Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vets will pay tribute to lost World War II sub Saturday

Oct 10, 2013  
By James Mayse, Owensburg Messenger-Inquirer

IN LATE DECEMBER 1942 -- as the tide of the World War II began to turn against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan -- an Owensboro native, Lt. Commander Dudley "Mush" Morton, took command of the USS Wahoo, a Gato class attack submarine stationed at Pearl Harbor.

Although the Wahoo had sailed under a different commander between August and December of that year, the submarine's crew had sunk only one Japanese tanker and damaged one freighter.

Morton quickly changed the Wahoo's fortunes. On Morton's first war patrol between January and February of 1943, the Wahoo's crew sank three Japanese ships and damaged several others, according to the Naval Historical Center. Morton sunk nine ships on his second patrol in the East China Sea and Yellow Sea.
In its career, the Wahoo's crew is believed to have sunk more than 20 Japanese ships, making it one of the most successful American submarines of the war.

But the war for the Wahoo and Morton ended on Oct. 11, 1943. While on patrol in a strait between the Japanese island of Hokkaido and Sakhalin Island, the Wahoo was attacked and sunk. All 80 crew members went down with the submarine.

In 1995, the American Legion's James L. Yates Post placed a memorial -- a World War II era Mark 14 torpedo -- on the Legion grounds in honor of Morton and the Wahoo's crew. Although there is an organization of submarine veterans that conducts remembrance services at submarine monuments across the United States, the group was not aware of the existence of the memorial at the Owensoro Legion post.

Until now.

On Saturday, submarine veterans from Owensboro and other parts of the region will congregate at the post, at 118 Veterans Blvd., for a "bell tolling" ceremony at the Wahoo monument. The event will begin at 11 a.m.
Terry Diehl, past Kentucky commander of United States Submarine Veterans Inc., said the service was initially planned as a small affair, with just a few submarine veterans in attendance. The event, however, has grown through word-of-mouth.

"The word is getting out every day," Diehl said Wednesday. "I'm at the point where I'm wondering if I should print some more programs."

Part of the training of Navy submarine personnel is learning the history of the 52 U.S. submarines that were lost during World War II, Diehl said. The Wahoo is a famous submarine in Navy history, he said.

"(Morton) only made five patrols out of the six or seven the boat made, and he was gone long before the end of the war -- but he was the second top-rated skipper on sinkings" during the war, Diehl said.

The Naval Historical Center says, although the Wahoo was active during a time when torpedo malfunctions were common, the Wahoo had the seventh-best record in terms of sinking Japanese ships in the U.S. submarine service.

"He's a hero," Diehl said of Morton. "He did a job (without equal) as far as I'm concerned." The wreckage of the Wahoo was discovered by Russian divers in 2006.

Diehl said he "stumbed" across the Wahoo monument in Owensboro. About a dozen submarine veterans from different time periods are expected to attend the event.

There aren't many World War II submarine veterans left. The national organization for World War II submarine veterans disbanded last year, Diehl said.

"They're dwindling fast," Diehl said. "... Now, we only have three left in Kentucky that we are aware of. They're all in their late 80s or beyond --we know it's going to be the next morning when we're going to get the next phone call" saying another submarine veteran from that era has died.

"We lost four Kentuckians on that boat" when the Wahoo was sunk, Diehl said. "Our intention is to keep this centered on the Wahoo itself and the 80 men who were lost there."

In addition to the bell tolling, the ceremony will include reading the names of the crew members. An honor guard to perform taps and conduct a 21-gun salute is in the works, Diehl said.

The history of the Wahoo "is a neat story," Diehl said. "Without Mr. Dudley W. Morton, it wouldn't have happened."

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

SubVet Service Scheduled

Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 3:14 pm
WAHOO – It was 70 years ago that the U.S.S. Wahoo and her crew went to a watery grave in the Sea of Japan.The famed World War II submarine was sunk by the Japanese on Oct. 11, 1943.
For the 51st consecutive year, the U.S.S. Wahoo and all other World War II era submarines will be honored during a submarine veterans’ service on the lawn of the Saunders County Courthouse.

The annual memorial service will start at 1 p.m. next to the Mark 14 Torpedo monument. The service is again hosted by the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II and U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc.
Pat Hancock of Wahoo, retired Navy and a member of the Nebraska Base of U.S. Submarine Veterans, said the number of World War II veterans able to attend the memorial service gets fewer and fewer every year. He is hopeful that at least a couple will be able to again help out with this year’s program.
The first memorial service was held in Wahoo in September 1962. It was later moved to October to coincide with the sinking of the U.S.S. Wahoo.

This year’s guest speaker will be Rear Adm. Dave Kriete. Kreite is deputy director of Plan and Policy, U.S. Strategic Command Offutt Air Force Bass. He reported in September 2012 and is responsible for the development of the nation’s strategic war plans, strategic support plans for theater combatant commanders and contingency planning for the global strike mission.

Kreite is a 1984 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he majored in general engineering. At sea, he served onboard the U.S.S. Finback, U.S.S. Flying Fish and U.S.S. Kentucky. He was the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Rhode Island and was commander of Submarine Squadron Six.
Other assignments include deputy director force employment at United States Fleet Forces Command, assistant force special operations officer on the staff of Commander and Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Nuclear Propulsion Examing Board Member on staff of commander in Chief. He also served as chief of staff to commander, Submarine Force Atlantic and Commander Task Force 144 and deputy commander, Allied Submarine Command.

His decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (five awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (six awards), Mancy and Marien Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation (two awards), Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation (two awards) and Battle Efficiency “E” (five awards.
Sunday’s ceremony will also include the “reading of the boats” that were sunk or damaged in World War II as well as the tolling of the bell.

The Wahoo American Legion Post 82 and Wahoo VFW Post 4502 will provide honor guard and firing squad duties. Rev. Dr. Burton Knudsen will again give the invocation and benediction.
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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."

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