FROM ADMIRAL TO AMBASSADOR, A CHANGE OF COMMAND
An acquaintance of mine, four-star Admiral Harry Harris, Jr. CINCPAC (Commander in Chief Pacific) yesterday at a Change of Command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, turned command over to Navy Adm. Philip Davidson.
As are most military ceremonies, I could attest how inspiring it was because a friend sent me the DOD link to the video of the ceremony and I enjoyed “returning” to a base I know well, having a number of Navy friends in Honolulu. It was also fun to see another friend, Fr. John Shimotsu as he gave the invocation.
I first met Admiral Harris when he commanded the Sixth Fleet and was based in Naples and Gaeta. We met on a day that was dedicated to a former Navy Chaplain, Fr. Vincent Capodanno, who was killed in Vietnam on September 4, 1967. Ceremonies were held in Gaeta (where the Capodanno family had roots) in September in 2011 to mark that anniversary and there was a large component of the Sixth Fleet present for the daylong events that began with a Mass presided by Cardinal Raymond Burke.
Actually the day began with breakfast at a hotel garden where many of the guests were staying who had come from Rome for the occasion. That was the first time I met Adm. Harris and his wife Bruni – we shared a few other moments during the day and then had lunch aboard the USS Mount Whitney. Not a lot of time but enough to begin to understand what a thoroughly delightful person Harry Harris was, as well as one of the most brilliant people to ever command a Navy fleet. A bit of that came out in conversations but I had also started to follow his career through a mutual friend of ours – and it was Ted who sent me the link to the Change of Command ceremony.
We next met several years ago at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. I was in Honolulu on my by-now annual retreat to this island paradise. I knew Adm. Harris had been here for a few years and I emailed him and asked if I could come by and say “aloha,” and so it was that we re-connected in his office. I remember quite well that part of our conversation focused on the cause for canonization of Fr. Capodanno: the admiral wanted to understand what a cause was and asked at what stage was Fr. Vincent’s cause.
“Souvenirs” of the visit:
Also present was out mutual friend, Navy chaplain Fr. Shimotsu.
Admiral Harris’ illustrious 40-year career with the Navy ended yesterday, but President Trump has nominated him to be the U.S. ambassador to Korea, thus a life of service will continue.
I am sure that, at some point in his time as ambassador, he will be able to meet the Holy See’s new ambassador to Korea. Archbishop Alfred Xuereb.
I’ll be praying for both of them.
PS. Following is a link to the DOD video of the Change of Command ceremony. If you have military in your family, you might enjoy this. I found it riveting because I know Admiral Harris, I know the Navy base and I know Honolulu. What is really worthwhile are the speeches of the outgoing and incoming commanders and that of Defense Secretary James Mattis, especially if you are interested in US foreign and defense policy.