John Walter McClaran was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. He entered the academy in 1908 and graduated with the class of 1911.
He was promoted to Ensign in 1912. Further promotions came in time: to Lieutenant (junior grade) on March 7, 1915, to Lieutenant on March 7, 1918 and promotion to Lieutenant Commander on December 31, 1921.
LCDR McClaran joined the crew of the USS POPE (DD 225) in the Orient. The ship protected American lives and interests during the civil strife in China. She first served with the Yangtze River Patrol from September 9 – October 9, 1923 and continued to make her presence known through repeated patrols until 1931. A notable exception was duty off Japan in connection with the Army’s “Round the World Flight” in early 1924. Three aircraft, named Chicago, Boston & New Orleans made the circumnavigation. A 4th plane, the Seattle, fell out of the quartet after crashing into a mountain. A photo shows several officers from the ship – including LCDR McClaran in arctic gear – northern Japan can be a cold place. He received commendation from CINCASIA for saving the POPE from being wrecked on several occasions in Kuriel Islands in connection with the flight.
In June of 1930, LCDR McClaran was ordered to the Navy Department, Washington, D.C. and relieved LCDR A.D. Struble as Office-in-Charge, Code and Signal Section, Division of Naval Communications Systems (OP-20-G). He remained in this position until he was relieved by CDR Howard Kingman in May 1933.
He was promoted to Commander on June 4, 1931
On October 1, 1935, CDR McClaran returned for a second tour at OPNAV (OP-20-G), relieving CDR Kingman and remaining in this position until he was relieved by LCDR L.F. Safford on April 1, 1936.
The Naval War College was Commander McClaran’s next tour. He led a team that established an advance base on Midway Island in early 1939, earning a commendation from Commander Minecraft for the effort. This was followed by promotion to Captain on July 1, 1939. In late 1939, Captain J.W. McClaran is listed as the Director of the Training Division, Bureau of Navigation under RADM Chester Nimitz.
He retired due to a physical disability on March 1, 1941 with the rank of Rear Admiral. The physical disability was serious enough that he was unable to work following retirement.
RADM McClaran died on March 24, 1948 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Source: Echoes of Our Past