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 (lower half) Phillip Freeman McNall, Supply Corps, U.S. Navy, (Retired) on November 28, 2020 at age 85. Phil entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1954 and served as a Supply Corps Officer until his retirement in September 1988 as the Commanding Officer, Aviation Supply Office, Philadelphia. Among many assignments he served as the Supply Officer for USS New Orleans (LPH 11) for a Vietnam War deployment and the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and as Commanding Officer of Naval Supply Center San Diego and Commander Naval Logistics Pacific.
After a year at Hamilton College, N.Y., Phil McNall gained an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, entering on June 28, 1954 with the class of 1958, earning a Bachelor of Science in Naval Science. He graduated and was commissioned an ensign on June 4, 1958. His first assignment was aboard the amphibious command ship USS Estes (AGC 12) homeported in San Diego, deploying in 1959 for amphibious exercises in Japan, Korea, Okinawa and Borneo. Selected for the U.S. Navy Supply Corps, he reported in September 1960 to the Naval Supply Corps School, Athens, Ga. In May 1961, Lieutenant (junior grade) McNall reported to the Naval Supply Center San Diego as Assistant to the Director, Control Department/Director Data Processing Department. Promoted to lieutenant in June 1962, he subsequently attended the Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey in November 1964, graduating in October 1966 with a Masters Degree in Operations research and where he was promoted to lieutenant commander in July 1966.
In October 1966, Lt. Cmdr. McNall commenced duty at the Naval Supply Systems Command in Washington, D.C. In February 1969 he was selected to serve as aide to Vice Admiral Edwin B. Hooper, the Navy Member of the Joint Logistics Review Board in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In July 1970, Lt. Cmdr. McNall assumed duty as Supply Officer aboard amphibious assault ship New Orleans for operations that included flagship for Commander FIRST Fleet, support to President Richard M. Nixon’s visit to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, recovery of the Apollo 14 Astronauts south of Samoa, and a Western Pacific deployment including operations off Vietnam. Promoted to commander in September 1971, he detached from New Orleans in July 1972 and reported to the Naval War College Newport, where he was the distinguished graduate in 1973.
In June 1973, Cmdr. McNall reported to the Fleet Material Support Office, Mechanicsburg, PA as the Director, Supply System Evaluation Department. In March 1967, Cmdr. McNall reported to recently-commissioned nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as Supply Officer for Nimitz’ first deployment, to the Mediterranean in 1976-77. In July 1977, Cmdr. McNall reported to the Aviation Supply Office (ASO) Philadelphia, as Planning and Data Systems Officer, where he was promoted to captain in September 1977. In June 1979, Capt. McNall then became Executive Officer for the ASO.
In June 1980, Capt. McNall assumed command of the Naval Supply Center, San Diego. In June 1982, Capt. McNall assumed duty at the Naval Supply Systems Command headquarters in Washington, D.C. In July 1983 he was designated a rear admiral (lower half) for duty in a billet commensurate with the rank, reporting to Honolulu as Commander Naval Logistics Command Pacific and Force Supply Officer for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. He was promoted to rear admiral (lower half) on July 1, 1984 and designated a Material Professional in 1985. In August 1986, Rear Adm. McNall assumed command of the Aviation Supply Office, Philadelphia where he served until his retirement in September 1988.
Rear Adm. McNall’s awards include the Legion of Merit (3 awards) Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Battle Efficiency Ribbon (USS Nimitz), National Defense Service Medal (two awards), Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Following his retirement from the Navy, Rear Adm. McNall served as a consultant in the defense industry and as a golf teaching professional. With a passion for jazz music, he was a member of the Leaders’ Circle at SF Jazz, San Francisco.
Rear Adm. McNall served the U.S. Navy with extraordinary dedication and distinction, providing leadership by example for future generations of Supply Corps Officers. He excelled in some of the toughest and most consequential positions in the Supply Corps at sea and afloat, in some of the best times and some of the leanest times in the U.S. Navy during the Cold War. He set the Supply Department on the new nuclear carrier Nimitz on the path to continued excellence during her very first deployment. As the Commander of the Naval Supply Center San Diego and then Naval Logistics Command Pacific, he played a key leadership role in bringing the U.S. Navy out of the post-Vietnam doldrums and enabling audacious operations by the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union which served to help bring about an end to the Cold War. As the Commander of the Aviation Supply Office in Philadelphia he played to major role in bringing Naval Aviation to new heights of readiness, the would shortly afterwards be demonstrated in Operation Desert Storm. It is leaders like Rear Adm. McNall that have enabled the Navy Supply Corps to provide the best logistics support of any Navy in the world. He will be truly missed, but his example and legacy will live on.
Rest in Peace Admiral McNall.