A graduate of Vanderbilt University with a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, Vice Admiral William French was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Program in May 1979. He earned a Master of Science degree from Naval Postgraduate School in 1986 and a Master of Arts from the Naval War College in 1999.
A submarine officer and graduate of the Navy’s Nuclear Power Training, French has served at sea on USS Spadefish (SSN 668); as operations officer on USS Sea Devil (SSN 664); and, engineer on USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628). He served as executive officer of USS Helena (SSN 725) and commanded USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716) homeported in San Diego.
Ashore, French served as Submarine Officer Community manager at the Bureau of Naval Personnel; as deputy commander of Submarine Squadron 11; as Chief of the Strategy and Policy Division at United States Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska; as director, Submarine Officer Distribution and Nuclear Propulsion Program manager at the Bureau of Naval Personnel; and commanded Submarine Squadron 3 at Pearl Harbor.
French’s first flag officer assignment was serving as commander, Navy Region Northwest, followed by command of Joint Region Marianas while concurrently serving as U.S. Defense Representative to Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau. French subsequently served as commander, Navy Region Southwest.
In addition to various campaign and service decorations, French has been awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal, five awards of the Legion of Merit, three Meritorious Service Medals, four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.