A graduate of Johnson City’s Langston High School, Capt. William Coleman earned a
bachelor’s degree at Dillard University in New Orleans in 1964. Upon completion of
Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy the next
In a Naval career spanning 27 years, Coleman logged nearly 20 years at sea in eight
different ships, from the smallest, a minesweeper, to a 64,000-ton battleship. He
served as second in command of three vessels and as commanding officer of four. As
a lieutenant taking command of Minesweeper ADVANCE in 1970, he became the most junior
African-American ever to command a Navy warship. During his initial sea tours, he
completed four deployments to the Vietnam area of operations.
Coleman’s last sea tour before his retirement in 1992 was as Commanding Officer of
USS Josephus Daniels.
In 1994, Coleman, who holds a master’s degree in personnel management from George
Washington University and a master’s degree in international relations from Salve
Regina University, was selected as head of Human Relations at ETSU. He retired from
that position in 2005.