Father Jake Laboon, S.J. (1922-1988)

There are two American Jesuits for whom the Navy has named ships, Father Joseph T. O’Callahan and Father John Francis (“Jake”) Laboon, who passed away on this day in 1988. The following is taken from the website of the USS Jake Laboon:

USS LABOON honors the distinguished career of Captain John Francis “Jake” Laboon, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy. Known to most simply as “Father Jake”, he devoted his life to service to God, Country and the Navy. A Football star at the National Championship Lacrosse All American, Laboon Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy as a member of the class of 1944. Assigned to the submarine USS PETO (SS 265) then Lieutenant Junior Grade Laboon won the Silver Star for bravery for diving from his moving submarine to rescue a downed aviator under heavy enemy fire. At the close of World War II, Lieutenant Laboon left the Navy to become a Jesuit priest. In 1958 Father Laboon returned to the Navy he loved so much as a member of the Chaplain Corps. Over the next 21 years, he served in virtually every branch of the Navy and Marine Corps. His assignments included tours in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan and Vietnam. As Chaplain with the Marines in Vietnam, Father Laboon earned a Legion of Merit with Combat “V”. In addition to his heroic service in two wars, Father Laboon became the first chaplain for the Polaris Submarine Program and later became the Senior Catholic Chaplain at the Naval Academy. The Naval Academy has honored Father Laboon by renaming the Chaplain’s Center in his honor. When he retired in 1979, Captain Laboon was the Fleet Chaplain, Atlantic Fleet. When his naval career ended, Father Laboon returned to Annapolis as the house manager for the Jesuit retreat facility, Manresa-on-Severn. His final tour of duty was as pastor of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Church in Woodstock, Maryland. When he passed away in 1988, Father Jake left behind countless service members and their families whose lives he had touched with his compassion and understanding. His courage and genuine concern for all his shipmates was then, is now, and will forever remain an extraordinary example for young sailors and marines everywhere.

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