Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Missing For Decades, World War II Sub's Lost Bell Surfaces By Kate Wiltrout, The Virginian-Pilot, April 26, 2011 Rhonda Savage was always curious about the brass submarine bell. Inscribed "U.S.S. Triton," it was the centerpiece of a handmade, glass-topped end table in a relative's home near Reno, Nev. Visitors weren't supposed to ring it, but sometimes they couldn't help themselves. The shiny artifact beckoned. Thanks to Savage's curiosity, the 14-inch diameter bell - technically government property, missing for more than four decades - is once again in proper hands. An Internet search Savage did last month turned up a 2-year-old Virginian-Pilot story about the missing Triton bell and the efforts of former crew members to find it. Within days, Savage, who lives in Bakersfield, Calif., had gotten in touch with Harold Weston in Virginia Beach. Weston, 79, is a retired master chief petty officer who served as chief of the boat on the second Triton, a nuclear-powered sub that in 1960 became the first submerged vessel to circumnavigate the Earth. He had been searching for the bell for years. It had special significance because it came from an earlier submarine named Triton that was sunk by the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean in March 1943, with 74 crewmen aboard. The first Triton didn't have its original bell when it sank. According to lore, the U.S. Navy removed them all after the attack on Pearl Harbor. That lessened the risk of a bell accidentally ringing and giving away the sub's position to enemy ships. That made the bell a powerful symbol for Weston's Cold War crew. When the nuclear submarine reached the vicinity of the Admiralty Islands, near where the first Triton likely was sunk, the crew fired three water slugs, simulating live torpedoes, in salute. They tolled the original bell, now with the second Triton, to honor the Triton sailors who never came home. Jeanine Allen, who was 3 years old in 1943 when her father died aboard the Triton, has long wanted to see the bell. She's certain her father, who was a chief torpedoman's mate, touched the bell many times during his service aboard the submarine. She wanted to touch it, too. Reading about Allen, Savage knew she had to get the bell back to the Navy. She contacted Weston and told him retrieving it might be tricky. Its owner, a former Navy reservist who served aboard a submarine tender in the 1960s, might not be willing to part with it. And she didn't want him to know she was the one who'd revealed the bell's location. Weston didn't care how the man had come into possession of the bell; he just wanted it back. So he and a retired admiral who'd once served on the Triton drafted a letter to Savage's contact. We know you have the bell, they wrote. It's government property. Please return it so it can be displayed in the Triton barracks at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois. The man agreed to give up the bell. On Saturday, Robert Rawlins, a former Triton commanding officer, drove from his Northern California home to the outskirts of Reno to retrieve the bell. He will hold it until next year's Triton reunion, then ensure it's displayed at Great Lakes, where enlisted sailors go through boot camp. "The opportunity these people will have to actually see the bell for the first time, and to be able to touch a piece of history, is just an amazing thing," Savage said. "You can't really put it into words; there's going to be so much emotion. I'm just glad it's going to be going home, and it's going to be in the right hands." Weston couldn't be happier. He hopes Savage will attend next year's reunion as an honored guest. And he can't wait to watch Allen finally rest her fingers on the same cold brass that her father touched decades ago. "My efforts were for her," Weston said. Submitted by Kirk Smith

Thursday, April 21, 2011

(c) Photo by Mary Nida Smith The Easter Lily is a native of the southern islands of Japan. A WWI soldier, Louis Houghton, brought a suitcase full back to the South coast of Oregon in 1919. For many, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolize purity, virtue,innocence, hope and life - the spiritual essence of Easter. Hope for peace and innocence lives saved. Prayers for all military men and women and their famlies.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

There are 67 pages at this site with 16 pix/page - I'm sure you'll be able to find 1 or more pix of your boat / boats http://gallery.pictopia.com/usni/gallery/5317/

