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.)

Friday, July 03, 2009

MCPON Awards Dolphins In Japan

I just got an E-mail from a Sailor aboard USS Michigan (Blue) (SSGN 727) that says in part:
We are in Yokosuka doing a port call right now and the MCPON came down for lunch yesterday. After the tour it was pre-arranged for him to give one of our new guys his fish. So everyone lines up on the decks like normal and just as he is ready to pin the kid he stops short, tosses the new pair of fish on the table and takes his own off and pins them on this guy. He then had the newly pinned guy pin the new fish on him. You could tell it was totally spur of the moment, I almost wanted to cry... A very cool day to be a Submariner and one I am sure our newly qualified brother will never forget.
There where lots of pics taken by his official photogropher so hopefully they will go up on soon. Just thought your readers would like to know what a class act MCPON West is.
Normally, I don't post stories based on a single E-mail, but this one is so good I couldn't pass it up. (Also, I got some confirmation because I know the MCPON is in Japan, and his Facebook page says to expect that a story about him awarding dolphins to someone on USS Michigan will be posted soon.)

Personally, I got my fish from my CO (He Who Must Not Be Named) while underway. Did any of you guys get your dolphins from someone "cool" or in unusual circumstances?

Update 1013 03 July: Here's the official story from the Navy website. It appears the MCPON also gave his own ESWS pin to a Sailor off the USS John S. McCain (DDG 57). Excerpt:
On board USS Michigan, West also offered his "dolphins" to newly frocked Electronics Technician 3rd Class William Earl Auer.
"My hope is that these young men will remember the day as much as I will and will pass these on through generations of our great Sailors. I'm honored that they will be wearing something that I've worn for years. Wouldn't it be cool in 30 years if someone is still wearing those warfare devices," said West.
Unless one of my sons goes into submarines, I was planning on being buried with my original set of dolphins. Based on what the MCPON did, I'm thinking that instead I'll get buried with one of my other sets and pass the originals down in case some future descendent goes into submarines.


Blogger Chase said...

The pics and story are up:

7/03/2009 10:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

MICHIGAN BLUE is a great boat and ET3 Auer is a great Sailor. I had the opportunity to ride them on several occasions and was always impressed by the morale, professionalism and the positive attitudes.

7/03/2009 11:39 AM

Anonymous Former SSN ENG said...

My sponsor father from the Naval Academy mailed his 1970's-era fish to my CO, unknown to me. When I qualified he read the letter that went along with them. If I have the opportunity to be a CO, I'll pass them on to the first JO who qualifies during that tour.

7/03/2009 11:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story about MCPON West in Yokosuka. I served with the MCPON on the SUBPAC staff when he was a CPO and I was a LCDR in the early 90s. He is a great Sailor and is doing a great job for our Navy.

When I qualified, I was the first JO to qualify under a new CO and he passed down dolphins that had come from his first CO. I passed those dolphins down to the first JO that qualified after I took command.

7/03/2009 12:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my case, it wasn't the dolphins that was unusual, it was the dolphin certificate. My enlisted certificate was signed by Cdr Dan Bacon and my Officer certificate was signed by his brother Adm Roger Bacon.


7/03/2009 12:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully, ET3 Auer got to drink his dolphins out on the "Honch" and maybe even get a Japanese gal. Keeping tradition alive!

7/03/2009 12:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh.. The Honch. Such good memories...

7/03/2009 12:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got my dolphins from Radm Ecklund of Ecklund Range fame at a submarine ball. It was very cool. Since my wife had bought actual gold dolphins for him to pin on me (all of this was without me knowing about it ahead of time) he offered to swap dolphins but I didn't think my wife (then my fiancee) would like that very much, so I got the real gold ones.

7/03/2009 2:17 PM

Blogger T.J. said...

Were you really thinking of being buried with your dolphins Joel?

My original ones, that were presented to me by now VADM Carl Mauney when he was SUBRON FOUR. They are currently pinned to the last set of khakis that I wore hanging in my closet. The only uniform I still have. They are engraved with the date and something else on the back. I don't really have much attraction to them at this point, certainly no wishes to be buried with them.

