by Maya Jung
Young Don Maranell had never seen the ocean when he departed land locked Iowa in 1974 as a recently graduated high school student and enlisted in the Navy. In his 20 year and two day career, he would see it from the surface often and spend months beneath it
“It was at the height of the Cold War,” said Maranell, “the U.S. was quietly battling the Soviet Union for control of the seas. The Navy seemed like a fine place to assist my Nation and have some adventure in the process. We won the Cold War and I had more adventure than I could have bargained for. The 18 year old kid made a wise decision, so much of what I am today that is positive I owe to my career in the Navy.”
Maranell modestly accesses himself, his positives have benefitted all in both his Navy and civilian years.
Recruit Maranell did his Boot Training at Orlando, Florida. The Navy quickly recognized his intellect and dedication and next assigned him to the prestigious Machinist Mate “A” School at the Great Lakes Training Base. The best of the best that successfully complete the School are then slotted for the most complex and challenging training the Navy offers – Nuclear. Cramming what amounts to a hands-on Engineering Degree in to half the time, Don completed Nuclear Training School and Nuclear Prototype Training and joined the Fleet. A stint on the USS Orleck provided him with the surface vessel experience all Submariners must have. His first Sub was the Kamahamen and from there to the Sub Greenling.
Much of Don’s career was months at sea beneath the surface. “70 days deep down, 120 men operating the finest and most complex piece of machinery in the world, never knowing if a ‘Launch IBMs’ command would be given. The men I served with became my Brothers, our Mission could only be accomplished if each and every man performed his job.”
Asked to cite an example of that dependent team work under duress, Don paused, and said, “We were deep surfaced when a fire broke out on the USS Greenling. It is difficult to describe to any but one who has been awarded the Dolphins of the Submarine Service – suffice to say, imagine being in total darkness, great heat, the air filled with smoke, and in a metal tube hundreds of feet down in the ocean. Expertise, training, and loyalty to ship and shipmates saved the day. We all did what we had to do. That event formed me for life.”
In his Navy career, Don earned a B.S Degree from Southern Illinois University and a Masters from RPI. He was sent to Officer Candidate School and affirmed as what his Mom and Dad in Iowa had already molded – a Gentleman – he retired as a distinguished Officer. “The best route for a young man or woman who has no money is the Military,” Don advised, “work hard and they will help you fulfill potential – in return you serve your Nation with pride. Best career I could imagine!”
Post Navy Don Maranell has continued to serve. A bulwark of Stonington, he served his Town in its highest elected office – First Selectman. Married to his beloved wife and competitive Ball Room Dancing Partner Mary, together they are the proud Parents of adopted Son Sam. Despite being afflicted from infancy with Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy, Dominican Republic born Sam is a Second Degree Black Belt and college student – no doubt Dad’s Navy courage and dedication provided the inspiration and example.
The RESIDENT salutes Veteran Donald Maranell this Veterans Day!
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