Capt. Bruce Hay, today, will be relieved by Capt. Vincent R. Johnson as Commanding Officer of the Pacific Missile Range Facility. It was just three years ago when he became the 25th Naval officer to hold the post when he relieved Capt. Nicholas Mongillo.
If we have learned anything about Capt. Hay since his arrival, it is that he is not what one might expect of a Commanding Officer of a military base like PMRF. The traditional picture that comes to mind is one of a gruff, demanding, arrogant, overhearing, no-nonsense person barking out orders and walking tall and proud. No doubt, Bruce Hay walks tall and proud, as he should.
But in his time here, he has proven himself to be a friend of Kauai. He is gracious, respectful, pleasant and surprisingly humble for someone of his importance. You would never know he is an ace pilot because he doesn’t bring it up.
Hay has done his best to open up the base and invite the public in. One of the first things he did was offer tours, which he led, to community leaders.
PMRF was the host for late night fun runs, triathlons, concerts and opportunities for student activities and environmental outings. He made it clear he did not want the base to be considered an off-limits, out-of-bounds place to the people of the island. He wanted it to be part of the community, and he wanted the community to be part of it.
Hay, his wife Susie, and their daughter Sheridan have become part of Kauai. They could be found at fundraisers, parades, and community celebrations. They shopped at stores, took walks on beaches and attended social events.
Capt. Hay could always be counted on to deliver a humorous speech at different functions, often poking fun at himself. He is the kind of man who makes you feel welcome, makes you feel like you really do matter, like he is glad to see you. He is a man who loves his family and his country. He is, simply put, a good man.
Men like Bruce Hay are not easy to find. Fortunately, he and wife came to this island. PMRF, and Kauai, are better for it.
Capt. Johnson, we welcome you and wish you well here. We look forward to knowing you.
To Capt. Hay and his family, we hope you know you had an impact not just on a military base, but this island. We would love to see you stay on Kauai. If not, we know that wherever you go, the aloha spirit will be with you.