Letter to Destroyermen

Chief of Naval Operations

7 July 1961


I have great admiration for my old shipmates – the Destroyermen.  In war – in peace – you have stood the test of service – and you have measured up to the high standards you have set for yourselves.

One of the things which has made me so proud to be a Destroyerman has been your willingness to do anything required of you and just a little bit more.  No job has proved to be too tough or too complicated.  You have accepted the many challenges and the demands placed upon you without spending a great deal of time trying to fire out why you couldn’t do the things the Navy has asked.  This is good and it is what I would have expected from such dedicated people.

In some places the designation of a man as an “advocate” has a critical note attached to it.  This is an erroneous criticism.  If a man believes in something, then he must certainly be and “advocate,” because if he doesn’t stand up for those things in which he believe he becomes a man who can be easily swayed to any belief.  From there it is a very short step to a disinclination to accept responsibility or be dependable.

Destroyermen have always been “advocates.”  They should remain so.  They are “advocates” not only of destroyers but of the proper use of sea power in its entirety.  This also is good.  There must be competition if we are to continue our progression as the service of the future.  There is competition between individuals, between ships, between forces.  This competition has made us the best Navy in the world and we must continue to be the best.  The only way we can do this is to become strong “advocates” of sea power and all its branches.

I have been privileged to be Chief of Naval Operations for six years.  What has been accomplished is due to the dedicated and unstinted support of many people.  I learned early in my career in destroyers that no one man by himself can accomplish very much, but that with the wholehearted cooperation of a lot of people anything is possible.  The latter fact I learned well as a Destroyerman.  I’m sure that each of you will also learn this lesson and apply it in the future.

You can be certain that on  my retirement a great many of my fondest memories will be of those exciting and wonderful days I spent as a Destroyerman.


Arleigh Burke