Kevin William Krick

Kevin William Krick
Captain (Select) – U.S. Navy
Cold War (1987-1991), Operation Iraqi Freedom (2004),
Strategic Sealift Officer (1991-Present)
U.S. Dept. of Transportation Gold Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, U.S. Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award

Crossing Waters with Krick: The Account of a Modern Day War Hero

Background and Upbringing 

In the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, on September 20th, 1969, Kevin William Krick was born into a legacy of war heroes. Upon arriving in Burkes County, Pennsylvania, in 1767, a member of the Krick family has served in every major conflict since the American Revolution. His mother’s father was a cook in the Army in World War II and was part of the Italian campaign at Anzio. His grandfather on his dad’s side was in the Navy in World War II. Krick’s father was on the personal staff of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon. He continued to serve in Vietnam, and upon leaving active service, went onto the reserves in the Military Sealift Command Units. His family’s colorful history of serving in the military, most notably his father’s involvement in the Navy, has been a major influence on his development into the military and community leader he is today.

Prior to entering the military, Krick received a high school education in Pennsylvania and worked at the only North Face store east of the Mississippi. His pathway to military service was paved while he was a junior in high school. While in the East Coast carrying out his naval duties, Krick’s father was able to look into the Merchant Marine Academy, believing it to be a good fit for his son. However, Krick was initially reluctant to go to a military academy, replying to his father, “I have no interest in going to an academy; none whatsoever.” He eventually submitted to the request of his persistent father to take a tour, his grandfather accompanying them on the trip. After arriving there on a winter day and touring the campus with a Third Classman, Krick was pleasantly surprised with what he saw, thinking, “This looks really good.” Not only was a robust military regimentation apparent to him, but also an emphasis on academics and professionalism.

Initial Service and Training 

After applying and being accepted, Krick officially enrolled and began his term in Kings Point, New York, in July of 1987. When Krick departed his house to begin his new journey, his family was happy for him, and his dad told him he was going to use the college savings to buy a new car. When he arrived at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Krick immediately began his Indoctrination, also known as “Indoc,” the academy’s basic military training, which he described to be “brutal and hectic.” Through the experience, he realized that the intense training was a large reason why the academy’s attrition rate was so high, with about 300 students entering and only 170 graduating. Many students left during the first two weeks, when Krick and his classmates were forced to do non-stop pushups, runs, marches, swims, manual of arms, and many other arduous drills. Not only did Krick have to adapt to this strenuous physical activity, but he also had to attend to his plebe knowledge. He carried around a book and had to memorize all of the military information it contained. He was tested on the material in the evenings, where he and the other trainees were taken down to zero deck, a passageway connecting the barracks where the steam pipes ran. In the heat and humidity, Krick and the other cadets braced themselves against the wall and shouted out answers to plebe knowledge. If they got the answers wrong, they were forced to do pushups, and if one of their company-mates was doing pushups, they all had to join them. As demonstrated by the training Krick underwent, Indoctrination was extremely difficult at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. However, attrition was even more frequent on the academic side of the academy, as students essentially took four years of classes in three years. Krick had the choice between three majors, Marine Transportation, Marine Engineering or both.  He opted for both in the Dual License program, which means he took courses and training in both fields. He justified the motives behind his intensive studies when he said, “I figured since the Federal Government was offering me the education, I might as well get all I can while I’m there.” On top of his busy schedule, Krick also ran track, played volleyball, and found himself a girlfriend in New York City.

Overall, Krick’s training at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy was extremely thorough. A graduate of the Naval Academy would have to subsequently attend a Navy School where they would then learn how to be a specific type of officer. But three weeks after Krick graduated from Kings Point, he was climbing up a pilot ladder onto the SS Cherry Valley in Falmouth, U.K. However, his living conditions at the academy were not ideal. There was no air-conditioning or climate control of any kind, leading to it being very hot in the barracks in the summer. In the freezing winters, the whole academy was heated by a single boiler, as they did not want to burn too much fuel. Krick describes the food as “a mixed bag.”  “Z” burgers, , so nicknamed because they would put you to sleep in class after lunch, were an example of food that was decent, but at times the food consisted of “mystery meat” items. What truly got him through his training experience was the camaraderie he built with peers. Krick built strong relationships with these men who experienced the very same difficult training.

