Pastors' Memoirs

Francis L. Garrett, 1919-1992

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All those who knew RADM Francis L. Garrett, CHC, USN (RET) rejoice in the fact that he is with the Lord and feel grateful to have known such an outstanding individual.

Born into a South Carolina Methodist parsonage in 1919, Chaplain Garrett received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Wofford College in 1940. After receiving his degree of Bachelor of Divinity from Emory University in 1943, he was ordained in the Virginia conference, Methodist Church.

With our country still at war, Chaplain Garrett wanted to serve in the Navy Chaplain Corps and in February 1944, was commissioned a Lieutenant (Junior Grade). His first duty station was to serve as chaplain at the Naval Air Station, Alameda, California. He served subsequent tours at Monterey, California; in USS RUDYERD BAY (CVE-81); MCAS, Ewa, Oahu; at 14th Naval District, Pearl Harbor; NAS Dallas, USS HOWARDW. GILMORE (ASS-16); NTC Great Lakes; and USS HORNET(CV A- 12). Chaplain Garrett then attended postgraduate school at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, and after completion was assigned for his first tour in the Chief of Chaplains Office. From there he served three years at the Naval Support Activity, London, England, and then four years as the Senior Chaplain at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia.

One of Chaplain Garrett's greatest distinctions stems from his service as Force Chaplain for the Third Marine Amphibious Force in Vietnam in 1965 and 1966, for which the President awarded him the Legion of Merit, with Combat "V."

Chaplain Garrett's honors also include an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree conferred by his alma mater, Wofford, in 1967; the B'nai Brith Four Chaplains Award in 1971 and recipient of the Upper Room Citation in 1973.

In 1969, Chaplain Garrett was selected for promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral. Following a year spent as Fleet Chaplain, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, the Secretary of the Navy appointed him to become the 13th Chief of Chaplains of the Navy. He served in that office for the next five years directing religious programs in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

After 31 years of active service, Chaplain Garrett retired from the Navy and went on to be the senior minister at Epworth United Methodist Church in Norfolk, Virginia.

His leadership came at a critical time in the life of the Navy Chaplain Corps and his policies, philosophies and efforts during his tenure have had lasting effect on the corps.

Moses Harvey once said:

"Great Men are the gifts of kind heaven, to our poor world; instruments by which The Highest One works out His design; Light-Radiators to give guidance and blessing to the travelers of time."

Frank Garrett was one of these Light-Radiators and for those of us who knew him and were affected by his life will remember that light and forever be warmed by it.

-Margaret G. Thomas, Daughter



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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