Sunday, October 14, 2007

Final Tour

With the official events concluded, Jeff and I still had a day to kill before our flights departed Friday evening. This was the impetus for our request to Admiral Walsh for a base tour. Originally, Admiral Walsh upped the ante and told us he would get us on a submarine. However, on Friday we were to learn this was not possible. In any event, the possibility of getting on the submarine base was an enormous thrill for me. Bryan Mackinnon and I were talking right before Jeff approached the Admiral and also heard the conversation. Naturally, he was onboard for the event as well.

On Friday morning we heard from our contact, Rowena, that we were to be at the base at 2:30. Jeff and I hooked up with Bryan after lunch at the Hale Koa Hotel following a long misadventure with the public transportation system which I will NOT recount. We said our good-byes to George & Tom Logue and Ms. Saga and piled into Bryan's van.

We got to the base in no time thanks to GPS navigation and hooked up with Rowena, a civilian employee of the public affairs office. She drove us to the submarine memorial park on the base. We soon found ourselves climbing on the same fairwater upon which Captain Red Ramage won his Medal of Honor -- that of USS Parche.

The park is lush and well maintained. Originally, it was to be the site of the memorial ceremonies but it was changed to the Bowfin due to the large turnout and inherent security complications. The wall of honor with plaques for each lost boat was very impressive. Perhaps it was the setting but this particular memorial has to be my personal favorite of all I have visited.

Two seven bladed submarine screws were on display. I asked Rowena if she knew the type of boat from which they came but she was unsure. Our best guess was a Barbel class diesel boat.

From there we went to Lockwood Hall. This imposing art deco structure predates the second world war and is the site of the bachelor officer's quarters.

The back patio is the location where Admiral Lockwood and his men would conduct "convoy college". Historians are interested in any photos which depict the floor as it was painted during the war. They wish to recreate it.

Today the building is used for conferences as well as relaxation. Rowena had made a presentation there earlier in the day. All the suites are named for famous boats. Access and use is arranged by pay grade. Rowena took us down a hall with brass plates naming all submarine force recipients of the Navy Cross. We ended up in a small room entitled "Skippers Lounge". A long wooden table was faced by a wall of photos of Navy Cross winners.

Surprisingly, the image of Mush Morton was one I had not seen published before. Based on the other decorations he is wearing, my best guess is it was taken upon the presentation of his first award.

Behind the small wet bar hung a copy of the Petreshok print "Wahoo is Expendable" depicting Wahoo's final resting place. This artwork was featured in the Wahoo Gazette several years ago and I believe prints can still be obtained via the Wisconsin Maritime Museum (866-724-2356).

Rowena lead us through the opposite doors into the Clean Sweep lounge. This is a much larger room featuring a corner bar, big screen TV and another treasure trove of memorabilia on the wall. To my great pleasure we discovered a framed copy of an article I had written about Admiral Lockwood hanging with the other artifacts. Entitled "Charles Lockwood: Architect of Attack" the piece was commisioned by American Submariner magazine. What a privilege to have it hung in these hallowed halls!

From there Rowena drove us towards the submarine escape tower. Along the way we stopped to view the base chapel and original base swimming pool. Both were built from funds raised by sub base personnel in the 1930's as government funding was not forthcoming.

The chapel is a quaint white structure, simple in construction, with stained glass windows down each side. I loved the brass plaque beside the front door which boldly proclaimed above a cross that the building was dedicated "For the worship of God". Nothing ambiguous about that.

The pool was a thrill for me because it figured prominently in the book that originally got me interested in Wahoo: "War Fish". Following Wahoo's first disappointing patrol, George Grider spent a lot of time swimming in the pool lcoated in front of the large, u-shaped enlisted barracks. There he met another officer who was an even better swimmer than himself. The man turned out to be Mush Morton.

After snagging a few drinks from a vending machine we pulled up around the corner at the Submarine Escape Tower. This famous structure, constructed in the 1930's, is no longer used for training. Its upper level was converted into a meeting room in the 1980's and affords an incredible view of the base and surrounding harbor.

