The Navy will christen the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Gravely, May 16 during a ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding; Pascagoula, Miss
‘The new destroyer honors the late Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr. He was born in Richmond, Va., June 4, 1922. After attending Virginia Union University, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve in September 1942. In 1943 he participated in a Navy program (V-12) designed to select and train highly qualified men for commissioning as officers in the Navy. On Dec. 14, 1944, Gravely successfully completed midshipman training, becoming the first African American commissioned as an officer from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Course. He was released from active duty in April 1946 but remained in the Naval Reserve. Gravely was recalled to active duty in 1949. As part of the Navy’s response to President Harry S. Truman’s executive order to desegregate the armed services, Gravely’s initial assignment was as a Navy recruiter, recruiting African Americans in the Washington, D.C., area. Gravely went on to a Navy career that lasted 38 years and included many distinguished accomplishments.