William Newell Small, highly decorated Navy admiral

William Newell Small
William Newell Small

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral William Newell Small died unexpectedly on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.

Born in Little Rock, Ark., in 1927, he graduated from Malvern High School at the age of 15 and attended Admiral Farragut Military Academy in New Jersey until he was old enough to receive his appointment to the United States Naval Academy, Class of 1948.

Following flight school, his long and storied career included assignments at Naval War College, Oceana Naval Air Station as commanding officer of his beloved A-6A Intruder Squadrons VA-42 and VA-65, doing several tours in Vietnam. He also served as executive officer of the USS Forrestal (CV-59) and commanding officer of the USS Independence (CV-62), Commander Carrier Division Three in the Pacific and Commander Sixth Fleet in Gaeta, Italy. In 1981, Bill headed back to the Pentagon as the vice chief of Naval Operations. In 1983, he returned to Italy as commander in chief, NATO Allied Forces Southern Europe. During Bill’s career, he was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal with one star, Legion of Merit with one star, Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with one star, Presidential Unit Citation with one star, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three stars, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, and United Nations Service Medal.

Bill retired in 1985 after 40 years of service and moved back to Virginia Beach. He was actively involved in organizations such as the Naval Aviation History Museum and was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame. He sponsored students to the Naval Academy and supported the Virginia Beach SPCA. As an art lover, he took an interest in the talents of notable local artists, including Ruth Laakso and Charles Kello.

Bill leaves behind his devoted wife of 66 years, Janet Cubbison Small; children, James William Small (Kathie M.) of Danese, W.Va., Janet Small Zaritsky (Dr. Arno Zaritsky) and Joanie Small Marsh (Chuck Davis), all of Virginia Beach; seven loving grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; and his precious dog, Megan, to cherish his memory.

Our father taught us by example to be humble and kind, to know that our love of country is best shown by our actions and doing the right thing is always its own reward. He was never boastful or used his status to gain advantage over others and was always generous with his time and resources.

A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23, at Oceana Naval Air Station Chapel of the Good Shepherd with a reception to follow at the Officer’s Club. If you plan to attend, you must register your full name as it appears on your driver’s license to plateregisteroceana@gmail.com to be put on the security pass list at the main gate of Oceana Naval Air Station.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Naval Aviation History Museum at navalaviationmuseum.org, or VBSPCA Care Fund at vbspca.com/carefund.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.hollomon-brown.com.

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