We enlisted Bryan's kids in a quick round of the quiet game as we wouldn't know if it was in use until the elevator doors opened. If it was we were out of luck and would have to return to the ground floor. We held our breath and were rewarded with an empty room.

The view was spectacular. We could see the several Los Angeles class submarines moored at the piers, and a grand view of the base. Once again, historic memorabilia on the walls detailed the training history of the strucure. Rowena made sure we didn't take photos of any restricted areas or objects and we dutifully complied.

Back on ground level, we viewed the USS Greeneville tied up next to the parking lot, then moved across to the SubPac Administration Building behind the tower. This building also predates the war and housed the offices from which the Pacific submarine campaign was fought. Though it was closed, we could see several pictures taken aboard Wahoo on display in the lobby.

An interesting note about the building was the second floor corner office we could see from the parking lot. Rowena identified it as the vantage point from which Admiral Husband Kimmel observed the destruction of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

From there we wound our way back to the parking lot, passing the old storage buildings and machine shops, as well as the oldest remaining building on base. It dates back to the 1920's when Chester Nimitz originally established the base. Part of our route back took us down Morton Drive.

After thanking Rowena for her time and wonderful tour (her first as guide), Bryan dropped us off at Honolulu International Airport. From there Jeff and I made our way home that evening. As I winged my way back to Houston I ran through the events of the past week and tried to recall something I had longed to do or see which I hadn't been able to cross off my list. I couldn't come up with a single one.
Continue Reading

October 11, 2007

Because events on Thursday didn't start until 2:00, we were at our leisure all morning. Well, at least until Charles came over to get the photo display which we had been storing in our room since Tuesday night. This wasn't until 9:30 so we got cleaned up, had breakfast and posted to the blog. After loading up the display we went with him to the museum.

After unloading, Charles took us down to the Bowfin. We entered through the gun access trunk in the forward part of the conning tower fairwater. This was a thrill as I'd never done this before. The trunk has a hatch in the top which opens onto the forward 20mm gun deck, a large door in the side that opens onto the main deck (which we used) and a ladder that leads down into the control room. The landing is a nook just in front of the steering station.

From the control room Charles unlocked the ladder leading to the conning tower. Jeff and I climbed up into this usually forbidden area and had the place to ourselves for over an hour. Its condition is immaculate. All the proper WWII gear is in place: sonar control panels; radar screens; torpedo data computer; rubber pickles for raising the scopes; torpedo firing panel; a complete steering station; telephone talkers; even a set of headphones.

The No. 1 periscope was raised but the optics appeared fogged. No.2 scope's handles were just above the deck but one could see through it clearly. In low power the aiming reticle was centered on the stern of the boat. In high power the American flag filled the optics. It was a blast calling angles and taking photos. All too quickly it was time to rejoin Charles and head back to the hotel. Here's Jeff at the scope:

After a quick change of clothes for the more formal ceremonies to follow, we assisted with bus boarding and rode back to the museum with our group. Once there everyone was free to tour the boat and museum.

In the museum we stood by with the families as the facilities director Captain Jerry Hofwolt, unveiled a model of Wahoo commissioned for the occasion. Master modeler Brad Sekigawa created a beautiful representation of Wahoo in her patrol 7 configuration using the Revell Gato kit in 1/72 scale. It was complete down to battle flags and cremen on the bridge.

His friend Warren contributed the mahogony base and case in which the model rested. Both men live on the island and Brad's incredible work was on display at the Arizona Memorial museum among other locations. By the end of the afternoon, Jeff and I had given Brad and Warren the hard sell to join the submarine modeling group to which we belong, the SubCommittee. Here's me, Brad and Jeff behind Brad's beautiful model:

Immediately after the unveiling, a former crew member of USS Wahoo (SS-565) presented the group with two framed prints representing both boats. This unexpected gesture was the first time several of our group were made aware that a second boat named Wahoo had served in the submarine force.

