Captain Hank Bracker
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Captain Hank Bracker
|Captain Hank Bracker in 2016|
|Born||August 12, 1934
|Awards||Florida Author & Publishers Association President’s Awards (2016 – 2017) Hillsbourgh County Author of the month,
Ursula (Beck) Bracker
|Children||Heinrich & Richard|
Captain Hank Bracker, Heinrich Walter Wilhelm Bracker (August 12, 1934) is an American writer of books, blogs and short stories. His varied educational and vocational background has a definite influence on his books related to history. Humor is a pronounced factor in his writings, even though his books are an accurate take on the serious aspects of history. The books he has written are purposely not footnoted and thus not considered academic, however his claim is that they can be easily verified if researched. They are written in such a way that they can be simply read, more as you would a novel, in a more casual way. His nautical and adventurous life is detailed in his daily blogs as well as his books, where he writes about his life’s adventures and erotic encounters in an unusual, uninhibited style. Although Captain Hank’s writings reflect his European upbringing and his early life in Jersey City, they give an insight into life as he lived it during an earlier era.
Kleiner Henry as he was called, was raised in Jersey City and Hoboken, New Jersey. As a child, during the remnants of the “Great Depression” he worked as a telegram delivery and newspaper boy. He shined shoes including those of Frank Sinatra, at local restaurants, bars and taverns. In addition to working the streets, he went to Public School #27 in Jersey City, Stevens Hoboken Academy and Admiral Farragut Academy in Pine Beach, New Jersey. Being fascinated by ships and the lure of the sea, Kleiner Henry hung around the Hoboken waterfront as a youth. Upon seeing an opportunity after he graduated from High School, he signed onto a Dutch ship as a steward and cabin boy. Returning to Hoboken he was accepted as a Cadet and U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipman at Maine Maritime Academy at Castine Maine, where his studies led to a degree in Marine Science. He was also commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and a Third Mate in the Merchant Marine.
In 1955 he worked for Farrell Lines International as Captain of a coastal freighter, in the Farrell fleet of feeder ships sailing out of Monrovia, Liberia. During his time on the West Coast of Africa he also served as a harbor pilot for the port of Monrovia. Returning to the United States in 1957, Captain Hank Bracker continued sailing for Farrell Lines on C-2 and C-3 cargo/passenger ships. During this time he met Ursula Beck, a passenger sailing with her parents to America from Cape Town, South Africa. After arriving in Boston, Massachusetts, they were married, after which he volunteered for active duty with the U. S. Navy. Among other duties he served as the military Port Captain for MSTS (Military Sea Transport Service) in Brooklyn, New York. Captain Bracker also piloted oil tankers for Spentenbush Fuel Transfer Company sailing out of New York Harbor he plied the coast between Eastport Maine and Chesapeake Bay. As an officer in the Naval Reserve he performed many duties including commanding a Seagoing tug. Piloting U.S. Navy ships in the Port of New York and the Hudson River. As the Executive Officer of the Military Department of the USNS Blatchford with the “United Nations Congo Sealift” he transported troops from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Malaysia to Africa. The ship earned the nickname of “Ambassador Ship,” keeping the peace in the Congo. It was said by United Nations Secretary-General U Thant that “The ship and her devoted master and crew have been a mainstay of the United Nations Operations in the Congo, and they have never failed us, even when their duties must have seemed arduous and incessant.”
Following his experiences at sea, Captain Bracker came ashore where he became the Commanding Officer of the Poughkeepsie Naval Reserve Division. As a civilian he became a math and science teacher at the Henry Abbott Vocational/Technical School in Danbury Connecticut. Following a career in education he became a senior instructor and later as an administrative officer he was the school’s Attendance Officer. His major was in Education at New Britain State University where he completed his “Six year certificate in Vocational Education.” During this time he was also the President of “The Instructors Association for Vocational/Technical Education” for the State of Connecticut. Captain Hank Bracker lobbied in behalf of Education and was recognized as the “Teacher of the month in Connecticut. Although he is presently retired from education Captain Hank is still active in union affairs and is the President of the Connecticut State Employees Association, CSEA/SEIU, Retiree Chapter #425, in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
Captain Hank Bracker was born Heinrich Walter Wilhelm Bracker in the Eppendorf Krankenhaus, on August 12, 2017, in Hamburg, Germany. His birth was on a morose voyage to Hamburg, Germany from America to bury the cremains of Gertrude who would have been his older sister. On November of 1934, when he was 3 months old his parents returned to the United States on the SS Deutschland. It was due to his mother being a citizen that Heinrich became an American citizen at birth. His father adopted the name “Henry,”given to him by a Immigration Officer and from early on, Heinrich rebelled at being called “Der kleiner Heine or Henry.”
