Remembering my dad...

Written for my dad's service booklet, I share this as it offers just a glimmer of the many things that made my dad special and that I hold tight to each day.

Outgoing, friendly, dedicated, passionate, adventurous, comical. A selection of words to describe some of the best traits about my dad. Dad never met a stranger. If you became part of my dad’s world, you were in. He would give you his shirt off his back in a heartbeat.

The last year has been tough. Having a serious decline in health, Dad continued to maintain an optimism that many would shy away from. Even in his worst moments, Dad would share that he was willing to deal with the pain if it meant he could continue to try to get better. There were so many wonderful glimmers of hope to hold on to during his journey, but in the end, his heart could not keep him here with us.

There has always been a strong drive to keep Dad going. This drive made for a successful military career.He loved the roles he played as a Chief, as an instructor, as a Warrant Officer. His hair was always perfect, his mustache always trimmed, his uniforms crisp and his extreme punctuality always intact. Dad liked to talk about how important it was to care for your people so that they would do a good job for you and that you could get the work done right the first time. As I review old files with my mom and look for words, for memories, for the right things to say, I see the awards and recognitions that helped prove his theories.

When retirement from the Navy came, so did new adventures. Cadillac car sales, real estate agent, over the road truck driver. He also managed to fit in a few boats, deep sea fishing outings, golfing and a Harley to keep things interesting. When the time was right, my dad got a call from a former Navy colleague that helped guide him to Virginia International Terminals. Dad gave his all to his second career, just as he had his first. Long hours, crazy schedules, he always made sure he focused on the good of his “troops” and ensuring that they were taken care of. When he retired, he was blown away by the praise and job well-done from the special men and women he cared deeply for.

My dad could make you laugh. Try watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with him. He would watch the movie once a year and would laugh and laugh over the same parts, so tickled by a scene; as if he had never seen it before. He would look at you with his eyebrows raised before offering a witty comment and just loved to get a rise out of people, especially my mom.

Dad taught me the importance of thinking things through. I think this is what made things great for my parents. I have been lucky to see my parents always stick things out, celebrating 41 years this past August. My dad was stubborn, my mom very strong; someone was always going to triumph. The key was that regardless of the win, they made things work. I can still see my dad’s smirk as my mom would tell him, “Harry, it’s not always about you. Repeat after me.” My dad would reciprocate, repeat the words, and then smile. A priceless smile.

Special moments and memories have been made over the years. Some of the best have been so simple. There have been family dinners on Sunday nights, visits after work to share how my day went or to see how my parents were doing, Kyle and my dad watching football or golf together, and taking weekend camping trips. As I think back, there may have been many small moments, but, they really were big. Very big. Nothing will happen again with Dad in a physical presence, but somehow, I must believe he will be with us always.

Recently, I had many impactful conversations with my dad. To the very end, Dad described his sincere gratitude and love for the many friends made over the years; the pride in his granddaughters, his love for my mom, and the special relationship he built with Kyle. My dad had so much love in his heart for so many. To the many friends that visited, that checked in, that have been there for my dad, my mom, me, or our family over the years, thank you. Thank you for loving my dad, for enjoying his company, for making him feel appreciated, and now, moving forward, for remembering him. Whatever my dad’s new mission is, he will give 100% as he always has.

 

A Favorite Song

God Bless the U.S.A.

By: Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife

I'd thank my lucky stars,
To be livin' here today.
Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
And they can't take that away.

And I'm proud to be an American,
Where at least I know I'm free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
Next to you and defend her still today.
Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
To the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
And New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart,
And it’s time we stand and say.

That I'm proud to be an American,
Where at least I know I'm free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
Next to you and defend her still today.
Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

And I'm proud to be and American,
Where at least I know I'm free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
Next to you and defend her still today.
Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

© Universal Music Publishing Group

Navy Timeline

CWO3 Harry Baab

United States Navy

NTC Great Lakes - August 1971

USS Saratoga (CV-60) - February 1972

USS Independence (CV-62) - February 1974

 Naval Reserve - August 1975

USS Constellation (CV-64) - July 1979

Naval Reserve - July 1979

USS Constellation (CV-64) - January 1981

NATTC Lakehurst, NJ - November 1984

FTG Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - November 1987

USS America (CV-66) - December 1988

NAEC Lakehurst, NJ - April 1992

USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) - August 1994

Fleet Reserve - September 1996