We then had the opportunity to talk further with Edwina and Doug Morton, Mush's daughter and son. They were very gracious to everyone and patiently stood by as we had our picture taken with one of Wahoo's original battle flags on display.

Jeff remembered to ask Charles if he had been able to polish the smudges out of Wahoo's bell prior to the ceremony. He had not so we voluteered. Back in the storage area we polished and buffed, Jeff taking the front and me the back. It was an honor to be preparing the bell which was the original item from the boat. Thought to be lost for years, it was discovered in a scrap heap and delivered to the museum in the 1990's.

By now the Navy contingent had arrived. Everyone assembled under the blue and gold tent rigged on the lawn in front of the museum's ring of honor. The ring contains plaques for each of the 52 boats lost during WWII. There was a beautiful wreath beside the podium and Wahoo's bell was placed to the side for the tolling ceremony. A navy band played as the crowd gathered.

Following the invocation, Rear Admiral Joseph Walsh, Commander Submarine Force, US Pacific Fleet, gave the keynote address. It was a touching speech invoking the courage and sacrifice, as well as the long lasting legacy, of the men of Wahoo. You can see the complete text of the address in the post entitled "Touchdown".

Following the address, the tolling of the bell ceremony commenced. A roll call was made of each man lost on Wahoo. As the name was spoken, a family member came forward and rang Wahoo's bell a single time with a white gloved hand. Those men who did not have a relative present were recognized by the Command Master Chief from the submarine base. The silence of the crowd, the gentle lapping of the waves at the water's edge, punctuated by the sharp, steady ring of the bell made for a moving experience.

The Navy Chaplain lead the group in a closing prayer and all eyes turned toward Bowfin. Assembled on her after deck was an honor guard of seven sailors who delivered a 21 gun salute. A lone sailor on the conning tower completed the ceremony by playing "Taps" as the sun sank behind the hills.

The museum then treated us to a dinner. Afterwards Jeff and I introduced ourselves to Admiral Walsh. I wanted to ask him how he enjoyed serving with Captain Don Henley and Petty Officer Glenn Frey but didn't. Instead, we complimented him on his address and requested a copy of the text which he immediately agreed to supply. Later, Jeff asked him about the possibility of touring the submarine base. He readily agreed to this as well.

After the sun went down everyone reassembled under the tent to hear from the men whose hard work and dedication brought the search for Wahoo to fruition. George Logue related how he learned of the loss of his brother Bob and how he vowed to find his final resting place. With the aid of sub vet Marty Schaeffer, George made the initial inquiries, established lasting bonds of friendship with the Japanese, and helped create the Wahoo Peace Memorial in Wakkanai, Hokkaido Japan in 1995. He also recognized the prinicipal Japanese supporter of the memorial, Satoru Saga, Wakkanai Businessman and Chairman of the Peace Committee. Though he was unable to attend the events this week his daughter represented him in fine fashion.

Next, Bryan Mackinnon gave a power point presentation on Project Wahoo and the men and women in Japan who combed the records to pinpoint her most likely location. These included Kazuo Ueda, Satoru Saga, Yasuhiro "Tommy" Tamagawa, Noritaka Kitazawa,
Keiko Takada, and Kayoko Itoh. He detailed the process by which side scan sonar images made by Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd. were supplied by Ian Bullpitt and how those images were taken at a point within a mile of the probable location site identified by Kazuo Ueda. He then introduced the video taken by the Iskra Team, lead by former Russian submariner Vladimir Kartashev, which detailed their three dives on Wahoo. The subsequent viewing of the video was the first time many had seen the complete footage taken of Wahoo resting on the floor of La Perouse Strait.

Tom Logue, nephew of George, concluded with a talk and video presentation of the joint Russian-American memorial ceremony which was held at sea in July 2007. Tom and his cousin Rear Admiral John Christenson represented all Wahoo families at the active duty personnel only ceremony. Upon meeting John, I learned that he is the CO of the command in Corpus Christi to which a good church friend of mine is attached.

