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He was a native of Des Moines, Iowa, the son of Carl and Frances Douglas Surface. He attended Drake University for a year before receiving a congressional appointment to the United States Naval Academy from Iowa. He graduated in 1943 with the class of 1944, one year early because of WWII. He served on USS Aulick (DD569) through the end of the war in the Pacific, participating in the taking of the Carolinas, the Marianas, Palau, the Philippines and Okinawa from the Japanese. During the Philippine campaign Aulick was in the battle of Surigao Strait and later was struck by two kamikazes, necessitating return to Mare Island Shipyard for repairs. Aulick was returned to action in time for the Okinawa campaign. WWII ended shortly thereafter.
Then Lieutenant Surface was in the commissioning crew of the USS Agerholm (DD826) and served there until 1948 when he was elected to postgraduate education in ordnance engineering. The course consisted of two years of electrical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School followed by a year at Purdue University resulting in degrees of Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering. Returning to sea duty in 1951 as a Gunnery Officer of USS Valley Forge (CV 45), he continued to progress through a succession of positions and promotions resulting in his serving as Commanding Officer of four ships, USS Oklahoma City (CLG 5), USS Mountrail (APA 213), USS Somers (DD947) and USS Ulvert M. Moore (DE 442). During his time as Commanding Officer of USS Oklahoma City (CLC 5) the ship was the flagship for the First and Seventh Fleets.
He also commanded two shore stations, the Naval Ammunition Depot, Bangor and the Naval Ammunition Depot, Oahu, and served on two staffs: the Commander Destroyer Force Pacific and the Commander, European Command. From 1965-1968 he was assigned to the Naval Ordnance Systems Command.
He retired on May 31, 1973
He was an early president of Coronado Point Homeowner’s Association. He married Thirma (Peggy) Biddle in 1947 and was predeceased by her in 1988. He remarried Ruby Todd Goble in 1989 and was predeceased by her in 2005. He is survived by his companion, Mary Florence Ray.
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