Adm. Hyman C. Rickover

One of a small number of veterans who served the nation in four 20th-centurywars, Rickover "attained for this country pre-eminence in the field of Navy nuclear power," said National Commander Al Keller, presenting the admiral with the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1983. "Through (his) dynamic leadership and professional competence, our nation's capability to deter aggression has vastly improved and, through its service to the citizens of this great land, he has embodied the truest principles of patriotism."

Accepting the honor, Rickover said that "all human achievements flow not only from individual efforts, but from associated efforts as well. We the living are heirs to all the ideas and accomplishments of every human being who has ever lived before."

With a career spanning 63 years and 13 presidencies, Rickover championed every cause in which he believed. Controversial and frank in his approach, the four-star admiral is remembered as "father of the nuclear Navy." Born in Russian-ruled Poland at the turn of the century, Rickover and his Jewish family fled to the United States in 1905. He lived in Manhattan and later Chicago, and succeeded in getting an appointment to the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

As the atomic age dawned, Adm. Earle Mills considered Rickover the Navy's best man for developing nuclear propulsion. He said Rickover could be depended on "no matter what opposition he might encounter, once he was convinced of the potentialities of the atomic submarine."

Rickover died in 1986, at 86.

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