By this time it was the end of a long and emotional day. Everyone headed to the buses. Along the way, Jeff and I passed out DVDs of the wreck footage and a copy of a certificate commemorating the reading into the Michigan Congressional record of a proclamation recognizing the Wahoo remembrance ceremony. Unfortunately, we ran out of DVDs half way through. A little later we discovered the second box and distributed the remainder onboard the buses. Hopefully every family received a copy. If not, they can contact Charles at the museum to receive one.

Back at the hotel we said our good-byes to Charles and the many others we had met. All in all, I can't think of a better series of events to honor the courage and sacrifice of the men of Wahoo and those they left behind.
Continue Reading

Saturday, October 13, 2007


So, this is what it's like to stay up for 24 hours! I'm back home but will post more soon about the official Navy activities on Thursday and our special side jaunt on Friday.

As Jeff alludes, the Navy did an outstanding job on the ceremony Thursday. We were once again thankful to help with little things. Not the least of which was polishing Wahoo's actual bell.

After the ceremony we spoke to Rear Admiral Joseph A. Walsh ComSubPac. His keynote address was wonderful. After a little preliminary scheming, Jeff asked Admiral Walsh if it would be possible for us to tour the Sub Base on Friday. He assured us it was and set us up the next day. Jeff, Bryan Mackinnon, his three children and I spent Friday afternoon touring the buildings of the base and drinking in the history. Details and photos to follow as well.

In the meantime, here is Admiral Walsh's speech given to the families and guests of the Wahoo Remembrance ceremony on the 64th anniversary of the loss of USS Wahoo (SS-238):

USS Bowfin Museum
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
October 11, 2007

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. First, I would like to say thank you to all of the family members of the Wahoo crew who have come so far to honor their loved ones. Aloha and welcome.

Counsel General Binns from Australia, Counsel General and Mrs. Kunikata from Japan, thank you very much for attending today’s ceremony. You honor us with your presence.

I would also like to thank and recognize the World War II Submarine Veterans with us here today to honor their brothers lost on WAHOO. It is always humbling to be in the presence of the men who represent the soul of our submarine force.

As I thought about today’s ceremony I started to think quite a bit about who were these men who crewed the USS Wahoo. They were in every way, identical to our submarine veterans with us here today. They were men from what Tom Brokaw has termed The Greatest Generation. They were men who were raised during the hardships of the great depression. They had few material things. Growing up, my father never missed an opportunity to tell my brothers and sisters and I that he was 9 years old before he got his first new pair of shoes because he always got his brother’s hand me downs. They were skinny, because they never had too much food and a piece of candy or a coca-cola really was a treat. But they also had a deep sense of honor. They believed there was a right way and a wrong way to lead your life. They certainly did not want to fight a world war. General Colin Powell once wrote that we are a nation of reluctant warriors and he is absolutely right; but Pearl Harbor changed all of that. Admiral Yamamotto of the Japanese Navy, who had lived in and was educated in the United States, got it right when he said of Pearl Harbor, that he feared all they had done was to awaken a sleeping giant and fill it with a terrible resolve. He knew that when you combined the character and anger of the American people with our industrial might, that that was an enemy he did not want to fight.

So that’s who made up the crew of the USS Wahoo. That is who we are here today to pay tribute to. To those men and to their families, that we may finally provide some closure by way of this remembrance ceremony.

Wahoo was led by her captain, CDR Dudley W. Morton, revered by his crew and by submariners still today, simply as Mush. Mush Morton was a great teacher and a tenacious fighter. Prior to his first war patrol as Commanding Officer he got his crew together and said, “I am glad to have every one of you aboard Wahoo personally. What I have to say can be stated simply. Wahoo is expendable. We will take every reasonable precaution, but our mission is to sink enemy shipping. If anyone doesn’t want to go along, just see the yeoman. I am giving him verbal authority to transfer anyone who is not a volunteer. Nothing will ever be said about your remaining in Brisbane.” That was his philosophy and that was the way he fought his ship. Historians will argue the exact numbers but Wahoo sunk at least 20 ships totaling greater than 60,000 tons.

