Home Baby shower Painful news reveals the bond between an American sailor and his mentor in Naples

Painful news reveals the bond between an American sailor and his mentor in Naples


Cmdt. Hasan Abdul-Mutakallim, left, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Smith speak at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, March 10, 2022. They worked for different commands in the same building on the same floor at the Navy base but didn’t know they were cousins ​​until Smith’s father died in May 2021. (Cameron Edy/US Navy)

NAPLES, Italy – “Only when it’s dark enough can you see the stars.”

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke those words on April 3, 1968, a day before his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. They continue to inspire Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Smith, a 28-year-old yeoman assigned to Submarine Group 8.

Amid uncertainty about his future and grief over the death of his father, which robbed him of the opportunity to mend their strained relationship, Smith found hope in a fellow sailor who shared a unknown link.

Just over a year after joining Naval Support Activity Naples in January 2019, Smith has developed a casual professional relationship with Cmdr. Hasan Abdul-Mutakallim, who worked in a separate command but in the same building and on the same floor as Smith.

Abdul-Mutakallim, 48, seemed like a “role model and someone you could look up to,” Smith said. He was easy to talk to and good at listening, Smith recalls.

“Even though I was just a random person asking him for advice and things of that nature, he was really helpful in giving me instructions and advice,” said Smith, who doubted whether to stay in the navy as a submariner and wanted to apply to be a commissioned officer.

Smith struck Abdul-Mutakallim as a quiet, reserved young man focused on his upbringing and his goals. Yet he knew there was more behind that introverted exterior.

“There’s a side to him that I haven’t had a chance to fully experience,” said Abdul-Mutakallim, who joined the Navy in 1996, eventually earning an undergraduate degree and attending flight school in 2001.

He is now Deputy C4/Cyber ​​Director for the US 6th Fleet, overseeing information support and technology.

Smith grew up without her father, Raymond, for much of her childhood. As a senior in high school, Smith reconnected with his father, but the relationship later fell apart.

Shortly after visiting his father, who had suffered a stroke, Smith returned to Naples in May 2021, when his brother Carl called to announce the death of their father.

“I caught myself punishing him,” Smith said, adding that in retrospect he realized that even though he forgave his father for leaving the family, he was still angry.

“I never would have thought in a million years that he (would die) as I made emotionally reckless decisions,” he said.

At the same time, Abdul-Mutakalli learns of the death of “Uncle Ray” from his grandfather. He talked about it with his cousin Carl Smith, a top culinary expert and submariner in Washington State.

It was during this call that Abdul-Mutakallim not only learned that Carl Smith had a brother, but also that the brother was in the navy and worked at NSA Naples.

“I’m like, ‘Do you have a brother? I think I talked to him,'” Abdul-Mutakallim recalled. “Yes, it was (Danny Smith) and we were related.”

Because they had only spoken informally a few times and knowing it was a tricky time, Abdul-Mutakallim contacted Danny Smith through a mutual acquaintance, saying he thought they could be cousins.

In a subsequent phone call, Danny Smith and Abdul-Mutakallim confirmed their family connection.

“It was pretty cool. It was pretty random but awesome,” Smith said.

Since then, the two have struck up a friendship, met each other’s wives and attended family events, including a baby shower for Abdul-Mutakallim’s wife.

This week, Smith is leaving NSA Naples for a mission in Maryland. In May, Abdul-Mutakallim will also leave for a posting to another base, coincidentally in Maryland.

Each of them is looking forward to getting to know each other better, going out and attending family events, including meetings.

“Everything we couldn’t do here, we will have the chance to do there,” Abdul-Mutakallim said.

While nothing will replace having his father, Smith said his relationship with Abdul-Mutakallim and the opportunity to meet his “new” family helps fill the void.

“It felt like God took that part away, but he also introduced a whole new world of relationships and people that I can meet now,” Smith said. “I can’t do it through my dad or with him, but I have an extension of him now.”