Don, the Trident Scholar, was up into the wee hours all of First Class year dealing with the abstract abstractions of partially ordered systems. Thus, he topped off an Academy career of outstanding academic performance, while his aptitude for the service and his winning personality put him in the upper "greaser" echelons. This would be no surprise for those who knew Don back in Bayside, New York, for there he also excelled in academics and was a leader in student body affairs. Although Don's time was mainly taken up by his own studies and his efforts in tutoring his less gifted classmates, he did take part in company sports, in which he continually provided that oft' needed fighting spirit. Nevertheless, his record up to now is just the basis for a future in which the sky's the limit to success.
A 1965 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Admiral Pilling's sea experience has been in destroyers. He commanded USS DAHLGREN (DDG 43), was Commander of Destroyer Squadron 26, Commander, Cruiser Group 12, Commander, SARATOGA Battle Group, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe.
Ashore, Admiral Pilling has been assigned to a variety of defense resources and planning billets. From 1973 to 1977 he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (PA&E) where he was responsible for the resource analysis of all U.S. and foreign tactical aircraft and missile programs. From 1980 to 1983 he was on the personal staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, responsible for monitoring trends in the international environment and their implications for future naval forces.
As a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institute in 1985-86, he studied defense acquisition and national security issues. From 1986 to 1988, Admiral Pilling was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations where he was responsible for the development of the Navy Five-Year Defense Plan (FYDP). A member of the National Security Council staff from 1989 until July 1992, Admiral Pilling had broad responsibilities in foreign policy and national security issues. From 1993 to 1995, he was the Director for Programming (N80) on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and most recently served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Resources, Warfare Requirements and Assessments (N8) from July 1996 to November 1997. He assumed his current duties as the 30th Vice Chief of Naval Operations in November 1997.
The Admiral was awarded a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 1970. He has published articles in both mathematical and professional journals and is also the author of a monograph, Competition in Defense Procurement, published in 1989 by the Brookings Institution.
His personal awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (two awards), Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (five awards), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal.
Admiral Pilling is from Bayside, New York, and is married to the former Barbara Orbon, also of Bayside. They have two daughters, Kathleen and Jennifer. Admiral Pilling passed away on May 26, 2008.