Admiral Samuel Gravely, Jr.
Lee Gravely, Jr. was born in Richmond, Virginia on June 4, 1922.
After two years at Virginia Union University, he enlisted in the
Navy Reserves on September 15, 1942 and was trained as a Fireman
Apprentice. In 1943 he
participated in a Navy program (V-12) designed to select and train
highly qualified men for commissioning as officers in the Navy.
As part of his V-12 training, he attended the University of
California in Los Angeles, Pre-Midshipman School in New Jersey and
Midshipmen School at Columbia University, New York City.
On December 14, 1944 Admiral Gravely successfully completed
midshipman training, becoming the first African American commissioned as
an officer from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Course.
a newly commissioned Ensign, his first duty assignment was at Camp
Robert Smalls as the Assistant Battalion Commander for new recruits.
Following that, he began his seagoing career as a sailor aboard
the PC 1264, a submarine chaser that was one of only two W.W.II ships
with a largely African American crew.
April 1946 he was released from active duty, but remained in the Naval
Reserve. He returned to his hometown of Richmond, Virginia to complete
his bachelor's degree in History.
Gravely was recalled to active duty in 1949.
As part of the Navy's response to President Truman's Executive
Order to desegregate the Armed Services, his initial assignment was as a
Navy Recruiter, recruiting African Americans in the Washington, D.C.
Gravely went from recruiting sailors to building a Navy career that
lasted 38 years and included many distinguished accomplishments.
Among those accomplishments, are a string of impressive
"firsts" that include: the
first African American to command a U.S. Navy warship ( USS Theodore E.
Chandler); the first African American to command an American warship
under combat conditions since the Civil War (USS Taussig); the first
African American to command a major naval warship (USS Jouett); the
first African American admiral; the first African American to rise to
the rank of Vice Admiral; and the first African American to command a
U.S. Fleet (Commander, Third Fleet).
Admiral Gravely's assignments were tours of duty aboard the following: PC-1264, USS Iowa (BB-61), USS Toledo (CA-133) and USS
Seminole (AKA-104). He
served as Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of the USS Theodore
E. Chandler (DD-717). In
addition, he was the Commanding Officer of the USS Falgout (DER-324),
USS Taussig (DD-746) and USS Jouett (DLG-29).
His last tour of duty, before retiring in August 1980, was as
Director of the Defense Communications Agency.
Admiral Gravely is the father of three children, Robert (deceased), David and Tracey and currently resides in Haymarket, Virginia with his lovely wife Alma.
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