Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pete's Burial at Sea

Lt. Christian Foschi reads an account of Pete's military and civilian service to his family:
From left, his widow, Betsy, and daughters Susan and Katherine.

In addition to the celebration of life service in April 2015, we were able to fulfill Pete's wish for a Burial at Sea, with tremendous help from the Navy, for which we are grateful. 

Leaving the Coronado-San Diego bridge behind as we motor out to sea.

Pete's open, self-effacing personality belied the discretion his Navy and legal careers demanded. In this spirit, we will share only that we were the first civilians invited onto the state-of-the-art combatant craft — too sleek, powerful, and secret for further details (we know he would have loved that.) 

For good measure, a pod of dolphins escorted out to sea — right off the location where he had trained with SEAL Team One. 

We felt humbled. We cried. We laughed. We celebrated. We're pretty sure he would have liked that, too. 

What we expected.
What they gave us.

After honoring Capt. Riddle, Lt. Foschi helped Betsy, Susan, and Katherine scatter Pete's ashes exactly as he had requested.

The gun salute and taps from the escort boat. 

We each received a flag in his honor.

The ceremony could not have been more beautiful or fitting for Pete. Thankfully, we were able to honor his love of all things related to the ocean, the Navy, public service, and Yale in additional ways:

Katherine and a few of her close friends from her former home in Honolulu gathered at the beach, and, according to island tradition, swam and paddled out from the Outrigger Canoe Club. Treading water about 300 meters off shore, the small group said a few words of thanks, scattered plumeria, and hugged. Then what? Brunch at the beach club, of course. Vintage Pete.

Ocean blessing in Waikiki.

Neurologist and dear friend Tiffany Chow, who provided guidance in obtaining an autopsy and donating Pete's brain to research so that other scientists could study the effects of Lewy Body Dementia, danced a special hula before going to the ocean with Katherine to offer an oli — an ancient Hawaiian chant — in honor of Pete. 

Because we failed to capture photos of Tiffany in all of her generosity, we'll share the cover of her amazing book about love and hope amid dementia:

Before the formal Burial at Sea, Betsy was able to scatter some of Pete's ashes at an informal ceremony for Navy SEAL veterans, with help from Mike Johnson, Chairman of the Foundation for Navy SEAL veterans.  

Of the occasion, Betsy wrote: 
"The 3rd Annual Memorial Service for fallen SEAL teammates took place on the beach, at the BUDs training location at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, at 7 A.M. on Sunday August 23, 2015.  

Captain Hennessey and Chaplain Bradshaw of NAVSPECWARCEN (BUD/S) provided the service and the 'Hell-week bell' for the ceremony.  Those present were encouraged to read the names of loved ones and to take turns in ringing out teammates for a final time. 
Paying respects to Navy SEAL veterans.

Betsy "ringing out" Pete on the beach in Coronado.
Admiral Irish Flynn spoke eloquently about Pete and his contributions to the SEAL team, complimenting Pete for re-enlisting for active duty after completing law school and starting a law practice. 

Admiral Flynn remembering Pete, once again.
Those who had brought ashes put them in a waterproof container, and then we 'hit the surf' frogman style, passing the ashes container from person to person.  When we reached the boat and climbed aboard, we had some liquid refreshment.  

I was privileged to scatter some of Pete's ashes in the calm ocean behind the boat, and then we all swam back to shore.  We are grateful to the U.S. Navy and the SEAL team community for providing this service.  Hooyah Pete!"

Katherine attended a memorial service at the Yale University Chapel for the class of 1960, and heard stories of Pete on and off the football field from his former classmates.

Chapel on the Yale University campus.

Cover of the New York Times sports section on Nov. 28, 1958.
Number 83: Tight end Pete Riddle.
Results of the Harvard/Yale game? Not important.

The Varsity squad from Yale's official program for the Harvard Game in 1959.
You'll see #83 in the second row from the bottom, 4th from the right.  

We are pleased to report that Pete is everywhere he wants to be, reading, learning, playing with grandchildren, laughing, repeating favorite jokes and stories, swimming, and giving — always someplace, tucked inside a memory or a gesture, where we can enjoy him every day. 

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