Navy’s First African-American Admiral Dies

Retired Vietnam War veteran, Samuel L. Gravely Jr., alumnus ofVirginia Union University and the Navy’s first AfricanAmerican Admiral, died after a stroke on Oct. 22, 2004 at the ageof 82 at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.  

Mr. Gravely graduated from Virginia UnionUniversity during WWII, and afterwards enlisted in the NavalReserve, where he would become the first African American tocommand a Navy warship as executive officer and acting commandingofficer of the destroyer Theodore E. Chandler and destroyer USSTaussig in Vietnam. Later, he also commanded the guided missilefrigate USS Jouett and a cruiser destroyer group, the EleventhNaval District and Third Fleet. 

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark,told the Washington Post “His leadership inspired ageneration of Americans to make the most of everyopportunity.” 

Personal awards Mr. Gravely received includedthe Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious ServiceMedal, and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”with one Gold Star with Combat “V”. 

Gravely is survived by his wife, Alma;daughter, Tracy; and son, David. Naval memorial services will beheld at the Arlington Memorial Cemetery on Dec. 17th at 1pm.