Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | April 15, 2016

One Last Tribute to Hank

Hank was my friend. I didn’t know him lifelong like his family; or marriage long like Sue; or classmate long like those in ’59, but, I was fortunate to know him long enough that he became one of the few that I totally respected and trusted. I’d like to share a little of the backstory on how that acme to be.

Over the years I have been privileged to meet a couple of presidents, and some heroes of the highest order. I think Hank possessed many of their attributes, if not history’s opportunity. He was a very complex and courageous friend. A friend who was first and foremost a naval captain, of the old school.

I say old school with highest respect. In your program there is a famous compilation from the letters of John Paul Jones, known as the “Qualifications of a Naval Officer.” He wrote:

It is by no means enough that an officer of the navy should be a capable mariner. He must be that of course, but also a great deal more, he should be as well a gentleman of liberal education, refined manners, punctilious courtesy and the nicest sense of personal honor.

Hank was all of that. His education ran from near the top of his class at the academy, to the navy’s most demanding nuclear power programs. To teaching mathematics at MIT. All who knew him would agree to his manners and courtesy.

In 1778, while trying to obtain a ship from the French government, in order to fight the British, Captain Jones wrote:

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

Hank’s ship sailed fast, and went in harm’s way. She was the USS Nathan Hale, SSBN-623. The ‘SS’ indicated a submarine, the ‘B’ was for one armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the ‘N’ said she was nuclear powered. I mentioned her name and hull number not because she and her crew were Hank’s command, but because they were his love. Arguably, she was the world’s most powerful warship. Should the USSR have done something terminally stupid, Nathan Hale could have turned the kremlin into a glow in the dark sandbox. On more days than we know, we lived free; on more nights than we knew, we slept soundly. Should our children have ever learned Russian, it would have been by their choice, not that of a commissar. These are facts. Facts, because somewhere in the ocean’s depths, Hank was on station. For these things we owe Hank.

Many here had mentors. I was usually too stiff necked to listen to mine.   But, on the plus side of 70, I responded to one. It was when Hank Got me through the doors of Bay Presbyterian Church and introduced me to the Rev. John Anderson, and then John introduced me to the Bible. For all of this, I owe Hank, forever.

In a stained glass window in the Naval Academy Chapel, there is an excerpt from the 107th Psalm. “They that go down to the sea in ships, they wee the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep”

From the beginning, Hank’s life was to go to sea, and to see the wonders in the deep. Not on the surgace, as most would, but at depths few have known.

Just one last entry from my Hank log. One morning we were waiting for John’s zero dark 30 Bible class to begin. Hank’s walker was against the wall, and he only had a little voice left. Quietly, he asked, “You know what makes me Happy?” I shrugged: He was pointing at the brace on his let, had the biggest smile and said, “That I found my Lord , before all this happened.” In your program, “The qualifications of a naval officer should have . . . The nicest sense of personal honor.” To me, “ . . . that I found my Lord, before all this happened,” was the nicest sense of personal honor that I have ever encountered.

God speed Captain. Safe anchorage, eternally!.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: