Memorial Service held for Legendary ACINT Sailor
GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- A memorial service was held at the Naval Submarine Library and Museum Aug. 3, to celebrate the life of a Sailor who was a mentor, leader and legend to many in the Acoustics Intelligence (ACINT) community.
The family of Master Chief Sonar Technician Submarines (SS) Gabe Chellew requested a burial at sea to occur at a future date for the Sailor whose legacy continues beyond his 31-year career in the U.S. Navy and the federal government.
Chellew passed away April 2.
"Gabe's name is memorialized on a brass plaque at the Office of Naval Intelligence, along with the men that came before and after him. But his legacy is in the too few men who ride boats today," said retired Master Chief Sonar Technician (SS) Garth Anderson.
Anderson, who briefly worked with Chellew in the mid-90s, when he was a trainee in the ACINT community, said his legacy of knowledge remains with men serving today and the future Sailors to follow.
"The program has a mentor-rich tradition, with each generation of ACINT specialists are involved in hand-selecting, training and qualifying their reliefs. I learned about the history of the submarine force through stories of the men who I was fortunate to serve with. They trained me," said Anderson.
Chellew's father served in the Navy during World War II in the submarine force. Chellew, who retired from the U.S. Navy in 1987, was a crew member of both USS Pollack (SSN 603) and USS Batfish (SSN 681). He was later assigned to Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Training Center, Naval Intelligence Support Center, Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and Submarine Surveillance Equipment Program. He conducted more than 22 operations as an ACINT specialist. After his service in the U.S. Navy, he worked for Naval Intelligence (NISC), Washington, D.C.
During Chellew's naval career he also served as an ACINT specialist in the early 80s aboard USS Grayling (SSN 646), a Sturgeon-class attack submarine, for retired Vice Adm. Al Konetzni, who reflected on Chellew's capabilities.
"Gabe was clearly the finest specialist in the Navy," said Konetzni, who retired from the Navy in 2004, after serving 38 years. "During the course of Gabe's naval career he influenced thousands of lives and specifically instructed at least 1,000 young men."
Konetzni said Chellew was a mentor to many lives including him. "He was a wonderful mentor and teacher, and he was a wonderful mentor to me as well," said Konetzni.
Since the creation of the ACINT specialist program in 1962, only 235 Sailors have qualified in this specialty. Chellew's wife, Linda, said her husband was the 69th Sailor to enter the ACINT program. Mrs. Chellew reflected on her husband's service.
"What I best loved about Gabe was his service to his fellow man. He had a big heart for everyone and every organization that needed help," said Chellew, who added that he initiated a bi-annual homeless veteran stand-down, which was sponsored by VFW Post 7987 in New Port Richie, Fla.
"He was so involved with this cause that it has been renamed to the Gabe Chellew Homeless Veteran stand-down," said Mrs. Chellew.
Master Chief Sonar Technician Submarines (SS) Xavier J. Harris and Senior Chief Sonar Technician Submarines (SS) Loyd Delcambre provided their assistance in coordinating the memorial service for Chellew and added that long after he hung up his khaki uniform, Chellew continued to be the model chief, volunteering in the community because he lived to serve his country.
"Gabe was also involved in the USO at the Tampa International Airport, as well as the Medical Center of Trinity in New Port Richie," said Harris. "At the USO in the Tampa International Airport, he helped raise an American flag and POW flag at their new facility. When Gabe passed, the USO placed a missing man table at the hospital lobby and included his master chief's pin on a Navy hat that is on display. The display was also dedicated in Gabe's name."
In addition to his naval service, Chellew was a member of several veteran organizations; some of them include NCOA Chapter 646, Vietnam Veterans, Inc., American Legion Post 79, SUBVETs, Marine Corps League, and a lifetime member of the VFW.