Retired Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr., whose distinguished naval career spanned from 1942 to 1980, died today at the National Naval Medical Center. He was 82.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark said, "Admiral Sam Gravely excelled in his life of service to the nation, commanding warships at sea during the Vietnam War and rising to lead the entire Third Fleet. His leadership inspired a generation of Americans to make the most of every opportunity. All in our Navy are grateful for his service.
After graduating from Virginia Union University during World War II, Gravely enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1942. Upon completion of the midshipman school at Columbia University he was commissioned as an ensign in the Naval Reserve in December of 1944 and went on to become the first African-American to be selected to the rank of commander, captain, rear admiral and vice admiral in the Navy.
Gravely lived by a philosophy that shaped his entire life saying, Success in life is the result of several factors. My formula is simply education plus motivation plus perseverance.
During his naval career, Gravely served on several ships, including the USS Iowa during the Korean War. He also commanded the USS Falgout, USS Taussig, and USS Jouett. Gravely also commanded Cruiser Destroyer Group Two, Eleventh Naval District, and later Third Fleet where he was promoted to the rank of vice admiral. Gravely finished his career as the director of the Defense Communications Agency in Washington, D.C.
Gravelys personal awards included the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V with one Gold Star with Combat V in lieu of second award.
Gravely is survived by his wife, Alma; his daughter, Tracey; his son, David; and Davids wife, Beverly Clark-Gravely.
Information on the memorial service will be available at a later date. For more information please contact the Navy Office of Information at (703) 697-5342.
Photos of Gravely can be found on the Navy Historical Center Web site at