About Admiral David L. McDonald, Chief of Naval Operations
David Lamar McDonald (September 12, 1906 – December 16, 1997) was an Admiral of the United States Navy, who served as the 17th Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), 1 August 1963 – 1 August 1967, during the Vietnam War era.
A native of Maysville, Georgia, McDonald originally sought to go to the United States Military Academy, receiving a nomination from Representative Thomas Montgomery Bell of the 9th Congressional District. After learning he was 2 months and 12 days too young, he opted to attend Riverside Military Academy first, then entered the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1928.
Before becoming a naval aviator, McDonald was assigned to the battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41) and the battleship USS Colorado (BB-45). The future admiral spent three years, from 1935 to 1938, as a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida. Between 1938 and 1955, he served as flag secretary of the aircraft command of the United States Atlantic Fleet, commander of the Naval Operational Training Command, executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CV-9) in the Pacific and assistant chief of staff for operations of the United States Pacific Fleet.
During the mid-1950s, McDonald commanded the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CV-43). In the early 1960s, before becoming Chief of Naval Operations, he served as Commander, Sixth Fleet. At the time of his selection as Chief of Naval Operations, he was the youngest full admiral in the navy, and had only received his fourth star a month prior.
In 1976, nearly a decade after he retired, McDonald wrote in his autobiography of his participation in the escalation of the Vietnam War:
Maybe we military men were all weak. Maybe we should have stood up and pounded the table...I was part of it and I'm sort of ashamed of myself too. At times I wonder, "why did I go along with this stuff?"
The airfield at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, is named after McDonald.