Living in Jersey City, it was difficult growing up for a German speaking child, in the pre-war years however he managed to hold his own and rose above the stranglehold the city streets could have had. Life was difficult during the depression and there were few rewards. His parent being typical “North German” immigrants, showed very little love or affection. It just wasn’t done nor was it part of their culture. For them it just was not something you did! Das tut man nicht! Besides, the cloud of Gertrude’s death continued to hang over the family, nor did it ever lift.
Grandmother – Gertrude Theime; Aunt – Martha Ebel; Mother – Erna Bracker & Captain Hank
Although he was his parent’s second child, in effect he was raised as a first child since they had another son, Wilhelm “William.” Within the family der kleiner Heine had cousins that he seldom saw but that were always held up to him as a stellar example of what he should be like. Being rebellious he discovered humor as an outlet and became known as the “Class Clown!” His brother Billy was born on April 3, 1938. Attempting to Anglicize his name he adopted “Hank” from the country singing star “Hank Williams.” Being a relatively fast learner, English came quickly to him, but because of a lingering accent, he took remedial speech classes offered in Public School #27, where he traded his German accent for a Jersey City accent, which has served him well ever since.
The war disrupted life in the Bracker household. Up until then the household language had been German but that changed because of the war. Henry’s walk to school was only two city blocks but although it was not true, his classmates taunted him by calling him a Nazi. Difficult lessons had to be learned, resulting in him to become “Street Smart” and never to back down.
Henry collected pots and pans for the war drive and was a Sergeant in the Tin Can Army. Slowly his classmates accepted him. Being known as “Henry” suited him just fine, even though at times it created some confusion in the family. His favorite teacher Miss. Schenk noticed that he no longer came to school with black and blue bruises and shiners and knew that he had been accepted by the neighborhood boys. Everyone had to hold their own and work to supplement the family income. Henry and his brother Billy walked the neighborhood shining shoes at the local bars and taverns. He also sold newspapers in Journal Square near the Hudson Tubes (now the PATH rail system) and delivered telegrams for Western Union Telegraph Company in Jersey City. Some of these were delivered by him to the parents of fallen soldiers. Twenty five cents bought scrapes of vegetables from the green grocer, call soup greens. Every little bit helped. After graduating from grammar-school Henry’s parents thought it best to send him to College Preparatory Schools. A mystery that remains is where the money came from to afford these schools. However, they recognized the fact that Henry’s intelligence satisfied the requirements of these upscale schools but it remained that he was more a clown than a scholar. The first of these schools was “Steven’s Hoboken Academy” where Henry discovered girls. This and his clowning around prompted his parents to modify the type of school that they would send him to. Since he had expressed a love of the sea they believed that “Admiral Farragut Academy,” a military school was what was needed to instill a sense of pride and responsibility in him. At Admiral Farragut Academy in Pine Beach, New Jersey he had to hang tough, just to get through the day. It wasn’t easy, but he soon made friends. The studies were demanding and there was always homework. Aside from academics, he learned field activities, sports and military science. Marching on dusty fields and doing the “manual of arms” as well as standing in formation for long periods of time gave Henry a new outlook on life. Since demerits had to be marched off, he spent much of his free time marching and standing duty. Eventually it all sank in, and he grew accustomed to being a cadet. It never broke him into totally conforming, but instead he learned how to adapt to strenuous or adverse circumstances. In his words he learned how to “bob on the ocean like a cork!” An excellent shot got him on the rifle team where he was awarded numerous sharpshooter citations from the National Rifle Association.
