Although his parents chose Marist High School for him, Captain Dennis Haines ’73 is thankful they did as it provided a solid foundation for his career in the military. A career that may not have come to fruition but for the intercession of Coach Russ DeBruin. When the baseball coach heard that Dennis was having second thoughts about entering the United States Naval Academy, he sat with Dennis for more than an hour to discuss his uncertainty.
“That conversation was indicative of how much the faculty and staff cared about you as a person, as well as a student,” Dennis said. “Marist cared about you and your future.”
Dennis went on to attend the Naval Academy and was accepted into the nuclear submarine program where he served on four fast-attack submarines – eventually taking Command of the USS Topeka (SSN-754). Dennis also became a deep submersible pilot and worked in various intelligence programs associated with the Office of Naval Intelligence. Besides operational tours at sea, Dennis worked in the Pentagon and was a professor of naval science at Duke, the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University. Additionally, he earned a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National War College.
Dennis credits Marist to his success in the Navy. At Marist, he learned to derive great satisfaction in being a part of a team – “win or lose, starter or backup, you did it together.” Marist also provided a competitive learning environment where he discovered how to study and budget his time to create a good work-life balance.
A four-year basketball and baseball player, Dennis also found time for intramural sports and chess club at Marist. Although he resides in North Carolina, he still keeps in touch with many of his teammates, who he considers his best friends. One of his favorite memories is taking fellow Marist teammate Jay Bergamini ‘73, a Navy dentist at the time, on a dive in a deep submersible vehicle to almost a mile deep in the ocean. He also fondly remembers his friend Richie Ferrell, who passed away before Dennis started his senior year at the Naval Academy.
Currently, Dennis lives in Chapel Hill with his wife Carol, a nurse practitioner, and their daughters Julia and Allison. The couple met in Yokosuka, Japan while Carol was serving as a nurse with the Navy. Having retired from the military with three Legion of Merits, two Meritorious Service Medals and several unit commendations, Dennis now serves as an account manager for Battelle Memorial Institute, which invented the copy machine, compact disk and Iron Byron – the original golf swing machine.
Interestingly, golf is one of Dennis’ favorite pastimes. He was a member of the Naval Academy’s golf team and has traveled to Chicago several times for the annual Marist Endowment Classic. “My dad loved playing with my brothers [John ’75 and Mark ’76] and me in that event,” recalled Dennis. “We even won it a few times.” When he’s not golfing, he is usually hiking, traveling or giving back to his community.
Dennis considers the Time and Eternity Award an incredible honor. “I feel that I represent all the Marist graduates who have served in the military,” he said. “They are all heroes and deserve to be recognized for their service to this country. This award has led me to reflect on the sacrifices and contributions our families made to allow us to serve. I was unable to attend both of my brothers’ weddings and missed many significant events in the lives of my family and friends. I am honored to accept the Time and Eternity Award on their behalf.”