THE WAYWARD TORPEDO
Researched and prepared by Paul Wittmer
About the early 1960's, in The ILL-MO Rebel Squadron, a Chapter of the U.S. Submarine Veterans of WWII, located in the St. Louis area, it was decided to acquire a torpedo.
Charles Kerls was the Missouri State Commander at the time and it was Charlie who took on the responsibility of signing for the Mark XVIII Electric torpedo upon delivery. The first problem, now that it was in hand, was to store it some place until a decision on a proper monument and location can be made.
The torpedo made the rounds and dwelled in the Chapter President's, (Russ Seabright's) basement for awhile. It resided at the Venice, Madison American Legion Post #307, in Illinois, where it was stored inside for awhile. It was moved again, outside, to the flagpole area and displayed. Problems arose at each location and when Dewey (Dutch) Dalwitz, became State Commander, he had the torpedo removed from the Legion Post and stored in his friend's garage, where it remained for a number of years.
Then about May or June of 1980, a committee was formed to do something with this torpedo. It was discussed at a chapter meeting on July 13, 1980.
Members of the committee inspected it and a report on the condition of it was made at a chapter meeting on October 17, 1981. Prior to this, a design drawing was prepared, with the aid of Dick Provance, for a mounting for the torpedo. Locations for the monument were discussed and investigated.
The garage owner was contacted to make arrangements to have the torpedo removed, but it was not to be released without a signed letter from Dutch Dalwitz. A certificate was prepared and presented to Dalwitz for his signature; but Dutch refused to release the torpedo.
Things came to a head at the Chapter meeting of May 15, 1983, when it was learned that Dalwitz had the torpedo shipped to Phoenix, Arizona without anyone's knowledge. Some of the Chapter members were furious. Charlie Kerls noted it was he who signed for it originally and it was rightfully his responsibility.
Tom Fitzgerald was working as a Sheriff at the time and it was Tom who suggested that we get a "Writ of Replevin" from the Court in order to recover the Mark XVIII. When calmer heads prevailed, it was decided, not to antagonize the members of another Chapter or get us upset in the process. A vote to put this experience behind us was made and approved.
The ILL - MO REBEL SQUADREN of Missouri's torpedo is now on display in a Cemetery in Phoenix.