Rear Admiral Robert W. Copeland
Robert Witcher Copeland was born at Tacoma, Washington, on 9 September
1910. Enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1929, he was commissioned as a
Naval Reserve officer in 1935. Copeland practiced law from 1935 until
1940, when he was ordered to active duty during the Navy's pre-World
War II expansion. During the War, he commanded USS PAWTUCKET (YT 7),
USS BLACK DOUGLAS (PYC 45), USS WYMAN (DE 38) and USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS
During the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944, while commanding SAMUEL
B. ROBERTS, Lieutenant Commander Copeland led his ship and crew in an
attack on a greatly superior Japanese battleship and cruiser force.
Though his ship was lost, this action helped defeat the Japanese
counter-offensive against the Leyte invasion. For this, he was awarded
the Navy Cross.
Following World War II, Copeland resumed his law career while remaining
a member of the Naval Reserve, in which he rose to the rank of Rear
Admiral. Robert W. Copeland died at Tacoma, Washington, on 25 August