As I said, Mush Morton was a great teacher as well. He had a great Executive Officer, some guy named O’Kane, or something like that. What Mush was capable of, perhaps better than anyone in the submarine force was to visualize the relative motion picture on the surface; how that picture was changing as the ships moved and his submarine moved. If you’re not a submariner you may have a hard time understanding how difficult that is to do and how critical it is to getting your boat in the right spot to shoot a torpedo. Today, we still evaluate every one of our Commanding Officer on their ability to understand the relative motion picture. Mush was the master and what made him really amazing was that he could do all in his mind. He didn’t want to be distracted by looking out the periscope so he had his exec, Dick O’Kane man the scope. It was this ability to get his ship to the firing point that made Wahoo so effective, and by teaching those skills to O’Kane he made O’Kane equally successful in his own right, as skipper of Tang. Today if we make an error in the relative motion picture we can compensate using the speed of the nuclear submarine, but in World War II if you made an error you didn’t get the shot. That’s why some of our submarines would come home from a war patrol with all of their torpedoes or they would shoot from too far away and never get a hit. If we give the teacher, Mush Morton, some of the credit for the student O’Kane’s success together their two ships sunk more than 44 vessels at more than 160,000 tons and they were together awarded the Medal of Honor, 7 Navy Crosses, and 4 Silver Stars. In terms of ships sunk they were ranked #1 and #2 from amongst all the skippers in World War II. If that doesn’t define effectiveness I don’t know what does.

Wahoo departed Pearl Harbor on her 7th and final war patrol on 9 September 1943. She was assigned to operate near the Kurile Islands in the Sea of Japan. Although there has always been theories about what happened on her final patrol, for the past 64 years we never really knew. Last year, thanks to the Russian Federation Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces we now know where the Wahoo and her crew lay and the circumstances of their final fight.

Submarining is a brotherhood. That is something not well understood by many people; even within our own Navy. How we live, how we fight and how we may someday die has created a culture unique in the seafaring world. A fighter pilot lives or dies based on his individual air combat skills. Our surface brethren are oftentimes reliant on other ships they’re operating with; some to provide protection against submarines, others to provide protection against missiles or enemy aircraft, but a submarine is the most independent of ships. Particularly during World War II they operated in the enemy’s backyard. The crew was reliant only on themselves. They absolutely depended on each other, on each crewmember to do his part. Every submarine sailor is a damage controlman. It is the very basis of the submarine dolphins we wear so proudly. On a submarine, everyone from the Captain to the most junior sailor eat the same food, we breath the same stale air, everyone forgoes a shower for a month and everyone lives in the same metal tube; and should we die, we almost always all die together. It’s rare that there are any survivors when we lose a submarine. And so the bond is incredibly strong.

Today, we pay tribute to one such submarine crew. We attempt to bring closure to all that they accomplished with their ship and with their lives. There is comfort knowing where their final resting place is. I think, if they could talk to us, they wouldn’t have it any other way. They are at peace together just as they fought together.

Three months ago, on the 28th of June, our last surviving submarine Medal of Honor recipient, RADM Gene Fluckey passed away. Like Mush Morton he was and is an American hero. I think one of Adm. Fluckey’s last requests is very telling and speaks to the bond between submariners. And his request was that he wanted a deployed US submarine to bury a portion of his cremains in the western pacific, which of course, we will be honored to do. Gene Fluckey, The Galloping Ghost of the China coast wants to be laid to rest where he did the most important work of his life, just as the crew of USS Wahoo did.

