United States Navy

Service Reflections of ETCS David Scheffler, U.S. Navy (1972-1995)


The following Reflections represents ETCS David Scheffler’s legacy of his military service from 1972 to 1995. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The following Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life. Start recording your own Military Memories HERE.

Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Navy.

The Next Adventure

I served in the US Army during the Vietnam War, developing a sense of Duty and Service. As my ‘Sense’ of duty developed, I simply knew that I was born to serve. Perhaps I was influenced by my years as a Boy Scout sitting around myriad campfires listening to the ‘Old Guys’ spin their Life’ Stories. My Dad, Richard Arnold Scheffler RM3 USNR, served in the Pacific Theater on LST 172. Although he did not talk often of his war exploits, there is little doubt that Dad’s stories influenced my sense of service. Whatever the case, I knew I was destined to serve. Those enlistment vows spoken during the Oath of Service had a profound effect on me. The phrase “Support and Defend the Constitution Against All enemies ‘Friend or Foe'” fell on my ears and profoundly influenced my growth as an Adult and sustaining member and supporter of our Armed Forces.

I was Honorably Discharged from the Army in August 1975 and took a two-year hiatus to figure out who I was; I’m still working on that… I attended Pierce College in Tacoma, Washington, believing that was my path to success. As time rolled along, in my heart, I realized that my calling was to serve the Republic of the United States of America. There was no doubt that service to our great Nation was essential to sustaining our Society.

As a Lifetime Scouter and District Commissioner for Pierce County, Washington, Dad facilitated many “Adventures” into America’s Wild, with his adventures in the 1930s in upstate New York in the Adirondacks and Finger Lakes Region. Dad’s zest for life and adventure continued with “Go West, Young Man.” He felt that tug of opportunity in the western US by relocating from Buffalo, NY, to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1957; that was my 1st Big adventure. 1964 Dad led us to another great adventure on a trek into the Havasupai Indian Reservation located on the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon to the People of the “Blue Green Waters.” We trekked all over Arizona, into the Desert, 6000 feet up on the Mogollon Rim, Woods Canyon Lake, the White Tank, and the Superstition Mountains. We fished any body of water we could find. Dad got a promotion and a new job at McCord AFB in Tacoma, Washington, so in 1966, we relocated and continued adventuring in the wilds of the Great Pacific Northwest. Dad orchestrated expeditions to Canada, the Provinces of British Columbia, and the Yukon Territories in Canada. We canoed and fished everywhere we went. Two trips to the Scout Ranch, Philmont, New Mexico, and on… Without realizing it, I acquired a deep hunger and longing for the next adventure…

My Army tour was over, and while sipping a Lager at the 19th Hole following a golf game, my gaze fell on a Navy recruitment poster. Could this be it, the next adventure? The poster depicted a Submarine cruising on the surface through crazy blue waters, the bridge (what the heck is a bridge?), the lookouts’ hair plastered to their skulls by the wind & waves, and don’t forget the Huge Bow Wake. No question, the decision was made! Was I worthy of the next adventure; the answer was staring back at me. I was going to be a Sub Sailor! I didn’t know what a “Flank Bell” or a Deep Dive meant, but I certainly do today. I proceeded toward my new goal and adventure at a Flank Bell, enlisting in the Navy on 11 November 1977; I never looked back…

Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?

From Stem to Stern

During Boot Camp at San Deigo, CA, the time came for career counseling. The Career Counselors gave me several choices. Nuke, Electronics Surface, and Sub Surface, Electronics. Easy for me, I chose Submarine Electronics, as I was a “No Nukes, Less Kooks” guy. Little did I know everything submarine was all about Nukes… My next “Port of Call” was Polaris Electronics, A-School (PEA) located at Naval Guided Missile School (NAVGMS), Dam Neck, VA. I was determined to be the Best in every course of instruction and graduated 8th of 45 in PEA School and 1st C School, Navigation Data Assimilation Computer (NAVDAC).

I chose this career path knowing that it would lead to duty on a Polaris Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN). Following graduation, I was assigned to the USS Sam Houston as an Electronics Technician ETN3 /SU Submarines, home port Honolulu, Hawaii. The ship was forward deployed and operated out of Apra Harbor, Guam. I reported to “Sammy” at the “Off-Cew” office on Ford Island. The Boat (Crew) had just returned from Patrol, and for the next month, ‘They’ were in Post Patrol Standdown and were required to phone muster for the first two weeks and then muster at the Ford Island Ferry Landing twice a week for the next two weeks. At my first uniformed muster, I looked across the crew and spied my detailer… Who knew? Then a voice out of nowhere, “Hey, F-ing, New Guy! You start class on Monday! ” My Off-Crew was an 8-hour, 5-days-a-week maintainers course for the AN/WLR-1G Electronic Tactical Electronic Warfare Support Measures (ESM) equipment suite; I received NEC 1481 and then completed AN/BPS-9 Submarine Surface Radar operation and maintainers course, then started the Attack Periscope Electronics Enclosure Adapter (E&E) which included the BLR 1 and ST Radar suites. Well, I’m glad that the off-crew was over. I’m now off to patrol, well, sort of… Getting to Patrol meant a 10-hour flight to Guam, a three-day Blue/Gold crew turnover while bunking on the repair barge, and then the dreaded 28-day refit alongside a Submarine Tender (AS)., USS Hunley at the time. Trust me, a couple of weeks into refit, and all we wanted was to put to sea. During patrol, I busted my hump and qualified before the mid-patrol break in Chinhae, South Korea. I learned everything I possibly could about our Ethan Allen Class Polaris Submarine, from Stem to Stern. At the end of the patrol and back in Pearl, the 105-day Patrol Cycle clock restarted. We transitioned to Off-Crew enjoying a two-week Stand Down, which required a Call-in Muster, and then we had two more weeks of Uniformed Musters twice a week, all in “Beautiful” Oahu, Hawaii, “All this and a Paycheck too…”

Then Off-Crew really started, it was chock-full of follow-on ‘Advanced’ Electronic courses such as Electro-Magnetic Log (EMLOG), X-Y Plotter, Navigation Control Console (NCC), Multispeed Repeaters (MSR) and on… Then, the Systems Integration Courses, Inertial Navigation Concepts, Theory & Analysis. Somehow, they managed to squeeze in the ‘Required” Strategic Recertification Team Trainers, such as Strategic and Conventional Navigation, Ship’s Control Team Training, and Certification. The Team Trainer Equipment Suites are then linked via sound-powered phones, MC circuits, and other electronic interfaces that simulate the SSBN on Alert Patrol. A Weapons System Readiness Test (WSRT) is conducted; Strategic Recertification is accomplished when the Crew demonstrates proficiency and success in the exercise. Whoa, Sailor, let’s not forget the basic Submarine training stuff, Damage Control Trainer, Buoyant Assent or Escape training, biannual Small Arms certification, and of course, dental and medical examinations, shots, and, oh yeah, got to squeeze in the General Military Training GMT). And before you know it, we are on the plane to Guam to take over the Boat and do it all over again…

My prime motivation was to be worthy of service on the “41 For Freedom” Submarines. I served on Polaris, Poseidon, and Trident Submarines and survived (barely) a two-year tour on the USS Simon Lake AS-33 Submarine Tender in Holy Loch, Scotland.

Following my tour on the “Slimy Snake” (Simon Lake), I was transferred to the USS Henry M. Jackson SSBN 730, completing another 4 Deterrent Patrols and then selected for and transferred to the Director, Strategic Systems Program Office (SSP) in Arlington, Virginia. Three years later, I was given two choices: return to sea on another Trident as the ship’s 3M Coordinator -OR- Retire. Uhm, I think the Submarine Adventure had run its course, and it was time to seek out the next adventure.

