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Vice Admiral Ron Thunman - Cold War Era

Vice Admiral Ron Thunman spent a lifetime in the U.S. Navy, the vast majority of it involved with nuclear-powered submarines. He signed up for nuclear submarine service during its infancy, and from that day forward his assignments repeatedly brought him in close contact with the father of the nuclear force, Admiral Hyman Rickover. Thunman's highlights included command of a nuclear attack submarine, command of the entire Pacific submarine fleet, key assignments in the personnel field, a tour as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Submarine Warfare, (where he helped field the Tomahawk missile and find the RMS Titanic) and Chief of Naval Education and Training.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

Rickover and Simms

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Early life in Springfield & years at the U.S. Naval Academy

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Early Navy career & transfer to the submarine service

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Service on USS R.E. Lee & USS Snook

Interview Session 04 (Audio)

USS Snook & Program Mngr for Naval Nuclear Personnel

Interview Session 05 (Audio)

Tour as Program Manager for Naval Nuclear Personnel

Interview Session 06 (Audio)

Commander of the Attack submarine USS Plunger

Interview Session 07 (Audio)

Senior member of Nuclear Propulsion Examination Board

Interview Session 08 (Audio)

Cmd of a Squadron of nuclear ballistic missile submarines

Interview Session 09 (Audio)

Tour with the Bureau of Naval Personnel

Interview Session 10 (Audio)

Command of the Pacific Submarine fleet

Interview Session 11 (Audio)

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Submarine Warfare

Interview Session 12 (Audio)

Deputy CNO for Submarine Warfare II, and finding Titanic

Interview Session 13 (Audio)

Tom Clancy & tour as Chief, Naval Ed & Training

Interview Session 14 (Audio)

Chief, Naval Education & Training and retirement

Interview Session 15 (Audio)

Reflections on end of Cold War and reflections on his career

Interview Session Video 2017 (Audio)

Admiral Thunman discusses his involvement in finding the Titanic

Transcript


Photos

Caption

Carl E. Thunman is flanked by his parents, Elizabeth and Gustav in Sweden circa 1919. Arrayed in the front are Carl’s siblings.

Where:

Sweden

When:

Circa 1919

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Carl C. Thunman as he looked shortly after jumping ship in New York City in 1920. He was able to join the Marine Corps in 1921.

Where:

New York City

When:

1920

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Young Ron Thunman, at age six, when the family lived outside of Nashville, Tennessee, circa 1938.

Where:

Nashville, Tennessee

When:

Circa 1938

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Ron Thunman made the All State Football Team during his senior year at Springfield High School in 1948. Thunman held down the center spot on the Springfield High School team, and earned a reputation for diagnosing plays and intercepting passes.

Where:

Springfield High School, Springfield, Illinois

When:

1948

Ownership:

Chicago Tribune, Nov 23, 1948. May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

A composite of newspaper clippings from the November 23, 1948 Chicago Tribune reporting that Ron Thunman was on the All-State team.

Where:

Chicago Tribune

When:

November 23, 1948

Ownership:

Chicago Tribune, Nov 23, 1948. May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Thunman played center on the Springfield High School football squad in 1949, the year he was selected to the All State Team.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1949

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Thunman goes up for a rebound in a Springfield High School Senators game against rival Feitshans High School in the late 1940s.

Where:

Springfield High School, Springfield, Illinois

When:

Late 1940s

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Portrait of Midshipman First Class Ronald Thunman, U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1954, taken in 1953 at Annapolis.

Where:

Annapolis

When:

1953

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

First class Midshipman Thunman was front and center as regimental commander in 1954 at Annapolis, Maryland. Others on the staff included Ed Saunders, Wes Hogan and Pete Vogelberger.

Where:

Annapolis, Maryland

When:

1954

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

USS Plunger (SSN-595) entering the water in the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on December 9, 1961.

Where:

Mare Island Naval Shipyard

When:

December 9, 1961

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Commander Ron Thunman’s official photo while commanding the USS Plunger in 1968. Thunman considered this tour one of the highlights of a long career.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1968

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Commander Ron Thunman at ceremony in 1969, where he received the Arleigh Burke Trophy at Pearl Harbor. The trophy was awarded to the USS Plunger, the most improved submarine in the Pacific Fleet.

Where:

Pearl Harbor

When:

1969

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

The USS Plunger with its crew topside as they return to Pearl Harbor from a seven month deployment in 1970.

Where:

Pearl Harbor

When:

1970

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

The USS Plunger with members of its crew topside as they return to Pearl Harbor after seven month at sea in 1970. Commander Thunman stands atop the sail.

Where:

Pearl Harbor

When:

1970

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

The USS Plunger (SSN 595) is underway somewhere in the Pacific. Thunman’s command of the Plunger from 1968 to 1971 was one of the highlights of his career.

Where:

Pacific

When:

Circa 1968-1971

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Official command photo for Captain Ron Thunman in 1974, while he commanded Submarine Squadron 15, based in Guam.

Where:

Guam

When:

1974

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.



