To the crew CARNEY, Commander Lanny L. King was “the Cap’n,” the best one they ever had. He chose them. He made them feel useful and important.
King was the prospective captain of the CARNEY, an Aegis destroyer nearing completion at Bath Iron Works. Since last September, he’d hand-picked his 300-plus crew from thousands of eligible sailors. And since April, he lived in Bath getting his first ship ready for the Atlantic.
It was the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. But two days after Thanksgiving he suffered a brain aneurysm and died 14 December 1995, at the age of 39.
“No one ever told me that I had to be miserable, so I choose to be happy,” King wrote in a memo to his sailors, laying out his command philosophies. Crewman said King followed that memo. He was consistently positive, they said. King led by giving each sailor the belief that he or she could do valuable work. He called it “forward leaning.”
And he cared about families, another of the points in his memo: “Ensure you take care of your family. If you have a problem at home, let someone on the ship know. Ask for time off if you need it. I am committed to you and your families. Let me know how I can help.”
Twice, King changed Navy policy, complaining to superiors in Washington, DC, that crewman attached to ships that were awaiting their formal commissioning deserved the same rights as other sailors, rights to getting a place in line for the military’s too few apartments and houses.
King was an 18-year career officer. His father was a Navy master chief with family in Fort Kent and Caribou. He called Hemingway, SC home. “His biggest philosophy on everything was family,” his wife, Virginia said.
An educational trust fund has been established for King’s two children. Those wishing to donate may send contributions to: Educational Trust Fund for the children of CDR Lanny King, American National Bank, U.S. Naval Station Mayport, FL, 32228-0065.