Word comes that one of the finest gentlemen the Submarine Force has had the privilege to include has gone. Rebel Lowrance died in Coronado on May 12, 1995. Although I learned from them all, none of my mentors, I think, captured my total admiration and respect to the extent that the Admiral did.
I wasn’t his TDC operator in KINGFISH nor his Exec in SEA DOG, but I wish I had been. Instead, I was his token (only) nuke on the staff at Norfolk when he moved from Deputy to COMSUBLANT in 1964. It was my job, among other things, to go with him to explain stuck rods and other arcane nuclear maladies to people like Admiral Page Smith, who was then the Fleet CINC. On Saturdays my collateral duty was golf pigeon.
Toward the end of a long and productive career, Rebel was called upon to preside over the Atlantic Sub Force at a time of explosive change. The 598s were almost ready for an overhaul, the 608s were hauling the water ‘and a new 616 was commissioning almost every month. How the FBMs would take their place with the Air Force in the strategic rack up was not a matter of great consensus, even within the Navy, and the divisive nuke versus non-nuke bickering threatened to pull the force into two unproductive factions.
It took a great professional with infinite patience to hold it all together until the Force could assimilate the change and find its new role and purpose. He was the right individual at the right time and place and it could have gone a lot differently had it not been for Vernon L. Lowrance.
Later, after he and Claire had settled into retirement in Gales Ferry, it fell to him the chore to explain the mysteries of Connecticut politics to Jim Hay and me and a lot of other COs, Subases, and Group Twos. He was always available and, as far as I am concerned, always right.
Personally, he was the complete gentleman, refined and almost regal in stature. Except maybe once one Saturday morning on the Sewells Point Golf course in Norfolk.
Rebel had been needling me without mercy about my golf all morning. I was frequently included in his foursome, but for some
reason (that finally dawned on me) I never seemed to be his partner. On 17 he pulled his drive into the trees on the left. So did I. He had to punch something like a 5-iron out through the trees toward the green. It was on the way to my ball so I drew up my pull cart nearby.
He tried for too much distance. He pulled it again but this time it hit a tree dead on and the ball zipped back past him, away from the hole, maybe 25 or 30 yards, still in the trees.
Now I had been at sea for about 10 years by them. I was qualified and had served in destroyers, cruisers and submarines, and I had heard Navy men swear. But I never had heard anything like that. Whoo! It also goes without saying that I survived the severest test of self control I can remember. It goes without saying because I don’t today have the imprint of a 5-iron in my forehead.
A superior record in combat, a superb post-war career, a complete professional with the skill of a seasoned diplomat, a fine gentleman; Rebel Lowrance touched our lives-many of us-and we will always be in grateful remembrance of him for it.
I am trying to locate an old friend that I have not seen in
years-E.J. (Jack, Jr.) Welk. If you have any information,
please contact me at the following address:
Edward W. Devinney
1002 Eagle Lane
Doylestown, PA 18901