A Visit With Captain Joseph F. Enright

6 July 2000, Fairfax, Virginia

On July 6, 2000, three Archerfish, Sea Scan era Shipmates had a wonderful three hour visit with Archer-Fish WWII Hero, Captain Joseph Francis Enright. We visited with Captain Enright in his apartment at The Virginian Retirement Community, located in Fairfax, (Northern) Virginia.

The visit was outstanding! The Captain really enjoyed the visit with some Submarine Sailors, especially since we were from his beloved Archer-Fish. We had prepared a scrapbook with post-WWII pictures of Archerfish, pictures of Archerfish "burial at sea" and a WWII Sailing list and Eternal Patrol page, copied from this website.

Captain Joe, with moist eyes, slowly looked through each page of the scrapbook. When he came to the WWII Sailing List, he slowly ran his fingers down the columns of names, pausing now and then to tell a story related to that name.

As I said, it was a fantastic visit. Mike (Mike Klein, 1960 Crew), Kim (Richard "Kim" Gebhardt, 1967-68 Crew) and I (Jerry Cornelison, 1967-68 Crew), could not believe we had spent three hours with Captain Enright. The time just flew by.

We also did not know that this special and memorable occasion would be the last visit to the Captain who sailed on his Eternal Patrol just two weeks later.

This page then, is dedicated to the Memory of Captain Joseph Francis Enright, September 18, 1910 - July 20, 2000, and his beloved Submarine Archer-Fish (SS-311)............."Sailor Rest Your Oar"......

Pictures: Click on any image to view in larger format

Captain Enright & Cornelison The Captain & Kim Gebhardt Captain Joe with Mike Klein
"The Chart" - Sinking of Shinano   Some of the Captain's Memorabilia
Looking at the Website   Archerfish Sailors


Stories from the visit:

From Mike Klein -

Captain Joe Enright, a retired submarine commander, resides in the Virginian, a retirement home in northern Virginia. He is famous for his exploits duirng WWII while Captain of the USS Archerfish, SS-311. Here is a quote from a letter written by Jerry Cornelison, "Capt Joe Enright is a famous, decorated (Navy Cross) Skipper of the USS Archer-Fish from WWII. You are probably aware that he is an author of a book. SHINANO, about the Archer-Fish's most famous war patrol during which, Capt Enright and Crew sank the largest warship ever sunk by a submarine, then or now."

Today, Kim Gebhardt, Jerry Cornelison, and Mike Klein, SEA-SCAN era Archerfish crew members, visited with Captain Joe. It was a great visit, thoroughly enjoyed by all. Jerry led the way with gifts of Archerfish memorobilia, inlcuding an Archerfish ball cap, and a photo album. Jerry did an excellent job preparing for the visit, and it was great to see Captain Joe's eyes light up as he recalled events that he probably had not thought of in a long while. It was evident that certain subjects evoked a lot of emotion from the Captain, some happy, some not.

We were treated to lunch with Captain Joe, and staff members were in attendance and helpful throughout our visit. After lunch, we went to the computer room and Jerry logged onto the Archerfish web site. Viewing the web site made a terrific impression on the Captain. Especially the pictures and story of the goat in the forward engine room. He laughed out loud. He also saw photos of his old ship and many of its crew members. He confessed that he was not at all computer literate, but staff members assured us that they would assist if he wants to cruise through some history on the Archerfish web site.

A big BZ to Jerry and Kim for their preparation efforts and sensitive way they prompted and helped the Captain recall some historical events - he'll be 90 in September. I especially enjoyed the Captain's description of how Archerfish tracked SHINANO as she left the shipyard and made her way to sea for sea trials. She had originally been a battleship, but was converted to a carrier. Japanese air power at sea was suffering from the loss of most of it's carriers. He went on to say how he shot a spread of six torpedoes with four hits. He has a chart mounted and framed with both ship tracks with an "X" marking the spot where SHINANO finally went to the bottom.

