Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gilday Undergoes Heart Surgery for Medical Condition

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Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday visits with sailors aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) on Aug. 27, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nick Brown)

The chief of naval operations is back at the Pentagon after having a medical procedure to treat an existing condition.

Adm. Mike Gilday underwent heart surgery soon after falling ill during a run near his home, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Officials have not disclosed the condition that led to the surgery, saying only that he returned to full duty on Monday.

"The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, recently underwent a medical procedure for a pre-existing medical issue," Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a spokesman in Gilday's office, said. "He is in good condition."

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Christensen didn't respond to questions about when the surgery occurred and what condition led to it. Last week, Gilday and other senior leaders, including Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite and Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger, were scheduled to testify before Congress, but the hearing was postponed without explanation.

Gilday, who is 57, was running at Washington Navy Yard where he lives on Aug. 10 when he suddenly became ill, the Journal reported. A Marine, sources told the paper, assisted Gilday before the CNO was taken to see his physician.

He underwent heart surgery about two weeks later, unnamed sources told The Wall Street Journal. Navy officials did not previously disclose the incident.

Gilday was scheduled to appear at a "State of the Navy" event hosted by the news site Defense One this week. That event has been postponed until next month due, the outlet announced this week, due to a change in Gilday's schedule. The admiral's spokesman told the Journal the change was unrelated to the CNO's health.

Gilday, who's a member of the Joint Chiefs, has served as the Navy's top officer since August 2019. He replaced retired Adm. John Richardson after the previous pick for CNO, Adm. Bill Moran, suddenly stepped down over questions about his relationship with a former officer who'd been accused of mistreating women at a holiday party.

Earlier this year, Gilday missed a White House meeting with the president, cabinet members and the other Joint Chiefs. The CNO, a defense official said at the time, was in self-quarantine after having contact with a family member who'd tested positive for the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Gilday tested negative for the virus, but remained isolated around the May meeting.

The CNO is leading the Navy through a host of challenges. Aside from operating during the coronavirus pandemic, the Navy is also working through continued maintenance and readiness problems, and is working to stamp out racism in the ranks.

"Each of us should be thinking about how we can contribute in a positive way and what we can do to better our Navy," Gilday said in a June message to the fleet.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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