Wahoo is a legend, and you should all be assured and be proud that the legend of Wahoo lives on. It is passed from one generation of submariners to the next. As a young Ensign when you enter your first trainer at submarine school, on the wall there is a big plaque with CDR Morton’s entreaty to his exec LCDR O’Kane…”Tenacity Dick…stay with the bastard till he’s on the bottom.” Capt. Jim Ransom, the Director of Operations here at Subpac signs every email with “Tenacity Dick…stay with the bastard till he’s on the bottom.” Our submarine ethos is the legacy of the men of Wahoo, a legacy that will live as long as there are US submarines.

In a few minutes you will witness a submarine force tradition; the tolling of the bells. It is something I have heard many times during my career, and no matter how many times I hear it, it always fills me with emotion. Being here today and having the opportunity to meet so many of you…the loved ones these men left behind…makes the tolling even more meaningful. Thank-you all very much for attending today’s ceremony and honoring the crew of USS Wahoo. Thank-you.
Continue Reading

Friday, October 12, 2007

Another Overview from Jeff

Though this may present itself a little out of order from Paul's material, perhaps he can switch things around for a better location later...

When I embarked on this trip and ultimately arrived on the Honolulu Airport tarmac, I had two overall goals for the excursion in mind: 1) Lose myself in the wide-ranging submarine history and lore of the area with sub buddy/shipmate Paul (aka: FUN); and 2) honor the memory of Forest J. Sterling, Wahoo's redoubtable yet unassuming yeoman, by attending and helping out (in my own very small way) with the Navy's memorial ceremony for the boat -- of course, the entire reason for our trip in the first place. As is already noted above -- and perhaps below -- I'm happy to report these missions both very successfully accomplished.

Certainly many reading this will be aware that "Yeo" was not lost when Wahoo went down, having been surprisingly transferred off by skipper Morton just before the final patrol. But in getting to know him in his final few years, I recognize that a significant portion of Forest's happy-go-lucky spirit DID go down with the boat (with the demise of his crewful of friends), and it is this loss I intended to memorialize by attending the event here. I must say that my memory of Sterling, now that he IS gone, was much on my mind during the moving ceremony last night, and I'm sure he would've been very pleased by all the honor and attention paid to his lost shipmates by way of the the entire week's commemoration. I think it's safe to say there were few dry eyes during the final ceremony last evening, that's for sure.

Below was my contribution to the Wahoo artifacts exhibit in the hotel's "Meet & Greet" room the night we arrived. I felt truly honored to be able to provide my own small piece of genuine crew history, inherited from Forest via his Navy retirement home buddy Hollis Hayes, for the event.

As for the "Fun" part of the trip, this: Wow! So many highlights I barely know where to begin! Paul has already posted some photos, and I'm sure more are to come as we wrap up this adventure, but the biggest thrills which come immediately to mind are of course the reverent ceremony itself (resplendent with full Navy band and dress white Navy participants all over the place); polishing, with Paul, Wahoo's actual brass ship's bell (removed and stored ashore after her commissioning, prior to her war patrols) just before its heralded, somber use in the memorial ceremony; meeting and chatting with Admiral Joe Walsh (current ComSubPac, who said he'd arrange for a base and/or sub tour for us sometime later today before our flights home); meeting and getting to know Mush Morton's son, daughter and several other relatives -- not to mention some of the family members of several others of Wahoo's crew (we only wish we'd had time for more, but setup- and bus-related duties called us away from things frequently); significant photo-op time with Paul aboard Bowfin in her restricted-from-tourists conning tower; our Arizona Memorial tour; watching that L.A. class sub exit the harbor on her way to some stealthy patrol; and of course, much more. That's about all I have time for now, but I'd like to take this opportunity to personally and publicly thank Paul for coming up with the idea of this blog in the first place, setting things up so that others can so easily share in these very special moments.

Below's a shot of the sun setting on Bowfin after last night's ceremony. Aloha, Jeff

Continue Reading

Sights of Pearl Harbor

Here are some images to illustrate the activities on Wednesday. Our group disembarks from the buses and gathers on the lawn of the Arizona Memorial visitors center.

