- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2002

ANNAPOLIS Navy Vice Adm. John R. Ryan, who was replaced as superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy yesterday, was so beloved by midshipmen that each time they saw him, they would chant "Supe, Supe, Supe," loudly and in unison.
Adm. Ryan transferred control of the Naval Academy to Vice Adm. Richard J. Naughton in front of 1,200 family, friends and military personnel yesterday at Alumni Hall.
Adm. Naughton was confirmed by the U. S. Senate yesterday, becoming the 57th superintendent of the academy, which trains leaders for the U.S. Navy and the country at large.
"I am looking forward to leading this great institution into the future as we produce leaders for the nation," said Adm. Naughton, whose most recent assignment was as commander of the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center in Nevada.
"My pledge is to give my heart and soul every day," said Adm. Naughton, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968. He said his top priority as superintendent will be to "make sure that we continue to keep the momentum that Adm. Ryan and his staff have developed."
In a speech at yesterday's ceremony, Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations, said Adm. Ryan leaves a legacy of "the nicest mixture of self-effacing humility and drive I have ever seen."
Adm. Ryan, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1967, was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal. He spoke of his gratefulness to the Navy, saying, "I consider it a distinct gift to have been at this national treasure for the last four years."
He thanked his wife, Diane, his three daughters and his parents for their support and love, then saluted Adm. Naughton, shook his hand, and uttered his last words as superintendent "Go Navy, beat Army, and God bless America!"
Midshipmen also praised Adm. Ryan for his leadership and warmth. "He really thinks about when he was a midshipman and how it was," said Ensign Scott Carr.
"We knew that his number one interest was midshipmen. It's going to be sad to see him go," he said.
Marine Corps Col. John R. Allen, the academy's commandant, said his fondest memory of Adm. Ryan was watching him interact with the midshipmen.
"He genuinely loved those men and women, and they returned that affection to him," said Col. Allen. "They learned from him that if you genuinely love those you lead, then you can accomplish so much."
Ensign Carr, 23, who graduated two weeks ago, recalled that Adm. Ryan would come out and exercise some mornings with the struggling plebes to identify with them and keep their morale up.
Ensign Gabriel Hohner, 21, who also just graduated, recounted how, during a reception at Adm. Ryan's house, the admiral spent hours making sure he shook everyone's hand.
"He's a perfect testament to leadership by example," said Ensign Hohner.
Adm. Ryan said he is proud of the progress the academy has made "across the board" during his tenure. One area he pointed to was the fund-raising campaign he initiated targeting public and private money, which brought in more than $105 million.


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