May 1, 1999: New building at Naval Reserve Center in Tacoma, Washington named after Capt. 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 (DE-413).
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 1973.
USS Copeland (FFG-25) was named in honor of Rear Admiral Robert W. Copeland, who commanded USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) in the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944, and later was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism in that action. USS Copeland (FFG-25) was named in his honor. This photograph was released 13 December 1944, while LCdr. Copeland was recuperating at the Naval Hospital, San Leandro, California.
Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland, USNR, receives the Navy Cross from Rear Admiral David M. LeBreton, at Norfolk, Virginia, 16 July 1945.
LCdr. Copeland received the Navy Cross for heroism while in command of USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) during the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944.
Information from DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY — NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER, 901 M STREET SE — WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
In 1999, Copeland had a building named after him at the Naval Reserve Center in Tacoma, Washington.