As the first commanding officer of the Admiral’s ship, the most profound memory of my time with this naval icon was his decisive response to my question, “What’s it feel like to have a ship and an entire class of modern warships named after you?” Without hesitating, he shot back, “I didn’t do enough.”
For me, that mindset forms this triad: Genuine humility is essential to the character of great leaders. A quarter of a century after the introduction of the first ship of his class, the United States does not have a big “enough” Navy to protect our national interests. As past is often prologue, leaders like Burke and his namesake ships will be needed to meet the crisees that almost certainly will arise.
Admiral Burke became the Navy’s 16th Chief of Naval Operations in 1955, leaping over a significant number of more senior officers after leading the “Revolt of the Admirals.” In his moment as the Navy’s longest-serving CNO, Burke got it right. Between his vast combat experience, coupled with a humble fortitude characteristic of the “Greatest Generation,” Admiral Burke did so much for the United States.