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Carol Pottenger

Vice Admiral (Ret) 

BA 1977, History | HDR 2007, College of Liberal Arts


Vice Admiral (Ret) Carol M. Pottenger was commissioned as an ensign through Purdue NROTC in 1977. One of the first women selected for sea duty, Pottenger reported aboard USS Yosemite (AD 19) as engineering division officer. Subsequent sea tours included assignment as operations officer aboard USS Yellowstone (AD 41) and executive officer aboard USS Kiska (AE 35).

Pottenger assumed command of USS Shasta (AE 33) in 1996, completing several deployments in support of Commander 5th Fleet and Commander 7th Fleet. She took command of USS Bridge (AOE 10) in 2001, and during an extended deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, received the Battle E and the 2002 Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy.

Shore tours included assignment to Commander,  Service Group 2 as staff communications officer; assignment to USNA as a company officer; Commanding Officer of two Navy Operational support Centers, and as SURFRESFOR Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower. In the Pentagon, Pottenger served as Executive Assistant for the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

Upon selection to flag rank she served as Deputy Chief of Navy Reserve for one year. In November 2005, Pottenger established a new Type Commander for over 40 combat logistics and special mission ships. In November 2006, Pottenger became the first female admiral to command a strike group when she assumed command of Expeditionary Strike Group 7/CTF 76 at White Beach, Okinawa. In September 2008, Pottenger became the third Commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command as a force provider of 40,000 Active and Reserve Sailors, providing unique expeditionary support capability to combatant commanders.

In her final tour on active duty, Pottenger served as the most senior USA flag officer in NATO, as the Director of the Allied Command Transformation Capabilities Division. Since retiring in May 2013, she has joined several private, public and non-profit boards, including PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Board of Partners and Principals, California Water Service Group, Serco North America and the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Pottenger received a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Sciences Honoris Causa from Purdue University in May 2007. Personal awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and other awards; and the Order of St. George presented by Bulgaria.