Skip to main content

Halsey, William F.

Halsey, William F. (1882–1959) fleet admiral, U.S. Navy, World War II.Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Halsey graduated from the Naval Academy in 1904. In the 1930s, he learned to fly and became a leading advocate of carrier warfare. During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was at sea, commanding the carrier Enterprise. In the spring of 1942, he helped orchestrate a series of carrier raids in the Pacific against enemy strongholds, including the famous James Doolittle bomber attack on Tokyo. Later, as commander of the South Pacific theater in 1942–44, he directed forces that captured Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and several other key islands in the Solomons.

During and after the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 1944), Halsey was criticized for sailing his fleet northward in pursuit of enemy decoy carriers and leaving the San Bernardino Straits open to defended attack by a main enemy force. Later that year, he was again questioned for heading into a typhoon and losing three ships. By war's end, however, the aggressive commander, known as “Bull” Halsey, was hailed as a popular hero, awarded a fifth star, and promoted to the rank of fleet admiral.

In retirement, Halsey often defended his Leyte Gulf decision, claiming that under the circumstances it was the best of all options. Above all, he was an energetic and demanding leader, who had the ability to invigorate the U.S. Navy's fighting spirit when most required.
[See also Guadalcanal, Battle of; Navy, U.S.: 1899–1945; Navy Combat Branches: Surface Forces; World War II, U.S. Naval Operations in: The Pacific.]


E. B. Potter , Bull Halsey, 1985.

Donald D. Chipman

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Halsey, William F.." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . 10 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Halsey, William F.." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . (February 10, 2019).

"Halsey, William F.." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved February 10, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.