Washington, DC, US
United States Navy
PO, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Washington DC, US, 09/11/2001
Ronald Hemenway was born July 25, 1964 in Cordova, Alaska, the third of Robert and Shirley Hemenway’s seven children. Bob and Shirley moved to Alaska in 1961 where Bob worked in the telecommunications field. At the time of Ronald’s birth they lived at Cape Yakataga, a now-abandoned spot on the Gulf Coast. They had no electricity or running water and Shirley flew to Cordova for Ronald’s birth. Ronald graduated from Wasilla High School in Wasilla, Alaska and attended the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, where he took photography and chemistry classes.
The family moved to Atlanta in 1984 seeking warmer weather, and after one year at the University, Ronald followed the family south, deciding to pursue a career in horse breeding. He lived with his brother in Georgia and worked for Pyrazine Specialties, a chemical firm where he advanced rapidly. He had an opportunity to train at Monty Foreman’s equestrian school in Colorado and he was there for one year. He spent some time living on a ranch and bred the family pet quarter horse, “Sweet Double Cross”, and raised a stallion, “Bar-None”. Ronald purchased a Dutch warm blood mare with the intention to breed.
When Ronald turned 30, he was concerned about not having a degree and one day left his mother a note saying “I’ll be home when I find a job with a career.” He returned home later that evening saying he was joining the Navy. He left for Great Lakes, Illinois on November 29, 1994. He aced his aptitude tests and had his choice of schools. He attended the Electronics School in Great Lakes, IL for eleven months and graduated with an average of 96.7 with Distinguished Military Graduate. Because he was at the top of his class he had his pick of assignments and chose the US La Salle, a flagship, stationed in Gaeta, Italy.
His mother teased him that he would meet an Italian girl and get married, and he did. He met Marinella and the two were married in Italy in March 1997. They came to the US and renewed their vows at a double ceremony with his sister, Kathleen at Hope Lutheran Church in Shawnee, KS in June 1997.
Ronald and Marinella’s first child, Stefan, was born on November 6, 1998 and for the first time in his Navy career Ronald was sent out to sea for six months to refurbish the US La Salle. His previous sea duty was no longer than five weeks. He decided to seek a position that wouldn’t take him from his new family, and went to work at the Pentagon in March 2000 assigned to the Office of the Chief of Navy Operations. Ronald and Marinella’s second child, a daughter, Desiree was born on November 12, 2000.
On September 11, 2001 a commercial jetliner struck the west side of the Pentagon. Ronald was officially declared missing. On September 17, 2001 a flag was flown over the United States Capitol at the request of Senator Sam Brownback in memory of Petty Officer Ronald J. Hemenway. Ronald was honored with others lost at the Pentagon in a Memorial Service attended by President George W. Bush, held on October 11, 2001 at the Pentagon River Parade Field. The flag that was flown at the Capitol building was presented to the Hemenway family and raised at a ceremony on Bob and Shirley’s property in Shawnee.