I bumped into two Sam Houston shipmates while attending a Shipmate’s retirement at the Navy Memorial in DC. On our first patrol, Bob, Waylan, and I had an interesting experience as a Russian Fishing Trawler Aneroid (Spy Ship or AGI) grabbed one of our MK37 training torpedoes during a firing certification off the coast of Guam; let’s talk about that later. Anyway… Bob and Waylan recommended me to their management, and I was hired as a Principal Systems Engineer in Fire Control and Guidance Fleet Support at General Dynamics, Pittsfield, MA. The seven years of design, installation, and testing of next-generation Fire Control and Launcher Systems for the US and United Kingdom Submarines literally flew by. I made many friends, and I thank all of them for allowing me to broaden my knowledge and become a decent engineer; I also worked very hard there. During a business trip to SUBASE Kings Bay, Georgia, I met yet another shipmate and was offered an opportunity for employment with Lockheed Martin Undersea Systems, Mitchel Field, NY. Cool, the prodigal son returned, and I was back with my old Navigation buddies. I had my own office and continued to work as hard as ever. Another seven years flew by…

Over the years, I experienced several lumbar injuries (run over twice, once on my scoot in 1980 and bicycle in 1984). I had another significant debilitating injury in 2010 that required Reconstructive Lumbar Surgery. They fixed me up, sort of, and the Orthopods installed some really cool Titanium hardware to boot. The recovery took longer than anticipated, a full five years, and I finally retired for good in July 2014.

Once again, Never Looked Back; I think this motto comes from the Texas Rangers. “Ever Forward.”

I thank everyone who helped me when I asked for help and even when I didn’t think I needed help. Together, we got the job done Well.

If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?

Not So Cold War and the STUPEX

The Charter of the Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Submarines was and is to remain stealthy and undetectable; after all, it is the “Silent Service.” and our Nation’s primary Nuclear Deterrent.

June 1979, Sea Trials. US Territorial Waters, Guam. USS Sam Houston SSBN 609

Sammy was conducting periodic Torpedo certification operations as our training torpedo (MK37) was running downrange to its intended target, the US Torpedo Retriever. The first run was successful; the torpedo had some life left in the battery, and the OOD turned the wire-guided torpedo for another run; it was unable to complete the run because the battery was spent. In this case, the homing signal begins so the retriever can locate and retrieve it. The “Attending” Russian Fishing Trawler, or a not so cleverly disguised Auxiliary, Gathering Intelligence Ship Aneroid (AGI), raced in and hoisted the torpedo aboard. The AGI slowly pulled away as if nothing was out of the ordinary, but we had proof: the OOD snapped several pictures from the periscope. What The Blank! Naturally, we gave chase. Our good fortune was that the sea was uncharacteristically calm.

Over the course of the next 24 or so hours, a flotilla of warships, US, Australian, et al., surrounded the AGI. Our Skipper CDR D.C. Klinger ordered War Shots loaded… The Skipper meant business. The White House and Kremlin were talking, not that we knew what they were chatting about, but nobody wanted any shots fired. Finally, the Kremlin ordered the AGI to return the ole MK37 Training Torpedo to the “Aggressive” US Submarine. The torpedo was safely loaded on the retriever and taken to the Tender, where the Gunners disassembled and inspected it. It was evident that the torpedo had been “Inspected” by the Russians. Kind of obvious with the galling of the Phillips screws, beat marks, paint chipping, and all that kind of “Tampering” stuff. Our Guys opened her up, and inside the fuel cell was a bottle of genuine (not imported) Stolichnaya Vodka. There was a neatly wrapped note penned from the AGI CO to our CO explaining the international rules of the road and how we had violated them and put the AGI in a ‘Dangerous Situation.’ Really? The AGI Skipper claimed that the US Submarine had intentionally targeted their ship, causing this errant torpedo to be directed at his ship, blah, blah, blah. OK, crazy things like that really do happen, and for us, in the end, A Great Sea Story…


During my tour on the Sammy, another chapter in the life of our beloved Sammy would read a little differently from the last paragraph. 1980 – The Sam Houston SSBN-609 Home Port was reassigned to Submarine Group 9 (GRP-9), Commander Submarine Squadron 17 (CSS-17) at the newly established Naval Subase Bangor, WA. In compliance with the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT 1), the A3 Polaris missiles were offloaded. We remained moored at the Marginal Wharf with the missile hatches open so the Soviet Satellites could pass over and validate that the tubes were empty. Only then were the cement “Slugs” loaded. The Ballast replaced the weight of the removed Polaris Missiles for trim/ballast for normal operations. Sammy was then removed from the Strategic Deterrent roles and designated as a “Fast Attack” or, in our case, a “Slow Approach.” The Ship Type was changed from ship Submersible, Nuclear, Ballistic (SSBN) to Ship Submersible, Nuclear (SSN) and designated as USS Sam Houston SSN-609.

Sam Houston was directed to support numerous exercises with the surface and subsurface fleet as well as other Submarine detection disciplines, P3 Orion, and others as a pseudo-enemy (Soviet) submarine. Our ‘missions were called Operational Exercises or (OPEX). We not so fondly referred to the OPS as a “STUPEX.” While preparing for yet another STUPEX, the Yard Birds installed acoustic sound-generating devices in the superstructure, effectively transforming our sound profile and turning us into an enemy submarine, “They” got to choose which enemy and submarine type, we just did the Submarine anti detection role…

The most notable operational STUPEX was off the coast of southern California. We operated as a Soviet sub and were restricted to a small operational area and a shallow depth of 120 feet. Over the course of three days, we sank the entire Kitty Hawk task force on all three days. At the out brief, it was noted that Sammy was never detected. Spruance Class Destroyers, State of the Art Submarines, (Los Angeles Class) Aircraft Carriers, Anti-Submarine Aircraft (P3 Orion’s) and Helicopters, and well, everything else the Skimmers could throw at us. Not one detection in three days! In this period, we began to call ourselves the “Houstonites.”


  • Scratch one Aircraft Carrier X Three Days
  • Three Spruance Destroyers X Three Days
  • The accompanying Refueling Ship X Three Days
  • Los Angeles Class Submarine providing the task force protection screen X Three Days
  • Several Attending Tugboats (What the Heck were they doing there?) X Three Days

An afterthought, where would the Anti-Submarine Helicopters land if their attending ship was on the bottom?

Yep, the entire Skimmer and Air Taskforce All went to Davey Jones Locker.

The BEST part

Approaching the Kitty Hawk on its portside, the Sammy conducted a “Barrel Roll” (Flank Bell at a full right rudder as we passed in front of the Kitty Hawk. The Skipper ordered the launch of “Green Smoke Flares” from the Three-Inch launchers, signifying that the aggressor’s torpedoes had been fired at the Carrier. During this maneuver, the OOD snapped a number of periscope photographs documenting the flares as they bounced down the flight deck. To our delight, the pictures clearly showed the “Deck Crew” running for cover as the flares bounced down the flight deck; that was truly a magnificent sight to behold.

We were ecstatic, to say the least. Returning to port at San Diego, the much-anticipated mail arrived. The mailbags we received and addressed to the USS (City of) Houston, a Los Angeles 688 Class Boat. Are you kidding me? BUTT! and there is always a “Big” Butt, we were a bit miffed or even “Pissed Off” at first, but ultimately, we had a good laugh when we opened the mailbag and realized it contained twenty or so copies of the highly prized ‘Surface Warfare Magazine’ glorifying their ‘Anti-Submarine Capabilities.’ Really? Are You Kidding Me? An old, retired, Boomer, Slow Approach just kicked you’re “Tin Can Tails.” Well Done, Sammy!!!

Submariners Once, Submariners Twice

Holy Jumpin Jesus Christ

We go up, and we go Down.

We don’t even F___ Around

A-OU-Ga, A-OU-Ga


And just when it couldn’t get any worse …

We had renamed the acronym FLEXOP to ‘STUPEX’; we decided that the term STUPEX must have been leaked to the chain of command to somebody ‘On High,’ and “They” responded with, “STUPEX. We can one up that. ” We’ll show the Houstonites by scheduling Middy OPS? So “Somebody’ decided it would be a good idea for the Sammy to conduct Middy OPs. Are you kidding me? GROAN, PISS & MOAN…

Middy OPs…

Pick up Middy’s in San Diego, go to sea for three days, return to port, pick up the next group, and on and on for over a month.

Guess What’s Going On At Home…

To make matters worse, so many personnel issues resulted from that run. The deployment was scheduled for 12 days, and we returned to Bangor on day ’41’. Safe to say, we had a few more single sailors when we returned to port. Everyone’s bills were overdue, including mine, and all because of an extended STUPEX.

