Chester M. "Whitey" Mack, 77, of Englewood, Fla., passed away Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008.
He was born July 20, 1931, in Glen Lyon, Pa.
Whitey and his beloved wife, Joan, moved to Englewood in 1995 from North, Va. He was a highly decorated U.S. Navy captain with 20 years of service. He had a chemical engineering degree from Penn State, and master's degree in international law from Georgetown University. He was a member of the American Legion, Military Officers Association of America of Sarasota, Fla., and the USS Lapon Association; and a life member of U.S. Submarine Veterans.
Arrangements were made in Port Charlotte, Fla.
So what did he do for those Navy decorations? From a NOVA transcript:
NARATOR: Sub commanders like Whitey Mack, knew the risks of getting in close; they also knew the rewards. In 1969, Mack slipped in behind the newest Soviet missile sub, and followed its every move for 47 straight days.
MACK: Every 90 minutes, he changed course. It was 89 minutes or 91 minutes; it was exactly 90 minutes. And that's the longest I slept for the whole time. He'd go up, well we'd go up, he'd come down, we'd go down. And sometimes, we'd go pretty deep. We just did the merry old dance, you know, two 6,000 ton ships circling each other.
I think that probably the most important thing is that we came back like we had an idea of where he was operating, the method of his operations. We thought we had a better handle at the range of his tactical missiles. We could actually separate the different officers of the deck. We knew which guy had the deck just by the way he handled the ship, the way things ran. When you learn next door to somebody, you learn a lot about him, and we did. And we brought all that information back.
__: This business of surveillance against the Russians and finding out what they were doing, it was just like cowboys and Indians. And naturally, as it got more sophisticated, it was a bit more like three-dimensional chess. But with the added spur to it, knowing that somebody might be nudging up your backside any minute, and really being quite nasty about it.
NARRATOR: Sometimes spying against the other side led submarines into spaces they weren't supposed to be, a fact both sides, to this day, officially deny.
__: Our submarine never, never entered the American territorial waters. We had a strict order not to come closer than 50 miles.
__: The orders were quite clear, "Thou shalt not trespass."
__: And were those orders ever trespassed, themselves?
__: I can't answer that question. You might get someone from the United States Navy to answer that. I can't. I'll just leave it, "Thou shalt not trespass." And somebody wants to give a nudge and a wink, well that's up to them.
__: Look, in the '60s, I was training with the SEALs. I was in the Navy, training with the SEALs, and some of my colleagues had been in the sewers of Hanoi....(inaudible) that's one of the sewers. So can you get real close? Well you can get real close. ...(laughter)
The story of Whitey Mack is detailed in a book called "Blind Man's Bluff."
One of Whitey's favorite hangouts was the Horse And Cow. And there's even a song called the "Ballad of Whitey Mack." Click the link - you'll love it!
Thank you Whitey - you were a true hero. Fair seas and following seas to you, sir.