7/03/2009 2:44 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Yep. Being a Submariner is very important to me. I probably won't wear them, though, just have a set in the coffin. They wouldn't look good on the Temple outfit Mormons get buried in.

7/03/2009 3:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I earned my Dolphins back in the late 60s, my Dad who was a retired Dolphin wearer, gave me his Sterling Silver Dolphins (those were the days when the dolphins were actually made of silver. I considered wearing those Dolphins a great honor. Unfortunately I took off my jumper for some office cleaning and someone lifted them. Whoever took them could not have lasted long in the Submarine Force.

7/03/2009 5:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

TJ, you and that cyborg JO just need to go to some island and be bitter together... Jeez!!!!

I have never understood the pathology of bitter former submariners/cynics who read about submarines and submariners all the time.

Joel, I'm with you. My original dolphins are a prized possession that I'll pass along to the first family member who chooses to qualify in submarines.

7/03/2009 7:06 PM

Anonymous TRF said...

I just fished my old fish out of a box of memorabilia. They came from my Eng on 631(G), he got them from someone on his first boat (710 I believe). They were already crusty by the time I got them. Most of the gold paint is worn off.

If my son goes in and qualifies they are his. Heck, by then maybe my daughter could even go in! Wouldn't that be something!

7/03/2009 7:27 PM

Blogger T.J. said...

I'm not bitter. I am proud of my dolphins, proud of my service (wouldn't have stuck around for 20 if I wasn't), just the thought never occurred to me to be so attached to my dolphins that's all.

I made no judgments, just stated that I have no plans to share a coffin with them, not sure how that makes me bitter.

7/03/2009 7:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My original fish where given to me by my first CO and I had them mounted to the boat plaque I waas given along with my qual cirtificate. That plaque hangs in my office at home. I would pass them on to my son if he goes into subs but otherwise they will always be with me.

7/03/2009 11:17 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

My first CO took off his fish and pinned them on me. I still have them. I took off my fish and gave them to my JOs. Good tradition. Now for the good story.

Once upon a time a JO was unbelievably pissed that a Japanese Admiral was going to be riding the ship. "He cannot eat in the wardroom" "I will not break bread with that man!" The CO was polite and told the JO he could eat on the mess decks while the Admiral was aboard.
Well, it turns out that this JO was ready for his dolphins. So one day, while the JN Admiral was still aboard, the CO calls the JO to the conn and announces the JN Admiral (a submariner) will now pin on the JOs dolphins. Classic. But it gets better! What day was it? December 7th.
The CO was a great guy, went on to have 2* as CSP. The JO did well to, really a good guy just finished his CO tour.

7/04/2009 12:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like Padgett.

7/04/2009 12:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

More like Cassias to me... I can easily see him doing this.

7/04/2009 8:07 PM

Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Yup, I received my Dolphins from someone cool. My Commanding Officer. CDR J. J. Pistotnik. I reported to USS SCULPIN (SSN 590) as a direct input nonqual Chief. When the time came I was very proud for my CO to fasten my Dolphins to my shirt.

I agree though, it is pretty cool for the MCPON to pass his Dolphins on to the next generation.

7/04/2009 9:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three of us Agangers got our Dolphins on the same day in December 1977. Randy, Kevin and myself were in PSNSY on the Drum and Admiral Kauderer was in town so he pinned them on.

I have no idea where those Dolphins went. They were the cheap, hollow back type. My most cherished set is the one we received on the Commissioning of the USS La Jolla (SSN701). The Commissioning Committee had Sterling Silver Dolphins made and engraved our name, rate, boat and date on the back.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa.

7/05/2009 12:26 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

It was Cassius..who relieved Padgett I believe. Years after the event I recounted it for the wardroom while he was in attendance. Afterward he said, "That sounds like something I'd do."

7/05/2009 11:11 PM

Blogger Sandy Salt said...

My CO took them off his jacket and pinned them on me the day before Thanksgiving in 1993. CDR Jordan was a great CO and those are the only normal size dolphins I have ever owned. If my son becomes and officer then his gold fish will be the exact same ones. He earned his silver fish this past spring in one patrol.

