A Memorial Day Salute: The Submarine Service

A Memorial Day Salute: The Submarine Service

I do not wish to detract from any of the sacrifices of any branches of America’s Military on this Memorial Day, 2016. I would like to briefly focus upon the Navy’s Submarine Service, however.

When I attended submarine school in New London, Connecticut (in 1961), liberty would often find us in a string of old bars in that small town. I have a very clear memory of one of our favorites named, the “Victory Bar”.

At the old Victory Bar, I could feel the presence of the countless sailors who likely had a good time and a few drinks there, before they graduated from submarine school and assigned to one of our war-time fleet submarines. I was mindful of the many  submarines and their crews stationed at the New London Submarine Base during WWII. So many departed on war patrols from there, never to return. They too were on “liberty” at the Victory Bar.

On the wall, in back of the bar–below a long black suspended drape, were name-plates of all of the submarines stationed in New London that were lost during WWII.

A visit to the Victory Bar was an interesting emotional experience. There was a mixture of great pride, happiness, and excitement; tinged with sadness for those brave submariners lost at sea before our time.

For many of us, there was also a tingle of foreboding as we contemplated the gravity of what we had volunteered to do. But we were young and fortified with youth’s delusion invincibility. My own sense of invincibility was shattered before my third and last patrol, when two of my shipmates transferred to the Thresher and perished with her entire crew when she sank on April 10, 1963.

As submariners say of their mates lost at sea: “They are now on Eternal Patrol”.

The men that served on submarines during WWII suffered the highest casualty rate of all the branches of service. Submariners receive hazardous duty pay because, in peace time or war, life aboard a submarine presents special and potentially cataclysmic dangers for the entire crew. When a sub goes down, it is uncommon for anyone to survive.

Therefore,  today I am posting the names of the submarines that have been lost in war-time and peace. The actual names of their crew members are also posted for many of these subs.

The Submarine Service is often called the “Silent Service”. This post is dedicated to helping America’s Submarine Service to not be so “silent” on this Memorial day.

God Bless all submarine sailors, now on eternal patrol.

Please remember their supreme sacrifices along with the rest of America’s Service men and women.


V. Thomas Mawhinney, 5/30/16

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