important convoys of troops and supplies through these waters, and in offensive and defensive action, vigorously and unremittingly prosecuted against all forms of enemy naval activity.

Following World War I he was Executive Officer of battleship KANSAS, commanded Destroyer Division 30, and was aide and Operations Officer for Destroyer Squadrons of the Scouting Fleet. During this period his research into vexillogy, the study of flags, marked him the foremost authority on flags in the world, and he was proclaimed as such by National Geographic magazine after writing nearly the entirety of the October 1917 issue of that magazine.

Commodore McCandless commanded fleet oiler BRAZOS during 1927-1928, then attended the Naval War College before serving as Director of the Training Division, Bureau of Navigation. He headed the Branch Hydrographic Office at Boston, completed another advanced course at the Naval War College, then served as Chief of Staff for Destroyers, Battle Force, 1935-1937.

He was commanding the Destroyer Base at San Diego when transferred to the Retired List on 30 June 1940 but continued on active duty as Commandant of the Naval Repair Base throughout World War II. His achievement in this command was recognized by the award of the Legion of Merit for outstanding service that insured the success of an unprecedented program of far-reaching significance in many diverse fields. This included the repair of ships, training and housing of personnel, and the post-war berthing and preservation of ships. His further contribution to the war effort included experimentation with infra-red rays for use as recognition signals between darkened ships; construction of Fleet Schools for handling 2,700 men simultaneously and the development and installation of audio-visual aid devices for instructional purposes.

He provided facilities for such activities as the Armed Guard school which trained 45,000 men; the training of 31,000 men for repairing some 400 ships each month; and the addition of five piers and a cruiser graving dock. He also invented the "Jeheemy", a rescue apparatus used to salvage hundreds of small craft wrecked on invasion beachheads. His foresight, initiative and brilliant leadership resulted in extraordinary service that contributed materially to the successful prosecution of the war.

Six weeks after the end of World War II President Harry S Truman held a press conference during with he introduced both a re-design of the official Presidential Flag which had been designed at President Roosevelt's request by the world's foremost expert on flags, Commodore Byron McCandless of Florence, Colorado.

Press Conference by President Harry S Truman October 25, 1945

I have a new Presidential flag, Executive order for which will be issued. President Roosevelt had ordered the Navy Department to go to work on a new flag just before he died, and I thought maybe you might be interested in the history of the Presidential flag and the Presidential seal; and I have got a release for you in mimeographed form on that.

[To General Vaughan] Now raise that flag up, there. This flag here--in President Wilson's time there were two flags for the President, an Army flag for the President with a red star and a Navy flag for the President with a blue star.

President Wilson ordered a single flag for the President, and this was the result of that--[General Vaughan displays flag]--with the white eagle facing toward the arrows, which is the sinister side of the heraldic form, and no color.

This new flag--[to General Vaughan]--if you will raise that one up, now you will see--you can see the difference. It will all be explained in the release which you will get. This new flag faces the eagle toward the staff which is looking to the front all the time when you are on the march, and also has him looking at the olive branches for peace, instead of the arrows for war; and taking the 4 stars out of the corner and putting 48 stars around the Presidential seal. You will get a release that will tell you all about it, and the why and the wherefore.

The release contained the text of Executive Order 9646 "Coat of Arms, Seal, and Flag of the President of the United States" (October 25, 1945, 3 CFR, 1943-1948 Comp., p. 445), together with background material reading in part as follows:

The Executive order establishes for the first time a legal definition of the President's coat of arms and his seal. The design of the coat of arms and the seal has been changed slightly from the former design, and the Presidential flag has also been changed. The flag will consist of the coat of arms in full color, surrounded by 48 white stars on a blue field.

The former Presidential flag was adopted in 1916 by President Wilson. Prior to that time, the Army and the Navy had had separate flags for the Commander in Chief. President Wilson instructed his Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the Aide to the Secretary of the Navy, Commander Byron McCandless, USN, to design a Presidential flag which would be suitable for use by both the Army and the Navy. On May 29, 1916, President Wilson signed an Executive order adopting the flag suggested by Assistant Secretary Roosevelt and Commander McCandless. The flag consisted of the Presidential coat of arms on a blue field with a white star in each of the corners. That flag was in use from 1916 until today.

In March of this year, President Roosevelt discussed with his Naval Aide, Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, the advisability of changing the President's flag. It seemed inappropriate to President Roosevelt for the flag of the Commander in Chief to have only four stars when there were five stars In the flags of Fleet Admirals and Generals of the Army, grades which had been created in December 1944.

