A reservist, rooted in military heritage, becomes a navy captain


Joseph Henel of Glens Falls, whose military family tree is rooted in the Revolutionary War, was promoted to captain while serving in the Naval Reserve.

Henel was promoted in a ceremony aboard the USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Charlestown, Massachusetts. (The rank of captain in the navy is equivalent to that of colonel in the army.

He is the son of Gerald and Patricia Henel of Glens Falls.

The captain attended St. Mary’s Academy in Glens Falls and graduated from Saratoga Catholic Central High School in 1996.

He said he became interested in the maritime service while working at the Lake George Steamboat Company.

Henel was named to the Class of 2000 at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, Nassau County. He graduated from the academy with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering and was commissioned as an ensign in the Naval Reserve. He also earned a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies at the Naval War College.

During his tenure as a midshipman, he sailed aboard various commercial ships, combat support ships, and gunships, including the fast attack submarine USS Augusta (SSN-710). Henel also completed an internship at the Materials Characterization Laboratory at Scotia.

Early in his career, Henel served in various commands, including Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Maritime Administration and Naval Station Mayport, and aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kennedy (CV-67).

From 2010 to present, Henel has held responsible reserve officer positions in the Maritime Administration and the Military Sealift Command. From 2014 to 2018, he supported MSC Europe and Africa as a Surface Officer in Naples, Italy, and as a Port Engineer in Rijeka, Croatia. In 2017, he was posted to Patrol Coastal Squadron ONE from Bahrain in the Persian Gulf during Operation Inherent Resolve as an engineer officer. Subsequently, he was posted to a Far Eastern Ships Support Unit in Singapore and Deputy Base Commander at Portsmouth Dockyard.

As a civilian, he works in the engineering department at Portsmouth Dockyard.

He earned two Navy Medals of Honor and three Civilian Meritorious Unit Commendations.

His father notes that their family tree has many military branches.

Joseph’s brother, Alex, also serves in the Naval Reserve and is also a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy and Saratoga Catholic Central High School. Alex is a Lieutenant Commander and works at Knolls Atomic Lab in Niskayuna.

Gerald, their father, served as a captain and commanded the 247 of the New York National Guard.e Medical (Ambulance) Company in Saratoga Springs during the Vietnam War prior to its retirement.

A distant ancestor, Ludwig Wilhelm Henel, served as an adjutant in a Hessian regiment that fought the British at Yorktown. Since then, other ancestors and relatives have served in the US Armed Forces, Gerald added.

A direct relative, Pvt. Anthony Henel, served with the Union Army 100e New York Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. “He died 90 days after being captured and imprisoned in the Confederate prison in Salisbury, North Carolina,” Gerald said. He is buried in Salisbury National Cemetery, along with more than 5,000 others who died in the camp, mostly from lack of food and medical supplies.

“I also had other relatives in the Marine Corps and the Army who served in the Vietnam War,” Gerald said. “I have a member of my family who has fought in all the major wars since the Revolution,” he said.

About half a century after Pvt. Henel’s ultimate sacrifice, Lieutenant William Henel commanded the 72n/a Aero Squadron during World War I. “He died of illness the day after his son was born,” Gerald said.

Alex and Joseph’s maternal grandfather, Staff Sgt. Frederick B. Jones, was a B-25 mechanic in the US Army Air Corps during World War II.

Originally from western New York, Gerald Henel’s military education began at an early age when he was drafted into the Stella Niagara Cadet program.

“We did everything the Marines do in basic training,” he said. “There’s no such thing as saying no.”

From there he went to St. Bonaventure University and graduated from the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program. Gerald and his wife, Patricia, moved to Glens Falls where he took a teaching job in Essex County in the early 1970s.

With so many military figures in his family tree, Veterans Day means a lot to Gerald. “It’s a special time and it’s a special day,” he said. “Remembering all those who came before us is extremely important. We all need to rededicate ourselves to doing something for our country. »

Of course, he couldn’t be happier with the career paths his sons, Alex and Joseph, have chosen. “I’m very proud of who they are and what they’ve become,” he said.

Troop and unit news can be sent to Duty Calls, Terry Brown, Times Union, Box 15000, Albany, NY 12212 or email [email protected]imesunion.com.

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