Direct Deposit, What’s That…

Sounds silly these days, but “Back in the Day,” Direct Deposit, ATMs, and other electronic money transfer methods simply did not exist; several paper checks were waiting for us back home, but we had zero, nada, zip access to them in San Diego. Unfortunately for the Sailors, the debtors really didn’t sympathize (or care), including mine… Hey, Thanks For Coming…

All This and a paycheck, too…

Service to Others

During a mid-patrol break in Chinhae, South Korea, the local ombudsman informed us of an opportunity to travel to an orphanage. While there, we made repairs on the main building and improved sanitation, but the best part was performing skits intended to get the kids to laugh. Not only did the kids laugh, but the adults all belly laughed at our antics. That experience was satisfying and fun, and we learned a great lesson about helping (serving) others.

Did you encounter any situation during your military service when you believed there was a possibility you might not survive? If so, please describe what happened and what was the outcome.


During yet another FLEXOP (STUPEX) off the California coast, we experienced a Steam Generator casualty and were ordered to enter San Francisco Bay until the Nukes could solve the problem. I don’t remember if the steam generator was repaired, but after three days circling Alcatraz Island with the Maneuvering Watch Stationed, Sammy was ordered back to sea. Finally, we were outbound from San Francisco Bay. As we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, the breakwater was on our Starboard beam, moderating the swells from the open ocean. Cruising along at 12 knots in a not-so-gentle swell, everything was hot, straight, and normal. I was the Radar Operator and began counting off the yards to the end of the breakwater. During our Piloting Brief, the daily “Notice to Mariners” reported that the Pacific swells were expected to be 12-15 feet WEST of the breakwater. Inside the protective waters, the swells were 6 to 8 feet, with the seas crashing over the Bridge and occasionally splashing into Control. As we surface transited West, the Bright Orange of a Pilot Boat appeared, approaching from the South (Port), and in very short order, the Pilot Boat swamped and was observed to be “Bow Up” and in need of rescue. A second Pilot Boat was dispatched, and like the first, its’ status became “In Need of Rescue.” Two Pilot boats turtling in the heavy seas, Oh yeah, “Things That Make You Go, Uhm.” I continued counting off the yards to the end of the breakwater. The OOD and lookouts were in the Bridge while the deck gang was rigging Topside for Dive. The Low-Pressure Blower (LPB) was running on all main ballast tanks, drawing outside air through the Main Induction Mast and Valve, and the air exhausted out through the open Bridge Hatch. The Ship’s Diesel was running, drawing even more air into the ship.

The ship was definitely NOT rigged for Dive and NOT ready to submerge. The crew was in the process of ‘rigging’ for Dive. “50 yards to the end of the breakwater.”… a large wave crested over the Bridge, driving Sammy down to eighty feet. As the wave crested over the Bridge, it was filling the Bridge Trunk with seawater and into Control. “Passing the end of the breakwater,”… another monster wave crashed over the Bridge. Sammy is now 85+ feet below the surface; the Bridge hatch, Induction, and snorkel mast’s main valves are ‘Open’… the Ship’s Control Panel (SCP) Depth gauge indicates 85+ feet.

Then we surge to the surface…

In Control, our collective eardrums ‘Pop,’ a tainted green column of seawater the diameter of the bridge hatch (21 inches), is pouring through the open lower bridge hatch and into the Control Room. We are standing in two feet of seawater. Our eardrums had popped due to the torrent of seawater flooding through the open bridge trunk, which effectively ‘seals’ it and displaces the air with water, pressurizing the boat’s atmosphere. The running Diesel is sucking the air out of the ship’s atmosphere and exhausting it out of the Snorkel Mast; let’s just say the Diesel doesn’t run very well underwater. The ‘Torrent’ of water flowed into the Control Room and down the 2nd level ladder, flooding the crew’s mess and the multitude of electronic equipment in the passageway. In Control, Zippy Zorn leaps onto the bridge ladder and tries to pull the lanyard to shut the lower hatch, but it is too late… the second wave crashes over the Bridge, and we submerge for a second time; the OOD orders, ‘All Stop.’ By that time, the Chief of the Watch (COW) sounded the Collision Alarm and announced, “Flooding, Flooding, Flooding in Control…” Zippy had been washed away, and down the ladder, so I grabbed the lower hatch lanyard and looked up, seeing one of the lookouts dangling by his harness through the upper bridge hatch. I pull the hatch shut. We took on “A Lot of Water!” Because we were underwater, the Diesel and Blower shut down and were secured. The Boat slows, and the Deck Gang finally completes rigging Topside for Dive, dragging one another below. The rest of the ship makes reports to Control, “Rigged for Dive.” We pass the 100 Fathom Curve, dive the ship, and proceed out to sea, ‘Where We Belong.’ We experienced some serious rocking and rolling during the surface transit (same-O, same-O) to the dive point. After all, Submarines just don’t ‘Skim’ well.


  • TMC Booth, a salty pipe smoker, still had what was left of his pipe clenched in his teeth when he got below.
  • One of the Deck Gang had broken his arm when he was bodily hurled over the side and beaten half to death as he dangles by his safety line as the next wave bashed him around again.
  • As expected, there were lots of bumps and bruises and some bruised Submarine Pride.
    Thankfully, all those topside had donned their safety gear, harnesses, deck crawlers, and life preservers, so we didn’t lose anyone over the side or to Davey Jones Locker.

Come to find out, these were Notorious Waters. There were many reports of Fast Boats losing personnel over the side and even one report of a lookout being ‘sucked’ out of the Bridge by one of those monster waves, never to be seen again. Good fortune, luck, and quick actions by the crew saved the day.

Once again, All This and a Paycheck too…

Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?

USS King Kamehameha

Hands Down, Best Duty Station, chalked full of fond, funny, and prideful memories.

United States Ship (USS) King Kamehameha Ship, Submersible, Ballistic, Nuclear (SSBN) 642.

I was promoted to First Class Petty Officer ET1/SS at NAVGMS Dam Neck, completed SINS MK2 Mod 3 school, and had orders to the USS Ulysses S. Grant SSBN 635 SUB GRP 2 New London CT. As I was departing Dam Neck, I received an ORD MOD ordering me to USS Kamehameha SSBN 642, currently in Charleston, SC. She had just completed Shakedown Operations, Post Overhaul Sea Trials (PST), Demonstration and Shakedown Operations (DASO), Tactical Readiness Examination (TRE), and Operational Reactor Safeguards Examination (ORSE). The crews had performed poorly and (barely) completed FBM Certification. Morale was nonexistent. Our orders were to proceed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then to Holy Loch, Scotland Forward Site One, Commander Submarine Squadron 14 (CSS-14), to join the Poseidon C3 Deterrent Fleet. It seemed fitting to visit New Scotland (Nova Scotia) first and then operate out of (Old) Scotland. We nicknamed the Kam Boat ‘Das Boot’ after watching the Black & White German movie, “Das Boot,” on our first patrol; Das Boot just resonated with us.

Burn Unit, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Once again, the local ombudsman informed us of an opportunity for public service, so on our liberty day, several of us visited the local Hospital Children’s Burn Unit. We hoped to bring a bit of cheer and break up the routine in the Hospital scene. Those little disfigured children looked so sad and pitiful; I looked directly into their eyes and put on my biggest grin. All I could think of was to hug them and hold them; they seemed to crave human touch, and we gave as much of it as allowed, given their physical condition.

We had practiced some goofy skits before traveling to the hospital. They went over moderately well, but the overwhelming favorite was our Circus Elephant Walk. You stand in a line, bend over, place your hand/arm down and back between your legs, and then grab the guy’s hand/arm in front of you. Your loose hand is lowered to the floor, with the fingers splayed out, and then you slowly raise your arm up high as you purse your lips and trumpet hard to imitate an elephant trumpeting. Then we all awkwardly kind of crab-walked forward and around to circle a couple of the children while trumpeting our best Elephant Call. Image six sailors in Crackerjacks, parading around the room of total strangers, children, and adults shuffling around the Burn Unit. We laughed our Pachyderm fannies off and had a bona fide blast.

