Rear Adm. Gehrke, a native of Odebolt, Iowa, attended the United States Naval Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1980. Additionally, he attended the Defense Language Institute and Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., where he earned a Master’s degree in National Security Affairs and studied Mandarin Chinese.
After initial training, Gehrke reported to USS Narwhal (SSN 671) for his first sea tour. He subsequently served as navigator aboard USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628) and as executive officer of USS Scranton (SSN 756). During these tours, he made four deployments, six strategic patrols and earned five Battle Efficiency awards. Ashore, Gehrke served on commander, Submarine Group Six staff conducting tactical weapons certifications, U.S. Atlantic Command as executive assistant to the director for Operations, Navy Personnel Command as the submarine/nuclear power officer distribution division deputy director/commanding officer detailer, and as the chief of staff for commander, Submarines Allied Naval Forces South in Naples, Italy.
Gehrke commanded USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735) (Gold). During this tour, he completed four strategic patrols, earning a Battle Efficiency and the CINCLANTFLT Silver Anchor Award for retention. Additionally, he was awarded the 2000 Jack N. Darby award for inspirational leadership and excellence in command.
In August 2004, Gehrke relieved as commander, Submarine Squadron 15 in Guam and served as commodore until July 2006. Afterwards, he served as chief of staff for Commander, Submarine Group Seven/ CTF 74/CTF 54 in Yokosuka, Japan until June 2008. Gehrke was promoted to flag rank in December 2008 and assigned as the U.S. Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy, Beijing, from June 2009 to June 2011. Gehrke served as the director of Defense Counterintelligence and HUMINT Center at the Defense Intelligence Agency from June 2011 until July 2013.
His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal (two awards), Legion of Merit (two awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Gehrke is currently the director of Maritime Headquarters, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.