As an ensign, McCandlish served aboard the USS New York (ACR-2), an armored cruiser that was renamed USS Saratoga in 1911. During World War I, he commanded the USS Davis, a Sampson class destroyer, during its mission to escort troops to Europe through waters infested by German u-boats. For his actions, he received the Navy Cross as a lieutenant commander. McCandlish commanded a number of different-class vessels during the 1920s and 1930s until 12 August 1938, when he assumed his last seagoing command, becoming the first captain of the USS Boise (CL-47), a Brooklyn class cruiser.
Governor of Guam
McCandlish served as Naval Governor of Guam from March 27, 1936 to February 8, 1938. Along with others in the U.S. Naval Command, he placed emphasis on basic hygiene education for the island's children, often in a dictatorial manner resented by some Chamorro. He discouraged a mission of the Guam Congress to the federal government, instead instructing them to look toward the numerous welfare agencies he had set up on the island. The Congress sent the mission regardless, and ceased to accept funds from the Navy.
World War II service
In 1940, prior to World War II, Capt. McCandlish was selected to serve as Captain of the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, was promoted to flag rank as Commodore(pay grade 0-7) in April 1943, and commanded the Moroccan Sea Frontier from October 13, 1943 to August 1, 1945.
Marriages and Post-war
McCandlish was married twice, first in 1914 to Margarita Wilson Wood(1892–1954) of New York, and after her death in Darlington, South Carolina, to Louise Sligh Brown(1904–1988). He retired as a commodore , settled in Darlington, became a well-known society figure and died there on 16 October 1975. He was buried in Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia .
"The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Vaughan McCandlish, United States Navy, for distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. DAVIS. engaged in the important, exacting, and hazardous duty of patrolling the waters infested with enemy submarines and mines, in escorting and protecting vitally important convoys of troops, and supplies through these waters, and in offensive and defensive action, vigorously and unremittingly prosecuted against all forms of enemy naval activity during World War I."
- "Benjamin Vaughan McCandlish". Military Times. Gannett Government Media. 2011. Archived from the original on 18 May 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
- Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps 1914. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1914. p. 50. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
- "Naval Era Governors of Guam". Guampedia. Guam: University of Guam. 10 August 2010. Archived from the original on 29 October 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- Hattori, Anne Perez (2004). Colonial Dis-ease: US Navy Health Policies and the Chamorros of Guam, 1898-1941. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. 178. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
- Maga, Timothy (July 1985). "Democracy and Defence: The Case of Guam, U.S.A., 1918-1941". The Journal of Pacific History (Taylor & Francis) 20 (3): 167–168.
- Cressman, Robert (2000). The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. p. 349. ISBN 1-55750-149-1. Retrieved 18 May 2011.