From Jerry Cornelison -

Mike's account of our visit is a very nice summary. I would only add a few things. When we went to the Computer Room and logged onto the Archerfish website, and the Klaxon sounded "Dive", the Captain's eyes opened wide, his ears perked up and he got the biggest smile. I reloaded the page several times so he could listen to the Diving Alarm.

As Mike says, Captain Enright thought the "Famous Goat Story" was one of the funniest things he had ever heard. We took a look at the pictures posted on the website and I gave him a synopisis of the story. He laughed and laughed!

We presented Captain Joe with an Archerfish Ballcap. Since it said Archerfish AGSS-311 and not Archer-Fish SS-311, I was not sure how he would like it. When we departed for lunch, Mary Johnson, Director of The Virginian, took Mike, Kim and I up to look at the Computer Room. When we showed up at the dining room, there sat the Captain in his Archerfish Ballcap! I was happy, proud and relieved all at the same time!

I have over an hour of audio tape from our visit. One item that Captain Enright was very specific and direct about was when Mary Johnson asked him how he felt after sinking SHINANO. In a strong and very firm voice, Captain Enright exclaimed, "Good! I felt good! We sunk the bastard!" Fifty-six years had not diminished his memory and strong emotion about that very significant event. (I will post additional items when I have completed transcribing the tape.)

How this visit happened -

I found out through some e-mail exchanges with Doc Carter (WWII Crew) that Captain Enright was living in Fairfax, Virginia. My son and his family were living in Fairfax at the time where my son was finishing his Surgical Residency. The primary hospital he worked out of was only a few miles down the road from The Virginian where Captain Joe lived.

We tried for several weeks to contact someone at The Virginian about a possible visit with Captain Enright. I was planning to travel to Virginia in July to help my son and his family move back to California. It was beginning to look like we would not be successful. In late May or early June, Kim Gebhardt sent me an e-mail. He had just attended the funeral of a golfing buddy. At the services, Kim and his wife Diana met this gentleman's niece. It turned out that she is a nurse at The Virginian. Not just ANY nurse, mind you, but Captain Enright's FAVORITE nurse. From that point on the doors opened wide for us.

Once the preliminary plans were made, and with lots of help from Doc Carter providing us background and family information about Captain Enright, I was ready to set up the visit. I called Captain Enright in late June, explained who I was and requested permission for the three of us to come visit him on July 6th. I have to tell you that I felt somewhat intimidated making that call. The Captain was delightful. He asked me, "Are you in town right now?". He was ready for the visit. I followed the call with a formal letter. We then made our visit a few weeks later on July 6th.

Remembering Captain Joe -

Little did we know, following that July 6th visit, that just two weeks later, Captain Enright would be gone. We were going to print pictures of the visit for the Captain to add to the scrapbook we had given him. The Virginian videotaped portions of our visit and they were putting together a little "in house documentary" to show on their closed circuit TV system. I was making plans to put together a webpage about our visit. I was going to notify the Archer-Fish/Archerfish Crews, asking them to send Captain Enright birthday cards for his 90th birthday on September 18th.......Then, this message came:

"Fri, 21 Jul 2000 17:52:11 GMT

Dear Jerry,

I'm sorry to tell you that Captain Enright died yesterday as a result of a fall, I believe. You will never know how much your visit changed the Captain, and I am so glad you were able to make the trip when you did. What a good lesson for all of us - don't put off until tomorrow...He was a changed man when you and your colleagues were here. He really blossomed. Thanks so much for the time and effort.

Mary Johnson" (Director, The Virginian)

Many tributes to Captain Joseph F. Enright have been posted on the Internet and received via e-mail. They are still coming in. We will post messages or links on this site to honor his memory:

Obituary - Washington Post, July 24, 2000 - Captain Joseph F. Enright
(Thanks to Sid Harrison - "The Green Board" for this link.)

Obituary - New York Times, July 26, 2000 - Captain Joseph F. Enright
(Thanks to Sid Harrison - "The Green Board" for this link.)

