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Nuke (Don Ward)

Nuke (Don Ward)

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Published by DWard55
My experiences in the Marines and Submarines from 1972 to 1985.
My experiences in the Marines and Submarines from 1972 to 1985.

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Published by: DWard55 on Mar 30, 2010
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NUKE The Journals Of D. Ward This Book Is Dedicated To Admiral Hyman G.


The Father Of The Nuclear Navy A Little Guy With Big Ideas« And The Guts To See Them Through And to all those brothers lost at sea and at war and at peace.


Dr. Joyce Brothers on Submariners ± Page 3 Preface ± Page Chapter 1 - The Marine Corps ± Page Chapter 2 - USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633), Patrol #38 ± Page Chapter 3 - USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633), Patrol #40 ± Page Chapter 4 - USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633), Patrol #42 ± Page Chapter 5 - USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633), Patrol #44 ± Page Chapter 6 - USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633), Patrol #46 ± Page Chapter 7 - USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633), Patrol #48 ± Page Chapter 8 - USS Birmingham (SSN 695) ± Page Chapter 9 - Torpedo Tech/Shore Duty ± Page Chapter 10 - USS Boston (SSN 703) ± Page Chapter 11 - USS Boston Two/Post Navy ± Page Glossary Of Bizarre Terms ± Page Appendix A - USS Seawolf (SSN 21) ± Page A Few Photos After The Navy ± Page


"There is nothing dare devilish about the motivation of a man who decides to dedicate his life to the submarine service. He does indeed take pride in demonstrating he is quite a man, but he does not do so to practice a form of foolhardy brinkmanship to see how close he can get to failure and still snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. On the contrary, the aim of the Submarine Service is to battle the danger to minimize the risk, to take every measure to make certain that safety, not danger, is maintained at all times. Are the men in submarines braver than those in other pursuits where the possibility of sudden tragedy is not constant? The glib would be that they are. It is much more accurate from a psychological point of view, to say they are not necessarily braver, but that they are men who have a little more insight into themselves and their capabilities. They know themselves a lot better than the next man. This has to be so with men who have a healthy reason to volunteer for a risk. They are generally a cut healthier emotionally than others of a similar age and background because of their willingness to push themselves a little bit further and not settle for an easier kind of existence. We all have tremendous capabilities, but are rarely straining at the upper level of what we can do; the United States can be proud and grateful that so many of its sound, young, eager men are enough about their own status in life and the welfare of their country to pool their skills and match them collectively against the power of the sea" - Dr. Joyce Brothers


PREFACE Imagine a high speed, computer-controlled, submarine-launched torpedo designed to pass under a target and destroy it - with a giant air bubble that breaks the ship¶s back. Not like the old days, where they¶d spread half a dozen far less intelligent torpedoes out and hope one of them runs into something. Imagine torpedoes running underwater that are so quiet you don't even know your vessel is under attack until that air bubble breaks the spine of your ship. No military vessel in the world is fast enough or can dive deep enough to evade the latest generation torpedoes, especially since those pesky Russians got out of the submarine business with the titanium hulled Alpha Class.

Russian Alpha Imagine a submarine nuclear reactor - nothing but a very hot steam kettle about the size of a small house able to operate with coolant pumps turned off - without blowing up - on a submarine so quiet you¶d have to listen for dead silence in the ocean ± which is unnatural - to have a prayer of finding it; the largest American submarine in the world; the Trident. The ocean being pretty big and deep might help hide them too.

Trident Submarine 4

Imagine a 150 foot long florescent orange Navy nuclear submarine that has the ability to crawl around on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. It's the only nuclear submarine in the world with windows, wheels, and waldoes. Sorry, no screen doors.

NR-1 Imagine sonar systems so accurate they can tell everything you ever wanted to know about an unknown sonar contact in the far distance - whether it¶s on the surface, submerged, or even flying in the air. Sometimes the sonarmen can even name the exact vessel, based on a previous encounter. They can tell whether a Russian ship is up on their engine maintenance. Everything - just by listening. And this was almost thirty years ago - ancient history in terms of computers and electronic component miniaturization. Welcome to the world of nuclear submarines. Well, from the mid-1970's to the mid-1980's, anyway. I write about what went on while I was there to see it and write about it. This isn't how all submarines were back then, just the ones I rode. I have to say that I think America owned the oceans when I was a submarine sailor. There was nothing on the planet more lethal than us - we were the most powerful independent military units in the history of the world. And probably the most sneaky - we once operated for eight hours directly underneath an American aircraft carrier, who¶s name I won¶t mention to spare them the acute embarrassment. They had no clue until we fired that green flare that almost started burning on their flight deck. (1995) I sure picked a lousy time to finally read Commander Edward L. Beach's World War Two novel "Submarine" - just as I started typing my submarine book into a word processor after being out of the Navy for ten years. I had been through submarine school twenty years before, served on four different nuclear submarines. I¶d read up to fifty books per patrol, but never got around to this classic account of submarine warfare. I never even saw a copy of it on board any boat I rode, and I think it would have been a great story to have. Maybe we'd have complained less if we knew how bad World War II submarine sailors had it. 5

Nah. "A happy sailor is a [complaining] sailor" - Anonymous (but probably a torpedoman.) Can you imagine enduring a seventy-two hour depth charge attack in a 1940¶s diesel submarine? No, I'm sorry, you can't - unless you've actually been there. Try to imagine hours, sometimes days, never knowing if the next underwater explosion is going to kill you - when the last three felt like they should have. (If you ever care to simulate the experience, crawl into a large metal sewer pipe and have your enemies drop huge rocks on it from three or four stories up - for days at a time. Excedrin Headache #2«..million.) My knowledge of diesel submarines is limited, but I do know they didn't have anywhere near the room or the air conditioning we had on the nuke boats, so make that a cramped and hot sewer pipe. Nuclear powered submarines were floating palaces compared to the Fleet boats of Commander Beach's time. The valves and handles sticking in your face on a Fleet boat were safely tucked behind simulated woodpaneled doors on the nukes. We had solidly mounted bunk beds stacked three high, while the Fleet boats sometimes had hammocks stacked six high in the same space. Nuke boats made their own water and air and power, had twenty times the storage space, a million times more fire power, way over twice the speed, and never had to surface to recharge the batteries. A yeoman once wrote in one of my ship's newspapers, "If we didn't have to eat, sh*t or breathe, how long would deployments be?" For me, nuke boats were the only way to go - especially since there were about three diesel boats left in active service when I signed up for the Navy in 1975. In Commander Beach's time, add normal wartime shortages to my long list of reasons to avoid diesel submarines. Also, the whole Japanese Navy was out there looking to kill you. If you luckily survived being sunk, everyone was aware how prisoners of war were treated by the Japanese. "Submarine" presents a fairly bleak picture. I wish I'd read it about as much as I wish I'd seen the first half of the movie "Full Metal Jacket" before signing up for the Marine Corps in 1972. Hey, let me find out some things out for myself! I'll take a break from reading "Submarine" to type in more of my book, and remember complaining about not being able to play audio cassettes while on torpedo room watch. To make matters worse, while I was complaining about how tough life was without the ability to play cassettes on my watchstation, my acoustic guitar sat right across from me - I was allowed to play music on torpedo room watch, just not listen to it. The whole six hours, if I cared to.

Torpedo Room Jamming 6

John Washington III (RIP, Shipmate) In those days, acoustic jam sessions were a normal thing on torpedo room watch, but I was genuinely upset about how rough I had it. Yeah, rough - as I ate a whole can of cashews provided by someone looking for my signature on his ship's qualification card. Complained bitterly as I sipped an ice cold Coke I'd kept in the ship's freezer just down the passageway. It was so tough, as I played guitar for an audience of one - or twenty - officers and enlisted; the captain sometimes among them. This was my watchstation, six hours on, twelve hours off - for two months at a time. And got paid pretty good, too. Wah! Hey, I was twenty-two years old; I plead insanity. Not even in the same league as µol Commander Beach. Beach's tales were the glory of the Submarine Force. Half the guys who skippered boats in World War II had buildings named after them on the submarine base in New London - and after finally reading "Submarine," I now fully understand why. These men were among the bravest Americans in our history. Most of my tales probably show a bunch of spoiled kids playing at sub sailor in comparison - myself the worst. But who knows, maybe someday instead of a building, they'll name a golf hole after me on the sub base golf course - an easy one like the drivable par 4 fifth hole - not the second or the seventh though, I'd have too many people cussing me. ("Damn it, I triple bogied the Ward Hole!")


(Golf course on left; the red ³X´ shows the Mark 48 Torpedo Shop) In my defense, I'll say it was a completely different world in 1975. While Beach and his gallant comrades may have wished for the ability to lay devastating waste to Japan in the early 1940's, me and my spoiled kids could really do it - in a matter of a few minutes. We'd get the message to launch from the President Of The United States, which would be quickly authenticated by the officers. The diving officer would bring the boat to a depth of 120 feet, and the chief of the watch would order the commencement of hovering, an automated system maintained by the missile techs that turns a submerged submarine into a stable underwater platform to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Fire Control techs would spin up the missile gyros and the missile techs would pressurize tube one to equalize with outside sea pressure - then open the upper hatch, and fire one - and the missile travels to the surface in a bubble of nitrogen, where it then lights off and starts toward the target. (Thanks for the help on this one, Brando!) A few minutes later - and that's one missile later - Japan is wiped slick and completely unusable by human beings for a very long time, if anything remains at all but the sea pouring into a big hole. In World War II, I believe every sailor on Commander Beach's boat, past a certain point, would have pushed that nuclear button on Japan without hesitation. The message to launch our missiles could have come in at any time. It wasn't a subject that came up very often among us "boomer" sailors. Even the missile drills were more about training and preparedness than planning to blow up whole countries halfway around the planet. We were spoiled with good food and fairly lax discipline because we were the first independent military units in history with the power to end the world. No way, you say? Well, only God knows what hundreds of nuclear explosions would do to the earth, but it might not be such a fun place to live anymore. Our crew alone could deliver a lot of warheads in our sixteen 8

missiles - each one methodically, digitally finding its target within a hundred yards. And each more powerful than your wildest dreams and/or worst nightmares. At the risk of going to jail.....do you know how devastating you think nuclear weapons are? Well, in reality they're much worse than you could ever imagine. Most of the mushroom cloud pictures and photographs you've ever seen are WAY old ± and taken from great distances. They got better at making nukes over the years, folks. You just don't know. In dealing with all this power - or just plain ignoring it - I'd say submariners got a little weird sometimes. Well, actually they got a lot weird sometimes. I heard a story about a completely naked sailor aboard the USS Daniel Webster making his way forward to aft - a distance of about three hundred feet - without ever once touching the floor. The captain of the Webster himself told me the story - he said his only remark as the naked sailor squirmed upside down through the control room was, "Don't drag anything through the plotter." Nuke. The word doesn't even appear in Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary. Is it a verb, as in, "Let's nuke those guys"? Perhaps a noun, as in, "the ship may have nukes aboard." Maybe an adverb, as in "let's get those nuke pukes!" Nuclear power has been around for many years, and the individuals who care for and maintain reactors and nuclear weapons have always been called nukes - among other things we won¶t mention. It probably started as an epithet used by diesel submarine sailors in describing the crew of the USS Nautilus (SSN 571), the world's first nuclear powered vessel in 1954.

USS Nautilus in New York City Later, when there were no diesel boats left in the Navy, it became the term associated only with the technicians who worked in nuclear engineering - except to the few diesel boat sailors still in the nuclear Navy. To them, every soul who ever set foot on a nuclear powered vessel is a nuke ± and generally not spoken kindly. The diesel boat sailors I met hated nukes, whether it be vessels, sailors, civilian techs, or weapons. To them, nuclear power ruined the Submarine Service. The new technology was great - nuke boats were the home of the "Hollywood" shower, a near endless waste of hot water in a shower when even cold showers were unavailable to anyone but the cooks on diesel boats. But the tendency to think of people as tools became highly prevalent because that's the way Admiral Rickover's people operated. Nukes put up with a lot - ridiculously long hours with far less 9

pay than their civilian counterparts. Workloads easier handled by twice the people. And training? Morning, noon, and night the poor nukes trained. When they weren't working on their equipment or snatching three hours of sleep a day, they were training. And all that used to be for engineering only - which is one of the reasons they got extra pay and forward (non-engineering) people didn't. Some older vets don't understand why many of us couldn't stick it out for our twenty years and retire. My own father complained about me getting out after thirteen years. In retrospect, what was awful in 1976 sure sounds like gravy to a fifty-five year old in 2010. Who knows, maybe the old man was right. Nah. I'd still be breaking big rocks into little ones from having strangled some little ensign, long before I ever retired. I came way too close during my thirteenth year with Lt. Lovering, who weighed about 140 pounds dripping wet. I couldn't decide how I wanted to dispose of him - with my bare hands - or just shoot him out of a torpedo tube with the rest of the slugs. The submarine sailors I met were capable of just about anything to "get" to each other. It can get boring riding around waiting for that message from the president. Some guys read books, some guys watched 16mm movies - this was before videos. Some guys just looked for ways to "spin people up" - it was like a massive game of The Dozens every waking minute, and far worse on attack boats than missile boats. The very nature of the missions differed: attack boats were the hunter/killers looking for trouble while missile boats hid from everything and called the attack boats to bail them out if they were ever detected.


CHAPTER ONE MY MARINE CORPS YEARS I had no idea what to expect from Marine Corps bootcamp. Other guys in my neighborhood who went in the Marines never shared their bootcamp stories with me, and I didn't know any of them well enough to ask because they were older. I had never seen Jack Webb's movie, "The D.I." - thank goodness, since it would not have prepared me at all. My bootcamp was a lot more like Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket," but fortunately no one killed anyone. It wasn't from lackawanna, though. After a pretty shaky start like everyone else - I hated it and thought I had to have been mentally ill to sign up for all of this abuse - I ended up one of four squad leaders at graduation three months later - out of eighty guys. I was one of only seven asked to re-up for officer training - quickly declined because I couldn't comprehend signing up for a total of eleven years at the tender age of 18 - and one of eleven privates meritoriously promoted to private first class (E-2) at graduation. I went on to receive meritorious promotions all the way up to corporal (E-4) in eighteen months. Had I stayed in for two more months I'd have worn sergeant's stripes - even after getting into semi-major trouble. Not bad, for a punk from New York. On our way to Parris Island, I flew out of Albany, New York with several other Marine recruits. It was my first ride on a jet, and my second ride on an airplane - the other being a Piper Cub. I'll probably ride a Piper Cub the next time Buddy Holly does, but jet travel may again be necessary, as much as I absolutely dread it. Give me two parachutes, a boat, some supplies, a cellular phone, and an obviously working exit - and then we'll talk about warm fuzzies and flying in the same breath. When we arrived at the Charleston, South Carolina airport for further transport to Parris Island, this spitshined public relations poster boy Marine corporal was carefully and cheerfully herding everyone toward this one room. He was smiling and witty, carefully avoiding any of our direct questions. When he got us all in that room and shut the door, I swear, it was my first taste of actual demonic possession. This man's face physically changed. He started cussing us - calling us, our mothers, and our girlfriends terrible names. Hey! My sister didn't do any of those things, and neither did my grandmother! Poster Boy Gone Wrong went through the whole spiel on our parentage, bad morals, lack of intelligence, congenital ugliness - the works - while lining us up into semiragged rows. We were pretty much convinced we'd screwed up at this point, but it was only the beginning.

We arrived at Parris Island Marine Corps Depot in the dead of night, and the bus stopped near this building. 11

We could barely make out rows of yellow footprints painted on the asphault. This sergeant gets on the bus, yelling of course. Lots of yelling, like 92 days worth of yelling and screaming. The sergeant tells us we have five minutes to get off the bus and line up on those yellow footprints - and four of those minutes were already gone. Then he got out of the way while we killed ourselves to obey. It seemed like the thing to do at the time, kind of an "abandon all hope ye who enter here" scenario.

The dreaded yellow footprints« There was total confusion. Finding a pair of yellow footprints and standing on them doesn't seem too hard a task, but try it at three o'clock in the morning when you think you're going to be killed in the next second by possessed demons in Marine uniforms screaming obscenities. We settled on our own little set of yellow footprints and they continued yelling. We were eventually herded into the building, and everyone stood around tables facing each other at rigid attention. A drill instructor came in and told us we had to empty our pockets on the tables in front of us. He gets sort of conspiratorial - more like threatening, to me - and tells us that now is the time to come clean. Now is the time to put that knife on the table - or those drugs - or anything else, because if we catch you with it later, well - I don't even remember what the guy said he'd do to us, but I know I surely believed him - and so did a lot of guys, because when he walked out to give us a minute, people were throwing down knives, pills, bags of pot - some pretty big - rolling papers, roach clips, brass knuckles - the works. The fear of God was present in that room. Now, almost 40 years later, I'm still wondering who in their right mind would bring an ounce of pot to Marine Corps boot camp. Can you imagine the lies his recruiter told him to get him to sign up? ("Sure, son - and 12

they'll provide you with your own green Marine bong, too!") After a few minutes, that same guy came back with a large brown paper bag and quietly collected up everything not allowed. What a collection! He never said a word, just bagged it all up and left. Probably had a hell of a party in the instructor's barracks that night, for all we knew. After a while, someone else came in to yell at us, then herded us off to a nearby barracks to sleep for the night. Yeah, right - it's past three o'clock in the morning, and we're supposed to take a "nap" until wake up (reveille) at five? Needless to say, I did a serious re-evaluation of my life as I lay there in the dark, unable to sleep, listening to the sounds of a barracks full of what seemed to me like mostly scared young men - myself among them. This was the first time most of us had left home. The next 92 days are a bit of a blur, but one of my fondest memories is of double timing to our new barracks while laden down with new seabags full of new stuff we'd been issued. It was August, and Parris Island is basically a swamp in South Carolina, so it was hot as hell. Having never in my life been south of New Jersey, I was not prepared for South Carolina swamp weather in August. We arrived in the air conditioned barracks sweating like pigs, and I had the misfortune of standing directly under an air conditioning duct - which blew cold air directly on my sweaty upper body. It took about five minutes for me to pass right out on the floor. For some reason I don't understand to this day, I wasn't killed for passing out, though I fully expected to be. For days I awaited terrible retribution for having passed out without permission, but nothing was ever said. It gave me a false sense of hope. When I enlisted, I thought I was in pretty good physical shape. I never played high school sports - it wasn't cool for me and my friends to play school sports - but the guys I hung out with always played basketball, and we were pretty good at it. I could run wind sprints up and down a basketball court all day long, so I figured this bootcamp stuff would be a piece of cake. Yeah, right. I had an opportunity to test this theory early on. I don't recall what I did to deserve it, but I was told by the assistant D.I. to commence jumping jacks "till I get tired." Uh, wait a second, sir. I'm supposed to do exercises until you get tired? How does that work? I found out the hard way, losing count somewhere around six hundred. Yeah, I thought I was bad to the bone - but not for long. My jumping jacks ended up looking like some kind of spastic reaction ± and the D.I. never even broke a sweat. But I was a young man with something to prove, and scared shitless and waiting to be killed any minute for the most part, so I never thought to tell anyone "no way am I doing that." We all obeyed orders, and we obeyed them in a hurry. There was no time to sit around and discuss whether the order was a good one or not, we just did it. (Some of this came up later in a movie called "For A Few Good Men.") Guys who couldn't or wouldn't obey orders didn't do well in the Marines, and probably should never have made it into - or out of - bootcamp. I was so scared I ended up doing exactly what they told me, every single time, without thinking about how pleasant or unpleasant it might be. Which was probably the point, us being Marines. Oops - sorry - not Marines. I could get whacked upside the head for saying something like that. We were Marine recruits, not Marines. Trust me, there was a huge difference at the time. We'd occasionally see Marine privates walking around who'd already graduated from bootcamp and been assigned to Parris Island as their first duty station, and these guys would call our drill instructors by their first names. Every time I heard that I waited for the ground to open up under that man and take him straight to hell - or back to bootcamp, whichever was convenient for the Commandant at the time. The drill instructors were "sir," period. Not even "Sergeant" or "Staff Sergeant" was tolerated. We were at the very bottom of the totem pole - perhaps even below ground, in the beginning. 13

When things started to get bizarre in bootcamp, and I mean bizarre, I started recalling everything and anything anyone ever said to me about the military. During my pre-induction physical, a Navy corpsman made a remark about possible varicose veins - believe me when I say I brought it up in the first few weeks at Marine bootcamp in a vain attempt to go back home where I thought I belonged. Let me da heck outa 'dis place! I believe that any Marine who says he was totally sure of himself from day one through ninety-two days of bootcamp is either a liar, has an extremely convenient memory, or went through bootcamp with inexperienced drill instructors. The savages I had to cater to for ninety-two days of 1972 made Stephen King look like Walt Disney savages who could (and would) slap the shit out of you at a moment's notice - or worse, such as the time an assistant instructor gave me six or seven real good shots to my solar plexus and put me on my knees with the wind knocked completely out of my body. Savages who could make you eat cigarettes by the pack - without so much as a cup of bleach to wash them down. These people - if you could call them that - played favorites sometimes - but then their favorites received awful treatment as well - meaning there were no favorites. Hmmm... just like a war zone. Funny how this stuff is apparent as I get older. There was one sergeant I was in deathly fear of from the platoon above us, 394. I actually overheard him threaten, "I'll rip off your %$@&* head and %&*$ down your wind pipe" - it was the first time I ever heard that expression, and I'm from New York. Immediately an unpleasant mental image formed in my head, and I believed the man fully capable. I was convinced this man could kill recruits at any time. I was also convinced that he would get completely away with it, and that he would also enjoy himself thoroughly. This man made me shit in my pants every time I heard his voice, and our own three instructors were no slouches in that regard. I had the terrible misfortune of having my rifle inspected by this crazed man in front of everyone one morning. Sure, any Marine drill instructor can rip a rifle out of your hands in a split second to inspect it, but never had anyone made it feel like he was also tearing out my lungs and stomping on them at the same time. It took about two seconds for him to start screaming in my face about how dirty my rifle was - so dirty, he could see that little creatures had evolved - and were now walking around inside my rifle barrel. At the top of his lungs, sounding like the dangerous lunatic he was - in front of the aforementioned everyone - this man ordered me to wave to the little creatures now walking around inside my rifle barrel. You have to imagine me rigidly at attention, a generous load already formed in my diaper, nervously waving down my rifle barrel to imaginary critters brought into this world solely by my failure to adequately clean my rifle barrel. I suppose it would have been a priceless piece of film because I'll admit, then and now, the guy really rattled me. You can't imagine how frightened most of us were of the people who controlled us. Had I the balls, I'd have said I was queer, crazy, or addicted to drugs, money, alcohol - addicted to love, had it got me out of that place in the beginning. And before you think I'm some kind of commie pinko bed wetter, take a thirteen week sabbatical (that's 92 days, folks) and go through the 1972 version of Marine Corps bootcamp. Find a time machine and go for it, then we'll talk about my lame ideas of getting out of there at any cost. The closest thing I ever saw to what we went through in 1972 remains the first half of "Full Metal Jacket." Jack Webb had become demented. We quickly got used to no privacy. No television. No women anywhere we were allowed to go on the base. No hair on our heads - no little Mohawk you see in the movies - our heads were shaved because we didn't rate a Mohawk. That was reserved for recruits a lot closer to graduation. We ate three times a day - period. I felt sorry for the poor slob who got caught eating in his bunk one night after the lights went out. He didn't have a restful night that night, and spent a respectable amount of time on the D.I.'s shit list. 14

We ran and marched and worked our asses to the bone. And all the while, someone was shouting at us, in shifts, so there was always someone fresh shouting at us. For three months! I think Marine drill instructors are handpicked because they can scream at the top of their lungs for hours on end. Some probably joined heavy metal bands when they retired. At 6'2" tall and 160 pounds, I wasn't much of a force to be reckoned with when it came time for pugil stick training - man-to-man fighting without guns or knives. Two guys got dressed in protective clothing that included a football helmet, and each grabbed what looked like a padded rowing oar and tried to beat the snot out of each other. Like everything else, some guys were good at it, and some were not - and the "not" guys were often just as entertaining to watch as those who were good at it. We had a black kid from Newark, New Jersey - Private Vega - also my bunkmate since the military also did everything alphabetically, the same as high school. Vega could deliver some serious punishment with that padded oar. He was solid muscle, and more than once I saw him walk out and club someone senseless in a matter of seconds using shear strength alone. Vega was the first guy I ever met who could literally use the statement preceding a fight: "There'll be two hits in this fight - me hitting you, and you hitting the ground." Fortunately for me, we weren't selected for pugil stick training alphabetically. My opponent was this huge fat black kid who must have had trouble with the daily morning runs. I was thin and wiry, moved twice as fast as him, and was generally beating the shit out of him with my padded stick - but it was like flies buzzing an elephant. My hardest blows mostly bounced off this guy no matter where I hit him, and none of his lousy swings ever reached me or I'd have been buried on Parris Island 38 years ago this August. We went on like that for a while until an instructor stopped it, probably bored because no one was bleeding or being dismembered. We were also forced to become medical pin cushions. All of us. I have to wonder about anyone who made it through Marine bootcamp and still retained a fear of needles. There just seemed to be so many of them. They gave us a bicillen shot in the butt cheek, and it was the worst shot any of us ever got in our lives. Most of our butt and leg muscles froze up for two days. Later, I heard stories of Navy pukes getting medical bedrest during what passed for their bootcamp after enduring this shot, but Marines were out marching and exercising minutes later, to "work it through your system." Try doing exercises with the lower half of your body simply not functioning. And where did Marine recruits find sympathy in those days? The same place submarine sailors found it - written in the dictionary somewhere between "shit" and "syphilis." In 1972, I was a free spirited, smart mouthed little punk with a lot to prove to myself, and a few others. I had a reputation for being a wise ass to local cops, so the culture shock of Marine discipline was overwhelming. I have the highest respect for anyone who made it through Marine Corps bootcamp, or any bootcamp prior to 1972 except the Air Force, which has always been Wimpville, USA from what I've been told. People who went through real bootcamps have seen sides of themselves no one should see. They've done things no one could believe. Endured pain and exhaustion and mental abuse. Before recent babyish times it used to be physical abuse too, but some obviously brain dead individual passed laws. No, we can't just go around toughening up guys who have the highest casualty rate of any branch of service in war time - you just might weed out that chicken shit mama's boy who deserts his post or falls asleep on watch and gets forty good Marines killed. We have to push every one of the little darlings through bootcamp these days without so much as bruising them. Or so I've heard. I also heard its gone so far that drill instructors can't even use profanity! How then do you turn teenage boys into soldiers in thirteen weeks? By saying please and thank you? The idea was to break us down, then build us back up again into something that might survive a war. Those guys were brutal for one reason: war is far more brutal. If you can't handle someone yelling at you, how the hell are you going to handle someone shooting at you? 15

I hated bootcamp and secretly wished every drill instructor would die an unnatural, lengthy, painful death - but I shudder to think of what kind of person I might be today, had the United States Marine Corps not spent that thirteen weeks tearing me apart and putting me back together again. And I'm sure a lot of guys know what I mean. Remember the part in the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman" where actor Louis Gossett Jr. rips up a bunch of "new meat" - officer candidates - at an air officer training school? He was Little Bo Peep compared to the real thing, primarily because the "real thing" was on your ass like white on rice for three solid months, 24 hours a day - not on the screen for two hours of fantasy video. I'll grant I'd heard the "ewe" analogy before - some poor fool would address the drill instructor as "you" and be screamed at, "ARE YOU CALLING ME A SHEEP?" No recruit was permitted the use of pronouns in 1972 Marine bootcamp. I was never "I" - always "the private." One of the worst things I ever did in bootcamp was handle a live hand grenade. Part of the training involved familiarization with hand grenades, and I waited the whole time to die. I guess I'd never felt comfortable around hand held bombs, even little ones like ashcans, M-80's, and cherry bombs - so when it came time to walk into the cement pit and toss the biggest one I'd ever tossed, I was as scared as I'd ever been. Shitting my pants is the proper terminology, I believe. Holding a grenade in my hand was like holding a thousand M-80's. At least you could see the fuse burn on the M-80 just before you flushed it down the school toilet. Years later, having a far broader understanding of "lowest government bidder," I thank heaven I survived hand grenade training at all. I had the opportunity to fire the M-16 rifle once during bootcamp. We'd been issued M-14 rifles and did all our training with them, but regular Marines were issued M-16's. We heard stories about guys who'd throw M-16's away in Vietnam and pick up sawed off shotguns, Thompson submachineguns, and Russian-made AK-47's because the M-16 worked flawlessly until a speck of dirt got in it. Or mud. Vietnam was fairly muddy, or so I've heard. Well, the mostly plastic M-16 weighs a lot less than the mostly wood M-14, and fires more like a .22 rifle shell than a .30 caliber. Easy on the shoulder. In Camp LeJeune, North Carolina for advanced training, we were allowed to fire the M-16 in the semi-automatic mode, which was easy for me - every time you pulled the trigger, it fired one shot. Unfortunately, I was picked at random to be the first to fire in the fully automatic mode. The M-14 had full auto too, but it wasn't used too often and required the services of an armorer to switch settings. The M-16 could be set to fully automatic by the flip of a small switch on the side. Fully automatic meant as long as you held the trigger down, bullets kept coming out - till you ran out. Your basic high tech machine gun. With a lot of guys watching - of course - I set it for fully auto, put it to my shoulder (I was standing) and slowly pressed the trigger. Brrrraappppp!! Twenty rounds came out in a half a second, which startled the shit out of me. Made me loosen my grip, which made the weapon's muzzle go up. I finished with the rifle pointing straight up, no small source of amusement for my fellow recruits. They got to try it too, but they had the opportunity to hold onto the damned thing better, having seen what it did to me. And by the end of the day I wasn't the only one who looked like a dope, but I'd been the only one not forewarned. Marine drill instructors had a sixth and seventh sense for noticing recruits doing things they were forbidden to do - terrible offenses such as scratching your itchy nose in ranks. I paid dearly for every high speed swipe at horrible little sand fleas who seemed to gnaw on my flesh for hours. I'd be standing there sweating my ass off - August in Parris Island is not on any sane person's travel itinerary - and this tiny creature has been biting me for a half hour as I stand stock still at attention listening to the D.I. rant and rave about everything. I'd scan left - using peripheral vision that made me look like one of the Simpsons; we're talking maximum allowed limits - eyes bugged out left, eyes bugged out right - don't move a muscle! Great! He's over there yelling at Tony again. Now's my chance! And my hand would come up so fast, so smooth - so perfect in conservation of movement - I couldn't possibly get caught. But WHAMMO! Another drill instructor is suddenly screaming in my face and I'm smelling 16

breath that hasn't come up in twelve years. I "YESSIR!" and "NOSIR!" the guy at the top of my lungs - which is never loud enough for these deaf instructors. "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!" Yeah? Well, get a damned hearing aid! Then I'd have to drop down and give him the required and enormous number of his favorite, painful, repetitive exercise. It might be at 2:30 in the morning; it might be 10:30 at night. Didn't matter who was there, what was going on, or where we were. Retribution was swift - again, this has the familiar ring of the battlefield, doesn't it? Even at Sunday church, which every one of us attended because of the "please be seated" portion of the program, guys would be doing pushups in the aisles for falling asleep. There was no mercy. If you broke a single little rule, they always knew who did it. They were worse than any parent's mystical power of knowing which kid started the fight - and we paid a far harsher price. Gee, I wonder what this has to do with war? One guy messes up and gets six guys killed? Couldn't be some kind of message here, could there? I forgot to mention that if you did, indeed, manage to kill a sand flea - and had the extreme misfortune being caught doing so - well, of course, you had to bury it. We can't leave the dead bodies of sand fleas strewn all over Parris Island now, can we? Forgetting for a moment where I was, I thought, dig a grave for a sand flea? Nothing to it. However, these must have been Egyptian sand fleas, because they required a six foot deep, six foot long, four feet wide hole - and all the decorum necessary for interment. And you'd work your ass to the bone digging - sure, it was sandy soil but add the temperature and humidity of a South Carolina swamp - and by the time you'd done all the proper honors, you were truly beat. And now for the bad news. You'd report back to the drill instructor that you'd completed the burial. He would, of course, immediately ask you what sex it was - "for the paperwork." Now, I don't care what you answered - yes, no, maybe so, possibly it just didn't matter - in the end you were going to be digging up that enormous hole again. And what are the chances of finding that same sand flea? Probably about as good as replying with something acceptable to the "what sex is it?" question. So you had to kill another sand flea - and may God help you if you got caught killing another one to substitute for the first one. Then you had to examine this tiny crushed flea with an expression on your face that bespoke years of experience in sand flea anatomy. Like a cat with a mouse, if the drill instructor was tired of making your life miserable he might accept your answer. Or he might say, "I thought it was a female. Maybe you have the wrong one" and send you off hoping to catch you killing a fresh one. After a while I became convinced that sand fleas were standard Marine Corps issue - meaning they came with uniforms and guns and meals - free - from the Marine Corps. And God help the recruit that didn't appreciate what The Corps provided for his sorry ass for free. Let me tell you about Motivation Platoon. You may have seen the photographs in Life Magazine years ago but I'm sorry - pictures - and whatever words I write - are simply never going to impart what Motivation platoon was really like - and I never even went through it, myself - I just stood upwind of the nastiest smelling human beings in the history of the world and lived to tell the tale. Mind you, I said "upwind," not "downwind." Motivation Platoon was a training tool Marine drill instructors could invoke if normal methods were failing to shape a recruit into a Marine. Again, all my information is second-hand because I was a good boy and quickly made a squad leader in bootcamp - over two ex-U.S. Army sergeants - but basically Motivation is Hell Week compressed into one day - or Hell Year compressed into one month. You were sent for one day or thirty day Motivation, depending on how much of an impression the instructor cared to make upon your bod. Marine Corps bootcamp was no walk in the park in 1972, but compared to Motivation it was like Club Med. There were far more nasty, mean people available and willing to scream at you all day. No possible amount of PT could satisfy them. No amount of cleanliness could satisfy them. You couldn't satisfy them, no matter what 17

you did or how you did it. And everyone ended up in the ditch - a drainage ditch filled with raw sewage, garbage, mud, insects, probably snakes and carcasses of dead animals - and maybe even a few ex-recruits, I don't know. All I know was any man from my platoon who attended one-day Motivation never had to be reminded why they went. No one ever progressed to 30-day Motivation that I ever met. I'm not sure a human could survive such a thing. Literally. Recruits were served three meals a day. The food was plentiful and good enough for me. I've always been a garbage gut, uh, "meat and potatoes man" anyway. Military cooking was great as far as I was concerned. I even loved the legendary "shit on a shingle" - chipped beef on toast. As one guy I knew on submarines used to say - his highest culinary complement, "It'll make a turd." Unfortunately, when the drill instructor was in a hurry for us to get somewhere, we ate what he called "duck." No matter what was on the menu, the drill instructor would pass the word "we're eating duck today" and we knew we had to "duck the f*ck in and duck the f*ck out" - usually no problem for me. I could inhale food as fast as my 155 pound body could make it disappear. At one point my mother was convinced I had a hollow leg. But then there were days we ate "geese," which meant you could eat as much food as you could stuff down your throat from the end of the serving line to the trash cans by the exit. I guess geese are supposed to be faster than ducks, or so the drill instructors would imply. I was never starved though - I put on 35 pounds in bootcamp. From 117 pounds at high school graduation to 155 pounds listed on my bootcamp I.D. card. Later when I joined the Navy, I heard a lot of stories about sailors getting laid during Service Week in Orlando bootcamp. What? Getting laid in bootcamp? I didn't even see women for three months at Parris Island. No girls, no liberty, no beer. Just mosquitoes, sand fleas, and drill instructors from hell. The Marines are quite an outfit - something that you have to see to believe. And for two years I saw a lot of it. And stepped in a lot of it«.. In bootcamp, there were a billion things you just did not do. Fart at attention. Show up naked for watch. Or hold hands with anything, especially yourself. The list is endless, but at the top was you did not embarrass your drill instructors. Under no circumstances. And worse, you never embarrassed your Senior drill instructor. Ever. One fine day we're on the drill field practicing for a big competition. If you've ever seen a crack troop of Marines led by a good drill sergeant, they tend to flow like one. Every move is perfect; every turn cut on a dime. It's a pleasure watching human beings do something so well together. (Go get 'em, 8th & I!)

8th & I


Then there was Platoon 393. For us it was, "Forward, shuffle." We had about six people out of eighty who knew that if the boot that pointed that way went on that foot, naturally the boot that pointed the other way went on the other foot. Needless to say, we managed to "embarrass" our senior drill instructor in front of a few of his fellow D.I.'s. It was an Academy Award winning performance. The senior threw up his hands, made an assortment of dejected, sorry faces and walked away from us slowly, his head hung low. Eighty of us stood in the middle of the parade ground, too frightened to move, knowing we were dead meat. We waited for ten uncomfortable minutes, waiting to die, until an assistant instructor retrieved us. To a man, we wished we were elsewhere. But it was great. The assistant actually ordered us to pull our shirt tails out - and tilt our hats sideways. Unstring one boot lace so it dragged behind us. Unbutton our pockets, mess up our hair, push one sock down and leave the other up - just look as ragged as possible. Then we were ordered to "diddybop" back to the barracks. Marching was not allowed. Eighty disheveled guys "diddybopped" across the parade ground. What a sight we must have made - it brings to mind Monty Python's Ministry Of Silly Walks. We got in the barracks, fixed ourselves up real quick and scurried to attention in front of our bunks waiting for the inevitable. And it came all too soon. I heard noises at the far end of the barracks, which quickly escalated to yelling and crashing sounds. I'd been in bootcamp long enough to perfect the "Peripheral Peek" - checking things out to my left and right without appearing to move my head, which would immediately give your movement away to an instructor. I saw it was the three cronies who witnessed our Senior's embarrassment on the drill field. The three were a tidal wave of destruction, tearing everyone and everything up in their path. Lockers were dumped, people were pushed around and given a shot or two - or three. Bunks were ripped up and overturned. And all the while these guys are screaming at the top of their very powerful lungs. I never saw or heard anything quite like it in my entire life. Now, to this day I don't know what possessed me to laugh. Seeing three grown men acting like bigger idiots then I'd ever seen before - well, I plead insanity, but laugh I did. I had a big ol' grin on my face as the wave approached, and it was even starting to get infectious - across the squad bay from me, Tony Bowe was starting to crack up too. But he didn't get caught. What I didn't know was one of the three had snuck up behind the bunks, out of my line of "peek" and snagged me laughing. AH HAH!!! He immediately called his two buddies over. One got an inch from my nose, one an inch from my right ear, one an inch from my left ear, and they screamed at me for twenty minutes. They got into it so much that little pieces of heart and lung came up and hit me in the face and ears. And how I lied at the top of my own lungs! "NO SIR, IT WASN'T FUNNY, SIR!" "NO SIR, THE PRIVATE WASN'T LAUGHING, SIR!" "NO SIR, THE PRIVATE WILL NEVER LAUGH AGAIN, SIR!" I don't think I've ever stopped laughing. In addition to exercising you to death, the drill instructors could and did reach out and break your face from time to time. Legally or illegally, it didn't matter. But none of us would ever dream of testifying against a drill instructor. Once, before asking if any of us saw the senior drill instructor hit this one scumbag private, we were reminded that legal proceedings have a way of stretching out time for a recruit on Parris Island. You couldn't graduate and leave if court martial proceedings held you up. I didn't see nuttin'. Did you? Have you ever seen the movie "Private Benjamin," where Goldie Hawn comes strolling out of the gas chamber with her mask on, wondering what all the fuss is about? The instructor grabs the mask off her face and pushes her back inside the room - and for those of us who've been there, we knew the horror that awaited young Judy Benjamin in that gas filled room. Remember back when you were three or four years old, and you breathed in something you shouldn't have, and a part of it got stuck inside your lungs for the last 30 years? No, I didn't expect you'd remember it, but I can guarantee, taking your gas mask off inside the room filled with gas would surely have cleaned out your sinuses from things stuck in there from as far back as the womb. I never saw so much snot in my entire life, ever - nor 19

would I want to. I wanted to die once that stuff got into me. The scariest part was that exposure to gas was supposed to be a yearly training adventure - I should have gone through it twice, but I got out of #2 some way I don't recall - probably through my connections in Regimental S-1.


Our last day on Parris Island was a joyous one. After graduation, we piled on one of the buses taking us to the Charleston airport, laughing and joking and carrying on like you wouldn't believe. All of a sudden one of the D.I.s from platoon 394 steps up on the bus with a bad look on his face. A business look. A "you done f*cked up" look we were oh so familiar with. We all froze at attention, which was harder for some than others, being on a bus. You could hear a pin drop, and we all suddenly knew this had been some kind of psychological test - we weren't really getting to leave. This man was here to drag us all back to hell. He surveyed us with this cold look - then breaks into a big grin and says, "GOOD LUCK, MARINES!" We freaked, naturally. You could hear this mass escape of air from our lungs because all of us had been holding our breath, waiting for the worst.

Bootcamp Issued I.D. Card

When we got to the Charleston airport, several of the guys bought themselves ribbons and medals to wear home. Yes, I'm quite serious. I'll never forget one guy trying on the different medals to see which one looked best with his green uniform. I think he gave himself the Congressional Medal Of Honor to wear home to war torn Newark.


Front Gate, Camp Pendleton, California Camp Pendleton, California was a scary place. As usual when reporting aboard, I got there late at night. When you report to a military base after hours, you take your chances. I was there for machine gunner school because my request for sea-going Marines had been turned down - thank the Lord. It was later in the Navy when I saw what kind of awful life those guys led. The butt of a million sailor jokes and rude remarks. "Sea-going bellhops" was a favorite. And always outnumbered, even if one Marine equals five or six sailors in a fist fight. Mount Motherf***** was the title given to the mountain we had to climb too often during advanced infantry training. You'd start dying about a quarter of the way up, but fear of being singled out as a quitter kept us going. Try carrying an M-60 machine gun - or worse, a hundred-fifty pounds of lead ammunition - up the side of a mountain sometime.


I finished first in my class at machine gun school, which meant I was supposed to get my first choice of duty station. I picked the Marine Barracks at the Groton, Connecticut submarine base. It was the closest duty to home, and I was still foolishly homesick. I don't know how it came about, and I wasn't too thrilled at the time, but when my orders arrived at the end of 1972 they said "Okinawa."

Okinawa. A little dot out in the Pacific Ocean where some serious stuff from World War II happened. I knew nothing about the place when I arrived, and thirteen months later when I left, I knew about as much. I made no attempt to experience the culture or the cuisine. I'd occasionally walk down to the beach, a white sand/blue water heaven if I ever saw one, but I wasn't too happy to be stuck on Okinawa. I rarely went anywhere off the base because I didn't drink, and oriental women did not appeal to me at the time. I can't say I was a shut-in for a year because I remember hearing a few bar bands, on base and off. Little brown guys who could knock out "Smoke On The Water" flawlessly but couldn't speak a word of English. One white Marine used to go up and play "The Thrill Is Gone" with the band every time I was there, but he wasn't as good as the Filipino bands. 23

I reported to "H" Company, Second Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. Commonly called "Hotel" Company, we were also known as Hog Company the same way "F" Company was known as Fox Company. Part of the initiation into Hog Company was to be unceremoniously dumped in mud. Tom and I were both admin clerks who rarely saw mud, but we sure did that day.

Me & Tom Merriman, 1973 Okinawa is also where all things American were greatly missed by us Americans. Unlike the luxury military services - Goldie Hawn's condos in "Private Benjamin" had nothing on the Air Force pukes at Kadena Marines could not bring wives to Okinawa. Not even the major general who signed my third meritorious promotion, this one to corporal (E-4). We missed home so bad, that if a round eyed woman showed up for any reason on our base, the news would literally sweep the place. We were the furthest from "civilization" so to speak, and Marines would pour out of barracks and mess halls to see the rare woman who didn't have an Epicanthic fold. Guys would drive thirty-eight miles to the southern end of the island just to see roundeye Army and Air Force wives. Hey, when you rely on cabs, shoe leather, and winding two lane highways as your mode of transportation, thirty-eight miles might as well be the moon. As it was, the Amazon jungle ain't got nothin' on Okinawa. We didn't do too much except play Marine a lot. We'd camp out in tents, regardless of monsoons. Practice shooting our weapons, whether it be rifles, pistols, mortars, or the 106mm recoilless rifle. We ran three miles on uneven terrain every day, and went to an endless stream of boring lectures on everything from weapons to hygiene to race relations. One day in early 1973, without warning, we were suddenly issued weapons, live ammunition, and c-rats. We were told to pack our gear, then we were trucked south to Kadena Air Force Base, where we sat for a few hours fidgeting and looking around at each other on stationary C-130 airplanes. There were no explanations, and we weren't into questioning orders at the time, so there we were. I thank goodness nothing ever came of it, like an allexpense paid trip to Vietnam, and we ended up driving back to Camp Schwab after a few hours, again without explanation. I've always wondered what happened and why, and how close to war I actually came at the time. 24

(Deployed to Japan via Navy L.S.T. 1183, USS Peoria)

"Watching the coming of the divine light (Goraiko) which takes place as the sun rises over the mountain in freezing temperatures - is a sacred act". "You are a fool if you don't climb Mt. Fuji in your lifetime. But you are a bigger fool if you climb it twice".


There is a U.S. Marine camp near Mt. Fuji in Japan, a tent city no more than a mile from the eastern base of the mountain. Being a huge fan of mountains, I spent a part of every clear day in quiet awe of that marvelous view, and soon decided I had to climb it. Everyone thought I was crazy, and for the first time I understood the answer to every question about climbing mountains - "because it's there." Only one other guy, Marvin from western Oregon, offered to make the climb with me. We got three day passes and took a bus a good ways up the side of the mountain - I think we started walking at 8,000 feet. My partner took a picture of a Japanese woman and her child standing in front of the sign for the Fuji-Yashita trail, which we followed up the mountain. (Since lost in transit.) The climbing was awful. We were in fantastic shape from having to run three miles a day, but Mt. Fuji was all soft volcanic ash. It was like trying to climb the biggest, steepest sand dune in the world - your feet would sink way down into it, forcing you to take twice as many steps to get anywhere. On the way up were stations for resting, obtaining refreshment, and having your wooden walking stick burned with a hot iron for a small payment - I think the exchange rate was 300 yen to the dollar at the time, and a burn cost about 50 yen. Marvin and I had every stamp put on we could fit, all the way up one side of the mountain and back down the Fuji-Gotemba trail on the other side - and I still have that stick. It is my oldest possession. We spent the night at the ninth of ten stations, exhausted like you wouldn't believe. We slept in something that looked like an opium den, only with no opium and two feet thick layers of blankets. We had to get to the top before the sun rose - that was what it was supposed to be all about, sunrise on Mt. Fuji - but we weren't making it that night. In the morning, the last hundred feet up was murder. As we're dying and climbing, a Marine major we recognized from our camp goes running by us in a track outfit - uphill, mind you - and says, with great enthusiasm, "Let's go, Marines!" He ran briskly by till he was out of sight above us in the clouds. I wanted to puke, never mind the Corps right now - but we finally made it to the top a few minutes before the sun came up. All activity ceased, and everyone looked to the east as the sun made its first appearance of the day. I noticed quite a few people were up there. It was intense. Swirling winds, thick clouds, and a murky looking hole that led down into the still active volcano. We heard a variety of dialects, including an Australian who wore khakis and was the loudest thing up there - just short of the howling wind.

Me on top of Mt. Fuji, Japan


We didn't stay long. There's not much to see even on a clear day at the top - the mountain itself, that is. We could see down the coast toward Numazu, where we'd originally disembarked from the LST we rode from Okinawa. The LST is the Navy ship where they ride right up to the shore, the front (bow) opens, and equipment and people pour out. That was to the south east; most everything else was blocked by clouds.

Sunrise from Mt. Fuji The trip down the other side was a lot more fun, like playing on a never ending sandy dune. You could jump in the air and come down twenty feet away, immediately sinking into the soft ash. We probably ran down half of the mountain, laughing our asses off the whole way. A few weeks later I got lost with two other guys on the north slope of Mt. Fuji while exploring. We thought we were goners after twelve hours of wandering around and seeing no signs of humanity, but finally we stumbled across a logging camp and a free ride back to the base. Back in Okinawa, the company office fell short a man, and since I scored "10" on my typing test in bootcamp, they figured I was a typist. I don't know whether that was ten words per minute or "10 out of 10," but soon I found myself sitting in the office typing company correspondence while my friends slept in muddy holes in the wet jungles of Okinawa. Not bad, so I stuck with it, and eventually had my job code changed to a Remington Raider. Got pretty good at it, too - so good the regimental commander eventually stole me to work in 9th Marine regimental headquarters (S-1.) I worked for a Colonel Stephen Olmstead who I heard later made general. His exec was a lieutenant colonel from Rhode Island who once heard me say "shit rolls downhill" and proceeded to lecture me for a good half hour about how the words of a Marine officer were not "shit" to be rolling downhill. He also came up on me one day while I was typing a letter with headphones on, Led Zeppelin blasting my eardrums out. "Does that help you type?" he asks, and I said "Oh, yes sir!" and was permitted to carry on rocking out. It was almost as much fun as the time in bootcamp when I was allowed to lead the platoon on the morning run with the words of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." What I said, they repeated back to me as loud as they could: Hey hey mama said the way you move Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove 27

Somewhere on Parris Island that day, a Led Zeppelin fan smiled quietly to himself when he heard us go running by. Well, I was tired of the same old: I don't know but I've been told Eskimo pussy is a mighty cold The battalion conducted a huge training exercise in South Korea, where I fell in love a little with a half American, half- Korean bar girl in Pusan as tall as me who spoke perfect English. We were there as part of a huge landing exercise conducted with the Navy. When we first flew into Korea, we stayed at Pohang, north of Pusan. It was snowing like a bastard and several of the guys, mostly from the south, had never seen real snow. They're running around in it like kids, having a blast, not realizing they were also freezing their asses off. Yeah, cold enough to snow, but we're Marines, so we get to sleep in tents. Fortunately, they provided each of us with those down filled mummy looking sleeping bags. It could drop down below zero and we'd be toasty in those mummy bags. But woe be the first poor bastard who had to get out of that cozy, warm cocoon every morning and light the stove that always went out three hours before. Rank has its privileges, and I'd made E-4 by then, so it wasn't me.

Pusan is now called Busan; Pohang is just north In Pohang we saw how discipline worked in the ROK Marines - that's "Republic Of Korea." We're sitting around minding our own business, and along comes this ROK sergeant who walks up to a ROK corporal and starts screaming in his face, smacking him about the head and shoulders, not pleased with something this man did - or had responsibility for. The moment this tirade ended, the corporal turned around, took off toward this ROK private, and did the exact same thing in the same sequence to him. I guess shit does roll downhill in South Korea. We ended up trading everything you could imagine with the ROK Marines. Lighters, belt buckles, flags, clothing, personal effects - all up for trade. I had a ROK Marine belt buckle for years, since lost. 28

The second time we came into Korea was on LSD - the ship, not the drug. We stormed ashore in grand style, but nothing was shooting at us, so it really wasn't much training in my opinion. The LSD is the Navy ship where the ass end sinks in the water, allowing small boats and landing craft to launch and tie up.

When the ship pulled into Pusan, I was elected to be Shore Patrol on the first day. I was told to report to this Army Staff Sergeant who ran the local military police. Well, this was McHale's Army if I ever saw it. This guy was set up like a king. He took us on a tour of Pusan that few white boys ever got to see. I'll never forget Green Street - a long, crowded city street with three stories on either side - where the sergeant told us that anything you could think of could be bought somewhere on this street. Guns, bombs, women, 29

drugs, stolen art, Cuban cigars, political influence, murder - you name it, it could be had - for a price.

Pusan (now Busan) South Korea Near the end of my tour on Okinawa I managed to swing a set of orders to the Marine Corps Development and Education Command (MCDEC) in Quantico, Virginia. I was the only Marine in the Ninth Regiment to get orders to Quantico. Everyone else up for transfer - all my friends - went to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. All of 'em.

Marine Corps HQ, Quantico, Virginia 30

MCDEC is the place where baby Marine officers fresh out of Annapolis learn how to be real Marine officers - The Basic School - or at least as real as you can get without going to war. They also taught enlisted men and women to be officer candidates, and taught the rest of us how to salute everything that moved - when we weren't standing at attention, forced to attend two or three showy retirements a month. Way too close to the D.C. Dog 'n Pony Show, for my tastes. The FBI had an academy at Quantico, where they'd play "storm the terrorist-held aircraft" among other nifty things. But the plane they were using in 1974 looked like something donated by Indiana Jones in 1937. No big jumbo jet swarming with Kat Stevens Kommandoes, just an old prop job. I remember walking across the parade ground in Quantico and seeing this Marine approaching in dress greens. A quick eyecheck told me he wasn't an officer who required a salute, but then my eyes strayed down to his medals - and the top row, left (I believe) was that beautiful blue field with white stars - the Medal Of Honor. I almost tripped, I was overwhelmed with admiration and amazement and "oh my God" and whatever else at the time. He seemed to be in another world, hardly noticing I was there, if at all. Knowing what people go through to even be recommended for awards like this, I just gave the man his space - and continue to be amazed to this day that I actually saw a Medal Of Honor winner in person. All that valor - and a shitload of luck as well, to be still around to not talk about it - funny how guys who have really, really "been there" never brag. Their families can't even get them to talk about it, let alone brag about their medals. I was visiting in New Jersey when my uncle Joe, a freelance photographer who sold pictures to the Associated Press and the Newark Star Ledger, brought me to Eddie Adams' home, who he knew well. Adams is the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who snapped the shot of the South Vietnamese general in the process of blowing the brains out of a suspected V.C. sniper during the Vietnam Conflict. Of course, I had to ask the guy how he could just stand there snapping pictures while a man was being executed, and Mr. Adams said the sniper was just captured after killing several of the general's closest friends. War is hell, I guess.

The Pulitzer Prize Winning Photograph (Eddie Adams) 31

Eddie Adams I was discharged in October 1974. I went back to New York, where it seemed everyone was doing the exact same boring thing they'd been doing when I left two years before. I'd been around a little in two years as a Marine - South Carolina, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Okinawa, Japan, and Virginia. I'd been to South Korea and made stops on Guam and Wake Island. Honorably discharged, I was a twenty year old ex-Marine and semi-world traveler who bored altogether too easily. Went home and tried working at a cement pipe factory with my brother Bill for a while, where my primary duty was breaking up defective sewer pipes with a sledgehammer. This was November in upstate New York, not a good time to be outside with a sledge hammer. Visited friends in Virginia, and five months after I was discharged as a Marine I ended up joining the Navy. Saw an advertisement in a magazine of a nuclear submarine plowing through the waves on the surface of the sea - I think it was the USS Flying Fish. Marines to submarines - and man, did I take some grief from the submariners. Years of it. I signed up as a torpedoman because it was one of the few Navy jobs that didn't require a six year enlistment. Signing my life away for four years was bad enough, but I later signed up an additional year to get a petty officer's stripe and a twelve hundred dollar bonus check that I quickly blew on partying with my friends - and the best damned six string acoustic guitar ever made, a 1975 Guild F50-R Navarre.

Guild F50-R Navarre


CHAPTER TWO USS CASIMIR PULASKI, PATROL #38 General Characteristics, James Madison Class Submarines Builders: General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division, Groton, Connecticut Power Plant: One nuclear reactor, two geared steam turbines, one shaft Length: 425 feet Beam/Width: 33 feet Displacement: 8,000 tons Speed: 20+ knots (23+ miles per hour, 36.8+ kph) Crew: 13 Officers, 107 Enlisted Armament: MK-48 torpedoes, four torpedo tubes Date Deployed: July 28, 1964 (USS James Madison Class)

In the drydock, 1975 Having been a Marine, I was thankfully spared what passed for bootcamp in the Navy. When signed up in the Navy, all former Marines, Army and Air Force veterans were sent to Great Lakes, Illinois for what they called 33

OSVET school - Other Service Veterans. For most of us, it was two weeks of learning who to salute and who not to salute, which I needed because of my tendency to salute enlisted Navy chiefs - the Navy working uniform being far more decorative than the Marines had worn. We were issued uniforms and taught basic Naval customs, but spared all the folding clothes and tying knot crap they had to learn in normal Navy bootcamp. Poor me. I've had to go through life ignorant of how to fold clothing correctly and tie anything more complicated than my shoelaces. But hot damn, I can still shoot guys in the head from 500 yards - a real useful skill in the submarine Navy - and the American workplace as well, which is probably why I was in the Navy five months after getting out of the Marine Corps««. It was awful in Great Lakes, being March. The snow and icy blasts came off Lake Michigan like high speed sub-zero razors. The Navy gave us what passed for winter clothes, but they weren't nearly warm enough to deal with sideways ice winds. There were very few ex-Marines in the OSVET class, and all of us were amazed by the relaxed atmosphere in the Navy. To us, a Marine corporal (E-4) had far more authority than any Navy chief (E-7). Marine corporals were obeyed immediately, every time - or else - and the "or else" had teeth. Can't say that about 80% of the Navy chiefs and officers I ever met. In the Marines, we obeyed the man; in the Navy we obeyed the consequences of not obeying what sometimes fell far short of a man.

I stayed in Great Lakes briefly after OSVET school to complete the Navy's basic electronics school - BEEP School - which took me a week since it was self paced and demanded the intellect of a turnip. From there it was Orlando, Florida - new home of the torpedo school (which had previously been in beautiful Key West) and the brand new nuclear power school - which provided acres of empty concrete to play Frisbee because the nukes weren't fully operational. We were provided brand new barracks too, lost the minute the nukes moved in - after I left.


Torpedo School, Orlando - D.W. at top left, scowling My next stop was submarine school in Groton, Connecticut. Six weeks of learning the 640 Class submarine - the USS Benjamin Franklin - so I could later report to an older 627 Class and find nothing where it was supposed to be. The highlight of sub school for me was the diving tower - practicing for escaping from a submarine. Well, a submarine in fairly shallow water, where submarines rarely operated.

Escape Trainer, Groton SubBase 35

The first phase of training involved a pressure test. They piled a bunch of us in a cigar shaped cylinder, then slowly brought the pressure up to fifty pounds per square inch. I was amazed how easy it was to get out of submarine duty. As soon as the door was sealed and they turned on the pressure, one guy got this funny look on his face and says he wants out. In the Marines, they'd have said "Yeah, so?" and continued, but the Navy stopped the test immediately and let the guy out. Completely out - gone from submarine school and back to the surface fleet, probably to the Med. This happened a few times before we made it to fifty pounds of pressure. People would just suddenly freak out. They'd back off the pressure, hustle his ass out, and start again. It never bothered me in the slightest. It only was bad later on board an operating submarine when they applied pressure while you were sleeping and couldn't manually adjust your ears. You'd wake up feeling like your head was in a vice after they'd dump missile tube air back in the boat after drills. The diving tower was next, if you survived the pressure chamber. Twenty of us crammed into a chamber the same size as the pressure chamber, but this one was stuck on the side of a water tank the size of a huge grain silo, filled with Navy divers to save lives if something went wrong. They ran us to the same pressure as fifty feet underwater and opened the hatch. We put on what was called a Steinke hood - a plastic hood that fit over your head and allowed you to breathe as well as see where you were going on the way up to the surface. Valves built into the hood allowed excess air pressure to exit but supposedly no water could get in if you were ascending. And wearing the hood correctly. And here's where it gets weird. Since the air in the chamber is pressurized to the equivalent of fifty feet underwater, as you come to the surface, that pressurized air expands. If you got to the surface and didn't allow the air out of your lungs, you'd blow up - literally. That's why divers were stationed along the side of the tank - to grab guys not exhaling and punch them in the stomach to force the pressurized air out of them. I got a few shots in the stomach myself - it is just too weird to exhale that long - but luckily managed to avoid blowing up. I was not a big fan of this evolution. I went along because my friends would have made fun of me if I didn't. What? You want me to step out under fifty feet of water with a plastic bag over my head? Are you out of your mind? I might have gone fifteen or twenty feet underwater in my whole life. Fifty? Where's my scuba gear? Where's my diving bell? Where's Jacques Cousteau? You have to duck down in the chamber a little to get underwater and through the hatch. I was shitting my pants, uh, my bathing suit - the whole time. Please, God - allow something to happen where they postpone this test - forever. But no, I had to go through it like everyone else. And ended up loving it. By the time the ride was over, we were all begging to go through again. Nothing like exhaling forever - we were required to shout "HO! HO! HO!" all the way up, and when I came shooting four or five feet out of the water, I was still breathing out. What a ride!