Back on Das Boot

I had been stationed in Hawaii, and being a crew member on Hawaii’s King Kamehameha’s namesake was particularly significant to me. I had been infused with ‘local’ Hawaiian lingo and proceeded to slowly add some Hawaiian culture to Das Boot. I frequently spoke to the guys in Hawaiian pigeon, and soon, the guys were calling me “Dakine.” Crew’s Mess was the ‘Hukilau,’ ‘Manapua,’ and ‘Lau-Lau,’ which was served at mid-rats. Just a couple of examples here out of the many. My handle is still “Dakine.”

Long story short… Following our first Poseidon deterrent patrol, Big Navy ordered a TRE, ORSE, and a Mini DASO to be conducted on Das Boot; for those who have endured those examinations, it is stressful, agonizing, and sleepless. Typically, these inspections/certifications are scheduled on separate patrols, not all at once. Anyway, it was a rough patrol, but we did prevail.

The Skipper

Best Skipper Ever, Obi-Wan Jacoby, er, I mean, Captain Les Jacoby. Not to worry, the Skipper had a generous sense of humor and a Plan. We would train and train and, just for grins, train some more. We developed “Meaningful” post-drill wash-ups that involved everyone, from sailors to the CO; everyone had a voice. This alone changed the paradigm of participating in drills; we wanted to perform better. All of this was punctuated with a generous measure of camaraderie and plain old fun; seriously, our motto was “Play Hard! Work Harder!” Well, by Josh and by Golly, WE, the Entire Crew, earned Battle E after Battle E. The Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) and the Presidential Unit Commendation (PUC) AND designated as the Submarine Fleet’s #1 Submarine.

Ardanadam Enlisted Club

Following the rigorous examination period and winning all those prestigious awards (dripping with sarcasm here), the crew decided to celebrate our elevated status at the Dunoon Enlisted Club. The Marines didn’t appreciate all the attention the Dunoon Dollies were heaping on us. Some of the Dollies were dancing together, so a few of us did as well, including the Navigator. Yep, the Marines didn’t like that either, and it started to get a little physical. W-E-L-L … a horrendous fight ensued, pool balls, chairs, yep, fists, and No! Not The Drinks, come on, really, they threw the drinks, too. Eventually, Shore Patrol showed up, and several of them got punched as well; I mean, really, Shore Patrol like ‘they’ were going to stop this melee. There were several black eyes and some serious bumps and bruises.


Both Kamehameha Crews, Blue, and Gold were banned from the club for life, however long that was… Oh, and the XO, LCDR Beatty, was only moderately upset with our breach of decorum; the XO chastised us mightily (because he ‘had’ to), but nobody was placed on report.


  • NAVET Gang, our motto was “No Bozos,” and we punctuated that with tee shirts that displayed the red circle and hashmark over Bozo the Clown. Sounds silly, and perhaps it was, but it meant that being a clown was OK, but you are not permitted to be a twit, and giving 100% was absolute.

I’ll Be Back…

  • We must have played The Terminator at least 100 times. It was common for your bunkie curtain to be pulled open and one of your shipmates to say, in a not-so-good Arnie impression, “Your Clothes, Give Them To ME!” The XO was particularly annoyed with the movie and crabbed at us to turn it OFF or at least down probably 99 of those 100 times… On the Crew Flight to Hartford, CT., I convinced the Flight Attendant to announce that the inflight movie would be The Terminator; the XO let out a Howl and yelled, “Scheffler!”


  • Kidnapped the new Fire Control Guy and held him hostage in the NAV Center for a couple of days. We sent Polaroids of him alive and well, and then the Fire Control Girls stole the only drill (you know, an electric drill) in the Operations Compartment. They held it hostage and sent polaroids of it taken apart; they would return it in exchange for their new guy. We gave in, and they got him back; they got the new guy, and we got our drill back. Fair Trade? Maybe.

Cram GnoJ…

  • Sammy (John Marc) taught us to speak in reverse: Etnomal Cram = Mark Lamonte, Noswil Cram = Marc Wilson, Mit Reved = Tim Dever, and so on. Who knew? There’s not much else to do on patrol but think up off-the-wall stuff like that.

Tuna Can…

  • One of the guys was trying to lose weight and had brought canned tuna to supplement his diet during patrol (name withheld to protect his innocence). We doctored up a routine AFRTS News Gram message indicating that his tuna brand and lot # Humpty-Scratch was contaminated with listeria and should not be eaten and should be thrown out. We added some additional info, such as tens of people in various US States that had been hospitalized, and even included a couple of near-death incidents. He was panicked because he had just eaten a can… Come on; we weren’t that mean; we rescued his tuna before it was flushed out during the evening Trash Disposal Unit (TDU) Ops. Eventually, he thought it was funny as well, but it took several days to win him over. Another Great Prank
  • A couple of random memories:

AGI Encounter…

  • Playing Hide-N-Seek with a Soviet AGI off Ireland’s Northern Coast, in State 5 Seas. The wave slap was so severe we couldn’t lock on to the BRN-3 NAVSAT Satellites used to get a position fix; understand that we were on the surface in State Five Seas. The top of the sail is well, many feet above the waterline, and the raised NAVSAT Mast was another (many feet) above the Sail, so the wind and waves had to be humongous. The entire crew was deathly seasick and had barf bags taped to their neck & shoulders; most of the crew was on the deck moaning and groaning, and somehow, I wasn’t ‘Sick,’ but I sure felt like Hades, so I manned the NAV Center by myself. Let’s just say that was just plain UGLY…

One of the massive waves rolled us over to approximately 35 degrees. The Boat heels over and stays over, pulsing and oscillating as the screw drives the boat forward; more waves are slamming onto the Sail and Fairwater Planes with tremendous thundering and shuddering. Das Boot then heels over to the other side and hesitates for a brief second when the next Giant wave crashes into us and heels us over. We dive the ship and run at a Flank Bell to get in front of the AGI, then surface and basically “Moon” them. We stay on the surface this time and repeat this rock and roll endlessly until we pass the hundred-fathom curve, submerge, and on our way to Holy Loch.

I can scarcely imagine what the ride was like on the AGI, probably as rough as ours, no matter how much Stoli they drank…

The French Frigate…

  • The Sonar Girls reported a warship about 5000 yards away making 25 knots; it was identified as a French Frigate and began using active sonar to locate us. We were being chased through the English Channel. I had never experienced active Sonar before, so this was a treat but an unnerving one. The sonar sounds varied from a corkscrew ringing, rapid pulsing, and the good ole Hollywood Ping. After a few hours, the unending sound became irritating, making us very edgy. But eventually, we evaded him and got cleanly away.

Was this a Spy/Leaker…

Alert Patrol in the Northern Atlantic. Intelligence messages indicated that what seemed like half of the Soviet Fleet was deployed and heading in our direction. We tracked the ‘Fleet’ via Intel Messages; the Soviets were getting uncomfortably close to our assigned Alert Area. We were way up in the North Atlantic, you know, where it is very cold. For over a week, we were rigged for Ultra Quiet, ran everything low and slow, and remained deep. There were Soviet surface vessels and submarines following a grid (search) pattern primarily in our assigned operating area. We were required to continue our assigned OPs in this area, so the day’s plan was No movies or workouts; all off-watch personnel had to be in their racks. The best thing was No Drills. The Soviet ships eventually egressed away.

We became aware that RMCS Walker (and his son) had sold a great deal of Secret/Top Secret AND crypto intelligence to the Soviets. The Walkers were charged with espionage and are still in jail. Were our Alert Operational Areas compromised? It certainly was coincidental that all those Soviet ships suddenly focused on our location. I guess we will never know the answer to that…

Butt, We were spending way too much time in the rack…

Have you ever noticed that there is always a Big BUTT?

The Best Cook

  • Eddie Lucida was the Finest Mess Management Specialist/Chef at Bar None. His Lumpia was to die for, and every meal he prepared was a taste treat. Even Better, Eddie also taught his guys to improve their cooking skills. Scott Matts was the Pastry Expert; he baked some incredible Sticky Buns and Pies; those pecan pies were delightful. I met MSC Matts in 94′ at the Off Crew Office Building (OCAB) at SUBASE Bangor; over a cup of coffee, we reminisced about the Best Times Ever!!!

