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Named for Richmond vice admiral, USS Gravely returns to Virginia

Samuel Lee Gravely

NORFOLK, Va. (WTVR) – The USS Gravely, an Aegis guided-missile destroyer, returned home to Naval Station Norfolk Monday. The destroyer and her crew had been gone for nine-months supporting “maritime security and theater security operations in the eastern Mediterranean Sea,” according to the Navy.

The destroyer is named for Richmonder Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr. Gravely, who died in 2004, was the first African American in the U.S. Navy to serve aboard a fighting ship as an officer, according to the Navy.

In 1942, as a 20-year-old man, Gravely left Virginia Union University to join the Naval Reserve.

“After receiving basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois, Gravely entered the V-12 Navy College Training Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Upon graduating from UCLA, he completed Midshipmen’s School at Columbia University and was commissioned an ensign on November 14, 1944,” according to the Navy. “His commission came only eight months after the “Golden Thirteen” became the first African-American officers in the U.S. Navy.”

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