In Memoriam: Admiral Powell F. Carter, Jr.

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

In a July 12 message to active and retired Navy flag officers, the director of the Navy staff shared news of the passing of a former U.S. Atlantic Fleet commander who began his military career as an enlisted Sailor.

In his note, Vice Admiral James G. Foggo III honored the life and career of retired Admiral Powell F. Carter, who enlisted in the Navy in 1949 serving in such humble positions as compartment cleaner and mess cook.

Portrait: US Navy (USN) Admiral (ADM) Powell F. Carter (covered)

Carter passed away June 28 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and is survived by his wife, Carole. Carter will be inurned in a private plot in Harpers Ferry on a date to be announced. He was 86.

Midway through the Korean War, Carter attended the U.S. Naval Academy. Once commissioned, he joined the submarine community where he served onboard multiple fast attack and fleet ballistic missile submarines at sea while alternating as an instructor ashore.

Carter led submariners as XO and CO during the tense times of the Vietnam War and Cold War.

“His command ride on USS Hammerhead was surely the perfect match of a seasoned skipper and a fast ship ready to go in harm’s way,” Foggo said in his message.

Upon completion of his command tour, Powell served as the executive assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and fleeted up to the same position for the Chief of Naval Operations.

“Recognizing the stature and skill of the man, Powell was immediately assigned to squadron command (SUBRON 16). After putting in a few more years of grind through the Pentagon, Powell made flag and commanded SUBGRU Two,” said Foggo.

What has been described as his “unique ability to operate in step with the most senior decision makers of the nation’s military services” was again recognized when he was assigned the position of director of the joint staff and later became the special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Later on, he became the U.S. military representative to the NATO Military Committee.

After nearly 40 years of what Foggo described as “absolutely spectacular service,” Powell was promoted to admiral and assigned duty as Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

“Powell was the gold standard for anyone hoping to go Seaman-to-Admiral. In my humble opinion, we need to pass this success story on to our young Sailors,” said Foggo. “I have two Sailors in the DNS office competing for Seaman to Admiral now and I look forward to telling them the limitless possibilities that await them, just as they did for Admiral Powell Carter, Jr.

“Admiral Carter will be remembered as one of the most humble of men.” Foggo continued. “I hope you all take a moment, whether you knew him or not, to reflect upon such an incredible Sailor and Seaman-to-Admiral who’s devotion to the United States Navy and his country are unmatched.”

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