He may have a tough time becoming the most popular Elmo, especially during the holidays, but Admiral Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt deserves to be in the running. The US Navy just launched the USS Zumwalt, an innovative destroyer that’s probably the most advanced seagoing vessel on earth. It’s also the biggest and priciest destroyer ever made — and the USS Zumwalt takes its name from Elmo. Elmo Zumwalt, that is.
Admiral Zumwalt, who died in 2000 at age 79, was the youngest man ever to serve as Chief of US Naval Operations. The son of two doctors from San Francisco, the Annapolis graduate went on to change the military he served during a tenure that included World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Some of Zumwalt’s progressive administrative moves to reduce racism and sexism in the Navy in the 1970s had far-reaching effects. Even last week’s announcement by Defense Secretary Ash Carter that all military jobs are now open to women can be traced back to Zumwalt’s policy changes. It’s not just the USS Zumwalt that’s named for Admiral Zumwalt — the entire guided missile destroyer program takes his name. Two videos below show the USS Zumwalt at sea and the life of Admiral Zumwalt.