AULANDER, NC – Robert Sherwood Rawls, age 84, a native of Aulander, North Carolina, passed away on Thursday, November 10th, 2016. A graduate of Aulander High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1950 and subsequently served on active duty for forty-three years. His career included advancing from Seaman to Chief Boatswain’s mate, serving as a Chief Warrant Officer, commissioning as an Ensign, and ultimately attaining the rank of Commander. Significantly, as a junior enlisted Sailor, he was a member of the Navy’s first SEAL Team and deployed with the SEALs in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. He also saw combat action in Vietnam.
His extensive time at sea included assignments aboard USS ALBANY (CA-123), USS WALWORTH COUNTY (LST-1164), Fleet Boat Pool, SEAL Team TWO, USS PTF-1, USS HICKMAN COUNTY (LST-825), Boat Support Unit TWO, USS PRESERVER (ARS-8), USS PORTLAND (LSD-37), and USS OAK RIDGE (ARDM-1). Additionally, he commanded USS FIDELITY (MSO-443), Mine Division ONE TWO FIVE, and USS AVENGER (MCM-1). Shore tours included Naval Communications Station, Washington, DC; Flag Administration Unit, Commander-In-Chief Atlantic Fleet Headquarters; and Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, VA. Also, he earned a Master-of-Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies while a student at the Naval War College in Newport, RI.
After retiring from active duty in July 1993, Rawls served as a Naval Science Instructor for the NJROTC program at Nottoway High School, Nottoway, VA, through June of 2000. He then returned to reside in Ahoskie, NC.
He was a Free and Accepted Mason and a Charter member of Beja Shrine, Green Bay, WI. He was also a member of the American Legion, Fleet Reserve Association, Military Officers Association of America, and Military Order of the World Wars. He was a member of Connaritsa Baptist Church, serving frequently as a Deacon. He avidly supported the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, American Cancer Society Relay for Life, and United Service Organizations.
Sherwood is survived by his wife Becky, son Lee and wife Becky, grandson Alex and wife Heather, granddaughter Sarah, great granddaughters Adelaide and Olivia, and great grandson Elijah.
The family will receive friends at Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service on Saturday, November 12th from 7:00 until 8:30 P.M.
A celebration of life funeral service will be held at Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service on Sunday, November 13th at 2:00 P.M., with the Rev. James Hester officiating. Burial will follow at Highland Memorial Gardens in Ahoskie, NC. There will be a reception after the graveside service in the Parish Hall of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Ahoskie.
In lieu of flowers, it is requested that memorial donations be made to the Baptist Children’s Homes or American Cancer Society Relay for Life directly or you may donate online to Baptist Children’s Home by clicking here or to American Cancer Society Relay for Life by clicking here.
Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service is handling the arrangements for the Rawls family and online condolences may be directed to the family by visiting www.garrettsykesfs.com.