It was natural that President Roosevelt should turn at this time to the officer who had worked with him in 1916, and who now holds the rank of Commodore, Byron McCandless.

For many years Commodore McCandless, who now commands the U.S. Naval Repair Base at San Diego, Calif., has studied the histories of the various flags of the United States. When Vice Admiral Brown wrote to him, at President Roosevelt's request, late In March for suggestions for a new design for the President's flag, Commodore McCandless prepared several designs based upon early American flags. His proposed designs arrived in Washington after the death of President Roosevelt and the President did not have the opportunity of seeing them until early in June.

The President and members of his staff examined them carefully and, preferring one design to the others, the President made several suggestions to Commodore McCandless concerning it. The President believed that all of the States in the Union should be represented on the Commander in Chief's flag, and he asked Commodore McCandless to submit a new design with a circle of 48 stars around the coat of arms.

Commodore McCandless sent a painting of the proposed flag, with the circle of 48 stars, to the White House in July and when the President returned from Berlin in August, he tentatively approved that design.

It was then sent to the War and Navy Departments for comment and suggestions. The Chief of the Heraldic Section of the Office of the Quartermaster General of the Army, Mr. Arthur E. DuBois, like Commodore McCandless, has studied the history of flags and heraldic emblems for many years. Mr. DuBois made several suggestions to the President. He pointed out that there was no known basis In law for the coat of arms and the seal which has been used by Presidents since 1880 and which was reproduced on the flag. The seal had originated during the administration of President Hayes, apparently as an erroneous rendering of the Great Seal of the United States.

It is a curious fact that the eagle on the Great Seal faces to its own right, whereas the eagle on the seal in use by Presidents since 1880 faces to its own left. According to heraldic custom, the eagle on a coat of arms, unless otherwise specified in the heraldic description, is always made to face to its own right. There is no explanation for the eagle facing to its own left In the case of the President's coat of arms. To conform to heraldic custom, and since there was no authority other than usage for the former Presidential coat of arms, the President had Mr. DuBois redesign the coat of arms in accordance with the latter's suggestions.

In the new coat of arms, seal and flag, the eagle not only faces to its right--the direction of honor--but also toward the olive branches of peace which it holds in its right talon. Formerly the eagle faced toward the arrows in its left talon-arrows, symbolic of

The President also decided that the eagle on his seal and his flag should appear in the full color of the natural bird as is customary in most flags, rather than in white appear as it had been on the former flag.

The 48 stars in the circle represent the States collectively; no single star represents any particular State.

Now I am ready for questions.

In addition to the re-designed Presidential Flag, also introduced at that press conference was a new addition to Presidential protocol, the official Seal of the President of the United States, also designed by Commodore Byron McCandless.

Seal of the President of the United States

Seal of the President of the United States

The designs of the present Presidential Coat-of-arms, Flag and Seal were adopted by Executive Order of President Harry S Truman on October 25, 1945, from proposals requested of Commodore Byron McCandless by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who died on April 12, 1945 before the designs arrived in Washington, D.C. President Truman suggested the addition of the forty-eight stars. Commodore McCandless' painting with the stars in a circle around the eagle was submitted to the War and Navy Departments for approval. The final design was drawn under the supervision of Arthur E. DuBois, Chief Heraldic Consultant of the Office of the Quartermaster General of the Army.

Commodore Byron McCandless again transferred to the Retired List on 25 September 1946. His book So Proudly We Hail, Smithsonian Press, is still the most frequently cited reference on flags available. Commodore McCandless died 30 May 1967 at Mariposa, California.

 

Rear Admiral Bruce McCandless

Commodore Byron McCandless' Naval Career took him around the world with few opportunities to return home to Florence. His son Bruce McCandless was born August 12, 1911 at Washington D.C. Bruce McCandless followed in his father's footsteps, attending the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he graduated in 1938.

Following graduation Bruce McCandless served with Scouting Squadron 11-S in cruiser INDIANAPOLIS, and in destroyer CASE. Upon completion of a General Line course at Annapolis, 1938-1939, he became Communications Officer of cruiser U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38). He was serving in that famed cruiser at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese made their infamous raid.

Then a Lieutenant Commander, McCandless continued to serve aboard the U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO as she helped protect fast carrier task groups guarding reinforcements to the Samoan Islands, conducting raids at New Guinea, and giving direct support to the Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings in the Solomons. His ship fought to victory in the Battle of Cape Esperance to spare Marines on Guadalcanal from a fierce naval bombardment, then endured a savage action to repel enemy aircraft attacking transports off Guadalcanal.

