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Passing of Rear Adm. Joseph Sansone, USN (Ret.)

By: Samuel J. Cox Rear Adm., USN (retired) Director of Naval History, Curator for the Navy Director, Naval History and Heritage Command

It is with deep regret that I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral Joseph Sarto Sansone, Jr., Supply Corps, U.S. Navy (Retired) on March 22, 2020 at age 89. Joe entered the Navy in 1953 and served for 32 years with his last tour as Deputy Chief of Naval Materiel for Contracts and Business Managements.

Joseph Sansone attended Georgetown University before graduating from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science in Pure Science. In June 1953, he entered the U.S. Navy and in September 1953 commenced Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I., graduating and being commissioned an ensign on January 28, 1954. Ensign Sansone’s first assignment was Communications and Operations Officer on landing ship tank LST 601, (later named Clarke County). In June 1955, Lieutenant (junior grade) Sansone was assigned to Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va. as Postal and Telephone Officer.

In March 1958, he began his career in the Supply Corps, entering the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens, Ga., graduating in October 1958 with a 3100 Supply Corps designator. His next tour was as Supply and Cargo Officer on cargo ship Alcor (AK 259) homeported in Norfolk, making deployments to the Mediterranean. In June 1960, Lt. j.g. Sansone reported to Naval Communications Systems Headquarters as Assistant Comptroller responsible for budget. In June 1963, Lieutenant Sansone reported as Ship and Staff Supply Officer to attack transport Monrovia (APA 31) flagship for Commander Amphibious Squadron EIGHT, for a Mediterranean deployment and then embarkation and landing of U.S. Marines in the 1965 Dominican Republic Crisis (Operation Powerpack) that earned the ship an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

In June 1965, Lieutenant Commander Sansone reported to the Defense Industrial Supply Center, Philadelphia as Procurement Policy Chief and Production Division Chief, where he was promoted to commander in July 1967.

In April 1968, Cmdr. Sansone was assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Technology and Logistics) on the staff of the Weapons Systems Acquisition Policy and Procurement Operations Directorate, and then as Vice Chairman, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. In February 1971, Cmdr. Sansone served as Special Assistant and Executive Director, Contracts, at the Naval Electronic Systems Command. In August 1973 he attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) at Fort McNair, graduating with distinction in July 1974 after being frocked to captain in June.

Capt. Sansone’s tours as an O-6 included Director of Acquisition and Contract Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower, Reserve Affairs and Logistics) and in 1978 he became Assistant Chief of Naval Materiel for Contracts and Business Management, with added duty as Deputy Chief of Naval Material Command when he was promoted to Rear Admiral. Rear Adm. Sansone held these positions for seven years until his retirement on August 1, 1985. (The job title, and the name of the command, changed several times during his tenure.)

Rear Admiral Sansone’s awards include the Legion of Merit (at least two), Meritorious Service Medal (2), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal (2), Navy Occupation (Europe) Medal, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Dominican Republic).

In 2003, Rear Adm. Sansone received the Le Moyne College Distinguished Graduate Award. There is nothing I can find on-line about what he did after retirement, other than obviously devoting considerable time to his family.

During World War II, CNO Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King was quoted as saying, “I don’t know what the hell this ‘logistics’ is that (General George) Marshall is always talking about…but I want some of it.” Actually King knew full well that logistics was the key to sustaining simultaneous U.S. Navy operations across thousands of miles of ocean in far-flung corners of the globe, and the importance is as true today as it was during Rear Admiral Sansone’s career. Rear Adm. Sansone spent 20 years of his 32-year career devoted to ensuring that the Fleet had what it needed to operate forward and fight if necessary. While some might not consider acquisition, contracts, procurement, and business management all that exciting, nothing happens without it, and Rear Adm. Sansone thrived on it, to the point of apparently becoming the “indispensable man” at Naval Material Command for his last seven years. His exceptional depth of expertise and proven ability to procure the material the Navy needed during the years of the Cold War and Vietnam served our nation very well. His legacy no doubt lives on in the extraordinary service the Supply Corps provides to the Navy and our Nation today, (and no other Navy does it better).

Rest in Peace Admiral Sansone.