Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Submariner Receives Long Overdue Bronze Star

From this story on the official Navy website:
A retired senior chief was formally presented the Bronze Star medal with the Combat Distinguishing Device during a ceremony at Navy Operations Support Center, Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek June 1.
Retired Senior Chief Quartermaster (Submarines) Clarence G. Cooper received the Bronze Star for his actions during the Vietnam War.
"Today's award event was about formal recognition of a naval hero's courage, determination and selfless sacrifice in preventing his ship from sinking and his men from capture or death," said retired Navy Capt. Allen Weseleskey, the event's master of ceremonies and a Navy Cross recipient.
Cooper was recognized for his heroic actions while serving as craft master of covered lighter Kodiak (YF 866) in the Republic of Vietnam Sept. 14, 1968. During combat operations, Cooper's craft was ambushed by intense fire from hidden emplacements on both sides of a narrow Mekong River channel. With little regard for personal safety, he exposed himself to the automatic weapons and rocket fire while directing his crew to fire on enemy positions...
...Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, commander, U.S. Submarine Force, was equally honored to be making the presentation.
"Today we honored Senior Chief Cooper, who is a great example of the commitment to service that has made our country strong. From his early days on board the [USS] Perch [SS 313] and [USS] Halfbeak [SS 352], to his later assignment aboard river patrol boats in Vietnam and at Submarine Squadron Six, Clarence Cooper answered his nation's call.
"And although we are here to specifically acknowledge his heroic actions on that gunboat in September of 1968, let us never forget this long history of service, and through this commitment to the Navy and his country, all of the lives that he touched and Sailors who have benefited from his leadership."
Here's a video of the award ceremony:

I'm always glad to see people, especially Submariners, receive overdue recognition for their actions. One person I would really like to see suitably recognized for his bravery is CDR Dudley "Mush" Morton -- while he earned four Navy Crosses during his brief time in command of USS Wahoo (SS 238), I think he deserves the Medal of Honor for his last war patrol. It would be especially appropriate to make this award now, because we now know more about this last patrol since the boat's eternal patrol location was recently discovered. While I know that this recognition of CDR Morton would be politically impossible because of the "controversy" surrounding some of his actions on his first War Patrol in command (in which some survivors from a ship Wahoo had sunk were fired upon after firing on the submarine from their lifeboats), I would still like to see this pioneering warrior honored with our nation's highest honor at some time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

BZ! Thanks for sharing it Joel.

This will make a nice induction season history question for a wayward selectee.


6/09/2009 8:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's outstanding Senior Chief.
Congratulations on the award. The Bronze Star doesn't come easily to include the big V. That's outstanding!

6/10/2009 12:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There should be something for the ones that participated in combat ops, even if they didn't have anyone shooting back at them. My brother was part of Gulf War I, and everyone was anticipating a SCP; there were even miniatures from somewhere.

They had to settle for miniature baseball bats. My understanding was that some of the WWII guys, including local hero former Morton XO, objected to the SCP.


6/10/2009 10:43 AM

Blogger tennvol said...

Okay, I'll plead ignorance. What's an SCP?

6/10/2009 1:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

submarine combat patrol pin. Its for people who actually risked their backsides in real submarine combat, not those who popped off a few cruise missiles.

The risks taken by WWII submariners were amazing and horrifying. Not so during GW I.

6/10/2009 2:55 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...

I objected to awarding the Submarine Combat Patrol Pin to the shooters in both Gulf Wars.

Sorry, but cruising off the coast of a country lobbing Tomahawks at an unseen target doesn't even come near the same level of combat seen by those of WWII. Not a single nuc boat ever has had to endure the incredible pounding from depth charges (yes, even those boats who underwent depth charge testing), wondering if they would ever see the light of day again.

I have the utmost respect for the sailors who did their jobs on the boats from Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, but they don't rate the combat patrol pin.

6/10/2009 7:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in agreement that the Combat Patrol Pin should not be awarded for missile shots, in fact, I would be in favor of retiring the pin. (and also in favor of banning the flying of a broom from the masts for successful sea trials,Orse, or whatever).I'm not trying to be mean-spirited here, just feel that the conditions the WWII guys dealt with are far beyond anything we are likely to experience today. Read a few patrol reports at this site, I think you may see where I'm coming from.

6/10/2009 8:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding my last post, here's the correct link to the patrol reports.


