Edward Robison Durgin, USN

Born  14 Jan 1900Palmyra, New Jersey, USA

USN photo


23 Jun 1938 Lt.Cdr.
1 Jan 1942 T/Cdr.
30 Jun 1942 Cdr.
1 Apr 1943 T/Capt.

Retired: Sep 1962


Warship Commands listed for Edward Robison Durgin, USN

USS Niblack (DD 424)Lt.Cdr.Destroyer1 Aug 194031 Jul 1942

Career information

Admiral Edward R. Durgin was born in Palmyra, NJ, on January 14th, 1900. He joined the Navy at age 18 and soon was accepted as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy from which he was graduated as an ensign in 1922. He later earned a Master of Science degree at Columbia, and in 1945 he received an honorary doctorate from Franklin and Marshall College.

As a young officer, Admiral Durgin spent most of his time on submarine duty in the Atlantic and Pacific, and from 1934 until 1937 he was skipper of the sub USS S-32 in the Pacific. From 1937 until 1940, while Hitler built his Third Reich, Admiral Durgin served at the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the sensitive post of Assistant U.S. Naval Attache in the American Embassy in Berlin. In 1940 he got his first destroyer command as commanding officer of the USS Niblack. He rapidly progressed to higher commands, first as Commander of Destroyer Division 26, and then as Commander of Destroyer Squadron 13. In 1943 and 1944 he served on the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, but then returned to sea duty as Commander of Destroyer Squadron 15. In his sea commands he saw extensive action in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, both on convoy duty and as part of the Navy Assault Force at the invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Salerno. For his battle commands he received the Legion of Merit, the Gold Start to the Legion of Merit, the Letter of Commendation, the Bronze Star, the British Distinguished Service Cross and numerous other decorations.

After the war, Admiral Durgin served as the skipper of the cruiser Dayton from 1947 until 1948. In 1958 he arrived at Brown University as a naval captain, assigned as commander of Brown's Naval ROTC Unit. He remained in that capacity until his retirement from the Navy at the rank of Admiral. That same year, as a civilian, he was appointed Dean of Students, a position involving student discipline and counseling. He remained as Dean of Students until his first retirement from Brown in 1962. His retirement was fleeting, for he was quickly called back to serve as Brown's Acting Director of Athletics. He retired from that position in Sept. of 1962, but remained briefly on the university's administrative staff as a consultant to the Director of Athletics. His wife was the former Katherine B. Shaw of Maple Shade, NJ.

Events related to this officer

Destroyer USS Niblack (DD 424)

11 Apr 1941
While picking up survivors from the Dutch merchant Saleier, the US destroyer USS Niblack (Lt.Cdr Edward R. Durgin) picked up a sonar contact and attacked it with 3 depth charges. This action is often mentioned as first military action between Germany and the USA in the Second World War, but no U-boat reported being under attack on that day in the area, so the contact was probably false.

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