Surface Navy mourns the passing of Albert Lee Kaiss

Capt. Albert L. Kaiss, commander of the battleship Missouri, with sponsor Margaret Truman Daniels at a 1986 post-recommissioning ceremony for his warship in San Francisco. Although best known as the 20th and 23rd commander of the battleship Missouri, Kaiss served on numerous vessels after graduating from the University of Maryland in 1962.

They included the dock landing ship Alamo, the destroyer escorts Lester and Charles Berry, the destroyer Henry B. Wilson and the frigate McCandless, where he served as the executive officer.

The surface warfare officer commanded the destroyer Paul F. Foster and the Belknap-class destroyer leader and cruiser William H. Standley before taking the helm of the recommissioned battleship Missouri in early 1985, according to the USS Missouri Association .

The warship where Gen. Douglas MacArthur received Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945, the “Mighty Mo” had been mothballed for nearly three decades, even languishing as a museum relic, before the Pentagon ordered it revamped to star in President Ronald Reagan’s 600-ship Navy.

Unfortunately, a heart condition temporarily forced Kaiss into other duties. He commanded the mission task element of the hospital ship Mercy and served as Naval Surface Force’s assistant chief of staff for warfare and tactics before getting cleared in 1990 to return to sea duty.

He took the helm of the Missouri again during the battleship’s final years of active service.

That included the Missouri’s pummeling of Iraqi targets with both Tomahawk cruise missiles and naval gunfire in 1991. It was the first time the warship’s 16-inch guns had been fired since 1953 during the Korean War.

Capt. Kaiss was the commander on March 31, 1992, who ordered his XO to “haul down the colors" in Long Beach, California, decommissioning the Missouri for the second time .

“He was generous,” his daughter Julie Laing told Navy Times. “His family always came first and his ship was second — even though he loved that ship, the USS Missouri."

A highly-decorated combat veteran of wars in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, his personal awards included multiple Legions of Merit and the Bronze Star for Valor. Kaiss was proud of his service, but he never bragged about it, Laing said.

“That’s what set him apart. He was always more about taking care of his crew than winning accolades. He loved to teach and he loved to solve problems," she said.

After retiring, Kaiss joined Scientific Atlanta and then a string of other companies so that he could mentor and train Navy officers in shiphandling and safety on the San Diego waterfront.

He voiced concerns that SWOs received limited bridge time at sea due to fuel restrictions. Shore-based simulators added only another 40 hours of training, he said. He feared their skills would deteriorate without practice and their qualification program was poorly defined and open to individual command interpretation.Preceded in death by his wife, Veronica (Resch) Kaiss, he is survived by daughter Julie Laing and son Andrew Lee Kaiss and grandsons Kelen, Cole and Charles.A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday, July 31, at 10 a.m. at St. Ann Catholic Church, 1525 […]

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