Commander Richard R. Tarbuck

Commanding Officer, 23 October 1971 to 07 July 1973

CDR R. R. Tarbuck


Legion of Merit

Bronze Star


Meritorious Service Medal

CAPT Richard R. Tarbuck, USN (ret), August 10, 2007

“I take great pride in King and the crew's performance during two WESTPAC tours. To say that it was challenging would not really give it credit for the hard work and individual competence shown by each man aboard.”
This biography was taken from Captain Tarbuck's retirement ceremony pamphlet.

Captain Tarbuck’s principal assignments have included command of Fleet Training Group, San Diego, the USS HALSEY (CG-23), USS KING (DLG-10), Commander, Mine Division Thirty-Two and Commanding Officer, USS WARBLER (MSC-206). Following graduation from the U. S. Naval Academy in June 1956, Ensign Tarbuck served on USS DENNIS J. BUCKLEY (DDR-808) as Gunnery Officer; he participated in three deployments with the Seventh Fleet including the Formosa Patrol and Quemoy-Matsu crisis in 1958 where he served as an All Weather Air Controller.

Upon completion of this tour in December, 1958, Lieutenant (junior grade) Tarbuck attended Mine Warfare School and subsequently served as Executive Officer and Navigator of the Ocean Minesweeper CONQUEST (MSO-488). This tour included operations in Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan.

Next, Lieutenant Tarbuck assumed command of a Coastal Minesweeper homeported in Sasebo, Japan. In May 1962, he relieved as COMINDIV 32.

In his first of five Washington, D. C. tours, Lieutenant Tarbuck was assigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Officer Distribution Section in March 1963. In March 1965, Lieutenant Commander Tarbuck joined the USS DALE (DLG-19) in the Tonkin Gulf where he assumed duties as Operations Officer. Upon completion of a second Vietnam area tour in August 1966, he was detached and reported for duty as Executive Officer of USS JOSEPH STRAUSS (DDG-16) homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More significant destroyer duty came in February 1967 when the USS STRAUSS participated in the first Sea Dragon operations in North Vietnam.

After completion of the course at the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, Lieutenant Commander Tarbuck was assigned to the Command Policy Branch of the Strategic Plans and Policy Division (OP-60) OPNAV. Five months later, he was selected to serve as the Administrative Assistant and Aide to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

Commander Tarbuck reported to COMNAVFOR Vietnam in June 1970 for duty as Senior Advisor NTC – VN Naval Academy, Na Trang. In October 1971, he relieved Commanding Officer, USS KING (DLG-10). He commanded her during two combat tours in Vietnam waters and during the India-Pakistan War, the USS KING deployed to the Indian Ocean with the first Carrier Task Group.

After instruction at the National War College, Ft. McNair, Washington, D. C., Commander Tarbuck was assigned to OPNAV Politico Division (OP-61). In August, 1977, Captain Tarbuck took over as ACOS for Ops and Plans Staff, COMCRUDESGRU Eight, Norfolk, Virginia. During this period, he served in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Western Atlantic.

Captain Tarbuck assumed command of USS HALSEY (CG-23) in May 1979. USS HALSEY deployed in the Seventh Fleet 79 – 80 where she participated in contingencies of Korea, Thailand, and Iran / Afganistan crisis.

Captain Tarbuck commanded Fleet Training Group, San Diego from June 1981 through May 10, 1985. In this capacity, he implemented many innovative training ideas, e. g., the Training Assessment concept which tasks all ships undergoing Refresher Training in both primary and secondary mission areas with more realism and a greatly expanded threat package that includes real-world simulation. A Major Conflagration exercise is now conducted on most ship types that simulates major battle damage.

Captain Tarbuck holds a Bachelor of Science Degree (1956) from the United States Naval Academy, a Masters equivalent in Political Military Science (1974), and a Masters of Business Administration (1984) from National University, San Diego.


Legion of Merit

Bronze Star with Combat “V”

Meritorious Service Medal

Navy Commendation Medal (two with Combat “V”)

Combat Action Ribbon – Surface Combat

Navy Unit Commendation

Meritorious Unit Commendation (two)

Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation

Navy Battle Efficiency Ribbon (three)

Navy Expeditionary Medal (two campaigns)

China Service Medal

National Defense Service Medal

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (five campaigns)

Vietnam Service Medal (eleven campaigns)

Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with Three Bronze Stars

Distinguished Service Medal, Vietnam Navy

Honor Medal First Class, Vietnam

Navy Medal, Vietnam (Life Saving)

Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation

Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation

Republic of Vietnam Campaign

South American Advisory Medal (Inter America Defense Board)

Expert Rifle Medal (Navy)

Expert Pistol Shot (Navy)

Following his retirement in 1985, CAPT Tarbuck worked as New Construction Program Manager at Lockheed Shipbuilding Company in Seattle, then as Operations Director on Navy contracts for Computer Science Corporation on the islands of Kauai, HI and Andros in the Bahamas.

After ten years, CAPT Tarbuck retired to Edmonds, WA and eventually settled in Sequim, WA. Involvement in retirement has included Navy League, Maritime Alliance of the Pacific NW, Portland Rose Festival, Seattle Sea Fair, and President Sister City Edmonds – Hekinan, Japan. He has also been involved in stamp collecting, the establishment of a Naval Museum as Curator / Sequim, and advisor to city / county for disaster community preparedness.

His greatest fulfillment has been the pursuing of a long time interest in home design and architecture. Once a property to his liking was found, he designed a traditional Pacific NW home with contemporary undertones in a private green belt canyon setting. This was followed by an Asian Island pole home design on Konai, HI held up by nineteen Washington State Red Cedars. His last challenge was the conversion of a 1940’s vintage Great Northern train caboose, with the interior designed to resemble a ships cabin.