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Gravely, Samuel L., Jr. (1922-2004)

Doniphan B. Shelton, Rear<br />
Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Gravely, Samuel L., Jr. (1922-2004)
Vice Admiral , U.S. Navy (Retired)

Based on seven interviews conducted by Paul Stillwell from June 1986 through January 2003. The volume contains 416 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 2003 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee has placed no restrictions on its use.

This oral history is of particular significance because it contains the recollections of one of the early line officers commissioned by the U.S. Navy and later the Navy’s first black commander, captain, rear admiral, and vice admiral. Gravely was commissioned in 1944 through the college V-12 program and served in World War II on board the patrol craft PC-1264. After a postwar stint of civilian life, he was recalled to active duty in 1949 as a recruiter and remained in active service until his retirement in 1980. He had Korean War service in the battleship Iowa (BB-61). Later tours of duty in the 1950s included the heavy cruiser Toledo (CA-133), staff of the Third Naval District, and the attack cargo ship Seminole (AKA-104). In the 1960s he was executive officer and acting commanding officer of the destroyer Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717), commanded the radar picket destroyer escort Falgout (DER-324), helped integrate the Naval War College, served in the Defense Communications Agency in the Pentagon, commanded the destroyer Taussig (DD-746), and was coordinator of the Navy’s satellite communications program. While in command of the guided missile frigate Jouett (DLG-29), he was selected for flag rank in 1971. Both the Taussig and Jouett had Vietnam War service during his time as skipper. His flag commands included Naval Communications Command, Cruiser-Destroyer Group Two, the Eleventh Naval District, Third Fleet, and the Defense Communications Agency. When he became Commander Third Fleet in 1976 he was promoted to vice admiral, another first for an African American. Admiral Gravely’s post-Navy activities included work with the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.


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