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Passing of Rear Adm. Myron V. Ricketts, USN (Ret.)

By: Samuel J. Cox Rear Adm., USN (retired) Director of Naval History, Curator for the Navy Director, Naval History and Heritage Command

It is with deep regret I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral Myron Vernon Ricketts, U.S. Navy (Retired) on April 27, 2020 at age 87. Myron entered the U.S. Naval Academy in July 1951 and served as an Engineering Duty Officer until his retirement in 1989 as Director, Fleet Support Atlantic. His career included service in Vietnam as the U.S. Navy advisor in the Saigon Shipyard, and command of the David Taylor Ship Research and Development Center in Carderock, Md.

Rear Admiral Myron V. Ricketts

Myron Ricketts was the son of Admiral Claude Vernon Ricketts, who enlisted in the Navy and rose to four-star rank as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations in 1961-64. As Gunnery Officer on battleship West Virginia (BB-48) during the attack on Pearl Harbor, his timely counter-flood order prevented the ship from capsizing. 

Myron entered the U.S. Naval Academy on July 2, 1951 with the Class of 1955. Described as “a terror” in any kind of sport involving a racket, he also excelled at engineering studies. The entry in the “Lucky Bag” states that “wherever you find Myron, you’ll find him on top,” which pretty much sums up the rest of his career. He graduated in June 1955 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Naval Science. After several months stash at the Headquarters TWELFTH Naval District (Mare Island, Calif.) Ensign Ricketts  reported to his first ship, in the Engineering Department aboard aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard (CV 31) just out of her major modernization and aboard for a SEVENTH Fleet deployment. In May 1957, Lieutenant (junior grade) Ricketts reported to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earning a Masters degree in Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture, and a degree in Naval Engineering, in 1960. In June 1960, Lieutenant Ricketts was assigned to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in the Production Department.

Polaris Missile Launch from USS Andrew Jackson (SSBN 619) viewed by President Kennedy on Board the USS Observation Island (AG 154)

In May 1962, Lt. Ricketts returned to sea aboard USS Observation Island (EAG 154) operating out of Port Canaveral, Fla. conducting Polaris Missile test launches (including the first at-sea launch of an A3 Polaris) and supporting ballistic missile launches by submarines. President John F. Kennedy observed a missile launch aboard Observation Island six days before his assassination. In May 1964, Lieutenant Ricketts reported to the Naval Material Command as Head of the Electric, Magnetic and Acoustic Unit, where he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in July 1964.

Following brief duty under instruction at Commander Amphibious Training Command Pacific, he served a tour in South Vietnam on the Joint Staff Naval Advisory Group, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) as advisor to the Saigon Shipyard from June 1966 to May 1967. Lt. Cmdr. Ricketts then attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, earning a Master of Science in Management in June 1968. He then proceeded to Washington, D.C. to serve as a Placement Officer in the Bureau of Naval Personnel and was promoted to commander in March 1969.

Following several months duty under instruction at NAVDEVTRACEN, San Diego, in August 1970 he reported as Engineering Officer to carrier Independence (CVA 62) for operations north of the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian Sea, cross-deck operations with Royal Navy carrier ARK ROYAL in the North Sea, followed by a Mediterranean deployment. In August 1972, Cmdr. Ricketts reported to Naval Ship Systems Command as Head of the Ship Management Branch in the Aircraft Carrier Ship Logistics Division. In November 1972 he then served in the Office of CNO as special Assistant to the Director, Navy Program Planning (OP-090). In January 1974, he was detailed on a special assignment to the staff of Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, working Mediterranean homeporting and maintenance matters. This was followed in July 1974 by duty in Washington, D.C. at the Naval Research Laboratory as Director Support Service.

Promoted to captain in July 1975, in May 1976 he assumed duty as Executive Assistant and Senior Aide to the Chief of Naval Material. In July 1977, Captain Ricketts assumed command of the David Taylor Naval Ship Research and Development Center (with tow tanks and model basins) in Carderock, Md., a tour he described as his most memorable.

In May 1981, Capt. Ricketts commenced a six-year stint in Naval Sea Systems Command as Deputy Commander for Ship Design and Engineering. In February 1982, he was designated a rear admiral (lower) half while serving in a billet commensurate with that grade. He was promoted to rear admiral (lower half) in April 1983 and to Rear Admiral (two star) in December 1985.  In 1985, he was designated a Materiel Professional. In October 1987, Rear Adm. Ricketts commenced his last tour, standing up the position of Director, Fleet Support Atlantic. Rear Adm. Rickets retired on January 1, 1989.

Rear Adm. Ricketts’ awards include; the Legion of Merit (2), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (2), Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Medal (2), Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, Republic of Vietnam Technical Service Honor Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

I have no information on his post-retirement employment other than that he devoted much time to his family. 

It is a shame that Admiral Claude Ricketts died in office as VCNO and didn’t get to see all that his son Myron accomplished on behalf of the future of the United States Navy. In his various positions, especially later in his career, Myron Ricketts’ leadership had truly profound influence on the development of ship design and capability, much of which (such as Spruance hull-form) is still in the Navy today. He was instrumental in leading the Navy’s shift away from aluminum superstructures making today’s ships more survivable. He served in Vietnam during a period of some of the most intense fighting, and although his billet in the Saigon shipyard was not “front line” the reality is that there were no front lines in Vietnam. Myron was known as a great leader in addition to truly being a master of his engineering profession, for which he obviously had great passion. The Navy today still benefits from his dedicated service and his legacy lives on.

Rest in Peace Admiral Ricketts.