Navy Priest is a compelling biography of the Jesuit priest and Navy chaplain John Francis (Jake) Laboon. Father Jake made a significant contribution to the United States Navy, both as a World War II submarine officer and, most prominently, during a 22-year career as a chaplain. Laboon served as the first chaplain for the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Program, but also served as chaplain at his alma mater the United States Naval Academy, undertook a tour of duty with the US Marines in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Legion of Merit, and later served as Fleet Chaplain of the United States Atlantic Fleet. Father Jake Laboon was born on April 11, 1921 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The third of nine children, he was raised in a faith-filled family. He attended Catholic schools until his matriculation to the United States Naval Academy in June 1940. A tight end for the USNA football team and an All American in lacrosse, Laboon graduated with his classmates in June 1943. He served with distinction in the Pacific submarine force, winning the Silver Star for gallantry aboard USS Peto (SS 265). Laboon left the Navy in 1946 and immediately entered formation for the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He was ordained a priest in 1956. Two years later he reentered the Navy as a chaplain, where he stayed until 1980. He then joined the pastoral staff serving at Manresa Retreat Center, in Annapolis, and was for four years the pastor of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Parish in Woodstock, Maryland. He died on August 1, 1988 a victim of esophageal cancer. In 1995, the destroyer USS Laboon was commissioned in his honor. Loved by all with whom he had contact, Father Jake was a model of Christian fidelity, faith and complete dedication to God and country.
""A wonderful read, straight from the heart, about a very special public servant. Jesuit priest, Pastor, Captain: Jake Laboon was nearly perfect in his living example, though he would disagree. He possessed a unique hman spirit that drew you to him: sailor, marine, parishioner, Admiral, Cardinal alike. So many of us were blessed on eath to have been deeply touched by him on our journey, and we know we will see him again. Gribble captures Jake in a rare, simple and compelling manner. - Admiral Mike Mullen, USN (ret.)
"Gribble has an engaging style that should draw in a broad audience in the American Catholic and naval communities." - Robert Emmett Curran, Professor Emeritus of History, Georgetown University and author of Papist Devils and Shaping American Catholicism (CUA Press)"
"Fr. Richard Gribble… expands the underserved historiography of US military chaplains with his biography of Fr. John Francis Jake Laboon Jr…. Informed by thorough research in civil, military, and religious archives, as well as dozens of interviews, Gribble follows Laboon's life from the Catholic immigrant neighborhoods of Pittsburgh to his education at the Naval Academy in the early 1940s and his service as a submariner during World War II."~Hans Rasmussen, Catholic Library World
"… extremely well-researched, interesting, and enjoyable book… I highly recommend this book. It has made me want to be a better chaplain."~CDR Joseph Coffey, CHC, USN, American Catholic Studies
"This book is a fitting tribute to one who demonstrated his love for 'God, country, and the U.S. Navy'"~Thomas Rzeznik - Seton Hall University, Journal of Jesuit Studies
"Navy Priest is, in a sense, the story of a certain type of American who seems to have died with the 20th century… Fr. Gribble repeatedly thrusts Laboon's life into exhaustive historical context. In doing so, he gives us not only Laboon's life, but his time. And by extension, he gives us an exercise in contrast against our own time and the lives that populate it. America doesn't seem capable of making Jake Laboons anymore."~Peter Reichard, America