Bigger than life, involved in everything: Remembering Captain Hal Pierce

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Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) — Friends, family, and especially veterans celebrated the life of the man known by many as the ‘Sea Lord of Mobile,’ Captain Hal Pierce.

It was fitting that the memorial for Pierce was held at Battleship Memorial Park. The man everybody knew as Captain Hal was a Battleship Commissioner for many years.

“He served on the commission, I don’t know how many years but he was here when I was appointed to the commission,” said Commissioner Aubrey Fuller.

Commissioner and retired Army Colonel Pat Downing added, “You know his history of Battleship Park goes back to 1999, he was chairman of the Desert Storm Welcome Home Committee.”

“Hal, like all of us on the commission, we’re all like brothers and sisters. It’s like family to us so losing Hal is like losing a member of our family,” said Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Ben Brooks.

Pierce served in the Navy for 31 years. When he got out of the service he devoted much of his time to being an advocate for veterans.

“He was almost at every Marine Corps League function that I could think of,” said Marine Corps Veteran A.B. Grantham. “He would come to visit us. Even though he was Navy, he was part of us.”

Retired Navy Commander Pete Riehm said, “He was everywhere, involved in everything, making things happen. Nothing happened in the veterans’ community that he wasn’t front and center.”

Battleship Commission President and retired Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell said Captain Hal’s legacy extends far beyond the Gulf Coast.

“He was nationwide,” said Russell. “Veteran friends all over the nation talk about Captain Hal.”

The man who just retired as the most senior enlisted man in all services, Marine Corps Veteran Bryan Battaglia told us finding someone else to take on the volunteer work and effort Captain Hal put into whatever he decided to do, will be a tall order. “We’re going to have some very big shoes to fill,” said Command Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia. “In order to maintain the momentum that Captain Hal Pierce provided not just for the South Alabama Veterans Council, but for all of the veterans and their families here in the state of Alabama.”

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