On September 1, 1987, about two months after enrolling in the Academy, Kevin Krick was sworn into the Navy and the Navy Reserve as a midshipman. This was before he turned 18, so when his 18th birthday did arrive, he was asked for all of his information again. He had to inform the Selective Service that they already had him in their records. Krick spent his first sea year, which was when students would spend half of their Sophomore and Junior Years out at sea, on a Crowley vessel called the American Condor. The ship had a contract to carry military equipment, including missile launchers, tanks, and personal vehicles, for use in the Cold War. His ship traveled to places such as Felixstowe, England; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Bremerhaven, Germany, supplying the bases at these locations. During his next sea year, he traveled along the east coast of South America, and his final ship was one called the Fredericksburg, a Keystone Tanker which carried oil from the U.S. Virgin Islands to North Carolina.

Upon graduating from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Krick had the option to join any uniformed branch of military service. The default was that every graduate is sworn in as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. On June 17th, 1991, Krick was officially sworn in as an officer in the Navy. As a graduate and part of the U.S. Merchant Marine Reserve program, he was required to maintain his U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Officer licenses for 6 years, and since they were five-year licenses, he essentially had to renew it and do 10 years of service. Krick constantly had to refresh his skills and learn new skills on both the maritime and Navy side in order to maintain these licenses. While at sea, he took a number of correspondence courses learning about mathematics, steel working, navigation, and even “Tools and Their Uses.” Upon graduating, he received only 3 weeks of leave, which he spent in Florida with his family, before he got a phone call saying that he was needed in the U.K.  He had applied for a job with the Keystone Shipping Company, a job which his father doubted he would get. Three weeks later, they called, and he began sailing for what turned out to be seven years. At the same time he kept up with his Navy duties, which required him to do a minimum of two weeks of service every year. To get what was called a ‘good year,’ a year which counted towards retirement, Krick needed to get 50 points, with each day of work counting as one point. The required two weeks would earn him about 14 points, the rest earned taking the aforementioned correspondence classes around the world.

Military Assignments           

Krick’s first official Navy assignment was to go to the “Knife & Fork School” in Pensacola, Florida, while he was an ensign. This was an officer candidate school, where he took classes for two weeks to finish off his training as an officer. Krick describes it as “basically everything that we’d already learned . . . and they had us do it again.” He lived in bachelor office headquarters, which was the equivalent of a hotel room. As it was a little repetitive, he and his classmates had fun, in one case cracking jokes in class while learning about choke points around the world.

As an ensign, the next ten years were a relatively low key for Krick in the Navy. He continued to do his required two weeks a year, being sent to different places. Once, he went back to Pensacola to repair a yard patrol craft, but the Limited Duty Officer who was the lieutenant in change of the waterfront was disappointed. He had requested sailors to fix ship engines and he doubted a Navy officer could “swing wrenches.” Krick fixed the engines quickly, however, and from then on he was in the lieutenants “good graces.”  He also took a course on Naval Control of Shipping and was in the Merchant Marine Reserve Individual Ready Reserve Group, or MMIRRG. This program accommodated for the fact that he was sailing for almost half the year in the Merchant Marine and allowed him to get his required Navy points. Krick was a part of this group for six years and was aiming for 20 years of participation so he could be eligible for a Navy retirement.

However, in the late 1990’s, he came ashore to earn his Masters of Marine Policy degree from the University of Delaware, and changed from the MMIRRG to the Selective Reserve program, or SELRES, which required an additional one weekend of service a month. This was when his Navy career began to pick up. In 2002, he got assigned to a Merchant Marine Reserve Operation Command Headquarters unit, also known as an MMROCH unit. His job as a part of this unit was to support the U.S. Maritime Administration in their sealift efforts.  The Maritime Administration also oversaw the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and at this juncture in Krick’s life, his military career and life as a civilian began to merge together.

