It's a little sobering to learn that your heroes are mortal. VADM Stockdale
died in July, and now VADM Lawrence has died the night before the Army-Navy game. I know that very few WWI vets are alive and that the WWII/Korea vets are dying fast, but somehow I didn't expect to see the Vietnam vets leaving us so soon. Anyway his daughter Wendy
seems to be doing OK with the family business.
Here's another press release from their alma mater:
It is with the deepest regret that we announce the passing of Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence USN (Ret.), on 2 December.
In addition to being recognized by the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association as a Distinguished Graduate in 2000, Lawrence also won the gold medal from the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Athletic Association Theodore Award. As a midshipman, Admiral Lawrence was instrumental in developing the honor concept for the Brigade of Midshipmen. His concept has stood the test of time.
Admiral Lawrence’s achievements and leadership characteristics were tested in Vietnam, above and beyond the call of duty, when his jet was shot down over enemy territory and he was taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. He met the challenge as a POW and was an inspiration to his fellow captives as senior-ranking officer for his nearly six years in Camp Vegas. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his valor. The love for his country prevailed in the camp, as evidenced by the poem he wrote there, “Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee,” which was adopted as the official state poem of Tennessee.
After his return with honor from Vietnam, Vice Admiral Lawrence continued in distinguished service to our nation and dedication to the Navy, becoming the assistant deputy chief of Naval Operations. This was followed by a tour as commander, U.S. Third Fleet in the Pacific.
Later, Admiral Lawrence returned to Annapolis to serve as Naval Academy Superintendent from 1978 to 1981, where he would have the opportunity to lead and inspire the next generation of naval leaders. It has been noted that while Admiral Lawrence was the Superintendent, he could put a name to every face he knew and he was exceptionally caring for all midshipmen.
Following his tour as Superintendent, Admiral Lawrence served as chief of Naval Personnel.
Admiral Lawrence retired in 1986 after many years of distinguished duty to our country, but retirement certainly did not mean the end of his service.
He returned to the Yard once again and occupied the chair of Naval Leadership until 1994. In this capacity he served as a guest lecturer and teacher; sponsored special leadership programs and seminars; reviewed and helped prepare leadership courses and teaching materials; and he advised the Naval Academy staff and faculty members on leadership topics.
“Vice Admiral Lawrence was a dedicated and courageous leader,” said Vice Admiral Rodney P. Rempt ’66, USN, Naval Academy Superintendent. “He exemplified a lifetime of inspirational leadership, personal bravery and loyalty to his country. Bill Lawrence will be deeply missed as one of the Naval Academy’s most distinguished leaders, warriors and heroes. On behalf of all midshipmen—past, present and future—our heartfelt condolences go out to the Lawrence family.”
During the Dedication of the Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence “N” Room at the Navy and Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at the U.S. Naval Academy in October, Admiral James L. Holloway III ’43, USN (Retired), former Chief of Naval Operations, said that “William Porter Lawrence is a hero among heroes.” From the earliest days as a carrier jet fighter pilot to those days as a test pilot helping to develop the modern carrier planes that fought the war in Southeast Asia, Lawrence contributed much to his nation, his Navy and his alma mater, the U S. Naval Academy.