Lawrence Sumner Pennell
October 28, 1922 – April 25, 2021
Yarmouth, ME- Retired Navy Chief Lawrence “Larry” Pennell, age 98, of Yarmouth Maine, passed away on April 25, 2021. Larry was born on October 28, 1922 in Portland ME. He was the son of Sumner L. and Elsie P. Baker Pennell. He attended Portland and South Portland Schools.
Larry joined the Naval Reserve, 19th Division in Portland on December 18, 1939 as an apprentice seaman. Larry volunteered for a period of active duty on “Four Stack” destroyers on neutrality patrol in the Caribbean for the period August 1, 1940 through October 31, 1940. After his return from this duty, the 19th Division was ordered to active duty on May 5, 1941. The Division marched down Congress Street to entrain for the Naval Training Center, Newport, Rhode Island. Larry volunteered for submarine duty while under instruction in aviation forecasting at N.A.S. Jacksonville Florida. While serving in the Pacific area aboard the USS Angler (SS240), the crew of this submarine took part in the rescue of 58 men, women and children who had been eluding Japanese forces in the Philippines for months, some for over a year. It took twenty days and nights to complete the transit from the point of rescue in the Philippines to Darwin, Australia. Two light meals a day were served with soup at midnight. To say it was crowded is an understatement. The captain gave his bunk to a person who had been wounded and slept on a blanket on the deck. A pregnant woman was quartered in the small space of the Chief’s quarters and had to be given oxygen at the end of each day. Prolonged dives from sunrise to sunset were necessary in order to escape detection by Japanese forces and oxygen became scarce at the end of each day. The USS Angler (SS240) received a fleet commendation for the successful completion of this mission. A girl in her early teens at the time of rescue wrote a poignant letter of thanks decades later to a crewmember to advise that she had safely reached the US, had graduated from college, had married a Navy man and now had grandchildren. She prefaced her letter by stating “Thank you for my life.” Chief Pennell indicated that this rescue mission was one of the most rewarding experiences of his Naval service.
Larry served as Operations Yeoman for Commander Mediterranean Fleet afloat from February 1947 to September 1948. Larry was embarked on four cruisers during this period - an abrupt change to having served on submarines – before being discharged from the Navy on September 11, 1948 at Norfolk Naval Station, Norfolk VA.
Larry returned to Portland ME to become a linotype apprentice under the GI Bill. He started by setting type by hand under the watchful eye of journeyman printers at Anthoensen Press in Portland. Larry resigned to accept employment at H. C. Crocker Composition to permit direct training on a linotype machine.
On March 24, 1950, Larry reenlisted in the Navy and while serving with the U.S. Naval Advisory Group Republic of Korea Navy was selected to attend a reception given by President Sygman Rhee in Seoul, Korea. Two outstanding service personnel designated by UnitCo from each United Nations unit were selected. The US Army coordinator gave a brief but interesting history of President Rhee’s background and President Rhee’s wife, who was an American, attended the reception. Chief Pennell stated that President Rhee indicated that Maine was unfortunately one of the few states he had not visited. It was a memorable experience and a chance to shake hands with a Head of State considered to be a patriot of his own country.
In September 1962, Chief Pennell was transferred from N.A.S. Brunswick to U.S. Naval Station Washington DC for participation in a program that was formed to train enlisted personnel in the field of counterintelligence. This was the commencement of a highly interesting tour of duty. After completion of instruction, Larry was assigned to a counterintelligence unit in Yokosuka, Japan where he learned to speak, read and write Japanese. In September 1965, he returned to regular duty aboard the USS Bryce Canyon (AD36), a destroyer tender home-ported in Long Beach, California, and was then transferred to the U.S. Naval facility in the Philippines before being returned to U.S. Naval Station San Francisco for retirement. After 25 years of service, Larry retired from the Navy on November 4th, 1966.
