Upon commissioning, Elmo Zumwalt III attended the Navy Communications
Course in Newport Rhode Island and later reported to USS Claude
B. Ricketts (DDG-5) in Norfolk as the Electronics Officer. In
1969, he volunteered to serve as a swift boat commander, one of
the most dangerous assignments in Vietnam. As a LTJG, he took command
of Swift Boat PCF-35. During his service in Vietnam, his father,
ADM Elmo Zumwalt Jr. served as the U.S. Navy Commander in Vietnam
(and would later become Chief of Naval Operations). During his tour,
he was awarded two Bronze Stars for heroic conduct. He and his crew
also received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for their heroism
Due to budget constraints, he and other NROTC officers were informed
that they would not be able to serve a 3rd year. He left Vietnam
in June 1970 to attend law school at the University of North Carolina
and joined a law practice in North Carolina after graduating in
It was in 1983 that Elmo learned that he had developed cancer.
He believed that it was Agent Orange that caused his cancer - a
rare combination of both Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Hodgkin'
He died in August 1988.