Arthur R. Gralla

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Arthur R. Gralla
Vice Admiral Arthur Gralla.tif
Vice Admiral Arthur R. Gralla
Born(1913-04-21)April 21, 1913
Brooklyn, New York, United States
DiedMay 22, 1998(1998-05-22) (aged 85)
McLean, Virginia, United States
Arlington National Cemetery
(Section 66, Site 4357-A)
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Service/branchFlag of the United States Navy (official).svg  United States Navy
Years of service1934–1971
Rank US Navy O9 infobox.svg Vice Admiral
Commands held USS Dennis J. Buckley
Naval Ordnance Test Unit
USS Norton Sound
Task Force 88, Operation Argus
Bureau of Ordnance
Destroyer Flotilla II, Altantic Fleet
Military Sealift Command
Awards Bronze Star with Gold Star device
Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Legion of Merit
Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Arthur Robert Gralla (April 21, 1913 – May 22, 1998) was an American sailor who rose to the rank of Vice Admiral in the United States Navy.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world, with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second largest and second most powerful air force in the world.


Born and raised in Brooklyn, Gralla spent time in the U.S. Merchant Marine before entering the United States Naval Academy. He was decorated for several actions while serving as gunnery officer aboard the USS Reno in the Pacific theater of World War II in 1944. He then held a number of command and staff appointments before being decorated again for his role commanding a missile test task force as part of Operation Argus. As Vice Admiral, he was briefly Naval Inspector General before being named Commander, Military Sealift Command.

United States Naval Academy United States federal service academy

The United States Naval Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy adjacent to Annapolis, Maryland. Established on 10 October 1845, under Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, it is the second oldest of the United States' five service academies, and educates officers for commissioning primarily into the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The 338-acre (137 ha) campus is located on the former grounds of Fort Severn at the confluence of the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County, 33 miles (53 km) east of Washington, D.C. and 26 miles (42 km) southeast of Baltimore. The entire campus is a National Historic Landmark and home to many historic sites, buildings, and monuments. It replaced Philadelphia Naval Asylum, in Philadelphia, that served as the first United States Naval Academy from 1838 to 1845 when the Naval Academy formed in Annapolis.

Gunnery officer

The gunnery officer of a warship was the officer responsible for operation and maintenance of the ship's guns and for safe storage of the ship's ammunition inventory. The gunnery officer was usually the line officer next in rank to the executive officer. As shipboard guided missiles and torpedoes became more effective than naval artillery, guns were included within a weapons department replacing the older gunnery department. The weapons department is supervised by a weapons officer who may have a subordinate gunnery officer supervising the ship's guns.

USS <i>Reno</i> (CL-96) Atlanta/Oakland-class light cruiser warship

USS Reno (CL-96) was an updated Atlanta-class light cruiser - sometimes referred to as an "Oakland-class" - designed and built to specialize in antiaircraft warfare. She was the first warship to be named for the city of Reno, Nevada. Reno (DD-303) was a destroyer named for Lt. Commander Walter E. Reno.

Gralla studied at Brooklyn College before entering the Naval Academy. He also earned a master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Brooklyn College senior college of the City University of New York, located in Brooklyn

Brooklyn College is a university of the City University of New York, located in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. The institute is traditionally known for its research and education in the physical sciences and engineering, but more recently in biology, economics, linguistics and management as well. MIT is often ranked among the world's top five universities.

Early life and education

Gralla was born April 21, 1913, in Brooklyn, New York. [1] His father was chief clerk at the headquarters of the New York Police Department. Gralla was raised in the Brownsville neighborhood, where he attended a Hebrew school. [2]

Brownsville, Brooklyn Neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City, New York

Brownsville is a residential neighborhood located in eastern Brooklyn in New York City. The 1.163-square-mile (3.01 km2) area that comprises Brownsville has 58,300 residents as of the 2010 United States Census. The neighborhood's boundaries are unclear, but it is generally bordered by Crown Heights to the northwest; Bushwick and Cypress Hills to the north; New Lots to the east; Canarsie to the south; and East Flatbush to the west.

While attending Brooklyn College, Gralla spent a summer as an apprentice seaman [1] in the U.S. Merchant Marine. He then enrolled in the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1934 [3] with honors, ninth out of a class of 463. In 1942 he earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from MIT, [1] where he was elected to Sigma Xi. [4]

Electrical engineering field of engineering that deals with electricity

Electrical engineering is a professional engineering discipline that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. This field first became an identifiable occupation in the later half of the 19th century after commercialization of the electric telegraph, the telephone, and electric power distribution and use. Subsequently, broadcasting and recording media made electronics part of daily life. The invention of the transistor, and later the integrated circuit, brought down the cost of electronics to the point they can be used in almost any household object.

Sigma Xi honor society for science and engineering

Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Honor Society (ΣΞ) is a non-profit honor society for scientists and engineers which was founded in 1886 at Cornell University by a junior faculty member and a handful of graduate students. Members elect others on the basis of their research achievements or potential.

