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Submarine Veteran Epitomizes Service to Submarine Fleet
“For 45 years, he has epitomized the words accomplishment, professional, and patriot,” said VADM Kirkland H. Donald, Commander Naval Submarine Forces. “We are losing a national treasure.”

Photo of Thomas R. NutterVADM Donald was speaking about Thomas R. Nutter, who retired in April after 45 years of service to the Navy and the nation. “Like so many others who served their country both as part of and in support of the submarine service,” the admiral continued, “the public will never appreciate the debt of gratitude this nation owes you.”

Nutter, a native of Henderson, West Virginia, began his long and varied career when he joined the Navy in May 1959. He attended the Electronics “Class-A” and submarine training schools until his first assignment onboard USS Carp (SS-338). His other submarine assignments included tours on USS Argonaut (SS-475), USS Torsk (SS-423), USS Spadefish (SSN-668), and USS Cincinnati (SSN-693). He retired from active duty as a Master Chief Petty Officer in June 1979, having served on both diesel-electric and nuclear-powered submarines.

In February 1980, he entered civilian federal service, accepting a position with the Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After a year of specialized engineering and technical training, he was assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron 8 as Technical Advisor for Submarine Masts, Antennas, and Periscopes, where he served until July 1985. He then accepted a position on the staff of the Commander, Submarine Force, U. S. Atlantic Fleet, where he has served as Special Programs Officer. “My biography lays out my career very succinctly,” Nutter explained. “20-plus years active duty – all submarines; 24 years of federal service – all submarines. My wife often reminds me that I never left the Navy or the Submarine Force – I just changed uniforms along the way. My service has been both a privilege and a pleasure, and I can’t think of a higher honor than being given the opportunity to serve one’s country for over 45 years,” he added.

Mr. Nutter is a graduate of Saint Leo College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems. He also holds a Masters of Business Administration in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix.

He has received numerous personal citations and awards, including the Navy Meritorious Civilian Award and Navy Superior Civilian Award. During his retirement ceremony, Nutter was presented the Distinguished Civilian Service Award by VADM Donald. The award cited Nutter as “an extraordinary champion of the taxpayer’s money,” noted that “his programs are consistent models of fiscal management,” and lauded his “superb insight, leadership, managerial talent, technical expertise, and inexhaustible enthusiasm.”

Despite all the formal awards and citations he has received, Nutter will be most remembered for his long service furnishing special-purpose gear and equipment – affectionately known as “Nutter Clutter” – to submarines for specific missions.

Retired Vice Admiral and former Submarine Force Commander John J. Grossenbacher noted, “No matter what it took, no matter the hours and despite the bureaucracy, Tom always found the people, the money, and the material to provide his precious ‘Nutter Clutter’ to our submarines.

“His years of work had a profound influence on submarine intelligence-collection, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations,” Grossenbacher concluded. “They don’t come any better than Tom, and he will be sorely missed.”

“Submarines bring stealth, endurance, agility, and firepower to the battle space, and the silent service of the United States enjoys a noted dominance in the world today,” VADM Donald added. “That accomplishment has been directly influenced by your extraordinary performance.”

Nutter won’t take all the credit for his dedication and years of service. Like any Sailor, past or present, he had a lot of support from home. “I didn’t get here all by myself, I had a lot of help along the way,” he explained. “I want to acknowledge a very special person in my life, my wife Marcella. She has been by my side all the way, and I do mean all the way.” He continued, “She not only supported my work ethic, she made it possible for me to continue my education along the way. She is the perfect wife.”

In a final tribute to Mr. Nutter’s stature, VADM Donald quoted the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of; the tree is the real thing.”

JOC Piggott is assigned to COMNAVSUBFOR Public Affairs.