Full Military Honors - The Funeral of Captain Joseph F. Enright
(Thanks to Mike Klein, Archerfish (Seascan) Crew, 1960 for the pictures.)

Memorial Tribute to Captain Enright - Submarinesailor.com - "Sailor Rest Your Oar"
(Thanks to Don Gentry for this link. This link includes memorials from Archerfish Shipmates and others.)

Tribute to Captain Enright on USS Nereus (AS-17) Home Page
(Thanks to Jim Potter, USS Nereus Crew, 1961-63.
Jim lives in North Dakota, about 50 miles from Captain Enright's boyhood home.

Webmaster note: Unfortunately this link has been lost. We are attempting to find
the new link or to determine if this information and webpage are lost. Jim Potter,
if you see this note, please
contact me and give me the new link.

Additional Thoughts and Remembrances (Partial listing):

** Ken Henry - (Archerfish Crew 1959-62) - from BBS Post - "I'm sad to report that we have lost another of our great heros. On Thursday 20 July 2000, Captain Joseph F. Enright started his Eternal Patrol. He will always be remembered as the man that sank the largest warship ever built (at that time), the 72,000-ton Japanese aircraft carrier SHINANO. This action took place during the 5th patrol of ARCHER-FISH (SS-311) on 29 November 1944. For this action Captain Enright received the Navy Cross and ARCHER-Fish was presented with the Presidential Unit Citation.

Only two weeks ago three of our shipmates traveled to Fairfax to visit with the Captain. At the time he was in good spirits and really enjoyed the vist. Following is a message we received today from the director of the assisted living facility where he was living in Fairfax, VA.

'I'm sorry to tell you that Captain Enright died yesterday as a result of a fall, I believe. You will never know how much your visit changed the Captain, and I am so glad you were able to make the trip when you did. What a good lesson for all of us - don't put off until tomorrow...He was a changed man when you and your colleagues were here. He really blossomed. Thanks so much for the time and effort.' "

** Jerry Cornelison (Archerfish Crew 1967-68) - from BBS post - "I encourage you to pick up the phone and call or go on that visit to a Shipmate that you've been planning on but just haven't got around to. You just never know when it might be too late.....

Two Archerfish (AGSS-311) Shipmates and I had a wonderful three hour visit with Captain Joe Enright on July 6th. We had prepared a scrapbook of pictures and memorabilia for him, including taking him an Archerfish ballcap.

It was a super visit! He really enjoyed and appreciated the visit and the scrapbook. Our reward was to be in the presence of a genuine WWII Submarine Hero and got to hear first hand accounts of some great sea (war) stories!

Capt. Enright's memory had faded on some things but the Archerfish War patrols, especially #5, were as clear in his mind as if they had happened yesterday.

I saluted him when we walked in his apartment. I saluted him when I left and will always remember him sitting at his desk in his Archerfish ballcap with a big smile on his face...... Little did I know he would be gone just two weeks later.

Captain Joseph F. Enright - "Sailor, Rest Your Oar..."

** Ken Henry (Archerfish Crew 1959-62) - "Just think how happy the Captain was the past couple of weeks after you guys visited him. Now he's back with Archer-Fish."

** Leo "Doc" Carter (Archer-Fish WWII Crew - Patrols 6 & 7 and Decommissioning Crew) - "I served with Captain Joseph Francis Enright on the USS ARCHER-FISH SS311 during the last two war patrols the boat made. He was a gentleman and Navy Officer of the highest caliber. 

Over the last 40 years Joe attended many of the ARCHER-FISH reunion and even hosted one in Dedham, MA in the 1980's at his home. Joe and Virginia were two of the finest people any of our crew had the privilege to know. Joe's cool, calm efficiency in his capacity of Commanding Officer was recognized and appreciated by the entire crew. 

