United States Submarine Veterans
of World War Two
Dedication of a Memorial on May 18, 2003
Presentation by Don Kane, First National President


Hon. US Senator Jack Reeves,

Fellow US Submarine Veterans of World War II, members of the US Submarine Veterans Inc., families and friends

Ladies and Gentlemen: [Boys & Girls]-Friends and Shipmates

It is a distinct pleasure for me to be invited to speak to you on such a solemn and significant occasion. The Memorial today is in Honor of/and in Memory of/my fellow US Submarine Veterans of World War II.

The Committee has done a tremendous job in helping to create this wonderful monument in memory of our deceased US Submarine Veterans of World War II.

The committee is to be congratulated and/on behalf of our National Organization of US Submarine Veterans of World War II we deeply appreciate their tremendous efforts and service in accomplishing this Memorial.

I also wish to thank my fellow shipmate, Torpedo Man First Class, Ed Brodeur for his stewardship in this Endeavor. He and I served together on the Submarine USS Gunnel (SS253) in combat in the Pacific Theatre.

It is a pleasure for me to be back here in Rhode Island-The US Navy sent me to the V12 Program at Brown University in 1943. I was also stationed at the Newport Training Station during WWII. I love your State!

Q-What is a Submariner? Q-Who is a Submariner?

THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL DEFINITIONS OF A SUBMARINER. IN THE SUBMARINERS [History of the US Submarine Veterans World War II VOL. 3 [Copyright 1988] It is written: "Only a submariner realizes to what a great extent an entire ship depends on him as an individual. To a landsman this is not understandable and sometimes it is difficult for us to comprehend.

A Submarine at sea is a different World in itself, and because of the protracted and distant operations of submarines, the Navy must place responsibility and trust in the hands of those who take such ships to sea. In each submarine there are men, who, in the hour of emergency or peril at sea can turn to each other. These men are ultimately responsible to themselves and to each other for all aspects of operation of their submarine. They are the crew. They are the ships.

This is perhaps the most difficult and demanding assignment in the Navy. There is not an instant during his tours as a submariner, that he can escape the grasps of responsibility. …it is the spur which has given the Navy its greatest mariners-the men of the Submarine service." IN DEFINING A SUBMARINER, TOM CLANCY-the famous author wrote:

"Why do they do it then? They do it for the same reason that a firefighter runs into a burning building instead of away from it like a sensible person.

They do it for the same reason that a Police officer runs toward the sound of gunfire. They do it for us."

Referring to the present submarine fleet, he asks "Why do the men on submarines do it? Because theirs is the most difficult mission, the most arduous duty, the most demanding discipline, and these things have always drawn the best of men."

"Being recognized as a submariner involves a rite of passage where the individual demonstrates that he can perform as part of a crew. They must show that they can be trusted and that, when the going gets tough, they have the knowledge and the initiative to help their shipmates through any peril or crisis. When and only when, an individual has shown that he can do his job, perform as part of the crew, and understands the submarine's intricate systems and equipment is that rite of passage complete. It is at that point that the individual is designated as "qualified in submarines" and becomes at once and for all times a submariner, earning the right to wear the Dolphin insignia and "SS" after his rate." [During WWII on his right sleeve-White for enlisted men. Officers wore Gold Dolphins on their left breast.]

"The process of qualification is demanding and difficult-a process that culminates with a deep sense of pride. Pride runs deep among submariners because they know that those who wear the Dolphins have been tested and are accepted as part of a long line of submariners who have gone before them shaping the traditions that have set submariners apart since the earliest days."

"It is a Duty which most richly deserves the proud and time-honored title of "Submariners."

We came from each of the 48 States-from the Cities-from the Country-from the Prairies and farms-from the seaports-from the Indian reservations-from the Philippines Islands-We represented a composite of American Youth at its finest hour.


Q-Who is this person whom we called submariners? What is the type of person in whose honor we are placing and dedicating this Memorial?

From my personal experience, I was privileged to be one of them. Out of 200 volunteers for the Submarine Service, I was one of 8 whom were selected. Of the 8, 2 of us finished submarine school.

