This Memorial Day, I am thinking about H. J. Racette, commanding officer of the USS Taylor (DD-468).
I was a member of the crew on that destroyer in the mid-1960's when film director Otto Preminger was in Pearl Harbor shooting footage for his movie, "In Harm's Way." Commander Racette disappointed some of the men on our ship when he turned down an offer for the Taylor to be used in the movie.
Years later, I saw the movie, and I think I know why Commander Racette didn't want his ship in the movie. The script about the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor included a story about a flirty officer's wife who had an affair while her husband was out to sea. The story, and the attack, were hardly a shining moment for the U.S. Navy.
Commander Racette passed away several years ago, but I always will remember these words he wrote addressing his crew in our 1964-65 Western Pacific Cruise Book:
"The greatest reward for hard work and self sacrifice, whether in the Navy or in civilian pursuits, cannot be given by me or by anyone else. For the greatest reward is the pride which you can have in yourself. And pride in one's self is contagious. It spreads to other people. It generates pride in your ship, your country, your home. It causes people to strive, to excel as individuals and to excel as a group...."
Now, who wouldn't follow a skipper like that and do whatever he commanded you to do?