Monday, December 7, 2009

RADM G. Patrick March - Fair Winds And Following Seas

A truly great human being left this earth on 18 October and your Shipmates bade him farewell on Friday, 5 December.

RADM George Patrick March, COMNAVSECGRU 1974-1978; USNA 1947 – We wish you fair winds and following seas.

With the final chorus of "Oh Danny Boy", sung in a beautiful acapella voice (with stirring emotion) by a U.S. Naval Academy Chaplain (LCDR John Weigelt), RADM George Patrick March’s earthly remains joined those of his loving wife, Saumie March at the USNA Columbarium on Friday, 5 December 2009, with over 100 family, friends and Shipmates in attendance.
"But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
You'll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.
And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be
For ye shall bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me."
Born to descendants who braved the Oregon Trail, George Patrick March was an individual filled with fortitude and perseverance. He became a young man made for the United States Naval Academy. On 5 December 2009, his family, friends and Shipmates bid him a welcome home and farewell in the same Navy Chapel (St. Andrews) where he sought comfort and grace as a solitary Midshipman who lost both his parents as an 18 year old plebe. A lifelong learner, he buried himself in his studies and applied his athletic talents to the Navy’s Crew Team. Today his earthly remains joined his beloved wife, Saumie’s, in the USNA Columbarium overlooking the waters and grounds surrounding the Naval Academy. Molly March mentioned to me at the reception that if she had thought of it earlier, she would have had her dear Father's remains carried to the Columbarium by a Navy Crew Team scull in which her Father had spent so much of his time.

In a tribute fitting the former Commander of the Naval Security Group Command from 1974 to 1978, Rear Admiral (RADM) Edward H. Deets (Vice Commander, Naval Network Warfare Command) headed the group of active duty cryptologists, cryptologic technicians and other Sailors who came to honor RADM March’s Navy service. RADM Deets was joined by Captain Sean Filipowski, Mr. Jerome Rapin, Captain Steven Ashworth (Commanding Officer – Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Maryland), Commander John M. Myers (XO) , Command Master Chief CMDCM(AW/SW) Scott Drenning and 20-30 Navy Information Operations Command Maryland Sailors of all paygrades. Retired officers whom I recognized included former Commanders of the Naval Security Group Command - RADM Eugene Ince, RADM Ike Cole (and wife Gisela), RADM Tom Stevens, RADM H. Winsor Whiton (and wife Judy) and RADM Andy Singer. RDML Alex Miller, Captain George Hammer, Captain Jerry Stump, Commanders Mike Makfinsky and Dave Jessen and LCDR Shiela Kapitulik were also in attendance, as were many friends and Shipmates of RADM March’s generation including a few from his USNA Class of 1947.

The assembled group sang a number of hymns including Eagle’s Wings:
"And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings
Bear you on the breadth of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of his hand."
The three March daughters, Molly, Terry and Peggy each bid their father a fond farewell in the way that only truly loving daughters can. Each spoke of the special meaning their father held for them and the love he had for their Mother, their family, the Navy, the Naval Security Group and her Sailors.

RADM March’s friend and Shipmate, Dave Mail, delivered a powerful eulogy about the senseless glorification of athletes and movie stars who contribute so little to the fabric of our Nation when compared men such as Pat March. He also mentioned that, in addition to having had several shore commands, RADM March commanded three capital ships during his Naval career – Leadership, Fellowship and Friendship.

We all recited "The Lord's Prayer".

Following the memorial service, St. Andrews Chapel emptied onto the street in front of the Navy Chapel behind a Navy processional band. Nearly all walked in solemn yet joyful unison from the Chapel, along the USNA streets to the Columbarium behind the band playing songs appropriate to the memorial. My heart was warmed deeply by the respect displayed by all the USNA Midshipmen “on the yard” who were on their way to classes or the noon mean. As the procession made its way along the USNA streets, all the Midshipmen within earshot of the music came to rigid attention and remained that way until we made our way past them. Hundreds of Midshipmen paid due respect to one of their own – a man who set the bar high for personal and professional performance.

At the Columbarium, there was another brief ceremony with the band playing tribute to RADM G. P. March which was followed by a gun salute, and presentation of the Flag of the United States of America, on behalf of a grateful nation, to the three March girls – Molly, Terry and Peggy. Shortly thereafter we proceeded to the niche where RADM March’s earthly remains will rest, along with his loving wife Saumie.

Molly March said one final Irish blessing –
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”
The Chaplain then sang “Oh Danny Boy”…and some of us wept.

A special note of thanks to RADM Ned Deets for presenting the family with a replica of the RADM G.P. March Award for Language Excellence. And, to the absolutely class act of Captain Steven Ashworth for bringing his XO, CMC and Sailors of every paygrade to pay tribute to such a fine man. RADM March – we bid you farewell and make a promise that we will remember the character of your service and will endeavor to live up to the high standards you set for all of us.

The NCVA will devote a large portion of their next edition of CRYPTOLOG to RADM March and his service to our country and our great Navy.

1 comment:

CDR Mike Makfinsky via e-mail said...

What a fine tribute, Mike!

Admiral March made possible many of the strengths that our Navy deployed during the 1960's through 1980's Cold-war years.

His laser-focused interest in building NAVSECGRU Language proficiency and cultural awareness served the Nation well.

That exemplary personal dedication to these two important aspects of sailor development not only increased our Navy's Indications and Warning (I&W) effectiveness, but it also gave depth and breadth to our Navy's diplomatic credentials.

By inspiring Navy cryptologic translators to be capable of understanding and interpreting historical events, such as the events of September 6, 1976, when Capt. Viktor Belenko defected to the West, flying his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 "Foxbat" jet fighter to Hakodate, Japan, or the August 19, 1981 Gulf of Sidra incident when USS Nimitz Tomcats took down Libyan Fitters in retailiation for their hostile actions over international waters, and many more such incidents in which human lives were precariously suspended in the balance, Admiral March built the very foundation of intellect that the Naval Security Group is known for.

The countless behind-the-scenes cryptologic warriors who interpreted, analyzed and delivered renderings of what the adversaries' intentions were, day-in and day-out, owe much of their professional prowess to the tenacity and drive that Admiral March invested in building our Naval Security Group's mission effectiveness.

May our sharpest NSG salute continue to slice sky and wave for Admiral March.