Freakin Nuke Drills…

  • During a Propulsion (Nuke) drill, the ship Lost Port and Starboard Vital Busses, meaning the entire ship lost power, including the Navigation primary power to the Inertial Navigators (SINS). Through some sketchy, improvised alternate operating/restoration procedures, we realized we could restore Master SINS within a five-minute gyro spin-down. Meaning the gyros were spinning fast enough to maintain operating specs, but we would have to input position multiple position resets, obtained from the QMs to maintain SINS position until an external position fix was obtained. We accomplished this off the books procedure, and somehow managed to keep the Master SINS (Ships Inertial Navigation System) online and supporting Missile Fire Control. Our Patrol Data Package was analyzed by the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) during a Post Patrol investigation. APL analysts determined that there was no loss of Alert Coverage, therefore no downtime was assessed. That was a feather in our caps.

The XO…

  • During my tour on the Simon Lake AS33, I was assigned as the Strategic Weapons Repair Officer, and at the Squadron 14 Commodore’s morning meeting, I met CDR Beatty (Das Boot’s XO). He was now the Skipper of the USS Alexander Hamilton SSBN 619. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked him if he had watched the Terminator lately, with a wry smile he said not since the crew flight to Hartford, we both laughed. While making my morning rounds on the tended Boats, I chatted with a couple of the Hamilton’s CPOs; they confirmed that he was not just the CO; he was, in fact, The “Skipper.” No surprise there.

Fallopian Tube…

  • We sent one of our New Guys to Tender Supply to find a new length of ESGN Condensate Drain Tigon Tubing. The hose was required for the Electrostatically Supported Gyro Monitor (ESGM) Nitrogen Purge maintenance procedure. We instructed him that ‘New’ tubing was required because of the sophistication and precision of the ESGM and that nothing but the newest and best was needed. He did not realize that there was plenty of said tubing on the boat, nor did he realize that the Tender Supply Officer, the Pork Chop, was a brandy new, Female LTJG. Our RPPO schooled him up, showing him how to look up the part# and fill out the chit. We even got the Navigator to ‘Approve’ it. The New Guy was absolutely beaming that we trusted him to go to the Tender, find the Supply Office, and procure the part. He arrived at Tender Supply with the approved filled-out chit to get 5 feet of “Special Fallopian Tube.” The Tender supply whinnies didn’t recognize the nomenclature or req#, and of course, brought it to the attention of the resident Pork Chop. She blew her lid! Next thing we know, the XO is standing in the NAV Center with the female Chop. He gets lots of credit here. While fulfilling his XO (and being a gentleman and an officer) duties to maintain good order and discipline in the presence of another US Navy Officer. Decorum dictated that he chew us out for the offend the Pork Chop, which he did without demonstrating any humor. That HAD to have been hard. The XO required an apology to the Chop, which I gladly provided. Having been chewed out by the XO several times, it was obvious that he had been restraining his humor during the event, and when all was said and done, the XO, NAV, and I had a Great Laugh. Great Prank!

The Skipper

A Commanding Officer does not automatically become the “Skipper.” He earns the title. It is earned mainly through mutual respect and as a testament to his ability to lead without being a Tyrant. A Skipper is a brilliant tactician who knows the ship inside and out; he listens to his men; they are the subject matter experts. He requests information and makes informed decisions, leading by example. The Skipper exhibits the “Follow Me” attitude when times get tough, and to a man, we follow him over a cliff without question.

There are just too many stories; it’s best to get the guys together around a campfire and spin a few yarns.

And Keep In Mind…

” An Enlisted man is devious and cunning and bears watching at all times.”

From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.

All This and a Paycheck Too
  • Alaska

I was stationed at Fort Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska, attached to the 172nd Light Infantry Brigade, 33rd Signal Battalion, 21st Signal Company, Long Range Reconnaissance Platoon (LRRP). My job was to set up communications at the designated grid coordinates. I am supporting the annual US and Canadian Army and Air Force Artic Exercises, Operation Jack Frost. It is deep into Winter, and I am located in the saddle of two peaks high up on a Southern exposure in the Alaskan Range. My charge is to provide 24/7 real-time, secure battle communications with our forces and intercept any intel from the aggressor forces if I can. I am accompanied by my trusty Collins Single Sideband (SSB) Linear Amplifier, Radio Set, and twin 30kw generators, with plenty of MOGAS fuel. I am stocked with lots of Frozen rations and some reading material to boot. My call sign is AB7USA. Since I wasn’t in the ‘action,’ there was plenty of idle time, and because all the equipment was online, I chatted with anyone who had their ears on, including Canadians, Germans, Brits, and US Hams, and even talked with a Ham from New Zealand in the wee hours one night. One evening, I established a Phone Patch link with the Fort Lewis MARS station, AB2USA, located in Tacoma, Washington, and chatted with my Mom, who lived in Puyallup, WA. “Hi, Mom!” I was on-site for a week and detached from the world with amazing daylight (short days) views and a witness to many spectacular Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). The sky was crystal clear, and the stars were so bright and plentiful that it was almost supernatural. I have to pinch myself at times to think that the Army sent me there when most other folk would pay thousands to experience such an event.

“All This, And A Paycheck Too!”


I lived at Inverchapel Lodge in an adjacent servant’s cottage about 12 miles from Holy Loch on Loch Eck. I motorcycled and pedaled all over Scotland from right out my front door. I absolutely loved Fish-N-Chips, drank many pints and way too much Whiskey, and grew to enjoy and appreciate everything Scotland had to offer. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting all manner of Scots throughout my travels.

Myriad Castles is the grave site of Robert “The Bruce,” walking among Highland Cattle and closely observing an immense Scottish Stag, its steamy breath rising into the cold morning air. I asked endless questions and believed that most folks realized that I was genuinely interested and curious about all things Scottish. I had an intense desire to learn and experience as much as possible about the culture and country. I fished many picturesque lochs, rivers, and streams and camped under Scotland’s stars. I pedaled the length of Hadrian’s Wall on my mountain bike. Throughout my wanderings, I felt the presence of the Highlanders in their quest for Freedom and the struggle of many battles lost and won in the centuries-long quest to shed the bonds of English tyranny and secure Scotland’s Freedom. Led by King Robert “The Bruce,” the Scots eventually defeated the English and earned Scotland’s status as a Free and Sovereign Nation. The Scots love America, our revolution, and the 4th of July Celebration and celebrate Freedom with the same zest and vigor that we do.

The Scottish version of America’s Day of Freedom is the 4th. The Scots celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, the 5th Day of November…

I was traveling by train from Glasgow to Edinburgh; as it neared sunset, I started to see bonfires burning all over the countryside, some near the tracks and others in the distance. It became apparent that there were ‘Gallows’ with a human effigy dangling from a rope in most of the fires; what The… The storyline is that this character, Guy Fawkes, hated the English and hatched a plan to blow up Parliament. He slowly and carefully placed kegs of black powder in the basement. The UK is known for a phenomenon called “Rising Damp.” It is a soggy and wet place where the foundation stones are set directly on the (wet) soil. Then, the damp wicks up the walls. The dampness soaked the powder, and when Guy lit the fuses, there was fizzle and smoke but no Bang. Parliament voted to hang Guy from The Gallows and burn his body. Is it any wonder that the Scots celebrate Guy Fawkes”?

The Cowboys…

The Scots (and English) absolutely Love Everything Cowboy. While in Glasgow, a friend (former Houstonite) and I stopped by a Pub for lunch and a pint. As we opened the door and stepped in, we were shocked to see most of the clientele were dressed in cowboy attire. Say What! Yes, it was the 4th of July, and as I looked around the room, I noticed a Large Poster announcing the Best Dressed Cowboy Competition.

We had waltzed into a Cowboy lookalike contest, complete with a Fast Draw competition; well, hell bells, at least it wasn’t an Ax throwing contest. Little did we realize that the ‘Perfect Judges’ had just walked in. We were a shoo-in, primarily because we were Americans, wearing Levis and, obvious to everyone, experts in Western Cowboy culture and attire. I mean, really, how many Cowboys do you know? So, they provided a comprehensive list of judging rules and criteria. They asked if their rules were accurate and to adjust them as we saw fit. The competitors would be judged on the most authentic Cowboy attire, proper sidearms, holsters (thankfully, fake bullets), belt/buckle placement, cowboy boots, spurs, and the works.

