Deploying for the first time, guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107) departed Feb. 11 for the U.S. 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility to participate in Ballistic Missile Defense escort operations.
Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely’s legacy is simply amazing and serves as inspiration for everyone in our Navy, not just African Americans. Gravely’s motto, “First to Conquer,” is drawn from the admiral’s many accomplishments. In 1942, he enlisted as a fireman apprentice and didn’t look back.
A pioneer in his own right, he was a man of many Navy firsts for African Americans. He was the first to receive a commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program; the first to command a U.S. Navy warship, Theodore E. Chandler; the first to command a warship under combat conditions, Taussig; the first to command a major naval warship, Jouett; the first to reach the rank of admiral; the first to rise to the rank of vice admiral; and the first to command a U.S. fleet, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet.
These feats were never before accomplished by an African American and are significant milestones in American and U.S. Naval history.
Gravely’s recipe for success was education and leadership; the philosophy he employed during his career is still relevant today and in line with our core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment. He said,
“Success in life is the result of several factors. My formula is simply education plus motivation plus perseverance. Education is paramount. Motivation: one must decide what he wants to do in life, how best to get there and to proceed relentlessly towards that goal. Perseverance: the ability to steadfastly proceed to your goal despite all obstacles.It is the ability to overcome.”
Readily apparent after a quick review of the admiral’s biography it is obvious that he lived and breathed all three of our core values every day. Through his hard work and steadfastness, he was able to surmount barriers and obstacles in our Navy and society that had never before been achieved by an African American.
His character and legacy have enabled the crew to carry out Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert’s tenets of Warfighting First, Operate Forward and Be Ready. The preparations we have made for this eight-month independent deployment to the Mediterranean in support of Ballistic Missile Defense operations have been extensive.
Over the past 16 months, Gravely has completed the basic training phase and participated in two multi-national fleet exercises, three strike group exercises, plus several real-world and training anti-submarine warfare events. We participated in the 200th Commemoration of the War of 1812 Fleet Exercise with eight partner nations, UNITAS-Atlantic (Latin for unity) with 11 partner nations, USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group’s Group Sail, and recently, all of our preparations culminated with the successful completion of the Composite Unit Training Exercise certification.
During each of these, we honed our skills in every facet of expected deployment operations Adm. Gravely stated, “Practice, practice, practice builds a team.” I am confident the vast experience Team Gravely gained from the training events and exercises that spanned the range of maritime operations has prepared and enabled us to better support the fleet and combatant commander in achieving our nation’s strategic goals.
Gravely’s crew is the most motivated crew I have ever served with. I believe part of the reason for their motivation lies in the tremendous legacy provided by Adm. Gravely. Every day, his perseverance, dedication and incredible achievements serve to inspire us as we pursue personal, professional and our command goal of maintaining a culture of excellence in all we do.
By following his life example and recipe for success as we prepared, USS Gravely’s warfighters are fully ready as we move forward on our maiden deployment.