After commissioning, Gralla served aboard the USS Omaha. [4] From 1937 to 1939, he was an aide to the commander of the Special Service Squadron. [3] He then served aboard destroyers before beginning his studies at MIT. He studied ordnance engineering at MIT, and after graduating he spent part of 1942 [4] as a researcher in the Bureau of Ordnance's Fire Control Research and Development Division. [3]

USS <i>Omaha</i> (CL-4) ship

USS Omaha (CL-4) was the lead ship of the Omaha-class light cruiser of the United States Navy. She was originally classified as a scout cruiser. She was the second US Navy ship named for the city of Omaha, Nebraska, the first being Omaha, a screw sloop launched in 1869.

The Special Service Squadron was a component of the United States Navy during the earlier part of the 20th century. The squadron patrolled the Caribbean Sea as an instrument of gunboat diplomacy. It was headquartered in Balboa, Panama Canal Zone.

The Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) was the U.S. Navy's organization responsible for the procurement, storage, and deployment of all naval weapons, between the years 1862 and 1959.

Gralla then served in the Pacific theater of World War II, first aboard the USS Reno as gunnery officer. [3] The Reno was an anti-aircraft cruiser. [4] Gralla was decorated for his conduct in three engagements aboard the Reno in late 1944. In the first, on October 14, the Reno shot down 11 Japanese torpedo bombers. Then, on October 24, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Reno engaged the enemy to shield the heavily damaged USS Princeton. Finally, on November 3, after the Reno was struck by an enemy torpedo and began taking on water, Gralla led the dewatering effort, which saved the ship. For his role in these events, Gralla was awarded the Bronze Star, a Gold Star device in lieu of a second Bronze Star, and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. [1]

In 1945, Gralla became the gunnery officer of the USS Macon. After the war, he commanded the USS Dennis J. Buckley. Gralla then held a number of staff assignments, including in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations; the Air Defense Board; the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces, Northern Europe and Mediterranean; and the office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Operations and Readiness. Gralla returned to command to commission and serve as the first commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Ordnance Test Unit at Patrick Air Force Base. [4]

In August 1957, [4] now-Captain Gralla assumed command of the USS Norton Sound. The Norton Sound was a missile test ship. As commander of the Norton Sound, Gralla led Task Force 88, a fleet of nine ships with 4,500 sailors. The task force tested nuclear-armed rockets as part of Operation Argus [5] between July and September 1958. For his leadership, Gralla was awarded the Legion of Merit, with his citation praising his "unusual technical and professional competence, sound leadership, and outstanding initiative". [6]

Gralla as Rear Admiral. Gralla.jpg
Gralla as Rear Admiral.

In September 1958 Gralla was ordered back to the Bureau of Ordnance in Washington, D.C. [4] In 1961 he led an investigation of a deadly fire aboard the carrier USS Saratoga. In 1966 he was appointed Director of the reorganized Bureau of Ordnance Systems. [1] Upon promotion to admiral, he commanded Destroyer Flotilla II in the Atlantic Fleet. He received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for his work modernizing major weapons systems through the Naval Ordnance Systems Command. [3] In 1969, he was promoted to Vice Admiral and named Naval Inspector General. [1]

Later in 1969, Gralla received his final appointment, as commander of the Military Sea Transportation Service, [1] which was renamed Military Sealift Command in 1970. [7] In this role, he clashed with Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard over Packard's proposal to place most U.S. military logistics under the Army. This would have included sealift, over which Gralla's service had jurisdiction. Much of the top brass agreed with Gralla, and ultimately Congress did not endorse Packard's plan. However, in November 1971, Gralla was forced into retirement in retaliation for testifying to Congress against Packard's plan. [8]

Personal life

Gralla married Mildred C. Lesser on May 31, 1936. [4] They remained married until his death. [1] They had two sons, Arthur R. Gralla Jr. and Richard J. Gralla. [3]

Gralla was Jewish. He was the U.S. Navy's fourth Jewish Vice Admiral and was appointed Naval Inspector General by President Nixon. [2]

Later in life, Gralla settled in Arlington, Virginia. He died May 22, 1998, at the Arleigh Burke Pavilion in McLean, Virginia. The cause was pneumonia. [3]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Saxon, Wolfgang (May 31, 1998). "Vice Adm. A. R. Gralla, 85, Hero in Pacific". The New York Times . Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  2. 1 2 "Robert Gralla becomes fourth Jew to attain rank of Vice Admiral in United States Navy". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. May 9, 1969. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Vice Adm. Arthur R. Gralla dies at 85". The Washington Post . May 29, 1998. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 McMaster, Ken (1958). "USS Norton Sound AVM-1, Captain A.R. Gralla, Aug 1957–Sep 1958" . Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  5. Lawson, Cliff (2017). The Station Comes of Age: Satellites, Submarines, and Special Operations in the Final Years of the Naval Ordnance Test Station, 1959–1967. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. p. 43.
  6. Hall of Valor Project. "Arthur R. Gralla". Military Times. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  7. Herberger, A. J.; Gaulden, Ken; Marshall, Rolf (2015). Global Reach: Revolutionizing the Use of Commercial Vessels and Intermodal Systems for Military Sealift, 1990–2012. Naval Institute Press. p. 67.
  8. Mercogliano, Salvatore S. (2017). Fourth Arm of Defense: Sealift and Maritime Logistics in the Vietnam War. Naval History & Heritage Command. p. 61.