All posts in “N513”

‘We Remember. . . ‘ Nine Years Later

The sun has long since set – but in the darkened, borrowed office I notice little beyond the pale circle of light on the desk in front of me.  Before me is  list of names, some scratched out, many not.  The hand that just hung up the phone is now cradling my head – throbbing with the beginnings of a headache, but I hardly notice.  My clothes still smell of the smoke and sweat from earlier in the day – but I barely notice, because the words in the last call are still echoing in my head…

“He’s not coming home – is he?”  was the quiet voice that stifled a sudden sob.  “What am I gong to do?”

How do you answer?  What can you possibly say?  No stranger to death and the violence that often surrounds it – friends and shipmates lost in mishaps at sea or on the flightdeck, the question still hammers at you, hanging accusingly in the air in front of you…

“What am I gong to do?”

Nine years later that day and the the long night that followed lives with me still.  Of lost friends and shipmates, of courage, honor and commitment applied in real time, of duty to and honor for the fallen and their families.  And of another time that gave rise to another cry — ‘Never Again’.

In preparation for this weekend I was over at the Project 2996 site, an organization this site has been associated with since it’s inception, and there found a wonderful way that each of us may give recognition.  A prominent feature of Project 2996’s coat of arms is a red and white zinnia.  Zoe Falkenberg was the youngest of the victims that day – she was onboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon that in turn, destroyed the Navy Command Center where the Navy’s losses were incurred – including most of my N513 branch.  Zoe’s favorite flower is the Zinnia and her surviving family has asked that folks plant zinnias as a remembrance.  In floral mythology, zinnias stand for constancy (scarlet) and goodness (white) while mixed zinnias remember an absent friend…

This coming spring, I’m planting zinnias.  Lots of zinnias…

Remembering Sept 11, 2001

Some number of years ago I had the honor of making the acquaintance of a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  A young seaman then stationed on the battleship Nevada, he related his story, his memories.  And as he talked about the aching beauty of that peaceful Sunday morning – of standing at quarters for morning Colors, and of how he still remembered the sound of the bugler’s notes right before the first bomb fell, I wondered.

I wondered how I would feel and react to a similar situation if it happened to me.

And I think I now know…and will never forget.

Continue Reading…

Remembering Fallen Shipmates – Part II (N513)

 Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

 

Yesterday, we remembered those we lost in the Navy Operations Center (NOC) who were from within the larger N3N5 organization.  Today we focus on those who were from N513 (note, the Branch Chief, CAPT Bob Dolan, will be part of the post for tomorrow, 11 Sept)N513 is the Strategy & Concepts branch, part of the N51 Strategy & Policy Division of N3N5. N513’s personnel were the folks who looked at “the big picture” focusing on warfighting concepts and maritime strategies in defense of the US and our Allied partners. This is the branch that in the past had worked on the Maritime Strategy and provided the basis of the Navy’s input to the National Security Strategy among other vital documents.

Husbands, fathers, sons – aviator and SWO; all were Sailors and all are missed.  Rest in peace…

Continue Reading…

Remembering Fallen Shipmates – Part II (N513)

(SJS: N513 is the Strategy & Concepts branch, part of the N51 Strategy & Policy Division of N3N5. N513’s personel were the folks who looked at “the big picture” focusing on warfighting concepts and maritime strategies in defense of the US and our Allied partners. This is the branch that in the past had worked on the Maritime Strategy and provided the basis of the Navy’s input to the National Security Strategy among other vital documents)

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Capt Bob Dolan, USN, Navy Capt. Robert Dolan loved to be at sea, but with each offshore assignment he deeply missed his wife and two children. His 20-year career took him to the far-flung corners of the world — < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Bahrain, the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean — but he still managed to keep in touch with the friends he made in kindergarten.
He was a disciplined officer who made it his business to excel at every post, but he also was a “guy’s guy” who enjoyed grabbing a beer with friends. “Bob was a touchstone for many of us because of the person he was, not because of his accomplishments as a leader,” said family friend Mark Wallinger, who was best man at Capt. Dolan’s wedding. “He was a friend to everybody, and a hero to those who knew him.” Capt. Dolan, 43, was working on the first floor of the Pentagon as head of the Strategy and Concepts Branch, when a hijacked jetliner slammed into the building last Tuesday morning. The Florham Park native knew from childhood that his future was with the military, his mother, Joan Dolan, said. After graduating from Hanover Park High School in East Hanover, Dolan attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in ocean engineering. His career took him to the Arabian Gulf to clear mines and to the Adriatic Sea as a combat systems officer aboard the USS Richmond K. Turner, in support of Operation Deny Flight over the former Yugoslavia. In 1994, Capt. Dolan served as executive officer aboard the USS Thomas S. Gates in the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf. From October 1998 to May 2000 he was commanding officer of the USS John Hancock, based in Mayport, Fla. Capt. Dolan’s decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.
“He was a man who viewed service as a privilege,” his wife, Lisa of Alexandria, Va., wrote in an e-mail. “Bob Dolan was the best and the brightest this country had to offer to the altar of freedom.” In addition to his wife, Capt. Dolan is survived by his children, Rebecca, 15, and Beau, 9; his parents, Joan and Robert of Florham Park; two brothers, Christopher of Quakertown, Pa., and Daniel of Bethel, Pa., and several nieces and nephews.

