Stroh Was Once Top Navy Officer in Jacksonville

Article excerpt

Byline: Jessie-Lynne Kerr, Times-Union staff writer

Retired Vice Adm. Robert J. Stroh, once the top naval officer in Jacksonville, died Thursday morning at home from complications of a fall three weeks ago. He was 95.

He had resided with his daughter and her family in Mandarin for eight years.

At Adm. Stroh's request, there will be no funeral. His remains and those of his wife of 57 years, Gloria, who died in 1995, will be buried at sea in a private ceremony by the family.

"He was one of the finest men I've known," said Peter Kirill of Jacksonville, a former national vice president of the Navy League of the United States and a longtime friend.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Adm. Stroh graduated from Evander Childs High School before enrolling in the U.S. Naval Academy in 1926. He graduated in 1930 and, after Navy flight training at Pensacola, was designated an aviator in January 1932.

As a Navy pilot, Adm. Stroh logged more than 5,000 hours of flight and made more than 125 carrier landings. During World War II he commanded a photographic squadron that accomplished the initial photo reconnaissance of Japanese bases in the Pacific islands. For his services during World War II, Adm. Stroh was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with two Gold Stars.

In 1955, he was assigned as the prospective commanding officer of the USS Saratoga and became the Jacksonville-based carrier's first commander when it was commissioned in 1956.

At the beginning of the Vietnam War, he served on the staff of the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet. Adm. Stroh then was given command of Carrier Division 6, which was involved in the Cuban missile crisis.

In 1963, four years before taking the helm of the Navy command in Jacksonville, Adm. …