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Adm. Samuel Gravely, Jr., Day to be Annually Commemorated in Virginia

04 June 2021

From ENS. Michael Krueger, USS Gravely (DDG 107) Public Affairs

June 2, 2021 recognizes the 50th anniversary of the promotion of Richmond-native Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. to the rank of admiral in the U.S. Navy, becoming the service’s first African American flag officer. 

As announced Tuesday before a passionate crowd, June 2 is now officially Adm. Samuel Gravely, Jr. Day in Virginia. 
 
June 2, 2021 recognizes the 50th anniversary of the promotion of Richmond-native Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. to the rank of admiral in the U.S. Navy, becoming the service’s first African American flag officer.  In a proclamation read aloud to three generations of Gravely family members, local citizens, and a Navy contingent from USS Gravely (DDG 107), the announcement, penned by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, honored the boundary-breaking Richmond native. The Virginia War Memorial hosted the ceremony as coordinated by members of the Richmond Council of the Navy League.
 
“I am pleased to honor Adm. Samuel Gravely, Jr. for his many ground-breaking accomplishments” read the governor’s proclamation.
 

“It took courage and patriotism to sign up for service after Pearl Harbor. Adm. Gravely continued to display that courage with a string of firsts—from being the first African American commissioned from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Course, to becoming the first African American to command a U.S. Fleet.”

 
Gravely’s began his career as a seaman apprentice at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill, in 1942. He would go on to be the U.S. Navy’s first African American commander, captain, rear admiral, and vice admiral. He was also the first African American to command a warship (USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD 717)); command a major warship (USS Jouett (DLG 29); achieve flag rank; and to command a numbered fleet (U.S. 3rd).
 
He retired from the Navy in 1980 and died at age 82 in 2004. He led a distinguished career as a surface warfare officer and received many high-level awards to include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal.
 
The Navy honored Gravely in 2010 with the commissioning of a destroyer named for the trailblazer, USS Gravely (DDG 107). A few members of the USS Gravely attended the ceremony and received the proclamation to post aboard the ship.
 
“Vice Admiral Gravely was truly a first for many accomplishments within the Navy, and his saying, ‘Education, Motivation, Perseverance’ runs true within the ship every day,” said the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Corey Odom.
 
“He wanted to be best at whatever he was: enlisted Sailor, executive officer, commander.  Gravely’s story shows that if we do what we do as best as we can, we can go anywhere in the Navy.”

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