USS California's Commanding Officers
U.S.S. California
DLGN-36 / CGN-36
The Golden Grizzly
In The Beginning, Memories of a Plank Owner

USS California's Captains

Anyone who has updated information about the men who were the Commanding Officers of the USS California or a picture of Captain Gaylord O. Paulson is asked to email Me.

CO #1: Captain Floyd H. Miller

August 1971 - 26 March 1976

Captain Floyd H. Miller, Jr. USN, graduated from New York State Maritime College in June 1953 and began his Naval career in August of that year with the Engineering Department of USS NOA (DD 841).
In July of 1956 he assumed command of USS PORTAGE (PCE 902), a Naval Reserve Training ship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The beginning of the following year saw him embarking on a new phase of his career as he reported to the Nuclear Power School at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho. His next orders assigned him to the precommissioning crew of USS ENTERPRISE (CVAN 65), the Navy's first nuclear powered carrier.
Captain Miller's tour of duty in the Reactor Department aboard ENTERPRISE continued until February 1964 when he became Executive Officier of the Atlantic Fleet Destroyer USS WALLACE L. LIND (DD 703). Upon departing LIND in in July 1965, he attended the Command and Staff Course of the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. After com- pletion of the course he was ordered to CALIFORNIA's predecessor USS BAINBRIDGE (DLGN 25) as Executive Officer, marking the beginning of his second tour with the nuclear surface fleet.
Prior to reporting for his third nuclear surface ship tour with the precommissioning crew as Prospective Commanding Officer of CALIFORNIA, Captain Miller served as Commanding Officer of USS VOGE (DE 1047) from 1969 until 1971.
Captain Miller wears the Navy Commendation Medal with two gold stars in lieu of third award, the Navy Achievement Medal and service ribbons for duty in Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam.
Clinton, Connecticut is listed as his home. Mrs. Miller is the former Miss Gale Walter of Freeport, New York. They have two children, Nancy Gale and Scott Walter. Captain Miller is the son of Mrs. Harriet Miller of Freeport, New York.

UPDATE:

REAR ADMIRAL Floyd H. Miller
United States Navy

After leaving the USS California, Rear Admiral Miller was assigned to the Ship Acquisition Division (OP-37) on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. He was selected for Flag in March 1977 and immediately returned to sea as Commander Cruiser Destroyer Group One, making two deployments to the Western Pacific. In 1979 he reported for duty as Commander Navy Recruiting Command remaining until his retirement on 1 September 1982.
During his Naval service, Rear Admiral Miller was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Navy Commendation Medal with two gold stars in lieu of third award, the Naval Achievement Medal, and Service ribbons for duty in Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam. He was recently awarded the U.S. Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Medal.
Subsequent to his retirement, Rear Admiral Miller served as President of the State University of New York Maritime College, retiring for the second time in August 1995. He now resides in Centerport, New York with his wife Kay. His two children, Nancy and Scott, both married, reside in nearby Connecticut. He presently serves as a Trustee of the Long Island Martime Museum and as Waterfront Chairman for the Centerport Yacht Club and holds a U.S. Coast Guard Master's License.

CO #2: Captain William O. Rentz

26 March 1976 - June 1982

Captain Rentz, born in Milledgeville, Georgia, enlisted in the Naval Air Reserve in 1949 and attended Georgia Tech prior to entering the Naval Academy with the class of 1955. After commissioning, he served as Damage Control Assistand and Engineering Officer of USS ROWE (DD-564)during two Sixth Fleet deployments. In 1958 Captain Rentz was assigned as Executive Officier and Navigator of USS DASH (MSO-428), in which he served until selection for the Surface Nuclear Power Program. In 1959 he attended the Advanced Nuclear Power Course at New London Connecticut, and completed operational qualification at the surface ship prototype, Idaho Falls, Idaho in March 1960. Captain Rentz was in the Pre-Commissioning Detail of USS ENTERPRISE (CVAN=65), where he participated in the extensive Propulsion Plant Testing Program and served as Reactor Control Division Officer until June 1963. In addition to two Sixth Fleet deployments, ENTERPRISE also saw duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1963 he returned to the surface ship prototype in Idaho for staff duty, where he qualified as Engineer Officer of a nuclear powered surface ship in 1965.
Captain Rentz then reported, via ASW School, Key West, Florida, for duty as Executive Officer, USS WALLER (DD-466).
Captain Rentz served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1967 to 1970 as Staff Assistant (Reactors) to the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Atomic Energy). For this duty he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. Following this tour, he was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Atomic Energy Division (OP-985), and to a Research and Development Analysis Group in the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP-00K) until November 1971.
Captain Rentz was ordered, via Naval Destroyer School and Naval Ships Systems Command, Nuclear Power Directorate, to duty as Executive Officer, USS BAINBRIDGE (DLGN-25) in 1972. BAINBRIDGE made two Seventh Fleet deployments, including an extended Indian Ocean assignment, during his tour of duty, for which he was awarded two Navy Commendation Medals. He served as Commanding Officer, USS GOLDSBOROUGH (DDG-20), from June 1974 until August 1975.
Captain Rentz is married to the former Pamella Ann Stephens of Cincinnati, Ohio. They have two children, Cynthia and Craig.

