Navy Birthday a Time to Recall Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr.

by Sokolove Law

Did you know that the U.S. Navy will celebrate its 238th birthday on Oct. 13?

It was on this date in 1775 that the Continental Congress established the Continental Navy, the precursor of today’s American naval fleet. As we stop to honor the bravery and commitment of all U.S. sailors past and present on this day, it is also a time to recall the man who authorized this fleet-wide celebration of our naval history.

Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. was appointed U.S. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) at age 49 in 1970 — and he is still the youngest man ever named to the post. As the CNO, he was a charismatic leader who initiated a series of reforms to reinvigorate the naval service. To help highlight the Navy’s proud heritage, Admiral Zumwalt authorized the celebration of the Navy Birthday on Oct. 13.

After retiring from the Navy, Admiral Zumwalt took on a new battle: He fought to get government medical benefits to help Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange during that war.

But in 1999, this defender of the medical rights of veterans received a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Like many Navy veterans, Admiral Zumwalt was likely exposed to asbestos during his naval service. One third of mesothelioma cases involve Navy or shipyard exposure.

In the past, many products used by the military contained asbestos. Asbestos was valued for its heat resistance, insulation, and fireproofing capabilities. The Navy used asbestos-containing products in its shipyards and in ships that were built before the mid-1970s.

Admiral Zumwalt died in 2000 not long after his mesothelioma diagnosis. His story is similar to that of thousands of veterans who were exposed to asbestos in the military. One way to honor his memory is to urge the U.S. to ban asbestos.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos during military service and diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Mesothelioma claims are placed against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, not the U.S. military or U.S. government. Call Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation.