Commanders-in-Chief Biographies

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 56135

Rear Admiral Reginald Rowan Belknap
Commander-in-Chief October 15, 1947 to October 9, 1951

by Douglas Reed Niermeyer, Commander-in-Chief
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States

Rear Admiral Reginald Rowan Belknap was born June 26, 1871 in Malden, Massachusetts the son of Rear Admiral George Eugene Belknap and Frances Georgiana Prescott. George was an Original Companion of the New York Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) (Insignia No. 3313) and Reginald following in his father's footsteps also became a Rear Admiral, as well as being elected a Hereditary Companion of the New York Commandery on November 17, 1937 (Insignia No. 19131), and serving as Commander-in-Chief of the MOLLUS 1947 - 1951.

Reginald became a Naval Cadet September 5, 1887 and graduated from the United States Naval Academy on June 5, 1891 (BS by retroactive Act of Congress, 1937). He served on the USS Chicago, Squadron of Evolution, commissioned Ensign on July 1, 1893, served on the USS Baltimore to Asiatic Station, with her Marines in the USS Monocacy in Tientsin, USS Yorktown, Naval War College, USS Newport, flag secretary at the Naval Base at Key West May - August 1898 in the Spanish-American War, USS Badger with the Samoan High Commission, promoted Lieutenant Junior Grade March 3, 1899, Lieutenant July 2, 1899, serving in the the Chinese Boxer Campaign, and the Philippine Insurrection, USS Ranger, flag secretary to the Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Station in Brooklyn, Bureau of the Navigation of the Navy Department 1902 - 1904, battleship USS Maine, Lieutenant-Commander July 8, 1905, Navigator of the battleship USS Kearsarge and Executive Officer in 1906, Naval Attaché in Berlin 1907 - 1910, Naval Attaché in Rome and Vienna 1908 - 1909, Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Navigation 1912 - 1913, Observer in Germany August - October 1914, served with Plans Section, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations 1917, and was the senior officer at the Santiago de Cuba Insurrection in 1917. He was promoted Commander, U.S. Mine Squadron, North Sea 1918, had invented and patented collapsible anti-submarine net, and trained and commanded the US Marine Squadron laying 56,500 mines in the North Sea June - October 1918. He was Director of Strategy, Naval War College 1921 - 1923 and at various times the Commanding Officer of the USS San Francisco, USS Delaware, USS Colorado, and Commander of the Naval Training Station, Hampton Roads.

Commander, U.S. Mine Squadron Reginald Rowan Belknap seated front center

Admiral Henry Thomas Mayo stated in 1925:

    "The Navy and our country owe to Captain Belknap a debt which can hardly be over-estimated; for it was the knowledge and experience acquired and the doctrine and methods established in the Mine Force under command of Commander Belknap that enabled the Navy to, first, fit out improvised by very efficient minelaying vessels and, second, to operate them under war conditions in a manner which brought commendation from all."

During Reginald's career, he was also a Naval Aide to President Theodore Roosevelt, put in charge of the American organizations building dwellings for 16,000 homeless from the Messina earthquake, and served as Special Ambassador at the funeral of Edward VII in 1910. Admiral Belknap was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal for his services in World War I. He was promoted Rear Admiral by special act of Congress and retired as such on March 3, 1927.

In addition to being a member of the MOLLUS, he was a member of other military societies including the Officer Order of Leopold (Belgium), Officer Legion of Honor (France), Executive Chairman of the Massachusetts Bay Tercentenary, Commander of the New York Chapter, Military Order World War 1931 - 1935, Vice Commander-in-Chief 1933 - 1936 and Commander-in-Chief 1936 - 1937; Commander of the General Naval Order, U.S. 1932 - 1937; President of the Naval Academy Graduate Association of New York 1934; member of the National Aerospace Association; and Founders and Patriots of America. As an Episcopalian, he was warden of Trinity Church; on the board of managers of the Seaman's Church Institute-., New York City (NYC); Treasurer General at the Theological Seminar in NYC 1929 - 1950; manager of the Episcopalian General Convention 1934; President of the American Church Union 1937; delegate to the Episcopalian General Convention 1937- 1949; Chairman of the Army Day Com., NYC 1934 - 1946; Chairman of the Executive Committee and Treasurer of Bundles for America; Chairman of the Executive Committee of Layman's National Committee 1945 - 1950; Trustee of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine 1941 - 1953; Trustee of Leake and Watts Children's Home. He was also a member of the Yacht, Military-Naval, Union, Century, Church (New York), Army and Navy (Washington) clubs and was Vice President of the Aerospace Club of New England.

He was married on March 3, 1900 to Julia Pomeroy Averill (July 2, 1875 - April 13, 1971) and they had seven children: 1) Averill Belknap (March 2, 1903 - January 29, 1994), married Andrew Robert Mack (January 18, 1896 - June 10, 1977) Rear Admiral, U.S Navy, Silver Star 1942 and Legion of Merit 1944; 2) Frances Georgiana Belknap (June 12, 1904-?), married Dr. Malcolm S. Edgar; 3) Emilia Field Belknap (August 6, 1906 - July 15, 1982) married Leonard Baker Cresswell (July 18, 1901 - April 25, 1966), Major General, U.S. Marine Corps; 4) Rexane Belknap (1912 - 1922); 5) Mary Rowan Belknap (1917 - ?), married John Howard and visited the USS Belknap (DLG/CG-26), Flagship of the Sixth Fleet, while in port in 1994 at Gaeta, Italy (see:; 6) Barberie Ann Belknap (1922 -1977); and 7) Marshall S. Edgar Belknap (1931 - 1931).

Reginald died on March 30, 1959 in Field Elders, Connecticut and is buried with his wife in Section 3 Site 1519-B of Arlington National Cemetery with his father buried nearby. The rear of Reginald's stone is etched in memory of Robert Belknap Mack, Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy, who was lost at sea September 24, 1957, and who was Rear Admiral Reginald Belknap's grandson, son of Rear Admiral Andrew Robert Mack, and had he lived, may have become a fourth generation Rear Admiral himself.

1) MOLLUS Records
2) Who's Who v.3 1951-1960, p.63-4.
3) Arlington National Cemetery, Rear Admiral Reginald Rowan Belknap (

Return to Top of Document

Return to MOLLUS Index of Commanders-in-Chief

Return to MOLLUS Home Page

Return to MOLLUS Web Site Index Page