Cold War oral history interview
Date: January 24, 2003
Veteran: CDR(Ret) Thomas J. Gorman
US Navy, Commandant staff III Naval District
Interviewer: Carol Fowler
Summarizer: Irving Bauman
Thomas J. Gorman was born in New York City in 1929 and attended Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. He is a graduate of Providence College in Rhode Island, where he earned a BA in Economics with a minor in Philosophy. He also took graduate courses at Monmouth University.
Prior to going to college, Gorman enlisted in the Naval Reserve as a member of the submarine service and joined Navy ROTC while in college. On graduation he was commissioned as an ensign and served on the USS Arneb (AKA-56) during the Korean War. He subsequently served at sea on the USS Catoctin (AGC-5), in the commissioning crew of the USS Saratoga (CVA-60), aboard the USS Elokomin (AO-55) and on the USS Remey (DD-668). The majority of his sea service was with the US Second and Sixth Fleets in the Mediterranean Sea.
Gorman’s service ashore was mostly as a lieutenant commander on staff assignments for the Commander, Easter Sea Frontier, from which he was, on one occasion, detailed on temporary duty to the Columbian Minister of Defense for sea control purposes. He also served as a briefing officer for the US ambassador to the United Nations under ambassadors Adlai Stevenson and Arthur Goldberg. His other assignments included naval control of merchant shipping involving NATO missions and serving as a liaison officer with, at various times, the commander-in-chief, US Atlantic Fleet, Supreme Allied commander Atlantic, US Coast Guard and the US Maritime Administration. In this capacity, Gorman initiated the first school on shipping control for naval active and reserve officers. He also coordinated the first major towing-at-sea conference, which resulted in the first towing-at-sea manual.
Gorman also assisted in solving a major problem involving the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which had become a bone of contention between the Canadian and US governments. While on the staff of the Commandant, Third Naval District, he was assigned to the repatriation team for US prisoners of war from North Vietnam, and he received a direct commendation from President Richard Nixon for his work in this mission. Gorman also completed two tours in the field of training and education as commanding officer of two US Naval Reserve training centers.
Gorman retired from the Navy with the rank of Commander on March 1, 1974. At the time of his retirement he resided in Lincroft, New Jersey and subsequently became a founder and first headmaster of the Monmouth County Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. This highly successful four-year specialized secondary school has served as an educational model in its field and inspired the creation of a similar institution in Florida. MAST is dedicated to the study of the fields of marine biology and oceanography. All students also participate in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
During his service, Gorman was awarded the National Defense Medal, the WWII Navy Occupation Service Medal (European Clasp), the Naval Reserve Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
Commander Gorman has lectured on maritime affairs topics aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth II and at the time of his interview was involved with the establishment of the USS New Jersey (BB-62) as a museum and educational facility as vice-chairman of the USS New Jersey Battleship Commission.
At the time of his interview, Gorman was also involved in a number of professional organizations, including the US Naval Institute, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the Navy League of the United States, the Society of Marine Consultants, the Battleship New Jersey Historical Museum Society, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of the Jersey Shore and the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks.