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Re: Passing of OTCM Nick Vanherpen

I did not have the pleasure of serving with the Master Chief but his reputation, being somewhat larger than life, made me and I'm sure others to feel as if we knew him well.
Rest in peace Master chief. You've earned it.

John and Pat Ellis

George Widenor tells a humorous story that's appropriate. It seems that George and Peggy were taking a cruise and when they were seated for dinner one evening, their table mates just happened to be Nick and his wife whose name I think is Ingred. George said he recognized Nick immediately although Nick didn't immediately reciprocate. George said he had a little fun with it until he finally made himself known. A great evening was had by both couples. It can be a small world sometimes.
Two system ICONS in a happenstance meeting at sea, of all places. Go figure!!
(If you read this George and I havn't got it exactly right, Pergra to edit)


Re: Passing of OTCM Nick Vanherpen

You recall the story well John.....we were early into our Panama Canal cruise when I brought my buffet lunch back to a group table. While I was up gathering my lunch, Nick happened to sit down with his lunch in the open chair next to mine. I sat there for a few moments - wondering if Nick would recognize me. But sitting side-by-side, there wasn't any eye contact. Finally, in one of those low Master Chief to Master Chief tones, I said "How's it going, Nick?" Well - you can imagine his surprise! Fortunately the encounter came early in our cruise, and we spent many hours over the remainder of the cruise reminiscing of our Navy years.

Re: Passing of OTCM Nick Vanherpen

Very sad, indeed, to hear of Nick's passing. Never had the pleasure of serving with Nick, nor with Master Chief Werner Miller - but did meet both, briefly, at some point during our career. Have occasionally exchanged various thoughts with Werner over the past 15-20 years. I am wondering if anyone has information on an obituary, memorial service or burial for Nick? My sincere condolences go out to his family.
Thanks, John, for sharing the story of Nick and George meeting on that cruise. I am sure I read it previously (maybe by George, on this website) and thought it was both humorous and a bit ironic. As you so aptly put it: "go figure"!!!
Those of us who were on the cusp at the fully operational SOSUS System are a dwindling generation. With the upcoming IUSS 70th anniversary in Norfolk, I am in hopes of visiting with as many of you who can make it.
Take care and, as Red Skelton would say: "God Bless"shipmates.

Re: Passing of OTCM Nick Vanherpen

I served with Nick at two facilities, the most memorable at Argentia in the early 1970s.

Nick is one of those Navy Chiefs whose impact on young sailors trancends simple description. I say "is one.." because, though he has passed to a new watch section, his legend lives on in the minds of those who served with him when we stood the Cold War watches that changed us all forever.

I recall him, VanAlstine and I were standing aroung the long range working plot discussing some grams being used to train and qualify sailors to stand the watch.

He looked at Van and said "one day we'll look back on these times and know just what a big difference we made."

You were so right Nick. And you were one of those who will live forever in the hearts and minds of those who worked with you.

Fair Winds and Following Seas old friend.


Re: Passing of OTCM Nick Vanherpen

This is very sad news. Many throughout our community have fond memories of Nick. And many visitors to this site have first-hand experience with our passing legends. I’ll sum up my feelings this way. Throughout a long 20+ year career in Ocean Surveillance, an individual has a handful of opportunities to “stand up and be counted”. These brief, passing moments are defining, and usually impactful on the community. During our careers, I was able to see, up close, the difference Nick made.

And while on the subject, I want to say that the blessing I had in my career was being part of a community that had a “star-studded” lineup. Too many have already passed on. But for those of you that remain, never lose sight of how special you have been - to undersea surveillance, and to each other. Jack, Rick, Jim, Irv, John, and many others - always cherish the watches we stood, the friends we gained, and the difference we made.

Re: Passing of OTCM Nick Vanherpen

Nick‘s impact and influence was not limited to young sailors, but to officers as well. I was an Ensign at Argentia and Master Chief Vanherpen must’ve seen some potential in me because he often gave me advice and shepherded me during my formative years. I remember one day he told me that “you and I could be good friends if you weren’t an officer.“ Well, we were friends and remain friends over the years. We would call one another a few times a year, sometimes to say “happy birthday“ and other times just to say “what are you doing.“ I’ll miss those calls. RIP Master Chief!

Re: Passing of OTCM Nick Vanherpen

Sad news, indeed. I was stationed with Nick in the early 70’s at Argentia and he was one of those who could dominate a room simply by being there. He had a hard nosed reputation but I also saw a softer side of him several times. He was a good man. One of my favorite memories is when Nick was an umpire for our softball game. On a close play he inadvertently hand signaled safe but yelled out. Several guys started yelling about it and Nick gave a look that immediately silenced the players. Amidst the silence he corrected himself with a smile and play went on. A glare then a smile from him took care of the issue quickly :)
Respect is earned and he was rendered much. RIP Master Chief, your country and shipmates are better off by having known you.

Re: Passing of OTCM Nick Vanherpen

Master Chief VanHerpen made a trip to Argentia in 1972 to attend the ceremony for when I made Chief To say I was touched was very much of a understatment. He kids and mine also played together when we were stationed together in Arg. A fine man and a great asset to the Chief's community.