NOAA Association of Commissioned Officers 

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Captain (retired) Edwin Kiernan McCaffrey

In his 30 years, Ed rose from the rank of Ensign to Captain, sailed the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean aboard NOAA research vessels, predicted tsunamis, charted our coasts, and participated in underwater atomic testing. Early on, he met a pretty college student waitressing in Plymouth, MA for the summer. Her name was Connie Fischer and she had big plans for a carefree summer until a handsome young man with a crooked smile offered her a ride in that Ford Fairlane.

Connie and Ed married on January 2, 1956, danced the night away, and drove south the next day to their first home in St. Petersburg, FL where Connie taught school while Ed was underway. Their next stop was Fredericksburg, VA, where they welcomed baby Joanne and then on to the territory of Hawaii where Mary Ellen was born. In Oakland, baby James joined the family during one of Ed’s rare inports between long cruises in the Pacific. In Virginia Beach, baby Bob completed the family before they headed to Palo Alto where Ed earned a Master of Science from Stanford. Then, the road warrior McCaffrey family moved, again, across the country, for the last time, to NOAA HQ in Maryland where Ed and Connie immersed themselves in raising their four kids. Ed helped with homework, coached soccer, officiated at swim and diving meets, and attended countless school concerts and piano recitals while also serving a final afloat tour as Commanding Officer of the NOAA ship Mount Mitchell surveying the waters off Ponce, Puerto Rico.

After hanging up his uniform, Ed donned a suit and tie to work on the Hubbell Telescope project but would put on that uniform several more times to commission children as Coast Guard officers and walk his two girls down the aisle.

Lieutenant Commander Matt Forrest

On January 28th, 2022, the Forrest/Ralston family, OMAO and the ACO hosted a memorial celebration of LCDR Forrest's life at the Nauticus Foundation in Norfolk, VA. Those who knew and loved Matt had a chance to gather together to swap sea stories and celebrate the rich life he led - the event he would have wanted all of us to have. LT Matthew Forrest passed away unexpectedly on December 5, 2021, while serving as Executive Officer of the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.
LCDR Forrest loved the NOAA Corps and its fine history, and was a great contributor to the Voices Of Oral History Archive. You can listen to his many interviews here:

Admiral Rick Brennan

They say a multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life. And, that they thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills. While a specialist is a person who concentrates primarily on a particular subject or activity, and a person highly skilled in a specific and restricted field. Rick was unique. He was both. A leader, a sailor, an artist, a hydrographer, a friend, a brother, a son, a husband, and most importantly a father, he made an indelible impact on the people and things he touched.

Rick's tangible talents can be observed in many places. But it is the intangible that helped create the persona. He was one to stop and seek out the “why” of a mission and help get to the root cause of a problem and not just treat symptoms. He invested time and energy into people, always wanting the best for his family and those he worked with and helping to develop and fine-tune their talents. He was one to research, learn, and act. He was never complacent. Not at home and not at work. He found his passions, the ocean, the arts, family, problem-solving and travel, and he pursued them.

Rick’s passion for the ocean was born during his early years of boating, snorkeling, and scuba diving in Florida and the Bahamas. These experiences and an introduction from an esteemed professor at The Citadel, where he earned a BS in Civil Engineering, led him to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Rick joined the NOAA Corps in 1992. After more than 27 years as a NOAA Corps he reached a career pinnacle in his appointment as Rear Admiral on April 20, 2021. The majority of Rick’s career specialized in ocean mapping and hydrography. He earned a Master’s in Ocean Mapping from the University of New Hampshire in 2005, furthering his expertise. It was, however, the journey of being out on the ocean and the nitty gritty of hydrography and data collection that he enjoyed most. He surveyed waters on the East Coast, West Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, and in uncharted Alaskan and Arctic regions. Through it all, Rick believed people were NOAA’s greatest asset and invested his time in not only the mission, but most importantly in the people supporting the mission. Rick was known for saying, “Take care of yourself, take care of your shipmates, take care of the ship.”

The ocean, boating, hydrography and NOAA were significant to Rick and his life, but he had so many other interests. He had an ardent appreciation for the arts. He played the lead in a number of Apopka High School plays (honing his flair for the dramatic!). He excelled in woodworking, drawing, carving and art in general. He was a curious cook, wannabe horticulturist, and all-around tinkerer. He loved to build things and to solve problems, both at home and work. From designing and building his own garage and woodshop to restoring a vintage Cape Dory, he genuinely enjoyed the journey of learning how and then doing.

In a terrible turn of events, Rick was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer on October 27, 2020, mere hours after notification of his selection to Flag Officer. Rick pursued cancer treatment, adapting to a new routine while maintaining his natural drive and optimism and his career. His cancer treatment was primarily successful allowing him to accept the promotion to Rear Admiral in April. Despite the successful treatment, unexpected complications after a surgical procedure took his life on May 13, 2021. His physical journey has ended but the memories of Rick and his legacy of exploring, learning, leading, and healing will live on through his family, friends and colleagues, and the work of RTB Fair Winds.