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Pat Reidy, a longtime resident of Alexandria, Virginia, has died aged 63. He suffered from health problems for the past couple of years, including a seizure disorder.
Pat served the United States Navy for nearly 40 years - on active duty, in the reserves, as a contractor, and as a civil servant. His systems engineering abilities and grace under pressure are exemplified by a sea story:
Early one morning in November 1987, then-Lieutenant Reidy was serving as Officer of the Deck (OOD) -- entrusted with the navigation and overall safety of the entire ship while on watch -- aboard USS Cochrane (DDG 21), an elderly, steam-powered destroyer homeported in Yokosuka, Japan. As the ship was sailing off the coast of Taiwan, an engineering casualty caused the ship’s engineers to immediately extinguish one of the ship’s two boilers. The engineers were lightly supervised at the time, as the Engineering Officer of the Watch – the OOD’s equivalent in the propulsion areas – was away in the head and whose only inkling of trouble was when his bathroom lost all light and ventilation. The engineers had, alas, shut down the wrong boiler and, with the casualty still unresolved, shut down the remaining boiler. An emergency diesel generator, designed to provide electricity in precisely this type of situation, instead exploded, leaving the ship powerless, dark, and drifting towards a lee shore with a raging fire in the forward section. Without any electricity, there was no way to call for help.
Pat was by then one of the ship’s longest serving lieutenants and had recently rotated out of a series of engineering tours. Staying on the bridge as the ship’s OOD and utilizing the ship’s sound-powered-phone system, he coached the engineering team through an unorthodox and, at best, highly unofficial way of restarting a recently shut down boiler by “lighting it off the back wall” - seeking to take advantage of the good boiler’s remaining radiant heat by spraying atomized fuel oil and hoping for reignition. It worked, saving the ship and its crew. Those who witnessed the event thought he deserved far more than the Navy Achievement Medal he eventually received.
Patrick Joseph Reidy, Jr. was born on March 30, 1960 in Chicago, Illinois, the middle of three children of Patrick J. “Pat” Reidy, a driver for UPS and Catherine ''Kay'' Reidy, nee Sullivan, both of whom immigrated from Ireland. “Joey” grew up on the southwest side of Chicago, attending St. Adrian's grade school and St. Laurence High School. He seemed destined for a career in finance and, after obtaining a degree in economics from then-Benedictine College, joined the stockbroker training program at Merrill Lynch.
It was while working at Merrill that he came under the eye of a trader who had previously served in the US Marine Corps and who recognized that Pat’s service ethic and attention to detail might take him far in the military. Pat left Merrill Lynch and joined the US Navy via Officer Candidate School. In addition to his service aboard Cochrane, where he qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer, he also served on the Joint Staff and Navy Staff in the Pentagon as well as Operations Officer aboard the USS Conolly (DD 979), a newer destroyer homeported in Norfolk.
By then, post-Cold War reductions in force had begun to drastically shrink the size of the fleet, and Pat transitioned to the reserves, serving in a series of increasingly demanding assignments, eventually rising to the rank of Captain. As a civilian, Pat supported the Navy as a contractor and later as a civil servant. He volunteered to return to active duty following the tragic events of 9/11, and he returned to Japan in uniform leading Coalition Security Cooperation activities with Japanese, Korean, and Australian allies and establishing a cutting-edge Theater Anti-Submarine Warfare operation. He later completed his master’s degree in systems engineering from George Washington University in 2015.
Away from work, Pat was widely known for his exceptional generosity, desire to help other people, and willingness to drop everything and head over, tool bag in hand, to address any mechanical, plumbing, or electrical problem, almost always successfully.
Pat had a soft spot for dogs and the story goes that he was at a house party in Washington DC – a rare occurrence, as he tried to never cross the Potomac - sitting on the front porch and making nice with the family pooch. When a passerby on the sidewalk inquired as to whether Pat’s dog barked, Pat replied “no,” and the passerby became irate when the dog then lunged, yapping and snarling. “I thought you said your dog didn’t bark!” yelled the passerby; Pat replied, straight out of vaudeville: “He’s notta my dog.”
Pat is survived by his sister Chris (Reidy) Bewley, brother-in-law Brian Bewley, nieces Caroline and Sarah, brother Kevin, and by a wide circle of long-time friends whose primary point in common is that they met one another through their friendship with Pat Reidy.
A visitation will be held on November 30th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home at 1500 W. Braddock Rd., Alexandria, VA. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 3 p.m. on Friday, December 1st at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 8710 Mount Vernon Highway, Alexandria, VA. His ashes will be interred at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Laurence High School Scholarship Fund, Burbank, IL, https://secure.givelively.org/donate/st-laurence-high-school/in-memory-of-patrick-reidy-78