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 I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral Shirley David Frost, Supply Corps, U.S. Navy (Retired) on June 27, 2020 at age 90. David Frost entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949 and served as a Supply Corps Officer until his retirement in April 1983 as the Deputy Comptroller of the Navy. He deployed twice to the Gulf of Tonkin as Supply Officer on carrier America (CVA 66) during the Vietnam War, and was awarded a Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V.” He also served as the Commanding Officer of the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens, Ga.
Dave Frost took the oath of office at the U.S. Naval Academy on June 13, 1949, where he excelled and was Deputy Brigade Commander his First Class year. He was remembered for “sparkling wit and for his freely given assistance to those who were hurdling some academic obstacles that seemed too high” (he graduated 17 of 926) and for his dislike of his first name. He graduated and was commissioned an ensign on June 5, 1953. Ensign Frost reported to the battle-veteran attack transport Henrico (APA 45) serving as the Ship’s Secretary and Navigator for a Western Pacific deployment that included evacuation of Chinese Nationalist troops from the Tachen Islands off the coast of Communist China (also known as the First Taiwan Straits Crises, during which the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended the use of nuclear weapons on the Communist Chinese, which President Eisenhower declined to do).
Although he originally wanted to be an aviator, having completed his required two years at sea, in May 1955, Lt. j.g. Frost reported to the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens, Ga., graduating and becoming a Supply Corps Officer in December 1955. He then reported to the Navy Finance Center in Cleveland, Ohio , serving as assistant to the Planning Officer. In March 1958, Lieutenant Frost returned to sea as Supply Officer on attack cargo ship Rankin (AKA 103) for two Mediterranean deployments, the first of which included landing 5,000 U.S. Marines in Beirut during the 1958 Lebanon Crisis. In August 1959, Lt. Frost reported to the NROTC unit at Stanford University, Calif., where he earned Masters in Business Administration.
In June 1961, Lt. Frost reported to the Naval Ordnance Supply Office, Mechanicsburg, Pa. as Assistant Director of the Planning Division, and where he was promoted to lieutenant commander in July 1961. In July 1964, Lt. Cmdr. Frost attended the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. where he graduated in June 1965. He was then assigned to the Naval Supply Depot, Mechanicsburg, Pa. as Director for Systems Development Division, Systems Design and Procedures Department, where he worked at developing a uniform inventory control point program. In September 1965 in what may have been a reorganization, he became Director, Systems Development Division in the Systems Design and Procedures Department for Navy Fleet Material Support Office, Mechanicsburg, Pa. In April 1966, he was promoted to commander.
In June 1968, Cmdr. Frost reported as Supply Officer for carrier America (CVA 66) already on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tokin conducting strike operations in the aftermath of the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong “Tet Offensive.” America was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation and Cmdr. Frost a Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V’ for this deployment. America completed an around-the world deployment and returned to Norfolk via Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. Cmdr. Frost deployed to Yankee Station again on America, during which America was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation (also the first combat deployment of the A-7E Corsair II). In July 1974 he commenced a long tour as the Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Comptroller, in Washington, D.C., where he was promoted to captain in July 1972.
In April 1974, Capt. Frost was assigned as Executive Officer of the Naval Supply Center, Norfolk, V. In May 1975, he assumed command of the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens, Ga. In June 1977, Capt. Frost assumed duty as the Deputy Commander for Plans, Policy and Systems Development for Navy Supply Systems Command. He was promoted to rear admiral on April 1, 1978.
In September 1978, Rear Adm. Frost commenced duty as the Deputy Comptroller of the Navy, with additional duty as Commander, Navy-Wide Finance Activities/Assistant Comptroller, Financial Management Systems, Commander Navy Accounting and Finance Center. Rear Adm. Frost retired on April 1, 1983.
Rear Adm. Frost’s awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (3), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V,” Navy Unit Commendation (America), Meritorious Unit Commendation (America), China Service Medal (Henrico), National Defense Service Medal (2), Vietnam Service Medal (three bronze stars), Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Gallantry Cross Color, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, and Expert Pistol.
Following his retirement from active duty, Dave Frost served for 16 years as the Staff Director for Management for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. working as the highest non-presidential appointee at the Federal Reserve for Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan. He was active in his church and was a member of the Knights of Malta. He was a member of the Model A Ford Club of America and he completely restored a 1931 Model A Ford roadster, which he drove to work for many years. According to an obituary, he could build or rebuild just about anything.
Dave Frost’s unselfish mentoring of other midshipmen spoke much about his character, and made him an ideal Commanding Officer for the Navy Supply Corps School where his standards of excellence and leadership no doubt strongly influenced a generation of new Navy Supply Corps Officers. From the Taiwan Straits Crisis to the Lebanon Crisis to the Vietnam War, he served our Navy and nation when and where it mattered the most. Although some of his assignments may not be well-known to the rest of the Navy, they were definitely “in the thick of the action” for the Navy supply system. He showed special aptitude in financial management, and without the accurate distribution and accounting of funds really bad things can happen. There is no Navy in history that does supply as well as the United States Navy, and it is because of the caliber of officers like Dave Frost and those who were trained and inspired by his sterling example. The Navy Supply Corps and the entire Navy owe him a debt of gratitude for his exemplary service to our nation.
Rest in Peace Admiral Frost.