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Born in Uniontown, PA, in 1927, James A. Sagerholm graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1946, and enlisted in the Navy. In 1948, he received an appointment to the Naval Academy from the Secretary of the Navy, graduating ninth in the class of 1952. Saw action in the Korean War aboard the cruiser Rochester during the campaigns of 1952 -53 that led to the truce of 1953. Had additional service in coastal minesweepers, destroyers, and nuclear submarines, commanding a ballistic missile submarine from 1968 to 1971. While ashore, he served in naval intelligence, and later, as a rear admiral, worked on Navy budgeting and programming on the staff of the Secretary of the Navy. He commanded the South Atlantic Force, making two circumnavigations of the South American continent, and instituted the first West African cruise in 1978. Following a year in the Reagan White House, he was Chief of Naval Education and Training. He retired from active duty on 1 November 1985. He lives near Annapolis, Maryland.
On a spring day in 1944, while visiting the Naval Academy to compete in a track meet against the Navy plebe team, 16 year-old Jimmy Sagerholm fell in love with the Naval Academy and the Navy. He resolved then to be a midshipman and a naval officer. This is the story of how he did just that, culminating in a career spanning 39 years, and retiring in the rank of vice admiral. He enlisted in 1946 and retired in 1985, during which time, some experiences were typical of Navy life, while others were unique, experiences that he shares in this, his story.