Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Frank

Last Name: Coulter

Birthplace: Baltimore, MD, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: John

Date of Birth: 1917

Date of Death: 21 June 2011

Rank or Rate: Captain

Years Served: 1939 - 1969
Frank John Coulter

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Frank John Coulter
Captain, U.S. Navy

Frank John Coulter was born in Baltimore in 1917, to a police officer and a homemaker. He graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1935 and then graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with the Class of 1939. During his active naval career, he also did postgraduate studies at the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, and at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Ensign Coulter's first assignment was on the battleship USS Pennsylvania and he later served as an Engineer aboard the destroyer-minesweeper USS Perry. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, he was serving aboard the destroyer USS Alden in waters off the Philippines and Indonesia. While on the Alden, Coulter was promoted to Lieutenant and served as Engineering Officer. In February 1942, the Alden participated in the seven-hour Battle of the Java Sea, where the Japanese Imperial Navy sank five Allied ships and defeated the Allied fleet. Fortunately for Coulter, the Alden was one of the few surviving ships.

In late 1942, Coulter's request to join the submarine service was granted and he was assigned to the Navy Submarine School in New London, CT. Upon graduation, he joined the crew of the submarine USS Skipjack in the Pacific Theatre. During his 42 months aboard the Skipjack, he served as Torpedo and Gunnery Officer and later, as Executive Officer. In March 1944, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and assumed command of the Skipjack, a position he held for 20 months.

The Skipjack was decommissioned and became a target ship as part of the Operation Crossroads atom bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Skipjack survived the first atomic explosion, which was 500 feet above the boat. The second blast was detonated underwater and sunk the Skipjack and seven other vessels. Coulter and others in his crew were allowed to observe the sinking.

Coulter later commanded the submarine USS Bugara before he was assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was a Battalion Officer and Leadership Instructor.

During his naval career, he served as commanding officer of two submarines and four surface ships. He was also Commanding Officer of the U.S. Naval Advisory Group in Korea, where he served from 1963-65. Captain Coulter retired from active duty in 1969, following a tour as Director of Navy Recruiting in New York and New England. Over his 30-year career, he served either abroad, or aboard ship, for nearly 15 years.

Medals, Awards & Insignia

Bronze Star Medal with Combat "Valor" Device
Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "Valor" Device
Submarine Warfare Qualification (Dolphins) Insignia
Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia
Command-at-Sea Insignia

In Retirement

In retirement, Coulter worked for 15 years as a management official with the Baltimore City Government.

Frank and his wife, Marie (Sutton) Coulter, moved to Severna Park in 1970, where he was active in church and community activities. He served more than a decade as a volunteer at the Naval Academy Clinic. At Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, his many roles included council president, Sunday school superintendent, usher, and Stephen Ministry leader. In the Severna Park Rotary Club, he served twice as President and was selected as a Paul Harris Fellow. He and Marie were active supporters of Navy football and the Naval Academy Alumni Association.

Death and Burial

Captain Frank John Coulter died on 21 June 2011 of respiratory failure at his home in Severna Park. He had spent the last two months in hospice care surrounded by family and friends. He is inurned at the U.S. Naval Academy Columbarium in Annapolis, MD.

In addition to his wife of 62 years, Captain Coulter was survived by his brother, Jack of Severna Park; daughter, Cynthia Dougherty of Washington, DC; son, Frank, Jr. of Vienna, VA; and grandchildren, Megan Coulter Hoffmann, Janey Coulter, Leslie Dougherty, and Peter Dougherty.


Honoree ID: 2379   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image