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First Name: Donald

Last Name: Pilling

Birthplace: Bayside, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Lee

Date of Birth: 04 June 1943

Date of Death: 26 May 2008

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1965-2000
Donald Lee Pilling

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1965


Donald Lee Pilling

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Donald Lee Pilling was born on 4 June 1943 in Bayside, NY.

A 1965 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Pilling's sea experience was in destroyers. He commanded USS Dahlgren (DDG-43), was Commander of Destroyer Squadron 26, Commander, Cruiser Group 12, Commander, Saratoga Battle Group, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe.

Pilling was assigned to a variety of shore defense resources and planning billets. From 1973-77, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (PA&E) where he was responsible for the resource analysis of all U.S. and foreign tactical aircraft and missile programs. From 1980-83 he was on the personal staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, responsible for monitoring trends in the international environment and their implications for future naval forces.

As a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution (1985-86), he studied defense acquisition and national security issues. From 1986-88, Admiral Pilling was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations where he was responsible for the development of the Navy Five-Year Defense Plan (FYDP). A member of the National Security Council staff from 1989-92, Pilling had broad responsibilities in foreign policy and national security issues. From 1993-95, he was the Director for Programming (N80) on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Resources, Warfare Requirements and Assessments (N8) from July 1996 to November 1997.

On 30 October 1997, Pilling was promoted to the four-star rank of Admiral and assumed duties as the 30th Vice Chief of Naval Operations in November.

Pilling was awarded a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 1970, with a dissertation titled The Algebra of Operators for Regular Events. He has published articles in both mathematical and professional journals and is also the author of a monograph, Competition in Defense Procurement, published in 1989 by the Brookings Institution.

Admiral Pilling retired from the Navy in 2000.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2 Awards)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (5 Awards)
Meritorious Service Medal
Navy Commendation Medal (3 Awards)
Navy Achievement Medal

In Retirement

On 1 January 2002, Pilling became President and Chief Executive Officer Logistics Management Institute, a government consulting firm. He was also a member of the Defense Science Board, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the White House Fellows Commission. He was on the Board of Trustees/Advisors at the Naval War College, the Applied Physics Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University, and the National Defense Industrial Association. He was also a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.


Admiral Pilling lived in Bayside, NY, and was married to Barbara Pilling (née Orbon), also of Bayside, and had two daughters.

Death and Burial

Admiral Donald Lee Pilling died of leukemia on 26 May 2008. He is buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD.

Honoree ID: 619   Created by: MHOH




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