George Whelan Anderson Jr.

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George W. Anderson
Chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board
In office
May 1, 1970 – March 11, 1976
PresidentRichard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded byMaxwell D. Taylor
Succeeded byLeo Cherne
United States Ambassador to Portugal
In office
October 22, 1963 – June 1, 1966
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byCharles Elbrick
Succeeded byTapley Bennett
Chief of Naval Operations
In office
August 1, 1961 – August 1, 1963
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
DeputyClaude V. Ricketts
Preceded byArleigh Burke
Succeeded byDavid L. McDonald
Personal details
Born(1906-12-15)December 15, 1906
New York City, U.S.
DiedMarch 20, 1992(1992-03-20) (aged 85)
McLean, Virginia, U.S.
EducationUnited States Naval Academy (BSc)
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Navy
Years of service1927–1963
CommandsChief of Naval Operations
United States Sixth Fleet
Carrier Division 6
Task Force 77
USS Franklin D. Roosevelt
USS Mindoro
Battles/warsWorld War II
Cold War
AwardsNavy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal

George Whelan Anderson Jr. (December 15, 1906 – March 20, 1992) was an admiral in the United States Navy and a diplomat. Serving as the Chief of Naval Operations between 1961 and 1963, he was in charge of the US blockade of Cuba during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 15, 1906, Anderson attended Brooklyn Preparatory School, entered the United States Naval Academy in 1923 and graduated with the class of 1927. Then, he became a naval aviator and served on cruisers and aircraft carriers, including the USS Cincinnati.

In World War II, Anderson served as the navigator on the fourth USS Yorktown. After the war, he served as the commanding officer of the escort carrier USS Mindoro and of the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. He also served tours as an assistant to General Dwight Eisenhower at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Arthur W. Radford, and as chief of staff to the Commander in Chief Pacific.

Flag assignments[edit]

As a flag officer, Anderson commanded Task Force 77 between Taiwan and Mainland China, Carrier Division 6, in the Mediterranean during the 1958 Lebanon landing and, as a vice admiral, commanded the United States Sixth Fleet.

As Chief of Naval Operations in charge of the US quarantine of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Anderson distinguished himself in the Navy's conduct of those operations. Time magazine featured him on the cover[1] and called him "an aggressive blue-water sailor of unfaltering competence and uncommon flair." He had, however, a contentious relationship with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. At one point during the crisis, Anderson ordered McNamara out of the Pentagon's Flag Plot when the Secretary inquired as to the Navy's intended procedures for stopping Soviet submarines;[2] McNamara viewed those actions as mutinous and forced Anderson to retire in 1963. Many senior naval officers had believed Anderson's next appointment would have been to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Later career[edit]

Anderson took early retirement, largely because of the ongoing conflict with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.[3]

President John F. Kennedy subsequently appointed Anderson Ambassador to Portugal, where he served for three years and encouraged plans for the peaceful transition of Portugal's African colonies to independence. He later returned to government service from 1973 to 1977 as member and later chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

After his retirement from the navy, Anderson was chairman of Lamar Advertising Company, an outdoor advertising company, and he was a director on the boards of Value Line, National Airlines and Crown Seal and Cork.

Family and death[edit]

Anderson's first wife was Muriel Buttling (1911–1947). His two sons were George W. Anderson III (1935–1986), who died of brain cancer, and Thomas Patrick Anderson (1942–1978), who flew more than 200 combat missions in Vietnam and died in a plane crash. His beloved daughter was Mary Annette Anderson Coughlin (1939-2022), who worked with The Hospitality and Information Service (THIS) for Diplomats. She had four children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild by the time of her death. [4]

Anderson died on March 20, 1992, of congestive heart failure, at the age of 85, in McLean, Virginia. He was survived by his second wife of 44 years, the former Mary Lee Sample (née Anderson), the widow of William Sample; a daughter; a stepdaughter; twelve grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. He was buried on March 23, 1992, in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery. Muriel Buttling and both sons (George III and Thomas Patrick) are also buried at Arlington.

Cultural depictions[edit]

Anderson was portrayed by Kenneth Tobey in The Missiles of October and Madison Mason in Thirteen Days (film).


Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal
w/1 award star
Legion of Merit
2nd row Bronze Star Medal Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
w/Combat "V" Valor device
Army Commendation Medal
3rd row Presidential Medal of Freedom
w/1 award star
American Defense Service Medal
w/1 service star
American Campaign Medal
4th row Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
w/2 service stars
World War II Victory Medal Navy Occupation Service Medal
5th row China Service Medal National Defense Service Medal Order of the British Empire
6th row Order of Precious Tripod with Special Rosette Unidentified Grand Cross of Royal Order of Phoenix
(Grand Cross)
7th row Cross of the Knight Commanders, Royal Order George I Military Order of Christ Great Star of Military Merit of Chile
8th row Order of Naval Merit (first class) of Venezuela Order of Naval Merit, Grand Officer Commander of the Legion of Honour
9th row Maltese Cross; the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal Grand Cross of Military Merit of Portugal Great Cross of the Order of Merit of Italy


  1. ^ "Chief of Naval Operations: George W. Anderson". Time. Vol. LXXX, no. 18. November 2, 1962. Cover. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  2. ^ Dallek, Robert (2003). An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-17238-7.
  3. ^ "Robert McNamara's Feud with Admiral George Anderson". November 8, 1963. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  4. ^ "Lt. Cmdr. T.P. Anderson, in Crash". Washington Post. Washington Post. June 1978.
  5. ^ "Anderson, George W".

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Chief of Naval Operations
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Portugal
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board
Succeeded by