Freeland H. Carde – Commander, United States Navy

From a contemporary press report:

Freeland Henry “Hank” Carde III, 51, a decorated Navy commander who in retirement became a vocal and outspoken AIDS and gay rights activist, died May 19, 1998at Bethesda Naval Hospital. He had AIDS.

Commander Carde served in the Navy 20 years, retiring in 1988 when his companion, Ben Hartman became ill with AIDS.

For a brief period, he was a software sales consultant, but he resigned to become a full-time caregiver to Hartman, who died in December 1988.

The next year, he volunteered with the Whitman-Walker Clinic as a personal care aide for AIDS patients. In January 1990, he became a full-time volunteer in the clinic’s development office. During the next two years, he helped write more than $3 million in successful grant applications. He became the Whitman-Walker home-care coordinator in August 1990 and held that position until he went on disability with AIDS in January 1992.

He learned he was infected with the AIDS virus during a routine physical on retiring from the Navy, and in 1990, he learned that the disease was fully developed.

For the remaining years of his life, he was an aggressive and resourceful AIDS care advocate, unsparing in his criticism of local and federal officials for delays or deficiencies in AIDS care programs.

He helped establish and operate Food for Friends, which delivers hot meals to AIDS patients, and was instrumental in the organization of the HIV Community Coalition, an advocacy group.

In 1991, he staged a three-day hunger strike in front of the District Building that resulted in the filling of federally-funded positions for emergency AIDS-related services.

He distributed a newsletter, A Letter to Friends, in which he monitored the delivery system of AIDS care programs. The newsletter, which had 1,200 subscribers, was produced irregularly — whenever developments warranted — but it was published until shortly before Commander Carde’s death, and he was often up late at night, faxing and making copies.

Commander Carde, a native Washingtonian, grew up in a Navy family. As a child, he lived at naval installations across the country where his father was stationed.

He graduated from Yale University and began his Navy service in 1968.

His career included three tours of duty in Vietnam, including an assignment as a riverine intelligence officer working with Navy SEALS and Army Special Forces units. In that assignment, he received two Bronze Stars.

He had served on ships including minesweepers and aircraft carriers. He graduated from the master’s degree program in national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and also graduated from the Army War College.

He retired as chief of the Africa branch in the strategic plans and policy directorate of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In the AIDS care community, he was known as a long-term survivor, but he continued to agitate as the severity of his disability increased.

“There were times when he became vexed, but never discouraged,” said Patricia Hawkins, associate executive director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic.

He had hours, days and weeks to think about his mortality, and he began to see parallels between the prospect of death he faced on the battlefield in Vietnam and as an AIDS patient in Washington. “I think everyone, the first time he hears bullets ricocheting around him is more or less dysfunctional,” he said in a 1996 interview with The Washington Post.

“. . . It’s a very sobering moment when you realize you’re in a situation you cannot control. . . . Once you realize you are going to die, then things start simplifying quite a bit. Your values sharpen. . . . You live on your own terms. My fear of death is not going to keep me from being honorable.”

In 1995, Commander Carde received the Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Courage Award for strength and leadership in fighting AIDS. In 1996, the clinic renamed its AIDS Foundation as the Hank Carde AIDS Foundation.

He had served on the Commissioner of Public Health’s AIDS Advisory Committee.

He was an elder in Westminster Presbyterian Church in Washington and was a member of the Army War College Alumni Association, the Yale Club of Washington and the National Organization for Women.

Survivors include his mother, Marybelle Carde of Silver Spring; two sisters, Carol Fethke of Iowa City and Margaret Hiatt of Santa Fe, N.M.; and a brother, Scott Carde of Los Angeles.


On Tuesday, May 12, 1998, at Bethesda Naval Hospital, son of Freeland H. Jr. (deceased) and Marybelle of Silver Spring, MD; native Washingtonian; veteran of three tours in Vietnam; recipient of two Bronze Stars for combat service and other military awards; and countless honors and awards for distinguished service and leadership in HIV issues, civic matters and advocacy on the behalf of persons with HIV/AIDS. Survivors include his mother, Marybelle Carde of Silver Spring, MD; two sisters, Carole Fethke of Iowa City, IA and Margaret Hiatt of Santa Fe, NM; a brother, Scott Carde of Los Angeles, CA; four nephews and three nieces. He is also survived by the mother, sister and niece of his life partner, Ben Hartman (deceased), Mary Hartman of Baltimore, MD, Betty Hartman of Sarasota, FL and Bridgett Basehoar of Baltimore, MD. A public memorial service will be conducted at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 30 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Ave., NW, with a reception at the Church following the service. A private interment ceremony with full military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Food and Friend or the Whitman-Walker Clinic.

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