Story contributions gladly accepted.
This is a non-Queenfish story but worthy of telling, as you'll see.
From Jim Bryant (NAVRING) LCDR Rik Thompson, USN sent this to me. This old friend and hunting buddy was a super supply officer, great ship driver and one of the key officers in my wardroom when I commanded GUARDFISH (SSN 612). As a struggling small business owner Rik's comment and the story helped put my cash flow worries in a better perspective. I hope it helps you. Jim Bryant Jbryant@look.net http://www.pwcweb.com/manassascab/captjim.html **************************************** The attached account of an event in the Hanoi Hilton makes our problems today seem mighty small in my estimation. Rik Thompson Mike's Flag (Condensed from a speech by Leo K Thorness, recipient of The Congressional Medal of Honor. ) You've probably seen the bumper sticker somewhere along the road. It depicts an American Flag, accompanied by the words "These colors don't run." I'm always glad to see this, because it reminds me of an incident from my confinement in North Vietnam at the Hao Lo POW Camp, or the "Hanoi Hilton," as it became known. Then a Major in the U.S. Air Force, I had been captured and imprisoned from 1967-1973. Our treatment had been frequently brutal. After three years, however, the beatings and torture became less frequent. During the last year, we were allowed outside most days for a couple of minutes to bathe. We showered by drawing water from a concrete tank with a homemade bucket. One day as we all stood by the tank, stripped of our clothes, a young Naval pilot named Mike Christian found the remnants of a handkerchief in a gutter that ran under the prison wall. Mike managed to sneak the grimy rag into our cell and began fashioning it into a flag. Over time we all loaned him a little soap, and he spent days cleaning the material. We helped by scrounging and stealing bits and pieces of anything he could use. At night, under his mosquito net, Mike worked on the flag. He made red and blue from ground-up roof tiles and tiny amounts of ink and painted the colors onto the cloth with watery rice glue. Using thread from his own blanket and a homemade bamboo needle, he sewed on stars. Early in the morning a few days later, when the guards were not alert, he whispered loudly from the back of our cell, "Hey gang, look here." He proudly held up this tattered piece of cloth, waving it as if in a breeze. If you used your imagination, you could tell it was supposed to be an American flag. When he raised that smudgy fabric, we automatically stood straight and saluted, our chests puffing out, and more than a few eyes had tears. About once a week the guards would strip us, run us outside and go through our clothing. During one of those shakedowns, they found Mike's flag. We all knew what would happen. That night they came for him. Night interrogations were always the worst. They opened the cell door and pulled Mike out. We could hear the beginning of the torture before they even had him in the torture cell. They beat him most of the night. About daylight they pushed what was left of him back through the cell door. He was badly broken; even his voice was gone. Within two weeks, despite the danger, Mike scrounged another piece of cloth and began another flag. The Stars and Stripes, our national symbol, was worth the sacrifice to him. Now, whenever I see the flag, I think of Mike and the morning he first waved that tattered emblem of a nation. It was then, thousands of miles from home in a lonely prison cell, that he showed us what it is to be truly free.
The Acid Test I was reviewing the article on the Queenfish's history and it was said that little is known of the modifications at Pearl overhaul in 1947. I was there during the overhaul and the following took place. 1. The two high speed electric motors and bull reduction gears, in the Maneuvering Room, were removed and replaced with General Electric slow speed electric motors. This eliminated the reduction gear noise in silent running. The motor were so slow you could count the revolutions. I remember sanding in the brushes. 2. The forward 5" gun was removed, for purposes of weight & balance, to compensate for the loss of weight in the Maneuvering Room. 3. The electrical crew assisted in removing the cells of the Gould batteries in the forward battery, under the Officer's quarters, and the aft battery under the midships crew's quarters. The cells were taken by narrow gauge railway to the Pearl battery shop. There the crew unsoldered the connecting bars, removed the cell caps, and pulled the lead plates and separators. The cell cases were then dumped of their electrolyte in a pit about 5" X 5" X 4' deep. At one point I was hit by a by a lift car and was knocked into the pit. I went completely under. Fellow crewmen pulled me out and by that time I was completely naked. They showered me, rubbed soda on me, and got me a new pair of overalls. Fifty one years later I'm still here. The crew used Exide ironclad plates and hand placed the separators, mixed the electrolyte, and replaced the batteries aboard ship. We were the first crew to build its own battery. We had one cell that did not perform well. It apparently was shorted in the separation. We were constantly given blood tests for possible lead poisoning. With the overhaul completed, we eased out of the Pearl drydock and headed for open seas and a shakedown. Yard foremen were aboard in the departments they supervised. Captain Ralph Lockwood went to a depth of 25' and all departments tightened packings and checked for water leaks. I remember tightening the prop shaft packings. With all departments checking in we surfaced. At all ahead full we dived and Captain Lockwood ordered 412', our yard guaranteed depth. The foremen sweated and considered the dive excessive. Chromefish
During overhaul we gave up our ship's service monies and we chromed every handle and everything else that would take chrome plating. Some called us the "Chromefish" rather than the Queenfish. * Soon thereafter we went to sea to follow the International Dateline to beyond the Arctic Circle for a Bluenose. The Queenfish was a grand ship and we followed in the footsteps of a wartime crew that acted with distinguished service and received a Presidential Citation. Frank Shamer and Jack Bennett were still the Captain and Executive Officer when I went aboard and I'm proud to have the opportunity to know them. Al May was the Engineering Officer. One thing that happened was that we towed the Sea Fox underwater, in neutral buoyancy, at the Crossroads and this was a first in the submarine service. The tow was successful, but for a short distance due to overheating of the shafts thrust bearings, located below decks in Maneuvering. If I recall this was with Shamer, Bennett and May. See you, Harry
* From Fred Scholtz I rode the 393 from early Dec. '53 'til March '54 when we swapped her for the Blackfin SS322. When I first went aboard the 393 I could not believe how bright and clean she was. I've been told that sometimes she had been called the "Chromefish ".