Thursday, April 14, 2011

EB: Submarines Can Be ''Stretched'' To Boost Firepower By Jennifer McDermott, The Day, April 13, 2011 Electric Boat says it can add more missile tubes to Virginia-class submarines without compromising speed or stealth. EB has been working on a concept for a "stretch Virginia" to boost firepower. The task was to figure out whether the subs could be lengthened by about 90 feet to accommodate triple the number of Tomahawk missiles they now carry, and to launch the weapons of the future, including unmanned undersea vehicles. Preliminary estimates say the modification could cost up to $500 million per ship, adding roughly 20 percent to the cost of an attack submarine. Two years ago the Navy asked EB to work on the project, which is not an official Navy program at this point. After completing the initial engineering work the company found that it can be done, according to John Holmander, the vice president who manages the Virginia-class program. Company officials are discussing the concept at the Navy League's three-day Sea-Air-Space Exposition that began Monday in Maryland. U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, plans to advocate for research and design money for the Navy in the fiscal 2012 budget, some of which could be used to further develop the concept. But fully funding a new program would be an uphill battle, given the federal government's fiscal woes. The Navy's Submarine Force will lose about 60 percent of its undersea firepower in the late 2020s with the retirement of its four guided-missile subs, capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk missiles. This is happening at the same time that the number of attack submarines in the fleet is dropping because of the retiring of the aging members of the Los Angeles-class subs. The first "stretch" Virginia could be the sub that EB starts building in 2019, which would be commissioned close to the time that the first guided-missile sub retires. On the most recent Virginia-class subs, two large-diameter missile tubes located forward of the sail can launch six Tomahawk cruise missiles each. The subs also carry torpedoes. Extending the submarine to 471 feet would make room for a module near the middle with four additional tubes capable of launching seven missiles each. That would be a 230 percent jump in the number of Tomahawks that can be launched quickly, from 12 to 40. These stretched subs would still fit in the docks at EB, which at one time held Ohio-class submarines 560 feet long. The four new missile tubes would be more than 7 feet in diameter. "This opens the door to many, many other game-changing applications," Rear Adm. Richard P. Breckenridge, deputy director of the Submarine Warfare Division, said in an interview. The stretch Virginia ranks third in the Submarine Force's priorities, Breckenridge said. Topping the list is the program to replace the current fleet of Ohio-class, or Trident, submarines, followed by finding ways to mitigate the dip in the number of attack submarines as the aging subs of the Los Angeles class retire. If the Navy had a more robust budget, it would pay for the capability "without hesitation," he said. The Navy is looking to the Defense Department to see if funds could be available to proceed with the stretch Virginia concept, Breckenridge said. Peter W. Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative and a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, said the stretch Virginia seeks to answer a key problem that the Navy faces, the crunch in the number of submarines overall and the limits in the number of missiles they can deploy. Both problems look to be worsening in the future, he added. "The Navy is going to face a series of tough decisions budgetwise. But all things being equal, it's a program we have to give serious consideration towards," Singer said Tuesday. The USS Florida was one of the three U.S. submarines that launched Tomahawk missiles into Libya last month to support a no-fly zone. One of the fleet's four guided-missile submarines, the Florida launched a majority of its Tomahawk missiles, Breckenridge said. Typically guided-missile submarines deploy with 105 missiles, he added. "The Navy would've needed eight other attack subs in theater to do what that one ship, Florida, did," he said. While the economy and the budget "will not tolerate" building a new class of guided-missile submarines, Breckenridge said the stretch Virginia solution offers a more affordable way for the Navy to get a "strategically important capability." It gives the Navy flexibility to distribute more missiles on submarines in more locations, rather than concentrating them on the guided-missile submarines, he added. Courtney said the fact that Congress still plans to pay for two Virginia-class submarines this year instead of one, despite immense pressure for spending cuts, bodes well for the future of the stretch Virginia concept. "If you're going to make that investment, you obviously want to concentrate the return to the greatest extent possible," he said Tuesday. "And stretching the missile capacity, I think, makes sense." Submitted by Kirk Smith

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sent: Friday, April 08, 2011 10:36 PM Subject: American Submariner Article, 2011 No. 1 From the National President of SubVettes: Dear ladies, The most recent American Submariner magazine article about SubVettes included a poem re: Pearly Gates. Please note that I did not submit it to the magazine and neither did I put in the incorrect listing of officers. I don't know how these items got in there. My article in its entirety as submitted is attached. Would the Base Presidents please forward the correct article to their members. Also note that Sally Milano is our Historian and not Meredith as listed. Also, Patti Lynn is not the chaplain and that position is open with any requests for chaplain activities be reported directly to me in the meantime. So that you will get the correct info, I feel it is important to forward the correct information. Also, our webmaster has been contacted several times to update our website but he is involved in a major internet auction to raise funds for the restoration of the sub in Galveston, TX. Hopefully, soon, it will be updated. Thank you for your assistance in getting the proper info to your ladies. Sandra Butcher, National President, SubVettes

