Peter K. Cullins, RADM (1928 - 2012)

    Valaree & Peter - 2001 Reunion

Rear Admiral Peter K. Cullins, USN (Ret.), died after a protracted illness on May 3 at his home In Camp Springs.

Admiral Cullins was born on November 19, 1928 in Annapolis. He lived through the 1930s and 1940s in Palos Verdes Estates, CA, save for his father's assignment from 1940 to 1942 to the US battleship Oklahoma, where his father survived her sinking at Pearl Harbor. After attending Annapolis High School and Valley Forge Military Academy, he attended the University of Houston until he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1947.

Upon graduating, he served on the destroyer USS Rogers in Korea, then the destroyer USS Carpenter in Honolulu. In 1955 he attended the Navy's first Guided Missile School at Pomona, CA. He was then sent to the cruiser USS Boston, the first guided missile warship for a two year assignment. From 1957 to 1959, he was a senior instructor for Fleet Air Defense and Guided Missiles in the senior officer course at the Fleet Air Defense Training enter in San Diego, CA.

In 1960, Admiral Cullins was sent to the Naval Electronics Laboratory, San Diego for Instruction in computer programming for the Naval Tactical Data System. In 1961, he spent months on aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, installing the initial NTDS at the Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco. In the summer of 1961, he was ordered to the pre-commissioning detail of the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in Newport News, VA as the Assistant CIC Officer/ NTDS Officer. During this tour of duty, the Enterprise was also the first carrier on scene during the Cuban missile crisis.

In 1963, he attended the Naval War College in Newport, RI, where he also earned a Master's degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University. Admiral Cullins then became the Executive Officer of the destroyer USS Luce in Mayport, FL, the first ship on scene during the Dominican Republic crisis of 1965. In late 1965, he was sent as Operations Officer of the nuclear cruiser USS Long Beach (CGN 9) because of his experience with the NTDS and the Navy's first Fixed Array Radar. The Long Beach fired the first missiles against North Vietnamese Migs, shooting down several. aircraft. For this deployment Long Beach received the Meritorious Unit Commendation.

In 1967, he was sent to the Pentagon in charge of Tactical Data Systems standards coordination. In 1969, Admiral Cullins took command of the destroyer USS Waddell homeported in Yokosuka, Japan. During his two years of command, USS Waddell won numerous awards including the Navy Unit Commendation Medal and in 1971 was awarded the Marjorie Sterrett award as the top readiness ship in the Pacific Fleet. During this time he was also a representative to the Command Excellence Forum, established by Adm. Zumwalt, at the Naval War College.

In 1971, he went back to the Pentagon, to the Ship's Characteristics and Fleet Modernization Division for Cruisers and Destroyers. In 1973, Admiral Cullins took command of the cruiser USS Little Rock (CLG4), the Sixth Fleet flagship, homeported in Gaeta, Italy.

In 1975, he went back to the Pentagon to head the Program and Budgeting Office for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Surface Warfare. Selected in 1976 for Rear Admiral, he took over the Information Systems Division of Naval Operations and formed the Navy's first business computer command, which became the Naval Data Automation Command. Admiral Cullins last sea duty was as Commander, South Atlantic Force. In 1980 and 1981, homeported in Roosevelt Roads, PR, he was charged with planning the annual cruises around South America and West Africa to operate with the host navies.

Admiral Cullins's awards include two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Republic of Vietnam Honor Medal First Class, Republic of Vietnam Distinguished Service Order Second Class, and fourteen other campaign or service ribbons.

After retirement in 1981, Admiral Cullins, beginning in 1985, became head of the Information Technology Department of the Retired Officers Association until 1996. A resident of Camp Springs since 1967, Admiral Cullins's avocations were reading history, gardening, stamp collecting, racquetball and scuba diving, where he was certified as a Master Diver.