6/10/2009 8:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I still wear my SSBN pin with a clear conscience? I like to think I earned it even the first time when I was still a nub. Plus the skimmers get pissed when they see us wearing one with a couple of gold stars in it. That's always fun to encounter when they realize that they will never be able to receive one. But hey. we're Bubbleheads, we're the special people.

6/10/2009 9:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSBN Patrol Pin-Of course you can wear it without shame-it was awarded for making deterrent patrols-you made the patrol,you earned the pin. (Of course, us SSN types might give you a bit of static about it, but hey, we're bubbleheads,we all know how take abuse!)

6/10/2009 9:32 PM

Anonymous SJV said...

Obviously the addition of the "N" has made submarines into true submersibles. Combat on submarines now is not the same, and maybe it is time for a new pin. On the other hand, we have radically changed all forms of combat. Infantry is not the same now, and although it's still hell, it's not nearly as hellish as in WWII days. No new pin there. Air Force is flying missions with few real threats, and no new pin there.
For certain though, this guy deserved something more than he got back in the day. I know of Vietnam Marines who were shot in combat and never put in or were awarded Purple Hearts. They just didn't think they had done anything more than the guy who was next to them who didn't get shot.

6/10/2009 10:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Belated congrats to Sr. Chief Cooper.

And thanks, I am aware that WWII was different from now, I referenced the "not getting shot at". However, have you read the rules for awarding the pin?

In a related query, is there anything y'all get between LoC's and PUCs? I got an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal during Earnest Will, plus some "imminent danger pay" when we were in Iranian Silkworm range. The money was nice; I was out before the medal arrived (I do have the citation, somewhere).


6/11/2009 12:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With appropriate respects for WWII submariners, God rest their souls, it was nothing short of arbitrary to not award the SCP to the shooters in the Gulf War.

Loudly and clearly, the criterion for awarding the pin isn't being depth charged -- it's sinking or assisting in sinking one enemy vessel or accomplishing a combat mission of comparable importance.

If the pin isn't going to be awarded for its stated purposes, then by all means retire it and come up with a new pin.

I don't have a big problem with the pin being retired...but I do have a very big problem with arbitrary decisions that do not jibe with the requirements.

Per the MILPERSMAN 1200-010:

2. Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia.
a. Authorization for the Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia is given to members regularly assigned to submarine duty on or after 7 December 1941, who completed one or more wartime combat patrols designated as successful because
(1) the submarine sank or assisted in sinking at least one enemy vessel, or
(2) the submarine accomplished a combat mission of comparable importance.
b. The insignia represents completion of one successful patrol.
(1) A gold star mounted on the insignia indicates an additional successful patrol.
(2) A silver star mounted on the insignia indicates a total of five successful patrols.
NOTE: This insignia may be awarded to personnel prior to qualification in submarines in time of war.

We ALL have truckloads of respect for the WWII submariners, but that respect will become tarnished and wear thin if their surviving members start making up their own criteria for awards.

6/11/2009 7:15 AM

Anonymous SJV said...

I was in during Desert Storm, and Mr. Quaile took it on his authority to send us to the Gulf. However, the Mexicans sent us back!

Do you think I can get a medal for that? ; )

I think the best style has always been to work hard, get the job done, and let the officers (and 3383's) worry about what awards come of it. More suited to their higher intelligence level. Sounds like this was the Senior Chief's style also. BZ.

6/11/2009 7:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heck, sjv, man up -- let's just get rid of all awards and pins.

6/11/2009 7:29 AM

Anonymous SJV said...

OK by me....I'd still do exactly the same things day in, day out. But it does take all kinds to make the world go round, so let's just leave it the way it is. Things would be pretty boring if everybody were like me.

6/11/2009 8:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's my perspecitve as the CO of one of the boats that shot in OIF. First, the crew did an awesome job and was properly rewarded. But second, there is no way that we deserved the SCP,and that is consistent with the instruction, which says you get it only if:

(1) the submarine sank or assisted in sinking at least one enemy vessel, or
(2) the submarine accomplished a combat mission of comparable importance.

We clearly didn't do the first. As for the second, without getting into targeting details, I will just state that the TLAM strikes are in no way equivalent to the sinking of an enemy ship. When you add in the almost complete absence of a threat (I trust the designers and builders of the missiles and launchers), there is just no comparison.

Now, having said that, I agree that it would be appropriate to field a new insignia - there are not many submariners that have shot TLAMs in anger, and it would be good to recognize those that did the job. But not with the SCP.

6/11/2009 12:02 PM

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