7/06/2009 5:08 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

I got my fish from my LPO, a soon to be retired EMCM who I still have a great deal of respect for to this day. I fully intend on pinning them on my son, as soon as he gets off his duff and qualifies! That's a pretty good thing MCPON did there, I've always believed Dolphin Pinning Ceremonies should be a bigger deal than a lot of boats make them. It's an important milestone in a young sailor's career, and should be treated as such. I've also kinda frowned on the practice of presenting officer dolphins in the Wardroom vice the Crew's Mess. One of the unique qualities of qualification in Submarines is that each man can depend on the other, regardless of rank, when the stuff hits the fan. Why shouldn't ALL crew members share in a crew member achieving that milestone, regardless if the fish are silver or gold?

7/06/2009 8:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Great point. When anyone, officer or enlisted, qualifies it's because of effort throughout the ship and throughout the ranks. It should be celebrated as a milestone for the ship!!

7/06/2009 8:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Submarine Brotherhood is a team sport - from damage control, tagouts, and rig for dive. Everyone is important, and those with DOLPHINS have demonstrated to their team mates that they've earned their "Letterman's Jacket" on the most elite team in the world! BZ to all who proudly wear DOLPHINS!!!


7/06/2009 7:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We hauled COMSUBLANT "Uncle Joe" Williams from Norfolk to Charleston. The command awarded eight of us our dolphins the day after he disembarked.

Times have changed.

7/07/2009 1:58 PM

Blogger Oz said...

I got relieved as OOD, went down and got pinned on the mess decks, then got back on watch. Good stuff.

7/07/2009 7:55 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...

And that's how it should be- public, front and center with the crew.

Oh, and to correct what I posted earlier about the EMCM who passed on his dolphins, he was soon to be retired back then (1982).

7/08/2009 5:57 AM

Blogger tennvol said...

My dolphins were awarded by either COMSUBRON2 or COMSUBGRU2, I don't remember now (it's been over 17 years). He took them off his uniform and pinned them on, which I thought was cool. Unfortunately, that set got mixed in with my others, so I lost track of them. Also, seems like something career limiting happened to the guy as well, but I don't recall.

7/08/2009 7:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

to tennvol:

17 years ago sounds like CSS2 Capt Whitford (could be wrong). Great leader though. DUI on base I believe with questionable circumstances. Kinda odd in '92 while on a submarine base. Quietly departed.

7/09/2009 8:00 PM

Blogger Chris said...

My Dad was onboard for a Tiger Cruise when I got my Dolphins. I think a couple of enlisted guys got their dolphins at the same time. My Dad didn't get to pin them on, but it was nice having him there.

No sentimental value for my dolphins...I doubt I could find my original set if I wanted to.

7/15/2009 12:33 PM

Blogger Jim said...

CDR (at the time) Galen R. Plummer (recently departed) pinned my hardback dolphins on my chest during an evening awards ceremony in the Crew's Mess aboard the Archerfish (SSN 678) while underway. Those fish now adorn my shadow box and will be handed down to my son after my ashes have been set adrift from what I'm hoping will be Tube #1 on an underway unit. May God Bless all of you current and former Bubbleheads!

10/08/2009 9:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I received my fish just like everyone else, however my friend did get his from the CNO at the time...our fish qulifications are becoming less and less demanding, I called them "LAPTOP FISH" due to the new Virginia class laptop learning. I was proud to see since that, other boats have gone more traditional. I guess pre-comm crews are a little screwy anyway....nothing like showing up to your first command with a chief, 1 first class, 2 second classes and 9 NUBS!!!! Fair seas to all!!

12/07/2009 6:17 PM

Anonymous Apter Cleaning said...

A very interesting post, and especially the discussion in the comment section, makes for good reading when it comes to the varying viewpoints here.

2/05/2011 5:55 AM

Anonymous ofertas muebles madrid said...

For my part one and all have to go through this.

9/28/2011 11:14 AM


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