Rickover Recollections


Recollection from Margaret Lurie

"I am Hyman Rickover’s niece. My mother was his younger sister. He was a major part of my life when I was growing up." - Margaret Lurie


The Wrath of Rickover

"I could see the rage starting to build. I think it started somewhere in his neck, but maybe it started lower than that." - Captain William J. Toti, USN (Ret.)

Includes explicit language

This article was originally published in the US Naval Institute Proceedings. Copyright US Naval Institute. Reprinted with permission.

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Three Recollections of Meetings with Admiral Rickover

"I look back and realize that I was part of Admiral Rickover’s amusement for the day with him smiling at times, something he was not known for." - Captain Jim Petersen, USNR (Ret.)


The Strangest Day of my Life

"I grew up with Admiral Hyman Rickover as my overlord." - Steve Stone


Rickover Experience – VADM R. F. Bacon

"I’ll let the letter from ENS Bacon to Vice Adm Rickover speak for itself." - Captain Butch Howard, USN (Ret.)


Admiral Rickover Observations

"I didn't have to sit and wait very long before I was called to enter the sparse office. It was nicer than I thought it would be; so was the Admiral." - Captain John Paulson, USN (Ret.)

5 IJ Arora

Rickover’s International Impact

"It was the ingenious Admiral who initially, hand wrote the process based approach. [...] These notes by the Admiral were then loaned to the Royal Navy. [...] Conveniently the US as source and Admiral as the author seems to have been forgotten." - Dr. IJ Arora


My Admiral Rickover Story

"I started the tour and had not gotten but a few sentences out before Admiral Rickover really took over. He started by describing the valves at the Discharge Station as “works of art”, apparently appealing to a non-engineer." - Captain John J. Mackin, USN (Ret.)

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Rickover Letters to RADM Roy S. Benson

"It was a Rickover tradition to "ride" a new SSBN during sea trials (prior to commissioning) to assure the quality of the boat and its crew. To commemorate the event, Rickover prepared a letter about the boat, but more importantly about the person for whom the boat was named." - Rick Connole

8 Eugene Holler

Recollection from Captain Eugene Holler

"The whole process took about 17 seconds, and I was escorted out of his office before my posterior barely grazed the seat of the chair in front of the admiral’s desk." - Captain Eugene Holler, USNR (Ret.)

UA 436.02.01 Admiral Hyman Rickover Photo Collection, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC

9 Winston Peterson

Recollection from Winston H. Peterson

"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." - Winston H. Peterson

UA 436.02.03 Admiral Hyman Rickover Photo Collection, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC

10 Alan Lawver

A Morning with Rickover

"My face must have gone white as I considered my dilemma. Here I was with the submarine force’s chief engineer and me, a newly promoted CDR, hoping someday soon to take command." - Captain Alan Lawver

DN-SN-82-05062 USS Atlanta (SSN-712), Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC

SSN 709

Meeting Admiral Rickover at the Commissioning of SSN-709

"And having written poetry since my teen years, I tried to encapsulate within the confines of a short poem what his biographers had expressed in nearly 700 pages." - Ronald Bell

The Hidden Rickover

So, as we sat, I asked, “Eleonore, there must have been many nights when the Admiral came home after a difficult day frustrated, angry and tired. What did he do to relax and rest?” - Lieutenant John Lindstedt, USNR (Ret.)
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Recollection from Captain Mike Pestorius

"He immediately hit me with some questions and then directed me to step across the hall and wait for him in an office there. The office was a janitor's closet. I was happy to be there." - Captain Mike Pestorius, USN (Ret.)
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Recollection from Lieutenant Robert G. Mahan

"When I tried to intercede, he made me drop to the deck." - Lieutenant Robert G. Mahan, USN (Ret.)
14 Luther Biggs

Recollections of Admiral Rickover

"I swung around to shoot the first bearing, unaware of how far my butt was sticking out. I hit the Admiral a solid blow broadside. He bounced off the helmsman and landed on the bear trap grating." - Lieutenant Commander Luther L. Biggs, USN (Ret.)
15 Herbert Weber

