MAY 23, 1933 - JAN 3, 1998

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jfrlicense.jpg (5907 bytes)Johnny's Auto Plate



John Francis Rabbitt, an East Coast legend in his own mind. He retired from his last good deal, rent-a-cop job at NSWDG on May 23, 1996. He thrilled his shipmates with his speech.

"I'd like to first thank all of you for attending this ceremony, and especially CAPT Olson and CDR McTigue, and everyone else responsible for making this ceremony a reality.

After spending eight uneventful years as an Airdale, in 1959, I was stationed at one of the best liberty ports on the East Coast (Argentina, New Foundland). It came to my attention from a notice in the Plan of the Day that volunteers were wanted for UDT. I was in good shape, (played handball once or twice a week), so I volunteered.

I arrived at the Main Gate at Little Creek in late June and requested transportation to the UDT Training Area. The Marine asked if I was sure about this and I answered, "Right, I deserve it as a First Class Petty Officer." He called and was told to have me stand by as someone would be right there with a jeep. One hour later I asked directions to the area and started hoofing it. I had made my first mistake in UDT, and hadn't even checked in yet.

After doing a half hour of PT inside the instructor's hut, I was thrown out and pointed to my barracks, which was a World War II butler hut. After a shower, I was getting my seabag squared away when Second Class Shipfitter Anderson came up and ask me if I wanted to go jogging. I looked at him like he had lost his marbles, and told him training started Monday and I was going ashore. As he jogged away I heard him mutter, "You'll never make it." Second mistake at UDT!

I was hauled back to the base late Sunday night by the shore patrol without my I.D. card, which they turned over to the O.O.D. The next morning at 9: A.M. my presence was requested at the Training Officer's office. Mr. Wilson (Jim), later known as the "Little Brown Nut", asked me for the details. I told him seeing as I wouldn't be going on liberty again for 16 weeks, I had overreated. He said he did the same thing only he didn't get caught. He flipped my I.D. card back to me and said, "No problem here, you'll never make it anyway."

Sixteen weeks later, minus 88 people, ten others and myself were standing before an Admiral receiving our graduation diplomas. The Admiral's comment to me was, "My, you're an old one!" I was 26, and the oldest guy in the class.

I spent four good years at UDT-21. Got married in '60 to a beautiful girl named Viola, had twin boys in '62, and was still on my honeymoon after four years, being gone most of the time in the Med, Caribbean, and assorted schools. I put in for shore duty at Key West and transferred in '67.

Four years later and two more additions to my family, Margaret and Patricia, I was asked by the Commanding Officer where I wanted to go. UDT personnel had the choice of East Coast, West Coast, and UDT or SEAL. Well, I wasn't about to become a West Coast puke, which was what us superior East Coast FROGS called them. I'd already done the UDT bit, so I asked for and got SEAL 2 on the East Coast.

As I checked into SEAL Team, I was greeted by Rudy Boesch, who told me in this order: "Get a haircut, you've got the weekend duty, and don't unpack your seabag-you're going to Ranger School on Monday." It was Friday afternoon. "By the way, welcome back", he said.

I did four more good years in SEAL Team, and as I was getting kind of long in the tooth, I decided to retire on my 38th birthday. May 23rd was a Sunday, so I retired on the 24th, 25 years ago tomorrow.

The late Dow Byers, retired Senior Chief, came to my rescue and got me a job at Old Dominion University, where I stayed for 14 years. We both rose from the ranks. I made Sergeant. Dow made Chief of Police. During this time, Viola and I put the four siblings through O.D.U. (Old Dominion University), at one time having two seniors, a sophomore, and a freshman all living at home. Dow retired, and I decided to become a mailman. Wrong career move; it was on the same level of Ranger School in my memories. Billy Coulson, my former UDT classmate, notified me of an opening out here at Dam Neck, and I quit the Post Office five minutes later. Which brings me to the present.

One other sea story and I'll quit. I'd just like to state that I was never arrested with Fox, Owl, Byrd, and Lyons. It was just Fox and me at the Wingding in Ocean View doing some male bonding at 2 A.M. When we didn't depart the premises quickly enough for the Proprietor, we found ourselves handcuffed in the back seat of a patrol car with one officer asking us our names. I piped up wisely telling him he wouldn't believe us if I told him, and he said, "Try me!" I said, "O.K., mine's Jack Rabbitt and his is Jim Fox." He said, "O.K. wise guy, we'll find out your names once we get to the station." Needless to say, we couldn't get our I.D. cards out fast enough. They shook their heads and called the UDT O.O.D. to come pick us up. The next day we both paid $25 bucks and that was it.

Finally, I again would like to thank my wife, Viola, for putting up with me these past 36 years. I know I couldn't have done it without her. Thanks again for attending.

John Francis Rabbitt and Viola

Johnny's Buddies at UnderWaterSwimSchool (UWSS) Champs 1964-66

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Navy Military Funerals

Navy military funerals are based on a few simple customs and traditions. Such funerals are open recognition of the Nation's debt for the services and sacrifices of its Navy men and women.

The ceremonial customs comprising the elements of a naval funeral are rooted in ancient naval and military usage. Based on expedients used on the battlefield, these customs have come to assume a deeper significance than that of mere expediency.

The flag that covers the casket today symbolized the services of the deceased in the armed forces of the United States; the Nation regards the burying of its military dead as a solemn and sacred obligation.

The tree volleys that are fired, accoring to ancient belief, were to scare away evil spirits.

It is appropriate that taps be played over the grave to make the beginning of the last, long sleep, and to express hope and confidence in an ultimate reveille to come.

The reversal of rank at funerals is an acknowledgment that at death all persons are equal. This is signified by positioning the honorary pallbearers, and all other mourners, if practicable, in reverse order of rank.

Photos of Johnny,  but be patient, as they will take some time to load.


     John's visit to MyTho from VinhLong 'nam


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Johnny on SEAL LCPR                                                                                                                                                                                                              



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