Sailor Rest Your Oar.
Leo A. (Doc) Carter

Doc Carter Remembers Captain Joe and Archer-Fish: A picture essay

** Ron Rood (Archerfish Crew 1966-67) - "It's times like this that there are no words to describe the emotions. As Mary said in her note to you, it was a wonderful thing that you and the others did to visit the Captain. It DOES make all the difference in the world to all of us to maintain contact and do more than just show up for reunions.

** Mac McCollum (Archerfish Crew 1964-65) - "First of all, I was saddened to learn of the Captains passing. Tell me there is no God and I will argue with you....you guys went to see him just so recently and then this happened....I know it had a purpose."

** Frank Torres (Archerfish Crew 1958-59) - "It is with deep sorrow that I send this tribute. Captain Enright and his leadership, and daring as C.O. of Archerfish were an inspiration to us all as we worked on our quals, and afterwards, to uphold the reputation of this boat in our daily lives. Frank Torres, TMCS(SS)

** Mike Burkholder (Archerfish Crew 1967-68) - "I am so happy you guys got to see Captain Enright when you did. It was meant to be that's all there is to it. You guys lit up his life one last time before it was his time to go. I wish I could have been there too. The website tribute is looking pretty good and I hope he is looking down and smiling at it. Thanks ...Mike"

** Ken Anderson (Archerfish Crew 1963-64) - "I just read a piece in today's NY Times on the Captain. If you have a news stand that sells the Times, it was a nice piece. Our ranks are thinning. Glad you guys got a chance to visit and chat with him before he rested his oars. Must have been great! Ken (Andy) Anderson"

** Paul Farace - Curator, COD Submarine Museum - "Sad to hear the news about Capt. Joe Enright's passing. About four years ago the Archerfish crew held a reunion in a town about an hour west of COD. They came down (unannounced) to visit. Thank God my shipkeeper called me down. I got to meet Capt. Joe and his crew. Joe had suffered a stroke at that point, but he was still in fighting trim and sharp as ever! While aboard, I made a point to let our visitors know they were in the presence of a true hero. In two sentences, I told the crowd about him. The line to get his autograph or pose for a picture with him was truly touching and you could see the years melt away from his face. The sparkle in his eyes told the story... and the shine could be seen in the dim light of COD's mess decks. My COD work may be volunteer in terms of not getting cash money pay, but with experiences like this as pay, Bill Gates must be a pauper next to me! (the archerfish ball cap signed by Joe Enright is among COD's collection of artifacts).

Fair winds and following seas skipper... we are not likely to see your kind again....

Paul Farace, COD curator"

** Ron "Warshot" Smith, July 27, 2000, - The Importance of Sinking SHINANO (posted on the Submarine History Page on Sid Harrison's "The Green Board".)

** Submarine BBS Post from Boy Throttleman, July 22, 2000 - "This man was another one that guided me toward subs. in the 9th grade I found a book called "Speed", it was about diffrent modes of transportaion and how fast they could go. The submarine one was the Archerfishs race with the Shinano. Somehow that 20+ knots they were doing seemed better, or more important than cars and planes doing a zillion MPH.
Another hero gone.
rest your oar.

** Submarine BBS Post from Don Gentry, July 22, 2000 - "Thanks so much for this post. While the news is sad, it's crucial to honor these special men.

The short story about your visit with the esteemed Captain was heartwarming. Perhaps the Skipper was waiting for one last acknowledgement from one or more of "his own kind" before shoving off for the last time. At least, that's what I prefer to think.

Godspeed Joe.... you and your fine crew did one helluva job!"

** Submarine BBS Post from Grog ( USS Dace (SS-247) Website), July 21, 2000 -"I am really sorry to hear that. I poked around the Archerfish Web Site a couple weeks ago and found out that he was still living. I had intended to try to give him a call, eventually.

He was the first Commanding Officer of the USS Dace (SS-247). To read about why he gave up that command, visit the Link (above).

"Sailor, Rest Your Oars." Grog

** Submarine BBS Post from The Fox, July 21, 2000 - "'Sailor, Rest Your Oars', God Bless and thank you for your service. AR "

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