Capt. Robert Dolan, led Pentagon branch
Navy Capt. Robert Dolan loved to be at sea, but with each offshore assignment he deeply missed his wife and two children.
His 20-year career took him to the far-flung corners of the world -- Bahrain, the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean -- but he still managed to keep in touch with the friends he made in kindergarten.
He was a disciplined officer who made it his business to excel at every post, but he also was a "guy's guy" who enjoyed grabbing a beer with friends.
"Bob was a touchstone for many of us because of the person he was, not because of his accomplishments as a leader," said family friend Mark Wallinger, who was best man at Capt. Dolan's wedding. "He was a friend to everybody, and a hero to those who knew him."
Capt. Dolan, 43, was working on the first floor of the Pentagon as head of the Strategy and Concepts Branch, when a hijacked jetliner slammed into the building last Tuesday morning.
The Florham Park native knew from childhood that his future was with the military, his mother, Joan Dolan, said. After graduating from Hanover Park High School in East Hanover, Dolan attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned his bachelor's degree in ocean engineering.
His career took him to the Arabian Gulf to clear mines and to the Adriatic Sea as a combat systems officer aboard the USS Richmond K. Turner, in support of Operation Deny Flight over the former Yugoslavia.
In 1994, Capt. Dolan served as executive officer aboard the USS Thomas S. Gates in the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf.
From October 1998 to May 2000 he was commanding officer of the USS John Hancock, based in Mayport, Fla.
Capt. Dolan's decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.
"He was a man who viewed service as a privilege," his wife, Lisa of Alexandria, Va., wrote in an e-mail. "Bob Dolan was the best and the brightest this country had to offer to the altar of freedom."
In addition to his wife, Capt. Dolan is survived by his children, Rebecca, 15, and Beau, 9; his parents, Joan and Robert of Florham Park; two brothers, Christopher of Quakertown, Pa., and Daniel of Bethel, Pa., and several nieces and nephews.
Arrangements were still being planned yesterday.
Profile by Kristen Alloway published in THE STAR-LEDGER.