Noel Gayler was born on December 25, 1913, in Birmingham, Alabama. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1930, and served at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, before entering the the U.S. Naval Academy on June 6, 1931. He was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on June 6, 1935, and then served as an Engineering Officer on the battleship USS Maryland (BB 46), from June 1935 to June 1938. Gayler then served on the destroyer USS Maury (DD 401) from June 1938 to June 1939, followed by service as the Gunnery Officer on the destroyer USS Craven (DD 382) from June 1939 to March 1940. In March 1940, LT Gayler entered Flight Training at NAS Pensacola, Florida, and was designated a Naval Aviator in November 1940. He was assigned to VF-3 in November 1940, and was credited with destroying 5 enemy aicraft in aerial combat before being transferred to NAS Anacostia in Washington, D.C., in June 1942 to serve as a VF Project Officer. From June 1943 to June 1944, LCDR Gayler served as a Test Pilot at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. He next served as Commanding Officer of VF-12 from June 1944 to February 1945. Gayler was Air Operations Officer for the 2nd Carrier Task Force from March to November 1945, and then served as Executive Officer and then Deputy Director of Special Devices Center from February 1946 to April 1948. CDR Gayler was Operations Officer on the Aircraft Carrier USS Bairoko (CVE 115) from April 1948 to September 1949, before heading the Fighter Design Branch in Washington, D.C., from October 1949 to June 1951. He was Commanding Officer of VX-3 at Atlantic City, New Jersey, from June 1951 to January 1954. CAPT Gayler served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations from January 1954 to January 1956, and then became Commanding Officer of the seaplane tender USS Greenwich Bay (AVP 41) from January 1956 to February 1957. He was Operations Officer for the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, from February to June 1957, and then served as a Naval Aide to the Secretary of the Navy from June 1957 to April 1959. CAPT Gayler commanded the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CVA 61) from May 1959 to June 1960, and then served as the U.S. Naval Attache in London, England, from August 1960 to August 1962. ADM Gayler was commander of Carrier Division 20 from August 1962 to August 1963, and then served as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Development from August 1963 to August 1967. He was Deputy Director of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, from September 1967 to July 1969. ADM Gayler became the 6th Director of the National Security Agency in July 1969, serving in that position until he became Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC) in August 1972. ADM Gayler served as CINCPAC until his retirement from the Navy on August 31, 1976. Noel Gayler died on July 14, 2011.
His 3rd Navy Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting a Second Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Navy Cross to Noel Arthur Meredyth Gayler, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron TWO (VF-2), embarked from the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Air Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 and 8 May 1942. Due to his skill and aggressiveness, his zeal and courage as an airman, and his utter disregard for his own life, Lieutenant Gayler succeeded in destroying two enemy Japanese aircraft and in damaging two others. His courageous action contributed materially to the defense of our forces. Lieutenant Gayler's outstanding courage and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.