Sailor, Rest Your Oar
The Submarine Force lost a great leader, and I lost a good friend, with the passing Saturday of CDR Michael Scott Harrington. Here's the message about his untimely demise that went out Forcewide yesterday:
Commander Michael Scott Harrington died Saturday, September 13, 2008, in St. Louis after a courageous battle of cancer. Born April 1, 1963, in Norman, Okla., to W.G. and Sandra Cannon Harrington, he graduated from Lahoma High School in Lahoma, Okla. in 1981, and attended Oklahoma State University before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1983. After being selected for the Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program in 1985, he obtained a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas, and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1988. His sea commands included USS Kentucky, the USS Salt Lake City as the Engineering Officer, and the USS Chicago as the Executive Officer. He also served at U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska, during which he earned a Master's Degree in Economics from the University of Oklahoma, and on the Pacific Fleet Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board and Chief of Naval Operation's DEEP BLUE staff. In 2006, he graduated from National War College with an Masters of Science Degree in National Security Strategy, and was then assigned to the teaching staff at Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth.I first met Scott when we showed up at the University of Kansas together in 1985 courtesy of the Enlisted Commissioning Program (Nuclear Option). Scott was one of those larger-than-life individuals who gave you his undivided attention when you were with him, yet found time to accomplish things most of us can only dream about. We drove down to Oklahoma for Scott and Brenda's wedding in 1987; he told me that he knew he'd found his one true love, and I could see in his eyes that he was telling the truth. After we graduated, he ended up one class ahead of me in OCS and Power School; even with a new group of friends, he always found time for his old college buddies.
Surviving him are his wife, Brenda Bergdall of Meno, Okla., married since May 24, 1987, and daughter, Haley; his parents of Lahoma, Oklahoma; a brother, Robie of Blanchard, Okla.; a sister, Stacie Schultz of Lahoma, Okla; an uncle, Charles, Lawton, Okla.; and four nieces and two nephews.
In 2006, Scott and his family moved to Lawrence, Kan. During the past two years, he was able to see his beloved Kansas Jayhawks in action again, lovingly restore his home, and enjoy all that is Lawrence. Scott was a larger-than-life, funny and caring person who had a smile and a story for everyone he met. His energy and quest for knowledge were boundless. He will be deeply missed.
Memorial service for Commander Michael Scott Harrington, 45, Lawrence, will be held at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, September 20, 2008, at Ft. Leavenworth Memorial Chapel.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary. Online condolences may be sent to http://www.warrenmcelwain.com/. Subject: Harrington.
The Submarine Force has a way of separating friends to different homeports, then bringing them together at unexpected times. Scott and Brenda's daughter was in the same Obstetrics Ward as my oldest son, having both been born in New London only a day apart. When I was on the Carrier Group SEVEN staff aboard USS John C. Stennis in 2000, Scott came aboard as a member of the NPEB at the end of the deployment -- even though he was busy, he found the time to look me up and share some old memories.
Scott was the kind of leader all of us wish we were. He was sent to fix the Engineering Department of USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716) after their infamous watchstanding problems, and was XO of USS Chicago (SSN 721) out at the tip of the spear during the first days of the Global War on Terror. More than a leader, though, he was a good friend, a loving husband, and devoted father.
After I retired, we got in contact again through this blog, and wrote back and forth occasionally. He told me about his illness, but never complained -- he seemed accepting of the cards life had dealt him, and didn't try to blame anyone for the unfairness of it all. I can only hope I can have a fraction of his courage and dignity when my time comes.
I'll miss you, Scott...
Update 1830 25 Sep: Here's coverage of the Memorial Service that was held for CDR Harrington at Ft. Leavenworth last week.