They asked us for tips to improve their quick draw technique (like we knew something about that). They were very concerned about using proper language and slang; you get the drift.

Little did they know our sum total of Cowboy knowledge came from TV Shows like “Rawhide,” “The Good, Bad and the Ugly,” “Paladin,” “The Wild Wild West,” and the like. Not to be swayed, the competition began. Aw, Shucks Mame, we ‘were’ the Judges, and that was that. OK, we played along and had one hell of a good time, and the Cowboys made sure we had plenty of free pints. I think they were trying to sway our vote with pint after pint. Naturally, my vote for the Best Dressed were cast for the two Cowgirls looking rather svelte in authentic, tight Levis Jeans and Plaid Shirts.

Oh My…

I’m a Scot?

Over the last few years, I became interested in my family’s lineage and started researching. On my mother’s side of the family were Campbells. I learned that our clan was known as the “Bloody Campbells.” The Campbells are prominent in Scottish history, and several are buried in Kilmun Kirk, just around Holy Loch’s Strone Point, within four miles of the Tender. My ancestors’ homes and castles are scattered in and around Holy Loch, Dunoon, and throughout the Argyll & Butte region. Unknowingly, I lived smack in the middle of my family’s history and rode all over the homeland; no wonder I had such a feeling of belonging here… One of the primary reasons that Scotland was united was that the Clans were always fighting one another for territory and claiming their favorite son was the rightful King. During that time, the Campbells invited the MacDonalds to parley on neutral ground, Dunoon. The caveat was that neither would bring Weapons to the meeting. The Campbells hid their weapons nearby, and the MacDonalds honored the terms and brought no weapons. Much food and drink was consumed, mostly by the MacDonalds; the sober Campbells seized the opportunity and slaughtered them, hence the dishonorable and “Bloody Campbells.” Unknowingly, I lived and worked smack in the middle of my history.

After the English routed the “The Bruce” at the Battle of Methven in 1306, he retreated to a cave in Ayrshire known as Dunskellie Grotto, contemplating his next course of action. As the story goes, alone with his thoughts, he observed a spider attempting to spin a web across the cave opening. At first, it did not make the crossing, failing many times. Robert continued his observation of the spider as it eventually spun the web across the opening. Inspiration! Robert mused, “If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try and Try Again.” The Bruce did try again and finally won Scotland’s Freedom.

Sound familiar? Of course, it does; don’t give up…

And once again, I was ordered to a location that others would pay thousands to visit.

“All This and Paycheck too.”

What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?

Who Knew Last Patrol on Henry M. Jackson SSBN 730

US Army

  • I graduated 1st in my Radioman (Morse) course, received a promotion to Specialist 4, and was nominated to attend the Non-Commissioned Officers Education School (NCOES) at Fort Gordon, GA. The course was intended for Senior Enlisted, and my selection for attendance was a Pilot program for Junior Enlisted. I graduated as an Honor Graduate and was awarded my choice of duty station: Vietnam, Germany, Korea, or Alaska; without hesitation, I chose Strategic Communications Command (STRATCOM) Fort Richardson, Alaska.

US Navy

  • Earning and Awarded Submarine Silver Dolphins Warfare Insignia by Commanding Officer DC. Klinger. I broke the ship’s record and completed qualification just before Half-Way Night on my first patrol.
  • Promoted to Chief Petty Officer while stationed at Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific, with eight years of TOS.
  • For My Guys, I pledged to mentor, encourage, and build a solid work ethic with enthusiasm and humor with them. I believe that the individual’s “Sense of Achievement” only comes from the satisfaction of being and doing your best. You alone know if the standard was met. I tried to perform at my best and to be a good example for My Guys. They, in turn, emulated my behavior and conducted themselves in like fashion; I could not have been more satisfied. I invited them to meet with me for a non-formal mid-year evaluation and just liked to check in with each of them so we were all on the same sheet of paper. I was most curious about how and where they felt their efforts led them, good, bad, up, down, right, wrong; I just wanted to hear it from them. Our discussion was centered around what their career intentions were, Lifer or Short Timer. I tried to convey that, in either case, we should participate with the same eagerness and enthusiasm. I explained to them that their work ethic and character would follow them out of the Navy and into their next profession. Hopefully, they would be as exceptional and successful in civilian life as they were at Patrol depth. To a man, they kept up their end, and I kept mine.
  • Following My Guys’ careers as they were promoted and led their own guys to achievement and success. Another measure of my personal success, Thanks Guys.
  • On a lighter note – We had some great wrestling matches, and now we have outlawed taping parties. The Senior Chief never got taped; no kidding, I was a scrapper!!! I will say that the Navigator walked into the NAVCTR during one of our famous ‘Taping Parties.” My shirt was torn, we were sweating profusely, and he was not amused. NAV was a fullback at the US Naval Academy, so after a bit of chatting in his stateroom, he calmed down, and I conveyed to him that the taping parties would end on the ship, but that did not include during off-crew. Compromise always is the best medicine.

And finally…

  • Receiving an Honorable Discharge after Graduating from Active-Duty Naval Service receiving an Honorable Discharge effective 01 September 1995. I only wished the certificate would have been signed by George Bush rather than Bill Clinton…

Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?

The Bubblehead 1985

Submarine Warfare Insignia, Silver Dolphins

  • I earned the honor of being part of the Submarine Family, and achieving this benchmark affirmed my personal attributes of discipline, work ethic, and attention to detail and confirmed the sense that I/we can do anything we set our mind to. I know that sounds trivial, but for me, it is as true today as it was then and is a very significant part of my character. My original Dolphins are prominently displayed in my Shadow Box; I occasionally gaze at them as I pass by and remember Das Boot
  • Upon transfer from USS Kamehameha SSBN 642, I was presented with The Colorized Ship’s Plaque. It is a brass representation of the Boat’s Patch depicting King Kamehameha in Royal Attire. It is proudly displayed on my “Love Me Wall.”
  • The Crew of Henry M. Jackson, My Guys, presented the Ship’s Holiday Flag to me upon transfer to Strategic Systems Programs. I fly it from the peak of my garage roof on major holidays, Veterans Day, the 4th of July, and, of course, Flag Day. They also presented me with a Sam Houston Ballcap with Dakine ETCS embroidered on the backstrap; I wear it proudly even today. Thanks, Guys!

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?

The Skipper

DC Klinger Captain USN, Commanding Officer, USS Sam Houston SSN 609

Captain K invited every crew member to his stateroom for a game of Cribbage or Acey Ducey, the new guy’s choice. Win or Lose was not the point. The Skipper wanted to know ‘who’ his crew members were, and you only get that during a one-on-one. When my appointed time arrived, I was pensive, uncomfortable, and maybe a little scared, just a little. After all, this was the Captain, a man to be feared, all-knowing, all-seeing; his judgment was the law. A Captain presents a calm confidence that simply makes you want to listen and Obey. To a man, we would have all walked off a cliff if he told us to…


Not every Commanding Officer is a “Skipper”; he ‘Earns’ the title. It is earned as a testament to his ability to lead without being a Tyrant and listen to his men; The men are the subject matter experts in their fields. He takes information and makes informed decisions. He leads by example and exhibits the “Follow Me” attitude during the calm and mundane and when times are hectic, fast, and confusing. Our collective answer is readily given, “Yes, Sir.”

I digress; during our ‘Game,’ the Skipper asked me about my family, friends, past achievements, likes, and dislikes and even asked if I was uncomfortable. I told him all; he had that way about him. I briefly talked about the Boy Scouts of America and how that affiliation gave me a strong grounding of values, truth, justice, beliefs, etc. I told him about my service in the US Army and graduating Honor Graduate from every course I completed. Then, I got to the uncomfortable part. I told him I wasn’t afraid of him. I was not worried about my career, rank, or station in life; I just wanted to be a good sailor and make significant contributions to our deterrent role. He thanked me for my candor, remarking that he could check off the box of interviewing a prior Soldier who beat him at Backgammon. He also said, “To his recollection, he had never served with a soldier before or had one on his boat, and I must have been a good soldier.” We laughed, and I felt Ten Feet Tall. Thanks, Skipper!

