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Navy Submariner Who Works On Nuclear Reactors Blasts Spouse For Telling Friends He’s ‘Uneducated’

Atlantic Ocean, June 30, 2011 - The Virginia-class attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) underway during sea trials
Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

My father spent 20+ years in the United States Navy as a nuclear engineer. He graduated high school in 1956 at age 16 as class Valedictorian.

He joined the Navy when he turned 17 that Fall. He was almost immediately recruited to work with Admiral Hyman Rickover’s team that converted the Navy from diesel to nuclear power.

After he retired from the Navy, he went to work for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as an inspector of nuclear reactors in power plants across the United States. He didn’t go to college while serving, but he received a lot of training and experience with the Navy so he was fully qualified to work for the NRC.

After his retirement he used the college credits his naval nuclear engineering training gave him to complete a Bachelors of Science degree.

I never considered him uneducated when he was in the Navy. Training and hands-on experience are a type of education.

But not everyone agrees with my opinion of my Father’s education level.

A Navy wife disagreed about her own spouse, telling her college friends her submariner husband is uneducated. After her husband’s reaction to her and her friends having a good laugh about his education, the wife turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.

NavyWifeAITA asked:

“AITA for telling my friends that my husband isn’t well read?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“Background: My husband (let’s call him Will) is in the Navy, and he works on nuclear reactors on submarines. We’ve been together for 4 years, married for 2.”

“We were at a small house party with a few friends of mine from college.”

“We were discussing books we’ve all read, when at one point one of my friends (let’s call him Steve) asks Will, ‘So Will, what’s your favorite book?’ and my husband responds, ‘Oh, I really like To Kill A Mockingbird‘.”

“Then Steve gives him a quizzical look and asks him, ‘Have you read any books outside of high school?’ and Will hesitates a bit and says, ‘Outside of manuals at work, I guess I haven’t.'”

“So then I try to explain to Steve, ‘Oh yeah, he’s not well educated, so he’s never had a reason to be well-read’.”

“We all had a good laugh, but then Will didn’t really contribute a whole lot to the conversation the rest of the night.”

“On the car ride back, Will was pretty quiet. I ask if he’s fine, and all he says in a sarcastic tone is, ‘Peachy’.”

“I ask him if I did anything to upset him, and he responds back with, ‘I don’t know. I don’t think I’m educated enough to properly explain myself’.”

“I tell him I didn’t tell my friends that he was unintelligent, just that he wasn’t college-educated. He accused me of minimizing how hard his Navy schooling was, but I explained that military education and college education are simply not the same.”

“We continued to fight until we got home.”

“I texted my sister about what happened, and she called me a huge a**hole and that I need to apologize, and now I’m having second thoughts about how I handled this.”

“AITA Reddit?”

The OP summed up their situation.

“After talking to my sister, I can see how what I said may have made my husband feel insecure about his intelligence even though that wasn’t my intent.”

“I think I could’ve worded it better and can kind of see where my sister is coming from, but I still think I’m mostly correct.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors unanimously declared the OP a complete and utter a**hole.

“YTA. Omg…I think we have found the biggest AH of the day right here…WOW!”

“‘Oh he’s not well educated…’.”

“Your husband works on nuclear reactors, for goodness’ sake!!!! He is incredibly intelligent and your college degree would be useless in his field of work.”

“Please take your elitist attitudes elsewhere and remember that practical skills are JUST as valuable as intellectual ones.” ~ FlyGuy1922

“She’s also plain factually wrong. Navy Nuclear Sub training is worth 89 university credit hours.” ~ reallybirdysomedays

“Yeah this is honestly pretty crazy to me. I’m a Navy vet, I have a master’s degree too, and my Navy training was just as challenging if not more so than my traditional college education.”

“It also counted for a good chunk of my college credits. And I wasn’t a nuke—what they go through is much, much harder.”

“Acting elitist to your own partner is bad enough, but it’s ridiculous that they’re doing it to a guy with THAT job. Poor guy already does one of the most stressful jobs out there, and his wife treats him like he’s stupid.” ~ funkolution

“Yeah, my partner was Navy and has a masters and he worked hard on his masters, of course, but he did mention a few times that it didn’t feel like he was working hard enough to have earned a masters.”

