6th Annual Gravely Celebration Experience Aboard Battleship IOWA Museum presenting the VADM Samuel L. Gravely Jr., Leadership & Service Award Thursday, February 21, 2019, 5:30 p.m.

The 6th annual VADM Samuel L. Gravely Jr., Leadership & Service Award will honor three individuals who exemplify the trailblazing and courageous service of the late U.S. Navy Vice Admiral on Thursday, February 21, 2019. The Gravely Celebration Experience includes a sunset reception preceding the evening awards ceremony on the fantail of the Battleship IOWA Museum.

Three heroes will be honored for their commitment to bridging people and communities. Each individual reflects the three pillars of the Pacific Battleship Center the non-profit arm of Battleship IOWA Museum: education, veterans and community. The 2019 honorees include:

  • Judge Mablean Ephriam, a former Los Angeles prosecuting attorney and star of Tyler Perry’s “Madea” films, whose charitable foundation’s mission is to strengthen families, educate minds, and financially empower the impoverished communities of Los Angeles County.
  • Bill Coggins, Fulbright scholar, Army veteran, and founder of the Watts Counseling and Learning Center.

VADM Walter Davis (Ret.), electrical engineer, scientist, co-founder of a tech incubator, and decorated Navy admiral including service as a Vietnam-era pilot, aircraft carrier CO and battle group Commander.

The celebration will also welcome the winner of the Gravely Student Essay Contest, which challenges high school students to explore VADM Gravely’s motto: Education, Motivation & Perseverance. Throughout the event, student and adult honorees will join on stage to reflect on the life and service of Samuel L. Gravely.


Thursday, February 21, 2019 5:30 – 8 p.m.


Battleship IOWA Museum, 250 S. Harbor Boulevard, San Pedro, CA., 90731


The awards event is free to attend. Space is limited and RSVP is essential. Reserve tickets at www.tickets.labattleship.com

Credit: Battleship Iowa Museum.

About VADM Samuel L. Gravely (Ret.):

Samuel Gravely was the first African American to command a warship (USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD 717)); command a major warship (USS Jouett (DLG 29)); to achieve flag rank and eventually vice admiral, and to command a numbered fleet (U.S. 3rd).  Throughout his career, Gravely received the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Navy Commendation Medal.  The destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107), commissioned in 2010, was named in his honor. Upon leaving active duty, Admiral Gravely continued to work in Washington on defense coordination and satellite communications. He retired in 1980 as director of the Defense Communications Agency in Washington, overseeing the communications network linking Washington with American and allied bases worldwide. In 2019, VADM Samuel L. Gravely, Jr was inducted into the Surface Navy Association’s Hall of Fame.

About Battleship IOWA

Entering service more than 70 years ago, the USS IOWA deployed to the South Pacific in the uncertain early years of World War II.  The iconic battleship served with distinction in that war and later, during the Korean War.  In the 1990s, as the Berlin Wall crumbled, the IOWA concluded her active duty.  Battleship IOWA now serves as a historic naval ship museum.  Forged in war and guardian of the peace, the proud ship keeps watching as the proud sentinel of the LA Waterfront. IOWA’s teak decks and steel bulkheads echo the words and deeds of history, having carried upon them three U.S. Presidents, six of the nine American five-star military leaders, countless foreign dignitaries, and most importantly, thousands of her own heroic IOWA sailors.  Visitors are awed by the IOWA’s proud legacy as one of the fastest and most powerful ships ever to sail the world’s oceans.  Battleship IOWAis open to the public daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our hours are 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m with our last ticket sale. Please visit our website additional information on special events, group tours educational programs and Naval retirement flag service. 

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