But too many guys had to go through it that day. The tank had been out of order for a long time, and they were catching up everyone they could. No extra rides. Zak told me in 1965 they did the same test from 125 feet underwater - without the Steinke hoods - and had to do it three times. I can't imagine stepping out under 125 feet of water with nothing but a bathing suit and a pair of compressed balls. Sure, if the boat was disabled on the bottom of the French Riviera, I'd do a free ascent from 125 feet and swim ashore to have some fun, but Groton ain't the French Riviera.

I transferred from Sub School to Submarine Group Two on the Groton base. You always hear about the New London submarine base, but in reality, the base sits across the Thames River in a town called Groton, incorporated in 1964. We always stayed away from New London at the time because it was pretty run down. I'd go there only because the best music store in the world - Caruso Music - sits in downtown New London.


Caruso Music, downtown New London Sub Group Two had me join another crew on their flight to Scotland since the Pulaski crew already left a few weeks before. Four buses took us to Bradlee Airport north of Hartford. Got on a Military Airlift Command (MAC) flight to Prestwick, Scotland where double decker red buses took us north to Grennock. Caught a large Navy launch from there, which took an hour to get to Holy Loch by water.

Coming into Holy Loch via local ferry 38

When I finally reported to the USS Casimir Pulaski, all my Navy schools had been a waste of time because everything was different, or was run differently than we'd been led to expect. Torpedo school was as much a waste of time as submarine school had been - nothing but familiarity courses. Like learning how to wash a car in school then having to fix one when you got to the real job. "Forget everything you heard or learned; this is the real Navy" - we heard that a lot on the boats, and it always made me wonder what the point of Navy schools was. Missile boat crews always left the Groton submarine base at night. It was a horror of last minute preparations and tearful goodbyes with those family members who could stand to be there. We'd make bets on who wasn't going to show up, or who made the biggest ass of themselves and blamed being drunk. After all, we were flying away from America and all those wonderful American things you miss only when you don't have them: good telephones. Sunshine. 7 Elevens and fast food. Cold beer. Coke machines. The American legal system. Women with shaved legs and armpits. Any women at all, once we got underway. Yeah, and flying to dreary Holy Loch, where sunshine is imported in cans; the land of sideways rain. We were also prepared to go to sea in the most powerful and totally independent war machine ever built - a missile submarine that could lay waste to a good sized continent in a matter of minutes. We'd sleep as much as possible during the seven hour flight. By the time we arrived, all the rowdier drunks would have been written up or adequately threatened where they'd behave. An average of two sailors would see no liberty in Dunoon for a while based on their lack of cooperation in leaving home. I was put in the seaman gang as soon as I arrived - "seaman" is Navy slang for "slave" - and spent a lot of time painting the 425 foot long Pulaski. The two part paint was almost like a coating of rubber - when it dried in a cup, it was like a hockey puck. But submarines contract under increasing sea pressure, and expand when they come back to the surface. If the paint can't do the same, all of it would flake off after the first dive. Some still did, when not mixed well or applied properly, and that's why we were generally out there every refit re-doing it. I was also a messcook my first patrol, sort of a waiter and busboy and food preparer and all around galley slave - not to mention general object of ridicule. I lucked out though, I was the night baker's messcook and served the easiest meal - mid-rats at midnight, which was mostly leftovers and sandwiches. Sometimes pizza. It beat messcooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which required three or four guys. Me and the night baker Silas owned the mess decks after midnight - well actually, Silas owned it, and I slaved, uh, worked for him. Silas could do things with Navy ingredients no other cook could before or since. His vanilla frosted chocolate cupcakes were to lay down and die for.

The Mess Decks 39

I had to dig right in on ship's qualifications. You don't just walk on board a Navy vessel and find a spot to camp, you're handed various qualification cards full of blank spots for signatures. Signatures were worth points, and depending on your work load, you were assigned a set number of points per week you had to get, or become delinquent in qualifications - dink. Dink was not pleasant. Kind of like after school detention, with everyone free to rub your face in it every moment you stayed dink. Well, everyone who wore the insignia of a qualified submariner - anyone else's opinion didn't count. I was playing guitar for friends in the torpedo room. This smartass shipyard worker named Wazoo, who'd been flown in from Portsmouth, New Hampshire as part of a technical team - The Tiger Team - comes sauntering in and says, "Bet you can't play 'Father and Son." He didn't even ask if I knew who it was by (Cat Stevens) but was quite surprised when I played it all the way through, the right way - with vocals. It was a lot of fun. Better luck next time, Wazoo. I don't even consider "Father And Son" to be obscure - you should hear the obscure songs I can play.

Wazoo from the Tiger Team By the time I was done with ship's qualifications, I knew as much as any non-nuke about the operation of the Casimir Pulaski. I could sketch and explain the ventilation system, electrical systems, trim and drain systems, and all the weapons systems. And for the first time in my life, I understood how nuclear power worked. Nothing but a big tea kettle. I finally completed torpedo room quals. I busted my ass the first patrol and learned the torpedo room, which was the entire forward (bow) compartment on the Pulaski. It was a huge weight off me because it meant I could join the torpedo division full time and stop being junior to the whole boat. I'd stand underway watches in the torpedo room instead of messcooking, and I no longer had to paint the boat in port, just the whole torpedo room. I'd also never have to drive the boat again - a nerve wracking experience at best. The next time I'd have to make an appearance in the Control Room was years in the future, when I'd have to qualify as Chief Of The Watch. My torpedo room interview with Captain Miller went well because I knew what I was doing thanks to the 40

terror of TM2(SS) John Gordon. Gordon was the gruff, barrel chested, loud, abrasive, perpetually-angry-at-theworld diesel boat veteran who ran the Casimir Pulaski's torpedo division. He hated everything and everybody, but especially non-quals, nukes, and twidgets (a twidget being anyone who worked with or understood electronics.)

TM2(SS) John C. Gordon He held special contempt for officers who dared venture out of their Wardroom to interfere in his domain, but hated the rest of us in no particular order. When I was introduced to him, he seemed to grudgingly acknowledge my right to be circulating blood - as long as I circulated it elsewhere. I recall thoughts of Darwin, missing links, and various Neanderthal men. Although I was designated a torpedoman at the time, I fell into one of his three hated categories: non-qual. I was a necessary evil because I'd been through torpedoman school and could be ordered around like a slave - though not a very tolerated one. After initially fearing for my life at all times in his presence, I began _ very slowly - to notice this guy really knew what he was doing. If it fell under his sphere of influence, he knew - in detail - how it worked and how to fix it or jury-rig it in an emergency. Gordon came from the days when torpedomen did most all their own repairs. On the diesel boats, they'd shoot an exercise (dummy) torpedo, surface the boat, and retrieve it themselves. Prepare it for another firing right on board, then shoot it again. And again. In 1975, when the dummy torpedo finished its run, it was picked up by another Navy ship whose sole job was retrieving torpedoes. The torpedo was then trucked and flown to one of five torpedo shops all over the United States where it was torn apart by highly trained technicians and reassembled with a huge multi-million dollar mainframe computer called the Mark 541 A.T.E. (Automatic Test Equipment.) Gordon really knew his stuff. He taught me his way of doing business, and I ended up knowing the torpedo room well enough to be able to rig it for dive - four pages of valves and equipment lineups - in the dark. I could make four different torpedoes ready to fire, three of which are no longer used by the Fleet. 41

And though I could never top his record of one minute and fifteen seconds, I could prepare a tube for snap shooting in respectable time. A snap shot is putting a torpedo in the water as fast as you and hydraulics can manage. What started as a nightmare ended up a basic learning experience no college could dream of providing. Gordon's premise of knowing your job so well that no one will poke their nose in your affairs has unfortunately fallen by the wayside. These days it doesn't matter if you're the very best at what you do, someone feels they can improve on it with another stupid rule or written procedure. The volume of paper is overwhelming. Typical nuke bullshit that Commander Beach didn't have to bother with in World War II. I heard bits and pieces about John Gordon after we parted ways, but so much changed so fast. The nuclear Navy became no place for a man who did his job but made his own rules in the process. There's no room for individualists on today's multi-billion dollar wondersubs, but after taking years to know - and finally understanding and admiring John Gordon and what he stood for, I wonder if we're better off. On the Pulaski, one of the most important items on board was E.B. green tape. The Pulaski was commissioned in 1964, and worn out in a few places by 1975. E.B. green was the best duct tape in the world. Without E.B. green, the Pulaski would never have got underway. It wasn't even allowed or available on newer boats, but I swear, the Pulaski was held together with generous applications of green duct tape. It wasn't hard for me to get accustomed to life on board a nuclear submarine. People who couldn't amuse themselves had trouble, but those of us who read books or played instruments or games - or enjoyed the dying art of conversation - had no trouble passing the time. I installed a transducer in my acoustic guitar because I was tired of being drowned out by people and machinery noises. There are few truly quiet places on a submarine, and people sleep in most of those. I used to bring at least one, but often three guitars with me on patrol. My six string, a twelve string acoustic, and a Gibson Les Paul electric I'd play through a battery powered amplifier in the Missile Control Fan Room. Four or five of us would squeeze in there - it was super sound insulated - and I'd rock out on the electric guitar through a four inch speaker that had a pig's nose as the volume and on/off switch. Most everyone assumed a "patrol look." Well, at least the cool people did. Some stiffs wore their uniform all patrol. These were the days when the crew could wear any hat they wanted underway. Hey, we're out in the middle of the Atlantic for seventy days without surfacing or seeing another human or admiral, so why not? Haircuts were required to fly to Scotland, but when we were underway, they were not a matter of routine. No one shaved regularly except the stiffs. Lots of beards, and lots of facial hair that might become a beard in a few years with testosterone shots. You could wear any shoes or sneakers you wanted. Colored tee shirts with your poopie suits - poopie suits being the light, one piece garment most of us wore because it was comfortable and practical - had a million pockets. I think it was called a poopie suit because you had to take the top part off in order to take a dump. Invariably, part of the top half would wind up in the bowl. On later subs, they made us shave underway. They made everyone wear approved Navy shoes, white tee shirts, and black socks. Haircuts were as regimented as if we were in downtown Norfolk, on parade. The benefits of peacetime, I guess. And creeping nukism. I got Escape and Rescue Systems signed off without much trouble, since I already knew it from torpedo room quals. What a joke. I wonder for whose benefit the escape systems are? The Pulaski is so old you can't get the upper hatch open without a crane, even when there ain't a thousand pounds of sea pressure sitting on it. We made Mark 37 torpedoes ready for firing just before we went to full alert status. On alert, we were ready to scrap, so to speak. Sixteen missiles were now available should anyone be foolish enough to require 42

radiation in large doses. The Mark 37 was the Navy's electric torpedo, which swam out of the tube on its own instead of being ejected with water pressure. Sure was quieter, too. The last I heard was the retired Mark 37's were made into some kind of awful underwater mine, which sits on the bottom for great lengths of time waiting for the right target to come along. Kind of a doomsday mine. We also carried the Mark 14 Mod 5 torpedo, the oldest weapon the Navy used other than the .45 caliber pistol. Leftover from World War Two, the Mark 14 was ancient history compared to the Mark 48 we ended up with. The 14 ran on alcohol or this stuff called Navol, and was a torpedo you pointed at a target and fired. Well, actually, you pointed several of them at a target, and hoped one of them would do the job.

Later weapons, even the Mark 37, had their own sonar systems for searching out targets. Just get the weapon in the right area and get the hell out of the way. Torpedoes after the Mark 14 were also wire guided, which always blows people's minds. Navy torpedoes have been wire guided for years. The sub had a supply of thin wire (24 gage) mounted in the rear of the torpedo tube, and the torpedo had an internal supply. It was some of the most awful, nasty shit in the world because it had graphite on it. Permanent clothing and skin stainer. When the weapon is fired, the graphite wire is so slick, the torpedo leaves a trail of it behind it. The firing sub, as it moves, leave its own trail of wire, so there's never any strain on the splice connecting the sub to the torpedo. Commands can be sent on the wire, and updated information is constantly being fed back from the weapon to the firing console in the Control Room. John Caballero opened the signal ejector muzzle ball valve by accident - your typical "lean on something trying to look cool - and blow it completely" - which caused a loud rush of sea water to spill into the drain that scared the shit out of him. I quickly took care of it and laughed my ass off. I'm surprised sonar didn't complain - it was more like a roar.

John Caballero by the signal ejector 43

Found out "The Man Who Never Was" in World War Two embarked from a British submarine out of Holy Loch in 1943. Funny, the place didn't look historical when I first saw it. "The Man Who Never Was" was a corpse used by the Allies in WWII to mislead the Germans about the D-Day landing. They planted misleading papers on the body and cut it adrift for the Nazis to find. Sneaky, but cool. Scott Parks threatened Mark Boesch with writing him up for "picking on me." We were a bunch of kids, for the most part. Captains were in their early thirties, and many "senior" enlisted men were in their mid to late twenties. The crew were threatened with being written up all the time for a variety of childish reasons, but few cases actually made it to the captain. At least in the beginning of my submarine career. A friend told me of a sailor he knew having personal problems who missed ship's movement in the 1960's they got underway without him because he didn't show up. When the ship got back, the captain said, "When we pull into port next time, maybe you should stay aboard for a while" - which the guy did, and nothing more was ever said about it. No black marks on the guy's record. No short paydays. We made tiny kites from the lens cleaning paper used on periscope eyepieces. Flew them out the torpedo room watertight door while ship's ventilation fans were in fast speed. The ventilation system was set up so air came into the torpedo room via ducts in the walls, then circulated back out through the only door, into the operations compartment. When fans were in high speed (off/slow/fast), quite a lot of air went out that door. Stew almost got stuck in it one day playing a game of "let's see if we can get stuck in the torpedo room hatch" while fans were in fast speed. It scared the shit out of him and us, and he never tried it again. He said it was like a huge invisible hand slapped him when the pressure suddenly built up a few pounds. When we weren't foolishly getting stuck in it, I could fly a small lens paper kite a good twelve feet out the door and down the middle level passageway. The officers never appreciated this because the kite would dance outside the door of the Wardroom and distract them. Can't be distracting those officers; might interfere with lofty thoughts, or whatever it is they do in the Wardroom besides eat chow and watch movies. Mr. Diesel Boats himself, Mr. Qualified-Submarines-At-Birth John Gordon, Torpedoman Extraordinaire, came back from liberty in Dunoon a good two and a half sheets to the wind. Often. One night he must have gotten up above three sheets - to the hurricane, never mind the wind. He came stumbling back to the boat very late, and decided to go to the head before passing out in his bunk. Before I continue, please allow me to explain how you go to the bathroom on a submarine for those who have not had the pleasure. Submarines have septic tanks that must be pumped to sea on some newer boats, and blown dry with high pressure air on other older boats. The Casimir Pulaski was the high pressure air variety - seal up all the openings except the one leading to the barge alongside used for that purpose, pump pressure into the tank, and watch the gauge go down as the tank empties. Depressurize the tank, and people can flush the toilets again. Shortly before Gordon came back aboard that evening, a petty officer had been watching Sanitary #2 tank level during his hourly rounds. When it got to a certain level, he'd obtained the whole world's permission to pump the offending tank - the Duty Officer, the Duty Chief, the nukes, and the tender. He'd gone around with a checklist lining up all the right valves to empty the tank. One of the last things he did was hang signs on each and every toilet on the boat - large red metal plates, usually hung right on the doorknob. They actually interfered with you getting through the door sometimes, and read: WARNING: BLOWING SANITARIES DO NOT OPEN BALL VALVE 44

What that meant is all submarine toilets prior to the Trident Class were manually operated. When you walked into the stall, there was a stainless steel toilet bowl filled with about a half gallon of sea water. You did your business, turned on the sea water flushing valve, and manually opened the toilet ball valve to rinse everything down. You shut the ball valve, then ran the sea water long enough to leave a half gallon in the bowl for the next guy. You exited: stage out. So, as I said, all this was happening just before TM2(SS) Gordon came back drunk as a skunk from Dunoon. He stood in front of the bowl taking the last satisfying leak of what had been a wonderful night, up to this moment. He'd walked past the huge red sign on the toilet door, not even noticing it. The sanitary tank was up to pressure, and had just started emptying into the barge tied up next to us. Well, Gordon finished his business. He ambled to his feet, turned around, reached down and opened the ball valve expecting to flush his waste down it - and the enormously pressurized tank actually drove shit and toilet paper and Lord knows what up under his eyelids from its three inch diameter opening - as well as over every other part of the front of his body. As well as the interior of the stall - everywhere. He fortunately remembers nothing but a roar so loud it defied description, but that didn't stop him from immediately opening the ball valve a second time, with the same result. This time he was possibly a little less drunk, so he got the message. When he came into the torpedo room to get his stuff to change and take a shower, no living human being ever smelled so bad. No human ever cursed like this man was cursing. By unofficial but general consent he was awarded that patrol's "Golden Flapper" award for being the first - and hopefully the last - to do that to himself. Trident submarines dispensed with this age old tradition by installing normal, porcelain flushing toilets that empty into tanks that are pumped. A shame. Must make for less colorful sea stories.

The Golden Flapper Award (artist unknown) It always amazed me to see someone have culinary orgasms over food I wouldn't let my dog eat. I swear, we'd all be in line to eat, and someone would request rare steak. The cook would throw it on the grill and count, "one, two, three, four, five". Flip it over and count, "one, two, three, four, five". Take it off the grill and serve it. So sorry. I'll admit I'm a carnivore, but I can't be seeing the red, flowing blood of my prey. I have to request steaks be "burnt", but I never see any blood. I might be a vegetarian too, if I had Paul McCartney's money. Well, nah. Nothing like a Whopper settling in the bottom of your stomach. 45

"Are you the guy with the explosive decompressable belly?" asked the ship's engineer as he passes me on watch. I suppose, in terms of sheer power, it's an accomplishment that sonar can hear me burp in the torpedo room through their hydrophones. We fired the M-14 rifle and .45 caliber pistol from the bridge at least once a patrol, normally during sea trials. It was mostly familiarization firing that weapons people had to keep up on - Lounsberry used to walk up disgustedly, pick up the pistol, point it out to sea, and squeeze off all five rounds in five seconds - but being the Small Arms Petty Officer, I always had a ball. One time me and the Engineer got sopping wet because huge waves were breaking over the top of the bridge. It was awful out, but not deep enough to dive yet. He got me with a wave in the face once - "Hey Ward, look at that!" - I look up and WHACK goes a wave in my face - but Nature got him back for me. I wish I could claim it was me who tricked him into taking a facial wave, but this guy was smarter than any three or four of us put together.

The Engineer, hard at work The M-16 rifles and .45 caliber pistols were rarely fired and well maintained. I wanted to misappropriate a few of them to take home, but being the Small Arms Petty Officer, they'd probably figure it out pretty fast. My hearing stayed in bad shape for days from firing weapons from the bridge without ear protection. The way the bridge is set up, not only do you get the noise of the weapon itself - .45's are loud bastards when they go off 46

in reality - but you also get the reverberation from the conning tower (sail) under you. Maybe I'd learn from my mistakes and wear ear protection the next time? Not a chance. Only missile techs wore ear protection, back then. Silas, my old boss and night baker, could make the best cupcakes I ever had using the same stuff all the other cooks had access to. It's not like he brought extra ingredients to make three hundred great cupcakes for the crew. Some guys could cook up a storm with what the Navy gave them, while other "cooks" should have had jobs that didn't involve food. I guess youse signs your enlistment contract; youse volunteers for submarine service; youse takes your chances with the cooks.

Silas (L) & The Boesch(R)during Halfway Night I used to run people through the torpedo room for ship's qualifications, and the torpedo room was no easy signature. As well it shouldn't be. The torpedo room was its own compartment, and if the room watch were dead or otherwise out of it, you have to be able to stop flooding from several places. You also need to be able to shut down high pressure air, hydraulics, oxygen, sonar, and electrical systems. Deal with escape and rescue equipment, as well as the signal ejector. Where is the switch to turn on the submersible pump? How do you deal with burning plastic explosive on the deck? What's your primary consideration in a torpedo fuel fire? Later submarines were built with the "sub safe" system, which meant one man could effectively shut every hole in the boat with two switches. The valves on the Casimir Pulaski leading from the People Tank (us) to the Water Tank (the Atlantic Ocean) were under local, manual control. And there were a bunch of them. Subsafe was brought about after the USS Thresher (SSN 593) went down with all hands in 1963, a subject submarine sailors generally don't talk about, along with the USS Scorpion in 1968. And the USS Squalus. Hey, I 47

want to know everything about these tragedies - so it doesn't ever happen again. These are the guys I mostly think about on Memorial Day. Got promoted to third class torpedoman up in the Control Room. The XO called me "fat." Am I? I sure have a big nose. During the presentation, Captain Miller says, "Third class torpedoman; first class guitar player" from my performance in Halfway Night the night before. God bless you, sir - I thought I sucked, for the most part.

Chief Chappell, Me, Mr. Schleeter, Captain Miller "Grinder" Grindrod was the missile tech who ran me through the Missile Compartment for my qualifications. All the missile techs slept in the missile compartment on the Pulaski - as did most enlisteds on Trident subs. It was weird enough walking around all that power, I couldn't imagine sleeping peacefully within a few feet of hundreds of megatons of nuclear bombs. Yeah, not me. I was a nice, safe distance away - up in the torpedo room. There was one missile tech whose name I won't mention because he's the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet - but take a shower? About as soon as everyone else paints themselves green and sticks red feathers up our noses to handle weapons. I pass this guy in the narrow passageway, and the sour, cheesy, dead smell wafts up into my nostrils within a few steps. Whoa! In the Marine Corps, this man would have been treated to a shower at the hands of forty guys - willing or not. People talked a lot about doing that on the Pulaski, but nothing was ever done that I recall. I slept in the torpedo room, so I didn't have to try to sleep through the sinus-jolting stench. A message came in confirming a port visit to Faslane, Scotland. We arrived the 24th of May, 1976. All my lovely naked wall pictures came down. It was drab in the room, but I guess it wouldn't do for an American submarine to pull into a foreign port plastered with naked women.


Look closely on the left (Rated R) Heavied up on Machinery #1 and #2 compartments. Witnessed a major waterfight in Machinery #2, from which I escaped dry because they were too busy drenching each other to be bothered with me. Machinery #2 was where all the ship's electrical panels were located - good place for a water fight. 24th of May, 1976 - The torpedo room is rigged and spit polished for visitors - as is the whole boat, except engineering of course, where no visitor is permitted. Not even friends and family back in the states. We're tied up at the British submarine base in Faslane, Scotland.


Holy Loch in relation to Faslane (Scotland) On my duty day, and I was assigned to the "Committee" ashore, which is the British equivalent of Duty Host at the tender in Holy Loch - duty babysitter is more like it. I was a liaison, so to speak, between things British and things American. Well, our crew didn't get on with the British sub sailors from the start, and the biggest brawl I ever saw erupted in the Trident Club, with me in the middle of it trying to get our people out alive and back to the boat. It was just like the movies - people and chairs and fists flying. We were badly outnumbered. Many of us - mostly senior people - were trying to stop it. Soon the Royal Marines were out in force. As I'm trying to pull Harv Miller off someone and point his ass at the nearby exit, a Royal Marine grabs me from behind by the neck and drags me backwards to smash my back hard on the floor. He screams at me not to move or he'll smash my face in. The impact took the wind out of me completely.


Harv Miller When the breath returned to my body, I convinced his majesty I was on The Committee and trying to get our people out of there - showed him my button - so he let me back up. We got out of there with our lives - the odds were 20 to 1 - and back to the boat. Me, Curt, Tom, Pete Allphin, Cip, and Doc Ferris jammed for a few hours afterward in the ship's library and recorded it. (Since lost«..) It must have been during this jam session I developed "tennis wrist", because I couldn't do anything with my right wrist the next day, and I don't think it was from the Brit Brawl. I was in considerable pain and had it all wrapped up. All in all, a very memorable day in the life and times of the crew of the USS Casimir Pulaski!!! 28 May 1976 - Got back underway (thank goodness) to finish the rest of the patrol. I hope we visit a friendly port next time - like Leningrad or Stalingrad. Are we at war with the British again? I lost a filling in my tooth, had an obvious bruise on my face, my arm was scraped up, and my wrist was trashed. It got harder to convince people I wasn't involved in "Monday Night At The Brit Brawl" as anything but a combatant. Billy Bunts got qualified just after Faslane. {Author¶s Note: May you rest in peace, shipmate - Billy was killed with his fiancée during the next offcrew by a head on drunk driver on the interstate. I'll never forget him poking his head out of sanitary tank #2 one day - the awful smelling one - with a huge grin on his face because he was actually being allowed to work with Auxiliary Division instead of the seaman gang. I knew he was happy because aside from the huge grin on his face, he was the only one not puking from the smell of the open tank.} Yeoman Scott Park was up to visit from time to time. Hell of a nice guy. I think he's a Mormon - so very straight. Excellent XO striker. And speaking of the XO, he caught me twice in one week snacking on watch in the torpedo room and is none too happy about it. Having learned my lesson, I had a bowl of fresh chocolate pudding up there on my right side, which faced away from the door. The XO gave me a thoughtful glance, standing by the Wardroom, but thankfully didn't come for a closer look. Wow, I would have been in the shits. Well, no - actually I'd have lied and told him it was torpedo 51

grease. When I finally finished my ship's qualification card, I turned it in to Mr.Macie in his capacity as quals officer to schedule my final board. Later, I was walking past the Wardroom when Mr. Vito called me in and ordered me to tell Mr. Allen to f*ck off sideways. Always obliging, I complied, "F*ck off sideways, sir" - I remembered at least to say "sir" - whereupon Vito whips out my qual card and informs me that Mr. Allen was the head of my board. "Neato" Vito, huh? Amazingly, I slept like a log till they came to get me at 1300. Woke up half dead and had my submarine qualification board with Mr. Allen, Chief Simmons, and Paul Hammer. I did ok, passed it and, I'm done with ship's qualifications! TM3(SS) Ward. Sounds good, huh? After the board, I hit the rack again for many hours. I didn't have to worry about anyone tacking my dolphins on until the captain actually attached them to my chest. Later, my new dolphins were tacked on by Southwell, Gordon, James, Hayes, Gonzales, and later Miller and Waters. Ouch. Waters hit me like a truck, as did Miller, who could punch through the steel hull if he wanted to, I think.





Tacking on dolphins is probably as passé as drinking your dolphins was when I was in. In the old days submarine sailors "drank" their dolphins when they qualified. A pitcher would be filled with one shot of everything behind the bar, then topped off with beer. The newly qualified would stand in a plastic lined trashcan, his head sticking through another plastic bag that covered his body, and drink from the pitcher until the dolphin insignia were in his teeth. For most people, this involved dumping three quarters of the pitcher on yourself, everyone around you, and the floor. For Mark Boesch, the practice was illegal. They'd banned it after several sailors dropped stone dead from alcohol poisoning - but he really wanted to be an old salt, and we let him. I forget what that drink cost, but it was expensive - one shot of everything behind a well stocked bar?

Mark Boesch - "The Boesch" Well, Mark didn't play the game. He might have spilled three or four drops as he inhaled this huge pitcher of mostly straight alcohol. We were astonished - we're talking thirty shots of liquor and liqueur - but after a long time - longer than practical, because Mark argued the whole time against it - we finally got him to throw up. He was starting to talk funny. Funny weird, not funny "ha ha." Afterward, he was none the worse for wear, but had all that stayed in his system, I think we'd have lost a shipmate. He must have had the constitution of a horse to stay standing - and communicating - after consuming that much alcohol. By 1975, drinking dolphins was banned, but you could still have your dolphin insignia "tacked on." The way it was explained to me, a set of dolphins or rank insignia really wasn't valid until several qualified people punched it into your flesh. Finishing quals or making rank was fun, but it was also an opportunity to get pounded by anyone who did it before you. If people liked you, they might tap you lightly, shake your hand, and say congratulations. If they hated you, 56

you could end up black and blue for a week - but you'd still get "congratulated." Shit, they liked me and pounded the shit out of me anyway. I have the photograph of my left arm after I made rank in Orlando. It was awful - and stayed that way for weeks. It looked like my upper arm had been through the Spanish Inquisition. When TM1 Ulenake (pronounced youlennock) hit my arm, I thought I was going to die. My children got dizzy from that punch, and none of them were even born yet. COOL QUOTES "There is no fairness in this world. I just try to duck my share of unfairness" - Curtis White, MM1/SS. "Keep your mouth shut, your zipper up, and believe in Jesus Christ" - Mrs. White's parting words to her darling son Curtis as he is about to board the plane which will take him from his native Australia to the join the United States Navy. "THE SMOKING LAMP IS HA HA HA LIT HA HA IN ALL AUTHORIZED SPACES" - 1MC announcement made by Rick Chatfield. The captain was less than impressed. "THE SMOKING LAMP IS OUT THROUGHOUT THE SHIP, OOPS" - Chief Mac, 1MC. "Beware of a skinny cook" - Willy Weeks, MS1/SS

MS1(SS) Willie Weeks


CHAPTER THREE USS CASIMIR PULASKI, PATROL #40 A typical offcrew started with the reverse of the trip we made to Scotland three months earlier. Take a big grey Navy launch from Holy Loch to Gourock, double decker red bus to Prestwick Airport, and MAC flight to Bradlee Airport in Connecticut. We'd either ride a Navy bus back to the submarine base in Groton, or be picked up at the airport by family and/or friends.

