Speaker Briefing: CMDCM (AW/NAC/SW) Theodore “Ted” Gallinat, USN (Retired)


At their May 2024 meeting, the Grampaw Pettibone Squadron were privileged to have CMDCM (AW/NAC/SW) Theodore “Ted” Gallinat, USN (Retired) as our guest speaker.  Ted Gallinat is a native of Flint, Michigan. He served 31 years on active duty in the United States Navy.  His first 6-years of service were spent as an airborne electronic warfare specialist, flying on and off the aircraft carriers USS Midway, USS Carl Vinson, and USS Forrestal in the EA-3B Skywarrior, also known as “the Whale”. He survived over 100 traps to become one of the few enlisted Centurions.

In 1989 Ted transitioned to fly the P-3 Orion reconnaissance aircraft as a Flight Engineer. He was selected as the Navy’s Flight Evaluator, which meant he oversaw the Navy’s entire 24 fleet squadrons, and 2 Fleet Replacement Squadrons. He also served as the Leading Chief Petty Officer for the P-8A Poseidon Fleet Integration Team.

Ted advanced to the rank of Command Master Chief (CMC), where he served as the CMC for VP-30 in Jacksonville, Florida, then onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bon Homme Richard (LHD-6), and the destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53). He completed his last Navy tour at Naval Air Facility El Centro.

During Ted’s tenure in the Navy he was directly involved in the Kosovo Campaign, Afghanistan Campaign, Iraqi Campaign and the South Korea Defense, he was also involved in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Southern Watch and NATO defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was awarded 5 Meritorious Service Medals, 5 Air Medals, 5 Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, 5 Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and numerous other personal and unit awards.

In his presentation Ted shared information about his military career during the period known as the “Cold War”.  From his vantage point he was able to observe from inside the organization different facets of the US Navy, and the reaction to events that unfolded during that period.  He began speaking in a somewhat lighthearted fashion, telling why he selected to enlist in the Navy.  When his grandfather had shared stories about the Navy and his uncle spoke about his time as a Marine in Korea and serving as part of the ‘Frozen Chosen’, the Navy became an easy choice.

One of Ted’s first duty assignments after becoming an air crewman was his service onboard the USS Midway based out of Yokosuka, Japan.   He was an aircrewman on the Douglas, A-3 Skywarrior, a carrier based strategic bomber, the largest and heaviest plane that was deployed aboard carriers.  Ted’s first view of the USS Midway was from aboard the A-3 flying overhead before landing.

The Douglas A-3 was designed as a strategic bomber for the United States Navy.  However its primary function for much of its later service life was as an electronic warfare platform, tactical air reconnaissance platform, and high-capacity aerial refueling tanker.  During its service onboard a carrier, the last planes to recover onboard ship were the A-3 Skywarrior and E-2 Hawkeye.  The A-3 are the ears and the E-2 are the eyes of the fleet.  Both aircraft need to remain in the air until all other aircraft recover.

Because of the sensitivity of the A-3 role onboard a carrier, Ted had to be creative in explaining the aircraft and crew role.  During its operational life onboard, when a variation of the S-3 Viking known as an US-3A was used as a COD (Carrier on Board), the A-3 was also referred to as a COD to discourage further inquiry.







Ted flew his first mission with the squadron in January 1983.  His life drastically changed on 1 September 1983. On that day, Korean Air (KAL) 007 a Boeing 747, accidentally strayed into sensitive Soviet airspace and was shot down by a Soviet Air Force, SU-15.  On Ted’s first mission after the KAL event, his aircraft was shadowed by a Soviet SU-15 in international airspace.  Other aircraft appeared nearby on subsequent flights.








Ted’s assignment changed when he was transferred from the USS Midway to the USS Carl Vinson. The Carl Vinson was the third Nimitz-class supercarrier, launched on her maiden voyage in 1983.   In 1984, tensions were hot since the downing of the KAL 007 airliner.  During his time on the USS Carl Vinson a General Quarters alarm was activated with the announcement stating that it was not a drill.  The A-3 was the first aircraft launched and became the airborne Air Traffic Control (ATC) for all launched aircraft to respond to over 200 Soviet aircraft inbound to the fleet.  Tensions eventually subsided and all aircraft returned to the fleet without incident.

A new patrol area was identified, and the carrier transited the Straits of Malacca heading towards the Gulf of Oman to face a new adversary.  The new adversary, a former ally was the Islamic Republic of Iran.  While on station in the Gulf of Oman, the A-3 was launched when an Iranian P-3F aircraft approached the U.S. vessels.  Once in visual range of the Iranian aircraft, the A-3 monitored the Iranian P-3.  During this period a message was sent to the A-3 with orders to return to base.  Radar tracking identified a flight of Iranian F-14s on their way to join the P-3.  In order to avoid any conflict, the unarmed A-3 returned to the carrier.


Towards the end of the Cold War Ted was onboard the Carl Vinson, sailing into Pearl Harbor. As the carrier sailed past the Arizona Memorial, he took a picture of the memorial, reflecting on the loss during the events that took place on the morning of December 7, 1941.

The following is a recap of Ted’s naval career shared with GPS.

  • Began as an airborne electronic warfare specialist on the EA-3B, Skywarrior
  • In 1989 transitioned to the P-3, Orion and for 6 years was a Flight Engineer
  • Selected as Navy Flight Evaluator for 24 Squadrons and 2 Fleet Replacement Squadrons.
  • Served as Leading Chief Petty Officer for the P-8A Poseidon Fleet Integration Team
  • Advanced to rank of Command Master Chief (CMC) and required to give up flight status.
  • Served as the CMC for VP-30 in Jacksonville, Florida, then onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bon Homme Richard (LHD-6), and the destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53).
  • Ted completed his last Navy tour at Naval Air Facility El Centro, where he served as Command Master Chief. This is the winter home of the Navy Blue Angels.

P-3, Orion

Bon Homme Richard (LHD-6)

USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53)

Naval Air Facility, El Centro


The Grampaw Pettibone Squadron would like to thank Ted for sharing information related to his naval career.  The presentation was both informative and inspirational.  We wish Ted continued success in his retirement and next adventure.


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