Upon admission to the Submarine School in New London, Conn., one has to pass extensive medical and psychological tests. Shortly thereafter, we must pass a 100 foot ascent in a diving tower containing 240,000 gallons of water. The candidate uses a Momsen Lung-(the forerunner of our scuba equipment) developed by Commander Charles Momsen-Later Admiral Momsen. It is a dangerous task-in the 1930's two candidates died while in the tank! 250,000 volunteered-24,000 [less than 10% were selected and made it through]

If the candidate fails the test, he is immediately transferred to the surface fleet. Sub School consisted of 12 weeks followed by advanced school in the area of your specialty.


"Fortunately for the United States, our great Submarine Base in Hawaii with its supplies and facilities and our submarines were undamaged. When I assumed command of the Pacific Fleet on 31 December 1941, our submarines were already operating against the enemy, the only units of the Fleet that could come to grips with the Japanese for months to come."

"It was to the Submarine Force that I looked to carry the load until our great industrial activity could produce the weapons we so surely needed to carry the war to the enemy. It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of great peril."

PEARL HARBOR On December 7, 1941-approximately 22 of our submarines were based in Pearl Harbor-16 were modern fleet type, up to date submarines, 6 others were many years older. There were also 39 submarines in the Far East in Manila. The Submarine crews-officers and enlisted men-were in the thick of the fight [authority-Admiral Bernard Clarey, Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet in 1973].

The USN Submarine service is referred to as "The Silent Service." It is apparent why the title is applied. Its operations are and were secret as lonely guardians of the sea. They did and continued to operate alone-thousands of miles from their home port in hostile waters-without anyone knowing that their lives were in jeopardy if captured.

As a result of this solitary existence, they had to be self-reliant and to a great extent, independent.

Our submarines, operating alone, quickly took the war to the Japanese homeland-to its bays-to its coasts. We substantially cut off their shipping.

All told, about Five Million Tons 5,000,000 tons of their shipping - that is 55% of all of its shipping/ was sunk by our submarine force!

215 Naval vessels totaling over 500,000 tons were sent to watery graves by our subs.

These vessels include:

THE MAJOR JAPANESE COMBATANT SHIPS SUNK BY US SUBMARINES WERE: * 4 Aircraft Carriers 4 Escort Aircraft Carriers 1 Battleship 4 Heavy Cruisers 9 Light Cruisers 38 Destroyers 23 Submarines

"In addition there were Lifeguard Missions that is, picking up airmen from planes which ditched in the ocean, As a result, there was an unbreakable bond between submariners and carrier pilots and crew and USAF Crew. US Submariners were also sent on special missions to rescue civilians and troops, transport ammunition and food, conduct sabotage and other tasks in enemy held territory."

LOSSES** This success in sinking these vessels was not without a significant loss to our Submarines.

We lost 52 Submarines-of our 288 submarines-about 20% of our submarines-more than 3500 men. Our submarine force represented approximately 2% of the Navy's personnel-approximately 14,750 officers and crew in total-a 22% casualty rate! Incredible!! Nevertheless we brought the war to the Japanese doorsteps.

The first boat to be lost was the USS Sea Lion. The last boat was the USS Bullhead lost August 6, 1945 just prior to the end of the war. 41 Subs were lost to the enemy action 11 of which, the cause of losses was unknown.

HEROES There were many Heroes among the officers and enlisted men of the Submarine Force in World War II.

Seven Officers were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

36 Submarines received the Presidential Unit Citation

53 Submarines received the Navy Unit Commendation

233 Submarines were awarded 1229 Battle Stars

WAR PATROLS US Submarines made 1588 Combat War Patrols during World War II: --1474 in the Pacific --87 in the Atlantic --22 in Europe --5 in North African Waters- 40 Submariners made at least 10 Patrols 12 Submariners made 13 Patrols The USS STINGRAY made 16 War Patrols.

US AIR FORCE & US NAVY, MARINE, & ALLIED FLIGHT CREWS- Who were shot down or otherwise forced down at sea, were saved by our submarines in many courageous missions. Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, affectionately known to us as "Uncle Charlie", referred to the organization as our "Lifeguard League." He was our boss.

These submarines went right in-off the shores of enemy held beaches- into very shallow water-risking the lives of every crew member.