Captain D.C. Klinger awarded my Dolphins during the Halfway Night celebration. After reading the certificate, he pinned my Dolphins to my chest, grabbed my hand, leaned into me, and whispered, “Well Done, Soldier!”

List the names of old friends you served with, at which locations, and recount what you remember most about them. Indicate those you are already in touch with and those you would like to make contact with.

Maneuvering Watch Inbound Bangor WA

-Kevin (Buffy or Captain Red Beard) Huff ET2/SS – Lead SINS, Technician
Kevin and I hit it off immediately, but I didn’t know why. During Dinner one day, the Cooks came out with a Birthday Cake and began to sing Happy Birthday. Kevin and I always sat together, and I thought he had arranged this for My Birthday, and Kevin thought I had arranged it for His Birthday. UH? We found out our Birthdays were on the same day; Go Figure. I have to say Kevin was four years my Junior, but at 20-something, that just didn’t matter. I was Best Man at his wedding to Lori, a Grand Hawaiin Celebration, and a prolonged party. I lost touch with Kevin around 1981-ish but heard he had moved back to Oregon.

-Eric (Zippy) Zorn ET2/SS – Navigation Aids Technician
Zippy and I were cycling enthusiasts and rode many miles around Oahu. Zip suffered a horrendous crash on a blind curve; he ran smack into a local standing in the middle of the Pearl Harbor Bike Trail. We always rode Balls to the Wall and were motoring right along somehow. I missed (barely) the pedestrian and escaped injury. Still, Zip had some major injuries that put his cycling on hold for many months, not to mention his cycle was trashed as well… Zippy applied for an Officer Program, was accepted, and became a P-3 Orion Pilot detecting and chasing Soviet Submarines around the Oceans, Good On You, Zip.

-David (Bruns) Burns ET1/SS – Navigation Aids Technician
I don’t recall why, but we called David “Bruns,” he had always wanted to change his first name to “Tracy.” Well, that was easy; we called him Tracy Bruns from that day on. He was a great guy and one of the original ‘Geeks’ no offense intended; he just was. Tracy reenlisted and, with part of his SRB, purchased one of the first Apple personal computers when they hit the market in the early 1980s.

-Mike LaChance ET1/SS – NAVDAC Technician
Thanks, Mikkie; he helped me through some challenging personal times, and we partied a lot driving around Oahu in his Ford Mustang Convertible, Nice. Mike got out of the Navy and moved back to Bellevue, Washington.

  • Naval Guided Missile School Dam Neck, Virginia (Three separate NECs)

-Steven Wigilus ET1/SS – Navigation Digital Assimilation Computer (NAVDAC), Lead Instructor.
Despite Steve’s stutter, he was a great instructor, very knowledgeable, and an inspiration to me. Thanks, Steve. I last saw Steve when he reported to the USS Henry M. Jackson as ET1/SS; I hope in some small way my influence helped in some way to get Steve advanced; he was a most deserving Sailor. Thanks for your help and guidance at NAVGMS; it was a pleasure to see you again.

  • Kamehameha SSBN 642

-Damen Rutherford (Johnny) ET2/SS Central Navigation Technician
My Brother in Faith. Damon, I am sorry I did not live up to your high standard; forgive me, and God Bless.

-John Mark (Sammy) Samuelson ET2/SS – Navigation Aids Technician
In touch via cell/text in 2022/2023 with Sammy, who operates his family’s expansive Ranch in South Dakota. Sammy communicates with several shipmates, Tim Holden (Gramps), Kevin Couture (Cooch), Don, and several others; I hope to use Sammy as a resource and get in touch with other shipmates. Sammy got out of the Navy and returned to his Farm in South Dakota; he is a happy camper with a growing family and a loving life.

-Timothy Dever ET3/SS – Central Navigation Computer Technician
Tim was my Sea Pup, but I seldom had to exercise my vast learned experience (Yea, right) on him. Tim was a real self-starter and needed little help from us to get his young arse qualified. He just did it and made us proud, to boot. I attended Master Chief Dever’s retirement at Key Port Naval Weapons Station and was so very proud to see him close out his inspiring career. His Dad, A Seabee CPO, and brother, Aviation Bosuns Mate, attended Tim’s retirement in uniform; that was inspiring! Tim, you will always be my shipmate, friend, and, yes, even soulmate. We were so much alike that it was scary… Hoo-Rah Timmy!!! Tim took employment with Boeing and is still in the Submarine support business.

-Jeffery Buterbaugh ET2/SS – Central Navigation Computer Technician
The Butter-Bomb, Jeffery, was a great guy, a little light on submarine things, and perhaps should have chosen a different career path. Butter became a Chef at a prestigious restaurant in Ohio. Sorry, Jeffery, I forgot the name – Reference the Trouble Failure Report (TFR), our patented response, Reason for Failure “Age, Use.” Yep, I’m played out.

  • Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC)

-Mel Bird LT (Former TMC (SS)) SWFPAC Security Department Head
The LT had a way about him that inspired all of us. A weekly Round Table “Deep Think” to come up with potential threats to the Weapons Facility and methods to counter such a situation. Big Navy sent a Seal Team to periodically “penetrate” our defenses. In my 2 1/2 years at SWFPAC, the Seals never penetrated us. I won’t go into detail, but we stopped them cold. We detected them and knew how many, their direction and rate of advance, etc. Our forces detected them advancing on the sensitive areas and alerted the Marine Security Force (MSC), much to the SEAL’s surprise! The Marines confronted them with a welcome committee. Sorry, fellas. Better luck next time. We knew their location(s), their body count, and their rate of advance. All thanks to the Lt’s leadership and his weekly brainstorming sessions.

-Ms. Juanita Harmon, SWFPAC Access Control Officer
I stopped by the Engineering Services Center (ESB) every time I was in port or passing through Subbase Bangor. Juanita was so very correct with every bit of advice she offered me. Thank You, Dear Juanita, God Bless.

Randy Sandoval ET2/SS – Randy lives in Tahiti and kind of lost touch with him; he is a Great Shipmate!!! Randy was another avid cyclist and had a relationship with the lovely Robin, our Administration Assistant. They went their ways, and Robin became the Physical Security Head at Strategic Weapons Facility, Atlantic. I last saw Robin at a Fantastic Lunch stop in Kings Bay, Georgia. You Go, Girl. Congrats, Robin!

  • Simon Lake AS 33
  • Robert E. Lee ETCM (SS)
    Met and chatted with Bob in Poulsbo, WA.
  • Karen Camponizzi MAC
    Thanks, Karen. I was floundering, and you tossed me a lifeline. And you pulled me to safety. One of my many and biggest mistakes was not following up with you when I transferred to the HMJ. I hope you are happy and fulfilled.

Terry Watson ET1/SS – W5 LPO
I lost contact with Terry during my reassignment to Henry M. Jackson in 1990. Terry Watson was a very sharp sailor, and his potential was unlimited. And I am certain he went on to become someone significant in 1990.

  • Henry M. Jackson SSBN 730

-Steve Fawcett ETCS/SS Operations Department LCPO
I was paralleling the watch with Steve, and while on Patrol, he received word that he had cancer. He was removed from the Watch Bill and basically sat in the Goat Locker waiting for the end of patrol or a Pers Trans to start his treatment; what a rip!

-Steven Wigilus ET1/SS NAVET Extraordinaire
What Wigilus again! Steve was a Senior Instructor at NAV GMS, Dam Neck, VA, many years ago, and here he is again. A roll of the dice and our paths cross once again. Great Instructor and Sailor; I have the greatest respect for Steve.

-Carl MacLaughlin TMC/SS/DV Torpedo Systems LCPO
Carl and I were brothers; I can’t explain it any better than that. Carl was easy to get to know and was the complete Sailor. Intelligent, clever, funny, and always had a surprise or two when you least expected one. Thanks, Carl, for being there when I needed help, even if I didn’t realize I did. You are a Good Friend!

-Ken Savage SP-24 Navigation Fleet Support Section Head
Great Leader, Naval Academy Graduate, and Former LT aboard a Fleet Boat. When Hemmie Rickover called him for a Nuclear Officer interview, Ken applied to SSP, starting work as a Navigation Engineer. OBTW, Ken was a good golfer as well.

