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Hyman George Rickover, 1900 - 1986

portrait of Hyman G. Rickover
Official Navy portrait (Ca. 1955)

Born: 27 January 1900, Mak
Died: 8 July 1986, Arlington, Virginia

Rickover's family fled tsarist pogroms, moving to Manhattan's East Side in 1905 and the Chicago suburb of Lawndale two years later. While at John Marshall High School, Rickover held a full-time job delivering telegrams, which introduced him to the congressman who appointed him to the US Naval Academy. He worked on a destroyer and battleship before returning to the academy to earn an MS in Electrical Engineering, with additional work at Columbia University. He volunteered for submarine duty but was turned down due to age, a former commanding officer intervened. He was sent to Pearl Harbor to organize power plant repairs for USS California, then led the Electrical Section of the Bureau of Ships. In 1946 he was part of the Navy team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, again only through the intervention of a former commander, to begin designing a nuclear propulsion system. The design of a safe and powerful reactor that would fit in a submarine required overcoming many technical obstacles, a problem Rickover tackled with energy, but without tact. He made admiral in 1958, over the next three decades he ruled the nuclear program, personally interviewing every officer involved with the design and construction of the nuclear powered ships, as well as every officer assigned to them in service. He sailed on the maiden voyage of most, possibly all, of the nuclear vessels launched. The same rigid command that was a success during the first half century of his career became more of a problem at the end, he was forced to retire in 1982 after 63 years in the Navy. He is, and probably always will be, the longest serving member of the US armed forces. He won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal (twice), the Distinguished Service Medal (three times), 61 civilian awards, 15 honorary degrees, and the Enrico Fermi Award. Long a critic of American education, Rickover founded the Center for Excellence in Education in 1983. Following a stroke, he died at home.

Biography from Wikipedia and U. S. Navy History and Heritage Command

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