At the Academy's Helm
Vice Admiral Richard Naughton
recalls himself as a plebe at the United States Naval Academy.
The year was 1964 and he was 17 years young. "I had never been
on an airplane before---I had never even been out of the state
of Iowa. I wasn't sure what to expect." As our country faced a
period of uncertainty after the assassination of a president and
an escalating war, the young Naughton entered an institution famous
for shaping the next generation of leaders, an institution that,
he says, "grounded him" for his future endeavors.
Today, more than three decades later, a seasoned Naughton returns
to the Naval Academy. And this time, he's superintendent.
Naughton relieved his predecessor and accepted a four-year command
this past June 7. "It is certainly a thrill and an honor to know
that the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) in conjunction with Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld feel that I am the right person to become superintendent,"
he says. As part of the process, Naughton also received nomination
from President Bush and approval from the Senate.
His focus for the next four years? It is "to continually raise
the excellence in academics and training, as well as produce the
very best warrior of the 21st century." This is a goal that certainly
presents the challenge of effectively responding to the dynamics
of global events, technology and warfare, in the course of preparing
future officers for assignment.
Naughton is enthusiastic about the new major in information technology
this year at the Academy and believes it is a step toward achieving
this goal of keeping education relevant. "Operation Enduring Freedom
in Afghanistan illustrates the way war is changing, placing higher
demands on Academy graduates beginning active duty," Naughton
He is also excited about the resurrection of the Navy-Marine Corps
Stadium. "We are committed to remaining sensitive to the community,
yet providing a world class Division I stadium that we can be
proud of and that will memorialize our Navy and Marine Corps graduates
who do great things. Some have given their lives for our country."
As for the resurrection of the football team, he assures us that
the program and the players are in the capable hands of Athletic
Director Chet Gladchuk and Coach Paul Johnson. Both are new recruitments
who bring fresh hope and a whole lot of expertise to the program.
"We are so fortunate to have both of them," he says.
Though Naughton is a decorated officer, his personality remains
flavored with a midwestern hospitality, and his demeanor is unassuming.
"I work with great folks and have wonderful commands that I'm
very proud of."
He approaches life "one day at a time" and looks to many mentors
for inspiration. He describes these role models as possessing
"high moral integrity and high personal values. They are not interested
in self-aggrandizement. They are interested in what's best for
our country and what's best for our men and women in uniform."
He is seemingly unaware that many of his constituents view him
as a mentor and describe him with precisely the same high regard.
A day for Naughton begins at 0-dark-hundred with a morning walk
followed by coffee and the newspaper on the back porch of his
magnificent home on Naval Academy grounds. "The teak porch was
presented by the Class of 1958. It faces the public gardens and
is such a great place to just sit and enjoy life." Although his
schedule is demanding, when the opportunity presents itself, he
enjoys completing "homework" or reading a book on the porch as
the sun is setting. Selected readings are presidential biographies,
as well as books on history and business.
Naughton values the time he spends with his wife Jacky and says,
"We often walk together in the morning or at night to offset a
hectic schedule." As they stroll around the Yard or venture into
town, they fill their wells and add to the contentment of their
marriage and their lives.
"Annapolis is such a wonderful place and we love the friendly
atmosphere," says Naughton who is "touched" by the support offered
to the Academy by its residents, local government and politicians.
He and Jacky have one son who has chosen to remain a civilian.
Sean, who is 29 years old, works as a financial strategist and
mom and dad are proud of his accomplishments.
Naughton's brother Bob was a career officer and a Navy aviator
who spent six years as a POW in Vietnam. "He returned home the
day our son was born and that was a glorious day," says Naughton.
Presently, brother Bob serves as the director of flight operations
for NASA Houston.
The superintendent and his wife plan to spend Thanksgiving with
family in New Jersey, and they look forward to celebrating Christmas
in Annapolis. "Jacky has a passion for Christmas decorations,"
says Naughton with a smile. "She has collected more of the Charles
Dickens village than most retail stores." In keeping with the
Naughton tradition, Jacky will decorate their home for the holidays
and does quite a spectacular job, according to her husband. New
Year's Eve is "quiet and peaceful" as they retreat and center
themselves for the upcoming year.
Advice from Naughton for anyone aspiring to attend the Naval Academy
in the future is "to study hard, get good grades, apply yourself
and, remember, it is the whole person we look for."
He goes on to assure the midshipmen that, "if a young person arrives
here with commitment, we stay committed to them," committed to
providing them with the tools for a successful career as an officer
and a "fitness for life" that makes them a well-rounded individual.
Cloaked with an impressive ability for self-observation and an
obvious internal plan, Naughton is genuinely appreciative. "I
have been blessed in family, career and friends. The thing I like
best about my life is that I can't wait to go to work in the morning
and I can't wait to get home at night. I think that grounding
came from the faith my parents gave me, my education from the
Naval Academy and the incredible relationship I have with my wife
and our family."