William L. StubblefieldWashington, March 2, 1999 — Rear Admiral William L. Stubblefield retired today as director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps and Office of NOAA Corps Operations, after a distinguished career in uniformed service that spanned 35 years, with 29 years at NOAA.

(Click here to see photos of RAdm. Stubblefield's retirement party.)

The Office of NOAA Corps Operations, composed of civilians and commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps, the nation's seventh uniformed service, operates and manages NOAA's fleet of environmental research and survey ships and aircraft. These ships support the management of the nation's ocean fisheries; provide nautical charts for at-sea navigation to commercial, recreational, and military ships; and conduct coastal and deep water oceanography, including climate and global change studies. The aircraft are the nation's premier means of conducting research inside hurricanes; providing the amount of snow pack necessary for predicting spring flooding in the Midwest; and conducting coastline mapping and airport surveys.

Director since 1995, Stubblefield shepherded the NOAA Corps through its most troubled times, when it faced a four-year recruitment freeze and was targeted for disestablishment. Under his leadership, the Office of NOAA Corps Operations was streamlined to become more cost efficient while increasing the level of program support. The NOAA Commissioned Corps was recently authorized to continue its service to the nation at least through the year 2003, due in large part to Stubblefield's efforts.

Stubblefield was commissioned into the NOAA Corps in 1971 as a lieutenant, following a six-year stint in the Navy and graduate school at the University of Iowa, where he received a master's degree in geology. His first assignments were as a junior officer aboard the NOAA ships Pathfinder and Rainier, where he helped conduct hydrographic surveys off the West Coast and Alaska. He then served ashore with the Environmental Research Laboratory in Miami as deputy director of the Marine Geology and Geophysics Division. For this work, he received a NOAA Corps Special Achievement Award.

Stubblefield's assignments thereafter, both at sea and ashore, reflected his interest in oceanographic research. He returned to graduate school, and in 1979 received his Ph.D. in geological oceanography from Texas A&M University. His career included assignments as chief scientist for the NOAA Undersea Research Program, technical specialist for Sea Grant, and commanding officer of Surveyor, which conducted oceanographic research from the Arctic to the Antarctic. He was coordinator of NOAA's fleet modernization study, and received the Department of Commerce's second highest award, a Silver Medal, for his work. He became executive director for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research in 1990. He was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral Lower Half in 1992 and assigned as deputy director of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations.

In 1995 Stubblefield was promoted to Rear Admiral Upper Half and selected for the NOAA Corps' highest position. For his achievements in this position he recently received the prestigious Eagle Award from the Reserve Officers Association, which represents all seven of the uniformed services.

Stubblefield is a native of Medina, Tenn., the son of the late George and Jessie (Mutt) Parrish. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis. He currently resides with his wife, Dr. Bonnie McGregor Stubblefield, in Potomac, Md. His wife is the associate director of the U.S. Geological Survey and is the daughter of Douglas and Myrtle McGregor of Fitchburg, Mass. He plans to retire to Shepherdstown, W.Va., where he and his wife have a home.


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