Customs was endless waiting while some stranger ran their hands through laundry no one bothered to do during the last week or so. Laundry? What laundry? WE'RE GOING HOME!!!! Most times you could see your loved ones waiting beyond Customs, which always speeds things up«..not. It was a waste of time, I thought. Most of us who would have smuggled anything from Scotland didn't have enough rank to rate a cruise box, which were sealed with metal bands and exempt from search because they supposedly contained classified material, specialized tools, and divisional paperwork. Yeah, right. Once we got through Customs, we were on our own until the first telephone muster in four or five days, or earlier if you were unlucky enough to have something official scheduled. We'd call up the Pulaski office in Groton from anywhere on the planet and say "It's me." Someone would recognize your voice, having just spent three months with you, and check off your name and maybe pass along a message, and you were done. Go back to restin' and relaxin', sailor. The first month of offcrew was weekly musters, one in person and one by telephone. In person, we'd shuffle in by 8:00am dressed like whatever struck us, say "hi," get any important messages or mail, and after comparing war stories with the boys, usually walk back out the door by nine. We all had a year's worth of salary to spend in six months, and we made the most of it. The only people who spent any money underway were those who lost at poker. When the R&R period was officially over, we'd muster every weekday in the Pulaski offcrew office. Some 58

days we were back out the door in no time, and some days we stayed all day. It depended on who was running the show. Some supervisors believed being away for six months a year in a submarine was bad enough, and gave us as much free time as we could stand. Others, mostly those who had no imagination and couldn't appreciate free time themselves, made us stay all day, often just to sit there like bumps on a log. During the two months of the offcrew training period, we'd be involved in all kinds of weird stuff. The nukes trained endlessly on the same crap they did underway, but us lucky weaponeers did all kinds of different stuff. We even got to blow up our own little glob of C-4 plastic explosive, and cut down small trees with det cord at Fort Devons, Massachusetts. It was training for scuttling the ship - a couple of suitcases stashed in a ship's locker, both full of powerful shape charges and timers to blow holes in the hull and sink the ship if we needed to keep it out of hostile hands. We went into the sub school flooding simulator once a year and all died - every time we tried. I don't know if there was some kind of lesson to be learned here, but the water always came in too fast and too cold for us to deal with. I doubt anyone enjoyed being pronounced dead from behind the glass window of the control station, but maybe it put a little spring in our step out at sea knowing how fast we could all be dead.

And we had it good compared to sub sailors prior to the 70's, when the flooding simulator was physically located in the Thames River. Winters could be pretty awful in Connecticut, and there was no mercy just because the water was 29 degrees. On the boats, our divers still had to make daily security swims during winter. That means they had to go underwater and look at the whole boat to make sure there was nothing suspicious attached to the hull. They'd have to break through a foot of ice first sometimes, and pee in their suits to keep warm. 59

Some of us went to train in the diving simulator, a whole room set up like the control room of a sub. Ours? Of course not, but it rocked and rolled like a real submarine responding to your commands. Some guys used to try to put the thing into the stops just for fun. "Uh, sorry sir. Didn't mean to crash us into that imaginary underwater mountain."

The 633 Control Room The nukes, as always, were punished and punished with training. Whatever small amount of proficiency pay they received wasn't worth what they went through, in my opinion. Gee, a few extra bucks PLUS the thrill of working up close and personal with lethal radiation. And they say there are no perks left in the Navy. Sometimes we were just farmed out to other commands as semi-slaves, and I once found myself patrolling Navy housing in a shore patrol vehicle for a month. It was the best duty I ever had - three days on, and three days off, for the whole month. My hours were six at night to three in the morning, and the most exciting thing that happened was driving an hour away to New Haven to pick up a deserter being held in the city jail. It was during this duty I met a fellow shore patrolman named Rusty, a cook who turned me on to his own Red Velvet cake. He should be rich by now, having sold the recipe to Duncan Hines. I was quite sure it was the food of the gods. It was red, and tasted like velvet would taste, if velvet tasted smooth and wonderful beyond belief. The crew had training on the military's supposed "Code Of Conduct." Oh yeah, right - how we're supposed to act during a war. You might as well train us on the Geneva Conventions, we'd be just as ill-prepared. 60

According to Article One of the Code of Conduct, everyone is prepared to die in defense of our country. What? Are you crazy? Where was the fine print on my enlistment contract that said that? I let it be known that Article One was simply not applicable for me. You see, I subscribe to the Marine Corps version of Article One, which states, "Let the other poor bastard die for his country." I was underwater looking to nuke or torpedo the other guy. The Navy style Article One sounds to me like, "Thou shalt kill thyself in defense of thy country," and I'll pass. I have a strict New York City upbringing that dictates, "Do unto others, then split." As the offcrew wound down, more and more attention was paid to the upcoming patrol. We'd prepare for any number of patrol operations, whether they be normal or unexpected. Inspections, trials, extended refits, test firings, port visits, VIP visits, you name it. If we were pulling into a good port - very rare for missile boats; semi-rare for attack boats; and absolutely expected on diesel boats - people would bring extra money and better clothes. If we weren't pulling in anywhere and had several tough inspections coming, we'd bring Vaseline so it wouldn't hurt as much. (Just kidding!!!) There were pages of checklists to be completed, and as the day to fly approached, it was more and more of a mess - and this was only the military part. You also had to pay rent, electric and other bills, three to six months in advance - and plan for being gone from the face of the earth for that time. Pets. Impending winter weather. Car parking, storage, and maintenance. You had to plan for everything and anything, but something else always happened. We never knew what we'd find when we got back to the states after three months, or how much it would cost to fix. Some had to deal with the insanity of "no, he's not going with us" to "yes, he's going" to "don't worry" to "go home and pack" right up to the last second. Quit 'yer whinin', we'll straighten it all out when we get to Scotland. Sometimes, they even did. In the last few days we were all given six paychecks in advance. Sometimes seven, depending on regular payday. This could amount to a fairly nice piece of change for some, but just like we averaged two divorces per patrol, at least two guys would have sob stories about having no money and nothing to show for it three days later on the plane to Scotland. Like many things, "two divorces per patrol" depended on the couple. Some couldn't stand to be apart, and gave up quickly on submarines - and the Navy. Once a sub sailor; always a sub sailor. Some marriages lasted the whole twenty or thirty year enlistment, with the man at sea anywhere from 7090% of the time. When he retired and was around all the time, some couples quickly divorced. My first five years on submarines had far more ups than downs, but as soon as I got married and started raising a family, the idea of walking out on them every few weeks or months was no longer appealing. As usual, we fired torpedoes during sea trials. Mr. Crissinger says disdainfully to Mr. Schleeter - "I'm not your U.I. and don't plan to be." Chuck Manes showed up with a whole box of Fig Newtons stolen from the Wardroom - semi-fresh, even and offered me one Newton per answer to his torpedo room qualification questions. I got the whole box. I'm a fountain of information - when properly bribed. Me and Harv made the rounds, visiting the Chief Of The Watch (COW), the Officer Of The Deck (OOD), the Engineering Officer Of The Watch (EOW), the Engine Room Upper Level watch (ERUL), the AMR#2 Upper Level watch, and the AMR#1 Middle Level watch. Engineering Watch Supervisor Bob Martin demonstrated a 7.1 scale fart over the 2JV sound powered phone circuit that erupted in all its glory from the monitor speaker three inches from the engineering officer's ear. They had a regular Olympic committee back there, with Fred Jensen the 61

presiding judge in maneuvering.

Maneuvering Room on 633 Got caught by the XO eating cashews on watch. He was obviously in a marvelous mood because as punishment, he ate half of them. Sure beats a court martial.

The XO ± Cdr. Larry Marsh (now Admiral) 62

Got involved in these frisbee wars all the time with Pedro the cook, using #10 can plastic lids. Got him real good one day, and was on my way back up to the torpedo room when he regrouped and fired back. Oops - it was deflected into the Wardroom - directly into Mr. Jackson's salad - with him sitting there. Needless to say, he was not pleased. I got the blame, but that's ok - I wish it had been me. A one in a million shot; like being blamed for a hole in one in golf. "Uh, yes sir, that's my frisbee in your salad. But can you comprehend the statistical improbability of such a shot?" November 1976 - Heard the news Bobby Schlayer's mother got in a bad car accident in New York City. We're surfaced, and on our way to rendezvous with a Navy chopper to bring him home. He's also taking mail.

Bobby Schlayer December 1976 - Bobby got qualified today. Gave him my brief case for the mail. Gave him my mixed tape #6. Gave him batteries for his tape deck. What didn't I give him? (Later, 8:00pm) Bobby's off by chopper. It was pretty cold out. The XO gave me a pair of Mickey Mouse ears in his role as Santa. Oh yeah, before the festivities began, the XO was scotch taping Chris's drawing on the wall in the mess decks. I stood right next to him and casually mooned everybody in there. Got a big laugh. I'll get up the nerve one of these days and tell him why they were all laughing, since he saw nothing. I explained to the XO the Mickey Mouse hat didn't fit; said he, "It would if you got a haircut." The Supply Officer told me that reading my minutes of the Welfare & Recreation committee meetings made his whole day. Always be colorful - that's the key. I have this horrible weakness for chili and rice. I just can't get enough of it, but everyone walking up the middle level passageway complains for my next two watches about the smell. Everyone was concerned John Gordon wouldn't be fair on Scott Park's qual board but me. I thought Park may have been so unsure of himself that he'd try to use Gordon as an excuse to fail, but he made it. Gordon could 63

be hard, but he was fair. Jeff Beck, King, and Wnuk got dolphins. Wnuk was the only person to have his dolphins tacked on by everyone on board. During the ceremony at least four people growled the Control Room. The skipper says, "I'll show those bastards" and starts growling and spinning the dial to the different watch stations. I died laughing quietly to myself, of course. Got a news item today. The Norwich Bulletin printed a story that said ten to fifteen percent of the submarine force uses drugs. Chief Meyers commented, "The other 85% must be pushing." The ORSE is really reaming the boys back aft. Operational Reactor Safeguards Exam - THE nuke test of all nuke tests; inspection of all inspections. Commanding officers and engineers have been relieved on the spot, and crews have been known to be tres miserable after failing one. Base Pay - $543.00 Bachelor Allowance For Quarters (BAQ) - $99.30 Commuted Rations - $79.50 Submarine Pay - $70.00 Clothing Allowance - $6.00 Offcrew Total - $797.80 Patrol Total - $619.00 (per month)


CHAPTER FOUR USS CASIMIR PULASKI, PATROL #42 April 1977 - Holy Loch during refit. We painted the whole torpedo room. Everything that was nailed down, and a few things that ain't. We painted over rubber sound mounts, every damned thing. Later boats had a sailor who's collateral duty was keeping track of these sound mounts - the rubber that prevented noise from transmitting to the steel hull, and out in the water to give us away. He'd go around with a checklist and make sure no one painted over them. The newer boats were much quieter than the Pulaski ever thought of to begin with, but we never went any faster than five miles an hour on patrol, so who cared? The weapons officer beat his face on the brow to SSBN 641. There was no real permanent damage - except maybe to his ego. A bunch of us standing around topside died laughing on the spot. He just turned around from having a word with the topside watch and went face first into the hand rail at a good clip. Went down like a sack of potatoes. And does anyone help the guy? Nope, we're all rolling on the missile deck, pissing ourselves laughing. Saw Eric Clapton perform in Glasgow with Ronnie Lane on April 23rd. They played the Apollo Theater. I'll never forget Clapton leading the whole crowd in what sounded like an English bar room song. All singing, no instruments. Opener Ronnie Lane and his band came back out on stage, and the audience got up and started belting this song out. None of us Americanski's had ever heard it, but it was something to watch - like everyone in Yankee Stadium singing the National Anthem and actually remembering all the words. I should write Clapton someday and ask him about it.

The next day I'm walking through the Glasgow train station and this guy walks by me nervously smoking a cigarette. I'll be damned! I've seen that face before! It was Ian Stewart, who played keyboards for Eric Clapton last night, and was one of the founding members of the Rolling Stones. Another case of "gee, wish I could do that one over again." I'd talk to him, fuss over him, maybe get an autograph, and an invitation home to dinner. 65

Had a flooding drill in the torpedo room and the XO put a line in the P.O.D.: "During today's flooding drill TM3/SS Ward did an outstanding job and demonstrated a superior level of knowledge about the torpedo room." I doubt I'll ever hear the end of it from the guys. What does he expect? Does he think I sit around on torpedo room watch farting, playing guitar, and eating cashews? May 1977 - Fired a .45 caliber pistol from the bridge, and had a good time. The new captain was my reloader and empty cartridge deflector. He's not really a bad sort, as far as I can tell. It was funny watching the empty cartridges bounce off his big head. Later, the captain gave Seaman Caballero the Conn for a Man Overboard drill, and the Wardroom called up to see if he would be eating. Later, I went on the bridge with an M-14 rifle and sank plastic bags of garbage at the CO's direction. He went below, giving me his foul weather coat. Me and the OOD had a good old time shooting the rifle at submersible ducks and sea gulls, but hit none. I shot a bag of trash out from under a couple of gulls, injuring none. Without binoculars, I made first sighting of a surfaced British submarine at 13,500 yards, coming out of Faslane.

British sub leaving Faslane 1978 I'm sitting on watch one day in the torpedo room. Not in the traditional seat, which is scanning the middle level operations passageway for someone to fart at - but in the recliner mode over by the sonar equipment. Harv figured out you could sit on your back with your feet way the hell up in the air and somehow be comfortable. Your head ended up very close to the deck. I'm reclined out and the captain comes strolling in for a tour. I went to get up, but he says "stay where you are" and went up to the front of the room to look around. On the way out he had the misfortune to trip on the little metal step up from the torpedo skid to the aft deck that led out of the room. Went down like a sack of potatoes right on his face - hard - two feet from mine in the recliner mode. I was horrified. Without missing so much as a beat, he reaches back for the flashlight clipped on his belt, turns it on, and casually starts inspecting under the torpedo skid, like he planned the whole thing. I couldn't help myself and burst out laughing. It looked like he'd planned it, but he went down way too hard. He grinned too as he played the flashlight beam around, but he wasn't admitting to anything anytime soon. 66

The new first class quartermaster was up talking about the good life on the carrier USS America. The way he talked, it must have been heaven to be on an aircraft carrier. This guy had only been a first class petty officer (E6), but everything was geared for first class and above. They had their own lounge and their own mess hall. They never participated in ship's stores loads. The Life Of Reilly at sea - but on a moving target. Sorry, but when we submerged the bad guys had no conception where we were or where we were going. In the 60's we heard of spy satellites that could "read a postage stamp from orbit." I think thousand-foot long aircraft carriers might show up a little better. That's why we called them "target sailors." (Their affectionate term for us was "bubbleheads.") Almost got greased in the engine room for some rude comments I made to the watchstanders, but I fast talked my way out of it. For those not familiar with this fine Naval tradition, the recipient is bent over something, his pants taken down, and the business end of a grease gun is inserted in a place that does not traditionally require lubrication. The rest I'll leave up to your imagination. I'm finding out slowly the new CO is a good guy. Talked to him last night and had a very interesting chat. Found out a little about him. He's ok, man to man. I accidentally severed a torpedo "A" cable while tube loading with the new little weapons officer watching. Well, wouldn't you be nervous if some nervous little guy was watching over your shoulder? The Navigator had me in his stateroom to yell at me about saying "That's what I said!" on the sound powered phones during a torpedo hot run drill. How this man always manages to catch me being profane on the communications circuits is beyond my understanding. Rick Chatfield was up. We talked about music, the Navy, and the Navigator. The new XO came up to do some pull-ups on our bar and tried to talk Rick into reupping. June 1977 - One of these days, one of the many officers who put on a little show for the torpedo room watch's benefit while going into their area is going to kill himself by either colliding with someone, or missing the door completely. July 1977 - We pulled into the State Pier in New London, Connecticut. All the wives and girlfriends were there waiting. John went off and drank a six pack of beer while the seaman rigged the torpedo skid. Offloaded Mark 14's and Mark 37's. If we were to bring one good movie per patrol, I'm sure this bunch wouldn't mind at all. They'd watch it all day, every day. AUTEC, Bahamas - Finished torpedo certification. Still don't know whether we passed or failed. The NUSC tech said yeah, but the division officer said no. Really busted ass for two days getting those fish out. Had a really unpleasant guy in the torpedo room from the cert team. Stood shark watch yesterday for swim call. It was great. The water was fantastic, but very salty. The captain witnessed me give a behind the back foot shove to push one of the cooks in the water and laughed his ass off. He also returned my peace sign. I got an en-masse water moon while on shark watch. Someone yelled "HEY WARD" and I looked around in time to see forty naked white butts pop up amidst the crystal blue water of the Bahamas. 67

D.W. on Shark Watch Had that cook's skivvies run up periscope #1 by the OOD. A lot of people took pictures of me up on the starboard fairwater plane looking bad with my M-14 rifle. Ruined my ears by firing four shots into the water at the OOD's direction. Great, now I have to clean the rifle. Butch Blossom volunteered to break the world record for a cannonball from the fairwater planes but the captain said no. The OOD was afraid because the Machinery #1 hatch was open and the ship could be swamped. The engineer was unceremoniously dumped in the water with his clothes on by his troopies. Another one of the cooks picked the smallest nuke officer up over his head and was going to throw him in, but decided not to. PATROL #42 AWARDS MOST BALLS AWARD goes to Mark Boesch, who takes on the chief's quarters at least once a quarter. LEAST BALLS AWARD goes to certain members of radio division who signed in the column they were told to. THE GUY WE'D MOST LIKE TO SEE SHOOTING AT US FROM THE OTHER SIDE AWARD goes to Mr. Vito, who actually missed the Irish Sea with an M-14 rifle. THE GUY WE'D NEVER LEAVE ALONE WITH OUR SISTERS AND MOTHERS goes to Fred Varney, a sailor who probably does have a woman in every port. THE DEEP DARK SHITS AWARD goes to Ron Knepp, who innocently inquired of the Navigator where he spent his nights during refit. THE TOMMY ROWE MEMORIAL GROSSOUT AWARD goes to Dave Church for the third patrol 68


Weps & TM Gang & FT Chris James


CHAPTER FIVE USS CASIMIR PULASKI - PATROL #44 Someone in their infinite wisdom decided that we'd do a refit in Goose Creek, South Carolina which is near the Charleston Navy base. We skipped Holy Loch entirely, and met the blue crew in Goose Creek after flying out of Groton's tiny airport. We were taking bets about the plane being able to get off the ground with all of us on it not to mention that itty bitty runway. 3 November 1977 - My eye is leaking something that looks "normal" to the corpsman, but feels pretty strange to me. The captain was up to look around the torpedo room and says, out of the blue, "I can't wait to shoot off all the missiles except that last one that's gonna make me king." Hmm... I couldn't write that one down fast enough when he left. That's a word for word quote, thank you very much. Sure, he was kidding - but at the time, he probably had the power - and the keys - to do it. I went on a lot of liberty in South Carolina. Anyone who tells you seaports are better overseas should probably move there, but I'll always prefer America. Saw Joe Cocker perform at the Flying Dutchman bar, backed by the American Standard Band from Boston. Cocker was so drunk the guitar player had to keep shoving him toward the microphone when it was time to sing. The poor drunken bastard smacked his face hard a few times. We also saw the band "Zeus," got down on some foosball - something I never saw as a kid in New York. Also had a nice conversation with the guitar player from the American Standard Band after the show. (090706 - Received from that same guitar player, Cliff Goodwin - "HI Don.....yup that was me.....I remember it was a "trial" of a gig ....Charleston has this round hotel by the highway.....right??....good peach daiquiri as I remember......... What you wrote was true to form.... a burden of the time.....he got better eventually........So do you still play ???.did you play on the sub??.........what kind of gear do ya¶all have??..Cliff")

Joe Cocker with Cliff Goodwin on guitar 70

4 December 1977 - Helped the supply officer with the selection of a new ship's entertainment system: a Pioneer PL-707 reel to reel tape deck, a pair of Bose 301 speakers, and a Pioneer 6500 II amplifier (30 watts per channel.) It sounds real good too.

D.W. playing with new ship's entertainment system I was a drill monitor for a fire in the laundry room. The weapons officer was "in charge" at the scene. He showed up at the critique afterward and flipped out when he was called on his poor performance. I still say, if we drill in an atmosphere of hysteria, that¶s how real casualties will be ± hysterical. December 1977 ± The weapons officer almost sunk us, I hear. We were at four hundred feet and still going down from periscope depth (65 feet) before ballast tanks were finally blown - along with our location if anyone was listening. They say the CO relieved him on the spot. We went ultra-quiet for a while, probably to sneak away and disappear after all the noise we made last night. It also got ultra cold in the boat, like we passed into a huge cold layer of ocean. P.O.D. NOTE 1. Halfway Night Spectacular. Well Done and Thank You to everyone who made Halfway Night such an outstanding success. TM2(SS) WARD, organizer and producer, was once again responsible for there even being a Halfway Night production. MT1(SS) "P-Point" ALLEN's debut as EMCEE was an unqualified success. ETN3 WASHINGTON, The All Star Revue, and all the other entertainers who contributed to Saturday Night's success. Well, now. Ain't it nice to be appreciated?


5 January 1978 - The larger of two water making stills is broken, and the ship is on water hours. I came into the torpedo room and saw the new division officer up front making a tour. Started loudly mouthing off about the lack of showers; how we can use water to clean floors but not people, and how we could probably run the diesel from the oil and grease in my hair - as the captain steps out from where he's been standing on the starboard side, out of my view. He didn't say anything though. Uh, oops. We had a drill where a terrorist bomb supposedly exploded by one of the missile tubes, and the captain comes over the announcement circuit and says, "THERE HAS BEEN NO NUCLEAR YIELD." Yeah, really? In a 400 foot long sealed submarine, I think we'd have heard about it a little sooner had there been nuclear yield. No Sailor Of The Patrol award will be given this patrol. Kind of like "There will be no liberty until morale improves." Mr. Joseph called away a flooding drill and scared the shit out of me by sounding like something was really going on. On the Pulaski, it was so laid back, we knew well in advance when and where drills were happening. If they ever had one in between, we knew it was the real thing. On later boats, they'd just call away a drill without warning, which was difficult to adapt to after the Pulaski. Had the shit scared out of me a few times on the USS Birmingham and the USS Boston. I looked up to see Bob Martin coming from his CAT Team duties back in engineering. He sees me, stops in the middle of the passageway, turns, and viciously gives the finger to the aft end of the boat.


MM1(SS) Bob Martin February 1978 - Well, it isn't over yet. The Blizzard of '78 hit the east coast. Flying in from Scotland, we were snowed out of every major airport but Bangor, Maine. I'm surprised we were allowed to leave Scotland at all. World Airlines paid for the whole crew to stay at the Holiday Inn for the past two days. It looks like we may get out of here today. Wrote a little ditty called "Bangor Blues": Our plane's in the hanger at Bangor We're up in snow to our neck There must be a ton But it sure beats Site One And World Airlines will pick up the check The limit for dinner's $6.50 And we don't have much choice, it's our fate But it'd surely be wrong If we stayed here too long And made the poor corpsman lose weight So here we are waiting in Bangor The liveliest nightspot in Maine Been eating in style Though it might take a while For the seaman to dig out the plane 73

(Article in the local paper about the snow storm) Bangor City Hall employees left for home at noon, and Brewer City Hall employees followed suit. Old Town employees held on to 1 p.m. before calling it quits. The Holiday Inn on Main Street reported a brisk business, and a call to the bar in the afternoon revealed a healthy supply of sailors who were stranded in Bangor awaiting a World Airways flight to Bradley Field in Connecticut. They were staying at the Penobscott Inn. The plane landed at Bangor on Monday after diverting here on a flight from Mildenhall, England. The sailors were coming to the U.S. for rest and relaxation after a tour aboard the U.S.S. Casimir Pulaski, SSBN-633G. The sub carries missiles. During the offcrew before this patrol, some of us went to see the Electric Light Orchestra and Starcastle perform at the Hartford Civic Center. Following the Blizzard of '78, as we circled Hartford in preparation to land at Bradlee, we saw the roof of the Civic Center had caved in from the snow. Ouch.


CHAPTER SIX USS CASIMIR PULASKI - PATROL #46 On the flight back to Scotland from emergency leave to see my mom (which must have occurred in July) a woman comes walking in from the first class section and says to me, "Did you know Tom Watson is in first class?" like I knew or cared who Tom Watson was. My witty reply, being no fan of golf then, was "Tom who?" Can you imagine? I remember driving past Royal Troon, a 90 degree turn in the road with the first tee just beyond the fence. Went through the same thing as Sam Snead in 1946 when I saw Prestwick from the window of a train - oh, an old abandoned golf course. I wonder what they used to call it? If you saw John Daly win the '95 British Open at St. Andrews, you know how bleak the Scottish landscape can look. I could have played a round on the oldest known golf course for less than fifty bucks at the time, but I wasn't into it - and have suffered since. We crossed the Arctic Circle on this run, which meant a Bluenose Ceremony. My favorite part was eating a cherry out of Butch Blossom's belly button. I thought it was awful and horrible until I later saw how candy-ass it was compared to a fast attack Bluenose ceremony.

Butch Blossom holds court

Feeding me "truth serum" 75


I recall a member of the Blue Crew being busted for trying to smuggle 33 pounds of hashish stashed in the overhead near the Doc's office in the missile compartment. The guy's probably still in a Scottish prison. Even if I had a journal, I could not possibly recreate the day me and Duane watched Bob Stewart put seventy - that's 70 - green seedless grapes, one at a time, into his maw, uh, mouth. This remains a highlight of hysterical laughter for me, especially at the end when Stewart looked like a giant bloated frog, could fit no more grapes, and bit down. The ensuing explosion kept me and Duane crying and laughing uncontrollably on the deckplates for a half hour. SK3 Dana Libby saved us from being run over by a tanker. The way I heard the story, we went up to periscope depth without bothering to check baffles - the area behind the boat where sonar can't hear (since fixed by towed sonar arrays.) When the officer of the deck put up the periscope to take a look around, he pointed it aft, and his entire field of vision was taken up with the bow of an approaching ship. Libby, on the planes, apparently figured out what was going on and automatically did exactly what he was supposed to - without orders from the diving officer - and saved us. People said they heard propeller noises pass over the Operations Compartment upper level. Thanks, Dana!


CHAPTER SEVEN USS CASIMIR PULASKI - PATROL #48 My brother loaned me his 35mm Minolta camera this run, and for a reason I'm not even aware of today, I was given permission and all the ship¶s black & white film I cared to waste to snap away all patrol. Burned Out Bob The Brave From Bank Street got so drunk he couldn't hardly get on the plane in Connecticut. Got restricted to the ship for a few days. Business as usual.

MM2(SS) Bob Martin The weapons officer was heard to say, "There are four weapons in the tubes? Nobody told me. But then, I'm only the weapons officer." December 1978 - It's me or Brian Veilleux. One of us isn't making this patrol. It all depends on how this new guy works out. If he's hot, I'm out of here. If he¶s not, I have to hang around to teach him. I had a bad first impression of the new man, but it's improved considerably. I don't think he can accept the fact that I don't drink or chase skirts at the same level he does. He also can't accept the fact that the Pulaski isn't a fast attack submarine - and all that implies. Had a meeting of the Command Action Plan (CAP) Team. The captain came in and said, "We're still one of the rooks on the chessboard that the politicians play." Nah - with megatons of nuclear weapons and a dozen good torpedoes, I'd say we were at least the knights. "Telegraph; telephone; tell a woman" - overheard spoken by the C.O. of the USS Lewis & Clarke (SSBN 619) on the tender. Smuggled a 750ml bottle of Mateuse wine aboard to drink a Christmas toast with select friends during sea 78

trials. Shit my pants all through M.O.D. but had no trouble beyond that. It was down the front of my pants. Gathered twenty shipmates in the torpedo room on Christmas Eve and drank a toast using (unused) urine specimen cups provided by the Doc, who was there too. Went to the Scottish National Gallery and saw an El Greco, a few Rembrandts, a DaVinci, and a painting by Bernardo Bellotto called "View Of The Ponte delle navi, Verona" ± now in a private collection, for some strange reason. It was the most perfect painting I ever saw. I couldn't tell it wasn't a photograph from five feet away, and it was painted in the 1700's. I can¶t find that painting online, but here is an example of Bellotto¶s work:

The commodore, Captain Smith, gave the crew an attaboy for sea trials. Most of us were duly impressed. The new second class cook brought hand carried mail from the states, and Dudley got a letter from his sonar chief's wife. Before opening it, he sniffed it, presumably for perfume. I was on the floor laughing.


That's a submarine behind us..... Me and Tom Warner called the torpedoman detailer and found out I got the USS Birmingham out of Norfolk after being repeatedly promised a boat out of New London. I figured I'd never get another chance to ride a brand new boat, so I took it. Flew home with the USS Daniel Webster's crew the day before New Year's Eve. Sat in the very front row with their C.O., a real nice guy who seemed to have his shit together. We had a good ride back to America - even talked with the stewardesses who sat across from us. Flew into Bradley and my brother was there with his girlfriend and her brother. Spent two days with them before having to report to Submarine Group Two in Groton.


Squadron Two in Groton I took leave so I wouldn't have to sweep halls in building 439 eight hours a day while awaiting orders, and also give them time to get my paperwork done. Finally got out of there and went home for a few more days. Took a lonely fourteen hour bus ride to Norfolk, Virginia, where I wandered around the base freezing my ass off carrying all my stuff - before I found the Birmingham out at the end of pier 22.

D&S Pier, Norfolk 81


I reported aboard two months after this photo was taken What a difference a class of submarine can make. The Birmingham was so different from the laid back Pulaski in every single way that I tried to go back to missile boats within a few weeks of reporting aboard. I never hated anything so much in my life until I started making friends and met the woman of my dreams. I still hated it, but it became tolerable when I could share it with good friends - and a great girlfriend. PORTS OF CALL Norfolk, Virginia Groton, Connecticut Exuma Sound, Bahamas Fort Lauderdale, Florida Bermuda This is a state of the art submarine with state of the art torpedo tubes. The Pulaski tubes had rollers inside to get torpedoes in and out. They had to be perfectly adjusted in order to work properly, and greased on a regular basis. Removal and installation was a nightmare. On the USS Birmingham, they did away with all those bothersome rollers. Instead they had what was called Delrin pads - kind of like rubber/plastic/teflon strips that the torpedo moved quite smoothly on. They never had to be adjusted - or maintained in any way. Later, they started making guitar picks out of it, and I still carry Delrin guitar picks to this day. 82

Had great quantities of shit scared out of me. I was putting deckplate screws in the port torpedo hoist when I faintly heard "flooding" from the aft end of the room. I ran back and opened the door - lo and behold, a solid wall of water was indeed pouring out of the overhead. This is not a good submerged submarine scenario. The last time I had to deal with a wall of water was in a trainer in sub school, and we screwed up so bad they deemed us "dead." It ended up being some dope in the Control Room overfilling one of the auxiliary tanks, but I didn't think about that. I saw a wall of water and called away the flooding casualty. Haven't checked my pants yet. The Pulaski pulled into Norfolk a couple of weeks ago. I found out when I knocked on Laurie and Mac's door and Clifford answered. Went down to the boat and saw a lot of people. Of course, one of the nuke officers told me I "no longer had the same clearance" and couldn't go all over the boat, which I proceeded to do anyway. Wow. I was impressed. The poor bastards must have cleaned and shined all patrol. It sure looked it. The boat didn't look that good brand new out of the yards. The captain lost a lot of weight and grew a "stash." Allow me to briefly describe this state of the art torpedo room. I guess you could say it's big, maybe thirty feet wide and thirty-five feet long. It holds twice as many torpedoes as the Pulaski, but the ceiling is two inches above my head. The following image is the USS Toledo, but the layout is very similar to the 695 boat:

Everything is operated hydraulically - the Pulaski was all manual; ropes, pulleys, chain hoists, and sweat. Here, most everything can be accomplished by one person, which is highly illegal until the need arises to save the 83

day. The topside loading skid takes all day to set up, then ten to fifteen minutes a weapon to load or unload. The individual pieces of the system each seem to weigh a ton, and I live in constant fear I'll hurt my hands hefting heavy stuff all over the place. I've already smashed my fingers a number of times, none seriously. I don't know what I'd do if I lost the use of a hand or a finger. On the brighter side, spent the Saturday and Sunday before this at-sea period with Lisa and Mary. Talk about two glorious days. Of course, I have to be on my very best behavior. No farting or burping allowed, and very little swearing - but hey, nobody's perfect. It's worth it to spend time with them. A woman like Mary could make it all worthwhile. She told me I was "better than good" on the guitar. It was one of the most meaningful complements I've ever received, simply because she doesn't strike me as sycophantic. She's very matter of fact. Do I sound like a lovesick schoolboy yet? Well, wait a while.

