By: Elroy Wilke

This was published in the Tinosa Blatt of December 1983

In December of 1942, the U.S.S. Tinosa was commissioned at the Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California. It was a time of dark days not only for Americans under trying conditions, but also for all peoples of the world.

In spite of a late start in the war and many bad torpedoes, the Tinosa piled up one of the bettor records for tonnage sunk. After the and of hostilities she proudly returned to the place of her birth and was placed out of commission along with many other proud undersea craft.

Vernon Linth and I were among the original crewmembers at the time of commissioning. I left the Tinosa at the and of the fourth patrol in Freemantle, Australia. Vernon sailed back to the place of her birth, Mare Island, where Linth and I were eventually transferred back to the crew. At this time we helped prepare the old warrior for decommissioning.

One day, while working in the crew's head amidships in late 1945 or early 1946, I noticed a small brown case wedged under the fuel oil compensating, filling and transfer lines. I fished the case out and noted that it contained sunglasses with the name of Chuck VanNatter. Chuck had been discharged and no one knew where he was living. So, for the next 38 years his glasses traveled with Helen and I whenever we lived, in Iowa, Minnesota, Washington State many localities in California and Colorado, which has been our home since 1957.

Lo and behold after 38 long years, the name of Chuck VanNatter surfaced again when the old Tinosa crew located him. He joined both the Tinosa Crew 283 and the Submarine Veterans of WW II. When I read of this, I asked Helen if she remembered the brown case and the glasses; she said she did and was sure they wore in the old black trunk. I began digging and down in the bottom past the foul weather clothing that I use in hunting was the glasses. We brought them to the Tinosa reunion at Scottsdale.

Sketch #12 by Wagner
Art work by Chuck Wagner

Unfortunately Chuck was unable to attend. Dayton Searles, who has lived within 12 miles of Chuck for many years, volunteered to deliver them personally to Chuck. So, Chuck, after a long absence, take good care of the old souvenir.

Again this proves that boat reunions deserve to receive the most credit for the increase we see in the national membership. It is the old KingPins, those hard workers who continue to strive even harder now in locating lost shipmates. It brings back many memories of those who went through thick and thin under very trying conditions, under heavy attacks. It was during that time where a bond was formed among the officers and crews that is not understood by many including out wives.