At the end of the day, when we are all called home, how would you want to be remembered?
As a naval officer, what legacy do you wish to leave?
Few mortals know the day and time, but if you are looking for a benchmark, you would be hard pressed not to look to Captain Paul Rinn, USN and say, "That. Him. There."
As skipper of the frigate Samuel B. Roberts, Capt. Rinn took his crew into the war-torn Persian Gulf where they joined other U.S. warships protecting Kuwaiti tankers that had been reflagged as American vessels during the Iran-Iraq War. Returning from a convoy on April 14, the frigate struck an Iranian contact mine, which blew a massive hole in the hull.
The explosion broke the Roberts’s keel and knocked out its electrical power. The ship immediately began taking on water. But Capt. Rinn had prepared his crew for such an emergency, crew members recalled, and over four grueling hours they saved the vessel, which the Navy repaired and kept in service for another 27 years.
The fight to save Samuel B. Roberts remains a case study in combat preparedness and a model emulated by successive generations of commanding officers, said Bryan McGrath, a retired U.S. Navy destroyer captain and consultant.
“Captain Rinn had enormous influence in the way that captains who commanded after him approached their job,” Capt. McGrath said. “What we all heard from our captains and what we all heard from the training pipeline was a similar story: We’re going to practice this over and again, until it’s perfect. And then we’re going to practice it perfectly over and over again.
“That’s what I told my crew maybe 500 times. That is the legacy of Paul Rinn and the lessons that came out of Samuel B. Roberts: They were ready. They had prepared. They had actually thought through things. And they performed when it was most important.”
We unexpectedly lost Captain Rinn last week;
Paul X. Rinn, a Vietnam War veteran and ship captain who in 1988 led a desperate effort to save a U.S. Navy vessel from sinking after it struck an Iranian mine, died Aug. 3. He was 75.
His inspirational leadership in the face of crisis made him an icon among fellow sailors long after his retirement at the rank of captain in 1997. He served 29 years in the Navy and settled in Fairfax Station, eventually turning full-time to lecturing on military leadership and shipboard operations at the service’s professional schools and elsewhere.
Capt. Rinn died unexpectedly while in Boston for a speaking engagement, his family said. A cause of death was not provided.
Very nice job by David Larter and Brad Pensiton. You should take the time to read the whole obit.
If you didn't catch the interview we did with Brad on Midrats about his book on Captain Rinn's crew and the Sammy B., No Higher Honor.
You can catch the podcast here.