Newport, Rhode Island was my first Navy home. The town and the Navy there were enchanting then and certainly now.
The third leg of my trip to promote my book, Steel Decks and Glass Ceilings, was back to Newport to give a “Lecture of Opportunity” for the “Leadership and Ethics” column at the Naval War College. It was an honor to be invited.
As with my Vanderbilt presentation to promote my appearance, i had angels who had a major role in getting me there. Noreen Leahy, one of the heroines in my book, graduated in the second class with women at the Naval Academy. She continues to work in New York but spends her weekends in her home in Newport. One of Noreen’s classmates lives in Newport. Margaret “Peg” Klein is a retired Rear Admiral Naval Aviator who currently is the Dean of the Leadership and Ethics College at the Naval War College in Newport. The two met with other classmates when Noreen gave Peg a copy of my book.
Meanwhile Ed Hebert, a retired Captain Surface Warfare Officer and golfing friend read my book. When he saw me at the Sea ‘n Air Golf Course on the North Naval Air Station, North Island, he recommended that i present my book to the Surface Warfare Officer’s (SWO’s) course for newly commissioned officers, also in Newport.
Subsequently, i exchanged emails with Emily Baker Black, another heroine in the book, who independently recommended i make a presentation to the SWO school as well as the department head course, also at the SWO school.
After reading my book, Admiral Klein discussed with me the possibility of my providing a “Lecture of Opportunity” at the Naval War College.
With all of this help, the result was i went to Newport the day after my Vanderbilt presentation and held my “Lecture…” at the Naval War College. It was as, if not more rewarding as the Vanderbilt presentation. Instead of NROTC midshipmen, the preponderance of the audience were Navy officers in the Surface Warfare School’s Department Head course. The others there included a special foursome for me.
One, Andrew Nemethy, came down from Adamant, Vermont. Andrew and i were shipmates on my first ship, USS Hawkins (DD 873), who, along with Rob DeWitt, shared the stateroom in forward officers, roamed the Virginia countrysides in a Fiat Spider and BMW road bike on numerous weekends, along with sharing many adventures in Newport and then Norfolk, Virginia, 1968-69. Andrew and i have been plotting for a number of years on getting together, but one in Vermont and one in San Diego does not make for many opportunities. Andrew took advantage of my trip and made our rendezvous after 53 years.
To make it almost perfect, three of my heroines from Yosemite. Linda Schlesinger, who lives in Carlsbad just up the road from me in the Southwest corner, and i stayed in Noreen and Jim Leahy’s beautiful home in Middletown, intertwined with Newport. Emily Baker Black, who also lives in Newport, was our social director for my four days there. All three of these women officers were leaders then and leaders now. They also came to my lecture.
i was living my span of Navy life with an officer (Andrew) a shipmate on my first ship and three officers on my last ship.
These three, Andrew, and Admiral Klein, added to the discussion in the lecture. Approximately 25 officers who were attending the department head course at the Surface Warfare School were at the lecture. i had attended that course in 1974 when the school house was known as the Destroyer School. But folks, i was home.
Andrew joined us for dinner the first evening. Afterwards, Noreen and Emily took us all over Newport, including some wonderful dining. One was The Black Pearl, which was my hangout every time i went back. When not dining out, Noreen came up with some fantastic meals of her own leading to sea stories late into the evenings. Linda took this photo on one of those evenings. In the foreground is the work of the Yosemite’s carpenter’s shop. It is a wooden yo-yo, another nickname for Yosemite. The photo on the left is of Frank Kerrigan, our ship’s doctor (and my daughter’s godfather), in his improper service dress blues standing into Palma. the other photo is of Linda in the foreground and LT George Sitton behind her in his flight quarters gear. The book is dedicated to George who died way too soon.
My stay in Newport was one of the best four days of my life. i was taken back to days of yore in oh so many ways.
Thanks Andrew, Noreen, Emily, Linda, Peg, and Alicia Carvalho (the course coordinator for the Leadership and Ethics College at the Naval War College who took exceptional care of me.
My time at Vanderbilt and Newport boosted my spirits beyond any expectations.