I told John Cooke I'm an ex-Marine and he didn't overreact like most people do. I got the feeling he respected me a little more for it. Talked with Berry about Korea, who was there as an Army brat. I was qualified in the torpedo room in two weeks, and within a month had 4.0 evaluations across the board. Here we are sitting on the surface of Exuma Sound in the Bahamas, dead in the water, and will be dead in the water for a few hours - but no swim call. The weather is nothing less than perfect. 90 degrees, no waves, and clear as a bell. (Later) As usual I spoke too soon. We had swim call at two o'clock, and I was the first one in the water. There was a cry of "shark" and we all got out but didn't see anything. I was the first one in again, and as I got out from my second dive, everyone was called out of the water again. This time we saw it about twenty feet from the ship, a four or five foot long shark ditty bopping along. I went below to take the torpedo room watch and give Chaz a chance to swim. He got a few dives and they secured. Definitely beautiful water. Warm and clear, but very salty. Had a nice talk with Lt. Silakoski while handling torpedoes. He was pretty open. We discussed the command, among other things. He told me within a one year period seven officers from this boat will have resigned their commissions. My goodness! You'd think someone would notice a figure like that somewhere along the line. He said we also have the highest number of U.A.'s of fast attacks 26 March 1979 - We're in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Last night, Tom got in an accident with a rental car. Cut himself up, but he's ok. The night before, John got in a fight with skimmers and almost got his leg broke. Audie was in on that one. The Doc was brought back to the boat in handcuffs. Wow, can this boat handle a civilian liberty port? The XO said anyone getting into fights with skimmers "would live to regret the day he was born." I stood two topside watches during daylight hours. Wow, it was neat. All kinds of snazzy boats full of snazzy women coming alongside to gawk at us while we gawked at them. Guard the submarine? What submarine? One boat, the "Gold Cup," had twin 454 Chevy engines in a cigarette type boat, all black and chrome. An ex-Navy Seabee was driving it. One huge yacht had a black pilot and black steward, all dressed for their parts. There was excellent weather all day long. During the morning watch, the CO was escorting a very elderly gentleman on a tour of the boat. As he was going down the escape trunk hatch, he turns to his guest and says, "We have a very long escape trunk, but if you fall, we can administer last rites before you hit bottom." And I thought us enlisted pukes were the only ones into submarine (i.e., sick) humor. The captain was escorting a Mr. Peterson. We went down to the Fort Lauderdale strip on Saturday night where we found wall to wall young people. 84

This was when Fort Lauderdale still had spring break, since moved to Daytona and other places. Good looking girls abounded, but so did cops. Lots of cops, who were pretty belligerent. Kids were yelling out of car windows, acting like race car drivers, etc. Saw a woman who was so gorgeous she had to have just stepped out from a Playboy Magazine. Almost made me cry, she was so pretty - and with someone else, of course. We drank a few beers and watched the show, mostly. It was a zoo on the streets, and supposed to get worse. Got some daytime liberty, unheard of for weapons people because Fort Lauderdale was where we loaded exercise torpedoes. We were picked up by an Israeli taxi driver and dropped off downtown. It was early, so it was mostly deserted. Me and Chaz are walking along checking it all out. Off in the distance on the other side of the street walking toward us, we see two gorgeous girls - who see us at about the same time. We're strolling along checking each other out. I was really enjoying it until suddenly someone decided to put a light pole directly in my path. WHAM! Made solid contact from my groin to my forehead - midstride - and went down like a sack of potatoes. The girls are probably still telling the story at family reunions. We're operating in 891 fathoms of water, which is 5,346 feet deep. Not too shallow at all. The NUSC representative "Slats" used to have President Jimmy Carter as his gunboss and engineer one time. Slats retired as a torpedoman chief in 1961. He's the crazy old mo-fo who runs the torpedo tube instrumentation (TTI) when we fire weapons at the AUTEC range (located in the Tongue Of The Ocean.) We're still shooting torpedoes, been for three days. John Morgan is trying to beat the cigarette crunch by rolling his own. He's sitting there struggling, so I picked up a paper, some Prince Albert, and ripped one out real quick. Slats says, "Just cause you play guitar you think you can roll too?" Slats and the chief were sitting around and I said, "Chief, you shoulda seen it. I broke out the guitar for Slats and played some of the best guitar I've played in years. He burps, lifts one leg, farts, and goes to bed." They roared. I've established an excellent relationship with the chief. I know when to be serious and when to mess around - most of the time, anyway. We get along great. I can even talk to him when he gets spastic, and tell him to calm down like he does with me when I spaz out. We were pretty loose for the torpedo certs (TCP). Chief Brown was pinging around at first, but has since calmed down. I told him it was a breeze, and it has been. April 1979 - Slats says today, "Doing a good job around here is like pissing in a dark pair of pants. You get a nice warm feeling but nobody notices." The CO came on the 1MC and congratulated the TM gang for no deficiencies and an excellent job well done. We got six out of seven hits, the best 688 class sub so far. One day we came to work to find a huge party going on at the end of pier 22. They were commissioning the USS Emery S. Land (AS-39), a brand new submarine tender. There were civilians and high ranking officers and balloons and cake and goodies all over the place. There was a petty officer whose sole job was filling helium balloons, and we talked him into filling a huge clear plastic trash bag for us. Me and Eric and Chaz took it under the hatch cover - the tent looking thing they use to cover a sub's open hatches in bad weather. We spent an hour laughing our brains out while making munchkin voices inhaling the helium. The combat systems officer was not amused, but didn't stop us for some odd reason. May 1979 - Wow, a lot of people who make it in the music business are basket cases. I hope it's not a prerequisite. Saw Boston, The Doobie Brothers, and Poco at the Miami Baseball stadium. Poco left the stage in 85

the middle of a song because some idiot threw a bottle and hit one of them. I remember seeing a band member angrily giving the finger to someone in the first few rows as they walked off. The Doobies were fabulous, but Boston was so technically perfect it was boring - like paying to listen to the record really loud in a baseball stadium. Tom Scholtz's solo work on guitar and organ was amazing though. I drove a rented van down with Chaz, T.C., Mike Baer, Fulco, Pete, Skip from the USS Cincinnati, David, Berger, Russell Witt, Berry (who we found out later was U.A. at the time), Eric, Paul Starr, and Tom Roberts. It was a good day and a great night. Me and Chaz camped out in the van. June 1979 - Here I am on topside watch having a severe attitude attack, so the Navy retaliates by emergency ventilating the reactor compartment all over me. I'll probably grow a third arm sometime later in life. This morning everyone was woke up a half hour before battle stations so we could impress the congressmen riding us on how fast we man battle stations. August 1979 - On topside watch in Bermuda. The water is so clear that at a 24' 6" draft you can see down to fifteen feet. An item on the local news is that we're here to counteract the threat of a Soviet task force.

Bermuda 1979 Tom Wichmann comes along every so often, fires up my imagination about music, then I don't hear from him for months. This is a guy who has forgot more than I'll ever know about music in three lifetimes. One of the five most intelligent human beings I ever met. Fascinating man, in an odd sort of way - as are many geniuses. The younger yeoman came aboard while I was on topside watch. I went through my routine of hopping to attention and saluting, and he says, "carry on", to which I replied, "I always carry on. That's why you have so much paperwork." Started reading a book about Marines in Vietnam, which brought back memories of Lt. Scott Borderud (USMC) for the first time in years. Lord, that man could crank out some situps! With his flowing handlebar moustache he looked like a Cossack, even more so when he'd frequently shave his head. His exemplary leadership was one of the reasons I little respect for many Navy officers. It simply would not have occurred to me to disobey or disrespect Lt. Borderud. 86

27 October 1979 - The USS San Francisco (SSN 711) was launched while I was on watch.

New Year's Eve 1980 - My midnight topside log entry: The ship is now resting on keel blocks In Newport News Shipyard's small drydock The reactor's not on Good weather's all gone And we've started a promising epoch With one and four sections on guard This New Year's Eve duty's not hard Though excessively boring You won't find me snoring In this totally emptied out yard So tonight as I sit in this shack Thinking of things that I lack I can't have a drink But I'm surely not dink So soon I'll be warming my rack


CHAPTER NINE TORPEDO TECH/SHORE DUTY 1980-1985 "Whoever wears the gold makes the rules" - Murphy addendum. Mary Louise Houlihan and I were married March 1, 1980 during a major snowstorm in the city of Newport News, Virginia. With nineteen inches of snow, these people had no idea how to act. On the way to the church, my best man Chaz and I drove through the snow in my new VW bug, zooming past poor frightened unfortunates who hadn't been raised with snowy winters. Even got in an accident on the way, some amateur sliding into us from behind. Me and Chaz got out, saw no damage had been done, told the guy we were on our way to get me married, and he wished us luck. We sang the song "Message In A Bottle" at the top of our lungs while it blasted out my new car stereo.

Chaz Kutterer & Me I don't remember a lot about the wedding itself, only that I thought Mary was the most beautiful woman that had ever walked the face of the earth, and I was lucky to be here. Got up in front of my family, some of my friends, and a bunch of strangers in the tightest Navy uniform imaginable and played a song I wrote for Mary while on torpedo room watch, called "Walk Hand In Hand": I¶ve seen your face, I¶ve heard your name I know I'll never be the same You always look so good it's true Just can't believe I'm lovin' you The things you say, the way you smile I know I'll stay here for a while 88

Don't wanna ever see you cry It turns me on to hear you sigh Walk hand in hand with me Let's leave today for Tennessee There's no place else I'd rather be Than in your arms in Tennessee The rolling hills are waiting there We'll wander 'round without a care And when a breeze comes softly by Tell me you love me I'll get high I found the one I waited for She's all I need and so much more To have, to hold throughout my life Someday I'll make that girl my wife Walk hand in hand with me We're on our way to Tennessee There's nowhere else I'd rather be Then in your arms, you lovin' me

Father Pete, Lisa Lincoln, Mary, Me, & Chaz 1980 Our next duty station was torpedo technician school in Orlando, Florida. Mary and I drove down the east coast, stopping in cool places like Jekyll Island, Georgia. Found out later one of the two brand new fuel injectors 89

on our brand new VW Bug jammed open, which was why our brand new gas mileage was awful on the way down. Volkswagen fixed it for free when we got to Orlando, but they didn't reimburse us for all that wasted gas. Mark 48 torpedo technician school was run the way all Navy schools are run - for village idiots. Everything was taught at a third grade level, and I had no trouble finishing first in the class. The hardest part was three weeks of Torpedo Theory, where we had to know what occurred - and in what sequence - when the torpedo was fired. All kinds of things had to happen in the right order for the torpedo to light off, and all of them happened in a few seconds. It was hard learning all that, and maybe two or three people ever used any of it when they got to a torpedo shop. I wasn't one of them.

There was a lot of that in Navy schools - learning things you'd never use again. Gee, just like high school. They taught us the 640 class submarine in sub school, which was useless to anyone reporting to a different class of boat. I won't even mention the weird levels of electronics I had to learn in order to operate a multimeter - the extent of my electronics career as a submarine torpedoman. In January 1981, we drove down to see the Iranian hostages flying in to Stewart Air Base in Newburgh, New York. The surge of patriotism was like nothing I ever felt before. The Southern Dutchess News in Wappingers Falls, New York took our picture and put it on the front page. We'd taken a large white sheet and spray painted the names of our hometowns for the former hostages to see as they drove by.


The route was lined three and four deep all the way down to West Point, where they'd be stopping for the night. I managed to climb up on an electrical box attached to a light pole and got some cool photographs of the buses leaving through the crowd of people and American flags. I remember the greatest feeling in the world was to be an American that day, which made little sense because we were here only because American leadership had caved in repeatedly to Islamic criminals. I may be semi-famous in the torpedo community. And how does one go about becoming semi-famous in the torpedo community? This is not for everyone, because you really have to screw up on a grand scale. Truly great achievers are generally forgotten in the time it takes the ink on the award certificate to dry. But screw something up, and you may be famous forever. Take for instance the legendary topside watch somewhere along some river on some submarine, said to have pulled duty on the foggiest night of the year. (This was the old days when one guy could fight off the commie horde from topside.) The ship handled torpedoes that day, an evolution requiring the capstan. This is a device that uses ship's hydraulic power to tighten the huge ropes that tie up a ship to a pier. It looks like a two foot high empty spool of thread standing on one end. The last person to use it left it in a raised position, disregarding a standing order that it be recessed into the hull when not in use. Unbeknownst to our intrepid topside watch, the control valve had been left open just a wee bit - enough where the capstan was making about one revolution per hour.


Our hero decides his feet are tired of standing, like a zillion watchstanders since the dawn of time. He sees the capstan - an available seat on a submarine devoid of such niceties topside - and plops himself down. After a while, the capstan turns completely around, leaving him facing the sail. That's the big black part with wings that sticks up on a nuclear sub. He looks up, sees his own sail break out of the fog, thinks it's another boat about to ram, panics, hits the collision alarm, turns around, and runs off the bow into the water. Now, I have no idea who this guy was, or if he really existed at all. I don't really care. He'll be used as an example for years at Navy lectures on topside safety, securing handling operations correctly, and why not to sit on one's ass on watch. No one knows how old the story is. It may have happened in World War II, or two weeks ago, or not at all. I almost qualified as a "famous" person in the submarine force, possibly remembered when the hazards of cyanide poisoning come up. Many moons ago I worked in the engine room at the New London torpedo shop. One day we had to break some very nasty open ocean exercise weapons that hadn't been flushed on the range. Ever use a Draeger before? These weapons were so saturated with hydrogen cyanide that the Draeger tubes turned bright purple with one pump - five are required for a valid reading. This particular bunch of torpedoes just laughed at our attempts to flush them out. We got the Draeger reading "close enough for government work" and started breaking them apart. The smell of cyanide was in the air, but they have a good exhaust system in the shop¶s engine room. The Navy's textbook answer - "burnt almonds" isn't even close to what it really smells like. If you smell it, you'll know it. It crinkles your nose and gives you a massive headache till you get used to it. Over in the corner, out of range of the blower, Jerry Dooley was tearing engines down - the dirtiest part of expended exercise torpedoes. Everyone was busy working and didn't pay much attention, but Jerry appeared to ignore several comments made about leaning too far over. After a while I noticed him being helped out of the room. He took a good dose of HCN. Jerry was having a bad time outside. They called an ambulance, and while we waited the chief decides Jerry should throw up, and sends me for "soapy water." And I became semi-famous because I grabbed a bottle of Spray N' Wipe. Hey, it made bubbles when you shook it, so I put it in a cup. Soap, detergent - same stuff, right? Uh, nope. Everyone can thank me because immediately afterward, the torpedo shop imported Ipecac syrup. This is wonderful stuff. One teaspoon and everything in your stomach says, "EXIT - STAGE UP." After your stomach empties, your chest cavity empties. Then your shoes come up. I'd rather die fast from cyanide poisoning then puke my life away. We made the transition from "We're never moving into Navy housing" to "Are we there yet?" Our rent in Oakdale was raised from $270 to $315 a month, and the Navy only gives me $300 a month for housing. Now I'll go from a 35 mile a day round trip to a two mile a day round trip, and no more utility bills to pay. (For info, gas was $1.32 a gallon for unleaded.) My third Weapons Department Newspaper - the only one put together by me in its entirety - went over the best. The short chief called me a "witty devil." Barbara, a civilian in the next building, said her mascara ran from laughing so hard. Even the Q.A. chief said it was a great paper. I met two kinds of women in the Navy; women - and Sailorettes. I differentiate between women and Sailorettes because all Sailorettes are women, but few women are Sailorettes. Before my ex-Navy sister disowns me, I'll try to explain. Male sailors are funny creatures. Take your average Prom Queen: tall, blond, gorgeous, 9.7 on the Richter Scale - and put her on the street near a group of sailors. While there are exceptions to every rule - and I met every one of them in the Navy - most of these slobs will kill themselves to be civil, polite, helpful and articulate - in the hopes of hopping in the sack, of course - but at least they'd be nice about it. 92

Take this same 9.7 Prom Queen/angel, and put a blue ballcap and Navy dungarees on her - and stand back. The poor thing loses all those fine privileges she used to enjoy. With that uniform on, she will never again see a door opened for her. The days of men offering a seat on a crowded bus are history. And my personal favorite: ladies, when was the last time you sat through a stunningly graphic men's locker room conversation? Who he did it with. How they did it. How many times they did it, and in what strange places. At what time the lasagna came into the picture. 95% fabrication, but almost always entertaining. For men this is pretty standard stuff. It's almost boring, all this hoopla over the friction of mucus membranes. But women aren't in men's locker rooms, unless they happen to be sports reporters. Then, who'd have the nerve to describe graphic but probably imaginary sex on national television? Women and men don't share conversations like that. At least not where I come from. However, I've sat in the coffee mess of a torpedo shop with three or four torpedo guys and a couple of torpedo girls, and heard stories that would curl your hair. Stories so tasteless, even I felt bad for the girls and left. Sailors can ignore any and all etiquette beat into them since birth. I mean, stand right next to a Christie Brinkley in a Navy uniform, casually lift one leg, and fart loudly without missing a beat. These same guys will pass out from gastric disorders rather than fart around their mother - or high school sweetheart, at least until she says "I do." The torpedo shop completed a greatly feared recertification. I overheard two sailors talking about recognition. One said that due to the excellent firing record of the shop's weapons (98.3% for the second quarter) and the fact that the recert team was highly impressed with us after shutting two or three other torpedo shops down, entitled us to some kind of written recognition. The other sailor replied, why should we get recognition for doing our jobs? Well, there's a good point on both sides. If I were a submarine commander who might have to depend on torpedoes for my life and the lives of my crew, and the choice was ours or Yorktown's weapons«..well, it ain't much of a choice, is it? Would it be practical to go with weapons prepared by the 98% hit rate shop, or the 42% hit rate shop? Sure, it's our job to build good torpedoes. It's Yorktown's and Charleston's job too, but they surely do suck at it. We must be doing something right or we wouldn't be where we are. Our civilians could be the difference too - we're the only shop with a solid cadre of civilian techs who maintained continuity in a Navy atmosphere of transfer every couple years. And yes, it helps that the Division Officer ritually offers a live chicken to the torpedo godz every Tuesday night, but mostly it's hard work and attention to detail. No doubt deserving of recognition. We took some leave in 1982 to go to the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. What a bust. A total ripoff. In my weapons department newspaper I wrote, "Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ouch!" I loved paying ten bucks each to get in. I loved three to five hour lines for everything. Loved the hundred dollar a day hotels. Loved paying six bucks to park fifteen city blocks away. Loved paying two bucks apiece to go around a ferris wheel three times. Loved paying $7.95 for a Coke and a meatball sandwich. Loved the 95 degrees/84% humidity. $1.50 brownies the size of postage stamps. I even loved the fact they had the guts to call it a World's Fair! I've seen a real World's Fair, back in 1965 in New York, and this surely wasn't it. Why, they even had a real gasohol pump in the USA exhibit! Had to restrain my wife, man.


1982 ³World's Fair´ Knoxville, Tennessee February 1983 - Went out last Friday and took a lease on our future by buying a Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer. Programming is a strange thing, and it'll be a while before I get the hang of it. I'm fascinated by it and can't wait to learn more. The machine has 32K of memory, uses the TV as a monitor, and a cassette player to store data. The other night I was drawing a house on the TV screen. Got more and more excited as I added a roof, windows, and finally a moon! Great - six hundred bucks to draw stick figure houses on my TV, and I'm loving it. I used to bring my computer on duty nights. Out of all the games I had, the one everyone played till three o'clock in the morning was called "Cannons." This was reportedly based on a fire control computer game where you enter the number of bags of powder for your cannon and what angle to shoot. Variable wind was a factor, and the program generated a random size mountain between you and your opponent. The first one to blow up the other won. They'd play it all night if I let them. The Command Duty Officer, whose name will not be remembered here, called the whole world in one night because he saw smoke coming out of the shop. He was convinced there was a raging Otto fuel fire about to detonate the warheads, but it ended up being smoke from the shop boilers. We ribbed him mercilessly for weeks. I told the assistant division officer, an Apple computer enthusiast, to find me one thing an Apple can do that my Color Computer can't. Then we'd discuss what mine can do and his can't - for about $1500 less. I guess if I 94

were an affluent officer I'd buy an Apple so I could say "I'm an affluent officer with an Apple computer." Meanwhile, serious computer people are making their Color Computers talk, play seven octaves of music, and write witty Weapons Department newspapers. I "interviewed" the Q.A. chief after a brutal recert for the newspaper and said, "Now that recert is over, are you guys gonna quit writing all these Corrective Action Reports?" He says, "Nope, we're jerks 365 days a year." Hey, I just writes 'em like they says 'em. This is the same guy who said, "I have no idea why those laminated xrated pictures were in my desk drawer!" I posted the following list of punishments for people who failed to sign attendance sheets at weekly shop training lectures. The division officer approved it too: 1. Utilize Chinese Water Torture (Traditional) 2. Utilize Chinese Water Torture (Rubber chicken variety) 3. Mandatory clipping of toenails - with a bolt cutter 4. Mandatory attendance at all mess hall festive dinners for six months 5. Utilize the Brooklyn Water Torture 6. All of the above. To run a good Navy newspaper, you have to have a quick wit, a handy notebook and pen, and a total disregard for your career. It was interesting having kids. Ben was born in Orlando in 1980. Shevaun came along in 1981 at the subbase hospital, as did Nathan in 1983. Life was rarely boring with three children around. It was also cheap to have kids, at least in the Navy. Ben cost about fifteen bucks, Shevaun the same, and Nathan was about twenty because Mary had to spend an extra day to have her tubes tied. I used this information against my children for years - "I paid more for that London Broil than I did for you."

My children - Ben, Shevaun & Nathan Ward in 1998 95

Shop personnel gathered in the base gym for physical training. We were the remnants who'd missed all previous opportunities to take care of the yearly physical requirement. I was surprised to see several heavyweights like the weapons officer, the training officer, the ordnance officer and most of the senior torpedo shop enlisteds. All the Johnny Come Latelies strolling in with yours truly. I was amazed at our motley crew, and sincerely hoped we weren't a true composite of Navy personnel. If we were, the Navy's in bad shape. Sure, there was a small percentage who were in the peak of physical health, but most of us were no poster boys. Sure, you can say you didn't come in the Navy to be slim and trim, but as Robert Barnes pointed out, line up the base Marines across from us. They'd have died laughing. For that matter, any group of Air Force or Army people would put us to shame. Of course, going out once a year and pulling all your muscles in a vain attempt to remain physically fit was another Navy good deal. If we had a regular physical training program, everyone would bitch and moan but we wouldn't look like refugees from a Richard Simmons seminar. I don't think a person has to be slim and trim to do a job, but if no one else cares how much your stomach overlaps your belt, why should you? Speaking of Robert Barnes, I thought he topped the all time "Sack Of The Century" Award for suggesting at morning quarters that one of the chiefs got a little excited during drills - with the guy sitting there. This achievement, presented with total disregard for career and liberty, stood to become one of the hallmarks of pure "sack." Alas, no more - I witnessed an achievement a few days ago that causes Robert's puny remarks to pale in insignificance. Every day for months the torpedo division officer was involved in a hot card game during lunch. A card game that always - not often, but always - spilled over past the one o'clock cutoff. People returning from lunch always had to work around the last few hands, but one Friday two of the regulars were off, so they didn't play cards. Someone had videotaped the last shop softball game - camcorders were a brand new toy at the time - and a few guys were in the Center Office watching it. One o'clock came and went, but there was about ten minutes of film left, no card game - and no division officer - so they stayed to watch the end. At exactly 1:01pm, the division officer, Mr. Late Cardgame Himself, strolls in and says loftily, "It's working hours." I got a nice scowl but couldn't keep from busting up laughing anyway. Gee, it's good to be the king, huh? Lenny Ohler worked part-time at a Norwich movie theater in addition to his Navy duties at the Mark 48 Torpedo Shop, and one fine afternoon when the theater was regularly closed, he invited much of the shop and their spouses to watch the new Cheech & Chong movie. The festivities started off with a birthday party for Jimmy Pethick, and Jim¶s absolute refusal to understand why his birthday candles kept relighting after he kept blowing them out, remains a highlight of hysterical laughter for me ± and probably half of the Mark 48 Shop. I guess Jim had never seen candles that did that ± the man simply would not give up ± and we all probably ate some of his spit that day, because the man was not allowing any birthday candles to get the best of him in front of all these people! So we watched the Cheech & Chong movie - entirely forgettable ± then Lenny told us there was this other movie called ³Raiders Of The Lost Ark´ we could watch if we wanted to. ³Raiders Of The Lost Ark´? Never heard of it ± 1982? Or was it 1983? No one had seen a TV commercial for it, or knew anything about it, but no one had anything else pressing, so we sat down to see what it was. No one moved a muscle for two hours. Well, after we all crept to the edge of our seats in the beginning, that is. What a great way to discover a classic film! One morning it was pouring rain. The admin chief shows up drenched to the skin, muttering about his new car. Less than a thousand miles on it, his car interior had pretty much been destroyed when Marine gate guards 96

allowed a soaking wet drug dog to go through while he stood out in the pouring monsoon. He was not a happy camper that day. Got orders to the USS Rhode Island (SSBN 730), a Trident boat being built in the nearby Electric Boat shipyard. The name was later changed after the death of Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington State, who's lovely, much-lusted after daughter attended the commissioning. I bought bottles of champagne for the two NSSF career counselors who got me my orders. I've seen people sign up for six years and get worse orders. It'll be great to get back to the Real Navy where one can fart freely at quarters, meals, and other daily functions without offending delicate female sensibilities. Of course, in the torpedo community there was no shortage of ill mannered hogs who'd fart at a moment's notice. A few of us were raised different; we save our flatulence for those times unencumbered by females. Such as when the boat dives and seals itself off, becoming a totally enclosed system of farts, bad breath, body odor, cigarette smoke and greasy garbage for the duration of the dive. Got news that I didn't make Weapons Department Sailor Of The Month because they're putting me in for a Navy Achievement Medal. I'd have never thought it possible.

Mark 68 Trident torpedo tube school in Bangor, Washington was a ten week school, and I was supposed to leave my family alone in Connecticut - take airplanes to get there and back. Mary and I decided she and the kids would come along. We took the trusty Toyota Corolla. We'd traded the VW Bug for it in Orlando when we saw how much fun it would be getting a baby around in the Bug. The visit to Washington State would be enough to hook us into coming back in 1990 for good. Torpedo tube school was boring beyond all comprehension. It was originally intended for young kids just 97

out of high school, not salty old sub sailors like me - and Fred, who finished first. (I was second.) They cut it from ten weeks to five because there was only four of us, and we must have been smarter than the average bear.

The trip back east was uneventful, with the possible exception of wanting to shoot everyone in Wall, South Dakota after enduring all those stupid signs again. "HOW TO SCREW UP AMAZING AMERICAN SCENERY WITH INANE SIGNS" by the citizenry of Wall, South Dakota. We picked up a 40 channel CB radio and managed to avoid a few speeding tickets, thanks to Mary. I could spend hours trying to raise anyone to no avail, but she'd get on - after much coaxing - and say "break one nine" and five guys would answer at the same time. The PCU Rhode Island was my worst military duty station ever. My first real taste of things to come was meeting the captain, Ralph Tindal. When I reported aboard with 20 other newbies recently arrived to the PCU Rhode Island (pre-USS Henry M. Jackson; still in the shipyard being built) the captain asked us, "How can you tell your shipmate is having a problem with alcohol?" I was the senior man present as a TM1(SS) - and I had a big mouth anyway, as required by my TM rate - so I said, "If a man starts having problems, like not doing his job or showing up late." "No," says Captain Tindal, then went around the room asking everyone the same question. Their answers were all similar to mine ± and we were all wrong. Tindal says - with a straight face - I can still quote him after all these years - "If a man says to you at three o'clock in the afternoon 'Man, I can't wait to go home and have a beer' - TURN THAT MAN'S NAME IN! He has a problem with alcohol!" 98

By the shocked & puzzled looks all around, I'd say about 100% of us had just been thinking, "Man, it's hot in this shipyard barge; it'll be nice to get home to a cold one this afternoon." It went completely downhill from there. I got a break from the normal shipyard grind to ride the USS Florida (SSBN 728) for a week of training.

