Longtime Naval Institute member Clarence G. "Gene" Leggett’s life came full circle when he was buried at sea by the crew of the USS Wasp (LHD-1).
A parachute rigger in World War II, Leggett was serving in the carrier Wasp (CV-7) when she was sunk off Guadalcanal on 15 September 1942. He was picked up by the Lardner (DD-487) and transferred to a patrol squadron on board the carrier Copahee (CVE-12). In September 1943, the Douglas dive-bomber in which he was flying was shot down off Bougainville. The plane’s pilot died, but Leggett again was rescued, after four days floating in a raft—by the same destroyer that had saved him 500 miles away a year earlier.
Years later, in Norfolk, Leggett and his wife, Elizabeth, toured the newest Wasp shortly after she was commissioned in 1989. Because his time in the Navy had had such a profound impact on his life, Leggett stipulated in his will that, if possible, the couple’s ashes be committed to the sea from the Wasp . This was done in November 2002.
Gene Leggett also made a generous provision for the Naval Institute. The first beneficiaries of his largesse will be members of the Naval Academy Class of 2007. The entire plebe class will receive a one-year subscription to Naval History magazine. The balance of his bequest will establish an endowment for educational purposes.
For more information about including the Naval Institute in your estate planning, please contact Kirk McAlexander, executive director of the Naval Institute Foundation, at 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402. He also can be reached at (410) 295-1056, and at firstname.lastname@example.org .
"If noise were to be the measure of our success, it was clear both sailors and lawyers had a ball!" observed Naval Institute CEO Tom Wilkerson, referring to a memorable evening in November when the Naval Institute helped bring together a prestigious Wall Street law firm and a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer. Lawyers from Sullivan & Cromwell hosted two dozen crew members from The Sullivans (DDG-68) for dinner at historic India House in Manhattan. Michael Wiseman and Andy Solomon of Sullivan & Cromwell conceived the idea—and the Naval Institute Foundation was glad to make it happen.
Katherine Eldred of Sullivan & Cromwell remembers, "When I was invited to the dinner, I thought: ‘Wow, how often can someone like me spend an evening with officers and senior enlisted of an Aegis destroyer?’ I jumped at the chance. It was a fascinating evening: the discussion ranged from favorite ports to 12-hour days in the engine room to the practicalities of life on board. It was a remarkable opportunity to see the Navy from the insider’s point of view, and my understanding is all the better for the experience. It was the best of all worlds: good company, good food, good conversation, and new friends."
Sullivan & Cromwell hosted the event as an opportunity to interact with military men and women and to thank them, in small measure, for their sacrifices. The conviviality was apparent and, we hope, will lead to other such interactions. In a message of thanks, Command Master Chief Dean Leonard of The Sullivans summed up: "We roam to learn and pass on the little things we pick up along the way. This way, others will enjoy what we have experienced around the world and know it is not flat or rich or poor. Just a lot of good place to be."