“Alternatively, I don’t have a college degree, have a prestigious job, AND I read a decent amount… so… literally having a college education has nothing to do with reading books or being uneducated.”

“And the fact that OP says she wasn’t saying he was unintelligent, just that he wasn’t college educated, that is not what she said. She said he wasn’t ‘well educated.’ That is so demeaning and disrespectful.”

“You do not have to go to college to be educated. In fact, it feels like OP proves the opposite. You can go to college and still not be educated. Especially on things like manners and respect.” ~ wild-yeast-baker

“It’s legitimately one of the hardest jobs in the military. I know a couple dudes that have done it, and others that tried and failed.”

“At one point the Navy was offering something like a $90k recruiting bonus for it because it was both so hard and because you could immediately move to the civilian side after finishing your training and enlistment to make an easy six figures, so they couldn’t get or keep people.” ~ TylerDurdenisreal

“They don’t exactly just let anyone work on stuff like that.”

“Intelligence isn’t equal to big education. You can go through a specialized field. Let’s say math. Have a high degree in it. But be dumb as a door with anything else and not know what is up or down on a lid.”

“Or barely scrambled through the education and just hit a bit over minimum scores to pass. It doesn’t make you the new Einstein because there’s a fancy name on the diploma.”

“I know plenty who didn’t take a big education, but love books. Their elitist view on the world is really annoying.” ~ Dangerous-WinterElf

“Also from my college experience, it gives some indication as to what they studied. The only friends I have that regularly read and discuss novels are all arts/humanities.”

“I and none of my medical research friends read anything. If you spend all day reading technical info the last thing you want is to go home and read some philosophical wankery from a genius futurist novelist about robot sex workers.” ~ dabeho

“The nuclear program in the Navy at least when my Father did it had one of the highest fail rates. My dad hasn’t gone to college, but when he wants to he can figure out most problems. Smart man.” ~ GoblinisBadwolf

“I come from a Navy family, and my older sister went nuke. I decided to pass on it for an easier job, but yeah, about 2 years of intensive schooling so stressful they have one of the highest death rates of all the schools.”

“And I am INSANELY proud of my smart AF sister.” ~ mavvie_p

“YTA and so are your friends. ‘Then Steve gives him a quizzical look and asks him, “Have you read any books outside of high school?”’.”

“Steve can eff right off too.”

“”Oh yeah, he’s not well educated, so he’s never had a reason to be well-read”. We all had a good laugh’.”

“Your pretentious group might believe itself well-read but it clearly lacks any social intelligence.” ~ Malibu921

“Also they’re literally talking about novels…like don’t get me wrong, I love a good novel, but my ability to read them has absolutely zero to do with my intelligence or life skills.”

“You certainly wouldn’t want me near a nuclear reactor just because I read fiction in my free time.” ~ Legal-Ad1727

“She claimed he was uneducated so he had no reason to be well-read, but he went from high school to a 24/7 job in basic training followed by submariner training and nuclear reactor training.”

“Now he’s serving on a sub. He’s not leaving home M-F morning to work on a sub and coming home every evening and having his weekends off. He’s deploying in a metal tube underwater for weeks or months at a time.”

“My father served as the nuclear engineer on cruisers, destroyers, and battleships in a carrier group. What he could bring on board ship was limited and submariners were even more restricted on personal possessions.”

“OP’s husband has probably not read a lot since high school because he’s been busy serving his country while his wife and her snobby friends were going to parties and had weeks and  months off from school with all the free time in the world to read and no restrictions on how many things they could have.”

“And these are all things as his wife OP should know and what she should have said when Steve asked if her husband had read anything since high school.”

“OP is trash, her friends are trash and I feel sorry for her husband being stuck with a partner who has no clue what an exclusive, elite accomplishment his job is in comparison to her dime-a-dozen college degree.” ~ Redditor

The OP didn’t respond to any questions in the comments and didn’t provide an update after they received judgment.

The first nuclear-powered naval vessel, submarine USS Nautilus (SSN-571), put to sea in 1955.

Since 1948, the United States Navy nuclear program developed 27 different power plant designs, installed them in 210 nuclear-powered ships, took 500 reactor cores into operation, accumulated over 5,400 reactor years of operation, and 128,000,000 miles safely steamed and recycled 98 nuclear submarines and six nuclear cruisers.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.