Before transitioning to the private sector, Rick Williams attained the rank of rear admiral during a more than 20-year career in the US Navy. A student of history in his free time, Rick Williams began the process of ascending to rear admiral after receiving his commission through the Navy ROTC Program.
The history of the Navy ROTC Program dates to July 20, 1926, a day on which Secretary of the Navy Curtis D. Wilbur announced in a letter that the program would begin at six universities that autumn. An 1884 graduate of the US Naval Academy, Wilbur served as secretary for five years following his 1924 appointment by President Calvin Coolidge. He came to the secretary post having previously sat on the California Supreme Court, where he had most recently been chief justice.
Wilbur initially began pursuing a career in law after resigning his naval commission, a common practice at the time due to poor employment prospects for officers. Following his five-year tenure as secretary, he returned to the field of law when President Herbert Hoover appointed him to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Wilbur remained until his retirement in 1945.
In 1954, Wilbur died at the age of 87. His naval legacy lives on today, as the Navy ROTC Program has grown to reach students through more than 160 colleges and universities. In addition, the Navy has honored its former secretary by commissioning the USS Curtis Wilbur, which has been in service since 1994.