Edwin Arthur Shuman III, a retired Navy captain, former war prisoner, naval aviator and sailor, died Dec. 4 from complications after falling from his boat on his way to a goose hunt in Annapolis, Md. He was 82.
Shuman was born in Boston, but spent his early years in Marblehead, Mass., where he developed a passion for sailing, according to the online sailing forum Scuttlebutt.
Shuman developed his second passion, flying, as a naval aviator. He served as an A-6 Intruder pilot with VA-35 from 1967 until March 17, 1968, when he ejected over North Vietnam and became a prisoner of war. He was released during Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973. His heroism and leadership during those five years is legendary.
He commanded the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron from 1978 to 1982 in Annapolis, Md., where he continued the plans for major growth of the academy’s sailing program.
Two of Shumer’s proudest accomplishments were the most successful Transatlantic Race to Ireland in 1979 on the Naval Academy’s Alliance (former Charisma the S&S 54), with winds to 55 knots (first in class, first in fleet on corrected time); followed by her safe and sure performance in the infamous Fastnet Race that year. Of 303 starters, only 85 finished, including his crew and boat.
Other notable events were the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the McMillan Cup, the beginning of the Safety-at-Sea program, the successes of the Naval Academy’s Intercollegiate dinghy teams, including the first women’s I/C teams, and winning and successfully defending the Kennedy Cup.
Throughout the remainder of his life, Shuman followed his two passions, flying and sailing.
His sloop, Snap Roll, was seen regularly coasting between Annapolis and Newport, R.I. He competed in more than 20 Newport-to-Bermuda Races and maintained active memberships in the New York Yacht Club, the Annapolis Yacht Club, the Storm Trysail Club and the Cruising Club of America.
He often compared ocean racing in bad weather with being a prisoner of war, saying “it’s a character builder.” As recently as March of this year he shared those lessons in the opening remarks of the Annapolis Safety at Sea Seminar.