NBNE COMMENTARY: "Going Ashore: Fair Winds and Following Seas, MUCS Patrick Hawes"

Aerial view of U.S. Naval War College
Patrick Y. Hawes
(U.S. Navy photo/Released)

For many, the word “retirement” brings a ritual of reflection on the sum of our working life. This deeply personal journey is fully examined both privately and publicly. When we raise our right hand to start our Navy journey, none of us knows where that road will take us or how long we will wear the uniform. When our collective stories are written, they start with similar beginnings: graduation from enlisted or officer candidate boot camp and subsequent technical school training to further hone the skill sets the Navy requires of us. From that introduction, what a sailor chooses to do with his or her career is uniquely theirs, a blank manuscript waiting to be filled with the legacy they choose to create. Many storied careers of naval service begin with the same opportunities but not all are fully realized.

When he auditioned for the rate of a Navy musician in 1993, Senior Chief Musician Patrick Hawes could not have predicted the positive impact his 26 years of service would have on the Navy music program or the countless lives he would touch. A careful reading of his biography reveals an exhaustive list of leadership roles he was entrusted with in six bands across three continents. But these raw pieces of data, statistics can never fully capture the profound impact he had on the hundreds of sailors in his charge.

“I’ve never seen a senior enlisted leader empower his sailors the way that Senior Chief Hawes does,” said Navy Band Northeast’s Director LT Borrelli-Boudreau. “Managing Navy Band Northeast’s operational schedule requires meticulous planning on the simplest of days. When the unexpected happens, as it often does, if even one member is absent, many ensembles can be adversely affected. Senior Hawes takes great care in ensuring that the mission and the welfare of our Sailors and their families are perfectly balanced. His sincere commitment to maintaining a healthy, thriving organization is unparalleled. Senior Chief Hawes never forgets that behind each Navy Enlisted Classification Code is a person, and because of his relentless advocacy for each individual’s needs, he has earned every member’s unconditional trust.”

In 2018 as the director of Fleet Band Activities completed a routine unit inspection of the band and briefed the command on his findings, CDR Sweeten remarked, “You have an unusually, suspiciously happy command here. I don’t think I’ve seen a happier band in fact, and it makes me wonder, why? What’s going on here?” To those in the room, there was no mystery. The command climate at Navy Band Northeast was the product of MUCS Hawes’ leadership, and it sets a standard sure to be the envy of every commanding officer.

As his Navy career draws to a close, Navy Band Northeast bids MUCS Hawes fair winds and following seas. His legacy is permanently sealed in the archives of Navy Music history, but more importantly, his selflessness is and will be forever imprinted on the hearts and minds of those privileged enough to have served with him.

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