Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from P-T » Reason, J. Paul(1941–) - Military leader, Background, Upbringing, and Education, Chronology, Becomes Successful Entrepreneur

Becomes Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer

reason naval uss rickover

In 1965, Vice Admiral Hyman Rickover, the “Father of the Nuclear Navy” and later the first Jewish person to become a four-star admiral, personally screened hundreds of applicants for nuclear propulsion school. When Rickover interviewed Reason he commented that his class standing should be better and challenged him to improve it by twenty points before graduating. Reason responded that he could not do so within the next six months but promised to work as hard as he could to rank higher. Rickover asked him to leave his office and had him sit in a small office to reconsider his reply. Some twelve hours later, one of the admiral’s aides asked Reason to sign a statement committing to the admiral’s initial request. Reason amended it to read that he would endeavor to increase his class standing by trying to achieve all A’s and signed it. At that point, he returned to the Naval Academy. The next morning he discovered that his name was third on the list of those persons entering the nuclear propulsion program. Long after Reason completed his training Rickover continued to follow his career. For instance, when Reason’s commanding officer gave him an adverse fitness report following outstanding ones, Rickover inquired about the justification. His reports improved shortly afterwards. Reason was not aware of Rickover’s intervention at the time.

The U.S. Navy assigned Reason to the USS J. D. Blackwood , a destroyer escort, before sending him to the Naval Nuclear Power School, Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, Maryland and the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit in Schenectady, New York. Reason spent three years on the USS Truxtun , a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser, and participated in its first deployment to Southeast Asia in 1967. While en route, the Truxtun responded to the North Korean seizure of the USS Pueblo .

Reason was a reactor training officer when he left the Truxtun in 1969. He reported to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California where he earned an M.S. in computer systems management. In 1970, he became the electrical officer on the USS Enterprise , a nuclear-powered carrier that completed two tours in the Southeast Asia and Indian Ocean areas.

His next two jobs during the 1970s returned Reason to the nation’s capital as the detailer for the Surface Nuclear Junior Officer Assignment and Placement Branch in the Bureau of Naval Personnel and as the naval aide to President Jimmy Carter. His duties included carrying the “football,” a case containing the codes for activating the country’s nuclear weapons. This job gave him a chance to meet with ADM Rickover again.

During the 1980s, Reason served as the executive officer on the USS Mississippi , a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser, and as the commanding officer of the USS Coontz , a guided-missile destroyer, and the USS Bainbridge , a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser. He earned the nickname “Go Fast” on the Coontz because he seldom traveled under twenty-five to thirty knots.

When the navy designated Reason a rear admiral in 1986, he became the first member of his 1965 Naval Academy graduating class to achieve that rank and was assigned as commander of the naval base in Seattle, Washington. He managed all naval activities in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. The navy acknowledged his skills and abilities by assigning him to command Cruiser-Destroyer Group One in 1988. He simultaneously led Battle Group Romeo through operations in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions and the Persian Gulf. His son Joseph graduated from the Naval Academy in 1990.

In 1991, the navy selected him for the commander of the naval surface force of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet following his promotion to three stars. Three years later, he became the deputy chief of Naval Operations for Plans, Policy and Operations (N3/5). President Bill Clinton nominated him for promotion to four stars in 1996 and the job as commander in chief of the Atlantic fleet. Reason’s responsibilities included managing a significant portion of the navy’s operational forces, a $5 billion budget, and over 140,000 civilian and military personnel. Reason’s arsenal included 195 ships and submarines and 1,300 aircrafts that he used every five months or so to send a carrier battle group and an amphibious ready group in response to the various war fighting needs of the Atlantic, Europe, and Southwest Asia commanders in chief. Taking this position of four-star admiral made Reason the first African American to attain this rank.

Reason’s military awards and medals are extensive; of special note, he received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the National Defense Service Medal. He retired in 1999.

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