  • “One of Bob’s department heads on the USS John Hancock gave this picture to him when they made their last deployment. This was the ship he commanded for two years, and it was the ship’s last deployment because it was decommissioned shortly after. The picture shows Bob sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge. He liked being in the Navy; he liked being on a ship and being at sea. The ship’s motto was ‘First for freedom,’ which I’ve kind of taken on as our family’s motto since September 11. The picture just personifies his life; beyond being a family man, this was Bob.” — Lisa Dolan, wife

  • SJS: In the midst of tragedy we often times find small offerings of light — a bright moment we can hold onto that serves to, if only for a moment, ease the hurt. Such was the case with Bob — the NCIS agent who was normally assigned to N3N5 was making a sweep through the rubble of the former Navy Operations Center to ensure no classified material was left behind. This was prior to the Pentagon Rennovation team moving in to blast the remaining structure away and cart off the rubble in preparation for rebuilding that part of the building. Understand now, that this was an area that had already been covered with a fine-toothed comb by many inidividuals and teams. Just before he left a glint of reflected sunlight caught his eye. Bending down to examine the source, he found Bob’s ring from the Naval Academy in sound condition. Of course, this was returned to Lisa who wears it today on a necklace as a reminder of Bob.
CDR Bill Donovan, USN, At 37, William Donovan Jr. was a celebrated Navy commander, but he also nurtured a delightfully playful side, said longtime friend Ed Maino. “He was one of those folks that brought life to people around him by his humor. He had a very quick wit, a funny little giggle.” A native of upstate New York and 1986 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Donovan was an aviator in the Persian Gulf War and later became a pilot instructor and received a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in California.Among his numerous awards were the Admiral William Adger Moffett Award for aeronautical engineering and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation and Achievement medals.He was a devoted husband and father, and a passionate soccer player who passed on his love of the sport to his three preteen children. Donovan, who lived in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, played in a long-standing lunchtime league of Pentagon employees and others. After his death, the team invited a military chaplain to the next game and held a memorial on the field. Perhaps Donovan’s most impressive quality, Maino said, was his adherence to strict ethics: “Because of that, it was very easy to trust him…He was always seen as slightly ahead of his peers. All of us recognized that and wanted to be a little more like him.” —Ann O’Hanlon, The Washington Post (6 October 2001)

CDR Pat Dunn, USN, < ?xml:namespace prefix = o />Patrick Dunn’s father was a career Navy man, and his older brother graduated from the naval academy at Annapolis, Md., when Patrick was a teenager. So it didn’t surprise anyone in his large Irish family in New York when the youngest Dunn decided–at age 14–that he also wanted to serve in the U.S. Navy. He picked his private high school for its Navy ROTC program and was rewarded later with admission into the naval academy at Annapolis. He rose through the military ranks on a trek that led through several ships at sea and ultimately to a position at the Pentagon working for the chief of naval operations. He died there in the attack. “This guy was a walking, talking, no-kidding naval officer,” said his brother, John. “You’ve got guys in the military who are professionals about it. He was one of them.” His next posting most likely would have been as captain of a ship, a position he coveted, his brother said. “He would have loved it,” said John Dunn, who has retired from active duty in the Navy. Patrick Dunn found out about three months ago that his wife, Stephanie, was pregnant with the couple’s first child. (Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.)

  • Moments after hijackers flew two commercial jets into the World Trade Center, Cmdr. Patrick S. Dunn called his brother James — who was going into the city that day — to see if he was all right. His brother was fine: Because of traffic, he never made it into Manhattan. Cmdr. Dunn was working in the Pentagon’s Navy Command Center in Arlington, Va., where a third hijacked plane crashed. His brother was the last family member to speak to him. “He was extremely attached to his family and he was there when you needed him,” said one of his sisters, Betty Dunn Hinkle of Buckhannon, W.Va.
  • “His life was centered around the Navy. One of his favorite things was his U.S. Naval Academy diploma, which has a picture of him shaking hands with President Reagan. This was unique because Reagan was one of the few presidents to stay through the entire ceremony. Most presidents only shake hands with the top of the class. My husband used to joke that he was in the top 98 percent of his class.” — Stephanie Dunn, wife

LCDR Dave Wiliams, USN, 32, received his commission from the Reserve Officers Training Corps at the Virginia Military Institute. A year after graduation, he boarded the amphibious ship Gunston Hall for a three-year tour at sea. Back on land, Williams attended the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., for two years before setting out again aboard the Whidbey Island, another dock landing ship, and the Nashville, an amphibious transport. Dave joined the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in August 2000. His job at the Pentagon focused on troop movements in case of a terrorist attack in the United States, the Oregonian newspaper in Portland reported.

  • “The scorecard comes from the lowest round of golf he ever played. It was last July. He left it on the fridge with the kids’ drawings, he was so proud of it. He went out as a single that day, and they paired him up with a stranger who he made sign it just so he could prove to his golfing buddies, Scott and Mike, that he really had shot that score.” — Sara Williams, wife