Friday, April 11, 2008
Parallel courses and the value of renewing old friendships
Posted by John Keller
You know those coincidental, small-world experiences that you'd never, ever imaging having? Well, I had one of those this week when I visited an electro-optics surveillance company in Westborough, Mass., called RemoteReality Corp.
I'd been invited to interview the company's new CEO, retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Dennis V. McGinn, who before separating from the Navy had been deputy chief of naval operations for warfare requirements and programs at the Pentagon.
RemoteReality makes a 360-degree surveillance system with visible-light and infrared sensors that -- unlike a super-wide-angle fisheye lens -- produces almost no optical distortion.
Before joining RemoteReality McGinn had spent five years at the Battelle Memorial Institute, the nonprofit research firm, where he led Battelle's energy, transportation, and environment division. Suffice it to say that McGinn has made a difference wherever he's been, and RemoteReality is pretty happy to have him.
When invited to interview McGinn, something deep down kept nagging at me. I knew that name from somewhere, but I couldn't place it. Then I started thinking WAY back, and doing a few Google searches, and it finally hit me: I had met McGinn more than 25 years before, when he was a Navy commander in charge of a Navy squadron of light-attack bombers at Lemoore Naval Air Station in Central California, where I was a cub reporter for a little daily paper called The Hanford Sentinel.
I'm pretty sure I attended the change-of-command ceremony where McGinn relinquished command of the Attack Squadron 27 Royal Maces to his successor in the early 1980s. Back in those days the squadron was flying the A-7E Corsair II attack jet, before it switched to the F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter.
I and Adm. McGinn, who unpretentiously refers to himself as "Denny," found we have several acquaintances in common, not only from the old days at Lemoore NAS, but also in and around Washington during the 10 years I lived and worked there -- among them Vice Adm. Jerry Tuttle, who handled command, control, communications, and intelligence on the Pentagon's Joint Staff in the early 1990s, and CNN reporter Barbara Starr, with whom I worked at Jane's Information Group in the early 1990s, and who had the opportunity to interview McGinn several times while McGinn served at the Pentagon.
I guess if you're around long enough you start seeing things as cycles that can repeat themselves once in a while. I've had these experiences before, and they're always pleasant and memory-provoking. I'd like to thank Adm. McGinn for that, and for being so welcoming and willing to talk about old times.