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Mike Rabe (pronounced RAY-bee) was a Nav ET aboard BATES in the late 70's. An avid competition cyclist, Mike was struck and killed on the roadside by a driver under the influence while bicycling after dark on May 2, 2003. Mike was an extremely popular shipmate to all, and news of his passing has sent a shudder throughout the ranks of those who were lucky enough to serve with him.

There's a great memorial site maintained by Mike's cycling friends at:


There is also a very personal and insightful tribute to Mike by a close friend on the one-year anniversary of his death:


Mike was so enthusiastic and influential in the cycling world that a competition has been renamed in his honor: The Michael R. Rabe Memorial Cyclo-Cross Championship.

Hearing of Mike's passing brings back many images in my mind of seeing him in the passageway or crew's mess, and the distinct sound of his voice. He was generally quiet yet ably assertive, a little different than the "average" crew member but he fit right in with the crew. I don't feel like I ever got very close with Mike (I'm not sure if anybody did), yet looking back, I had the sense that I could trust in him if the need arose.

Mark Gray

Former Shipmate
USS William H. Bates 1978-1981


Mike was a good guy who seemed to like hanging out in Sonar while we were deployed. I once wrote a song (a ditty actually) called "I used to be a rock & roll star" and, while I only had a single verse completed back then, Mike used to sing it often when he came into Sonar. He was proud of what he did as an ET but I think he had a deep down desire to be a Sonar Tech.

Frank Allen

Former Shipmate
USS William H. Bates 1976-1981


Michael Rabe was a nav-ET. He was technically sharp and was surrounded by a group of other young petty officers (of course we were all young then, even chiefs and the captain) who shared technical excellence, pride in what they were doing and a terrific camaraderie. Mike attracted jokesters who often yanked his chain, but nonetheless shared the odd friendships so important among shipmates. He was a very smart man (actually I still think of him as a kid), something that was somewhat less noticeable because of the fact so many of his shipmates had equal smarts. We all suspected he would be successful after he left the Navy and I read that this was indeed the case. Michael died as a young man who had done his duty for his country.

William Houley

Commanding Officer
USS William H. Bates 1975-1978


Mike was one of four fellow Nav-ETs that served aboard the Bates during the mid to late 70s that consisted of Will Dobbs (for the first year of our tour), Richard Goldsmith and myself. Mike was clearly the comedian of the group who always kept us laughing with his antics, goofy jokes and frequent comments about his physical attributes (always grossly exaggerated). He was a very sharp ET always willing to help out, especially with the dreaded Multi-Speed Repeater, a piece of equipment loaded with synchros and servos that frequently broke or required realignment. Mike was a great shipmate who made those long deployments pass much faster. I was truly saddened to hear of his death.

Don Wilson

Former Shipmate
USS William H. Bates 1975-1979
  • I remember Mike with affection. He was smart and capable and funny and the Master of SINS.
    I remember there was a while where he liked to say that "Life was not a cher of bowlies". He would laugh...He thought it was so funny. Who else remembers that? Who remembers what the captain would tell him to stop doing? Remember that? Remember Mike.

  • I remember what Capt Houley told him to stop doing. In fact, Capt Houley wouldn't promote him to 2nd Class until he did stop! Mike was liked and respected by all. He was a heck of a SINS ET. He was very dedicated. His death was a tragedy. Know and serving with him was a blessing.

  • Rest In Peace Mike, we had some good times at the Dial Tone Disco Dome in rotten-grotten back in the day... The most regrets we ever had was to not stay in touch....

    Wes, Howdy pal...
    Don, glad you're still here....

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U.S. Naval Institute News

20 MAR 2019

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