MAHONING COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT. Dive team honors commander, who is just a regulator guy
The commander founded the team in 1958.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Even after 45 years leading the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department Dive Team, Commander William H. Hack Sr. has no plans to retire.
"I told my wife, 'When they put me in a box, then I'm done,'" said Hack, 68, of Youngstown.
Members of the team honored Hack, team founder, for his 45 years of service at a surprise party Saturday at the B & amp;O Restaurant. Hack thought the party was just a gathering of dive team members until the speeches started.
Ben Kailer, an assistant chief with the team, presented Hack with the commander's first dive regulator, a mechanism used in diving, to commemorate the career milestone.
"When Bill was moving out of his house on the east side, he was getting rid of a lot of stuff," Kailer said. "He gave me his first regulator, and I was so honored. It's like when a father gives his son his favorite tool."
Kailer kept the instrument, waiting for the right occasion to return the 45-year-old piece. He polished it, enclosed it in a wooden and glass case and returned it to its original owner with a plaque marking his decades of service.
"With all of the support you guys give me on the dive team, without you, I'd be nothing," Hack told the crowd of about 40.
Sheriff Randall Wellington said dedication, commitment, service and courage come to mind in describing Hack.
"He lives and breathes the dive team," Wellington said.
Kailer, a 21-year team member, likened Hack to retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of Operation Desert Storm.
"He can be tough and authoritative and does whatever it takes to get the job done, to accomplish a mission," Kailer said. "But he's very caring and sensitive when dealing with people like accident victims and is very conscious of their feelings."
The team includes about 35 members, including divers and the shore team or surface support team.
Hack's wife, Shirley, thanked the women in team members' lives.
"For every time you were in the middle of a meal that you'd spent an hour preparing and the phone rings and it's Bill and off he goes, I want to thank the wives and the girlfriends," Mrs. Hack said.
Hack, who has served under 10 sheriffs, founded the team in 1958 after pulling a drowning victim out of a lake at Mill Creek Park.
Although the team is called out for unpleasant tasks, such as body retrieval, Hack keeps in mind the good he's doing.
"There's not closure until [the family] has the body," he said. "I try to do everything I can to bring that closure by finding the person that drowned."