William Coleman

William A. Coleman Jr.’s Biography

Retired U.S. Navy Captain William A. Coleman, Jr. graduated from Langston High School in 1959, and he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Dillard University in New Orleans in 1964.  He also holds a master’s degree in personnel management from George Washington Carver University and a master’s degree in international relations from Salve Regina University. Coleman was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy in 1965.  It was the beginning of a 27-year naval career in command positions on eight naval ships. His commissions spanned from the smallest ship, a minesweeper, to a 64,000-ton battleship. As a lieutenant taking command of Minesweeper ADVANCE in 1970, he became the most junior African-American ever to command a Navy warship.  During his initial sea tours, he completed four deployments to the Vietnam area of operations. When Coleman retired, he was one of 29 African-American naval captains at the in the fleet. Coleman’s last sea tour before his retirement in 1992 was as commanding officer of USS Josephus Daniels. In 1994, he was selected as head of Human Relations at ETSU.  He retired from that position in 2005.