Contributors: Bill Simmons, February 4, 1999
and
Captain Charles J. Smith

CO #3: Captain Charles J. Smith

June 1979 - September 1982

Captain Charles J. Smith is a native of Frankfort Indiana, and attended public schools in that community. Following high school graduation in 1954, he entered the United States Naval Academy and was commissioned Ensign, USN, in June 1958 upon graduation.
His first sea tour was aboard the escort destroyer USS TAYLOR (DD-468) where he served in junior officer billets and as Engineer Officer prior to transfer to the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in February 1962. In 1963 he was selected for nuclear power training which commenced in May 1964.
Captain Smith was awarded the Master of Science degree in Operations Analysis in June 1964. He completed Nuclear Power School, Vallejo, California in October 1964 and was graduated from Nuclear Power Training Unit, Schenectady, New York, in May 1965.
His second sea tour was as Executive Officer of the destroyer escort USS HARTLEY (DE-1029) where he served eighteen months prior to reporting to USS LONG BEACH (CGN-9) in January 1967 as Electrical Officer. During this tour the first surface-to-air destruction of a hostile aircraft was achieved by USS LONG BEACH. Following assignment as Executive Officer, Nuclear Power Training Unit, Idaho Falls, Idaho from August 1969 to January 1972, he returned to the USS LONG BEACH where he served as Executive Officer until July 1975.
Captain Smith’s subsequent assignment to the Training and Readiness Division of the COMNAVSURFPAC Staff included concurrent duty as Senior Member of the NAVSURFPAC/NAVAIRPAC and NAVSURFLANT/NAVAIRLANT Nuclear Propulsion Mobile Training Team. Following temporary assignment from February to May 1977 as Executive Officer, USS TRUXTUN (CNG-35), he commanded USS ROBISON (DDG-12) from July 1977 to December 1978.
He holds the following decorations: Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation with star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Defense Medal with star, Service Ribbon with star, Vietnam Service Medal with six stars and Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Captain Smith is married to the former Elizabeth Ellen Daine and is the son of Mr. And Mrs. S. M. Woodruff of Frankfort, Indiana. The Smith’s have a son, Daine, attending the University of Indiana, two sons, Derrick and Drew, attending Norfolk Collegiate High School, and a daughter, Dia-Dianne attending Norfolk Collegiate Lower School.
UPDATE
After leaving the USS California, Captain Smith took Command of Destroyer Squadron TEN, a readiness squadron based in Norfolk, VA, comprised of seven Knox class frigates, nine Spruance Class destroyers and two Kidd class destroyers. Captain Smith concluded his thirty years active duty with four years in Washington, DC; three in the Pentagon as Deputy Director, Surface Warfare and as a Navy Planner; and one in the Navy Yard as Deputy Director, Naval History.

Foliowing retirement in 1988, Captain Smith was recalled to active duty on two occasions, the first to continue at Naval History until relieved in late 1988; and the second to be trained as a Convoy Commodore. In 1989 Captain Smith was selected for the position of Executive Director of the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE).

Captain Smith returned to his hometown in Indiana in 1995 for a period of four years to care for his Mother in her declining years, In 1999, he relocated to his retirement home in Bonita CA with his wife, Tamara and stepson, Grant.

Upon departing California, Captain Smith was awarded the Legion of Merit and subsequently he received two Gold Stars in lieu of second and third awards. While Executive Director of ASNE, he was Certified as an Association Executive (CAE). In Indiana, he continued to serve in the not-for-profit area as Coordinator for the Step Ahead Council of Clinton County.

In his retirement, Captain Smith has concluded ten years as a Convoy Commodore and co-located with two of his sons, Daine and Drew (with wife, Mary Agnes), in the San Diego Area. His Daughter, Dia-Dianne and son, Derrick reside in the Maryland and Virginia areas of Metropolitan DC. His two grandsons, Drew and Sam are the sons of Derrick and his wife, Anne.

