Decades before he became President of the United States, a young James “Jimmy” Earl Carter, Jr. had his sights set on a lifelong career in the U.S. Navy. As a teenager, Carter dreamed of attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After graduating from high school in rural Plains, Georgia at the age of 17, he studied mathematics at two local colleges to qualify for admission to the Naval Academy. Carter was accepted in 1943 and pursued an accelerated course of study offered to midshipmen during World War II. As a result, he graduated in only three years.
Many years later — after Carter’s rapid rise to a political stardom that included being elected President of the United States in 1976 — the U.S. Navy honored Carter by naming the third and final Seawolf-class submarine after him. In June 2004, Carter returned to Groton again to watch his wife Roslynn officially christen the USS Jimmy Carter. The very next year, as the federal government sought to close military bases across the country to save money, the former president and submarine officer personally petitioned against the slated closing of Submarine Base New London, a move many supporters saw as fundamental to the ultimately successful efforts to keep the base open. Even though his life ultimately steered him away from the Silent Service, Jimmy Carter found important ways to give back to his country thanks in part to the time he spent at the sub base in Groton, Connecticut.
Bethanne Kelly Patrick, “Lt. Jimmy Carter,” military.com
Alan Horowitz, “Jimmy Carter’s Naval Service,” jimmycarterlibrary.org