As a member of an MMROCH unit, Krick was a part of Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, OIF.  The Maritime Administration kept Ready Reserve Force ships, or RRF ships, that were used by the military to deploy equipment. These were kept in a skeleton crew state, with ten people on board to make sure the ships were running smoothly. However, during Operation Desert Storm, ships that were supposed to make it to the conflict in a week were taking two weeks, ships that were supposed to make it in two weeks taking a month, and so on. This is because many of the ships they were using were old vessels from World War II. Then, following Desert Storm, the entire system was revamped, the old ships replaced by roll-on/roll-off ships that could deliver tanks and personal carriers. These ships could be ready for departure in 3-4 days, and this was when Krick’s unit went into action. They were in a gray area of sorts, as they had to allocate all of their time into managing these ships, since the TPFD (Time-Phased Force Deployment), which showed them which units were going to be activated and how they were going to use people in different capacities, did not marry the RRF activations to the MMROCH units. The way the entire RRF program worked was by using civilian mariners who were under contract to commercial companies. This was a very efficient system, as they were leveraging supply chains and logistics that a commercial shipping company has and applying it to their own vessels. MARAD’s job was to ensure that there were enough mariners, which was quite a struggle, as the available pool of mariners had shrunk as a result of the new International Maritime Organization (IMO) Standards of Training and Certification for Watch Keeping in 1995. They were close to running out of mariners, but in the end, he and the other MMROCH units helped deploy 40 ships almost simultaneously. Krick helped with getting the ships crewed, stocked with supplies, fueled, and sent to a military destination where the cargo would be loaded on and off.

These ships traveled to the Middle East, but not without problems. One vessel, named the Cape Jacob, had a bent shaft that needed to be repaired. However, no shipyards wanted to touch it because it had military cargo on board, but eventually, they found a place for it to be repaired. When Turkey declined the offer to become part of the coalition, the ships could no longer go through Turkey. Instead, all 40 had to quickly go through the Suez Canal and into Kuwait. In the process, Krick had to help ensure that all of the mariners were trained and prepared: making sure they had anthrax vaccinations and were proficient in chemical, biological, and radiological defense. “It was a hectic time,” he recalls.

In addition to his involvement with the OEF and OIF, during this time period Krick was also serving as a Presidential Appointee to the Maritime Administration, first as Special Assistant and then as Senior Advisor for Maritime Policy. He had a very interesting arrangement at this time as he was simultaneously juggling two positions that supported each other. One day he would work at a desk in a suit and tie, doing “regular day-to-day stuff,” and another day he would put on khakis (his uniform), “to go over and brief folks at the Military Sealift Command.”

This high tempo period of activity endured for quite some time. MARAD fully utilized every MMROCH unit member for OEF and OIF. When the Navy began to review, seeing what level of manning they needed, the Military Sealift Command (MSC) took a look at their reservists. Krick’s unit was slotted into MSC, meaning that he was essentially going to be responsible to them and they were turn them back to MARAD to continue the work they were doing. MSC looked at their reservists as a whole, and realized that they only used 50% of them. They subsequently directed Rear Admiral Stewart that he had to bring the MMROCH units into the Military Sealift Command. “That gave us a lot of good will in terms of the Navy’s point of view in that we were useful and very functional,” Krick said. While in New Orleans for the Merchant Marine Conference in January 2003, they got the word that they were going to have to man vessels with all of the merchant mariners. Captain William Schubert, the Maritime Administrator at the time, upon hearing the news turned to Krick and asked, “How do I use all these people?” Krick responded, “We’ll make sure it happens,” and then they started putting everybody to work.

Krick was in New Orleans to be a guest speaker, and in general to be a part of the conference, until they get word from the Navy that their manned ships were needed. He was in a room full of Navy Officers who were merchant mariners and not sailing at the time. He started doing whatever he could to staff the ships, specifically working to put the Selective Reservists to use.

At this time, Krick was still with MMROCH in Washington D.C. He had been with them this whole time, in fact, jumping around from “a bunch of different department head jobs in their training, admin, operations – that sort of thing . . . the tempo became more of sustainment mode for supplying the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.” At this time, there was a less of a need for the Ready Reserve ships, and things had quieted down for Krick.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Relief Efforts           

However, when Hurricane Katrina and Rita hit in September of 2005, Krick’s role within the Navy and the dynamics of the Merchant Marine in general, completely transformed. “Katrina just trashed New Orleans,” Krick recalled, who was at the time coordinating the ships Cape Kennedy and Cape Knox from in D.C. “We had two of our ships that were tied up in New Orleans and we kept them there at the dock and had tugboats pushing them alongside the pier and they rode out the storm . . . This was a roll-on/roll-off ship so they just lowered the gangway and drove on cars and brought people on board.” Despite the magnitude of the hurricane, Krick and those with him were the only people with a line of communication directly to the center of New Orleans through the ships. Thus, Krick took upon himself to stimulate a relief process. He told his boss at the time, Acting Administrator John Jamian, “I will cover Labor Day weekend for us and make sure that everything we need to get done gets done.” A tradition in the Krick family was to, every Labor Day, go to their cabin in Pennsylvania. Krick had gone there every Labor Day since before his first birthday, but this year he had very important business to tend to.

