Bending Without Breaking: A Naval Academy Graduate On Creative Leadership In The Navy And Beyond

Gary Dalley


Dr. Gary Dalley’s parents were German immigrants who came to America following World War II. His father, who grew up in Prussia, was in the Hitler Youth, and was sent to finance school before being pressed into service near the end of the war. His mother grew up in Berlin, experienced the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War, and came to America in 1955. Growing up in California, Gary enjoyed swimming, and watching Star Trek. Several influences combined to make the Naval Academy very appealing, and he joined the Brigade of Midshipmen in the summer of 1979. Although he did well academically, he chaffed under the restrictions of the Academy and tried to forge his own path, occasionally running afoul of regulations. Serving as a surface warfare officer, he reported to USS Spruance following her time in the shipyard, and became the Repair Officer and Damage Control Assistant. His next assignment was in an Amphib unit, serving on landing craft with Marines and Seabees. Leaving the Navy in 1988, he took a job working for a Defense Contractor developing tactical thinking in Artificial Intelligence. Next, he attended Wake Forest Medical School, specializing in internal medicine. In this interview, he talks about his family history, growing up in California, and his desire to attend the Naval Academy. He highlights his experiences at Annapolis, and his service in the fleet. He discusses his career after leaving the Navy, including becoming a doctor. He describes his son’s path to the United States Military Academy, and ends by reflecting on what his service means to him.


topics USNA Morale Leadership Teamwork Military Medicine
interviewer David Siry
date 06MAR2020


name Gary Dalley
institution USNA
graduation year 1983
service Surface Warfare
unit USS Spruance DD-963
specialty Internal Medicine Doctor
service dates 1983 1988