USS Florida (SSBN-728) at Electric Boat (the one out of the water) December 1983 - I'm sitting in the TM space on the barge awaiting orders to leave for New London to catch the USS Florida for a ride to Port Canaveral, Florida. I'm really going to miss my family a lot. Leaving this morning was hard enough. I just made up my "bunk" in between four Trident missile tubes: 15, 16, 17, & 18 in upper level. Fortunately we're not carrying anything on board or I'd probably be fried in no time. We met the COB, a crusty old red headed torpedoman. I also got a seasick patch for my ear. 99

I suppose the most useful thing I've accomplished is finding good stowage spots for guitars when I start making patrols on the Henry Jackson (the USS Rhode Island was renamed after Senator Jackson died.) It's odd to be reading a book between four missile silos, twenty-five yards away from an operational nuclear reactor. Boy, can it get quiet in here when the ship rigs for reduced electrical. I missed breakfast and lunch. I'll try to make dinner but I need to lose a few pounds. I weighed 220 when we left. The TM's on this boat aren't very bright. They tried to shoot the tubes without impulse air. One nice thing about being a rider is you can walk into the crowded Control Room and fart viciously but quietly. Since nobody knows you, they blame everyone else. I just mooned one of the chiefs, who died laughing. He had me do it four more times while he called everybody in Machinery #2 to come see. It was a Long Distance Moon traveling between 24 Trident missile tubes. My earliest indication of the XO's hard line was when three people missed a random urine test one Monday morning. Whether they were on leave or gone at school or just never got the word was never clearly established, but the XO implied at quarters that these three intentionally missed the test in order to get a little "stay time" - and that's a quote. In his mind, these three said to themselves, "I think I'll skip the urine test today so those twelve joints I smoked will be out of my system tomorrow.´ Having spoken to someone in the know on these tests, this is pure science fiction. Ranting and raving is more like it. But the scary part was, if he'd had their names at the time, he'd have put them out at quarters with all those sneaky insinuations. Marked them as dopers their remaining time on board. There's more. I was walking out of the barge with a young seaman when a funny remark was made pertaining to drugs. A first class petty officer overheard and stopped me to warn it was the XO's rule, "If you talk about dope or joke about dope, you use dope." Shit, there goes half my repertoire ± and so much for the First Amendment. As I got shorter, I was reassigned from the shipyard to the subbase, where I went to work for Sub Group Two as a barracks babysitter. Boy, did I just love working in the barracks. My favorite was twenty-four hours of Music Television (MTV), seven days a week. And rooms that looked like someone stood outside the door with a hand grenade, pulled the pin, and tossed it in. There were pool sharks who'd line up three inch from the hole shots for ten minutes - calculating terminal ejection velocities and all that stuff, I guess - then blast the cue ball across the room at warp speeds. Never had I seen so many pool balls in flight. Navy barracks were much like home. You and two others shared a spacious room with its own bathroom, desks, closets, and night tables. Even a working refrigerator. This was a far cry from lining up sixty sets of bunk beds in an open bay, which used to be common. The newer barracks made Holiday Inns look like renovated tenements. I wouldn't be surprised if they had saunas and indoor pools by now. However, there's a major difference between the aforementioned naval residence and yours, or your parents. If you should happen to roll in drunk, angry, or insane, under no circumstances are you going to rip bathroom fixtures off the walls. You probably won't stand naked on a sink singing country songs at the top of your lungs, or urinate in the hallways. Chances are slim you'll take fire extinguishers on the roof and discharge them while fighting off imaginary space aliens. Your wife or girlfriend or mother/father/roommate/local police/all of the above - would take a dim view of such activities. 100

Of course, other activities occurred in both places like punching holes in walls, throwing darts in wood doors, sneaking girls in, walking around naked, and vomiting wherever the urge strikes. However, should you vomit all over your mother's dollhouse miniatures, you'll be the one cleaning it up. There's no discussion. You'll be the one doing the dirty work. In the barracks, you could do as much damage as possible, vomit and urinate where you pleased, and in most cases some other poor slob got the pleasure of cleaning it all up. To add to the list of things that amazed me, the Navy would nail a guy to the wall for coming in four minutes late. But getting drunk as a skunk, ripping up the place, disturbing the peace and leaving body waste hither and yon was condoned on a nightly basis. To be a "steamer" was the highest honor bestowed on the besotted. A steamer could drink the Dallas Cowboys under the table, make love to 27 hookers, punch out a herd of water buffalo, roll in the door at 6:15 in the morning, snatch six minutes of sleep, and be on time for morning muster in an inspection ready uniform. ("His hair was perfect.") Me and one of the other Masters-At-Arms set up a jam session in the barracks with three other guitar players, which made five of us. It was a major disappointment when it turned out to be Eddie Van Halen Night. Four fools who didn't know what to do but be the solo star. Granted, they were all good at flashy guitar solos - one guy even went through a passable version of "Eruption" - but they couldn't play together worth a darn. Not even basic blues. My next temporary assignment was the Piermasters, the guys who helped the harbor pilots bring submarines in to dock. The Piermasters were an odd lot at best. Out of the fifteen who made up our group, several were drug users. At least one or two were overweight and being processed for discharge - you're fat, so you can't be in the military during peacetime. This was the Navy, not the Marines. Someone who weighed three hundred pounds might be a handicap to the Marines, but could easily sit behind a ship's console and fire all kinds of missiles. There were also several crazies at Piermasters, guys who had psych folders that looked like the New York City phone book. A few were on medical hold of one kind or another, and a few were transients.


CHAPTER TEN USS BOSTON (SSN 703) I first I heard of the USS Boston from my guitar pal, Jim Brink. Jim and I and another sailor used to get together and play music, but nothing ever came of it. He was transferred off shortly before I reported aboard, but I sure wish the boy could have come with us. We'd have had a real good Halfway Night.

He told me a USS Boston story about dealing with an old weapons officer, in typical Brink style. Apparently he and this young man didn't exactly agree on policy. After many unsatisfactory encounters, the following conversation is said to have taken place: Chief Brink: "Sir, what would happen if I were to say you were an asshole?" WEPS: "Well, Chief, I'd have to write you up for disrespect to a commissioned officer." Chief Brink: "How about if I was to think you were an asshole?" WEPS: "I can't control how you think. How you think is your own business." Chief Brink: "Well sir, then I think you're an asshole." A truly great, analytical mind. I reported aboard in awful weather. They don't make Navy pea coats like they used to, and I always froze my ass off when I had to be in dress uniform. You couldn't report to a new duty station in a thermal ski suit just because it was ten degrees and snowing out, you had to be in dress blues. I didn't have any warm feelings about reporting to the Boston because Brink also told me the story of a Boston crewmember who claimed to be ill but was ignored - even ridiculed - who then died underway. His body 102

was evacuated by chopper in the middle of the north Atlantic. Kind of a cold bunch, I'd say. Got a good idea what to expect two weeks before we left for patrol. I'd taken a few days off to enjoy my family before having to leave the kids for the first time in their short lives. One of the third class torpedomen, a kid from northern New Jersey named Jimmy Bodrato, had been on watch topside when the ship's engineer came to work and found his assigned parking spot at the end of the pier taken. He got straightaway into Bodrato's face for failing to guard his parking spot. With typical candor, Bodrato told him that wasn't his job - and maybe a few other choice words - and got wrote up for disrespect. In the old days when one of your people got in trouble, you stood by him - especially if he was a good sailor. Well, I found out through unofficial channels what happened, got in my dress blue uniform, and showed up the morning of Jimmy's mast before the captain. I was still officially on leave. Outside the Wardroom, I ran into the executive officer, who registered real surprise and says, "Petty officer Ward, what are you doing here?" I replied that one of my torpedo gang was going to mast, and I was here to stand with him. He seemed perplexed by this answer and said, "Well, you don't really need to be here" and walked away shaking his head. The captain threw the case out because he was fair. He realized Bodrato's job was to guard the boat, not anyone's personal parking space. He warned Jimmy he didn't want to see him again under these circumstances, and it was over. I never forgot what the XO said, and when people ask my main reason for getting out of the military, I tell that story. Things changed. Had the tremendous misfortune to have a torpedoman chief named Terry Large on board. 90% of the torpedomen chiefs I ever met were leaders of men and very capable individuals. Unfortunately, Terry Large was in a weird category all by his lonesome. This was a man who stayed on board the boat nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the whole year I knew him. When we pulled into beautiful Bermuda, Chief Large went ashore for two hours to do his laundry - then went right back to the boat. The duty chiefs finally complained to the XO, and Large was ordered to go to his barracks room once in a while when we were in port. He was married, but not even his wife wanted to live with him - she was a thousand miles away in Florida. I once asked Chief Large, "If the job sheet said to paint yourself blue and stick a feather in your rear end before handling torpedoes, would you do it?" He refused to comment, but I knew which way to bet. The base torpedo shop actually complained to the captain of NSSF about how much grease this lunatic would coat every torpedo with. Got captain's permission and drafted the first ships' newspaper. I used several items from my torpedo shop newspapers and thought up a bunch of new stuff. Cris liked it. He's the Lithuanian-American night baker from New Jersey who brought me chocolate chip cookie dough on mid watches, or fresh baked bread with peanut butter. Hmmm...fresh baked bread....


Cris Sakalauskas, 1985 I don't like the fact that I don't have my word processor, my dictionary, or my thesaurus. I feel naked. Plus I have to depend on someone else to type it up. Don't like that at all. This is how the introduction went: Welcome to the Boston Bulletin. Forget the old Baked Bean Banner, the only good use for baked beans is the formation of a good fart. This paper has nothing to do with farts. Discussions about flatulence, alimentary canals and such will be left to underground papers and toilet papers. This will be a decent sort of paper, one you wouldn't mind taking with you to pass these boring moments we spend on the bowl - counting how many rolls of shit paper are left, reading the recent (and even more boring) graffiti, or trying to keep your poopie suit out of someone else's fresh urine who missed. And how can you miss a two foot diameter circle from two feet? At any rate, you might ask why someone would bother to make up a ship's paper. After all, there's the Plan of the Day (POD), a fine method of disseminating official information, bingo numbers and "thoughts" or "quotes" of the day. I wonder, do they have a special course during Prospective Executive Officer's (XO's) school that deals exclusively with POD quotes and thoughts? Every XO I've ever known goes for that stuff in a big way and every average sailor reads them and goes, "huh?" We also have the dreaded 1MC (pronounced one em cee), the ship's announcement circuit. I feel this newspaper would be unnecessary if all of us had equal time on the 1MC. I also wrote a memo to the engineer in the first ship's paper: MEMORANDUM From: BOSTON BULLETIN TO: The Engineer Subj: Constructive Time Review Board 104

1. Sir, it has come to our attention that you are involved in activities which may be deemed un-American. A gross violation of standards set on the first Naval vessels thousands of years ago. We shudder to think about it, let alone address it in this prodigious publication. In the beginning, petty officer Julius brought aboard a guitar and left it secure in the torpedo room. Here we are, eight days later and that guitar has yet to be broken out. Sir, I have no choice but to hold you personally responsible for this gross mismanagement. After all, let's get our priorities straight. Is this a job or an adventure? Should MM1 Julius be wandering around back aft wasting time maintaining some silly reactor? Or up here playing guitar, sharpening his quickly fading backgammon skills, or completing his 3M (Movies, Mattress and Meals) qualification card? Nooooo! He's back aft filling his brain with all kinds of oddball things that won't help him operate a Sony Walkman at all! Honestly, sir. Pretty soon all the nukes will see what Julius is up to and will be abandoning the many worthwhile pursuits outlined in the 3M qual card. I've even heard rumors of impending qualification! Unsat. So, in closing sir, I'd like to reiterate. Is this a job or is it an adventure? Do you think petty officer Julius will fondly recall taking logs in engine room lower level, or beating the snot out of a certain TM1 in backgammon? A total reevaluation of priorities is essential. I can no longer tolerate the cries of a poor, abandoned guitar desperately in need of human contact.

On Watch St. Patrick's Day 1985 105

Oh, those boomer pukes! I couldn't stand to go three knots in circles for months, waiting for a message to blow up the world. Not me! Yeah, right ± please, send me back right now, because boomers get sea pay year round and only own the boat for six months. Or how about the sure knowledge that the boat is getting underway on August 10th in the year 2001, instead of that fast attack "oh by the way" phone call? I'd have to say the major advantage of being a boomer sailor is the Trident submarine. We're talking 565 feet of creature comforts. No more tedious stores loads, passing ninety days of stores hand to hand in lines that stretched all over the boat. On a Trident, the entire escape trunk lifts out, leaving a six foot diameter hole for whole pallets to go directly to dry stores. Try nine man, roomy bunk rooms with ample storage, or porcelain toilets that actually flush like normal toilets. The crew's mess is three times the size of the Boston's. There's a crew's library with study tables, and a crew's lounge. The phrase "How do you like it now?" was abused on the USS Boston. We could finish handling sixteen torpedoes, replacing twelve rusty pyrotechnics, restowing the entire weapons handling system, and repairing four messy hydraulic valves in the room - about sixteen hours of busting ass - then someone would come tell me I had to be on topside watch in the cold rain in ten minutes. Jimmy would turn around and say, "How do you like it now?" We were on our way to the Arctic Circle and beyond, so it meant a Bluenose Ceremony. On the Pulaski, everyone but the supply officer lined right up to be abused. On the Boston, the "warmbodies" revolted. One of their tricks was to steal the XO's stateroom door and hide it. (Later) They had the Bluenose Ceremony. I was shocked at how bad it was. I almost threw up several times just watching. They wasted cases of eggs, and gallons of ice cream, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, catsup, maple syrup, jam - you name it. If it was nasty and sticky, they poured it on you. People crawled with their faces in ice, water, sardines, and various other nasties like spit, puke, and urine. It was a sight to see, and the boat stunk of it for a week. I suppose I had an indication of things to come when we Bluenoses got together a few days ago. A man who is responsible for supervising the overall operation and maintenance of a nuclear power plant is bound to be inventive, highly intelligent and energetic. As we decided the game plan, I noticed the most "interesting" ideas came from the direction of the Engineer. All that education and training is multi-faceted. Leads to a well rounded individual capable of handling complex situations.

Armand crawling through for Bluenose 106

I have to say the ceremonies conducted on board the Boston made anything I ever saw on the Pulaski seem kindergarten in comparison. Based on this, I make honorable mention of the following: 1. The Engineer, obviously a slave galley supervisor in an earlier life. 2. Senior Chief Salmon, who made my stomach turn by sampling the various edible and non-edible items on the floor through which he crawled. Of meritorious mention is his parting shot - a massive lip-lock on the executive officer, pulling a five inch vacuum for 35 seconds. The XO was indeed, surprised. 3. Chief Hoff, who showed no evidence of slacking off in the performance of his demanding duties administering truth serum, affording the last warmbody the same preferential treatment as the first. 4. The entire Wardroom. Now, you know these guys went first. You know everything was fresh and amply supplied. The king, his court and various "attendants" were built up to a crescendo. Anticipation was high. Besides, how often does one get to stick eggs in officer's underwear and break them? 6. Petty Officer Evans, a Navy diver who can casually urinate in a wet suit to keep warm in 22 degree water, but by his own admission failed to produce a single drop during the "long crawl" for those following. Honorable mention for a good try. 7. The "background music" was superb. Sounded like something out of a nightmare. However, a thumbs down on all the bad feelings on the ship prior to the ceremony. Ships have gone through initiations for various crossings since they first put vessels in the water. There's no animosity involved. Bluenoses were never out to "get" anyone, just observe a seagoing tradition. Of course, rumors are a good thing. I myself initiated the rumor that hair would be cut. You're suppose to go in blind folded. Knowing nothing, fearing everything, and expecting anything.

March 1985 - I hand delivered a copy of the first newspaper to the XO. Interrupted his dinner to give it to him. Had Mike Couey run it up to the COB earlier, and the COB loved it. Called it a "good newspaper." I'll have to wait on the CO/XO's opinions, and frankly, I'm nervous. I suppose I could - someday - get over being foolish about criticism, but then I might be harder to live with. I have a Navy Expeditionary Medal I can't talk about.


I love being able to say that«« Back when I was building torpedo engines at the IMA in New London, I was also writing a Weapons Department newspaper. I wrote about what everyone was "missing" by being stuck on shore duty. They thought they had it rough, with duty every eighth day, and a 7am to 4pm job that featured standard two-hour lunches. Try six hours on and twelve hours off for seventy days straight, providing you have enough trained people to be in three section duty. Once I went three weeks doing what is called "port and starboard" - six hours on and six hours off. Constantly. It gets old about the second day because you're not exempt from daily rituals like drills and training. How about no fresh milk or veggies or fruit after the first two weeks. Censored news. Drills and more drills. Air that's been recirculating for weeks. Watching movies by popular vote, which means you get to sit through "The Terminator" 28 times. How about the sheer pleasure of planning for, stealing all the ingredients for, concocting, nervously checking on, and finally drinking your own home made wine underway. The nukes had these nifty five gallon containers. At any given time there'd be two or three stills going. We had ours hidden in the forward escape trunk, and the escapades trying to hide it from various inspections could rival any Three Stooges comedy. I don't recall anyone ever actually getting drunk from the stuff, but it was a grand time sneaking around getting the whole thing together, risking our stripes like a bunch of kids. Or hearing "rig ship for ultra quiet" - having to be in your bunk if not on watch and in stocking feet if out of bed. It's almost unnerving to move through a submarine so deathly quiet. Newer boats like the Trident don't have to worry as much about noise because everything is rubber mounted, including the decks. Going for days or weeks without a shower if your source of fresh water broke down. On the diesel boats, showers were a luxury because of the lack of water storage space as well as the lack of ample power to run water making equipment. Older boats had torpedo tubes pointing out the front of the boat. The sonar equipment was also in the front of the boat. When the tubes were fired, it rendered sonar useless for a brief period. This design is no longer used, which is unfortunate for snotty torpedomen but a blessing for sonarmen everywhere - you simply cannot know the pleasure of smacking a 24 inch crescent wrench on a torpedo tube with your favorite sonar girl on the stacks listening to a quiet school of fish three miles away. His reaction could be likened to pulling the switch at an electrocution. 108

John & Glenn in Sonar on the 633 boat Whenever a boat is firing missiles, or practicing to fire missiles, they have to pressurize flooded missile tubes to equal outside sea pressure or they'd never get the outer hatch open. When the drill is over, you have to vent all that air back into the boat or risk detection. This means lots of air gets dumped into the boat all at once, which plays havoc with your eardrums. Nothing like waking up with your head in a vice because you weren't awake to equalize in stages. Occasionally submarines have the opportunity to conduct swim call. Even less occasionally a commanding officer allows the troops to actually do it. There's nothing like swimming in crystal clear blue/green water in the Bahamas off of a nuclear submarine with no land in sight. You only have to keep a few things in mind, like if you swim past this point aft you may later notice some hair loss or the inability to have children. And stay away from those funny looking sonar gadgets, they happen to be made of fiberglass. And don't dive straight down or you'll find out why HY-80 steel is considered some of the hardest steel made. (Oh yeah, the hull is round!)


Swim Call on the 633 boat My favorite swim call story involved the crew swimming on the starboard side while the stupid auxiliarymen pumped sanitary tank #2 overboard on the port side. Sanitary #2 contains mostly refuse from the ship's galley, so we had six sharks show up for lunch almost immediately. Talk about chumming the water.

Swim Call -the front of the boat is bottom right 110

I made six patrols on the USS Casimir Pulaski. We had two complete crews, Blue and Gold, and were on a 90 day rotation. Out of the six patrols, with about 140 guys on each crew, the Gold crew averaged two divorces per patrol. It almost became predictable. The guy would stop getting family grams or never get any at all. He'd be unable to reach anyone from Scotland when we pulled in, then get home and find terrible things happened. His car might be gone, his debts up to the roof, his rent not paid, and his woman gone. Such is the life of a sailor at sea. When I first reported aboard the Pulaski, I was rudely awakened one night and ordered to report to the torpedo room to "dive" torpedo tubes. Yeah, right. I immediately put this request in the same category as the Mail Buoy and "Relative Bearing" grease - two favorites for blowing the minds of inexperienced sailors. (I remember walking through the upper level of the machinery room underway, and there's a young kid standing there with a life preserver on, full harness and deck traveler, flashlight, binoculars, you name it. We were three hundred feet underwater, but he'd been told to wait for the Mail Buoy.) But "dive" torpedo tubes? Please. I rolled over and went back to sleep, even when the guy came back three times. Finally, the second class came roaring in and ripped off my face, and then I found out "diving tubes" is the expression for cleaning all 21 feet of all four tubes from the inside.

D.W. diving a torpedo tube Ahhh, the Security Alert Team. Response forces on submarines are classed into three categories, depending on your job. In the event of some kind of security breach, one group went to muster in a central location, one group stood by as backup, and the Security Alert Team (SAT Team) would grab the nearest anything to use as a weapon and kill themselves or anyone in their way to get to the scene of the crime. I always wondered about the sanity of this. Some terrorist with an AK-47 and a bomb is down in the missile compartment, and I'm 111

supposed to rush down there with a wrench? In those days, the torpedo division was composed of three guys and weighed in over seven hundred pounds. We ran over anything and everyone in our way - legally. How many poor chiefs and officers will have arthritis in later years after being run over by the torpedo division on our way to the scene of a security drill?

Torpedo Division 1978 It's a rare occasion a boat can fly the Dolphin flags, silver for enlisted and gold for officers. Flying this flag meant every person on board was qualified submarines. Due to the transient nature of submariners, there are always new people on board, so there is continuous qualification going on. And when you're ready to be qualified anything in the Navy, you go through examination boards. They're made up of officers and enlisted men who have probably forgot more than you'll ever know. Often, they take great pains to ensure the questions are as bizarre as can be: "You're a molecule of water. Come into the boat aft of frame 92 and leave as carbon dioxide two hours later. Reenter the boat 12 nautical miles later as reactor cooling water, be atomized into carbon tetrahydrazine-241, leave the reactor compartment in a technician's skin pore, and finally settle in as a growth in the side of the engine room coffee pot." You'd have to be able to explain every inch of the way, drawing diagrams as necessary. If you're not a great B/S artist, stay off submarines. Qualification boards last anywhere from a half hour, to "to be continued." How to deal with boredom. You could organize a "trim party" for new diving officers. Here's a guy who's sole job is to keep the boat on an even keel, which is difficult under the best conditions. The biggest changes occur when water is being pumped fore and aft. If you know the water is being pumped, you can always compensate. Try compensating for the fifty guys you don¶t know are running back and forth, forward to aft. Averaging two hundred pounds apiece, that's ten thousand pounds that'll ensure you're never on an even keel. Reactions ranged from calm indifference to pumping water all over the boat in a vain attempt to compensate. As far as the newspaper goes, all I've heard is bitching and moaning about how much there is about 112

torpedomen. (I went through the paper and found two articles on TM's.) Besides, I turned in things to be typed, and they deleted some of it, so I'll be weaning off this project. Either I have editorial control or I don't participate. In the second issue, I jumped on my editor's soapbox and said, "Thanks for the kind comments on our first issue - all four of them. For those who didn't like it, not only do I recommend you not waste your time reading this one, I open my nostrils in your general direction. I understand from my division officer that we torpedoman do nothing but sit on our asses for six hours a watch, so I've got plenty of time to write articles. Everyone else who absolutely kills themselves 22 hours a day will have to rely on my newspaper. Sorry. Believe me, I felt so guilty collecting six checks that I gave two back. Now, enough about damned torpedomen - even though they are the only truly colorful individuals left in the Navy." It's good to have the bully pulpit, so to speak. Sea stories have been around since there were seas and people silly enough to venture out on them. Some are based on true facts relating to sea going adventures, but most are simple tales that grow proportionally taller as they are told and retold. I imagine Homer's Odyssey started out as some poor bastard who went fishing one day and got lost for a few weeks. Naturally, when he finally wandered back home, his wife was waiting for him with a rolling pin; he had to think fast. And later, down at the tavern, he couldn't tell the boys he spent the time cringing in the bottom of his boat, wetting his pants. We're talking sirens and cyclops and battles and gods and tremendous b/s. Of course, in those days everything came from the gods, or was controlled by the gods, so no one could question such a tale. Besides, one never knew when one might need to be "waylaid" by a goddess or two«« These days, sea stories are alive and well. Instead of Homer's "Once upon a time..." we have the old diesel boat sailor at the DelMar Cafe with, "This is a no shitter..." Either way, with a wide variety of topics and the artistry of the telling, the sea story will always have an avid listener in me. On a rare moment, I've been known to recall a time or two - this is a no shitter... I figure I should go into a little more detail about what went on during the Bluenose Ceremony. You really had to see it to believe it, just like a lot of weird things. About a quarter of us had been initiated on other boats so we were exempt. And we ran the show. First, all non-Bluenoses ("warmbodies") gathered in the torpedo room in their underwear. Bottoms only. This part was directed by the spooks (CT's), who had been up here so many times they probably spoke Arctic. Warmbodies were led one by one to the 21 Man Head, where each was required to take an ejection temperature shower - the 28 degree water that came into the boat from the Arctic Sea. Hey, Arctic Circle, remember? Some guys came out of the shower nearly blue. Depended on how much shit you gave the spooks. Maybe someone didn't like your face or your underwear, so you froze for a while. They passed through the machinery room and came up the ladder aft of the mess decks, which were covered from floor to ceiling with thick black poly sheets to protect everything. As you came up the ladder, you were blindfolded, put on your belly, and made to crawl face down until the Engineer stopped you by screaming through a bull horn three inches from your ear. He and three or four cronies were hiding behind the black poly, armed to the teeth with eggs, sardines, mayo, mustard, catsup, ice, shortening, maple syrup - you name it. Anything sticky, nasty, and (hopefully) non-toxic. Holes were strategically cut in the plastic, and these guys really dished it out from the first warmbody to the last. The Engineer would stop a guy, screaming at him to keep his face down in the muck. They'd insert eggs and/or sardines in his underwear. As the warmbody continued crawling through the nasties, hands would appear through black plastic to smack asses and break eggs. Or pour honey on your head. Ice on your back. Mayo in your left ear. I was watching all this from one corner behind the Exec, who was also fortunate to have been through this at a previous command. Warmbodies would come around the corner and be greeted by the Royal Polar Bear. He'd direct them to get up from the floor and sit in a vat of ice and other nasties while he fed them "truth serum" - a tasty blend of 113

sardine oil, pickle juice, vinegar, and other awful but again, non-toxic ingredients. Some threw it right back up, which accounted for some of the other nasties in the vat. Then they went before the Queen and kissed "her" between the legs. The Chief Of the Boat as King Trident had his Royal Scepter - a foot long piece of pepperoni warmbodies were required to fellate. Some guys really got into the spirit of the event. Then they went back to the Royal Polar Bear who dabbed their noses with Prussian Blue, which meant they were now Bluenoses. Out past the Exec, who noted everyone's name on a list - it wasn't official until the captain signed a paper in your service record. Then past me dropping dead laughing, and on to the showers - but all the hot water heaters had been red tagged out of service as part of the festivities. Unmerciful, man.

The stench that arose from the place - and the warmbodies - was beyond anything you ever smelled in your life. There's no doubt people were spitting, urinating, and vomiting where the next guy had to crawl face down. Some even bragged about it. The sonar chief was grossing everyone out by eating off the floor as he crawled through. My stomach still churns when I envision it. On the way out, he grabbed the poor Exec by the head with his huge hands and planted a wet kiss on him - with the tail of a sardine still hanging out of his mouth. A sight to behold, for sure.


Tim Salmon & me, 1985 Of course, the Exec retaliated by assigning sonar division the task of cleaning the place up. I think the senior chief did better, though - the Exec's eyes got as big as two moons. It just flustered the shit out of him to be kissed by a 250 pound blue nosed sonarman in skivvies with a sardine in his mouth. I'll never get used to 18 hour days. Played some real good guitar with sonarman Chris Machell singing. I added harmonies and it really went great. I wish I'd recorded it. Later, I got together with the Doc and Burr Probert in the three inch launcher space (also the doc's office and pyro storage.) We tore through nifty versions of "Amie," "Wild Thing," and "Back In The USSR." A fine time was had by all. March 1985 - Found out we're "tentatively" scheduled for a port visit to Bremerhaven, West Germany. Oh boy. And what's the single most pressing issue in German politics? Nuclear weapons. Are we allowed to confirm or deny carrying them? Nope. To most people, nuclear submarine means nuclear weapons, so I expect a half million pissed off neo-Nazis with torches and pitchforks marching up to the boat when we tie up. The weapons officer is really distinguishing a name for himself in the torpedo room and on the boat. His qualification checkouts are becoming legendary. I think it'll get to the point where people will prefer to go dink rather than deal with him. It's sad - the man who knows the least is the man who signs the qual cards. Ah, the latest reenlistment good deal - I have to draw a map of the torpedo room and assign areas by name for cleaning. When someone comes in and finds a cigarette butt, they can drag the poor bastard who "owns" that area out of his bunk and make him pick it up. This place is simply not dirty enough to warrant such a foolish policy. 115

Boy is Mary gonna be mad at me!!! I just finished the lengthy task of shaving my head. Almost bald. As short as the clippers allowed. I won't go the next step and use a razor, mostly because I'm lazy. I had to do it because I couldn't stand the grease and dried soap anymore. With an enclosed atmosphere you have to deal with greasy hair. The boat is nothing but hydraulic valves, which use oil, and half of them leak. No matter how hard they try to scrub the air, it stays greasy.

Plus the water they make is so pure, so free of minerals, it doesn't take the soap off in the shower. If you stay longer and try to get all the soap off, there's no shortage of fools who'll bitch at you for taking a "Hollywood" shower, so your hair gets nasty after three hours. I ran my hand through my hair today and was disgusted, so off it goes. My head is cold, and I look like Marlon Brando in "Apocalypse Now", but I don't feel greasy anymore.


I really have to wonder what Chief Large has been doing for the last eleven months. For a guy who spends 12-24 hours a day on the boat - in port as well - there isn't a lot to show for it. He's still not requalified ships. Still not qualified chief of the watch, or in-port duty chief. The publications in this room are the sorriest bunch of crap you ever saw in your life ± and all I ever hear is how screwed up my predecessor, Ed Screen, was. Or how screwed up Jones and Bodrato are. Hmm...I found documentation from as early as 1983 stating TM division morale was high. There was "strict adherence" to procedures. They did good on torpedo certs, and did great on Torpedo Readiness Evals (TRE). Jim Reilly was down telling stories about a "mile high" club in Florida that jumped naked from airplanes with chutes, of course - and had intercourse during freefall. He said some friends were partying one night when two naked women and a naked man dropped into the back yard and asked for a ride home. Sounds like a movie scene to me.

Jim Reilly & Me in the torpedo room 1985 All the "confidential" information we're supposed to safeguard. "Serious damage" if revealed. Yeah, right. Try looking through "U.S. Naval Weapons" by Norman Friedman (Library of Congress card catalog #82-61473) which lists torpedo and missile capabilities. May 1985 - I'm sitting on the pier at the British submarine base in Faslane, Scotland getting dirty looks from Royal Marines patrolling all over the place. Lovely, cold, rainy Faslane. I went to the Trident Club - scene of the battle between the Casimir Pulaski and the Brits eight years ago. Nothing's changed, just the people. 117

Seaman Couey and I made our own chess board last night. He ate me alive. I must admit to amazement that a guy who I've had to talk to on many occasions because of his gross, disgusting habits and speech on the mess decks is an accomplished chess player who has a great love and knowledge of the game. He also loves classical music and claims to be pretty good on the piano. The way he talks, I tend to believe him. He doesn't brag, he relates facts. Classics? Piano? Chess? Handcuffing a love slave in the torpedo room bilge?

