CAPTAIN John K. Eldridge, USN (retired) was born in Highland Park, MI, grew up in Bradenton, MD, and Clearwater, FL, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He entered the submarine service, completed nuclear power training, and served on five nuclear submarines over a period of 30 years.
- Division officer, USS Hammerhead (SSN 663), Norfolk, VA
- Engineer Officer, USS Will Rogers (SSN 659), Groton, CT
- Executive Officer, USS James Monroe (SSBN 622), Charleston, SC
- Commanding Officer, USS Los Angeles (SSN 688), Pearl Harbor, HI
- Commanding Officer, USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) during final construction in Groton, CT, then Kings Bay, GA
Of these submarines, USS Rhode Island alone remains in active service.
Since retiring from active duty in 2001, John worked as a political military planner for Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, and then in the Carrier Program Office, Washington, DC, supporting aircraft carrier operational maintenance and refueling overhauls. John retired from the Navy completely in 2019.
His railroad career started in 1953 with a trip from Detroit to Chicago. Since then, train travel has included a trip from Florida to Valley Forge for the Boy Scout Jamboree in 1964, Amtrak trips from New London to Washington during construction of USS Rhode Island, and trips on the Auto Train several times. His Dover Harbor association started in 2012 on the Tidewater Traveler as a passenger followed by several trips as an apprentice/steward, and trips to New Orleans and Boston. On one, his son, Schuyler, who is employed by IBM as a computer engineer, grilled lamb chops and made tiramisu en route to New Orleans. He has participated in many Dover Park work sessions and has become an expert in replacing ventilation filters and in the external preservation of baggage cars.
Among his most treasured memories are shipboard assignments, surrounded with hard-working, talented, and capable shipmates, where, whether the work was causing grins or grimaces, there was an underlying confidence in the machine and in each other. John says “As with members of all services, we put great faith in our nation and the responsibilities entrusted to us.”
John finds similar effort and dedication within the Chapter not only in maintaining and preserving traditions of something uniquely American, but also by offering an experience to today’s public that is historic, authentic, memorable… and fun!