Leahy, William (Daniel)(1875–1959) naval officer, public official born in Hampton, Iowa. As a naval commander in World War I, he became a close friend of assistant secretary of the navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was chief of naval operations (1937–39), ambassador to Vichy France (1940–42), and chief of staff to Roosevelt (1942–45) and Truman (1945–49). He took part in virtually all of the top-level Allied war conferences and became admiral of the navy in 1944—the first naval officer to achieve five-star rank since George Dewey in 1899.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.