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Sun, 06.04.1922

Samuel L. Gravely Jr., Naval Officer born

Samuel L. Gravely

Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr., a Black Navy admiral, was born on this date in 1922.

He was born in Richmond, VA, and grew up in that city's Fulton area. As a youngster, he worked odd jobs to raise money to send himself to college. After attending Virginia Union University, Gravely enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1942. Two years later in 1944, he became an ensign. From 1945 to 1946, Gravely served in USS PC-1264 and was released from active duty in April 1946, remaining in the Naval Reserve. Lieutenant Gravely was recalled to active duty in 1949. He had sea and shore duty during the next decade, including Korean War service, and transferred from the Naval Reserve to the regular Navy in 1955.

His first seagoing command was on the USS Falgout (DER-324) in 1962. In July 1971, while serving as commanding officer of USS Jouett (DLG-29), Captain Gravely was promoted to rear admiral. He was the first African American to achieve Flag Rank (commissioned officer) in the Navy.  In September 1976, Vice Admiral Gravely assumed command of the Third Fleet. From 1978-80, he was director of the Defense Communications Agency.

He retired from the Navy on August 1, 1980. Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., suffered a stroke and died on October 22, 2004, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, He was 82 years old.

To Have a Military Career


Library of Congress
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October 25, 2004

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