Admiral Harold Webster Gehman Jr, USN (Retired)

A Biography

Harold Gehman

Admiral Harold Webster Gehman Jr

Admiral Gehman was born in Norfolk, Va. on 15 October, 1942; he graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a BS in Industrial Engineering and a commission in the US Navy from their NROTC program. 

A Surface Warfare Officer, he served at all levels of leadership and command in guided missile destroyers and cruisers. During the course of his career, Gehman had an unusual five sea commands while serving in the ranks of Lieutenant through Rear Admiral.

As a Lieutenant, Gehman served in I Corps, South Vietnam, as the Officer-in-Charge of Patrol Craft Fast (PCF 27), a Swift boat, and later in Chu Lai, RVN as the Officer-in-Charge of the detachments' six Swift boats and their crews.   At sea, he commanded the guided missile destroyer USS Dahlgren DDG-43; the 6th Fleet flagship USS Belknap DLG/CG-26, a guided missile cruiser; the rescue and salvage ship USS Conserver ARS-39; and Cruiser-Destroyer Group 8 on board the carrier USS Eisenhower CVN-69.


His staff assignments were both afloat on a Carrier Battle Group staff and ashore on a fleet commander's staff, a Unified Commander's staff and in Washington DC on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations (four tours).


Promoted to four star Admiral in 1996, he became the 29th Vice Chief of Naval Operations in September, 1996.   As VCNO he was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, formulated the Navy's $70B budget and developed and implemented policies governing the 375,000 people in the Navy.


Assigned in September, 1997 as SACLANT and the first CINC US Joint Forces Command he became one of NATO's two military commanders and assumed command of all forces of all four services in the continental US, and became responsible for the provision of ready forces to the other Unified CinCs, the development of new joint doctrine, training and requirements.    He was also given the added responsibility of coordinating U.S. military support to civilian agencies in the event of attack on United States territories by nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.


His last assignment was as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic and as the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, one of the United States' five geographic Unified Commands.


Admiral Harold Webster “Hal” Gehman, Jr., USN (Ret), completed over 35 years of active duty in the US Navy on 5 September 2000.


Immediately after retiring, Gehman served as Co-chairman of the Department of Defense review of the 12 October 2000 terrorist bombing of the USS Cole DDG-67 in Aden Harbor, Yemen, on  which 17 sailors were killed.

In 2003, Gehman served as the Chairman of the Board investigating the 1 February 2003 space shuttle Columbia, STS-107, accident that drew together some of the nation's most experienced investigators and safety experts from the aviation, naval nuclear propulsion, medical, scientific and academic communities to determine the cause of the accident, they then reported their findings to the nation in August of that year.

In 2005 he was a board member of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) that made its recommendations to Congress and the President concerning the utilization of all facilities maintained by the U.S. military.

Admiral Gehman is married to the former Janet F. Johnson, they have two children: Katherine and Christopher.