86 Submarines performed a total of 504 rescues of flight crews, including a Navy Flier, named George H. Bush who later became our National President and father of George R. Bush our current President.

As stated by Admiral Lockwood: "…the men of the Silent Service of the sea were faithful to that keynote of the Old Testament, namely that every man is his brother's keeper! This tenet was held high and true by the men of our ships of mercy, for in extending the hands that snatched doomed men from death, they saved both friends and foes."

THE CREW The US Naval Academy provided all of the Commanding officers of US Submarines except for a very few Naval Reserve Officers.

Enlisted Personnel-total number of submarine sailors was about 30,000. This was about 1.6% total of all Naval Personnel. About 16,000 of these made war Patrols.


"Hot sacking"-had to take turns sleeping in a bunk- Some never saw daylight during a combat Patrol run for weeks. Some had phobias about being left topside in the event of a sudden dive. Many grew beards. It was hot-sticky-we had air conditioning when it worked.

The enlisted crew comprised of approximately 72 men-the number of officers ranged from 8 to 9.

LIFE ABOARD A SUBMARINE A-We suffered from Heat, from Boredom, from Bad air, from Danger and at times from Frustration. There was always present the element of danger-for various mechanical problems within the submarine-The inattention of someone to his job could cause the loss of the ship-!

The batteries which propelled the Boat's Motors while underwater always presented a potential danger due to a possible explosion caused by an excess accumulation of gas.

ON BOARD-SHOWERS were few and far between. USS PAMPANITO-"KILLER ANGEL" Published by University of Oklahoma and Written by George F. Michno, son of Frank Michno, a crew member wrote:

"Patrol then settled into a monotonous, seemingly endless routine of four hours on duty, eight hours off duty, day and night. Off duty time was spent sleeping, eating, playing cribbage, reading or visiting other departments or crew members…There was a rhythm to a boat on patrol, the sea motion, the sounds of the engines and of the internal equipment such as ventilation blowers, the main motors, and even the periodic slap of the sea against the hull. There was always the ever full coffee urn, the sounds from the crew's radios and the Fox code emanating from the radio shack in the Control Room, along with routine course orders to the helmsman."

IT WAS SO LONELY! We had no Access to Hospitals-Our Pharmacist Mates performed 3 appendectomies aboard the USS Seadragon, USS Grayback and USS Silversides. Their patients survived. Q-Can you imagine that? They even had no medical malpractice liability insurance EITHER?

COFFEE CUP CAPER There were occasions perhaps you might describe as humorous incidents. A Steward's mate was one who was assigned to the wardroom or "officers country" as we called it-he was a combination Waiter, and Mess Attendant. One steward's mate [who shall be nameless and the name of the boat which he also served shall remain anonymous], was famous for his unerring ability in not spilling a drop of coffee. One of his assignments was to take a cup of coffee to the Captain who was on the Bridge of the Boat. He had to navigate two long ladders in order to reach the Captain on the bridge with the coffee cup in one hand. When asked how he was always able to always climb the two ladders during stormy weather and never spill any of the coffee he replied "I'll tell you a little secret, I would put some of the coffee in my mouth and before I reached the Captain, I would put it back in the cup."

"CLEAN SWEEP" Often times our submarines who had successful patrol runs, would come into Port with a broom attached to the Periscope Shears, indicating a "Clean Sweep".

One of our boats, the USS Narwhal (SS167) was successful in rescuing a number of women and children, including infants in October 1944, It came into Port in BRISBANE, Australia flying 12 clean white diapers from her signal halyard. Instead of the broom. USS STURGEON-After sinking its first Japanese ship early in the war, the Captain radioed the following message to Fleet Headquarters "THE STURGEON IS NO LONGER A VIRGIN."

One also had to be careful in flushing the Toilet or the "Head" as we call it. A person had to operate a series of complicated valves-in order to complete the operation.

If you were not careful it would fly up into your face. Captain Sam Dealey-said you had to be a Caltech Man" to operate it. If you were wondering about my hat-it is designed after the Australian "Anzac Soldier's Hat"-our subs operated out of Australia for several years.


