George Whelan Anderson, Jr. (1906 - 1992) was an Admiral in the United States Navy. He served as the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) between 1961 and 1963, and was in charge of the U.S. blockade of Cuba during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
Many military experts had expected that he would become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). But a series of major policy disputes with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara sidetracked his 36-year Navy career, and he was abruptly replaced as operations chief in 1963. Shortly after that, President John F. Kennedy, pleased with the Navy's handling of the blockade, appointed him as US Ambassador to Portugal. During 3 years there, encouraged plans for peaceful transition of the Portuguese colonies in Africa to national independence.
After leaving his post in Portugal, he returned to Government service from 1973 to 1977 as member and later chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
In the Cuban crisis, the US forced the removal of Soviet nuclear missiles from the island. Kennedy was quoted as telling him, "Well, Admiral it looks as though this is up to the Navy," to which he replied, "Mr President, the Navy will not let you down." Time magazine featured him on its cover, calling him "an aggressive blue-water sailor of unfaltering competence and uncommon flare." But he bridled at the extent of McNamara's insistence on civilian involvement in running the operation, regarding it as usurpation of traditional military authority. Historians say that the 2 men even debated specific ship deployments in an argument that erupted in the Situation Room of Pentagon.
They also differed on other issues. McNamara proposed using TFX fighter plane for both the Navy and Air Force but the Admiral rejected it as unsuitable - and Congress agreed with him. McNamara then thwarted the Navy's long-held plans to make all its aircraft carriers nuclear powered. And he ruffled feelings when reporters obtained and publicized his private letter criticizing adequacy of a military raise.
Born in Brooklyn, he entered the United States Naval Academy in 1927 and trained as a pilot after graduation in 1930. He flew as a test pilot and served on cruisers and carriers.
In World War II, he helped the Navy's huge expansion of its air arm and participated in strikes in Pacific as a navigator on the second carrier Yorktown. After the war he commanded the antisubmarine carrier, Mondoro. Then he was picked to assist President Dwight D. Eisenhower at North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The General had asked the Navy to "send me the smartest naval aviator you've got."
Among his posts, he was commander of the carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt and special assistant to the Chairman of the JCS. He also commanded Task Force 77 between Taiwan and mainland China and became Chief of Staff to the Pacific commander, commander Carrier Div 6 in the Mediterranean during the Lebanon landing and later commanded the Sixth Fleet.
After leaving the Navy, was chairman of Lamar Corporation, an outdoor advertising co, and served on the boards of Value Line, National Airlines and Crown Seal and Cork. Was also president of the Metropolitan Club in Washington, DC.
His first wife, former Muriel Buttling, died in 1947. Two sons who became Navy pilots are also deceased. George W. Anderson 3rd, died of cancer (and is buried in the admiral's plot in Arlington) and Thomas Patrick Anderson, who flew more than 200 combat missions in Vietnam, died in plane crash in the Mediterranean.
He was buried 23 March 1992 in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery.