A Council Bluffs native who retired following a distinguished 30-year career with the U.S. Navy was inducted Saturday into the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame.
Born here in 1933, Rear Admiral — a rank attained by approximately one of 1,000 naval officers — Ronald E. Narmi graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1951, where he earned the first Naval ROTC scholarship awarded to a Council Bluffs student.
Narmi then enrolled at Iowa State University in Ames, where he earned his bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering.
He graduated from Iowa State in 1955, and he was commissioned an ensign in the Navy and began his active-duty career. He holds the distinction of being the first ISU Navy ROTC graduate to be promoted through the ranks to rear admiral, the third-highest rank in the Navy.
Following his graduation from Iowa State, Narmi went on to earn three masters degrees. They included a degree in physics from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School; a degree in systems management from the University of Southern California; and a third degree in administration of national security policy from the George Washington University.
He was also a distinguished graduate of the industrial College of the Armed Forces with a curriculum focused on planning for the industrial mobilization of the country for national defense in times of crisis. In addition, he attended summer executive training courses at Harvard and at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
Narmi has served as commanding officer of a Navy P-3 Orion anti-submarine aviation squadron and as commander of a P-3 Orion Wing composed of six P-3 aviation squadrons.
As noted during his Thomas Jefferson Hall of Fame induction in 2003, he served as commander of the NATO Iceland Defense Force, where he was responsible for more than 5,000 personnel and $3 billion worth of early warning radar aircraft, fighter aircraft, tanker aircraft and antisubmarine aircraft and held direct responsibility for the air and submarine defense of the North Atlantic, including approaches to Europe.
Narmi, who was named to the ISU Aerospace Engineering Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2010, also commanded the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, the largest joint service senior war college.
In addition, he was involved in project management as a senior naval officer in the Polaris/Poseidon/Trident Fleet Ballistic Missile Project Office and was deputy project manage in the anti-submarine Warfare Project Office.
Narmi also served as NATO Ambassador to Iceland for two years.
Prior to his promotion to rear admiral, then-Capt. Narmi served as executive director on the Chief of Naval Operation Executive Panel, providing technical advice to the Chief of Naval Operations on issues ranging from military logistics, computers, development of aircraft and ships, and telecommunications.
During his 30-year naval career, Narmi logged 4,653 hours of flight time and served four six-month tours in Vietnam. He earned 14 military awards and decorations, including the Air Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and numerous awards for his service tours in Vietnam.
Following his discharge from the Navy in 1985, he worked in program management for acquisition of weapons systems for three companies for a total of 12 years.
Now 84, Narmi credits his success to a good education, “which,” he said, “includes learning how to get the job done.”