Lest We Forget

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Leaving active duty at war's end, he was recalled for a one-year tour of recruiting duty in 1949, when a presidential order integrated the armed services. Fate intervened in the form of the Korean War, and Sam Gravely did not leave the Navy again for nearly 40 more years. Though he preferred to think of himself simply as a Navy man doing the job he loved, he was a trailblazer and was often in the spotlight as he achieved new milestones in America's quest for racial equality. In 1962, he and George Thompson became the first black officers to attend the Naval War College. He was the first African American to command a U.S. Navy warship, the USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717); the first to command an American warship under combat conditions, the USS Taussig (DD-746); the first to become an admiral; the first to rise to the rank of vice admiral; and the first to command a U.S. Fleet, the Third Fleet.

In rather stark contrast to all of those momentous achievements, another side of this man is evident in an event that took place in 1994. At the request of the director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy (an experimental school in the inner city area of Baltimore) the long-retired admiral donned his uniform, drove many miles at his own expense, and spent the entire day talking with young cadets, encouraging them to stay in school and take advantage of life's opportunities. Those who knew Sam Gravely well would not doubt that he preferred those few hours as a role model for young people over much of the attention he received while conquering mountains of prejudice and permanently opening new doors at nearly every level of his service.

Lieutenant Commander Cutler is the author of several books, including A Sailor's History of the U.S Navy and Brown Water, Black Berets .
 

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

More by this Author

BROWN WATER, BLACK BERETS
The men of the U.S. Navy's brown-water force played a vital but often overlooked role in the... Read More
BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF
The last great naval battle of World War II, Leyte Gulf also is remembered as the biggest naval... Read More
DUTTON'S NAUTICAL NAVIGATION, 15TH EDITION
As paper navigational charts are replaced by vector images on computer screens, magnetic compasses... Read More
A SAILOR'S HISTORY OF THE U.S. NAVY
Also Available in an Audio Edition from Audible via Amazon Essential reading as part of the Chief... Read More

Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer
12:30pm, “Shifley Lecture Series,” U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD /... Read More

 
 

Conferences and Events

Maritime Security Dialogue

Tue, 2014-10-14

Please join us for the launch of a new Maritime Security Dialogue series, featuring: Admiral Jonathan Greenert, USN, Chief...

Defense Forum Washington 2014

Newseum - Knight Conference Center

2015 WEST Conference

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