NOTAM 04-2020 (Engel)

Rear Admiral Paul H. Engel, USN (Ret)
Golden Eagle Emeritus


It is my sad duty to report that Golden Eagle Emeritus, Rear Admiral Paul H. Engel, USN, Retired, made his Last Take Off in the evening of 10 May 2020 at the age of 92 years old. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, March 24, 1928, the son of a German born US Army Captain veteran of World War I. Paul loved boating, fishing, and snow skiing. However, he loved flying in the Navy more than anything.

Paul attended Landon High School with friend and fellow aviator RADM Byron Fuller. He also dated Bryon’s future wife who they both knew in high school, Mary Anne Fuller. As Paul was the alternate to the Naval Academy behind RADM Fuller, Paul entered the Navy in 1946 as a member of the Holloway Plan Flying Midshipmen program and earned his wings of gold on 20 January 1950 after making his initial Carrier qualification in the SNJ on board USS Cabot and his Advanced carrier qualification aboard USS Saipan. Paul was honored to be a part of the Flying Midshipmen along with ranks of Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and ADM Gus Kinnear.

His first assignment was to VS-22 at NAS Norfolk, VA flying the TBM in anti-submarine warfare missions as the Soviets began building their submarine arsenal in the Cold War. In less than three years he logged nearly 1550 flight hours, operating from USS Mindoro, USS Palau, USS Kula Gulf and USS Siboney. Shortly after receiving his wings, Paul was commended for successfully performing a wheels-up emergency landing after his TBM suffered an engine failure in the landing pattern at NAS Norfolk.

In 1953 Paul was assigned to NAAS Saufley as a flight instructor, flying the SNJ and the TV-2. Following this tour, he attended the NATU Photography School at NAS Pensacola and transitioned to flying the F-9F-2P. Paul married Elizabeth Ann McGee “Tan” from Chunky, MS in the chapel at NAS Pensacola in December 1955, before reporting to VFP-62 at NAS Jacksonville, FL in 1956. While serving there he flew both the F-9F-8P and F2H-2P, making the last Air Group deployment to fly from the USS Lake Champlain as a straight deck Carrier. In August of 1957, their first born, Martin Paul Engel, came into their lives as Navy Junior #1.

Completing this second sea-tour, Paul went back-to-back as ship’s company Strike Operations and Legal Officer on USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) in 1958. During this tour he qualified as Officer of the Deck, Underway and flew the AD-5. Finally rolling to shore duty in 1960, Paul was assigned to Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey, CA where he earned his undergraduate degree along with other members of the Flying Midshipmen. In October 1960, Navy Junior #2’s arrival in the world began while Paul studied for a Physics final exam at his makeshift desk in a tiny closet of their small home. The new baby completed his “landing” after Paul’s night of study and a successful exam. While under instruction there, he was able to bag flight time in resident aircraft, including the T-2J, SNB and the T-28. As payback, Paul was assigned to the Fighter Photo Desk at BUWEPS in 1962. While there he helped support his former squadron, VFP-62 in a support role to their operational flights during the Cuba Missile Crisis. During this two-year tour he was able to remain current, flying SNBs, and the TF-1.

Upon completion of his tour at BUWEPS in 1964, he transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk just as the Vietnam war began. After yet another transcontinental move, orchestrated again by Tan, to NAS Lemoore, Navy Junior #3, Michele “Mimi” Elizabeth Engel (now Rinn), arrived in December 1964.

Returning to sea duty in February 1965, Paul was assigned as CAG Operations Officer in CVW-16 embarked in USS Oriskany (CVA-34), serving under Air Wing Commander James Stockdale. He was a member of the pre-dawn launch that performed search and rescue efforts for then Commander Stockdale after he had been shot down. Selected for command, while still embarked Paul assumed duties as Executive Officer of VA-164, and subsequently served as Commanding Officer beginning in Jun 1966 while underway in the Tonkin Gulf. During these tours of duty, he flew 175 combat missions, earning the Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, two individual Air Medals and 17 Strike/Flight Air Medals.

