Allman Takes Reins as First Navy SEAL Commandant at Naval Academy

Col. James P. McDonough III, left, listens as new Commandant of Midshipmen by Navy Capt. Walter H. Allman III talks kindly of his predecessor.
Col. James P. McDonough III, left, listens as new Commandant of Midshipmen by Navy Capt. Walter H. Allman III talks kindly of his predecessor. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo/TNS)

For the first time, a Navy SEAL will lead the U.S. Naval Academy as its commandant of midshipmen.

Capt. Walter H. Allman III, a career naval special warfare officer, took the reins as second-in-command at the military institution Wednesday. He returns to Annapolis from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, where he served as director of Targeting and the Fires and Effects Center for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Allman assumes the role from Col. James “J.P.” McDonough III, who held the position for the last three years. The outgoing commandant will retire after 30 years in the Marine Corps.

Though he graduated from the academy in 1997, Allman, a father of four, has kept a close eye on Annapolis. His son Stanton is entering his second year at the academy. Seeing McDonough’s care for the future officers was inspirational, Allman said.

“Just from watching you from the outside as a father, I knew the academy was in good shape,” he said to McDonough during a change of leadership ceremony held at the T-Court outside Bancroft Hall. “It was obvious watching Stan go through this and watching him grow this year, long before the idea of us coming here was an option, so a really neat testament to what you guys are doing.”

The commandant of midshipmen is responsible for day-to-day conduct, military training and professional development of more than 4,400 midshipmen at the academy. The role is similar to a dean of students at a university.

“You were the right guy at the right time to be a steadying leader coming out of COVID … just a lot of dynamic times,” he said of his predecessor. “You’re all in, all the time, every day.”

Though McDonough did not face the same pandemic challenges as prior commandant Rear Adm. Thomas R. Buchanan, he was tasked with bringing normalcy back to the academy grounds and having difficult conversations about sexual assault and alcohol use with the brigade.

McDonough urged Allman and his family to prepare for an “awesome” experience.

“It’s awesome — like wow, what a responsibility, and it is,” he said. “It’s an amazing responsibility, but embrace it every day. You’ll pour your heart into it but it’s so worth it. You will have an impact on the future of our naval services.”

Naval Academy Change of Leadership Ceremony | PHOTOS

Allman’s previous assignments include SEAL teams 1 and 3 and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1. He also was part of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, where he completed several combat deployments and contingency operations in support of Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Allman earned a master’s degree in defense analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School. He later researched concepts for the Navy’s future of undersea warfare operations and was a naval special warfare officer detailer in Tennessee.

He is a recipient of numerous military awards, including the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Combat ‘V’ and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

Superintendent Vice Adm. Yvette M. Davids welcomed Allman as the academy’s first Navy SEAL commandant.

“You come with a phenomenal record of success and great leadership,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the midshipmen who will look up to you as an inspiration, to challenge themselves, to make themselves better, to be greater people as well, and just be ready for the fleet.”

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