Paul Laverne High was born in Huntington, West Virginia, on 24 September 1904. He was the son of Frank Leland and Ruby Hill High. His family moved to Charleston, West Virginia, where he graduated from Charleston High School in June 1923. He was appointed to the Naval Academy from the state of West Virginia. After graduation with the class of 1927 he reported to the battleship USS Idaho. During that four year tour, he was sent on temporary duty to Esteli, Nicaragua, in 1928 and again in 1930 to assist the U.S. Electoral Mission. He returned to Rivas, Nicaragua, in 1932 for the same purpose.
RAdm High met and married Elsie Mae Casey in 1931 while stationed in San Diego. He was assigned duty in destroyers between 1932 and 1934. In the summer of 1934 he studied Spanish in Santander, Spain, prior to being stationed at the Naval Academy as an instructor in that language. In 1937 he was assigned to the USS Ranger and stationed in San Diego. The next year he reported to the U.S. Asiatic Fleet for duty in the Philippines and various China ports. During this tour he served on the destroyer USS Perry and the USS Black Hawk. He left the Philippines in September 1941 for duty in the Executive Department of the Naval Academy and then served as Commandant of the Reserve Midshipman School.
In the fall of 1943 he assumed command of the newly commissioned destroyer USS Bryant (DD-665) in Charleston, South Carolina. After a short period of operation with the Atlantic Fleet, the Bryant was ordered to the Pacific Theater in the spring of 1944. For actions in the Saipan-Tinian Islands during the Marianas campaign of 12 June to 2 August 1944, the Bryant received the Navy Unit Commendation. It was awarded a second Navy Unit Commendation for its support of the amphibious assault on Pelelieu during the Palau operation from 19 to 29 September 1944. The destroyer also supported the amphibious assault on Leyte Island, Philippines, on 12 October. During the early hours of 25 October the Bryant, along with other elements of DESRON 56, engaged the Japanese Fleet in the Battle of Surigao Strait and successfully executed high speed torpedo attacks against several enemy battleships and cruisers. As a result of this action, the Bryant received its third Navy Unit Commendation and Cdr High was awarded the Navy Cross.
During the Battle of Leyte Gulf the Bryant and other ships of RAdm Weyler’s Task Group were subject to the first Japanese Kamikaze attack of the War. On 22 December 1944 the Bryant evaded another Japanese suicide attack off Mindoro, Philippine Islands. The Bryant saw further action in January 1945 in the Battle of Lingayan Gulf.
After departing the Bryant on 28 January 1945, Cdr High was given command of Destroyer Division 104 in February and he transferred his flag to the destroyer USS Hickox. When the USS Franklin was severely damaged by Japanese Kamikaze attacks on 19 March 1945, the Hickox was one of the first destroyers to assist in damage control and evacuation of survivors. The Hickox was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation for this action.
In addition to the Navy Cross, Captain High was awarded the Bronze Star with 5 Gold Stars for his actions during the Pacific Campaign. Other decorations included the 2nd Nicaragua Campaign Ribbon; China Service Medal; American Defense Service Medal; Atlantic Theater Ribbon; Pacific Theater Ribbon with six stars; World War II Victory Medal and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two stars.
In 1945 Captain High returned to the States and was assigned to the bureau of Ships. In the fall of 1947 he voluntarily retired from active duty and was advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral. The Highs moved to Weirsdale, Florida, for the next three years, returning to Arlington, Virginia, in June of 1950. RAdm High worked with the Mannas Real Estate Company until returning to active duty with Bureau of Naval Personnel from 1951 to 1954. He was the BUPERS Inspector General at the time of his retirement. In 1954 he was selected as a member of the Hoover Commission on the Reorganization of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. RAdm High received a commendation for his work with this commission. He served with the National Security Agency from 1956 until 1958 when he joined the HRB/Singer Company in State College, Pennsylvania, retiring in 1964. In 1966 the Highs moved to Richmond, Virginia.
RAdm High died on 22 September 1986 in Richmond, Virginia, and was buried on 26 September at Arlington National Cemetery.
RAdm High was a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association, USNA Athletic Association and the Retired Officers Association. He had three children and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.