Art Rimback, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., had a military and civilian career afterwards that was pretty much a closed book. He did a bunch of secret stuff he doesn’t talk about.
The 75-year-old Punta Gorda, Fla. resident was born in Orange, N.Y. and after graduating from the local high school in 1957 he attended the University of Idaho his freshman year. He planned to major in forestry. He also enrolled in Naval ROTC during this first year in college.
While on a summer cruise between his freshman and sophomore years aboard the battleship USS Wisconsin, Rimback received word he had received an appointment to the Naval Academy.
He graduated from Annapolis in ’61.
“I went aboard my first duty station after graduation, the USS Eaton–DD-510–a Fletcher Class destroyer. She was part of the East Coast anti-submarine unit,” he recalled. “I was the Information Center officer aboard ship.
“The first thing I did when I got aboard the Eaton was apply to submarine school. I became interested in submarines during my senior year cruise while still in Annapolis. I served on the USS Trout, SS-566.
“In 1962 while serving aboard the Eaton I participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis. My ship was part of the Naval blockade President Kennedy put around the island nation,” Rimback explained.
In October 1962 U.S. spy planes discovered the Soviets were in the process of establishing medium range rockets bases on Cuban soil that could reach as far as Washington, D.C. Adlai Stevenson, the U.S.’ ambassador to the United Nations, presented aerial pictures to the U.N. of the offensive rockets.
President Kennedy informed Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev of Russia that Soviet rockets in Cuba were unacceptable and could lead to war. For a week or so the world waited anxiously to see what would transpire.
The president threw a naval blockade around Cuba. Just when it seemed war was unavoidable Khrushchev sent Kennedy a letter telling him he would withdraw the offensive missiles from Cuba if the U.S. would withdraw its offensive missiles from the Turkish boarder with Russia.
They agreed and the crisis was over in a couple of days.
What Rimback remembers most about the crisis is that his destroyer squadron, that participated in the blockade, caught a Soviet sub and forced it to surface when it ran out of power. Eventually it powered up again and disappeared below once more.
“In January 1963 I was ordered to sub school. After six months of schooling I was sent to Pearl Harbor and joined the crew of the USS Bream, SS-243. Later I went aboard a second submarine the USS Sea Fox–SS-402.
“I spent the next five years aboard these two World War II diesel submarines performing all kinds of secret assignments,” he recalled. “I did pretty much every job aboard these submarines except serve as captain.”
After his first six or seven years in the Navy, Rimback said, “I had a hardship tour. I spent 2 1/2 years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was tough duty, but somebody had to do it,” he said with a smile. “I was the assistant officer in charge of Naval Communications Technical Group Rio.
“During World War II the U.S. Navy had established a radio communications station in Rio. In 1960 a Brazilian ultra-nationalist group passed a law that said: ‘No foreign power shall have communications on Brazilian soil without the expressed permission of the National Security Council. What they were saying was: ‘Yankee Go Home!’
“The president of Brazil turned to his Naval Minister and said, ‘You’ll find some way to keep these good people around.’ We stayed.
“One of the things we did while in Brazil was support our fleet during the Vietnam War. We provided ship-to-shore communications and fleet broadcasts. This was from ’67 to ’69.
Rimback’s last job in the Navy was to serve for two years aboard the submarine Tusk, SS-426. She was another World War II diesel submarine out of New London, Ct. He was involved in a bunch more secret assignments he doesn’t talk about.
“After I was discharged from the Navy after 10 years I took eight days off and then I went to work as a civilian for Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “I worked in Special Operations for them.”
Five years later he got a job working for RCA. Would you believe Rimback was working in classified military intelligence for the next decade? He finally quit and founded a couple of private companies of his own.
In 2012 he and his wife, Pat, finally retired and moved to the Punta Gorda area. The couple has two sons: Tom and Jim.
Name: Arthur Thomas Rimback
D.O.B: 5 Jan. 1939
Hometown: Orange, NJ
Currently: Punta Gorda, Fla.
Entered Service: 7 June 1961
Discharged: 30 June 1971
Unit: USS Trout, USS Eaton, USS Bream, USS Sea Fox, USS Tusk
Commendations: National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Expeditionary Medal, Expert Pistol Shot Ribbon
Battles/Campaigns: Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 and is republished with permission.
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