Recollection from Winston H. Peterson

By Winston Peterson

My initial interview with Adm. Rickover for the nuclear power program occurred before graduating from the Naval Academy.

After interviewing with several senior officers, most of whom were more than a little intimidating, I was ushered into the Admiral’s office by the PCO of one of the nuclear carriers; 4 stripes.  He sat behind me, and I sat on an uncomfortable chair.  The interview with the Admiral went relatively well in my mind until he said “Get out of here.  I don’t want to see you again.”  The 4 striper took me by the arm and we left.  He took me to a room that contained nothing but a chair and some empty shelves.  He said he would come back for me.  Over an hour later he returned and said the Admiral wanted to see me again.

The Admiral then asked me what I did with my day.  I outlined my normal day that included playing lacrosse 2-3 hour a day during the Spring season.  He asked me if that wasn’t a total waste.  I said I didn’t think so.  He looked at me as though I had committed a deadly sin.  Then he said I should go down the passageway and speak to the lady at the end.  He said I should tell her she was the most beautiful woman I had seen in the last year.  I should also tell her to type a note for my signature that said I agreed to do nothing until graduation but eat, sleep, study, and play lacrosse and that I would increase my standing in the class while taking two additional classes in physics and mathematics.  

The lady was a truly homely person.  I told her she was the most beautiful woman I had seen for a year.  She said, “Yeah.  Anything else.”  I told her what I needed typed up.  She did so and I signed it.  I took the extra courses and increased my class standing.

I was later informed I was accepted into the program.  I entered the program and spent most of my time on nuclear boats.