Born in Westborough, Massachusetts, Denfeld graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1912. He took command of USS McCall (DD-28) in 1919 and served aboard USS S-24 (SS-129) during 1923 and 1924. He commanded Destroyer Division 11 from 1935 to 1937.
Denfeld was selected to be aide to the Chief of Naval Operations in 1939, then commanded first Destroyer Division 18, then Destroyer Squadron 1 from 1939 to 1941. He served on the staff of Commander, Atlantic Fleet Support Force in 1941, then became assistant chief to the Bureau of Navigation in 1942. He led Battleship Division 9 in 1945, was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Personnel in 1945, and commanded Pacific Fleet and all U.S. forces in the area in 1947.
The debate that caused the "Revolt" had been building for several years, but climaxed in 1949 when many of those officers, including Chief of Naval OperationsLouis E. Denfeld as well as Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan (the civilian head of the Department of the Navy), were either fired or forced to resign.
However, he had to resign for reasons of health on 28 March 1949 and was replaced by Louis A. Johnson, who supported the Air Force's position.
This was as much for budgetary reasons as any other; the services were then in the middle of the post-World War II drawdown (which would continue into and past the Korean War era) and Army-Air Force thinking held that their life depended on securing as many missions for themselves as possible.
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