Ralph W. Cousins
Peninsula Funeral Home
11144 Warwick Boulevard
Newport News, VA
NEWPORT NEWS - Admiral Ralph Wynne Cousins, USN, (Ret.) died on Aug. 5, 2009, at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News. He was 94 years old.
Admiral Cousins was born on July 24, 1915, in Eldorado, Okla., attended public schools and junior college in Ironwood, Mich., and was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in June 1933. He graduated in June 1937 and was advanced to the rank of Admiral in October 1970.
He was the only son of the late Louise Hennessy Cousins and Richard Clyde Cousins.
His wife of 60 years, Mary Gordon McBride Cousins and his two sisters, Maxine and Marian, preceded him in death.
Two nieces survive him, Dr. Lucy Elizabeth Hairston of Dallas, Texas, and Jacqueline Corbett of Bakersville, N.C.; and one nephew, Coles Hennessy Hairston of Austin, Texas.
A designated Naval Aviator, he was assigned to the USS Lexington at the outbreak of World War II. In the Battle of the Coral Sea, when the Lexington was lost to enemy action, Lieutenant Cousins was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as the pilot of a dive-bomber. He subsequently served as Executive Officer of the Solomon Islands campaign, receiving two Air Medals for leading his squadron against enemy forces. Later in the war he established a program to train fleet aviators in the deployment of rocket weapons.
From 1945 to 1965 he was assigned a variety of staff and command duties, most significantly: Commander, Naval Air Facility, Annapolis. Md.; Commanding Officer, USS Nantahala; and Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Midway.
During the Vietnam War he served as Commander of the Attack Carrier Striking Force. In that capacity he was responsible for all naval air strikes and combat-supported missions flown from aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin against military concentrations and lines of supply.
He became Vice Chief of Naval Operations when he was promoted to the rank of Admiral in 1970. In 1972 he was appointed NATO's eighth Supreme Allied Commander and, in addition, he assumed the position of Commander in Chief of the US Atlantic Fleet.
In addition to the Navy Cross and two Air Medals, Admiral Cousins was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with two Gold Stars, Legion of Merit with Gold Star, Air Medal with Gold Star, National Order of Vietnam (Vietnamese Award), Gallantry Cross with Palm (Vietnamese Award), Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation with three Bronze Stars, American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars, American Campaign Medal, World War Two Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Medal, Europe Clasp, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with two Bronze Stars and Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver and four Bronze Stars.
Upon his retirement from the Navy in 1975, he joined Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company as Assistant to the President and in 1977 he was named President. In 1979 be became Chairman of Tenneco Europe, based in London, for six years. He retired again in September 1985 to Newport News where he and his wife, Mary, had many happy years.
In retirement he served on the board of the Hampton Roads Naval Historic Foundation, Norfolk, and was a member of the James River Country Club. He very much enjoyed having the time to pursue his long-time interest in cooking. Always a renowned sports fan, he will be remembered for his loyalty to the Redskins and the Atlanta Braves. An enthusiastic fly-fisherman, he traveled to Iceland for 29 consecutive years to fish salmon.
A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14, at Peninsula Funeral Home chapel. The family will receive friends afterward at the James River Country Club.
Peninsula Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at dailypress.com/guestbooks.

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Published by Daily Press from Aug. 9 to Aug. 13, 2009.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
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9 Entries
He took my mother (Beatrice Ladin Rosen ) to the Ironwood High School Prom in 1933
Charles Rosen
November 11, 2017
I only met Admiral Cousins once but he truly was a member of the greatest generation, a great and dedicated naval leader. Yes you will, indeed, be remembered as a great American. Anonymous, Colonel USAF - Retired
September 8, 2009
I served under Adm. Cousins aboard the USS Miday. He was genuinely interested in my development and progess, though an Ensign, and reservist and engineer to boot. He is, I believe, the finest leader I have met in the military of business, now 50 years later.
Tony Marquis
September 2, 2009
You are a great Naval leader and always looked after your sailors. You will be missed but not forgotten.
Adm James (Ace) Lyons, Jr.
August 23, 2009
I just saw the obituary today and flashed back 40 years to my half-year on Adm. Cousins' staff in his command as CTF77. In all the years since, I've rarely encountered anyone who has any, let alone all, of his qualities of leadership, example, and integrity. I'm happy to read that he and Mary enjoyed over 60 years together. I still have my copy of the CTF77 Staff Cookbook! May he have Lady Baltimore cakes for eternity.
Jon Calhoun
August 22, 2009
On behalf of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Assn and Foundation, we offer our sympathies to the extended family and friends of Admiral Cousins. A wonderful and generous supporter of his alma mater, he is recognized for his leadership and distinguished service to our Nation, particularly during periods of international conflict. Admiral Cousins will be missed by the Naval Academy family!
Tim Wolf
August 17, 2009
Please add my name, and those of my children, to the long list of people who were fortuneate and honored to become friends of both Mary and Ralph. They will be long remembered, and missed.
Jan M. Diesel, Holly, Gretchen, Hank and Dana.
Jan Diesel
August 9, 2009
Thank you for you service to this nation. You served, as a member of the greatest generation, with my father in WW II and my commander in the Viet Nam conflict. You were also my president at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. You will, indeed, be remembered as a great American. Thank You!
David Lawrence
August 9, 2009
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Cardiovascular Ctr Of Hpt Rds
August 9, 2009
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