Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Transformed The Navy For The 21st Century

Adm. Zumwalt took over as chief of naval operations in 1970, the thick of the Vietnam War.

Bud Zumwalt earned a Bronze Star for valor in World War II, was an officer on a battleship during the Korean War and commanded America’s Navy in the Vietnam War.

It all prepared him to challenge the Pentagon bureaucracy when he was made the youngest chief of naval operations in history at 49, promoted over 33 more senior officers.

In 1970, the Navy was drifting toward the shoals with a demoralized crew, deteriorating quality of life and outdated policies. Zumwalt confronted those who benefited from the status quo, which included discrimination against minorities and women. 

“His sailors called him Zorro because he never stopped fighting for them and didn’t care that it might derail his career,” Larry Berman, author of “Zumwalt,” told IBD. “He was a trailblazer with the courage of a lion, who used his power to combat injustices and face down adversaries who were on the wrong side of history.”

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