Schofield service set for dive tour fatality
The Army officer was awaiting discharge after a year in Iraq
Services will be held at Schofield Barracks and on the mainland for a lieutenant colonel who had been waiting to be discharged after spending a year in Iraq.
Lt. Col. John Hennessey loved the islands and died while scuba diving off Portlock.
"That's why he wanted to spend time here before going home," Lt. Col. Mary Carothers said. "He loved island life and wanted to take advantage of everything here. He had a smile on his face as soon as he hit the ground here."
Hennessey, 46, died Sunday when he was taking part in a diving tour at Spitting Caves with a commercial charter operated by Aaron's Dive Shop. The cause of his death is still being investigated by the Medical Examiner's Office.
His widow, Dr. Barbara LeTourneau of St. Paul, Minn., told the Pioneer Press in Minnesota on Tuesday that an autopsy conducted in Honolulu was inconclusive about the cause of death, and further tests are being conducted.
"He didn't drown. The cause of death was apparently a natural event," she told the newspaper.
A memorial service, open to the public, will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Schofield Barracks' main chapel. LeTourneau and one of the couple's four children along with a sister are planning to attend the Schofield Barracks service.
Hennessey is also survived by two children from his first marriage, two stepchildren and his parents.
Mainland funeral services are scheduled June 1 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in St. Paul.
Hennessey was a member of a Minnesota Army Reserve unit and was one of 26 mainland reservists who were assigned to the 322nd Brigade, normally stationed at Fort Shafter. He joined the 322nd at Fort Bragg a month before the unit was sent to Iraq. The 322nd returned to Oahu on Mother's Day.
In Baghdad, Lt. Col. Todd Spillers worked for Hennessey when he was chief of operations for the Multi-National Corps headquarters specializing in civil military operations. Spillers described Hennessey as "very even-keeled -- a calm in the storm. He loved life. I never saw him having a bad day. He seemed to live in the sunshine. He was the sounding board for many of us."
Hennessey helped to establish four provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq. The Pentagon first established these teams in Afghanistan to stabilize and build relationships while the Afghans rebuilt their provinces outside the capital of Kabul. These teams of civilians and military personnel perform reconstruction projects while others in the team provide security.
Lt. Col. Stacey Yamada, a 1982 McKinley High School graduate, said Hennessey also helped to develop what he described as "continuity books" on the 18 provinces in Iraq by collecting data and cataloging large amounts of data the Army had already accumulated.
Carothers said she also met Hennessey at Fort Bragg while the unit was undergoing its final mobilization training, and they became close friends while living Camp Victory in Baghdad.
"We would help each other out," Carothers said, "when there were bad times in our families. He confided in me, and I did the same with him."
She recalled that one night, "a bullet came through the roof of the trailer where I lived and went right over my right shoulder. I went straight to John, who lived in another trailer, for his help."
"To go through a whole year in Iraq and come back safe and to have this to happen ... It was really, really terrible," Carothers said.