Paul began his first Pentagon assignment in 1967 as Flag Aide to Admiral James Russell and served concurrently as the recorder on the Aircraft Carrier Safety Review Panel. This effort helped Admiral James Holloway III establish the CVN Program Coordination Office which provided justification for the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). While still in Washington, D.C., he attended National War College at Fort McNair and simultaneously attended Georgetown University for the school year 1969-70.

Back to sea and serving again in the Tonkin Gulf, Paul took over as Operations Officer for COMCARDIV Nine in the summer of 1970. During that tour he directed operations for the task force that participated in the North Viet Nam Son Tay prison camp raid that attempted to free prisoners of war. He described the event as an “exciting night, first launch for the Ranger of the cruise at 0100, many white-faced aviators in the briefing room that night.” Returning from the deployment in 1971, he was transferred back to D.C. where he served for two years as Director, Cost Review and Analysis in the office of the Navy Comptroller.

Selected again for Command, Paul became Commander, Training Air Wing 7 at NAAS Saufley Field in June 1973, where he again continued to actively fly, exclaiming “Great to be back in the cockpit!” He qualified as a Primary Flight Instructor and flew in the T-34, T-28, T-2B and TA-4. The following year Paul took on additional responsibility as Commander, Training Air Wing 6 concurrently, and while there he made his final four traps as Commodore on 30 April 1975 in a TA-4.

Returning to Washington, D.C. as a Flag Officer later in 1975, Paul became Navy Auditor General and Director of the Naval Audit Service where he served until 1978. He continued service as a Rear Admiral as Deputy Commander/Comptroller at the Navy Sea Systems Command, serving out his final tour after 34 years on active duty as Vice Commander, Sea Systems Command until his retirement in 1980.

In his second career Paul continued to support the active duty community. He spent seven years with the United Services Planning Association and acted as an independent agent for a firm that worked with military families in their financial management. He was an acknowledged military consultant and insurance industry consultant with the Hauck Companies.

Paul and Tan built a beautiful home in Compton, MD, not too far from NAS Patuxent River, always needing to be close to the commissary and PX. Their home was affectionately named, “Final Landing.” He was very active in community associations over the years, leading as Vice President of St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation, Chairman of the Supervisory Committee for Andrews Federal Credit Union, Chairman of the Charity Committee for the Lexington Park Rotary Club, and Chairman of the Music and Arts Committee of Aldersgate UMC. Paul also served for five years on the Board for Aviation Exploring for the Boy Scouts of America, was a Board Member of the Patuxent River Council of the Navy League and a past Board Member of the National War College Alumni Association. Recognized for his expertise, Paul was the Chair for numerous Washington, D.C. area National Security Seminars over the years.

Paul’s favorite plaque on his desk was titled Press On by J. Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States of America:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! Has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Close family friend and “adopted son” John Genovese once asked him if he could be anything other than “the Admiral” what would it be. Paul replied, “I want to be a seagull so I could fly all day and live on the water.”

Paul is survived after 64 years of wonderful marriage by his wife Elizabeth “Tan” Engel; his children, Martin Paul Engel, Michael Lee Engel and Michele “Mimi” Engel Rinn (Patrick Aloysius Rinn); his grandchildren, Benjamin Alexander Engel, Bethany Ann Engel, Alexander Paul Rinn and Michael Francis Rinn. He is predeceased by his sister Erma Engel Schrader and her husband Commander “Red” Francis Edward Schrader, USN (Retired).

Funeral services will be held in the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer. Burial with full Military Honors will follow in Arlington National Cemetery. Burial date and time are pending due to current restrictions on group activities. A Special Notice will be published when details are available. Condolences may be left for the family at

He will be missed.

In sadness,
Jay A. Campbell