Remembering Pat* Gormley

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When Capt. Pat Gormley, JAGC, USN (Ret.) was diagnosed with a particularly pernicious form of cancer, she opted for an aggressive – and aggressively uncomfortable -- treatment regimen.

Taking a leave of absence as Alliance for National Defense president, Pat vowed that when her treatment was completed:

“I will recover enough to return and be mean and difficult!”

Few doubted she would do just that.

After all, beating the odds and winning unwinnable battles again and again was what Pat Gormley did… as a Marine and Navy lawyer and as the military legal advisor to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS). 

After her retirement from the Navy, she continued fighting the good fight at the Department of Veterans Affairs and at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as the Director of Affirmative Action and Equity at the University of New Hampshire, as a United States Administrative Law Judge for the Social Security Administration,  as the Co-Chair of the Legal Redress Committee on the Executive Committee of the Seacoast [NH] Branch of the NAACP, and at the New Hampshire Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

But for Pat, Mission One was working to make sure military women – and men – got the fair shake that she had to fight for, often against daunting odds, during her military career.  In pursuit of that goal, she directed the Women in the Military Project of the Women’s Research and Education Institute (WREI), held a leadership position on the Maine Commission on Gender, Justice and the Courts and served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS).

At the Alliance for National Defense, Pat Gormley spearheaded AND’s wide-ranging activities to provide a positive voice supporting military women, advocating a full partnership between women and men that strengthens America's military, working for a high state of military readiness and demanding excellence in performance from all who serve in the armed forces, regardless of gender. 

Under Pat Gormley’s leadership, the Alliance was at the forefront of efforts to eliminate vestiges of military gender discrimination that hold women back from attaining their full potential in the armed forces and prevent the armed forces from employing the full potential of all its members.

Sadly, Pat did not beat the odds in her final battle.  With her daughter and son at her side, she died Feb 21.

She will be remembered and sorely missed by her colleagues at AND and by the thousands of U.S. servicewomen for whom she advocated for 40 years, many of whose career opportunities and advancement are due, in no small part, to the courage, brilliance, and determination of this remarkable woman. 



Capt. Gormley’s Obituary

PORTSMOUTH, NH — Capt. Patricia M. Gormley, retired from the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, 70, of Portsmouth, died Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, in Boston, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Pat was born Oct. 26, 1941, in Yonkers, N.Y., the eldest child of the late Patrick Henry Murphy and Mary McGloine Murphy, her family a long line of Irish Americans.

She was a graduate of the College of Mount Saint Vincent, the School of Law at Catholic University, and the National War College. In 1990, she retired from the U.S. Navy, having served as a member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps for 24 years, including in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, as a faculty member at the Naval Justice School, and she finished up her Navy career in Washington, D.C., as the general counsel for the Inspector General.

Following her retirement from the military, she served as general counsel for FEMA, director of the Women in the Military Project for the Women's Research and Education Institute, director of Affirmative Action and Equity at the University of New Hampshire, and as an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration.

Upon her retirement, she continued to serve the community as the president of the Alliance for National Defense, a member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service and on the Executive Committee of the Seacoast (N.H.) branch of the NAACP. She was a tireless advocate for equal rights, justice, and diversity, and was passionate about improving the status of women in the military.

Upon her retirement from the Navy, Pat moved to New England, living in Maine and New Hampshire for the past 18 years. She continued her athletic pursuits, taking up snowshoeing and cross-country skiing after having run the Marine Corps Marathon twice. She also enjoyed New England's vibrant music scene as a regular at the Boston Pops, Portland Symphony and Portsmouth Music Hall.

Pat was a loving wife, mother, and sister who embraced life, and she will be greatly missed by her family.

Patricia is survived by her daughter, Kerry S. Gormley; her son, Sean B. Gormley and his wife, Kate Donnelly Gormley; and her brother, Peter Murphy.

She was predeceased by her husband, Capt. Matthew J. Gormley III, U.S. Navy.

SERVICES: Calling hours will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, at the J. Verne Wood Funeral Home-Buckminster Chapel, 84 Broad St., Portsmouth. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at St. Thomas More Parish, 6 Madbury Road, Durham. Burial will take place in the spring at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Jimmy Fund, at For online condolences, visit:

With Capt. Lory Manning, USN, (Ret.) and AND Positive Voice Award Winner Doonesbury cartoonist Gerry Trudeau.

With the AND team and First Lady Michelle Obamas’ Chief of Staff,  Christina M. Tchen (third from left).

With fellow U.S. Marines

With Positive Voice Award Winner and AND Advisor  Robert M. Kaufman, Esq.

With Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, USA (Ret.). President. Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

*“It’s ‘Patricia’ on my retirement check; ‘Pat’ everywhere else!”

Capt. Pat Gormley, JAGC, USN (Ret.)

To honor Capt. Gormley and to arm the Alliance with additional resources to pursue the objectives for which she fought, we have established, the AND Pat Gormley Leadership Fund.

Learn more here