Edward Walter Eberle—born on 17 August 1864 at Denton, Tex., and reared at Ft. Smith, Ark.—entered the Naval Academy on 28 September 1881 and graduated on 5 June 1885. Following the two years of sea service—spent in screw sloops-of-war Mohican and Shenandoah and in steamer Ranger—then required before commissioning, Eberle was promoted to ensign on 1 July 1887. Brief duty in Washington, D.C., in the late summer and early autumn preceded his reporting to Albatross on 22 November 1887 to begin three years of duty in that Fishing Commission steamer.
Following leave from 22 November 1890 to 28 January 1891, he received instruction in new developments in naval ordnance at the Washington Navy Yard while awaiting orders for sea duty. Here, he demonstrated an interest in and an aptitude for naval gunnery which ever after was central to his career.
On 20 March, he reported to Lancaster and, in the veteran screw sloop-of-war, steamed across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to the Far East. A year and a half later, while still in the Far East, he was transferred to the sailing sloop-of-war Marion to close out this tour of duty in Asiatic waters. He returned to the United States in the summer of 1894 and reported for duty at the Naval Academy on 20 August.
In the waning days of this service at Annapolis, Eberle's commission as lieutenant, junior grade, arrived on 12 June 1896, only to be followed a week later by orders sending him across the continent to San Francisco where Oregon (Battleship No. 3) was being completed.
Eberle reported for duty on 10 July, five days before the new battleship was first placed in commission; and he was placed in charge of her forward gun turret. Oregon was still operating along the Pacific coast in the spring of 1898 when Congress declared war on Spain; and she promptly won great renown by her race south from Puget Sound to Cape Horn and then north to the Caribbean to join American forces blockading Cuba. Eberle distinguished himself during the Battle of Santiago by the outstanding performance of his turret in its duel with Spanish cruiser Cristobal Colon and, later, in its bombardment of Spanish troop concentrations at Caimanera.
From this time on, Eberle enjoyed the favor of powerful officers in the Navy. His promotion to lieutenant came on 3 March 1899, some three months before he was detached from Oregon and transferred to Baltimore in which he served as flag lieutenant of the Asiatic Squadron. Late in the summer, Eberle returned to Annapolis to become aide to the superintendent of the Naval Academy. Besides carrying out the duties of that position, he busied himself in studying ordnance and in writing manuals for the use of guns and torpedoes and for the operation of wireless communication by warships.
A year in Indiana (Battleship No. 1) on training duty ended in September 1902 when Eberle became aide to the commandant of the New York Navy Yard. Six months later, he was named Rear Admiral Albert S. Barker's flag lieutenant; and, during this two-year tour with the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, he won his commission as a lieutenant commander.
Much in demand by this time, Eberle received a number of choice assignments: instructor at the Naval War College, executive officer of Louisiana, commandant of the San Francisco Naval Training Station with collateral duty as commanding officer of Pensacola. During the latter tour, he was promoted to commander on 15 December 1908.
By successfully carrying out progressively more responsible duties during the next few years, he earned a captain's commission which arrived on 1 July 1912. The short course at the Naval War College was the highlight of 1913; and command of Washington and, later, of the Naval Gun Factory at Washington, D.C., preceded Eberle's appointment as Superintendent of the Naval Academy on 1 September 1915. After overseeing the Academy during the hectic period of World War I when the need for officers brought the great problems of acceleration, he left Annapolis on 30 January 1919 to command the battleship divisions of the Atlantic Fleet.
On 30 June 1921, Eberle took command of the Pacific Fleet. Some two years later, on 17 July 1923, he became Chief of Naval Operations and held the office until relieved by Admiral Charles F. Hughes on 14 November 1927. During the years he held this post, he fought to minimize the adverse effect upon the Navy of arms limitations negotiations and from Congressional thrift, hurried the completion of aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga, and upheld the Navy's right to maintain its own air arm.
After relinquishing the duties of Chief of Naval Operations, Eberle served on the General Board until retired on 9 August 1928. He died in Washington, D.C., on 6 July 1929.