Adm Robert J. Natter ’67, USN (Ret.)

Born in Trussville, AL, Admiral Robert J. Natter ’67, USN, (Ret.), grew up in a family with a profound commitment to military service. All six of his brothers served in uniform, while his two sisters married servicemen. Admiral Natter enlisted in the Naval Reserve at 17 and attended bootcamp before following two older brothers to the Naval Academy.

He saw continuous duty in operations in the rivers and coastal waters off Vietnam as executive officer of CADDO PARISH and IREDELL COUNTY. After three years and long overdue for shore duty, Admiral Natter became officer in charge of a SEAL boat support detachment in the lower Mekong Delta. Three months in, the small craft was caught in a Viet Cong ambush and all aboard were killed or wounded. Seriously injured, Admiral Natter swam ashore and then back with one other crewman, directing suppressing fire to bring the damaged boat through a hail of enemy fire. For that action he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals. 

Admiral Natter earned his master’s degree in management from the Naval Postgraduate School, completed Destroyer School and became operations officer on BRADLEY. From BRADLEY, Admiral Natter returned to the Academy as a company officer then as flag aide to Superintendents Admiral Kinnaird McKee ’51, USN (Ret.), and Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence ’51, USN (Ret.). Subsequent tours included executive officer of Hewitt, executive assistant to the Director, Naval Warfare and commanding officer of Chandler. He graduated with distinction from the Naval War College and earned a master’s degree in international relations from Salve Regina College.

Admiral Natter served a number of tours in Washington, DC, holding positions with the House Armed Services Committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Office of Legislative Affairs, Navy Space Command, Control and Communications Systems and as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Plans, Policy and Operations.

Admiral Natter also completed operational tours as commanding officer, ANTIETAM; Commander, 7th Fleet; Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet and Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, a role that entailed ensuring the combat readiness of all continental U.S. Navy forces. As Commander, Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Natter personally inspected the damage incurred by the attack on Cole, visited wounded shipmates, attended sailors’ funerals and resisted pressure to blame the crew. Still leading the Atlantic Fleet on 11 September 2001, Admiral Natter quickly ordered Aegis cruisers up the Chesapeake Bay to provide an anti-aircraft shield over Washington, DC, and GEORGE WASHINGTON to New York with a hastily sortied complement of fighter aircraft. Admiral Natter retired in 2003 with Cole berthed alongside the ceremonial pier.

Admiral Natter has continued his career as president of the strategy consulting firm RJ Natter and Associates, a guest on television news programs and on the boards of a variety of organizations. His most notable volunteer service has been to the Naval Academy, which he served as chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2018 and continues to serve as a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation Board of Directors. He has been steadfast in his efforts to ensure more inclusive alumni representation and programming and he has been among the most dedicated champions of the future Alumni Association and Foundation Center. He has also provided philanthropic support for that project, Navy athletics and Hopper Hall, future home of the Center for Cyber Security Studies.

He and his wife, Claudia, live in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. All three of their daughters, Commander Kelly Harrison, USN, Lieutenant Kendall Adler, USN, and Lieutenant Commander Courtney Mills ’08, USN, have also served in the Navy.