“I had to call my parents and I had to tell them, ‘I’m sorry, we’re not going to make it this time because I need to stay and work on this.’ ” Jumping into the sealift response, Krick’s job wearing a jacket and tie turned into the most hectic period of his life.

When it became clear how destructive the hurricane truly was, Krick realized the Navy had assets that could really aid in the relief process – especially their ships. There was an almost forgotten clause in the Ready Reserve Force program that allowed the Secretary of Transportation with concurrence with the Secretary of Defense to utilize the Ready Reserve Force ships for domestic humanitarian missions. He saw that FEMA was struggling with the sealift side of their relief effort, as they did not have experience getting things in and out. Thus, the Navy subsequently invoked this clause for the first time, symbolically sending in a small ship as a gesture “to show that, ok, we’re coming and helping out.” However, this small ship didn’t have the capacity to do much, and at this point, Krick took command of the situation.

“So I took a look at this and I gathered the guys around who did work on the Ready Reserve Force program and I said, ‘We’ve got these ships that carry cargo,’ and they were bringing me the data and they said, ‘We’ve got passenger ships and we’ve got school training ships from the state maritime academies.’  And I took all this stuff and I’m thinking we could move every single truck carrying rescue equipment to New Orleans, and hundreds more, with just one ship.” The strategic game then began for Krick, as needed to get a couple of allies with high ranks to support his plan to make sure all the pieces of it would come together.

He first approached his friend and U.S. Coast Guard Commander at the time Joanna Nunan, the Military Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation. Krick said, “Joanna, we could move all this stuff in there – we got vessels that can house people. We’re getting calls in from the Port of New Orleans that they can’t get themselves back open. The prognosis is it’s going to take three months because they have no electricity. We can actually push electricity ashore with our ships, bring in refrigerated containers, fresh water – supply everything.” Her response was, “this is phenomenal.” She then took Krick to talk with Jeff Shane, the Undersecretary for Transportation Policy. He explained the situation to Jeff, who then brought Krick to the Secretary of Transportation, Secretary Mineta. They got together at with a list of the assets they had and what they could do. Krick said, “Mr. Secretary, we can do this. You have the authority to do it as long as we get concurrence from Secretary Rumsfeld.” Mineta, greatly impressed, signed off the request and sent it for approval in Department of Defense. It was then given to Commander Nunan who hand-delivered it to the Pentagon and pushed the plan through. Krick thinks that if it were not Labor Day weekend, things might not have worked out as smoothly. “I saw the timing of it to be just very optimal . . . Labor Day weekend – most of D.C. is out of town and what it meant was that there was a very short layer between who needed to approve what and so things could get through a lot faster.”

Krick then took a gamble. He was confident he would get the signature for his plan, but they did not have official authority to begin yet. However, the more days he waited to receive the official signed paper, the more days it would take for the ships to be ready to go. That very Friday night of Labor Day weekend, he and his crew took the ship most prepared and closest to New Orleans, a school ship for the Texas A&M Maritime, and began loading it with anything people could possibly need. “We got it all ready and we had it there – ostensibly for training purposes because we didn’t have the authority yet.” The paperwork eventually came on Monday night. The document, which went in with one signature, came back with many signatures of approval from the Department of Defense, such as the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Anyone who had any number of stars on their collar had signed off on this thing. It was pretty, pretty amazing.” With the official authority on board, Krick was asked how long it would take to deploy the ships to New Orleans. Relieved that his risk came through, Krick responded,“10 hours.”