Saturday, April 2, 2011

This is strong medicine. It brings home just some of the unimaginable sacrifices that have been made since the birth of our nation to keep us free and to preserve the America that we all grew up in and love so much. This striking example of American patriotism and sacrifice reminds us of the tremendous price paid to be the great America that we have been and yet appear to be in the process of turning away from. I don’t care about your politics…I care about my kids and grandkids, and the nation they are set to inherit. I hope they never forget what made this a great nation and a great people. I’m afraid too many today don’t understand.This is devoted to anyone who has worn the uniform. Good luck and God bless you all.
  • Burial at Sea
by Lt. Col. George Goodson, USMC (Ret)In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial.War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.Now 42 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia, Laos, and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:*The smell of Nuc Mam.*The heat, dust, and humidity.*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.*
  • My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam. Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5'9", I now weighed 128 pounds - 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant's desk and said, "Sergeant Jolly, I'm Lieutenant Colonel Goodson.
  • Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket."Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, "How long were you there, Colonel?" I replied "18 months this time." Jolly breathed, "You must be a slow learner, Colonel." I smiled.Jolly said, "Colonel, I'll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, "No, let's just go straight to his office." Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, "Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He's been in this job two years. He's packed pretty tight. I'm worried about him." I nodded.Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major's office. "Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Officer." The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, "Good to see you again, Colonel." I responded, "Hello Walt, how are you?" Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt's stress was palpable. Finally, I said, "Walt, what the hell's wrong?" He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, "George, you're going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here. I've been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months. Now I come here to bury these kids. I'm putting my letter in. I can't take it anymore." I said, "OK Walt. If that's what you want, I'll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps."Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.
  • Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.MY FIRST NOTIFICATIONMy third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19 year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps. The information detailed:*Name, rank, and serial number.*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.*Date of and limited details about the Marine's death.*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.The boy's family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina, I stopped at a small country store/service station/Post Office. I went in to ask directions.Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The store owner walked up and addressed them by name, "Hello John. Good morning Mrs. Cooper."I was stunned. My casualty's next-of-kin's name was John Cooper!I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, "I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper of (address)?The father looked at me - I was in uniform - and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me. Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I think I caught her before she hit the floor.The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes.
  • Then I drove them home in my staff car. The store owner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.I returned the store owner to his business. He thanked me and said, "Mister, I wouldn't have your job for a million dollars." I shook his hand and said; "Neither would I."I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk. Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.My Marines steered clear of me for days.
  • I had made my first death notification.THE FUNERALSWeeks passed with more notifications and more funerals. I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, "All Marines share in your grief." I had been instructed to say, "On behalf of a grateful nation...." I didn't think the nation was grateful, so I didn't say that.Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn't speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder. They would look at me and nod.
  • Once a mother said to me, "I'm so sorry you have this terrible job." My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.ANOTHER NOTIFICATION Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young PFC. I drove to his mother's house. As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenly the door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming "NO! NO! NO! NO!"I hesitated. Neighbors came out. I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up and carried her into the house. Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten or fifteen minutes later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel. I have no recollection of leaving.The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill. The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.
  • ANOTHER NOTIFICATION One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing. Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, "You've got another one, Colonel." I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up. Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person's address and place of employment.The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman. He lived a mile from my office. I called the Longshoreman's Union Office and asked for the Business Manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father's schedule.The Business Manager asked, "Is it his son?" I said nothing. After a moment, he said, in a low voice, "Tom is at home today." I said, "Don't call him. I'll take care of that." The Business Manager said, "Aye, Aye Sir," and then explained, "Tom and I were Marines in WWII."I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw instantly that she was clueless. I asked, "Is Mr. Smith home?" She smiled pleasantly and responded, "Yes, but he's eating breakfast now. Can you come back later?" I said, "I'm sorry. It's important. I need to see him now."She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, "Tom, it's for you."A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door. He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, "Jesus Christ man, he's only been there three weeks!"
  • Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth....... I never could do that..... and held an imaginary phone to his ear.Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, "Got it." and hung up. I had stopped saying "Thank You" long ago.Jolly, "Where?"Me, "Eastern Shore of Maryland. The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam ...."Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, "This time of day, it'll take three hours to get there and back. I'll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I'll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief's home."He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father's door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, "Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?"I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM). "I've gone through my boy's papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?" I said, "Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will."My wife who had been listening said, "Can you do that?" I told her, "I have no idea. But I'm going to break my ass trying."I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, "General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?" General Bowser said, "George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you."I was and the Admiral did. He said coldly, "How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel." I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, "Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?" The Chief of Staff responded with a name.The Admiral called the ship, "Captain, you're going to do a burial at sea. You'll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed..."He hung up, looked at me, and said, "The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don't have to sic Al Bowser on my ass." I responded, "Aye Aye, Sir" and got the hell out of his office.I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship's crew for four days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of.
  • He said, "These government caskets are air tight. How do we keep it from floating?"All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, "Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out."They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worse for wear, and said, "It's simple; we cut four 12" holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat."The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The Chaplain spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played "Eternal Father Strong to Save." The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever....
  • The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, "General, get me out of here. I can't take this anymore." I was transferred two weeks later.I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, "Well Done, Colonel. Well Done."I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!'A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including their life.'That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.'I am honored to pass this on and I hope you feel that way too. I want to say "Thank you" for your service to every Veteran who reads this. God bless you.Semper Fi
  • I wish this would would have copied & pasted the way Joyce Larimore, Fleet Reserve Commader of Mountain Home sent it.