Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson is a northern Minnesota native and a 1989 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He earned a Bachelor of Science in English at the Naval Academy, a Master of Science in Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School and a Master of Science in Strategic Studies at the National War College.
As a surface warfare officer, Gabrielson has operated globally. He commanded USS Cape St. George (CG 71), home ported in San Diego, circumnavigating the globe while deployed as air defense commander to the United States 5th Fleet as part of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group. He also served as commanding officer during construction and commissioning of USS Freedom (LCS 1) in Marinette, Wisconsin, sailing all five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Gabrielson completed five deployments to the Middle East, across the Western Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic and Baltic regions, including numerous multi-national exercises and maritime security cooperation engagements in USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) and USS Mobile Bay (CG 53)—both forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan; in USS Russell (DDG 59), home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and USS Anzio (CG 68), home ported in Norfolk, Virginia.
Ashore, Gabrielson served as executive assistant to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, as aide to the vice chief of naval operations and as an operations research analyst in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) N81 division. He also served as liaison to the U.S. Congress in the secretary of the Navy’s Office of Legislative Affairs and the Joint Staff as deputy special assistant to the chairman for legislative affairs. He was a staff member of the secretary of defense-appointed Fort Hood Commission in 2010.
Gabrielson was a 2010 fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Seminar XXI program and a Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Fellow in the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group XXXIII.
Gabrielson’s awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), the Joint Service Commendation Medal (two awards), Navy Commendation and Achievement medals and various unit and service citations.