Mike Couey, in all his glory Waiting to tie up in Bremerhaven, West Germany. The fog was so bad, we had to slow down - a hundred yard visibility. I'm amazed how close England and Germany really are. It took us a short time to get there at ten knots on the surface. I can't imagine how fast a bomber could make it in the air. May 1985 - We're in Portsmouth, England. I toured the HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's flagship, and was barfed out by the story of his dead body being stored in a wine cask on the trip home to England. And his men drinking the wine when they got back. Must have been a "balls" thing. Also saw the HMS Mary Rose through a moisture fog in a building set up for that purpose. They'd only just brought it up from under the sea, and it hadn't been preserved yet. I suppose looking at antiquities is almost unavoidable in England. We had very little time, and someone set us up with a bus ride to London, where we could spend three hours. Hey, it was better than nothing. I saw Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, both at high speed. The night before we left England, Cris Sakalauskas wanted me to hitchhike to Stonehenge, but I refused because I didn't think we'd make it back in time to go to sea in the morning. I've regretted that decision since; 118

although, Stonehenge in the dark? We'd probably have run into some Druids and been sacrificed or something. We pulled into Bermuda, the second time for me. The first time was a lot more fun because we tied up at the north end of the island. This time we weren't welcome to tie up at all, and had to anchor out in the middle of the bay. This meant no shore power, which meant the nukes had to stay in steaming sections - they couldn't shut the reactor down. Everyone had at least two days ashore, with one exception ± Chief Large. Me and Cris went over the whole island on a mo-ped together. One mo-ped for two guys, which was comical at best. We saw the Mid Ocean golf course, designed a hundred years ago by a guy named Charles Blair McDonald. It looked to me like they must have ten million slaves come out every night with fingernail clippers and precision rulers to cut every blade of grass to exact specifications. Talk about perfect - the fairways looked like the best greens I'd seen in the United States. Big money. Cris drove the mo-ped like any maniacal city driver, and we ended up dumping in the middle of a huge muddy puddle. I wasn't hurt, but I also wasn't too thrilled. It took me a long time to see the humor of it - like, three years. When I wasn't with Cris, I was out with Carl Jones looking for mythical nude beaches, eating at the naval air station's McDonald's, or touring the Crystal Caves - where I waited for the sirens to sound, the doors to slam shut, and the Morlocks to come get us. I swear the following conversation took place. It's good to have the pocket sized diary to carry around. I'm on topside watch - unusual for a first class, but in a choice between topside watch and below decks watch in Bermuda; well, I dragged my feet forever on Below Decks quals. Me and the topside sentry are standing there admiring the marvelous sights, and this huge boat comes alongside. Give me hailing frequencies, Uhura. It was an enormous charter boat with seats for over a hundred people, driven by a single black man accompanied by a single white woman. This is what was said: (Him) "Hey mon, want a bottle of swizzle?" (Us) "No thanks, we're on duty." (Him) "Doo-tee? What de fock, mon! Have a drink!" (Us) "It's against the rules." (Him) "Fock de rules, mon. Where's de old mon?" (We point toward shore) (Him) "Fock de old mon! Have a beer!" (By this time we're howling with laughter) (Us) "We really shouldn't. How about tomorrow?" (Him) "Fock tomorrow, mon! I live for today." And off they went. NAS Bermuda provided us with a boat and crew to ferry people back and forth ashore all day and half the night. One Navy female line handler was very blond, very pretty, and very appreciated by boatloads of sub sailors. In four days, she made off with at least two shirts, one ballcap, a pair of exotic sunglasses, and at least a few hearts.


Bermuda 1985 LITTLE KNOWN BERMUDA FACTS 1. A woman who went skin diving near Elbow Beach was found dead three days later. "Sharks tore her ass up," we were told by a local. Bet you won't find that information in any travel brochures. 2. McDonalds at the Naval Air Station (NAS) gave job applications out with every order. 3. The space sonarman was the only human this side of the Atlantic wearing a black leather jacket. Even vacationing bikers were wearing shorts and tank tops. 4. There were at least three well-documented cases of beautiful, large breasted women flashing their large beautiful breasts from passing boats at dumbfounded topside watches. And they want me to qualify Below Decks? Figure the odds. The bad guys could have easily stormed the boat during my watch when a large breasted, microscopic-bikineed Australian wench pulled up alongside to chat. MUCH KNOWN BERMUDA FACTS 1. Bus drivers have a license - and a duty - to terrorize anything with less than four wheels. 2. Most of the roads aren't as wide as the XO's driveway. I have that on good authority. 3. The Bermuda golf courses have better fairways than Connecticut courses have greens. 4. One very old man plus one huge bank account equals one very old man and one very young, very pretty female companion. It's good to be the king. 5. I can body surf better than you. At Horseshoe Beach, the best beach on the planet, I could ride a wave until my stomach bottomed out in two feet of water. Fred was amazed.


Horseshoe Beach, Bermuda 1979 6. Every local knew every other local on the island, and they were always waving to each other. (Why does Carly Simon's "No Secrets" keep playing in my head?) 7. Saw my first real live Rastafarian. Imagine a religion that says smoke de pot, listen to de reggae music, and grow de hair every which way. Oh yeah, and kill de pope, mon. 8. Me and C.J. went to every corner of the island looking for a nude beach. Probably an ugly rumor started by the mo-ped companies. Kind of like the old "sunken treasure" lies generated by the skin diving equipment stores. I had to laugh when I read a sign that said, "IF YOU FIND ANY TREASURE WHILE DIVING, IT BELONGS TO THE GOVERNMENT OF BERMUDA". Yeah, sure it does. 9. Outside temperature = 85 degrees Inside market temperature = 12 below zero When we were tied up in Connecticut, we often saw the Navy's research sub NR-1, also homeported there. I'd see Freddie from time to time, the guy who signed off my ship's qual electrical block on the Pulaski, now an NR-1 crewmember. Here's a fully functional submarine with its own nuclear reactor - only thirty or forty feet long. NR-1 is used to do deep diving work in the Atlantic Ocean. I remember hearing it picked up the nuclear weapons of a downed American fighter off the coast of Spain a long time ago. The smallest and deepest diving nuclear submarine in the world, with a crew of 13 men and officers. The only Navy submarine painted florescent orange, and the only one with wheels. Also the only one with windows - how many times have I heard, "No windows? How do you see out?" We didn't see out, unless we were looking out the periscope and it was above the water. When it was pointed out to the weapons officer that tags are not required for anything but warshots in accordance with the Conventional Weapons Manual, he says, "Let's hang a tag anyway." August 1985 - Our division officer, who can't wait to get out of the Navy and go work for daddy-in-law at 121

IBM in Armonk, New York said, "All you guys do is ask for liberty. If the leading first did his job, the division wouldn't be so far behind." I made a report during a drill, "CONTROL, TORPEDO ROOM. RECIRCULATING" and the weapons officer jumps all over me on the phones, "We didn't ask for that report. Reports go fore to aft, top to bottom." Control, torpedo room aye. Ten minutes of total silence on the line, then I hear from the last possible station aft: "CONTROL, MANEUVERING, RECIRCULATING." The weapons officer answers without hesitation, "MANEUVERING, CONTROL, AYE." Go figure. Don't we all hate drills. As a matter of fact there is only one person per boat I know who loves drills because a monitor badge has been ordalted to his chest - the XO. I wonder how many face sucking drills we'd have if every last one of us had to don EAB'S, every single time. But though we all hate them, wouldn't it suck worse to have a fire in the battery well and have everyone stand around with their collective finger in their collective asses and say, "Huh?" Drills are practice for something we hope will never come to pass - to say it won't ever happen is an invitation to disaster. I was once told by a NUSC Rep that the chances of a torpedo hot run were a million to one. Odds so remote that for years I just paid lip service to hot run drills. I knew what to do - and did it rather well, of course but I drilled with about as much gusto as I would for a fire in the main ballast tanks, or an outbreak of productivity in the chief's quarters. A million to one. Yeah. Tell that to the USS Dace. A torpedo that would never hot run - did. They managed to shut the weapon down pretty fast. Hopefully it was prior drilling and not dumb luck - with torpedomen you never know. Oh boy, sucking rubber. I'm sorry, you don't hate wearing EAB's any more than I do. I have enough room for my beak, but the whole thing tends to squeeze my face into Play Dough. It's easier to breathe on Mt. Everest or the moon. But imagine yourself on a certain west coast boat with battery well troubles who sucked rubber for DAYS! Instead of twenty minutes in EAB's for a drill, try 72 hours because your life depends on it. In the rack. At chow. On the bowl. My last two items to bitch about could take days to bitch about but I'll spare you all by condensing into two sentences: 1. The Control Room phone talkers should all be in rehab for the massive doses of barbiturates they obviously ingest prior to manning the phones. Wake up, Control. 2. If you drill in an atmosphere of general hysteria you will most likely be hysterical during the real thing. Calm down. The ass you save may be mine. September 1985 - With me it's, "Get this list done and go on liberty." With Chief Large and the weapons officer, it's "Get this list done or you don't go on liberty." Now, I'm not saying the new skipper is bloodthirsty. Submarine commanders are level headed individuals with tremendous responsibilities, so I didn't think much about the "No Second Place In A Gun Fight" pictures now posted all over the boat. I raised an eyebrow when a topside watch was relieved for not shooting a ZULU-FIVEOSCAR, but the guy really should have stopped when challenged. However, I walked into supply the other day to harass a certain non-watchstanding SK1(SS) and found him typing up a 1250 for open purchasing the book ³HOW TO SAY µGO AHEAD...MAKE MY DAY¶ IN 29 LANGUAGES.´ Let's hope the PMS is up to date on the WQC. Star Wars. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Streets of Fire. All very popular movies that made lots of money. All 122

had heroes we'd love to emulate, but let's take a closer look at these "heroes." In Star Wars, Han Solo and Chewbacca are thieves and smugglers. Their hearts may have been in the right place, but Jabba the Hut wasn't looking for them because of an overdue monthly check. ³Raiders of the Lost Ark´ had "Professor" Jones, a guy who would lie, cheat, steal and swindle to get his hands on priceless artifacts. Murder and vicious assault were common. ³Streets of Fire´ had its share of vandalism, assault, arson and grand theft - not to mention running a police blockade. So, we have heroes who lie, cheat, steal, swindle, murder, assault, smuggle, and destroy private property. Let's say they decided to make a movie about the USS Boston. Most of us have been to the theater and know which parts require applause and which get cat calls and boo's. I'll give two scenarios, tell me which will get applause and which will get booed: SCENARIO 1: The ship's Executive Officer (played by Anthony Perkins) announces an eight hour field day on the 1MC after 18 hours of drills, followed by three hours of essential training. A memo to all department heads sits by him announcing there will be no liberty until morale picks up. A "No EAB During Drills" license is framed on the wall to the left. Starched red plaid shorts hang on a hanger nearby. SCENARIO 2: The exciting, exotic and colorful torpedoman (played by Clint Eastwood) casually flicks his Cuban cigar ashes on the weapons officer's spit shined hush puppies. He needs a shave, his hair is over his ears and his stained t-shirt says "JOKE 'EM IF THEY CAN'T TAKE A F*CK" in dayglo colors. Maintaining total eye contact with the emasculated weapons officer, he brazenly tosses all written procedures in the bilge and makes tube one ready with a personally modified warshot torpedo. Holding the strenuously objecting weapons officer at bay, he hand fires tube one, destroying a renegade Armenian submarine, narrowly preventing World War III, and making the world a better place to live in. Oh yeah, he gets the girl too, rescuing her from the evil clutches of the mad sex terrorist who had her handcuffed in the bilge. Her first words of relief after being rescued were, "Who threw all those stupid books on me?" September 1985 - Here we sit in Navy housing waiting for hurricane Gloria to hit this afternoon at 4:00pm. All the windows are taped up. Outside, all the trees are whipping around in a big way - and the storm is still off the coast of North Carolina. The original plan was I would get underway with the Boston before the storm hit, and ride it out safely a few hundred feet under the Long Island Sound. Uh, wait a second. I sit safely underwater while my family braves a hurricane? Sorry, but I pulled some strings - thanks COB, another good torpedoman - and got permission to stay ashore. Not all the decisions went against me.

Del Hayden, Chief Of The Boat, on left 123

October 1985 - It's very strange to be a target vessel. We've had several weapons fired at us today, one we felt go right under us. Had an "A" cable flood out and accomplished a massively rapid recovery. "Hold on, I'll look for my Acme Book Of Morse Code" - sonar supervisor to Control after being asked to identify code. I'm listening to 23.7khz, but I thought humans couldn't hear that high up. We just finished a fire drill in the room - we're drilling every single day now - and for "realism" they went around putting plastic bags over everyone's heads. Now, I know the purpose - to simulate what it would be like if visibility were reduced by smoke. But I couldn't see it like that. I was under my plastic bag pissing my pants laughing. Looking at all these grown men running around with plastic bags over their heads playing fire drill. I just couldn't get beyond it, and tears flowed under my plastic bag from hysterical but greatly contained laughter. (Published in the Ship¶s Newspaper) Dear USS Boston Shipmates, Perhaps I'm being a softie. If I'm a softie, please excuse me for being so. I know all you fast attack, recon baddies stand ready to die for your country - or at least fight over it. But, there seems to be a term here that people are forgetting - a feeling, a state of mind - shipmates. I can understand that sticking 137 guys in the same sewer pipe can lead to pressures not found in the real world. My brother might have to look at the same people for eight hours a day at IBM, but rarely does he take showers around them, or smell any of their farts. (If he ever does, he gets time and a half.) Human personalities are a strange mix. Often they produce friction and bad feelings when forced together. That's why boomer sailors get thirty days of R&R after a 70 day patrol. Besides having to put up with the prospect of blowing up millions of people, they have to put up with each other. That's where "shipmates" comes in. All kidding aside, if you don't look at the guy next to you as your shipmate, we're in trouble. Believe me, being out here is bad enough. There's no doubt I'll develop cancer in the next thirty years from having to breath Couey's farts time and again as they're recycled into the ship's closed atmosphere. All other problems are of no consequence. No matter whether you like someone's politics, or the way he wears his hair, or how he does business - that man is your shipmate. You'd be surprised how fast your dislike for someone can go away if your life suddenly had to depend on him. Most of us take our hazardous duty pay for granted, but the government doesn't pay you a dime more than they have to. If riding submarines was like data processing, we'd all be out hazardous duty pay. So the next time you get bent out of shape ± maybe someone wrote some meaningless newspaper article, or farted in the colors of the aurora borealis during the evening movie - keep in mind that while we're out here, that man is your shipmate. You don't have to like him, but you also don't have to walk around like a time bomb waiting to blow up. Someday it could be worth your while.


CHAPTER ELEVEN BOSTON TWO/POST NAVY (1987) When you think of your basic submarine torpedoman, if you ever think about your basic submarine torpedoman, your image is probably based on TV and the movies. The Great Unwashed Majority have never been aboard a submarine and seen the real thing, so the image of a colorful individual named "Tubes" with a trace of a grease everywhere, a bottle of whisky in one hand, knuckles dragging the floor, ready to fight at the drop of a dime, loading torpedoes barehanded - seems to most often come to mind. Well, to me it does, having been raised on "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea" and World War Two movies. Submarine torpedomen were a special breed. Loud and abrasive to everyone at all times, yet fiercely loyal and protective of their own. They were often named Kowalski, stood eight feet tall, and were able to manhandle anything a crane couldn't. And due to the fact that a submarine's entire existence revolved around torpedoes and a boat's ability to shoot them, they were allowed indiscretions - provided they did their job. (1993) Yeah, I know I've been out for almost eight years, but like many ex-bubbleheads, I still pay attention to everything in regard to the old job. There just ain't a lot of submarine sailors walking around. Most people would mind being shut up in a big sewer pipe for months at a time. Being forced to breathe recycled body odor and the occasional toxic and/or nuclear compounds. Most people would mind having to wait for a few hours to a few days for their drinking water to be made from sea water. Or go a few weeks or months without a shower. We knew if lack of personal hygiene was the only limiting factor during a submarine patrol, we'd get used to it. Submariners put up with a whole lot more, especially on the diesel boats, so I take pride in my years as a sub sailor. There isn't as much of a "grunt" factor as in the Marines, but at the time I rode submarines, I felt we were the Star Wars of the armed forces where the Marines were the Arnold Schwartzeneggers. Or something like that. Life for Marines in peacetime was fairly dull stuff. A boring routine of exercise, training, fitness, eating right, and being in nearly perfect fighting trim at all times. As a Marine I could do situps all day, shoot an M-16 rifle with deadly accuracy up to five hundred yards, plan an ambush, and run three miles in about sixteen minutes which ain't nothing to sneeze at, for someone who regards running as a medieval torture. Try running with calf length leather combat boots, carrying a heavy M-14 rifle at high port arms. Not dragging behind you after the second mile, like I always wanted to do. And only wussies wore running shoes, I guess. I was in the best shape of my life, weighed 170 pounds, stood 74 inches tall, and thought myself perhaps the baddest thing since John Wayne. Fortunately, this brief period of insanity wore off, and I became semi-normal again. But had I been sent where people were getting shot at - most notably people wearing the same clothes I was - I think I'd prefer to be pumped up about how damned good I was. The Marines were pretty good at pumping people up, hence the high casualty rate. But I think a guy who's pumped up has a better chance in a shooting war than some fool who thinks like I do right now; like, why the hell should I be over there sloshing through the mud dodging bullets when the president has the ability to zap the shit out of them with the push of a button? We could watch the mushroom cloud live on CNN - the first and last one. I think everyone else would get the picture fairly quick. So I may have thought I was the cock of the walk as a Marine, but I felt like Han Solo as a submarine torpedoman. I used to walk around the torpedo room marveling over these powerful engines of destruction as though they were photon torpedoes on the starship Enterprise. Torpedoes could do things most people can't imagine. They're smart enough to go after Soviet submarines like a dog after a cat. It was programmed to ignore anything and any moves the enemy threw at it. And one torpedo did the job, unlike World War Two where they fired six at a time and hoped one of them hit something. If it ever lost the target, the torpedo could be reprogrammed on the thin wire that connects it to the firing ship. What? This thing carried wire around with it to stay attached to the firing ship and be steered around like a Nintendo game? Oh, yeah - and a whole lot more I can't talk about or they'll come take me away to a restful compound on Maui. 125

We had Harpoon cruise missiles, Subroc nuclear anti-ship missiles, and my favorite - the Tomahawk missile - all launched from my tubes. There were several different kinds of Tomahawks, but we only carried the sneaky one that would come up out of the water, turn toward the target, and skim the water/land forty feet in the air. It had topographical maps programmed in, avoided certain areas, went around or over mountains, and struck within a few feet of the target. It could attack Yessir Yurafart in his 12th floor suite at Hotel Beirut. If it missed by as much as one floor, something was wrong. Scary but amazing weapon. They also have a version that carries a whole mess of little "bomblets" as they call them. Scatters them over a wide area like an airfield, rendering it unusable in a few seconds. Can you see the computer logic here, "Well, let's drop a few over here, and a few there. Hey, I missed the north end! Turn around! There's a few little bombies for you, too." Scary, but right up there with Star Wars. Hopefully the computer processors will never become aware, because convincing a missile or torpedo to blow itself up at the end of a run would be tough. The entire engineering area on submarines blew my mind. I couldn't believe so much equipment squeezed into such a small area. The ship's engines were right in front of you; you could press your hand on them and feel the enormous power. You could safely stand a few feet away from an operating nuclear reactor - providing you didn't stay longer than three hours a day. You could even look at the reactor vessel interior through glass thick enough to protect you from an environment so lethal any living thing would last only a few minutes. A system of rotating mirrors gave you a 360 degree look around inside. I could never get over the reactor being nothing but boiling water. What? Boiling water? Oh yeah, a nuclear reactor is a big steam kettle - high pressure steam turning turbines that powered the ship's engines. I always thought it was something like Buck Rogers, with radiation powering some "Back To The Future" circuit designed by Jim from "Taxi." When I first learned all a reactor did was boil water, I was a little let down. Then I saw what a fast attack boat could do with that boiling water, and it was cool again. The newer submarines can really zoom through the water, and if you know anything about trying to push things through water - especially when depth and pressure increases - you know how hard it would be to push seven thousand tons of cigar-shaped metal at high speed through old Jell-O. And that pressure! I don't think people really understand the kind of pressure associated with the ocean depths. It really hit home to me the first time John Gordon purposely left a Styrofoam cup in a torpedo tube and equalized the pressure with the outside depth. We were way deep - can't say how deep. Not Jacques Cousteau deep, but deep enough. That cup came out looking like a Barbie cup. Just zapped it right down to 1/20th its size and I could only imagine what a human would look like under similar conditions. No, thanks. That's why we went to such extreme levels of training and awareness, because all that pressure was always trying to get in the People Tank. Every waking second, if you messed up, you could kill a boat in the biggest hurry you ever saw. That's why I shit myself when I first reported aboard a Los Angeles (688) class submarine - they designed a single watertight door in the middle of the boat. One - where the Casimir Pulaski had a half dozen. Not a warm fuzzy feeling at the time, especially when I also discovered the hull wasn't half as thick as the Pulaski's. I heard an interesting submarine story that blew my mind from my old friend Frank, who rode the USS Birmingham with me. He was making one of his trips to the Bremerton Navy yard, where he walks in like Scotty from Star Trek and fixes everything the Navy pukes have already hosed. He's one of these electronics nerds who can fix everything with copper and silicone. He's a high tech systems troubleshooter; the last guy to call when the first three waves of "experts" have screwed it up. His company sends him all over creation at a moment's notice. Everywhere from Italy to Japan to Hawaii, where I happened to be conducting computer training at the same time. We had a grand old time after working hours, and even climbed Diamond Head together. But primarily, Frank un-f*cks things some other knucklehead has already fouled up just by being a knucklehead. We all know them; people who can't boil water and chew gum at the same time. That's why people like Frank exist. The Navy knows his worth, so they don't mind the expensive trips. 126

Frank and I always talk about the boats. The subject of a submarine's drive shaft came up, and he mentioned the shaft practically winds up like a watch spring at high speeds. This huge thing turns itself around two and a half times, or something incomprehensible like that. I immediately shit myself all over again, thinking how many times I sat on the casing of the shaft, talking to the engine room lower level watch. Submarines were the weirdest place I'd ever been, bar none. It was a place where you could get kissed - on the mouth - by the biggest, ugliest man you'd ever seen. If you flinched, you could be marked for endless harassment. Of every kind, color and shape. Didn't matter who you were; black, white, officer, enlisted, gay or straight - submarines was The Dozens like I'd never seen. If you gave the slightest impression it was getting to you, you were in serious trouble. Yeah, you're a badass, but you ain't bad enough to take on a whole crew, locked in underwater with them for months at a time. People can really make trouble for you in the space of a four hundred foot long sealed sewer pipe when they get a mind to. Some guys could be counted on to get pissed off every single time anyone cared to spin them up. Hey, it gets boring being underwater for months, and spinning people up was cheap entertainment. I had a guy on the USS Boston who hated my guts from the moment he laid eyes on me walking through the crew's mess one balmy December day in Groton. I can see it like it was yesterday: I come into the crew's mess laden down with my gear and guitar. This guy sitting at a table looks up at my face, looks down at my three rows of ribbons, looks over at my first class torpedoman chevron - and was my enemy. I saw it in his eyes, and it was so. And don't tell me it was my imagination. There are times when you know immediately you don't like someone, as well as knowing almost immediately you like someone else. Zak, also an ex-bubblehead torpedoman, managed to convey a lot of things in one knowing look across the torpedo shop coffee mess sixteen years ago, and we've been friends since. But when someone looks at you and hates you, it's obvious pretty fast. One of the problems with submarines after Rickover's people took over was you couldn't settle personal problems man to man anymore. In the old days, if you found you hated the sight of someone, you went down to engine room lower level, or behind missile tube #10, and pounded each other. The guy who walked away generally won the argument. If it kept up, which normally it didn't, you progressed to meetings off the boat. Most times personality conflicts resolved themselves because that's the kind of people who volunteered for submarines. But occasionally things broke out in open warfare. This guy on the Boston and I never exchanged blows, but he used to screw me every chance he got. Got on my nerves regularly, until one day on a hunch, I verified I was indeed senior to him. I had him on time in rate and time in service - as well as time on submarines. As it is said on the boats, "I spent more time sitting on the shitter, backing down from a flank bell at test depth in the north Atlantic than you have in the Navy." From that day forward, he didn't bother me. I did things my way and paid him no mind. After a while he started treating me nicer, but I still ignored him. The last thing I heard was he got out of the Navy to spend a few years in a Connecticut jail for killing two friends while driving drunk. I never liked the guy, but I wouldn't wish that on anyone. It was a fascinating world. Firing new weapons, going new places, and meeting new people. The civilian tech reps who rode during special ops were some of the most interesting people I ever met. Gene Johnson. Wazoo. Slats. I spent more than a few hours exchanging life stories and philosophies with these fascinating guys. Once on the USS Birmingham we had about a zillion tech reps on board because we were finally going to conduct tests on the 688 class submarine that hadn't been done. We cleared out the torpedoes and missiles and they installed a ton of elaborate electronics all over the place. We went to sea and played for a few days. We did nifty things like zip along four hundred feet under water at top speed, then do a donut. Literally - the helmsman would turn the wheel left or right as hard and fast as he could. The whole boat would lurch one way for a brief second, 127

then lean over the other way like a drunken bum and compress your ass hard into the deck plates. And you better hope you had everything tied down. It was always the cooks dodging flying dishes and cans because some boot who'd never stowed anything for sea forgot about those damned toasters. Or didn't know the boat would lean so much. We'd be flying along and jam the diving planes down to the stops, causing the boat to dive at an uncomfortably fast rate for my tastes. I guess they gotta know what this thing can do in a pinch, and how much noise we're putting in the water, in case we have to start playing the game for real. In 1979 we had the "privilege" of having Admiral Rickover on board the USS Birmingham for a visit and a short run. Brought some foreign bigshots with him like a British admiral, but I begged for and thankfully got permission to stay ashore with my girlfriend, so I never laid eyes on the guy. I remember hearing the Filipino senior chief cook (E-8) bitching for the next month about having to wait hand and foot on this old demanding man. Rickover's visit reverberated for a long time after he left - which I'd imagine is exactly what he had in mind. 1995 - Saw the movie "Crimson Tide." Sure, a dog on a submarine. Not even Rickover would have got away with that. And saluting underway, underwater. YO! HOLLYWOOD IDIOTS! PAY ATTENTION! IN THE NAVY THERE'S NO SALUTING THREE HUNDRED FEET UNDERWATER! I think every sailor or exsailor who saw it wondered about that too. Don't they have technical experts check these things? There was no diving alarm sounded in Crimson Tide. The general alarm was wrong, and the collision alarm was wrong. Hey, I was on more of those things than most of you were, and all the alarms sounded the same except the 688 Class diving alarm, which was something out of a horror movie, in my opinion. The old one was the classic "oooga" klaxon, and the new one sounded like something metallic falling off a building into a pencil sharpener. I hated the new diving alarms, and so did everyone else. In the movie, the Akula class Russian submarine had torpedo tubes in the bow, while the USS Alabama's were correctly placed amidships. All submarines used to have bow tubes until some smart boy figured out how quieter boats would be if the torpedo tubes were set back from the bow. The Akula was a much feared Soviet sub, so I find it hard to believe they'd be so far behind in the technology. And my favorite part - the end. The lunatic who led an armed mutiny while doggedly trying to launch missiles and destroy the world is quietly allowed to retire, while the hero who stopped it is allowed to walk out thinking he messed up. Jason Robards intones "You were both wrong," which is nuts - it's fairly clear to the rest of us: the guy who wanted to launch the missiles was wrong; the guy who wanted to stop him from launching the missiles was right.


