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Navy League honors Admiral Gravely and his historic career

Posted at 11:19 AM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 17:47:15-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Admiral Samuel Gravely, Jr. was honored Wednesday, June 2, 2021, on the 50th anniversary of his promotion to admiral.

"I feel completely honored," Gravely's daughter Tracy said. "It's humbling. It makes me very proud to have a father that's had so many accomplishments."

Gravely, who was born in Richmond in 1922, was the first African American to rise to the rank of admiral (1971). He was also the first African American to command a US Navy warship and command an American warship under combat conditions, according to the Navy League of the United States.

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Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr.

"I am a real-time example of what milestones and barriers Admiral Gravely was able to break down, and most importantly, the impact he had on the Navy," Cmdr. Corey Odom, who leads the guided-missile destroyer USS Gravel said.

In addition to a ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam designated the day Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. Day in Virginia.

"He was a great military person. He had lots of firsts. But, he was also a great father, a great uncle, a great neighbor," his daughter said.

Gravely said what others could learn from her father was to not be afraid to go after what you want.

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"Be who you want to be. Take pride in what you do and be great at it. And work hard every day," she said.

Gravely died in 2004 at age 82.

In addition to the Richmond street that bears his name, the Navy named a destroyer after him in 2010.

Friends and family said they were working to erect a statue in his honor somewhere here in the City of Richmond and hope to have that unveiled by this time next year.