Graveley, Samuel Lee, Jr.

Graveley, Samuel Lee, Jr.

(1922–  ) navy officer; born in Richmond, Va. He had begun college when he left to enlist in the U.S. Naval Reserve (1942); upon completing midshipman school at Columbia University (1944), he became the first African-American to be commissioned as an ensign in World War II. After service in the war, he was released from active duty and completed college at Virginia Union University (B.A. 1948). He was recalled to active duty in August 1949 and saw sea and shore duty during the Korean War. He transferred to the regular navy in 1955 and in 1961 became the first African-American ever to command a U.S. Navy ship. Various promotions followed and in 1971 he became the first African-American to attain the rank of rear admiral. His specialty was naval communications, and after service as commander of the 3rd Fleet (1976–78), he became director of the Defense Communications Agency (1978–80). When he retired as a highly decorated vice-admiral in 1980, he was the first African-American to attain three stars in the navy. He became a consultant to defense contractors and served on various corporate boards of directors.