PATRIOTISM On a serious note, this Memorial and this occasion reminds me of the appropriate remarks of DANIEL WEBSTER (1782-1852), A U.S. Senator orator, and outstanding Eloquent lawyer. In a speech at the Dedication of the Bunker Hill Memorial,- On June 17, 1825 at Charlestown, Mass., near Boston he said:

"We are among the sepulchers of our fathers. We are on ground distinguished by their valor, their constancy and the shedding of their blood…we are brought together, in this place, by our love of country, by our admiration of exalted character, by our gratitude for signal services and patriotic devotion…"

A great Patriot, How true at this time!! On his death bed, he directed that the American flag should be kept flying at the masthead of his little Yacht, with a light cast upon it at night, so that he could see it from his bedroom window as long as he could see anything. As always, his last preoccupation was with his country.

He concluded by saying "Let our object be our country, our whole country and nothing but our country. And by the blessing of God may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, upon which the world may gaze with admiration forever."

Also I am reminded of:

ABRAHAM LINCOLN-in his famous Gettysburg Address who stated: "But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men-living and dead-who struggled here have consecrated it, far above, our poor power to add or detract…. that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last measure of Devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in VAIN." I respectfully also refer you to the remarks - of the distinguished Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Judge- the Hon. Learned Hand who spoke at an "I am an American Day" in New York City towards the end of World War II-

He said that he could not Define the Spirit of Liberty-"which never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans create it- yet it lies in the aspirations of us all-in the spirit of that America for which our young men and women are at this moment fighting and dying." [How true this is today]

Democratic US Presidential Candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1952 defined the Nature of Patriotism: As "When an American says he loves his country, he means not only he loves the New England Hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light, in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect."

Men who have offered their lives for their country know that Patriotism is not the fear of something; it is the love of something. It is the love of this Republic, and of the ideal of liberty of man and mind in which it was born, and to which this Republic is dedicated."

I would like to tell you of a Personal experience--

Our son, Mark, a Marine Corps Officer was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany during our conflict with Yugoslavia-

He was leaving his assignment and called me to tell me that. Also you see-my brother, Tommy, had been killed during WWII in 1944-while he was aboard a B24 Bomber as Part of the Crew. Their plane crashed near Stuttgart where Mark was stationed.

For 5 years-Tommy was declared missing in action-I had to try to get some closure-so I hopped a flight-arrived there. Mark and I went to the area of the crash, a small village. We met a woman who was an eye witness to the plane's crash-she gave me a whistle which belonged to the pilot. The pilot had it in case of an emergency to signal the rest of the crew while on the ground. He had survived the crash with two other crew men. I returned to the US and tried to locate these 3 surviving crew members. Subsequently-I happened to write to a fellow submariner, Tudor Davis in Oregon and gave him a copy of the Journal of my trip.-

-The pilot's name was "COWGILL". Tudor wrote to me and told me that a fellow submariner named "Forrest Cowgill" was in his Chapter-in Oregon.

Forrest and I corresponded with each other. It turned out that his cousin was the daughter of Captain Wayne Cowgill, the Captain and Pilot of Tommy's Plane. I wrote to her-She replied and told me that her father was in fact the pilot-that he survived the crash-but later died while she was very young. The photos which she had of her dad-were destroyed in a household fire. I sent her photos of her dad and I also sent to her the whistle which had originally belonged to her dad.

From Stuttgart, Mark and I flew on to Normandy, France-To our National Cemetery. It is atop a tall cliff. It overlooks the ocean and the beach. It is an awesome view!!!

We arrived at 12 noon-at the Cemetery. It was a beautiful sunshiny day-Much like today as I looked over the thousands of White Crosses and Stars of David-the Carillons rang out various Patriotic songs. I wept unashamedly and openly as the song "America" rang out "America, America God shed his grace on thee and crowned thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea."!"

"I left there knowing proudly that there were no flag burners lying in those graves."!!!



· * "US Pacific Submarines in World War II" Written by Commander W.P. Gruner, Captain of USS Skate (SS305) [Losses]

· ** Memorial Day Address "Submarine Contribution of Losses In World War II-CDR. Clayton K. Morse. May 9, 2000. Printed in October 2000 issue of "The Submarine Review" [Losses]