Two former enlisted men who had an outsized effect on naval history and culture shoved off for the great libo party in the sky last week.
Allan George See was born in Mount Kisco, New York in 1931, growing up in WWII, and spent two years in the Air Force during Korea before launching a film and television career in the late 1950s under the screenname of Gavin MacLeod. From there, he was a regular in just about every good military TV series or movie for decades. MacLeod appeared in Operation Petticoat, Pork Chop Hill, War Hunt, The Sand Pebbles, The Thousand Plane Raid, Kelly’s Heroes (“Why don’t you knock it off with those negative waves”), and guest starring in Combat!, Hogan’s Heroes (where he played four different German officers in rotation), The Rat Patrol, JAG, and others.
However, he is best known as PT-boat sailor “Happy” Haines in the McHale’s Navy movies and TV series and, of course, as Captain Merrill Stubing from The Love Boat. He was so well-known during the 1970s and 80s in that role that the Navy Officers’ Tropical White Uniform became known as the “Captain Stubing” before it was phased out.
MacLeod passed away last week at age 90.
John William Warner III was born in Washington D.C. in 1927, joining the Navy in early 1945– at the same time, the service was losing thousands every day during the Battle of Okinawa– at age 17 right out of high school on the advice of his father. Finishing his wartime enlistment as an ET3 while helping fellow sailors who couldn’t read or write, he had finished A-school too late to fight and wound up reporting to the large cruiser/battlecruiser USS Hawaii (CB-3) when the ship was still fitting out (and would never commission). He later transitioned to the Marines and, after using his GI Bill to earn both his college and law degrees, served with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) near Pohang during the Korean War.
Leaving the Marine Corps Reserves as a Captian, Warner went on to help negotiate the U.S.-Soviet Incidents at Sea agreement as Nixon’s gravely-voiced Secretary of the Navy during the latter stages of the Vietnam War on his way to a five-term stint as a U.S. Senator from Virginia. While in Congress he was kinda controversial, being pro-gun control and helping pave the way for the suspension of habeas corpus for the somewhat moody definition of “unlawful combatants,” he also was a big wheel on the Armed Services Committee for years, shaping military policy via control of the purse strings.
After his service ended on Capitol Hill, he was the first recipient of the National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal while the Senator John W. Warner Center for Advanced Military Studies at the Marine Corps University in Quantico and a Virginia-class attack boat (SSN-785) were named in his honor, although he never served in submarines.
Warner died, age 94, at his home in Alexandria on 25 May.