Admiral Frank B. Kelso served as chief naval officer for the four years leading to his retirement.
The decorated veteran began his Navy career in 1956 and decided to join the submarine force a short while later.
“I felt it was a good decision,” said Kelso, who had requested a “ride” on a sub-service vessel.
“I had asked permission to ride a sub and that was granted,” he said.
Kelso said the Cold War was building and it was a significant time in submariner history due to several fundamental reasons.
Conflicts were evident in the world and the Navy began the journey toward nuclear-powered vessels.
During his career and at the height of the era, Kelso helped build 41 ships and also trained crews.
“It was a different technology. We thought we would never get through Nuclear Power school and we literally wrote the textbook as we went,” explained Kelso.
Kelso said it was amazing what took place during that time.
He was under the direct command of four-star Admiral Hyman Rickover, who led the Navy’s nuclear program and along with his sailors developed the first atomic submarine. Rickover also had ties to the “Secret City” of Oak Ridge during his days and worked to develop the nuclear propulsion program for the Navy.
“Everybody was scared of (Rickover),” said Kelso, relating to other commanders.
“He told me to operate the nuclear power school like I owned it,” said Kelso.
The success of the schools rested on his shoulders.
During his 42-year career, Kelso led joint air strikes conducted by the Navy and the Air Force. Those strikes were against Libya, and the U.S. Sixth Fleet was successful.
In 1988, Kelso was appointed as commander in chief of the Atlantic Command and was later head of the Naval operation during Operation Desert Storm after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.