Frank Wilson Vannoy was born in Madisonville, Kentucky, son of Roy L. and Elsie (Wilson) Vannoy, both now deceased. After graduation from Madisonville High School; he was employed for a year and a half at State Headquarters of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration of Kentucky. He next attended the University of Kentucky at Lexington, for one year, prior to entering the US Naval Academy, in 1935. Graduated with distinction and commissioned Ensign on 1 June 1939, he subsequently advanced in rank to that of Vice Admiral, to date from 1 July 1971.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1939, he joined USS Mississippi and was on board that battleship at Hvalfiord, Iceland, when the United States entered World War II. In October 1942, he reported as Flag Lieutenant and Aide to Commander Battleship Division FOUR. He was Assistant Operations Officer on the Staff of Commander Amphibious Group TWO from October 1943 to May 1945, then transferred, in a similar capacity, to the Staff of Commander FIFTH Amphibious Force. In these capacities he participated in most of the major amphibious operations in the Central Pacific. For outstanding services during World War II, he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”.
In October 1945, he joined the Staff of Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, as Assistant Operations Officer and in January 1948 reported as Executive Officer of Navy Special Weapons Unit 471, where he remained until March 1949. He next served as Operations and Training Officer with 8460th Special Weapons Group and in May 1951 reported as Operations Officer on board USS Des Moines (CA-134). In February 1953, he assumed command of USS Watts (DD-567), and in July 1954 was detached for instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. Completing the course in June 1955, he remained for duty on the Staff in the Strategy and Tactics Department until June 1957.
After service afloat as Commander Mine Division EIGHT, he served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC, from December 1958 until November 1961, heading the Special Weapons Plans Branch in 1960-1961. He then assumed command of USS Vermilion (AKA-107). Detached from that command in January 1963, he became Commander Amphibious Squadron TEN and in June 1964 reported as Head of the Joint and International Plans Branch, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. In that capacity, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Legion of Merit.
In July 1965 he became Commander Amphibious Training Command, Atlantic Fleet and for “meritorious service… (in that capacity) from July 1965 to November 1966…” was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal.
In January 1967, he assumed command of Amphibious Group ONE and in April that year, transferred to command of Amphibious Group THREE. “For exceptionally meritorious conduct…as Commander Task Force SEVENTY-SIX, Commander Amphibious Force US SEVENTH Fleet during the period April 1967 to September 1967…” he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Third Legion of Merit. The citation further states in part:
“During this period, while the United States was actively engaged in combat operations in support of the republic of Vietnam, Rear Admiral Vannoy, as Commander task Force SEVENTY-SIX, was in overall command of all naval amphibious operations. He astutely directed the planning and organization of numerous and highly successful landing operations, continually utilizing the naval and marine force under his command to optimum advantage. The success of these amphibious assault operations can, in large measure, be attributed to the keen professional ability and dynamic leadership exerted by Rear Admiral Vannoy. In addition to directing his forces in direct combat operations with the enemy, he also provided a wide range of logistic support to forces ashore and afloat. The accomplishment of this myriad of tasks required ingenuity, imagination and assiduous attention to duty of a high order…”
Assigned in May 1968 to the Joint Staff Office, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, DC, he was Chief of the Far East Division (j-5) until September of that year, when he was designated Deputy Director (Plans and Policy), J-5.
For exceptionally meritorious conduct in these positions, Vice Admiral Vannoy was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Fourth Legion of Merit.
In addition to the Legion of Merit with three Gold Stars and Combat “V”, and the Navy Commendation Medal, Vice Admiral Vannoy had the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Silver Star (five operations); World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Europe and Asia Clasps; National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Cuba); the Vietnam Service Medal and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He also had the Navy Distinguished Service Order, First Class and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, awarded by the Government of Vietnam.
He died 2 November 1996.