Rear Admiral Eugene “Gene” Harrison Farrell
Admiral Farrell was a fourth generation Texan, born April 17, 1918, in rural Bosque County, Texas, to Enoch Harrison Farrell and Adeline Arnold Bible. His maternal great grandfather, James Richard Arnold, was a founding father of Bosque County in the mid-19th century. In 1933, Gene moved to Florida, enrolled in Tarpon Springs High School, graduating in 1936, enlisting in the U.S. Navy soon thereafter. He served 38 years as a Sailor, Midshipman and Officer, and was the first Texan to rise from the lowest rating in the Navy, Apprentice Seaman, to Rear Admiral. Graduating from the United States Naval Academy with his Class of 1942 on December 19, 1941, 12 days after Pearl Harbor, he reported for duty the same day in the Fleet battleship, USS IDAHO (BB-42). He served in her for the next 39 months as a Main Battery Fire Control Officer, delivering fire support for Marine and Army Landing Forces during the assault and occupation of Attu, in the Northern Pacific, the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Central and Western Pacific.
His post-World War II sea assignments included Executive Officer of the destroyer, USS FISKE, in the Mediterranean Occupation Forces; Commanding Officer of the destroyer, USS HUNT, in the Atlantic Fleet; Commander Destroyer Division 132 in the 7th Fleet, Commander Destroyer Division 232 in the 3rd Fleet, and again in the Atlantic Fleet as Capitan of the President’s National Command Ship, USS NORTHAMPTON.
Interposed among his diverse tours of sea duty were interesting and rewarding shore assignments: Harvard University where he earned a postgraduate degree in Communications Engineering; the 1953 U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Madrid where his bilingual skills enabled him to be the recorder and interpreter in the negotiations for U.S. base rights in Spain; next, as a student in the Senior Warfare Studies at the Newport Naval War College, his essay on how to win a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union was selected as the best of his class; promoted to Captain shortly thereafter, he was ordered to the U.S. Southern Command in Panama as Assistant Chief of Staff to oversee the nine U.S. Naval Missions in South America and Haiti; there followed a Communications assignment in the Pentagon Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), which was interrupted by two momentous events: the untimely death of his wife, Ruth Bailey, and a summary transfer to Pearl Harbor as Assistant Chief of Staff (Communications) for the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, then (in 1964) immersed in the Viet Nam War, October, 1970 – Commander Officer Candidate School for the U.S. and the South Viet Nam Navies and the U.S. Navy Schools Command, Newport, RI, where he learned that David Eisenhower, grandson of the late President “Ike” Eisenhower, was enrolled in an OCS class scheduled to graduate in March, 1971, and married to Julie Nixon, younger daughter of President Nixon and his wife, Patricia; Captain Farrell immediately alerted the chain of command with a recommendation that the President be invited to be the guest speaker for the graduation. The Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy’s senior officer, and the Secretary of the Navy both declined, so Farrell issued the invitation himself which was accepted by the President. That was the beginning of a friendly association with Mr. Nixon which lasted until the latter’s death.
Promoted to Flag Rank soon after the President’s Newport visit, RADM Farrell returned to Washington as Director of Plans for the Defense Communications Command; thence to the Pentagon as J-6 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest military office. His ultimate assignment was Director of Communications-Electronics for the U.S. European Command.
Ashore, in 1946, he earned a postgraduate degree in Communications Engineering at Harvard University. Next, he was tapped by the Navy to proceed with a U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Madrid where his bilingual skills enabled him to serve as interpreter and recorder for the U.S. negotiations for bases in Spain. Later in Newport, Rhode Island, he was double-hatted as Commander of the U.S. Navy and Viet Nam Navy Officer Candidate Schools, and the U.S. Navy Schools Command. While in that assignment, he was promoted to Rear Admiral and ordered to the Defense Communications Agency as Director of Operations.
In addition to several World War II Campaign Medals, the Admiral was awarded the China Service and European Occupation Medals’ the Air Force and Navy Commendation Medals; the Meritorious Service Medal; and four Legions of Merit by the President of the United States. He retired from the Navy in 1974 and moved to La Jolla, CA. To celebrate his retirement, he returned to the east coast and sailed his yawl 5,700 nautical miles from Annapolis to San Diego. He was a Master Skipper in the U.S. Naval Sailing Association, the highest command rating awarded by that worldwide organization.
The admiral outlived his first three wives, Elizabeth Marian (Betty) Joachim of Annapolis, MD; Ruth Bailey, daughter of Claire and Commodore Carlos Bailey, USNA 1911; Anabel Ruth Dougherty of Richmond, IN. In 1999, he married his fourth wife, Melinda (Mindy) Haynes, daughter of RADM Kenneth and Margaret Haynes. He and Mindy moved to San Antonio, TX in 2013, where he enjoyed living in his native state until his death in 2019. His lifetime hobbies were swimming, sailing, driving sports cars and writing. He authored one book, “Anecdotes and Sea Stories of an American Century Sailor, Midshipman and Officer”, and co-authored “The Farrells of Tennessee”, a family history. He was a lifetime member of the Episcopal Church and a commissioned Stephen Minister, an Eagle Scout and a Son of the American Revolution.
The Admiral died on April 28, 2019. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Melinda Haynes Farrell; his stepdaughters, Marie Johnson, Sally Foland and Abigail Vernon Iannazzo; stepson, John Vernon; great-stepson, Justin Farrell Shearer; great-stepdaughter, Lea Shearer and great great-stepson, Austin Farrell Shearer.
Service: Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 11:00 A.M. Porter Loring North Chapel
Interment with Full Military Honors will be in Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donors may wish to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation, 6251 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA 22101.
You are invited to sign the Guestbook at www.porterloring.com
Arrangements with Porter Loring North Chapel 2102 north loop 1604 east, San Antonio, TX 78232 - (210) 495-8221