The next day, the ship arrived at the Port of New Orleans. Gary LaGrange, the Port Director, was struggling, as his port was wiped out. Without any power and without any personnel, there was no way for him to open the port. Krick and his crew devised a plan: they took the Empire State, a New York Maritime School ship, and brought it to New Orleans. It had about 750 berths, enough to bring a full complement of longshoremen to the port, who could then start fixing it. In the meantime the purpose of the ship that was already at the port changed. It was going to house people, and needed to have food, water, towels, blankets, and soap for 700 people for an extended period of time. For this to happen, Krick needed FEMA to have operational control of the ship, along with the other ships that were going to arrive. “Typically when these ships were deployed when I was talking about Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, they were deployed under operational control of the Military Sealift Command under the Navy. In this case, because the response was being led by FEMA, we had to get contracts in place with FEMA.

Krick sat down with their Chief of Staff and showed him what they had to offer, comparing it to the high prices of the Carnival Cruise Ships they had already chartered to help the victims. Krick told him he could get ships down there in about 10 days, and the Chief approved. At this point, the Navy officially put Krick in charge of the rescue effort. Krick was no longer addressing the national issue as a civilian, but as Lieutenant Commander and soon to be Commander because of his efforts.

With FEMA’s approval and the Navy’s endorsement, Krick immediately prepping the ship, the Empire State, needed to help open the port. It was located in the Bronx at the end of the East River, right across Long Island Sound from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, his alma mater. He was attempting to figure out how to load it and called the Admiral of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Joe Stewart, and said “Admiral, you know we need bodies and we need midshipmen – I know the midshipmen had been asking what they can do to help. Well here’s one way . . . they can help load the Fort Schuyler’s Training Ship with the Fort Schuyler Cadets.” A flotilla of cadets was then sent across Long Island, and the cadets worked non-stop, to load the ship up. “They said there was a line of trucks that stretched all the way around the Fort and then back out onto the highway – that’s how much stuff they were stuffing into this . . . it was incredible watching them.”

Krick was sent to New York, and he caught a glimpse of all the cadets in front of the ship before it departed. There were helicopters flying overhead, reporting the news that the vessel was going to re-open the port in New Orleans. “It was a pretty big event for New York and it was the first time that the midshipmen from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy went across Long Island Sound to Fort Schuyler not under the cover of darkness,” Krick said, tongue-in-cheek.

The Empire State headed out and went to New Orleans, and upon arrival, the crew immediately began its efforts to reopen the port. The initial prognosis was that the port would take more than three months to fix, however it ended up opening in three months because of the effort. The engineers got the lighting back up, and the cranes did a lot of repairs. At the three week mark, the first commercial shipmen came into the port with supplies to begin the process of restoring New Orleans. New vessels were sent to the city, such as the Wright, an aviation support vessel that could house 350 marines and their equipment, along with helicopters. Each of the 12 ships sent by Krick and his crew was used as valuable multi-purpose vessels.

Just when things were looking hopeful and under control in New Orleans, another natural disaster struck near Houston, Texas: Hurricane Rita. The Maritime Administration had two ships there, the Cape Vincent and Cape Victory. As Krick had done with Katrina before, he coordinated keeping these ships on dock with tugboats. This time however, some military personnel stayed onboard, including the Port Director. Krick had all emergency response units, even those with rescue dogs, come on to the ships. “Everybody was on this ship. It was like Noah’s Ark!” Krick said. The ship rode out Hurricane Rita when it blasted through the area. So once the storm went through and the surge ended, all the emergency equipment went out and immediately set to work. Overall, Krick’s ingenious strategy proved extremely successful in both of these Hurricane Relief effots.

As a result of all of Kevin Krick’s hard work, MMROCH watch centers were staffed wherever command posts were needed, and people were sent down to New Orleans to assist and coordinate this effort. The sealift effort for Katrina and Rita was the first domestic humanitarian sealift of such a large scale in the United States. Thus, the wonderful product of Krick’s efforts gave a new mission to the ships of the U.S. Merchant Marine and the Navy and a new job for merchant mariners. Since Krick’s relief effort, it has become ingrained in the Ready Reserve Force program that these vessels are available and able to assist in natural disasters. If, for example, an earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, these ships are ready to support and aid the relief efforts.