Standing in front of the anchor of the USS Arizona.

Wahoo families touring the memorial.

Oil seeping from the hull of Arizona. It was a slick similar to this that allowed the Japanese to spot Wahoo while exiting La Perouse sixty-four years ago.

Standing on the bow of USS Missouri. During this tour it started to get hot!

A Los Angeles class submarine departs the Submarine Base and heads to sea.

Pacific Aviation Museum A6M Zero display.

Recreation of Ted Lawson's B-25 "The Ruptured Duck" on the deck of the USS Hornet.

Continue Reading

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tours & Duty

Wednesday was spent on tour. Following a good breakfast burrito in the hotel (What? Mexican food on the islands?) we began a day-long venture to see the sights of WWII. Jeff and I were enlisted to help with the buses of which there were three. We helped with wheelchairs and answered questions.

My bus was the last one and there were only four of us: Scott, a sub enthusiast from Portland; and Alice and James Allen. Mr. Allen served aboard Wahoo on her second war patrol. We spent the time chatting about his experiences on the way to the Arizona Memorial. He related he was the lowest man on the totem pole when he arrived in 1942 but how he made friends with the two other new members of the crew: Ens. Griggs and Henry Glinski. After the second patrol, Allen went on to serve in Silversides and then Scorpion. However, he was burned while working on her batteries and missed patroling aboard her.

At the Arizona Memorial we got our first real taste of history. The introductory movie was a great reminder of the circumstances of the Pearl Habor attack. We rode the boat out to the memorial and silently filed off. The monument's simple elegance reinforced the stark reality that the shattered hulk below us was a massive gravesite. True to all I had heard, the oil still seeps out and makes its way to stain the surface. The slick stills the waters as it gently makes its way down the channel toward the sea.

Next we enjoyed lunch at the Bowfin Museum and toured the outside exhibits. We also found time to crush a penny in the machines located at each toursit spot. My wife Julie loves these and I've been diligently cranking the handles to government currency into a keepsake.

We took the bus back to Ford Island and went aboard the USS Missouri. Our guide was of the stand up comedian variety and his act was highly polished. Through a very informative tour he kept the jokes coming in a sly manner.

While standing near the plaque in the deck where the surrender documents were signed, we were treated to a beautiful sight. Across the harbor a Los Angeles class submarine got underway and headed out to sea. It was a wonderful reminder of Wahoo, who'd made the same trip so many times.

Finally we went to the Pacific Aviation Museum. This newly opened exhibit in a former hanger on the airfield presented an amazing collection of aircraft depicting events of the early stages of WWII: a Zero in a carrier setting; a B-25 decked out as Lawson's Doolittle Raider "The Ruptured Duck"; a F4F Wildcat on Guadalcanal. Definitely worth the extra effort to get there if you find yourself in Hawaii.

We made it back to the hotels late in the day and we were on our own for dinner. Time permitting I will post pictures soon.
Continue Reading

Meet & Greet Part 2

As you can see, the room was packed.

Had some wonderful conversations last night. Got to catch up with Bryan Mackinnon in person after having emailed and talked on the phone with him for several years now. He's just as nice a guy in real life as he is in email :^)

Turns out quite a few members of Edwina Morton's family lives in Cypress, Texas not far from me. We have even attended the same church for a time. What a small world!

Thoroughly enjoyed meeting the family of Oscar Finklestein. Oscar was a plumber in New York before the war. He was lost prior to meeting his son who is attending with his extended family. Was able to pass along an anecdote regarding Oscar written by Forest Sterling in the afterword of his "Wake of the Wahoo" reprint. Below, the Finklestein family views the memorabilia display.

The Bowfin Museum created a 6 x 3 foot wooden display case with photos of all the men lost in Wahoo. It was a wonderful display -- and very heavy. At the end of the night we hauled it up to our room for safe keeping.

