Sunday, September 16, 2012

Time Passes on WW2 Sub Vets

The New London Day ran a story today that the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II disbanded at the end of this year's convention. Thousands of subvets once came to their convention, the last convention was attended by 62 vets.

The youngest subvet in the group is 86 years old. The consensus seemed to be that it was getting too depressing to go to a convention and just be reminded that more of their old shipmates had died. Add to that the effort it took to keep a nationally-chartered volunteer group functioning when all the members are pushing or into their 90s and it was probably time for the group to fold.

The chapter in Connecticut is pushing on, though.

(The Day is subscription-only, a link to the story won't do you much good.)


Frank Van Haste said...

Dear Miss Fit:

This news leaves me a bit melancholy. Of course the inexorable march of time eventually ends all human enterprises, but the Silent Service veterans of the Pacific war are so very special.

I worked at Electric Boat pretty much through the 1970's, and I had the honor and privilege of knowing a few of these good men.

Tommy Tefft, who worked in my engineering group, was a young Torpedoman on [i]USS Perch[/i] when she was sunk by Japanese ASW forces early in the war. He spent 3+ years as a POW and emerged with his outlook on life undimmed.

Bill Budding, as a young Ensign, was the periscope observer on Slade Cutter's torpedo attack team aboard [i]USS Seahorse[/i]. He eventually retired as an O-6 and was a [i]Trident[/i] project engineer when I knew him.

John Hess, a Logistics Eng'g manager, was Captain of [i]USS Pomfret[/i] in '45. He took her deep into Tokyo Bay to rescue a downed USN pilot, prompting Ernie Pyle to write a column titled "Even if you were shot down in Tokyo harbor, the Navy will be there to get you out."

These men were heroes, but they wore the mantle lightly. You had to do your own research to learn what they'd done -- they wouldn't speak of it. To them, the real heroes were the crews still on eternal patrol; they themselves were just doing their jobs.

It's not only the Sub Vets that are fading away. All of the soldiers and sailors, marines and airmen of our parent's generation are leaving us. It falls to us now to remember.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

That's a shame, but I if these dudes feel like they don't want to expend the energy to keep this going, we have to respect their decision.

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