For coordinating these successful efforts, Krick was awarded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Gold Medal by Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, the highest honor that the Secretary of Transportation can award a person with. For Krick this was a “pretty overwhelming feeling . . . [It] brought back all these memories of all the work I did in the process.  I didn’t expect anything in return. I was just there to do the job.” But, according to Joanna Nunan, there was no way for the Department of Transportation to overlook what MARAD had done under his efforts. “It was a success,” she recalled. “A resounding success.  There was nothing in that system put together that didn’t work the way it should.” The award was officially given to him by Secretary Mary Peters. However, it was Secretary Mineta who nominated Krick in for this award, and whom Krick developed a strong relationship with. Krick’s last day working for Secretary Mineta in the Bush Administration was National Maritime Day. At the honorary service, Secretary Mineta spent approximately 15 minutes praising Krick for his efforts with the Department of Transportation during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After the speech, Krick went up to Mineta’s speechwriters and thanked them for the kind words. However, they told Krick they wrote none of it, as it was all from Secretary Mineta’s memory. “That meant so much to me,” Krick said.

Krick most definitely deserved this commendation, as he sacrificed a lot during the up-tempo period of his involvement in the sealift efforts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He was barely able to see his wife and kids. “They didn’t see me for about a month,” Krick admitted. Long before any of this had occurred, Krick met his wife, Natasha, in South Africa when he was a third mate aboard the SS Kittanning, which was carrying sorghum bound for Zambia via Cape Town, South Africa. While staying in Cape Town for two weeks, he met Natasha’s friend Natalie, who invited him to breakfast. They were supposed to meet at a bus stop next to the railroad station at 10:00, but Natalie was running late. Suddenly, a woman appeared out of nowhere and said to him, “Are you Kevin Krick?” He was very confused, for he had been in Cape Town for less than 24 hours and the fact that someone knew his name puzzled him. It turned out that this lady worked at a nearby tourist office, and Natalie had called her to tell her that she had slept past her alarm, and that she need to inform him of this. Meanwhile, this lady was looking for Natasha as well, who was also invited to breakfast. She happened to be standing nearby, and had recognized Krick’s American accent. Thus, Krick and his wife were introduced by a woman who they still do not know today, and went on to get married.

After the efforts during Hurricane Katrina and Rita, Krick stayed in his unit in the Merchant Marine Reserve and eventually moved out to California. He took a job with the Pacific Maritime Association as the Assistant Director for Security and Accident Prevention. There also happened to be a Merchant Marine Unit right around the corner from his office. His friend, Anthony Radspieler, was also working in the area, but was moving to D.C. to do some work for the Department of Energy. He was in this San Francisco Unit as a Lieutenant Commander, and Krick was a Lieutenant Commander in his D.C. Unit. They switched, and Krick subsequently earned the rank of Commander in his new unit. “Captain Weinman had organized a nice event at the Naval Operations Support Center in Alameda with the commanding officer and Natasha to put on my Commander boards,” Krick recalled.

As he had risen in rank, the system required that he apply for a new job for the Reserve. He applied to be a part of the Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping unit (NCAGS) in Bremerton, Washington as the Naval Liaison Officer (LNO) and got the job. This unit supported the 7th Fleet, whose main focus was the defense of the Korean Peninsula. Their major operation was an Ulchi Freedom Guardian mission, which is what Krick partook in during 2011 for his two weeks of required service. He was put on the U.S.S. Blue Ridge, and was on the watch floor coordinating the NCAGS component as the LNO.   What he did there was interesting, for it entailed de-conflicting warships with unclassified commercial activity.  “We had an interesting scenario where we had to get outside of this secure stuff in order to find out what ships were doing.” The job took over to his civilian job, which at this point was working for APL, the world’s seventh largest container shipping company. During this time, Krick’s civilian work and maritime work were connected, but not as interrelated as they were when he was in D.C. “You wake up and you’re doing the same stuff that you’re going to do when you put on your uniform and vice versa and it all kind of blends together which is what the program’s intended to do. It’s to bridge the gap between commercial shipping and the Navy to make sure that we can supply the troops.” Eventually, the billets in Korea were realigned, but Krick was picked up by a harbor defense unit for Korea in Alameda, U.S. Naval Forces Korea Detachment Bravo, which he still serves under currently.

