The USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is named in honor of Elmo Russell Zumwalt, Jr. (29 November 1920 – 2 January 2000). Zumwalt was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Elmo Russell Zumwalt, M.D., and his wife, Frances Frank Zumwalt, M.D. "Bud" Zumwalt was an American naval officer and the youngest man to serve as Chief of Naval Operations. As an admiral and later the 19th Chief of Naval Operations, Zumwalt played a major role in U.S. military history, especially during the Vietnam War. A highly-decorated war veteran, Admiral Zumwalt reformed Naval personnel policies in an effort to improve enlisted life and ease racial tensions.
In 1939, Zumwalt attended Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. He graduated with distinction and was commissioned as an ensign on June 19, 1942. Zumwalt was assigned to the destroyer USS Phelps (DD-360). In January 1944 Zumwalt reported for duty onboard another destroyer, USS Robinson (DD-562) where he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor device for "heroic service as Evaluator in the Combat Information Center" ...in action against enemy Japanese battleships during the Battle for Leyte Gulf, October 25, 1944." In August 1945, Zumwalt served as the prize crew officer of HIMJS Ataka, a 1,200-ton Japanese river gunboat with a crew of 200.
In the years between WWII and the Korean conflict Zumwalt served on the destroyers USS Saufley, USS Zellars and USS Tills (as commanding officer). Zumwalt then joined the battleship USS Wisconsin as Navigator in March 1951 and served with the ship in operations in Korea. Following his tour on the Wisconsin he served a couple of shore duty assignments and then took command of the destroyer USS Arnold J. Isbell. Following that command assignment he served in Navy personnel positions from July 1957 through August 1959. Next Zumwalt took command of the guided missile frigate, USS Dewey (DLG-14) which was followed stints at the National War College, Washington, D. C., the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs) and Executive Assistant and Senior Aide to the Secretary of the Navy. For duty in the offices of the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
In 1965 Zumwalt was selected for Rear Admiral and took command of Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla Seven. In September 1968, he became Commander Naval Forces, Vietnam, and Chief of the Naval Advisory Group, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, and was promoted to Vice Admiral (VADM) in October 1968. In April 1970 Admiral Zumwalt was nominated to be Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). He assumed duties as Chief of Naval Operations and was promoted to Admiral (ADM) on July 1, 1970.
During his tenure as CNO Admiral Zumwalt was noted for his Navy-wide communications known as "Z-grams" aimed at improving the morale of sailors during a difficult time and reducing racism and sexism in the Navy. Admiral Zumwalt shaped the Navy's efforts to replace aging World War II-era vessels and promoted a plan to balance spending on future warships that included the Pegasus class of missile patrol boats and the Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7) class of guided missile frigates. Elmo Zumwalt Jr. retired from the Navy on July 1, 1974, aged 53.
Admiral Zumwalt died on January 2, 2000, aged 79.