The flagship of a cruiser-destroyer task group under Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan, U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO led the formation the night of November 13 14,1942, to intercept a Japanese raiding force of 2 battleships, 1 light cruiser and 14 destroyers steaming south with orders to bombard and knock out the Henderson Field in Guadalcanal. Well-aimed salvos found their mark on both Japanese battleships before U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO came under fire from three directions and was so damaged that she temporarily lost power and steering control. As she slowed from 17 knots, enemy shells exploded on the navigating bridge and flag-bridge killing Rear Admiral Callaghan and all but one of his staff.

Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless found himself the senior officer on the bridge and took command to continue to fight to the finish. His cruiser was caught between two columns of enemy ships, sustaining 45 separate hits by heavy shells and countless fragment and machine gun hits. Though he was seriously wounded, Lieutenant Commander McCandless boldly continued to direct gunfire at the enemy on every side and led the task group to victory. When the desperate sea fight ended, 3 enemy destroyers were damaged, two sunk, and the rudderless battleship HIEI so damaged that aircraft were able to sink her the next day.

Henderson Field was again saved from bombardment. Air operations from that field on the next day disposed of 11 troop-laden enemy transports. Despite the serious damage and great loss of life on board, U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO lived to fight again. Her temporary commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his supreme courage and superb leadership that resulted in victory in the face of overwhelming odds in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (12-13 November 1942). He was also given a meritorious promotion to the rank of Commander in recognition of this achievement.

 

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
To

McCANDLESS, BRUCE

Rank and Organization: Commander, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. San Francisco. Place and Date: Battle off Savo Island, 1213 November 1942. Entered Service at: Colorado. Born: 12 August 1911, Washington, D.C. Other Navy Award: Silver Star.

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and exceptionally distinguished service above and beyond the call of duty as communication officer of the U.S.S. San Francisco in combat with enemy Japanese forces in the battle off Savo Island, 12-13 November 1942. In the midst of a violent night engagement, the fire of a determined and desperate enemy seriously wounded Lt. Comdr. McCandless and rendered him unconscious, killed or wounded the admiral in command, his staff, the captain of the ship, the navigator, and all other personnel on the navigating and signal bridges. Faced with the lack of superior command upon his recovery, and displaying superb initiative, he promptly assumed command of the ship and ordered her course and gunfire against an overwhelmingly powerful force. With his superiors in other vessels unaware of the loss of their admiral, and challenged by his great responsibility, Lt. Comdr. McCandless boldly continued to engage the enemy and to lead our column of following vessels to a great victory. Largely through his brilliant seamanship and great courage, the San Francisco was brought back to port, saved to fight again in the service of her country.

 

Commander McCandless remained on the U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO as she helped drive the enemy from the Aleutians and assisted in the capture and occupation of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. Detached from the cruiser 8 March 1944, he took command of destroyer GREGORY which supported the capture of Iwo Jima and shot down 6 enemy aircraft during combat operation off Okinawa. Commander McCandless was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry while commanding GREGORY off Okinawa 1-8 April 1945. His ship provided anti-aircraft protection to ships in the transport area and served on radar picket stations during this period.

On 8 April 1945, four enemy suicide planes attacked. Two were destroyed and a third driven off but a fourth crashed into his ship. Commander McCandless skillfully directed his men to quickly control damage so that his destroyer was able to drive off further attacks and return to port. GREGORY was routed to San Diego where her crushed and torn hull was repaired under the direction of the father of the commanding officer, Commodore Byron McCandless.

Commander Bruce McCandless was detached from GREGORY in October 1945. He served as Assistant Chief of Staff for the Naval Operating Base at Terminal Island, California, until October 1946. After heading the District Affairs Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, he commanded Mine Division Two. In June 1950 he was ordered to the Naval Academy for duty in the Executive Department. Having been promoted to the rank of Captain, he transferred to the Retired List 1 September 1952 and advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral on the basis of combat awards.

He died at Washington, D.C., on 24 January 1968.

FF-1084 Silhouette

U.S.S. McCandless (FF-1084)

The USS McCandless (FF-1084), a warship of 4,200 tons (full load), length 438 feet, built by the Avondale Shipyard, Westwego, Louisiana, and commissioned March 18, 1972, was named in honor of Commodore Byron McCandless and his son Rear Admiral Bruce McCandless. It is one of those unique instances, rare in Naval history, when a ship has been named for two individuals. The ship was placed in reserve status in 1991. On May 6, 1994 she was decommissioned and transferred the Turkish Navy as TCG Trakya (F-254).

 

Captain Bruce McCandless, II

When Bruce McCandless, II, graduated second in his class of 899 cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958 he became the third consecutive generation of the McCandless Family to graduate from that institution to embark upon a distinguished Naval Career.

