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In Memoriam: Rear Admiral James Granville Storms III, USN (Ret.)

Sept. 20, 2022 | By Sam Cox (Rear Adm. USN, Ret.), Director, Naval History and Heritage Command
It is with deep regret I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral James Granville Storms III, U.S. Navy (Retired), on 19 July 2022 at age 90. Rear Admiral Storms entered the Naval Reserve in September 1951 and served as a surface warfare officer until his retirement in September 1986 as Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Surface Warfare (OP-03B). His commands included Fearless (MSO-442), Van Voorhis (DE-1028), River Assault Squadron ELEVEN/Task Group 194.4, John King (DDG-3), Albany (CG-10), U.S. Naval Forces Korea/Naval Component Command for United Nations Command Korea and U.S. Forces Korea, and Naval Logistics Command U.S. Pacific Fleet. He was awarded a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, Combat Action Ribbon, and Presidential Unit Citation as commander of River Assault Squadron ELEVEN during the Vietnam War. 

James Storms entered the U.S. Naval Reserve as a midshipman on 13 September 1951 while attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He graduated with a bachelor of science in management engineering, and was commissioned an ensign on 4 June 1954. He was first assigned to destroyer Charles W. Ware (DD-865), deploying to the Mediterranean in 1955 and conducting a midshipman cruise to Northern Europe in 1956, and served as escort for a ship transporting Saudi King Saud to New York. At some point, Lieutenant (j.g.) Storms transferred to the tactical command ship Northampton (CLC-1), conducting deployments to Europe for NATO exercises and serving as a showpiece for numerous foreign dignitaries. In May 1959, Lieutenant Storms reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, DC, as a plans and programs coordinator for Director of Naval Communications (OP-94). 

In May 1961, Lieutenant Storms assumed duty as executive officer on destroyer escort Brough (DE-148), operating from Key West Florida with the Fleet Sonar School, and also participating in U.S. naval operations in reaction to the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. In June 1963, he returned to Rensselaer, was promoted to lieutenant commander in March 1964, and earned a master of science in management in 1964. 

 In July 1964, Lieutenant Commander Storms assumed command of ocean minesweeper Fearless based out of Charleston, South Carolina, for a Mediterranean deployment. In 1966, he assumed duty as executive officer of guided-missile destroyer Semmes (DDG-18) for a Mediterranean deployment and homeport change from Charleston to Norfolk to commence a major overhaul. In 1967, Storms assumed command of Newport-based destroyer escort Van Voorhis for operations in the Caribbean and around South America. He was promoted to commander in July 1968. 

In January 1969, Commander Storms assumed command of River Assault Squadron ELEVEN, one of the first two Navy squadrons in the Mobile Riverine Force, a joint Army-Navy operation in which Navy craft, including armored troop carriers (ATC) and monitors (armored fire-support vessels), provided mobility for U.S. Army troops in the Mekong Delta region, frequently engaging in intense combat with Viet Cong forces. He also served as chief of staff, First Sealords, and as Commander Task Group 194.4. This was part of then–Rear Admiral Zumwalt’s reorganization for combat in Vietnamese waterways, incorporating operations with South Vietnamese navy and army forces in the initial phases of the “Vietnamization” of the war. Following his Vietnam combat tour, Commander Storms attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk in 1970. 

In August 1970, Storms assumed command of guided-missile destroyer John King, based out of Norfolk. The ship deployed to the Mediterranean in 1971–72 following a six-month overhaul, providing escort to carriers Saratoga (CVA-60) and Independence (CVA-62). In May 1972, he was assigned briefly to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations before attending the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) at Fort McNair, Washington\, DC. He was promoted to captain in June 1975. 

Captain Storms reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations as program coordinator for the strike cruiser (CSGN) program and DDG-47 programs (OP-371F). CSGN was envisioned as an AEGIS nuclear-powered Tomahawk missile attack cruiser (with the first prototype intended to be a refurbished Long Beach [CGN-9]) complemented by the DDG-47, an AEGIS air defense version of the Spruance-class destroyer. Both programs were cancelled in budget cutbacks in the 1970s, but significant elements were incorporated into the later CG-47 Ticonderoga AEGIS guided-missile cruisers. 

In July 1976, CAPT Storms assumed command of Albany (CG-10), serving as the flagship for Commander U.S. Sixth Fleet at Gaeta, Italy. In November 1978, he returned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations as deputy director, Surface Combat Systems Division (Op-35B). In March 1980, he assumed duty as director of Surface Warfare Manpower and Training Requirements Division (Op-39). 

In July 1981, he was designated a rear admiral for service in a billet commensurate with that rank and assigned as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea/Naval Component Command for United Nations Command and U.S. Forces Korea. He was promoted to rear admiral on 1 July 1982. In August 1983, he assumed command of Naval Logistics Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet. In September 1985, he returned to Washington, serving as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Surface Warfare. He retired on 1 September 1986. 

Rear Admiral Storms’ awards include the Silver Star; Legion of Merit (two awards); Bronze Star (two awards, at least one with combat “V”); Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal with Numeral “2”; Navy Commendation Medal; Combat Action Ribbon; Presidential Unit Citation (River Assault Squadron ELEVEN); Navy Unit Commendation (Albany); Battle Efficiency Ribbon (three awards); Navy Expeditionary Medal; National Defense Service Medal (two awards); Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze campaign stars; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with two Gold Stars; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device; Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit Cheonsu Medal.

I have no information regarding his post-retirement activity or memorial service. 

Rear Admiral Storms’ career exemplified service and sacrifice: four at-sea commands, one Vietnam riverine combat command, and two shore commands, including a naval component command in an area prone to crises (Korea). It was a quintessential career path for a surface warfare officer. He served aboard a destroyer engaged in the Cuban Missile crisis, the closest the United States and Soviet Union came to nuclear war. His exceptional leadership skills were recognized early, with command of a minesweeper (Fearless) and a destroyer escort (Van Voorhis) as a lieutenant commander. He then served as commander of a squadron of unique armored vessels, using the mobility afforded by the rivers and canals in the Mekong Delta to repeatedly surprise and get the better of Viet Cong forces, which had previously been operating with near impunity in the area. Combat was intense, as evidenced by his Silver Star (for which I regrettably cannot find a citation), two Bronze Stars, and a Presidential Unit Citation, along with (unusual for a surface officer), two Air Medals, most likely in helicopters or observation aircraft preventing Viet Cong ambushes of the Mobile Riverine Force. Through exemplary command of destroyer John King, he earned the prestigious (but very challenging) assignment as commanding officer of the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship Albany. He experienced a very frustrating OPNAV tour, when the programs he was responsible for (CSGN and DDG-47) fell victim to the extreme austerity of the post-Vietnam years, but did set up the subsequent CG-47 Ticonderoga-class AEGIS missile cruisers for success. In a subsequent tour as Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Surface Warfare, he contributed to the success of the Arleigh Burke–class guided-missile destroyer program. Rear Admiral Storms served about as much time at sea as was possible during a career, no doubt at great sacrifice to his personal and home life. With his passing, our wardroom has lost another of our heroes from the Vietnam War, who did his duty to the fullest answering the nation’s call. All Americans, and especially the U.S. Navy, should remember and be grateful for his exemplary service.

Rest in Peace, Admiral Storms.