This is where I reveal that I haven’t kept many close friends. I view this as a character flaw that likely started when my family moved from Buffalo, NY, to Phoenix, AZ, in September 1957; just when we got our feet on the ground and developed friendships, Dad got another job at McCord AFB in Tacoma, WA. in 1965. Every time Dad received a promotion, we moved to a new location and to a new house three separate times while in Tacoma. I entered the Military in 1972 and continued the moving parade, moving back and forth on and on…California, Georgia, Alaska, Virginia (three times), Hawaii, Guam, Scotland (twice), Connecticut (twice), Dam Neck (twice), Washington State (Three Times), Massachusetts (thankfully, only once), and finally permanently to Virginia in 2007. I got really good at moving and leaving my friends and relationships behind, I just close the chapter and moved on to begin the next chapter. So, the Book of My Life is a series of dead ends and a dangling, unfinished past. I lost contact with virtually everyone I ever knew, and I apologize to each one of you.

So my answer is I was very close to many people, and yet it was always short term because just around the corner was another relocation, a move, or a Permanent (not so permanent) Change of Station (PCS).

I longed to be stationed in my Home State, Washington State, but never had the opportunity to Homestead there… The political situation in Washington State has made it at the top of my ‘List of Places I will NOT Visit or Move to.” The Evergreen State is not so green anymore: deforestation, sprawling developments (just like California), a concrete and asphalt mess. The Washington I once knew is gone, lawless, infected with social decay, and not suitable for habitation. The people there are Alive but are NOT Living; so Sad!

Can you recount a particular incident from your service which may or may not have been funny at the time but still makes you laugh?

I’m Black on the Boat Again

News Flash: I am NOT prejudiced! I know this story is a little risky these days, but that was then, and this is now or something like that, so please forgive US.

*Halfway Nite on the Sammy. It all started with an unbelievable spread of luscious food, an All You Can Eat culinary extravaganza: Lobster Tails, King Crab, Prime Rib, Eddie’s Lumpia, Pecan Pie to die for, and much, much more. Then, the Sea Stories, Hilarious Skits, Awards Ceremonies, Personality Roasts, and, of course, 24/7 movies. This was ‘The’ Event we all looked forward to. Our problem was dreaming up a suitable and ‘Worthy’ skit for the Halfway Nite celebration. We sat in a daze listening to AC/DC’s new song “Back in the Saddle Again,” Inspiration Struck, like Thor’s Hammer!!!

Our four shipmates would be performing the “Back in the Saddle Again” song. The tune would play loudly in the background while we “Danced” and sang “Our” lyrics to the music. Of the four shipmates, three were white and one black. We had taken some editorial liberty with the song’s words and rehearsed them over and over until we finally got it right. Just before show time, we dawned our costumes and applied black shoe polish to our faces; well, except the black guy Joe Ed, of course. The music started, and we lined up, side by side, with our backs to the audience. As the AD/DC singer began to sing the words “I’m Back…” in one motion, we jumped up, spun around to face the crowd, and sang these words, “I’m Black, Black on the Boat Again.” There was not a dry eye in the mess, and everyone, Black, Brown, White, and Asian, was laughing so hard and loud that we were sure the Russians must have heard us and would be along shortly.

That was a different time. People’s sensitivities were not so easily bruised, and humor was appreciated by everyone. And after all, as Joe Ed reminded us, US submarines are Black.

What profession did you follow after your military service, and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?

Wrecked em, Hell Damn Near Killed em

September 1995

Honorable Discharge from the US Navy

Self-Employed Home Repair General Contractor, repairing/replacing household minor stuff that most folks either didn’t have the time or talent to fix? Employed part-time as an Elementary School Teacher’s Assistant in Fairfax County Public Schools.

January 2000

Hired as a Principal Systems Engineer with General Dynamics, Pittsfield, MA. Concentration in Fleet Support Fire Control and Guidance. I was also a team member of the design, installation, and test of following-generation equipment suites and SSGN design and development.

July 2007

I was hired as a Principal Systems Engineer with Lockheed Martin Undersea Systems, Mitchel Field, New York. I was the Prime Management Liaison contractor for the Navigation Branch, Strategic Systems Programs, Arlington, VA. Member of the Engineering Design Team for The Columbia Class Trident Replacement SSBN.

My Wreck of a Back
I have experienced several major Lumbar injuries while on Active Duty. He was run over by a P/U Truck on the Delta Pier in 1981 and spent several months recovering. And again in 1984, while pedaling home from school at Dam Neck Guided Missile School, I was run over again and sustained another lumbar injury a broken clavicle and a nice concussion.

October 2010
I had another back injury that stopped me cold; I was just lifting a box this time.

Major Lumbar surgery was scheduled for January 11th, 2011 (1-11-11; the date has a nice ring to it). The operation was a three-level lumbar discectomy, laminectomy, and lumbar fusion. And I got the Bonus deal. The surgery came complete with Titanium rods and screws that fastened the three lowest spinal levels to my pelvis. I am a card-carrying member of the “I got metal hardware in my body, club,” so when going through TSA for a flight, I light up the detectors. I move a little slower these days and am very careful to protect my back at all costs.

July 2014
Fully retired

What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?

The Old Guys

In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?

Just Grow Up

It took a very long time for me to grow up, and I am still working on it. Youth has a tendency to be self-centered and idealistic; it is difficult to cut through that nonsense and realize that life is more than ME. Military culture brings a full measure of Service, Service to others, Service to country, Service just Service. That means putting your needs, desires, and wants aside and focusing on the needs of others. Not just recognizing but doing something to help. That is Service. Work Hard, and Play Time will come all in good time. We all need to have a good time, relax, and climb a mountain, paddle a canoe, but not until you have worked hard in Service then your fun is guiltless; you earned it, now Enjoy It! That is what the military taught me. Play Hard, Work Harder!

I am sixty-nine years old (not just yet) now and am still working on the growing up thing… Good Luck with that!

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Navy?

Work Hard and enjoy the camaraderie!

Put politics and petty differences aside and serve our Republic with all your heart and soul. Remember that in God, We Trust and follow your heart. God has placed the truth in your heart, and you know good from evil, good conduct from poor; do what is right; the guilt from poor decisions and acts is not worth it.

As we place excellent performance ahead of personal gain, the personal gain comes to you unknowingly. It’s a crazy Paradigm, but as true today as it has always been, good things come to those who serve.

I tried to have a mid-year work performance chat with all my sailors, and I always said, ” Work hard and do the best job you possibly can in everything you do. Ask questions, make things right, and complete every task thoroughly and completely; and if, at the end of the day, you decide that the Navy is not for you, then move on. Move on with a clear conscience that you did the best you possibly could. Take that work ethic and experience with you into your next endeavor, and you will be a success at whatever you do. Count on it

In what ways has togetherweserved.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.

Life Is Funny

I would say that the more I read other sailors’ stories and memories, I feel compelled to write more of my own. Writing the memories brought more of them back to life and cleared out some of the haze built up from years of ‘Storage’ in cobwebs and recesses of my mind. This writing exercise also brings long-forgotten memories to mind that I haven’t thought about in years. As time passes, I will revisit these questions and perhaps add or subtract a few things; time will tell. It seemed odd at first that I was writing a story and found myself laughing out loud while alone at my desk, and I think it is healthy to laugh at yourself occasionally.

You know life is funny and shouldn’t take it too seriously. Do you know what I mean, Vern?

Boot Camp, Units, Combat Operations

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U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard


Tags: "41 For Freedom" Submarine, American Legion, Bloody Campbells, McCord AFB, McCord AFB in Tacoma, National Republican Party, National Rifle Association, Navigation Digital Assimilation Computer (NAVDAC), Navy Memorial in DC, Pacific Theater, SUBASE Kings Bay, Submarine Family, Submarine Silver Dolphins Warfare Insignia, USS Henry M. Jackson, USS Kamehameha, USS Sam Houston Veterans Association, Veterans Day, Vietnam War

1 Comment

  1. Isabel lopez

    USS CV 8th. Has a great Houston job of police of justice offcing stret work for long hal class mitral.


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