The Navy's traditions live on in the hearts of those who serve

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The death of a barber.

My last deployment on USS Caron was very eventful and full of wonderful memories. We had the pleasure of having Destroyer Squadron 36 staff aboard for much of the cruise. DESRON staffs can be a pain, but this staff was anything but. They were pleasant, helpful, and truly became part of the crew. Today, I found out that the Commodore, a gentle man named Bob Goodwin passed away this week. His career after his Naval career really emphasizes his character. In uniform, I saw him a a mentor, a leader, and an instructor of the art of Naval warfare and seamanship. In his retirement, he became a math teacher at a very accomplished Catholic elementary school. He was in the Navy for over 30 years and was a teacher for another 20+ years. Commodore Bob Goodwin was always teaching someone, something.

I remember an in port period during that cruise. We were in Naples Italy, and he had noticed one of the ships in his charge had let their military appearance slip. Yes, we went on liberty in civilian clothes most of the time. But, he noticed the lack of military haircuts on a specific group of sailors and found out, discretely, what ship they were from. Now other Commodores would have handled this lack of military appearance with a surprise personnel inspection, a stern note to the Commanding Officer of the ship in question, or any other number of disciplinary measures that the Squadron Commander has in his bag of tricks. But not Commodore Goodwin. Instead, one Saturday morning, he just happened to be on the signal bridge, when morning colors was done. He walked over to the duty Signalman and handed him a written message. The Commodore said too the young signalman, "Here, Send this by flashing light to that ship over there." The ship was across the pier from us. The young Signalman looked at the message and replied, "Are you sure?' The Commodore said in a calm voice, "Yes. I will wait for their reply." So, the young Singleman flashed "C" "C" "C" to the ship until they replied. He then sent this message. " The Commodore of Destroyer Squadron 36 wishes to express his condolences at the death of your ship's barber." There was no reply. But the message was received.

Subtle messages sometimes get the best results. I learned a lot that day. I will miss Commodore Bob Goodwin.

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