Jan 3

Captain Howard J. Kerr Jr., USN (Retired) on Admiral Zumwalt's Z-grams

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 12:01 AM


Captain Howard J. Kerr Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired)

Captain Howard J. Kerr Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired)

How does the crew of a U.S. Navy warship react to directives from the top—the very top, as in the Chief of Naval Operations? In a selection from Navy Captain Howard J. Kerr Jr.’s U.S. Naval Institute oral history, he speaks about the impact CNO Admiral Elmo Zumwalt’s “Z-grams” had among his crew. Policy directives, the Z-grams often dealt with Navy personnel issues in an effort to improve enlisted life and reduce racial tensions. Kerr was an aide to Admiral Zumwalt as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam, and commanding officer of the USS Hawkins (DD-873), a unit of the “Mod Squad”—a Zumwalt concept to give more junior officers greater responsibility. Kerr gave two interviews in September and November 1982. The transcript contains 164 pages.

Captain Kerr’s interview is one of five contained in the first of a series of volumes containing interviews with officers who served closely with Admiral Zumwalt. Oral Historian Paul Stillwell conducted these interviews from September 1982 through May 1984. The volume contains 331 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 1989 by the U.S. Naval Institute. No restrictions have been placed on Kerr’s interview.

Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired)

To read more about the Naval Institute Oral History Program, go to https://www.usni.org/heritage/oral-history-catalog.