Career at Sea
Upon graduating from “Admiral Farragut Academy” he was accepted into the “Class of 1955” of “Maine Maritime Academy.” The Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland seemed too structured for him although he later became a Naval Academy “Blue & Gold” Officer. It was during the first summer after his high school graduation that he first went to sea. From that time forward he claimed that it was sea water that coursed through his veins. To separate his name from the one his father had adopted he asked to be called Hank which later became “Captain Hank.” Many years later when asked why he chose “Captain Hank Bracker” as his “Nom de Plume” he simply quipped that it was just a “pseudonym,” when in fact he was the captain of numerous merchant vessels. He had also been the captain of a US Navy seagoing tugboat and was a harbor pilot for the “Port of Monrovia.” Captain Hank Bracker was also the U.S. Navy’s “Port Captain” for Military Sea Transport Service (MSTS), in Brooklyn New York and was a Captain for Spentenbush Fuel Transport Service.
Captain Hank & Ursula in Thailand
Farrell Line Ships he sailed on were the SS African Sun, the SS African Enterprise and the SS African Moon. He was the Second Officer on the SS African Moon when he met Ursula Beck who was travelling to the United States from Cape Town, South Africa, with her mother Adeline Perry and her step father Professor John Perry. Shortly after landing in Boston, MA Captain Hank Bracker and Ursula Beck were married in the small upstate town of Patterson, NY on December 20, 1958.
Career and Life Ashore
Leaving his life at sea behind, Hank Bracker who already was an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve was accepted into the Navy Flight Program. Upon completion of the basic flight program he opted to return to what was referred to as the “Black Shoe Navy.” He was assigned to the Military Sea Transport Service, MSTS, at the U.S. Army Terminal in Brooklyn, NY where he was assigned to the Navigation Department as an Inspector. He soon became the Department Head, followed by becoming the MSTS Port Captain for the Port of New York. Lieutenant Commander Bracker was assigned to the USNS Blatchford in Cape Town as the ships Military Department Executive Officer with Ursula following her husband. It was during this time that they had their son Heinrich.
After returning to reserve duty Hank moved to the small town of Pawling, NY. The thinking of Ursula and Hank was that a rural setting would be a better place to raise a family than urban New York City. Hank became a school teacher at Henry Abbott Vocational Technical School teaching Mathematics and Physics. The two parents had their second son, Richard. Hank became a Senior Instructor and taught the related Mathematics and Science subjects in the Aviation Mechanics and Airframe program at the Connecticut State facility at the Danbury Airport. Academically he enrolled in a continuing education program which led to his sixth year certificate. Hank also became involved in labor relations becoming the school representative of the Connecticut State Instructors Association. In time he became the Vice President and then the President of the state wide labor group. He is now the President of the Connecticut State Employees Association’s, CSEA/SEIU Chapter #425 in the Tampa Bay area in Florida.
After 20 years’ service time in the US Naval Reserve Captain Hank Bracker retired from duty as the Commanding Officer of the Naval Reserve Unit in Poughkeepsie, NY. Within months he enlisted in the US Army Reserve as a Staff Sergeant with an Army Military Intelligence Unit. After a period of intensive training he became a Military Intelligence Warrant Officer followed by a promotion to Chief Warrant Officer. As such he was called on to perform as a special Intelligence operative with the US Military in Europe during the “Cold War.”
In July of 1988 Captain Hank Bracker retired and moved to the Tampa area of Florida. He remained active as an investment and real-estate agent as well as still being involved in union affairs for CSEA retirees’. Captain Hank Bracker has a Sea Ray power boat which gets him out onto the brine from time to time. He remains active in the Maritime Industry as a member of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Council of Master Mariners CAMM. He is also an award winning author of books relating to history.
Captain Hank next to his boat the Calendar Girl
In August 2016, his book “The Exciting Story of Cuba” was awarded two silver medals by the Florida Authors & Publishers Association, FAPA, in the category of Politics / Current Events. He was also designated Author of the month for July 2016 in Hillsborough County, FL. In August 2017, his book “Suppressed I Rise” received three medals from FAPA including the gold medal in the category of Biography. “Seawater One” the exciting story of Captain Hank Bracker’s early life was published in October 2017. It is a coming of age story which includes many erotic moments some of which the reader may identify with. Captain Hank Bracker has four other books in various stages of completion, “Seawater Two” and “Words of Wisdom from the Bridge One, Two & Three.” He gives credit for his literary success to his team, Ursula, his proof reader and wife; Lucy, his Chief Proofer and Copy Editor & Jorge his Technical Advisor. Without them these books would just remain a dream.
Captain Hank surrounded by his supporting team, Jorge, Lucy & Ursula