This one is from Jerry Johnson, ET1 (SS)(DV) in the 70's: Chief Kotek's Excellent Adventure" Once upon a time Chief Kotek threw a party for Queenfish dudes and their squeezes. He had just had a beautiful, white, expensive wool, wall to wall carpet installed, even though he lived in Navy Housing. His wife, Sharon I believe, was a great hostess, but this night Mike took the Best Host (Toast?) of the Decade Award. We started drinking early- nine or ten? Don't forget we went dry so long at sea, we were mighty thirsty when we partied in port. Chief Kotek had a two square Hibachi he later broke out to cook snacks on. This was sometime after midnight. Lots of sailors and squeezes were sitting on Mike's living room deck around the hibachi cooking neat snacks. We would dip fresh pineapple chunks into sugar and cook them. The melting sugar would smoke heavily but Mike never complained. None of us were complaining about much of anything by that time. We grilled mushrooms, Vienna Sausages, cut up hot dogs and anything else we could think of. My wife, Carol, was laying on the living room deck with Rocket J. Squirrel. I believe he was a nuke machinist mate. What was his real name? (It was Studebaker-J.U.) Anyway they were waiting for some hot snacks off the hibachi. At some point Carol said to Rocket, through the smoke, "I'm not sure I want any hot snacks. Do they smell ok to you?" Well Carol and Rocket tried to unlimber their drunk noses. After a time they concurred that they would pass on the hot snacks- they didn't smell that great. Shortly thereafter it was discovered that the glowing hibachi on the middle of Mike's new white carpet was burning a hole through the carpet. Everyone panicked except Mike. I believe he was the party SOPA (remember Superior Officer Present Awash?). All of the rest of us lowly pukes were in great fear for just having burned a foot square hole in Chief Kotek's brand new expensive white carpet. Mike just put out the fire (it scorched the Navy Housing tile floor underneath), rigged house for ventilation and insisted we all keep drinking. We did.
" I can't believe that you did not remember the flag. Let me refresh your memory." (He's responding to "Uffie") "Towards the end of the first Queenfish WestPac, Capn Jack wanted to fly a trophy from the # 1 periscope when entering Pearl. The Quartermaster gang was in charge of flags and pennants, so he wanted Pappy Lambert to come up with a flag that would represent just how great we were. And we were you know. " "Pappy enlisted the help of Sonarman, and artist extraordinare, Kim Kiefer to help with the artwork. Remember he was pretty good at that stuff. Our call sign was Tiger Cat so 'Kimsan' drew up a really scroungy looking tiger on a piece of scratch paper. It had a couple of crabs walking a way from it and a hypodermic syringe in its butt. I also have that first rendition. Pappy showed it to the ward room and they thought that the concept was good. The crabs and needle had to go." "'Kimsan' then set about to put this on a Navy issue pillow case. It looked just fine and Capn Jack just loved it. It flew from # 1 scope when we came to Pearl at the end of West-Pac." "Then we went on a Pearl to Pearl in Sept of 68. Remember the one when R. D. Watterson went back to Delaware to get married and he got back just a few days before we left. A few days out he came down with the Hong Kong Flu and shortly after that just about all of us had it. I thought that Daddy Wags was going to die and I saw Seaman Saul kneel down and embrace one of those stainless steel heads. He was only wearing boxers and a t-shirt. He called for New Yoooork and sprayed out both sides of his shorts at the same time." "Well back to the flag story. We put another hash mark on the flag and flew it coming in from that run. It was not used after that and just hung around the control room." "By Nov 69 we had a new skipper and Pappy was no longer on board. I was getting out of the Navy and since I did some of the sewing it only seemed logical that I should take the flag with me. That is how I became the keeper of the Tired Tiger Flag." Tim Avery QM2(SS)DV
First Let me tell you about LCDR Toby Warson. He was our Navigation Officer, with fire red hair and freckles to match. He was fairly heavy at that time, so, someone decided to call him the "Strawberry Buddha" and it stuck.
As Tim mentioned R.D. came back after his wedding and brought the "Hong Kong" Flu with him. Now the flu is bad enough in the civilian environment, put in with 112+ men in a contained submarine and you've got trouble, and boy did we have it. Once you got the flu you couldn't get rid of it because you immediately got re-infected. Within 4 or 5 days almost everyone had it. There were lines at the head. The Sanitaries had to be blown a couple times a day.
Most watches were Port & Starboard and they were hell. I was an IC3 nuke at the time, standing Auxiliary Electrician Aft watch in AMR2UL ( or AMS2UL if your from that era). I was standing port & starboard with Mike Budner EM3. We were both so weak when watch change took place we both made rounds together filling out the first and last hour readings at the same, and horsing in the rest of the readings. Not normally legal but that is how weak we were. The rest of the crew was in the same shape, with some so sick they couldn't possibly get out of bed.
Now I said that almost all of the crew was sick, all but the Strawberry Buddha. The Captain, XO, Strawberry Buddha, and the COB decided the only chance we had of surviving this mess was to leave the op area, surface and ventilate the boat, "Up all bunks" and strip the linen, and wash it along with the clothing. This was done, and within 24 hours most of the crew was well recovered.
We finished our operation and returned to Pearl. Upon arriving in Pearl
Mr. Warson, the Strawberry Buddha, came down (you guessed it) with the "Hong Kong" flu.
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