Present Day Involvement           

Today, Krick balances his military service nicely with his civilian career, family commitments, and political involvement—embodying the modern Renaissance man. He lives with his wife Natasha and their two kids, Miles and Caleb, in Fairfax, California. With a Master of Marine Policy degree, Krick is the Senior Director of Security and Environment with APL. Although the company is based in Singapore, he has been stationed in Oakland, since California drives the environmental agenda of the world. His involvement in politics traces back to his job as a Presidential Appointee during the Bush administration in D.C., and since then, Republican politics has been keeping him quite busy. When he moved to Marin County, he tracked down the Marin County RepublicanCentral Committee, became a committee member from District Two and successfully ran for Vice Chair. Following the departure of the previous Chair, Krick was elevated to that role and then elected outright for another term.  At the California State level, Krick is the First Vice President of the County Chairman’s Association. In the summer of 2012, Krick was selected to be a delegate for Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention. Krick is also involved with the Boy Scouts of America, of which both of his sons are actively involved in. At the time his elder son, Miles, joined as a Tiger Scout, the group members were looking for someone who could come on as a leader, and Krick took on the job as Cubmaster for Pack 7. Now that his boys are older, Krick is now the Scoutmaster of Troop 15.

As for his military involvement, in addition to being an active member of the Navy Reserve, Krick still sees Secretary Mineta from time to time. In fact, as Krick was applying for a promotion to Captain, an extremely competitive process, he needed someone of high rank to write him a recommendation. Secretary Mineta graciously and willingly did this for him. In April of 2012, Krick was promoted to the title of Captain. Captain-select Krick will officially become a Captain in 2013, representing the highest rank he can reach in the Navy as a Merchant Mariner. Another title Krick received from John Jamian, the Acting Maritime Administrator, was Rear-Admiral of the U.S. Maritime Service, a gesture of appreciation for the work he did on behalf of the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Krick has also received many awards for his service in addition to the aforementioned Gold Medal he received from the Department of Transportation.  He was bestowed with a Navy Achievement Medal for his role in recruiting people to the Selective Reserve. He also received a Navy Commendation Medal for starting a program that shepherded people through the process of getting their Transportation Worker Identification Credential work card, a required card for those who work on the waterfront. Last, but definitely not least, Krick received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Collins, for his work at the Maritime Administration on the development of the Maritime Transportation Security Act Regulations in the wake of 9/11. With the help of his assistant, Richard Lowlich, Krick led the Maritime Administration side of the entire development, serving as the liaison from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security. This award is the second highest civilian award that the Coast Guard can give, only behind lifesaving.

Receiving these awards did not come without an immense amount of effort, injuries, and hardships. Kevin endured many risks and dangers throughout his service. For example, when Krick was on deck in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, sailing as a Second Mate, he was helping tie up a ship at an oil terminal. He was always told to “stay out of the bight of the line,” which meant he needed to stay out of the way of the shear lines that generally went around a capstan. If these lines snapped, they would whip back at you if you were in the way. Krick was standing 60 feet away, telling the AB (able bodied seaman) over the radio to continue to bring in the line. However, the line snapped on the winch and swung around the deck and caught him from behind on the back of his legs. In an instant, Krick was flat on the deck. Typically, when people are caught in the bight of the line, they are cut in half.  Thus, crewmen came running to him from left and right, and Krick was transported into an ambulance, and when he removed the thick layers of clothing, Krick was black and blue from his waist to my ankles on both legs.  He didn’t break any limbs, luckily, probably because of the amount of clothing he was wearing in the freezing weather. Nonetheless, the experience was very painful and extremely dangerous.

The hardest part of his war experience so far has been the Katrina and Rita exercise. “It involved not only the clock ticking to get this stuff down there so people could get what they needed but also a lot of political savvy to try and maneuver these things and get this stuff pushed through as expeditiously as possible.” The hours Krick put into the exercise were brutal, and his whole mental and physical being was consumed by the project. The riskiest moment was taking that gamble on getting that ship ready. “If Secretary Rumsfeld had come back and said, ‘no, we need these assets for something else’ – that would have been a tough one to explain.”