Guest reporter Jeff Porteous checking in here with an overview of the proceedings: Several amazing things strike me about our interaction with this group, but chief among them is the newly felt "Paul and I are not alone" syndrome. Till now, I really had only Paul and pal Rick Cline ("Wake/Wahoo's" current publisher) with whom to share my Wahoo passion. Right now, right here, I'm suddenly surrounded by dozens of others who are just as informed and/or excitable about the subject -- though for obviously different and mostly tragic reasons. Still, I definitely feel I'm among "my own kind." But remember, all this keen interest is related to people involved in an event which took place 64 YEARS ago tomorrow -- truly a mind-blowing concept for me in and of itself.

Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Meet N Greet

The flight through LAX to Hawaii went well. But the aisle seat I had prevented me from seeing anything much out the window. The gentleman next to me on the plane did point out a few seconds of sights as we flared out for landing. And I was in Hawaii!

Charles Hinman of the Bowfin Museum picked me up along with Jeff Porteous, a great friend, fellow Wahoo aficionado, and personal friend of Wahoo's Yeoman Forest Sterling. He took us to
the museum where we got to see the sights briefly and help with the preparation for the night's event: a meet and greet with the Wahoo family members.

As you might imagine, things moved pretty rapidly while picking up rental wheel chairs for the guests, transporting a six foot wooden display with images of almost all the men lost aboard Wahoo, and checking into the hotel. We were honored to help Charles prepare.

The event was formally kicked off by a short explanation from Mush Morton's son, Doug, who related how the loss of his father still impacts his life. He explained how the events this week would give him and the rest of those who lost loved ones aboard the boat time to connect and express the feelings they've shared for so many years. He concluded with a smile, "Let's talk."

His sister Edwina then passionately reminded the group that each man lost on October 11, 1943 was a true hero and the event was to celebrate the entire crew, not just her famous dad. "Wahoo could not have done what she did without the heroic work of every man aboard," she said. Her gracious words were enthusiastically affirmed.

More to come after some shut-eye.

Continue Reading

Sunday, October 07, 2007

San Diego Surprise

My trip started today with a flight to San Diego. Tomorrow will be a work day with some local accounts. I will continue to Honolulu on Tuesday morning. For the long flight (with layover in Dallas) I took "Treason's Harbor" the 11th book in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Matrin series. The series was the basis for the Russell Crowe movie "Master & Commander," a film I enjoyed enormously. The book proved to be another good read, I've read the previous ten so far, and really made the time pass quickly.

By the time I got to the hotel it was early afternoon. So, I flipped through the brochure rack in the lobby for something to do and found the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Lo and behold, one of the five ships they have on display is the HMS Surprise, the actual frigate used to film "Master & Commander". A little further down the road was the WWII era aircraft carrier USS Midway. Needless to say, I was shortly on my way.

By the time the afternoon was over, I had toured six ships including a carrier and a soviet Foxtrot class submarine. I'm looking forward to adding another submarine and battleship to the list by the end of the week.
Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Current Stats

In talking to Charles at the Bowfin Museum things are really coming together for the planned events. Close to 200 people are planning to attend the main ceremony on the 11th not including Navy dignitaries and the press.

My good friend Jeff Porteous and I have volunteered to be bus captains for the museum trips on Wednesday. That will be fun. And we'll get to help set up the displays on Tuesday for the family meet and greet at the hotel. We consider it a privilege to contribute to the event in some small way.

I'm getting pretty excited. This is a trip I've imagined making for close to 30 years.
Continue Reading

About Me

The first 'grown up' book Paul Crozier ever read was "War Fish" by George Grider. Since then he has spent most of his life researching the U.S. Submarine Force in WWII and USS Wahoo (SS-238) in particular.


This blog is dedicated to all who have served in the U.S. Submarine Force. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Admiral Chester Nimitz

"We shall never forget it was our submarines that held the line against the enemy while our fleets replaced losses and repaired wounds."

War Fish Blog Copyright © 2010 | Community is Designed by Bie Blogger Template