On October 2, 1967, during the Vietnam War, Larry went to work for the American Red Cross at Fort Meade, Maryland. He was trained as an assistant field director. He was assigned to Headquarters Area 7th Infantry Division, Camp Casey, Korea and then, in September 1969 was assigned to Fort Shafter, Hawaii and later to the R&R Center at Fort Derussey, Honolulu. The R&R Center was a very busy place at the time with hundreds of troops arriving from Vietnam by air, and wives and relatives from the US were there to meet them. A certification signed by General Creighton Abrams, Headquarters US Military Assistance Command Vietnam was received for service at the R&R Center. A letter of appreciation was also received from the Commanding Officer. Larry then transferred to US Naval Station Portsmouth NH on May 11, 1971 and was assigned the position of Assistant Field Director at Pease Air Force Base, which had an active blood and volunteer program. Larry’s final assignment was to Fort Gulick on the eastern end of the Panama Canal in February 1973. This was independent duty with a wide range of coverage responsibility, which included the military units located on the eastern end of the Canal Zone. The Canal Zone had its own police force, stores, hospital and post office. In June 1973, Larry decided that 31 years of being transferred here and there was enough and he looked forward to employment in a commercial setting.
Larry left the American Red Cross and went to work for Laughlin Plant Crosby Group, American Hoist and Derrick in Portland, Maine as a timekeeper and later as factory personnel assistant. He was later promoted to factory insurance coordinator and then industrial insurance manager. He retired on July 1, 1985.
Larry was an avid reader of publications dealing with current events and non-fiction on most subjects. He maintained his interest in reading and writing Japanese after retirement. He particularly enjoyed his family get togethers. His wife of 56 years, Hester M. Pennell, passed away on March 29, 2002. Larry was her caregiver during her illness over the last 16 years of her life.
Chief Pennell was a life member of the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II; a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6859, Woodfords; and a member of American Legion Post 178, Waterville ME. He was a life member of the Maine Mechanics Association and a member of the Odd Fellows Fraternity Lodge #6. Larry was awarded the U.S. Navy Submarine Combat Insignia; Good Conduct medal (sixth award); World War II Victory medal; Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal; American Campaign Medal; American Defense Service Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal. He was also entitled to the Philippines Liberation Medal.
He is survived by his daughter, Carole S. Christl of Canton, ME; nephews, Richard F. Dyer of Hartford, ME, Donald M. Dyer of Limington, ME, and Andrew Lucas of Phoenix, AZ; a niece, Wendy Lucas of Virginia Beach, VA; and great-nephews Michael Dyer of Strafford NH, Edward Dyer of Alton, NH, and Christopher Dyer of Orlando, FL and great-nieces, Jacqueline Clark of Lake Placid, NY and Jennifer Goodwin of Saco, ME.
A graveside service at Riverside Cemetery in Cornish will take place later this summer. Memorial donations may be made in Larry’s name to the Iris Network, 189 Park Ave. Portland, ME 04102.
Private Graveside Service
Lawrence Sumner Pennell
May 6, 2021
My condolences to the family.
Shared great conversations, stories and laughs over our phone calls.
He always ended the phone call by saying ( hope Buddha is smiling )
Although will miss Uncle Larry , I'm happy that he's reunited with Hester and all his loved ones.
May 4, 2021
The members of Fraternity Lodge # 6 I.O.O.F. wish to extend our sincere and heartfelt sympathy to the family of Lawrence Pennell; as well as the members of Fraternity Lodge # 6 in the loss of this member, and the years of service that he devoted to his family, friends, the lodge, and the I.O.O.F. as an organization. We were thankful that he was a member. May you treasure the memories you shared together. God`s blessings to all. In F L & T.
May 3, 2021
I had the pleasure of helping Larry to stay safely in his home. We became close friends had many happy luncheons with Joe one of the terrible 3. We stayed in contact after he moved into assisted living and still went out and I brought him treats. I will miss you but I will keep my happy memories. Love you Larry.
May 3, 2021
So sorry to hear of Mr.Pennell,s passing.I enjoyed for years working with Mrs.Pennell. Please let me know when his service will be held.Enjoyed knowing them both very much .Condolinces to the family and very sorry for your lost. Fondly, Susan Morrison - Yarmouth
May 2, 2021
With Sympathy, Love, Prayers and Happy Memories,