Article Contributor: Robert Learner , March 24, 1999
Photo Contributor: John Foottit , February 6, 2000

CO #4:Captain Gaylord O. Paulson

September 1982 - November 1985

CAPT Gaylord O. Paulson grew up and attended high school in Elbow Lake, Minnesota. He attended the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and was graduated in December 1961 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He received his commission as Ensign, US Navy through the NROTC program. His first tour of duty was onboard USS NICHOLAS (DD-449) where he served as Electronics Material Officer and Communications Officer until January 1964.
After completing the Department Head Course, U.S. Naval Destroyer School, Newport, Rhode Island, in July 1964, Captain Paulson served as Engineer Officer, USS PERKINS (DD-877) homeported in San Diego, California. In April 1967, he completed a year of nuclear power training at Mare Island, California, and Sarasota Springs, New York. He then served onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) as Reactor Controls Division Officer, Reactor Controls Assistant and Reactor Refueling Coordinator during ENTERPRISE's refueling overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia.
In September 1970 he reported to the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He completed requirements for a Masters Degree in Ocean Physics in August 1972. After completing the Perspective Executive Officer Course, Newport, Rhode Island, he relieved as Executive Officer, USS ENGLAND (CG 22) as the first Mod Squad XO in January 1973.
Captain Paulson returned to USS ENTERPRISE in June 1974 and relieved as Engineer Officer. He left ENTERPRISE in June 1977 and reported to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington DC, as Head, Surface Nuclear Officer Placement Branch. He was relieved in January 1980.
In June 1980 Captain Paulson relieved as Commanding Officer USS MERRILL (DD976) and was in command until December 1981. During this period, MERRILL completed its first WESTPAC deployment and participated in numerous missile test programs including Tomahawk, OTH, and the upgraded Sea Sparrow system.
On September 4, 1982, Captain Paulson relieved as Commanding Officer of the Norfolk, Virginia-based USS CALIFORNIA (CGN 36). Under his command, the CALIFORNIA changed its homeport to NAS Alameda, California; conducted special, independent operations in the Northern Pacific, and deployed on its first WESTPAC/Indian Ocean Cruise.
Captain Paulson has completed ten deployments to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean areas. He is a qualified Naval Nuclear Engineer. His awards include two Naval Commendation Medals, a Navy Achievement Medal and two Navy Unit Commendations.
Captain Paulson is married to the former Marianne McPherson of San Diego, California. They have three children: Kathy, Linda and Robert.

Contributor: Eric Tennant, August 29, 1997

CO#5: Captain Richard D. Williams, III

November 1985 - August 1988

Captain Richard D. Williams, III, began his naval service in 1959 when he joined the U. S. Naval Reserve at the end of his junior year at Messick High School in Memphis, Tennessee. He received a U. S. Naval Reserve appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy where he studied Naval Science. He was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1964 and was commissioned an Ensign.
The two years following his commissioning, Captain Williams served aboard the USS SEMMES (DDG-18). He held the position of Assistant Combat Information Officer, Gunnery Officer and First Lieutenant before going to the Republic of Vietnam where he reported to COASTAL SQUADRON ONE in November 1966. He was assigned as Officer-in-Charge of a patrol craft, fast (PCF) and spent the following year conducting Operation Market Time missions from Da Nang and Chu Lai.
In January 1968 he reported to NAVAL STATION SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, and served there as Security Officer until August when he was assigned to the staff of COMMANDER, SOUTH ATLANTIC FORCE. He remained with USCOMSOLANT as Aide and Flag Secretary until June 1970.
He received a Master's of Science Degree in Physics at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California in 1972. In 1973 he attended the Navy Nuclear Propulsion School in Bainbridge, Maryland, and then the Nuclear Power Training Unit at Saratoga Spring, New York. In March 1974 he reported as Electrical Officer aboard the USS LONG BEACH (CGN-9). Two years later he went to Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he served until February 1978 as Executive Officer of the Navy Nuclear Power Training Unit. In July 1978 he became Engineer Officer of USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69), a position he held until December 1981.
In July 1982 Captain Williams relieved as Commanding Officer USS CLARK (FFG-11). During his tour, USS CLARK participated in operations off Lebanon and in the Persian Gulf.
He reported to the USS CALIFORNIA (CGN-36) as relieving Commanding Officer in October 1985.
Captain Williams' decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, two Navy Unit Commendations, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, three Battle "E's", two Navy-Marine Corps Expeditionary Medals and two Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals.
He is married to the former Sherry Lynn Cooper of Memphis, Tennessee. They have two children, Deborah and David.

