Captain Joseph Albert Hanzel Jr.
Captain Hanzel died on July 28, 2020. He was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidosis, diseases with no known cures. He chose to forgo any treatments and to live out his last days with ice cream, rum and laughter with family and good friends.
Captain Hanzel was given the nickname Skipper by his parents before he was born in Jan ’41. His Father had been recalled into the Navy and spent WWII in the Pacific submarine force. Shortly after WWII the family moved to Groton, Connecticut. Skipper graduated from Fitch High School in Groton and reported to Annapolis in June of ’58.
He hardly created a ripple on the Severn. In four years, he had zero Grease and never even a squad CPO. Upon graduation he went directly to sub school and on to earn his gold dolphins in October ’63, a spot promotion to LT in July ’65, and then departed active duty in June ’67. He returned to active duty in Sept ’69 and was promoted to LCDR in Aug ’69, becoming the most senior member of the class of ’62 on active duty. He was promoted to CDR in ‘77.
He spent the remainder of his career in the Washington area, first as a plank holder in the Joint Cruise Missile Program Office where he was responsible for the design of the missile planning system for the new weapon system and eventually as the Program Manager for the Submarine Launched Cruise Missile. He went on to Strategic Plans and Policy on the CNO staff and established the Cruise Missile in planning documents from the SECDEF to the CNO. His final posting was to the Special Projects Program Office where he led the Launcher Branch and then the Navigation Branch leading to the IOC of the Trident D-5 weapons system.
Captain Hanzel retired in April ’91, having spent his entire career in Submarine Billets. After retiring from the Navy, he got his Merchant Marine Master’s ticket and was a Skipper on the Block Island ferry for a number of years. He and Judy Bedell, his lovely wife for 38 years, sailed from Maine to Trinidad before finally swallowing the anchor in Palm Coast, Florida to watch their two children, Keith (USNA ’90) and Heidi and four grand children grow with joy and happiness.
SERVICE: In the era of the pandemic, it is unlikely that there will be anything other than a private family memorial, and it was his wish that his ashes be scattered at sea.