Gralla, Arthur, VADM

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Last Rank
Vice Admiral
Last Primary NEC
111X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Surface Warfare
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1969-1971, Military Sealift Fleet Support Command (MSC/MSFSC), Military Sealift Command Headquarters (MSCHQ)
Service Years
1934 - 1971
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral

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Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
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Contact Info
Home Town
Brooklyn, NY
Last Address
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Sec: 66, Site: 4357-A

Date of Passing
May 22, 1998
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Last Known Activity
Arthur Robert Gralla, Sr.
Vice Admiral, United States Navy

Arthur R. Gralla, 85, a vice admiral and decorated World War II veteran who served as inspector general of the Navy and commanded the Military Sealift Command before his retirement in 1971, died of pneumonia May 27, 1998 at Arleigh Burke Pavilion in McLean, Virginia. He lived in Arlington. 

As an admiral, he commanded the Destroyer Flotilla II of the Atlantic Fleet and, in the mid-1960s, helped to establish the Naval Ordnance Systems Command. In the latter capacity, he contributed to the modernization of major weapon systems and received the Distinguished Service Medal for his efforts. 

He was named Naval inspector general in 1969 and became commander of Military Sealift Command a year later. 

Early in his career, he served as an admiral's aide with the Special Service Squadron in the South Atlantic and as a researcher for the Fire Control Research and Development Division in the Navy Department's Bureau of Ordnance. 

During World War II, he served in the South Pacific, primarily on the cruiser USS Reno, where he was a gunnery officer. The Reno was credited with downing nearly 20 enemy aircraft. He was decorated for his pivotal role in saving the Reno after it was torpedoed late in 1944. 

His post-World War II assignments included serving as a member of the Air Defense Board, instructor at the Armed Forces Staff College, administrative aide to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations and commanding officer of a missile test ship. 

His military honors included the Legion of Merit with Gold Star, Navy Marine Corps Medal and Bronze Star Medal with Gold Star. 

He was a native of Brooklyn, New York, who got his first taste of life on the sea as an apprentice seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine.

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1934 and received a master's degree during post-graduate training in Ordnance Engineering (Fire Control) at MIT. He was elected to the MIT Chapter of Sigma Xi, a post-graduate honor fraternity.

Survivors include his wife, Mildred Lesser Gralla of Arlington; two sons, Arthur R. Gralla Jr. of Houston and Richard J. Gralla of New Orleans; and three grandchildren.  

Buried in Section 66 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Other Comments:

Vice Adm. A. R. Gralla, 85, Hero in Pacific

Vice Adm. Arthur Robert Gralla, a veteran of three wars whose combat ribbons told of two crippled warships with some 5,500 sailors and airmen snatched from danger in the Pacific, died on May 22 at the Arleigh Burke Pavilion in McLean, Va. He was 85 and, most recently, a resident of Arlington.

Admiral Gralla entered the country's honor roll of war heroes in late 1944 as the gunnery officer of the cruiser Reno. On Oct. 14 of that year, he directed his antiaircraft batteries to deliver ''devastating fire'' against waves of Japanese torpedo bombers, bringing down 11 and preventing damage to his naval task force.

Ten days later, the aircraft carrier Princeton was bombed and set on fire in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in the Philippines. His well-aimed batteries shielded the stricken carrier, and he was credited with sparing it.

Then, in November, off the island of Samar, the Reno took a torpedo that caused an underwater explosion and flooded parts of the vessel.

''Voluntarily taking charge of dewatering operations in the ship's flooded stern with high waves making footing dangerous,'' the Navy stated, ''Commander Gralla directed shoring to prevent further water from entering the compartment leading to the flooded'' main storeroom.

''When the water had lowered sufficiently to permit entry,'' the Navy said, ''he descended into the partially filled storeroom floating with debris and obnoxious gases before permitting his men to go below and then directed pumping operations in oil-covered water up to his armpits with the ship rolling heavily and the additional threat of possible pressure rupture of other water filled compartments.''

The Reno survived. Its gunnery officer received the Bronze Star, Gold Star (in lieu of a second Bronze Star), and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his conduct in those three fateful engagements.

Admiral Gralla retired at the end of 1971 after 37 years in the service. His last command was the Military Sealift Command, the ocean-going shipping agency of the armed forces.

Arthur Gralla was born in Brooklyn. Attending Brooklyn College, he worked as an apprentice merchant seaman one summer and won an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. He graduated with honors in 1934, ninth in a class of 463, and completed his education with a master's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1942.

In 1961 he headed an inquiry into a fire aboard the carrier Saratoga off Athens in the Ionian Sea, which killed 7 crewmen and injured 23. When the Navy revamped its management in 1966, he was put in charge of its Bureau of Ordnance Systems.

He was promoted to vice admiral in 1969, when he briefly served as Navy inspector general. Later that year he was given his final assignment at what was then called the Military Sea Transportation Service.

Admiral Gralla is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mildred Lesser Gralla; their two sons, Arthur R. Jr., of Houston, a retired Navy captain, and Dr. Richard J., of New Orleans; a sister, Edna Berlly of Boca Raton, Fla., and three grandchildren.

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 Duty Stations
<B>US Merchant Marine (USMM)</b>US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)US NavyCommander, US Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM)
NROTC (Faculty Staff)Bureau of OrdnanceUSS Macon (CA-132)USS Dennis J. Buckley (DD/DDR-808)
CNO - OPNAVDepartment of Defense (DOD)Joint Forces Staff College/Armed Forces Staff College (Faculty Staff)Commander Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), Commander Naval Air Force (CNAF)
USS Norton Sound (AVM-1)Office of the Naval Inspector General (Naval IG)Military Sealift Fleet Support Command  (MSC/MSFSC), Military Sealift Command Headquarters (MSCHQ)
  1929-1930, US Merchant Marine (USMM)
  1930-1934, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1934-1935, USS Omaha (CL-4)
  1937-1939, Commander, Special Service Squadron, Commander, US Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM)
  1938-1939, Naval Sea Units
  1939-1941, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) NROTC (Cadre)
  1942-1942, Bureau of Ordnance
  1943-1945, USS Reno (CL-96)
  1945-1946, USS Macon (CA-132)
  1946-1947, USS Dennis J. Buckley (DD/DDR-808)
  1947-1948, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, CNO - OPNAV
  1948-1950, Department of Defense (DOD)
  1950-1952, Joint Forces Staff College/Armed Forces Staff College (Faculty Staff)
  1954-1956, Commander Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), Commander Naval Air Force (CNAF)
  1957-1958, USS Norton Sound (AVM-1)
  1960-1962, Bureau of Ordnance
  1969-1969, Office of the Naval Inspector General (Naval IG)
  1969-1971, Military Sealift Fleet Support Command (MSC/MSFSC), Military Sealift Command Headquarters (MSCHQ)
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval AcademyMassachusetts Institute of Technology
  1930-1934, United States Naval Academy
  1939-1941, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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  Bio: Arthur Robert Gralla, Sr., Hero in Pacific1
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