Welcome to our site!

Main Menu

Hyman Rickover: some Thoughts

Started by stromboli, September 27, 2013, 08:19:56 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


I served for 4 years aboard 2 different nuclear ballistic missile submarines. I was a mere cook, nothing fancy and in no way involved with any engineering or nuclear aspect of the ship. But you knew about this guy. He was a little guy, about 5' 4" and one of those people who, quietly, would stand in the back of a room and you'd never see him.

He was called the Father of the Nuclear Navy for good reason. If you served aboard a nuclear submarine, you knew him. He was born in Poland in 1900 and came here as a refugee from the pogroms of Czarist Russia, who at the time were the rulers. He grew up as the son of a tailor and knew hard work his whole life.

This man was exemplary of the force a personality can have. Serving longer than any other Naval officer, he rose through the ranks and served both before, during and after the war. He was Jimmy Carter's commander in the Navy, and Carter often credited him with the drive that led to his becoming president.

I say this because I want to leave a quote from (I believe) the last speech he made. It speaks to humanity and about us, in a broad and meaningful way.

Quote"Man has a large capacity for effort. In fact it is so much greater than we think it is that few ever reach this capacity. We should value the faculty of knowing what we ought to do and having the will to do it. Knowing is easy; it is the doing that is difficult. The critical issue is not what we know but what we do with what we know. The great end of life is not knowledge, but action. I believe that it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him ... we must live for the future, not for our own comfort or success."

I first read this long after leaving the Navy, but it certainly speaks to the man's drive and character. You'd do worse than read about this man, and see the example of what a dedicated and purposeful human can accomplish.


I'm a fan. I learned of him long after I retired from the USMC. I hated speechs made by officers bucking for command. They were always rah rah and meaningless.
Rickover didn't care about what people thought about him. He cared about accomplishment of real and valued goals. He was hard and even harder to get along with so I have learned. But if you were great not just good, you earned his respect and toughest criticism.
Funny how NCOs in the USMC were and are just the same way.
He's right about not living to our potential. We think we can't do anymore, can't go on and yet there is a vast strength that lies just beyond what we think is our breaking point.
Some people have a natural capacity for tapping into that strength. Apollo 13 for instance. It would have been easy to panic and just die. They kept their cool and survived. Kenndy spoke of it about going to the moon. "We do the hard thing" even though it has reached the hallmark of pornographic humor.