Elmo Zumwalt




Pacific Ocean


Maritime Nation Since 1950 (1951-present)








Admiral� [he received] an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy� [After graduating, he] was immediately commissioned as an ensign and assigned to the destroyer Phelps in June 1942. Zumwalt later served on the destroyer Robinson� He was posted as executive officer on two destroyers, the USS Saufley and the USS Zellars. In January 1948 he returned to the United States and spent a year and half as an assistant professor in the Navy ROTC program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In April 1950 he was promoted to lieutenant commander and again returned to sea as captain of the USS Tills. During the Korean War he served as navigator for the battleship Wisconsin

In June 1953 he began to hone his political and administrative skills within the naval bureaucracy with his appointment as the Navy Department's Head of Shore and Overseas Bases Section, Bureau of Naval Personnel, in Washington, D.C. In 1957 he was transferred to the Office of Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Personnel and Reserve Forces) and for the next two years served as special assistant for naval personnel and then as special assistant and naval aide.

In December 1959 Zumwalt returned to sea as commander of one of the first guided missile frigates, the USS Dewey. Promoted to captain, he spent ten months in mid-1961 at the National War College in Washington, D.C.� In July 1965 he was once again at sea, this time as commander of Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla Seven. It was not long, however, before he was back in Washington, this time for a two-year stint as director of the Systems Analysis Group in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)�

Zumwalt had opposed American involvement in Vietnam, arguing that this action would needlessly deflect American naval and military forces from the larger task of confronting what he perceived to be the growing Soviet threat. Nevertheless in August 1968 Zumwalt was ordered to Vietnam as commander of the U.S. Naval Forces and chief of the Naval Advisory Group� He succeeded Admiral Thomas H. Moorer as chief of naval operations (CNO). Zumwalt confronted the dual challenge of declining enlistment rates and rebuilding an aging naval fleet in the face of a parsimonious and war-weary Congress. In typically direct fashion, he reformed traditional naval discipline through a series of 121 memos that were called "Z-grams." In addition to allowing neatly trimmed beards and more relaxed clothing standards, Zumwalt insisted on the abolition of all discrimination against minorities. He also allowed women to go to sea. Though these new regulations were bitterly opposed by traditionalists, Zumwalt held firmly to his new policies, and both enlistment and retention rates increased�

In July 1974 Zumwalt retired� He died at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, from complications of surgery for a chest tumor�

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Date: 1999