UPDATE:

REAR ADMIRAL RICHARD D. WILLIAMS, III
United States Navy

Captain Williams commanded USS CALIFORNIA (CGN 36) from October 1985 until August 1988 and participated in USS CALIFORNIA's around-the-world deployment in 1987. He has served as Chief of Staff for the Surface Ship Directorate of the Naval Sea Systems Command Washington, DC, as Commander, Port Hueneme Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme, California, and as Director, Naval Warfare System Architecture and Engineering, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Washington, DC. At present, he is the Program Executive Officer for Mine Warfare (PEO MINEWAR).(March 1996)

Contributor: Eric Tennant, August 29, 1997

CO#6: Captain Barry V. Burrow

August 1988 - December 1991

Captain Barry V. Burrow, a native of Washington State, was born in Seattle in 1946 and was raised as a Navy junior. He graduated for the U. S. Naval Academy in 1968, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree. Initially assigned to the Immediate Master's Program at teh U. S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, he received a Master of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1969.
Following Nuclear Propulsion Training at Bainbridge, Maryland and Windso Locks, Connecticut, he reported aboard USS GRAY (DE-1054) in 1970, where he served as Navigator/Administrative Officer and subsequently Main Propulsion Assistant. In 1972 Captain Burrow commenced a two year Auxiliaries Officer tour aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65); he then served as Training Officer at the D1G Nuclear prototype, West Milton, New York. After Department Head School and a six month tour on the COMNAVSURFLANT Nuclear Propulsion Mobile Training Team, he served as Engineer Officer of USS VIRGINIA (CGN-38) for three years.
Following his Department Head tour, Captain Burrow assumed duties as Executive Officer of the Naval Nuclear Power School, Orlando Florida in 1981 after which he completed a tour as Executive Officer of USS HALSEY (CG-23). Following duty as the Force Nuclear Propulsion REadiness and Training Officer on the COMNAVSURFPAC Staff, he commanded USS TOWERS (DDG-9) from September 1985 to December 1987 operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. Captain Burrow assumed command of USS CALIFORNIA (CGN-36) in August 1988. Captain Burrow wears the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal with two gold stars, the Navy Achievement Medal and several unit commendations, campaign and service medals.
Captain and Mrs. Burrow (the former Mary Ann Ward of Melrose, Massachusetts) have three sons, Brian, Sean, and Michael.

CO #7: Captain Ray Wallace

December 1991 - January 1995

Captain Ray A. Wallace, USN, a native of San Antonio, Texas graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Science. Following graduation and subsequent nuclear power training, he was ordered to USS TRUXTUN (DLGN 35) in 1969 for his first operational tour, serving in the M Division and Electrical Officer billets. During his tour, Lieutenant Wallace was designated Surface Warfare Officer and qualified to be an Engineer Officer in nuclear powered surface ships.
In May 1972, Lieutenant Wallace reported to the Precommissioning Unit, USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) to be the Radiological Controls Officer. After NIMITZ was commissioned in 1975, he transferred to the Surface Warfare School Officer's School in Newport, Rhode Island to attend the Department Head Course. Upon graduation in 1976, he received orders to USS MITSCHER (DDG 35) for duty as Operations Officer.
Following that tour, Lieutenant Commander Wallace was selected to be an instructor in the Prospective Engineer Officer's Course, Ship's Material Readiness Group in Idaho Falls, Idaho where he served during 1977 and 1978. Following this instructor tour, he reported to USS SOUTH CAROLINA (CGN 37) for duty as Engineer Officer, serving from 1978 to 1981.
After attending the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia in 1981-1982, Commander Wallace received orders to USS VIRGINIA (CGN 38) for duty as Executive Officer, a billet he held for two-years. In May 1984, he reported for duty in the Surface Warfare Plans and Requirements Branch, (OP-324) Surface Warfare Division on the Staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Surface Warfare) in Washington D.C.
Commander Wallace commanded USS RICHARD E. BYRD (DDG 23), homeported in Norfolk, Virginia from December 1986 to April 1989. During this tour Commander Wallace was selected for promotion to the rank of Captain.
Captain Wallace was Head, Surface Nuclear Officer Branch at the Naval Military Command in Washington, D.C. from April 1989 to March 1991. He commanded USS CALIFORNIA (CGN 36) from December 1991 to January 1995, taking the ship from overhaul to deployment. CALIFORNIA won the Battle Efficiency "E" in 1994 and 1995.
Captain Wallace attended the National Defence College, New Delhi, India as a foreign student, graduating in November 1995. Captain Wallace served as the Naval Attache, U.S. Embassy New Delhi from July 1996 to June 1998. He retired on 30 June 1998 with over thirty years of service.
Captain Wallace's decorations and awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, the Navy Achievement Medal with one gold star, the Navy Unit Commendation, the Meritorious Unit Commendation with one star, and various other campaign medals.
Captain Wallace is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Washington.
He is married to Dr. Martha Brownlee Wallace, and has two grown children, William and Stacy.

