Richard H. Porritt Jr. (Rick) was born in Point Pleasant, N.J., Sept. 20, 1948. He attended Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., where he majored in philosophy. During his sophomore year, he met the love of his life, Susan Jene Forcey, and they were married in Washington, D.C. in June 1971. They created a lifelong partnership of love and support that lasted almost 48 years until his death.
Following graduation, Rick became a fifth-grade teacher. His energy and enthusiasm for teaching created a classroom where learning was fun. Rick joined the Navy and was commissioned an ensign at NAS Pensacola. He was designated a naval flight officer in November 1971 and reported to VQ-2 in Rota, Spain for his first fleet tour. He flew as a navigator in the A-3 Skywarrior and operated from five Mediterranean-deployed carriers, as well as various European, Middle Eastern and Caribbean bases. Rick and Susan’s first daughter, Michelle, was born in Spain prior to Rick’s transfer to Washington, D.C. in 1975. He served at Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office until 1977. Their daughter Kristin was born in Annapolis, Md. during that tour. Rick and his family then moved to Whidbey Island where he reported to the VAQ-129 Vikings for Electronic Countermeasures Officer Training in the EA-6B. In May 1978, he joined the VAQ-136 Gauntlets, deploying aboard the USS Saratoga to the Mediterranean. Upon his return, he was among the cadre of Gauntlets to fly the planes to Japan for home-porting the squadron aboard the USS Midway.
From July 1980 to June 1981, Rick served as an instructor in VAQ-129. He and the family then moved to Monterey, Calif. where he attended Naval postgraduate school, graduating in December 1982 with a master of arts degree in national security affairs.
Following refresher training at VAQ-129, Rick joined the VAQ-139 Cougars for the squadron establishment in 1983. He deployed to the Pacific/Indian Oceans aboard the USS Constellation. He augmented the Black Ravens of VAQ-135’s no-notice deployment to the USS Coral Sea in the Mediterranean in 1986. Rick served on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, Electronic Warfare Directorate in Washington, D.C. from 1986-1987. He returned to Whidbey Island briefly for ICAP-II transition and then joined the Gauntlets of VAQ-136 as executive officer aboard the USS Midway in the Indian Ocean in December 1987. He commanded the Gauntlets from July 1989 to January 1991. While Rick was deployed for most of that time, Susan and the girls traveled to meet him as often as possible. Trips to Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines and Korea provided great quality time for the family. In February 1991, Rick and the family returned to Whidbey Island, where he commanded VAQ-129 from August 1991 to August 1992. Following this command tour, Rick attended National War College in Washington, D.C. and then accepted orders to Stockholm as the naval attache to Sweden, Estonia and Latvia. After returning to Whidbey Island, Rick retired from the Navy June 1, 1997.
Rick’s total retirement didn’t last long. In late 1997, Rick became a contract instructor, teaching operational and tactical procedures to EA-6B aircrew in the EA-6B flight and weapon system simulators. In January 2004, Rick was promoted to site manager for the contract instructors and led the effort to build the concept and organization for the contract instructor cadre for the follow-on Electronic Attack EA-18G Growler aircraft. In January 2010, Rick served as a system analyst for EWA Inc., supporting the Electronic Attack Weapons School. He became a key coordinator in developing the concept and syllabus for the EA-18G Growler Weapons School, which trains squadron EA-18G weapon system instructors. In fall 2011, Rick began work with Booz Allen Hamilton supporting the Fleet Electronic Warfare (EW) Center in developing a roadmap and syllabus for conducting Navy EW officer training. Rick fully retired in April 2015.
Rick was passionate about everything. His interests were many and varied. He was artistic, creative and spiritual. Everyday of his life was filled with love, compassion, joy and, of course, music. He is survived by his wife Susan; daughters Michelle Fleharty (Chris) and Kristin Wilson (David); and four grandchildren: Taryn Fleharty, McKenna Fleharty, Isabella Wilson, and Liam Wilson. He is also survived by his three sisters and their families: Karen Lanspery (Paul, Tracey Dunlap (Jim) and Donna Porritt Bromage (Sam); nephew Carl Dunlap; and niece Adrienne Reade (Chris, Bentley, London). He was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Richard H. Porritt, Jean Porritt, brother Michael Porritt, and nephew John Lanspery.
Memorial services will be held at the Oak Harbor United Methodist Church on Saturday, June 2 at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, charitable donations in memory of Rick may be made to the Dr. Henry Kaplan Research Fund through the Swedish Foundation, 747 Broadway, Seattle 98122 or online. For more information contact 206-386-2738.
Arrangements entrusted to Wallin Funeral Home, Oak Harbor. Please visit Rick’s page online at www.wallinfuneralhome.com to share memories and leave condolences.