Caption

Rear Admiral Ron Thunman with his parents, Carl and Julia Thunman, in 1976.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1976

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford greet Admiral and Mrs. Betsy Thunman at a Washington, D.C. reception on the occasion of Admiral Hyman Rickover’s birthday in July, 1983. Rickover is visible in the background between the Thunmans.

Where:

Washington, D.C

When:

July, 1983

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Admiral Thunman and Chief of Naval Operations Jim Watkins flank Vice President George Bush in the White House, with the Assistant Secretary of the Navy standing next to Thunman. They recognized Bush’s naval service by making him an honorary submariner.

Where:

White House

When:

1984

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

The commissioning ceremony for the USS Rickover. Assistant Sec. of the Navy George Sawyer is at the podium. To his left is Admiral Jim Watkins. To Sawyer’s right are Admiral (retired) and Mrs. Rickover, Vice Admiral Thunman, and a chaplain.

Where:

New London, Connecticut

When:

July 21, 1984

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Admirals Ron Thunman and Jim Watkins, Chief of Naval Operations, enjoy the moment at the North Pole in 1985. In the background is the USS Trepang.

Where:

North Pole

When:

1985

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.)

Caption

Chief of Naval Operations Jim Watkins and Vice Admiral Thunman are aboard the USS Trepang (SSN-674), under the North Pole in 1985.

Where:

Under the North Pole

When:

1985

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Official portrait of Vice Admiral Thunman while he served as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Submarine Warfare in 1985. Thunman was stationed at the Pentagon at the time.

Where:

Pentagon

When:

1985

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Ron Thunman with other staff members of the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jim Watkins, at the North Pole in 1985.

Where:

North Pole

When:

1985

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Vice Admiral Thunman assumed command of CNET (Chief of Naval Education and Training) from Vice Admiral Jim Sagerholm on Oct. 31, 1985.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Oct. 31, 1985

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Command photo of Vice Admiral Ron Thunman taken in 1986 for his tour as Chief of Naval Education and Training, stationed in Pensacola, Florida.

Where:

Pensacola, Florida

When:

1986

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.



Caption

Vice Admiral Thunman underwent aviation qualification training in Pensacola in 1986, part of a naval aviator’s requirements before “trapping” (landing) aboard an aircraft carrier.

Where:

Pensacola, Florida

When:

1986

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Vice Admiral Thunman is interviewed by Navy Times reporter John Burlage in his Pensacola office. The subject being discussed was the training death of a rescue swimmer.

Where:

Pensacola, Florida

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Ditching and then being rescued from the water was part of aviation qualification training that Thunman voluntarily underwent after assuming command of CNET in 1986.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1986

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

CAPT Robert F. Trafton, commander of NMITC, presented a copy of a game used in training to Vice Admiral Thunman, circa 1987 in Pensacola, Florida. Also in attendance were Rear Admiral John Butts, the former director of Naval Intelligence.

Where:

Pensacola, Florida

When:

Circa 1987

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Vice Admiral Ron Thunman, the Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Admiral Morris and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida in 1987. Thunman served as Chief of Naval Education and Training at the time.

Where:

Pensacola, Florida

When:

1987

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Thunman flew in the back seat with the Navy’s Blue Angels in 1987. The Blue Angels are stationed at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Where:

Pensacola, Florida

When:

1987

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Thunman received an honorary doctor of public service degree from Dr. Friedrich and Dr. Morris Marx of the University of West Florida in 1988.

Where:

University of West Florida

When:

1988

Ownership:

Photo courtesy of UWF Office of Information Services.

Caption

Ron Thunman visited a Florida shipyard owned by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner during the commissioning of the USNS Richard G. Matthiesen, an auxiliary ship, in 1988. Thunman was the keynote speaker.

Where:

Florida

When:

1988

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Bob and Dolores Hope were guests of honor at an award parade in 1992 at the Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Wayne, Pennsylvania, where Thunman served as President.

Where:

Wayne, Pennsylvania

When:

1992

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The official Department of the Navy photo of Admiral Hyman Rickover. Rickover was notoriously wary of cameramen and of pomp of any kind.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Vice Admiral Thunman’s official DD Form 214, which shows his military record, dates of service, and various awards he received.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Thunman inspects Naval Junior ROTC cadets during a Pensacola Navy League-sponsored competition at Corry Station, Florida. As the Chief of Naval Education and Training (CNET), Thunman managed more than 237 NJROTC units in 39 states.

Where:

Corry Station, Florida

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn presents the Order of Lincoln to Vice Admiral Ronald Thunman at the 2012 Lincoln Academy of Illinois investiture ceremony held in the State Capitol House of Representatives Chamber in Springfield, on April 21, 2012.

Where:

State Capitol House of Representatives Chamber in Springfield, Illinois

When:

April 21, 2012

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Vice Admiral Ron Thunman and family gather outside during Thunman’s Lincoln Academy investiture ceremony at the State Capitol building in 2012. With Thunman are his wife Owsley, daughter Allison and grandson Hayden.

Where:

State Capitol, Springfield, Illinois

When:

2012

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



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