1MC - Ships general announcement circuit, heard everywhere in a submarine 2JV - sound powered phone circuit in the engineering spaces only 2 Kilo - a standard Navy form that looked like a blank page. Used to draw an item we wanted built, like a piece of sheet metal for a cabinet or shelf, a nameplate, etc 8th & I - address of Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., which is home to guys who know how to march and look spiffy while tossing rifles around "A" cable - the umbilical cable from the torpedo to the inside of the torpedo tube door which is sheared off when the torpedo moves out of the tube. Used to program and provide power to the weapon prior to launch A-Weps - Assistant weapons officer allotment - predetermined amount of your monthly pay automatically deducted and mailed out by government check, normally to families back home, but sometimes to banks and creditors as well AMR#2 - Auxiliary Machinery Room #2, ship's compartment on 616/627 class boats AMR#1 - Auxiliary Machinery Room #1, ship's compartment angles and dangles - testing of ship's control surfaces where the boat takes drastic angles up and down in very deep water. Also used to check correct "stow for sea" - anything that breaks obviously wasn't stowed properly

Jack Postell riding a TDU bag during Angles & Dangles

ASTOR - the "secret" code name for the Mark 45 nuclear torpedo Aux Forward - Auxiliaryman Forward: machinist mates. These guys fixed anything not electronic and non-nuclear. Many I met had failed nuke school - some quit in disgust - but were still required to do their six year enlistment. 129

Baked Bean Banner - underground ship's paper before I reported aboard the USS Boston. Depending on who you talked to, it was either the best newspaper ever written or nothing but a sailor's underground slam book. BAQ - Bachelor Allowance for Quarters, monthly rent subsidy for singles baud - transmission rate for computer modems - hooking computers through phone lines - which started at 300 baud and has since climbed to 56,000 the last time I looked. Below Decks Watch - in port, the watchstander who keeps an eye on the front of the boat - inside. Takes readings on everyone's equipment, pumps bilges, pumps tanks, raises and lowers antennas and masts when needed, shifts potable water tanks when one gets low, etc. Basically a night watchman who has to know something. books - as in "the books" - each crew member ran a tab for gambling, raffles, emergencies, etc. BI - Background Investigation, where the FBI goes to your hometown and checks up on you because every member of every crew of the nuke boats is checked. They still talk about it in Fishkill, New York where I was raised. They must have got an earful from my neighbors, but I still got a Secret clearance. Blue crew - all missile subs have two complete crews, code named blue and gold, to keep the ship at sea the maximum effective time bow tube sailor - until 637 Class boats came out, torpedo tubes were pointed out the front of the boat. From then on, they were situated about the middle of the boat, canted at a seven degree angle off the centerline, which left the nose of the boat a quieter place for far more effective sonar. boomer - missile submarine ("41 For Freedom") boot - rookie brow - temporary metal walkway used between subs, from the sub to the tender, and from the sub to the pier bubble - the ship used liquid level indicators that had little bubbles in them to tell you what was straight bug juice - Kool Aid bust ± a woman's chest, or reduction in rank as punishment. (I prefer the woman's chest variety.) CAT Team - nuke self-monitoring team CDO - Command Duty Officer. Ran the show in port. The CO's rep checkout - anywhere from zero to tons of questions asked in order to obtain a completion signature on a ship's qualification card chevron - rank insignia; stripes class - as in 627 class or Los Angeles class - different vessel design, named for the first ship in the series. The USS Thresher (SSN 693) is the only exception because I guess no one wanted to name a class after a lost submarine. The class is known as the 594 Class - the USS Plunger. chit - standard Navy form provided for making requests to higher ups (leave, liberty, pay changes, transfers, etc) COB - Chief Of The Boat. Supposedly, the most senior enlisted man on subs - but often not if the senior was a wimp. Most good COBs were torpedomen. Coco - Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer, a quaint little dinosaur from the early 80's coner - (pronounced "coaner") Non-nuclear trained sailors who stayed in the front of the boat, as in nose cone. We were also known as passengers too, among other things. Weaponettes. Riders. Conn - area in the Control Room where the periscopes are located, where the Officer Of the Deck hangs out underway ("I've got the conn" means "I'm running the show.") Control - the control room, where the ship was run from. The chief of the watch, the quartermasters, the firecontrolmen, and the diving officer also hung out here. Corpsman - doctor/dentist/psychiatrist/priest/sailor on board submarines. Tridents used to carry real doctors, but that practice stopped after a short while. 130

countermeasure - device used to hide a sub's true location. Everything from big tablets that create a zillion tiny bubbles to hide behind, to mini-torpedoes that played pre-recorded tapes of that particular submarine doing something else in another direction to lure torpedoes and enemy vessels astray. (This one was said to fail regularly because it had no Doppler, and a good sonar operator could pick it out by ear.) COW - Chief Of the Watch, operator of the Ballast Control Panel (BCP); in charge of the forward watch section critique - after every practice drill, the drill monitors gathered in the wardroom and discussed how it went, and how it could be improved. crow - Navy rank insignia that's supposed to be an eagle. CSO - Combat Systems Officer. On 688 class boats, a fancier title for the weapons officer design depth - the point a sub's hull will reportedly rupture detailer - an enlisted sailor in Washington D.C. in charge of where you were going next in the Navy Dial-X - the closest thing we had to a real, ringing telephone on submarines dink - delinquent in qualifications dink list - list of ship's personnel falling behind in ship's qualifications who were required to stay aboard extra time every night in port, and after watch underway to catch up. Dink muster was usually an hour after the evening meal concluded in port, about seven pm at night; and after they cleaned up the last meal while underway. diving torpedo tubes - a thorough cleaning of the interior of a torpedo tube following use, which normally smells like low tide at Coney Island. You ain't seen pitch black till some smartass shuts the breech door while you're inside at the far end. Torpedo tubes are 21 feet long and 21.125 inches in diameter. dollys - wheeled, lockable supports for torpedoes and tube launched missiles - how torpedoes are moved around in the torpedo room. dolphins - qualified submarine sailor's metal chest insignia of two dolphins around a Fleet submarine conning tower Dozens - as in the game "The Dozens" - the putdown game ("Your mama is so fat««" EAOS - Expiration of Active Obligated Service - the day you can get out of the service and never legally be called again. Yeah, right. ELT - Engineering Laboratory Technician - radiation monitoring people Eng - The ship's engineer, senior nuke, normally third in line for command EOW - Engineering Officer of the Watch, underway guy in charge in Disneyland (engineering spaces) ERLL - Engine Room Lower Level ERUL - Engine Room Upper Level evaporator - device used to make fresh water from sea water. Seemed like one or both units were always broke on older boats failed open - mechanical valves can be designed to fail in the open or closed position, depending on their purpose in an emergency. Sub sailors who "fail open" have insomnia field day - Major spring cleaning conducted sometimes daily, depending on how awful a commanding officer chose to be fish - torpedoes. Oh yeah, and those things that supposedly swim around on the other side of the People Tank on subs. We couldn't tell, because submersible warships don't have windows. Only sonar could hear schools of fish - or so they said. Forward Walkthrough - a stroll around the non-nuke end of the sub with a qualified chief or senior first class petty officer who asks you anything and everything about what you see. What would you do if? Where is this? Where is that? 131

FT - Fire control technician. Torpedo programmers, electronic repairmen galley - where the food is cooked and prepared Gator - ship's navigator grape - an easy given; i.e. a qual signature without a checkout growled - sound powered phone circuit that had a means of "ringing" where you dialed up a location, spun a handle, and their end would "growl" instead of ring like a normal telephone Gunny - Gunnery Sergeant. In the Marines, an E-7, same as a Navy chief Halfway Night - festivities that mark the halfway point of a submarine patrol. Singing, skits, the reading of wills ("I leave the oxygen generator to Gordon, may it work as well for him") and general ball busting heavy - extremely knowledgeable hot run - torpedo engine activation inside the tube, or worse, inside the torpedo room. Considered impossible due to three well designed safeguards - until the USS Dace came along. Or so they say. I also heard the USS Guitarro was sunk right at the pier in Vallejo, California. Rumors. Like the American sub that lost its whole conning tower somewhere in the Mediterranean after surfacing under another ship. Or the USS Theodore Roosevelt hitting an underwater mountain and sustaining enormous damage. Or that the USS Scorpion lost a game of cat and mouse with the Russians somewhere off the Azores. Fabrications? Tales? Sea stories? Who knows. impulse air - high pressure air (1500-1800 pounds) used to operate the torpedo tubes J.A. - the most common sound powered phone circuit, located nearly everywhere. You can't call out, you just get on it during certain times or casualties and start talking - "CONTROL, TORPEDO ROOM. TUBE ONE IS READY IN ALL RESPECTS." And they'd reply, "TUBE ONE READY IN ALL RESPECTS. TORPEDO ROOM, CONTROL, AYE." I still repeat back orders and instructions people give me, and hate it when they don't do it at McDonald's or Burger King. jap - a scam to screw someone over; a booby trap; a sneak attack. Gee, I wonder where that expression originated? jarhead - United States Marine - but don't use this where any will hear you, unless you happen to be in a crowd of people willing to help defend you. Something about having to screw our hats on our heads.....Submarine sailors were forever feeling my head, looking for the threads. liberty - free time. Normally off the boat, unless you were my chief on the USS Boston, a guy so full of fun and imagination that he went ashore in Bermuda once in four days of liberty for two hours to do his laundry. line - the heavy ropes that tied up ships and submarines to the pier, to the tender, or to another boat when nested out. LPO - leading petty officer of a division. Might be a two man division, like supply. Might be in charge of thirty guys back in Disneyworld. Or a hundred and fifty guys on an aircraft carrier. Maneuvering - the heart of Nukeland, or Disneyland, as it was called on the USS Boston (SSN 703.) Where the reactor and electrical plants were monitored and operated from. The engineering control room; where Homer Simpson would sit if he lost three hundred pounds and joined the Navy. Maneuvering Watch - condition of maximum crew and ship's readiness to disengage mooring lines and go to sea, or return to port and handle lines to tie up. Set about an hour before full readiness is required. In some places, you could surface and transit to the pier in an hour or less because of deep water. In Goose Creek, South Carolina we had a three and a half hour maneuvering watch because we had to come upriver quite a ways. mast - one of the pointy things that sticks up from ships and submarines for ventilation and radio signals. 132

Or, a captain's UCMJ Article 15 (Marine Office Hours.) Non-judicial punishment. Kind of a Kaptain's Kangaroo Kourt that can punish you and take lots of money, but doesn't go on your permanent record like a court martial, which is considered a felony conviction. MCC - Missile Control Center, where they target the missiles. I remember freezing my ass off because they kept it cold for the massive computers. messcrank - mess cook: waiter, waitress, slave, object of ridicule, boy, gofer, object of further ridicule NR-1 - Navy Research One, the smallest and deepest diving nuclear submarine in the world, with a crew of 13 men and officers. The only Navy submarine painted orange, and the only one with wheels. Also the only one with windows - how many times have I heard, "No windows? How do you see out?" We didn't see out, unless we were looking out the periscope and it was above the water. The way we got around underwater was we listened with extremely sophisticated equipment - on newer boats. And lots of good ears before that - a good sonar operator was worth his weight in gold. Now it's mostly all computers. NTC - Naval Training Center, of which there were three - Orlando, Florida; Great Lakes, Illinois; and San Diego, California. Bootcamp for Navy pukes, something I never bothered with. Sending me to Navy bootcamp after Marine bootcamp would be like sending a PhD back to high school. Those people couldn't teach me anything except how to fold clothes, tie stupid knots, and to not salute Navy chiefs. NTPI - Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection - nuclear weapons inspection, normally conducted by four officers, one from each branch of the service. When they inspected us on the Pulaski (we were equipped to carry the mark 45 nuclear torpedo) I remember the Air Force guy commenting unfavorably on the fact that the Navy allowed enlisted men to work on nuclear weapons, something apparently unheard of in the Air Force offcrew - For missile subs, the three month period when the other crew owns the boat. (Fast attacks don't get offcrew, they get a bastard stepchild known as "standdown" which isn't even close in terms of fun.) Started off in the sixties as one month of rest & relaxation from the pressures of a patrol, followed by two months of daytime only training. You went home at night unless you had duty, once every thirty days maybe. Now they probably train for three straight months, since the possibility of participating in the end of the world is probably boring to a generation raised on graphic violence. on station - in an assigned area of the ocean with missiles targeted and torpedoes ready to fire. Patrol quiet was supposed to be in effect, but you'd never know it from all the racket we made. OOC - Out of commission - broke, sometimes. Whoever is in charge of the equipment can put it OOC whether it's broke or not. Like the time the hot water heaters were put OOC when people wanted to clean up after the Bluenose Ceremony. Covered in slop, showering in 28 degree water. They pulled the red tags after a while. A long while, I might add. OOD - Officer Of the Deck. The guy in charge underway when the Captain is not in the Control Room. His job was to tour the entire ship before and after watch looking everything over. He was fed information from many different sources, and had to be able to put it all together and make great decisions in a big hurry. His job depended on up to date information, and ship's routine was set up to provide him with it constantly. ORSE - Operational Reactor Safeguards Exam - the most feared nuke inspection, can make or break an officer's career sometimes. Normally conducted after a patrol. Many offcrews were ruined by failing an ORSE, because you had to be ready for another one as soon as you took over the boat in three months. You can't operate until you've passed, so offcrews became hell for some nukes - but rarely did they fail twice in a row. Otto Fuel - torpedo fuel invented by a Dr. Otto Reitlinger which does not require air to burn - it has its own oxygen. Scary stuff. Some of the worst headaches I ever had in my life were from Otto fuel. It was funny going from a sub to the torpedo shop and back. On subs, Otto fuel is treated like radiation - it's not even close. I initially learned to fear it on subs, practically bathed in it at the torpedo shop, then had to go back to Hysteria Land again. I found it hard to muster much ambition during Otto fuel spill drills where a cup full supposedly 133

leaked out of a weapon, after seeing so much of the stuff at the torpedo shop. overhead - ceiling PCU - pre-commissioning unit, Navy ship before commissioning. You had an officer in charge who became the commanding officer pfc - private first class (E-2) Pignose - small battery powered guitar amplifier with a pig's nose as the volume off/on knob. pm - preventive maintenance. A system reportedly discarded by the Army and Air Force that has cards printed with assigned tasks, periodicity, lists of tools, and equipment required, etc. In many cases, you take a perfectly good piece of equipment, dismantle it, then put it back together with new parts. Most of us hated it because we adhered to the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" principle PO - Petty Officer. Non-commissioned officer. NCO. E-4 to E-6 POD - Plan Of The Day - a daily schedule/newspaper for the crew poopie suits - one piece lightweight uniform worn underway on missile submarines. It had pockets all over it, was lightweight, and normally blue or black. Never worn anywhere but underway. Prussian Blue - a near-black pasty substance used to test metal valve seats that is so fine it cannot be felt on the skin - but sure marks it up pretty good. One of us would distract the OOD before going to periscope depth. Another would sneak up and put Prussian Blue on the periscope eyepiece. When the boat reached periscope depth, the OOD would put his eye on the periscope to have a look around, and come away looking like the dog Pete from "Our Gang." The Control Room would convulse in laughter and the OOD would plot revenge of some kind. Prussian blue also worked well on the lookout's binoculars used while transiting on the surface. pyros - pyrotechnics - flares and markers for various signals to surface ships, their meaning prearranged. We carried green, red, yellow, and black, all fired from signal ejectors in the torpedo room and the engine room. Later boats had the three inch launcher - two signal ejector barrels in one spot amidships. quarters - morning muster where the crew or the shop gets together as a whole. Announcements are made, awards presented, warnings and pep talks delivered rack - sleeping area, normal six feet long by two feet wide and stacked three high, with a very shallow pan underneath for personal belongings. Each small florescent bunk light had a grill on it, and people were always stumbling in for breakfast with funny looking indentations on their foreheads from having woke up a little too suddenly and smacking that grill. If you were lucky, you might have additional storage lockers built into the walls around your rack. If you were very unlucky, someone had something they had to get to - often and the door lay behind your rack. radcon - radiation contamination people in canary yellow suits radioed - signing off a task as being done without actually doing it. We could go sixty days without shooting a torpedo tube, yet still have to pump an enormous amount of grease through the lines every week anyway - which would only build up outside the pressure hull and eventually foul things up later on. Smart people learned which items could be radioed and which would never be. Idiots radioed everything off. refit - prepare for sea; fix things, stock up on supplies, train reveille - wake up call, sometimes with a bugle rig for reduced electrical - each area had a checklist to follow shutting down unnecessary lights and equipment in the event of a casualty or drill to keep the strain off the ship's battery room - as in "the room" - the torpedo room run - underway patrol, i.e., "I made six runs" run(s) - exercise (dummy) torpedo operation. Exercise torpedoes could be commanded to second and 134

third attacks on the target if fuel remained. sail - the large black part of a sub that sticks out, full of periscopes and masts and people on the surface. Sometimes called the conning tower sea trials - period of time after the other crew has left to go home, but before patrol, where the boat goes to sea briefly. Systems are tested, drills run, exercise torpedoes fired, and shore duty pukes justify their month's worth of submarine pay by being on board getting in the way for a week (since discontinued). Service Week - in Navy bootcamp, the one week time period where you work your ass off instead of learning to be a sailor. Might be any kind of job from weed whacking to washing pots and pans to standing in a line handing out instructions or checking I.D.'s shelf life - a predetermined amount of time consumable items were considered still viable. The only non-consumable item we had with a shelf life were warshot torpedoes, which had to be returned to the shop periodically for turnaround. Other shelf life items included greases, oils, pyrotechnics, ammunition, some medical supplies, and some o-rings. short - having little time left before something happens, either transfer from the boat or separation from the service. siggy - signature. Ink was a commodity on submarines. Site One - the middle of Holy Loch, Scotland, where the sub tender was anchored with a floating drydock and missile boats not at sea. We'd see a fast attack from time to time too. I read in a book that the British sub which carried "The Man Who Never Was" left Holy Loch in 1943. skid - the platforms on which torpedoes were handled, in the room and on the deck up top skimmer - as in surface skimmer. Anyone who rode in those things that floated on top of the water, where Russian satellites could read their mail along with them. I don't care what any skimmer says, the Russians knew their every move, and none of ours. skivvies - underwear sliders - hamburgers snapshot - in a wartime situation, the ability to get a torpedo out the tube can mean life or death, and leeway is given from rigid adherence to written procedures in order to save time. Of course, once we prepared a tube for snapshot, we were expected to grab the books and verify everything had in fact been done. I could go from sitting on my ass playing guitar to "tube one ready in all respects" in about a minute and a half. sound mounts - rubber insulation to keep metal and machinery from contacting the outer hull, which transmits sound to sea - which gives away the boat's position. On the missile boats, no one cared because we never went any faster than three knots on patrol. We even painted over them. But on fast attacks, they were meticulously maintained. There were sound mount petty officers on both the Boston and the Birmingham. spin up - to anger someone, mostly for the fun of it. Or to activate torpedo, missile, or navigational gyros spooks - intelligence riders, mostly Navy stacks - Sonar devices to process hydrophone data striker - non-designated sailor, E-3 and below, who goes O.J.T. for a certain job SSBN - Submarine Service Ballistic Nuclear (Missile boats) SSN - Submarine Service Nuclear (Attack boats) SS - Submarine Service designation, or Diesel boat designation sub safe - program that came about after the USS Thresher went down, where every hole in the boat could be shut remotely from the Control Room and Maneuvering. It also provided far stricter guidelines for any material subjected to the stresses of sea pressure. Lots of destructive testing, as I recall - which led to having two bolts, one worth ten cents, and one worth ten dollars - the same bolt, but the ten dollar one had a little "ss" etched into it for subsafe. The Pulaski was my only non-subsafe boat, it was considered a "LID" boat - limited in depth - because it would cost too much to upgrade it to subsafe standards. suck rubber - wear an air breathing mask (EAB), sometimes for days if need be. There were few places 135

on the boat that did not have EAB connections. standdown - on fast attacks, the short period following lengthy patrols where the crew was not required to train or show up unless they had duty. Rarely more than a week, and often much less. Standdown got shorter and shorter, just like R&R on the boomers tacked on - metal submarine dolphin insignia being pounded by fist into the chest of the poor unfortunate who got qualified as a sub sailor, sometimes causing the two points to penetrate their holders and penetrate the chest of the recently qualified. tag out - use of different color safety tags to control the operation of various equipment. A red tag meant do not touch under any circumstances, like when we worked with anything dangerous like high pressure air, sea pressure, radiation, hydraulics, and electricity. Yellow tags were caution tags, and normally had amplifying instructions hand printed on the tag, like don't turn this fan on without talking to the cooks first. (I carried a red tag attached to me for weeks on the USS Boston, signed by a lot of the crew, that said "no reenlisting.") TCP - Torpedo Certification Program - an annual inspection to see if you're doing it right. Generates a lot of sweat, but not as much as the nuke inspections. TDU - Trash Disposal Unit - a mini-torpedo tube that pointed down and was used to eject trash from the boat. My mother had more heartache with this than nuclear power - littering the ocean bottom. All the trash, wet and dry, was weighted down with lead and dropped out the bottom. tender - huge surface ships that service submarines and destroyers. They can generally build or fabricate anything metal, plastic, or wood. test depth - safest recommended deep operating depth Tiger Team - Civilian shipyard technical experts TLD - Thermo luminescent device, a little black plastic thing worn on the belt, used to measure personal radiation dosage during a patrol. TMD's - torpedo mounted dispenser - ship's supply of torpedo wire. During shipping and unshipping torpedoes, TMD's are attached to the rear end. When the weapon is tube loaded for firing, the TMD is disengaged from the torpedo and physically locked into the breech end of the tube. When the torpedo leaves the tube, a flexible hose pays out of the TMD about 200 feet that protects the thin wire inside from chaffing on the edge of the torpedo tube. As the ship moves, wire pays out of the TMD through the flexible hose and out to the torpedo, keeping the firing ship in touch with the torpedo at all times. When the torpedo detonates, or is shut down on the range, the flexible hose and wire are cut with a CO2 activated cutter located on the outside of the breech door. An ear on the end of a screwdriver placed on the breech door confirmed the hose leaving the tube. If the muzzle door closed on the flexible hose, damage could occur to the surfaces and gaskets. topside - the deck of the top of the submarine, formerly covered with teakwood on diesel boats, but now all steel. Trim & Drain System - the system used to move water around, as well as in and out of the boat. Fight fires, balance the boat, provide radiation shielding, etc. Trim Party - using human weight to disrupt a new diving officer's attempts to steady the boat on an even keel. Fifty of us would run all the way forward, which the diving officer would compensate for, then run all the way aft, which would blow the man's mind as he tried to balance it out turnover - the brief period both crews are aboard and the ship is turned over to the oncoming crew, normally four days Turn to - to start, to begin a job, a Navy order to get going turtleback - the area behind the missile deck that slopes down toward the water twidget - anyone who knows or works with electronics U.A. - unauthorized absence, AWOL, gone without permission U.I. - under instruction (OJT) 136

Wardroom - where officers ate, conducted training, watched movies, and hung out when not sleeping or on watch. warmbody - anyone who hasn't been initiated as a Bluenose by crossing the Arctic Circle and observing the Bluenose Ceremony watch - in the Navy, everyone had to stand some sort of watch. If you were lucky, you might have to spend the night somewhere every 45 days. If you were unlucky, you spent every other night on watch. Might be guarding a pier, guarding a submarine, manning a desk and answering a phone, babysitting a barracks, whatever. water hours - reduced fresh water, usually caused by the breakdown of water making equipment. No showers for anyone but cooks and messcooks, and no water was supposed to be used for cleaning. If both stills were out, you were in trouble, and no one took showers. waterslug - test firing of a torpedo tube, minus the torpedo. The old wives tale of men being fired out of torpedo tubes was pure science fiction. The pressure of shooting the tube, even if manually reduced, would crush a human. Divers just swam out of the tube on their own, or used the escape trunks. An electric waterslug was one where the tube was test fired in the Mark 37 electric torpedo mode - the only thing that happened was the weapon lock was released, allowing the Mark 37 to swim out of the tube on its own power. A lot less noisy too. white rat - amplifier for sound powered phone circuit, normally only used in Control and Maneuvering yeoman - paper pushers on the boats. Scribes, secretaries, typists, keepers of service records and ship's instructions ZULU-FIVE-OSCAR ± mostly transient sailors that hung around Squadron waiting for one thing or another, who were sent down to our boat periodically to test our security with fake ID's, bullshit stories, and sometimes nothing at all.



USS SEAWOLF (SSN-21) On July 2nd, 1998 I was invited to tour the USS Seawolf (SSN 21), the Navy's latest attack submarine, homeported in Groton, Connecticut. Well, tour the front half, anyway. Only ship's company are allowed in engineering spaces, as with all nuclear submarines. Even decommissioned subs like the Nautilus. My USS Boston shipmate Jim Reilly got me the tour. He's a lieutenant and just retired on June 30th. He was working for PMT/SMMS at the submarine base - the guys who keep track of boat maintenance and help fix things - and one night he just called up the Seawolf duty officer and asked if he could escort me and another friend on a tour. Sure, come on down. When we arrived, we were shocked to find our old boat - the USS Boston (SSN 703) - tied up at the pier right next to the Seawolf. "Figure the odds," as my friend Steve is fond of saying. Neither Jim or I had any thought of touring it since we've seen it already - in detail, thank you very much. The Seawolf was longer and seemed a lot wider than the Boston. Not Trident-longer, but about four feet. Walking on her deck is like walking on a high school wrestling mat - it feels really funny to me, being used to rock hard deck surfaces. The entire hull is coated with some weird stuff like rubber or space shuttle tiles - and this is not secret stuff. Jim said we got the unclas tour. Or was that the "no class" tour because I was there? Anyway, the hatch we used to get below was weird - it was designed for loading torpedoes at a 45 degree angle but had a ladder going down it - at 45 degrees. It was weird climbing down it. First thing that hit me was that submarine smell. Jim says, "Don, they ALL smell like that." A combination of diesel fuel and oil and grease and machinery and old socks and sweaty bodies and electrical smells that greets you immediately upon touching down at the bottom of the ladder. We won't even mention the claustrophobia part, 138

but if you suffer from it, don't go on subs. The Control Room was fairly Star Wars-like. Touch screens all over the place for every conceivable application. Lots and lots of electronics and L.E.D.'s and toys. And a serious lack of head room for 75 inch tall humans. Or maybe I just forgot I have to duck a lot on subs.

On the USS Boston, when you were in control of the ship's diving surfaces, you had to watch a depth gage and a course indicator and pray you could keep it somewhere in the vicinity. On Seawolf, you keep a dot inside a circle on a video screen for six hours on watch - keep the little white dot in the little white circle and you're right on course and depth. And who's driving the boat these days? Young men who've been playing video games their entire lives with the hand/eye coordination of gods. Keeping course and depth is no problem for these boys. Let me say that I am still reeling from the torpedo room. Having been a torpedoman from 1975 to 1985, I witnessed the decline of my job as the purpose of submarines was less weapons and more everything else - data gathering, Fleet support, training, etc. They even went so far as to do away with the job code "torpedoman" and made them all wear Machinist Mate's insignia - which has since been thankfully rescinded. After all, the torpedomen were ALWAYS the most colorful rate in the Navy. Well, at least when I was in. The torpedo room on the Seawolf is the reason the Seawolf exists. It is huge - three decks. Takes up most of the front end of the boat. We're walking in the middle level looking at the somewhat similar arrangement to a 688 Class boat - two tubes on each side of the room, canted out at about a 6 degree angle. Lots of hydraulics all over. Lots of bunks all over, and a ton of canned flour, sugar, and coffee that used to be stored in Engineering spaces. I'm standing by the tube doors admiring the shiny new breech doors, and I look down and see what looks like another breech door ring below the two I'm looking at. Reilly, the ball buster, sets me up and says, "Gee, that looks like another tube down there." Smartass. He'd been aboard three other times and knew damned well that there were four more tubes in the lower level! Eight torpedo tubes! Wow. I was so impressed with that. These guys can pump out some serious weapons - and keep 'em coming for a 139

while. Torpedoes, Tomahawk missiles, and Harpoon cruise missiles. As I'm walking along the port side I see an old Mark 37 torpedo sitting in the stow. Huh? Mark 37? No way! They pulled all of them out of service years ago! And then I remembered a story I'd heard in Keyport, Washington about using the propulsion section of the old Mark 37's and making them into these nasty little mines that wait at the bottom of rivers and oceans for the right sound signature to come by - then they turn themselves on, turn to, and destroy it. And here was one of them sitting on the Seawolf. Again, I was majorly impressed. Of course, everything in the torpedo room looked like it weighed three tons each. Even the newly designed storage straps for the weapons were really rugged and must have weighed a hundred pounds apiece. No more plastisol coatings. I read in Popular Mechanics that the XO of the Seawolf said the Seawolf at thirty knots is quieter than a 688 Class sub sitting at the pier. High tech hull tiles, I guess. They no longer use an almost-bomb to make oxygen. It's a whole new system, not nearly as dangerous as the old O-2 Generator - affectionately known as "The Bomb." Jim is giving us the tour himself - he's on the Seawolf access list due to his job - but he was in civvies. We're passing through the galley and this sailor says, "And who are you guys?" Jim showed no ID but explained who he was and who he worked for, which actually worked. On my old boats, unescorted strangers wouldn't get five feet. ("Oh, you're the admiral's nephew? Sure you are! Up against the wall, M.F.!!!") There appeared to be plenty of wax on the decks - supposedly a no-no because of atmosphere contamination - and all the brightwork was shining like mirrors, indicating the use of other atmosphere contaminants to polish metal. The place looked brand new - like day-before-yesterday brand new. Jim said that the boat went so fast on initial runs that some of those insulating tiles were just being ripped off the hull. They probably went to a better kind of glue because the hull looked great, and they'd just got back from sea. Seawolf has two drain pumps and two trim pumps - most boats only have one of each - and they can all be used together to get water out of the People Tank in an emergency. That's moving a grunch of water in a hurry. Those immense shore power cables no longer clog up the engineering hatch aft in port. They simply plug into the boat itself just forward of the hatch - huge recessed plugs that are covered when the ship gets underway. The Seawolf does not have a propeller like all other submarines. It has something similar to the Mark 48 torpedo, kind of like a jet airplane engine - using a stator and a rotor under a shroud. Jim said the tolerances are so finite for the blades of that turbine that if the boat is going to be in port longer than three days, they have to cover the entire shroud and circulate fresh water in it - to keep any marine growth from attaching itself to the blades and throwing the tolerances off. The cover is trucked/flown wherever the boat pulls in for any length of time. This brings me to a couple of criticisms. Ok, say we're at war with China and the Seawolf needs to reload torpedoes in neutral Australia. All the Chinese have to do is screw up that shipment and the Seawolf's capabilities suffer. Also, as I looked at all the electronics in the Control Room, I couldn't help but wonder how much of it would survive a nasty depth charging. Touch sensitive screens? Hello? Fortunately, everything electronic seems to be backed up with mechanicals. Submarines and space shuttles - home of the backup system. A 2.2 billion dollar submarine, and still a bunch of poor bastards are stuck sleeping with the fish - uh, that's torpedoes, not wearing concrete overshoes in the bottom of the East River. I couldn't believe all the bunks in the torpedo room. I always hated having to disturb all those people to do routine maintenance - or disturb them on the whim of a higher up that could be rescinded not long after everyone's sleep was completely disrupted. The legendary "Oh, by the way....." 140

I suppose I'll have to admit it amazes me the ship doesn't have a little stand set up to sell Seawolf memorabilia. Sales of tee shirts, coffee mugs, photographs, and hats alone would make a fortune for the ship's welfare and recreation fund. Think Capitalism, guys! We used to be able to slide down the rails of a ladder from one deck to another, but Seawolf has breaks in the middle of the rails that can tear chunks of flesh out - as I had the opportunity to discover. Made me wonder who came up with that - some shipyard sadist, obviously.

This book is also dedicated to anyone with guts enough to cut the apron strings and leave home to see what else is going on in the world. You don't have to go into military service to see some of the world, that's just how I managed a lot of the time.
Don Ward (02/02/10 rewrite)


A Few Photos Since The Navy


Capt Whitey Mack 2003

Cody & Sherry Sontag, Me, Tommy Cox 2003


Diamond Head, Hawaii 1998

DW and Mike O'D at Myrtle Beach Bike Week 2005 144

On Stage With Tommy Cox at Norm's Lounge 2005

D.W. Guitarsenal 2006 145

Mauv Saddle, Grand Canyon 1995

Jimi Hendrix's Grave, Renton, WA


Lakeside, California 1997

Navy Memorial, Washington DC 1998


San Francisco 1999

USS Nautilus Memorial, Groton 2003


Westinghouse, Cleveland with Mk 48 Tech Reps & WECO Brass


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