He received flight training from the Naval Aviation Training Command at bases in Pensacola, Florida, and Kingsville, Texas. He was designated a naval aviator in March of 1960 and proceeded to Key West, Florida, for weapons system and carrier landing training in the F-6A Skyray. He was assigned to Fighter Squadron 102 (VF-102) from December 1960 to February 1964, flying the Skyray and the F-4B Phantom II, and he saw duty aboard the USS FORRESTAL (CVA-59) and the USS ENTERPRISE (CVA(N)-65), including the latter's participation in the Cuban blockade. For three months in early 1964, he was an instrument flight instructor in Attack Squadron 43 (VA-43) at the Naval Air Station, Apollo Soucek Field, Oceana, Virginia, and then reported to the Naval Reserve Officer's Training Corps Unit at Stanford University for graduate studies in electrical engineering.

He was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 14 mission and was backup pilot for the first manned Skylab mission (SL-1/SL-2). He was a co-investigator on the M-509 astronaut maneuvering unit experiment which was flown in the Skylab Program, and collaborated on the development of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) used during Shuttle EVAs. He has been responsible for crew inputs to the development of hardware and procedures for the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), Space Telescope, the Solar Maximum Repair Mission, and the Space Station Program.

A veteran of two space flights, McCandless has logged over 312 hours in space, including 4 hours of MMU flight time. He flew as a mission specialist on STS-41B (February 3-11, 1984) and STS-31 (April 24-29, 1990).

STS-41B Challenger, launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on February 3, 1984. The crew on this tenth Space Shuttle Mission included Mr. Vance Brand (spacecraft commander), Commander Robert L. Gibson, USN, (pilot), and fellow mission specialists, Dr. Ronald E. McNair, and Lt. Col. Robert L. Stewart, USA. The flight accomplished the proper shuttle deployment of two Hughes 376-series communications satellites. Rendezvous sensors and computer programs were flight tested for the first time. This mission marked the first checkout of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), and Manipulator Foot Restraint (MFR). McCandless made the first, untethered, free flight on each of the two MMU's carried on board (the first unthethered spacewalk in history) and alternated with Stewart in the activities constituting two spectacular extravehicular activities (EVAS). The German Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS), Remote Manipulator System (RMS), six Getaway Specials, and materials processing experiments were included on the mission. The 8 day orbital flight of Challenger (OV-099) culminated in the first landing on the runway at the Kennedy Space Center on February 11, 1984. With the completion of this flight McCandless logged 191 hours in space (including 4 hours of MMU flight time).

STS-31 Discovery, launched on April 24, 1990, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery included Col. Loren J. Shriver, USAF, (spacecraft commander), Col. Charles F. Bolden, USMC, (pilot), and Dr's. Steven A Hawley, and Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan (mission specialists). During this 5 day mission, the crew deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, and conducted a variety of middeck experiments involving the study of protein crystal growth, polymer membrane processing, and the effects of weightlessness and magnetic fields on an ion arc. They also operated a variety of cameras, including both the IMAX in cabin and cargo bay cameras, for earth observations from their record setting altitude of 380 miles. Following 76 orbits of the earth in 121 hours, STS-31 Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on April 29, 1990.

Bruce McCandless, II earned a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1965, and a master's degree in Business Administration from the University of Houston at Clear Lake in 1987. He is a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association (Class of 1958), the U.S. Naval Institute, the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers, the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the National Audubon Society; fellow of the American Astronautical Society, and former president of the Houston Audubon Society.

Captain McCandless' military decorations include: Legion of Merit (1988); Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1985); National Defense Service Medal; American Expeditionary Service Medal; NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1974); American Astronautical Society Victor A. Prather Award (1975 & 1985); NASA Space Flight Medal (1984); NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (1985); National Aeronautic Association Collier Trophy (1985); Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum Trophy (1985). Awarded one patent for the design of a tool tethering system that is currently used during Shuttle "spacewalks."

After retiring from the Navy Captain McCandless returned to Colorado, and currently makes his home in Conifer.

 

Willis Winter Bradley

 

As if all of this were not more than enough to illustrate the great service of the McCandless family to the United States and to the United States Navy, Bruce McCandless, II's maternal grandfather was Commander Willis Winter Bradley who was a Naval Academy classmate of Byron McCandless, graduating one year behind him. During World War I then Lieutenant Bradley was the first American of any branch of service to earn the Medal of Honor in that war. Following his own distinguished Naval Career, Commander Bradley served in the Eightieth U.S. Congress as a representative from California. He died August 27, 1954.

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