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First Black Admiral’s Recollections are captured in Oral History

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The Naval Institute has completed an oral history of retired Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., U.S. Navy. One of the first Black officers commissioned in the Naval Reserve; Admiral Gravely joined the Navy through the V-12 program in 1944 and served in World War II on board the patrol craft PC-1264. He served in the Korean War and became the first African American in the 20th century to command a U.S. Navy warship when he became skipper of the radar picket destroyer escort Falgout.

He subsequently commanded the destroyer Taussig and the guided-missile frigate Jouett in Vietnam War service.

In 1971 he was selected as the first Black admiral in the U.S. Navy. His flag commands included Naval Communications Command, Cruiser-Destroyer Group Two, the Eleventh Naval District, Third Fleet, and Defense Communications Agency. When he became Commander Third Fleet in 1976 he was promoted to vice admiral, another first for an African American. He retired from active duty in 1980.

The U.S. Naval Institute is a unique professional membership association that has served for more than 130 years as the only independent forum to advance the understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defense.

The U.S. Naval Institute publishes Proceedings and Naval History magazines and more than 900 professional books. For more information, visit our Web site at www.navalinstitute.org.

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