Photo Contributor: John Gould February 2, 1999

CO #8: Captain Robert P. Perry

January 1995 - October 1997

Contributor: Shayne Bryant , August 18, 1998
Captain Perry was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in April 1949, grew up in Norfolk and Jefferson, Indiana. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree. During 1973, he attended Nuclear Power Training in Bainbridge, Maryland, and West Milton, New York.
Captain Perry’s initial sea duty assignments were USS CALIFORNIA (CGN 36) (Plank Owner) and USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) where he served as "M" Division Officer and as Reactor Training Assistant respectfully.
In July 1978, he was assigned as a Naval Science Instructor at Cornell University where he concurrently completed a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
Following completion of the Surface Warfare Officer School Department Head course, Captain Perry was assigned to USS ARKANSAS (CGN 41) as Engineering Officer. On board ARKANSAS, Captain Perry participated in the March 1982 ship’s shock testing and a Mediterranean deployment while home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. In July 1983, ARKANSAS shifted home port to Alameda, California and completed a West Pacific deployment in 1984 that culminated with an around the world cruise.
In January 1985, Captain Perry was assigned as Assistant to the Deputy Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Directorate for surface ships.
In July 1987, He returned to sea duty and was assigned a Executive Officer on USS BIDDLE (CG 34). During this tour, initial testing and the first deployment of the New Threat Upgrade Combat System was complete.
In December 1989, he was assigned as Commanding Officer, USS AINSWORTH (FF 1090). During this time AINSWORTH completed three counter narcotic operations, multiple fleet exercises, and became the test platform for the Navy's active sonar enhancement program.
In December 1991, Captain Perry was assigned as the Force Nuclear Propulsion Officer for AIRLANT and SURFLANT and Commanding Officer of the Atlantic Fleet Surface Nuclear Propulsion Mobile Training Team.
Captain Perry's most recent assignment was to the Bureau of Naval Personnel as Head of Officer Plans/Career Management (PERS 21).
Among his various awards, Captain Perry wears the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal (with Gold Star) and the Navy Commendation Medal.
Captain Perry is married to the former Denise Fogleman of Norfolk, Virginia. Captain and Mrs. Perry have two children, a son Brent and a daughter Whitney.

Contributor: Gene A. Bales, MM1(SW) , December 23, 1997

CO #9: Captain Steven K. Johnson

October 1997-Future Decommissioning

Captain Steven K. Johnson is a native of McCook, Nebraska. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in June 1974 with a Bachelor of Science Degree.
Following completion of nuclear power training, Captain Johnson's initial sea duty assignment was to USS BAINBRIDGE (CGN 25) where he served as First Lieutenant and Machinery Division Officer. He then served aboard USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) as Chemistry/Radiological Assistant and Reactor Mechanical Assistant, USS PAUL F. FOSTER (DD 964) as Combat Systems Officer, USS BUCHANAN (DDG 14) as Executive Officer and USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) as Reactor Officer. Captain Johnson served as Commanding Officer of USS NICHOLSON (DD 982) from January 1991 to September 1992, where he deployed to the North Atlantic as Flag Captain for Standing Naval Forces Atlantic.
Ashore, Captain Johnson served as the Senior Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has also served as the Section Head for Readiness, Sustainability and Logistics in the Surface Warfare Directorate of the OPNAV Staff and as the Gas Turbine Propulsion Instructor at the Senior Officer Ship Material Readiness Course (SOSMRC).
Captain Johnson graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School in June 1982. While there, he earned two graduate degrees in Mechanical Engineering, the NAVSEA and Mewborn Awards for outstanding achievement in graduate research, and the Navy League Award for the highest academic standing in the graduating class. He graduated with highest distinction from the Naval War College in June 1995, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in National Strategic and Security Studies and was awarded the Reinauer Prize for the most outstanding work in economics and defense.
Captain Johnson's personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards) and the Navy Commendation Medal.
Captain Johnson is married to the former Elizabeth Reece of Poulsbo, Washington. They have a daughter, Mrs. Roxann Hooper and a son, Marc.

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