Admiral Rickover Recollection

"Without introduction, as I recall, he immediately stated, 'Office Candidate Weber, you have the worst background of anyone I have ever interviewed for this program.' Without objection I simply answered, 'Yes Sir.'" - Herbert G. Weber

Four Recollections of Admiral Rickover

"The Admiral personally read every one of them and it was not unusual for the Commanding Officer to receive a personal phone call from the Admiral if he had questions or concerns." - Captain Edward S. Little, USN (Ret.)
USN 1133242

Recollection from David Campbell

"The officers in particular told me to never volunteer information, never answer more than what was asked. So, a little apprehensive, I awaited my turn." - David Campbell

About the Kindly Old Gentleman

"One of my more senior colleagues later told me that the Admiral’s ritual was to face the Pentagon, gesture with his arm and say 'Phooey.'" - William Johnson

The Interview

"He jumped up and started screaming that my priorities were all screwed up that I had some ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades in useless literature and history courses and that I needed to concentrate on math, science, and engineering." - Mike Payne

Recollection from Tim Richard

"I never had the pleasure to meet Admiral Rickover during my navy time but I do recall my father’s recollection of meeting him." - Tim Richard

Rickover Interview

"...the answer seemed pretty obvious to me: 'You’re older, sir.' He rose half-way out of his chair and yelled, 'How can someone so smart say something so stupid?'" - Rear Admiral Paul Ryan, USN (Ret.)

Me and The Admiral

"The Admiral was coming to Charleston to inspect the nuclear capabilities of the Charleston Naval Shipyard." - Lieutenant Alvin C. Hanson Jr.

Recollection from Charlie Nesbitt

"I was in charge of getting the grapes and getting him to the Norfolk airport, both of which, fortunately, went well." - Charlie Nesbitt
Mark Harper

The Rickover Interview

"The KOG looked at me and said, I want to hear more stories. Send me a letter when you get back to that Disneyland place." - Mark J. Harper, U.S. Naval Academy ’75, 14th Company
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The Rickover Interview

"Then he looked at me without apparent emotion and said, 'Get out.'" - Marc W. Joseph, U.S. Naval Academy '75

Admiral Rickover

"I was dismissed and I said, 'Yes sir, thank you sir,' To which he replied, 'What are you thanking me for?' 'For allowing me to come to see you.' I replied and walked out." - Former Lieutenant Jim Gutierrez, USN
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"I do not recall that much about the day except the entire interview with the Admiral and one of the technical questions. I was asked to describe the latent heat of vaporization." - Captain Rich Luke, USN (Ret.)
Harvey Rosenblum

Admiral Rickover Visits Chicago

"A few of the stories dealt with his reluctance to spend his own money. In this regard, in 1973-74, prior to marrying Eleonore Bednowicz, any time he wanted to see her, he would always arrange for a business trip..." - Harvey Rosenblum
USS Daniel Webster

Recollections of Encounters with Admiral Rickover

"My class standing was around 100 (slightly greater than that) and the Admiral asked if I would finish the year standing less than 100.  I told him I would try and he responded with a loud 'Get Out'." - Captain John W. “Bill” Sheehan, USN (Ret.)
Navy Department Building

Admiral Hyman Rickover

"Rickover lurched forward, slammed his head against the dashboard, hesitated a second, and then slumped to the floor. The radioman saw his life flash before his eyes, as he thought, 'I’ve killed Rickover.'" - Mike Klein, RMCS(SS), USN (Ret.)
Henry Clay

The Rickover List

"I was given the list and proceeded to gather all of the items. A visit by Admiral Rickover was a very serious event and I recall everyone’s nerves being on edge." - Rick Riessen


Admiral Rickover

"I wanted to go to graduate school and was making plans to do so when the US government threw a large wrench into the works." - Lieutenant (Junior Grade) John Hunka, USN (1970-1974)
USN 1051125

Rickover Memories

"I am going on 82 years old - and to the best of my memory - I am the ONLY topside watch - when on USS Tullibee (SSN 597), to ever unholster and pull a .45 on the Admiral and his aide in September of 1962 pierside, lower base Groton."

Recollection from Captain Fredrik Spruitenburg

"Admiral Rickover was charismatic and always the gentlemen around the ladies." - Captain Fredrik Spruitenburg, USN (Ret.)