Capt. Paul X. Rinn, USN (Ret.), who now is a motivational speaker, was the guest of Rosemary Ward of Whitehall, owner of Training Direct, LLC. They had their picture taken by The World’s Largest Weathervane in downtown Montague.
Sometimes great stories don’t get told in the pages of Beacon because of space limitations, work load or timing.
The following was one of those stories.
In February, 2012, the White Lake area had a distinguished visitor who was invited to the area by Whitehall resident Rosemary Ward, MA, DTM, CSP, owner of Training Direct.
Her guest was naval hero Cap. Paul X. Rinn, USN (Ret.). Ward and Capt. Rinn are motivational speakers and tour nationally. They met each other at a public speaking retreat in Colorado. Last February he was one his way to a speaking engagement for Farm Bureau in Traverse City when he stopped in the White Lake area.
Capt. Rinn is a highly decorated Naval officer, and is famous for saving his guided missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts from sinking in the Persian Gulf after a naval mine ripped a massive hole in the ship’s hull. Sea water flooded in, super hot gases ignited fires on four decks and Capt. Rinn said the ship was sinking under the weight of the water used to fight the fires.
I had the privilege and honor to sit with Capt. Rinn and talk about that experience and his views on leadership.
Capt. Rinn said he learned that the successful leader inspires people to do more than they ever thought they could.
That’s what happened in the near sinking of the ship with 220 sailors aboard in 1988 while escorting reflagged Kuwaiti tankers during the Iran-Iraq War.
Through heroic actions of the many sailors on board the ship, which has lost engine power, remained afloat and was able to escape the mine field using its auxiliary thrusters.
Capt. Rinn said the heroes included Sailor Mike Tilley of Wheeling, West Virginia, who used an emergency starting device to bring power back to the ship and Sailor Michael Gibson of Detroit who first spotted the mine.
The ship amazingly did not suffer any fatalities and only had to airlift 10 sailors for treatment of injuries.
“That was a great story,” Capt. Rinn said.
Capt. Rinn said the ship was saved by halting fire suppressing activities and throwing heavy equipment overboard which was sinking the frigate, and using its lone remaining generator to power the thrusters which got the ship out of the minefield.
The decorated naval leader said it was important to him to take care of the sailors who worked for him. “I sent sailors home (from deployment) for weddings and births.”
“No matter where you go, not matter what you do, remember you’ll always have our thanks for saving the ship,” he told former sailors on the ship during a reunion in 2008.
Capt. Rinn said Tilley became a Petty Officer 2nd Class, married, and worked for John Deere after retirement from the Navy.
Capt. Rinn, following his retirement from the Navy in 1998, joined an international consulting firm. He was promoted to vice-president and helped that company to grow until his retirement in 2011 to pursue a book writing and public speaking career.
He surely fits his promotional materials. He has an engaging style to go with an inspiring message of courage under fire.
It’s a great story. One that should have been in the Beacon before now.