“I had just passed by test for able-bodied seaman.”

Dennis Hale was 26 and sailing with the carrier “Daniel J. Morrell” in Lake Huron on November 29th, 1966. He had just finished his watch in somewhat choppy seas and went to his bunk in the stern section to read. Suddenly the ship jolted and the alarm sounded for the crew to report to their stations. Hale looked outside and was shocked at what he saw.

“35-foot seas, 65-mile-an-hour winds. Just totally unbelievable. I’d never seen the sea that angry,” said Hale.

Within eight minutes, the ship split in two, and sink. Three crew mates and Hale, who was dressed only in undershirts, a pea coat and life vest, made their way into a life raft. Over the next 24-hours, Hale’s three crew mates would pass away. He recalls going through a cloud and catching up with crew mates and people from his past.

“When I got to the end of the cloud, I turned around and I was in a very vivid, green field. And there were people there who talked to me, some family members. And then I was told that I had to leave. I couldn’t stay,” Hale recalled.

A short time later Hale was rescued. He kept quiet about his experience for over 40-years. But now he shares them and the lessons he’s learned.

“Having faith and practicing your faith is very important. And I think you should plan your life,” Hale said.

Local 5’s Terry Kovarik has the story.