Memorial Day Thoughts
On Memorial Day, submariner's thoughts always turn to those of us still on eternal patrol -- the crews of the diesel boats lost during peacetime accidents, the 52 boats lost fighting for freedom during WWII, the USS Thresher, and the USS Scorpion...
On this Memorial Day, my thoughts also turn to MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley of the USS San Franciso, and his extended family (in Ohio, Guam, and elsewhere). I am thankful today for the professionalism and skill of the crew of the San Francisco that we don't have another entire crew to mourn... that they didn't, as one of the crewmen said, "go three section with Thresher and Scorpion"... (As Captain Mooney said yesterday at a Memorial Day celebration in San Francisco, "There is no greater honor than to say that I am a USS San Francisco sailor.")
I mourn, and celebrate, men like CDR Howard Gilmore of USS Growler, who gave the order "Take her down" so that his shipmates could survive to fight another day... Captain John Cromwell, who rode the USS Sculpin to the bottom to save others he didn't even know... and LCDR Dudley "Mush" Morton, who taught the Submarine Force to fight as CO of USS Wahoo.
About halfway between SUBASE New London and Electric Boat shipyard in Groton is the National Submarine Memorial. Whenever I drove between the two places, I always saluted the men and boats honored there; their sacrifice provided the glue that binds submariners together.
In today's New London Day is a good article on how the proposed closing of the base in Groton might change the town. Here's what it says about the activities there today:
"The service today at Groton's National Submarine Memorial will be another occasion to remember the many submarines and their crew who never returned to any port. The memorial is dedicated by the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II “to our shipmates on eternal patrol.”
“They stand in the unbroken line of patriots who dared to die so that freedom might live,” the inscription on the monument reads. “Their final resting places are known only to the Almighty. Their family, friends, living shipmates and future generations should know they will always be remembered.
“Walk softly, walk softly stranger. You stand on hallowed ground.”
Even if the base does go away, I'm sure there will still be people of honor who will continue to care for the monument. I'm thinking that those seeking to save the base should emphasize that the home of this Memorial shouldn't be without modern day submarines to honor and protect those who gave all so that we could continue to enjoy the freedoms we have today.