His wife of 54 years, Valaree, daughter of the late Commodore and Mrs. J.H. Jacobson, preceded him in death in 2008. Survivors include his son and daughter-in-law, Dr. Richard F. Cullins and Linda Cullins of Annapolis; daughter, Linda J. Wilcox of Gainesville, FL; three grandchildren, Lewis J. Taylor IV, Esq. of Columbia, Stephanie Vader of Columbia, Jennifer L. Taylor of Gainesville, FL and Daniel Wilcox of Jacksonville, FL; Tracey Wilcox of Jacksonville, FL; and four great-grandchildren, Robert L. Taylor and Lindsay J. Taylor of Gainesville, FL, and Mei Lien Vader and An Lien Vader of Columbia. Interment was private.

05/09 E-mail to Bill Brewer from Richard Cullins, Pete's son

BTW, you sound like a thoughtful guy. Know I retired in late Nov. 2011 in major part because I knew something was wrong. So was able to help him a lot the last 5 months. He got everything I could do....and a proper military sendoff at USNA in the end (a family only ceremony at his request). Let me know if there's anything I can do for you or Waddell folks in his memory........

05/10 E-mail from Captain Jack Gelke, USN (Ret)

My name is John J. "Jack" Gelke and I had the distinct pleasure of serving as Pete's XO in the Waddell, 1969-1970, while we were home ported in Yokosuka. Pete was an excellent sailor and mentor and will be missed. I hope the bury a box of Rum soaked crooks with him---they may be hard to get!

I also worked with Pete in the early 1970's in Washington. Again a sharp guy. I wish him the sailor's blessing:: Fair Winds and Following Seas on his final voyage.

05/11 E-mail from Richard Cullins

Saw the Waddell memorial in my dad's e-mail. Thank you for honoring his memory. Waddell was, by far, his favorite job in the Navy. He loved that ship and all those who served in her. You might share this story:

Upon my wife and my's move to Annapolis in 1997, our new neighbors invited us over. We talked about our collective connections to Annapolis. In noting my family's long naval history, I mentioned that my father's family once lived on Randall St (heart of Annapolis) during his years at the Naval Academy. The neighbor asked what address and I said # 34. Turned out my father's parents sold the #34 house in 1952 and our neighbor's grandparents bought it the next year. The neighbor's parents live there today!

We were (including Pete and Val) invited to visit the house so my dad could see the 'old homestead'. The house was actually the former slave quarters to a larger house. We were invited to visit the larger house as well. Upon arrival at the larger house, we were met by the elderly owners and several midshipman whom they had opened their house to (a tradition in Annapolis).

The mids, on finding out Pete was an admiral, asked him what his favorite duty station was. He allowed that he didn't like the time as a flag officer ("Too much BS". meaning, handshaking and pleasantries). He told them that the Waddell, a DDG, was his favorite command. The lady of the house, well into her 90's, asked if the ship was named after James I. Waddell. Pete said yes. She said that was her great, great grandfather and he had lived in the house before constructing a more grand residence a few blocks away. James's wife's signature is etched in one of the house's windows.

08/28/2013 RMCS(SW) Larry J. Dyer, Retired

PK Cullins was a great Commanding Officer whom I proudly served on the USS Waddell (DDG 24) in 69-70 while home ported in Yokosuka Japan. He chased the Russians; played “Back in the USSR,” close abroad, for them; rapid fired the 5”/54s at many targets during assignment on Naval Gunfire Support in Vietnam, and even did the first Navy Churn X (before it was popular to be green). I was a Second Class Radioman during my tenure and I remember that while at sea, nearly every night, PK would come on the 1 MC and talk to the crew about our mission, what we had done, and what we were going to do next. That kept morale very high during long at sea periods. He even arranged for a beach party ashore while we where in/near Nha Trang in early 1970; that was a real treat for the crew.

 The crew loved this guy and his dog, our mascot, Charlie One (dog named after our readiness status of C1). I remember him taking his target practice with a rifle and a dummy in the water from the flying bridge on the starboard side of the ship. I remember the night the radio gang inadvertently painted the door knob to his cabin with cream colored paint; he was not happy the next morning after opening his door, paint in hand. He paid a visit to Radio that day. Vietnam was a difficult time for America but PK Cullins was a superior leader that made it better despite McNamara’s claim that Waddell used too many bullets.

Today’s Navy needs more PKs. RIP Admiral Cullins. RMCS(SW) Larry J. Dyer, Retired