Rear Adm. Bill McCarthy is a native of Teaneck, New Jersey. A 1976 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, he was commissioned an ensign through the Naval Reserves Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program.
Designated a naval flight officer in 1977, he spent the majority of his career flying the E-2C Hawkeye. Operational flying tours included Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, VAW-121 and VAW-126. While serving as executive officer of VAW-126, he participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Following command of VAW-126, McCarthy served on the staff of Commander, Carrier Group 4. Upon completion of the Navy's nuclear power training program, he reported as prospective executive officer, John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Following the ship's commissioning, he served as executive officer. In 1997, under McCarthy’s command, the Fast Combat Support Ship USS Detroit (AOE 4) completed a successful Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf deployment, earning the Chief of Naval Operations Ship-Helo Safety Award and the Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic Battle Efficiency Award.
McCarthy commanded the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) from November 1999 until April 2002. During that period, the ship was recognized with two Battle Efficiency Awards, the Battenberg Cup as the Best Ship in the Atlantic Fleet (2000 & 2002), the inaugural J.D. Ramage Award as the best carrier/air wing team in the Navy, the Flatley Award for Aviation Safety and a Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Humanitarian Action. From July 2004 until July 2005, he served as commander, George Washington Carrier Strike Group/commander, Carrier Strike Group 8 with additional responsibility as commander, Task Force 50 while conducting operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
A U.S. Naval Test Pilot School graduate, his shore duty assignments included the Naval Air Test Center, the United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) faculty and the Naval Air Systems Command Headquarters. A graduate of the Air War College, he earned a Master of Public Administration from Auburn University, Montgomery, Alabama, concurrent with his war college studies. Selected to flag rank in April 2002, he served on the Joint Staff as the deputy director for operations, National Military Command Center from August 2002 until June 2004. From July 2005 until May 2007, he commanded the Navy’s Operational Test and Evaluation Force.
McCarthy has flown over 30 different military aircraft, accumulating more than 4,000 flight hours and 700 arrested landings. His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (with three gold stars), Meritorious Service Medal (with gold star) and the Air Medal (individual and Strike/Flight awards), as well as other individual, unit and campaign awards.