However, Krick was able to overcome these hardships, thanks to the high morale of his units, especially the Merchant Marine Reserve units. “We were all Merchant Mariners so, there was a different type of camaraderie you got there then just being in the big Navy. Our rank structure in the Navy and what we did in the Merchant Marine side, to us, were unique in that they were almost interchangeable in some ways.” As for the commanding officers, Krick believes they have all been superb. “The commanding officers that I’ve had over the years, in Washington, DC, San Francisco–even the guys who, when I left the Merchant Marine Reserve stuff and moved into more of the big Navy type work– have been very welcoming to a guy with a Merchant Marine pin on.” Throughout his war experience, Krick created many lasting friendships. Many of his best friends today are men he attended the academy with. His current friend Jason Crain was his sea partner, and Krick is the godfather to Jason’s son and a daughter of Howard Hoover, another classmate. Tom Grasso, a maritime lawyer, is another close friend of his, as well as David Schneider, both classmates as well. Over the holidays, the local MMROCH unit plans a gathering in North Beach, and in the summer they host barbeques. Krick also belongs to the Association of United States Navy (AUSN) and attends the meetings of the Fleet Admiral Nimitz Chapter in the East Bay.

Final Reflections           

After his in depth experience in the Navy with these inspiring men, Krick believes it’s important to raise awareness of the critical roles of the Merchant Marine. “Everything we do on the Merchant Marine side is well before CNN, Fox, or anybody will be looking at it on the news. People associate war with the Army showing up to fight in their gear, but there are so many logistics, exercises, and planning that the Merchant Marine is involved in beforehand. We were always way ahead of the curve, in anticipation of when that war going to happen and when all this stuff was going to start moving off the ships.” Krick also recognizes the growth within the unit, the abilities and things Merchant Marine can do today that they couldn’t do before, such as what he was able to do with Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. “They are getting more and more opportunities which is fantastic, and I only wish that people would have been able to realize that Merchant Mariners can work in many different spheres.” Krick believes Merchant Mariners are not only multi-faceted, but extremely passionate in their service. “During World War II, the Merchant Mariners were the guys who were 90 pounds and couldn’t pass the physical. It was where all the injured World War I soldiers went to help their country.  But in Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the Merchant Mariners were the guys who were also extremely patriotic about their county. They went willingly and voluntarily. It wasn’t like the military where they could tell them they had to do it”

Regardless, Krick feels very respected for his services and experiences the gratitude of civilians in his everyday life. Recently, when returning from Navy Reserve duties in Alameda, Krick stopped by the grocery store in Fairfax to grab some milk. In the parking lot, a VW Microbus pulled up and the driver rolled down his window and told Krick, “Sir, thank you for your service.” “I was blown away,” Krick said. “It was so nice to hear that from a guy you wouldn’t expect.” Krick also believes the Boy Scouts have always been very thankful and respectful. He recalls a beautiful ceremony after a hiking trip where the scouts retired a flag in honor of the veterans present.

As for young people interested in joining the Navy, Krick supports it wholeheartedly. “If people want to serve in the Navy, I’m all for it,” Krick said. “I think it’s the greatest thing – I mean even if you do it for a short period of time or you, like some of my buddies, they did it for their six years and then they were done.  Others stayed in and went different paths – the submarine side, JAG, all these different routes.  You don’t have to stay in as Merchant Marine Reservist but it – I think it instills in you true self-reliance and patriotism, which is extremely important if anyone wants to succeed. Best of all, you get to see what it takes to make this nation great.” This is faith in military service is what keeps Krick an active member of the Reserves today. “I’m happy to keep serving, and I’m looking forward to putting on Captain, I can tell you that.”

All in all, Krick looks back at his experiences in the Navy’s Strategic Sealift Officer program (the successor to the Merchant Marine Reserve) and the U.S. Merchant Marine and relishes the invaluable lessons he has learned and the personal growth he has experienced. “For me, my long term commitment as an Officer in the Navy in the Merchant Marine Reserve has shown me what it means to be dedicated to your country and to help your fellow man.  The Katrina experience was one that I really feel proud of because of the fact that all these people had nothing.  I went down there later on in the process and took a tour of the devastated areas. Being able to help even the smallest bit made a big impact on me.”

Interview by Kathryn Khalvati on July 15, 2012.

This entry was posted in Afghanistan & Iraq Conflicts (2001-Present), Cold War (1945-1980), Operation Desert Shield (1990-1991), Persian Gulf War (1990-1991). Bookmark the permalink.

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