Jul 09, 2020

TAPS: Vice Admiral Edward A. “Al” Burkhalter Jr., USN (Retired)

Retired Vice Admiral Edward A. “Al” Burkhalter Jr., passed away on 1 July 2020 in Annapolis after suffering a heart attack. Burkhalter had served on nuclear submarines early in his career and later held high-ranking intelligence positions, including as an adviser to the CIA.

Edward Alan Burkhalter Jr. was born 15 September 1928, in Roanoke, Alabama. After a year at Auburn University, Burkhalter entered the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1951. He was among the first generation of sailors in the nuclear-powered submarine fleet in the late 1950s.
As navigator of the USS Seadragon, he had a major role in planning the submarine’s route as it made its way past Greenland, then through the Northwest Passage in the Arctic Ocean. The USS Seadragon made international news in 1960 when it became the Navy’s third submarine to reach the North Pole and the second, after the USS Skate, to ascend to the surface at the top of the world.

Burkhalter later served aboard other submarines, including a tour in the late 1960s as commander of the Skate. He had a planning role in a top-secret program in the early 1970s, Operation Ivy Bells, in which U.S. military and intelligence units attached listening devices to undersea Soviet communication cables. From 1974 to 1976, Burkhalter was commander of a submarine squadron at a now-defunct U.S. naval base on the Italian island of Sardinia.

Burkhalter spent the rest of his military career at the Pentagon as an intelligence officer, including as deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. From 1981 to 1986, he was the chief military liaison to CIA director William J. Casey, who was a close friend.
Burkhalter had a key role in preparing intelligence agency budgets before retiring from the Navy in 1986. His decorations included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

Following his military career, Burkhalter operated a consulting firm, Burkhalter Associates, that held contracts with the Defense Department and CIA. He was also board chairman of SteelCloud, a technology and security company based in Northern Virginia. He retired in 2012.
For the past 25 years, he lived near the grounds of the Naval Academy and was associated with several organizations supporting the academy’s alumni and athletic activities.

His first marriage to Elizabeth Johnstone ended in divorce. His second wife, Rebecca Robinson Lloyd, the widow of a Navy officer who died in a submarine mishap, died in 2016 after 42 years of marriage. He is survived by five children from his first marriage, six children from his second marriage, 29 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.