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In Remembrance of Lt. Melvin H. Martin

Melvin retired as a "Maverick" Lieutenant. A Maveric' was a sailor that joined the Navy as an enlisted Seaman and worked his way up through the ranks to Lieutenent. This generates a 'special' kind of offficer; one that has the experience of being a seaman, a chief and now an officer. He was well liked and respected. Where you could pull the wool over the eyes of a fresh young officer, Marvin had the experience and the patience to calmly reply, "Oh, and do you think I don't understand the situation?".

Melvin served on the USS Kingfish (SS 234) during the early part of the war.

The USS Kingfish was a gato design and was commissioned on 20 May 1942 with Lcdr. Vernon L. Lowrance in command.

USS KINGFISH (SS-234) arrived in Pearl Harbor from New London on August 31, 1942, and sailed on her first war patrol on September 9th. Patrolling close to Japan's coast KINGFISH sighted a three-ship convoy and fired a three torpedo spread at the last freighter, scoring one hit. Unable to determine the extent of the damage due to an uncomfortably efficient barrage of depth charges which lasted 18 hours, KINGFISH successfully outwitted here attackers and cleared the area. Sighting freighter Yomei Maru 1 October, KINGFISH fired a three torpedo spread which sent the freighter to the bottom. Going deep for the inevitable depth charging, KINGFISH rearmed her tubes and continued scouting shipping lanes. Four days later she sighted and torpedoed a freighter off Muroto Zaki but could not verify the sinking. Two weeks of frustration followed due to lack of targets. On October 23rd a freighter was sighted; immediately her able crew went into action and sent Seiko Maru to the bottom with two torpedoes. Completing her first war patrol, KINGFISH arrived at Midway on November 3rd.

After refit KINGFISH sailed, November 25th to Chichi Jima on her second war patrol. Entering the South China Sea 5 December, she sighted freighter Hino Maru #3 and sank it two days later. Then, on December 28th she sent another freighter, Choyo Maru, to the bottom. Two trawlers were attacked by gunfire early in January. The first was riddled and set afire and the second sunk by gunfire. KINGFISH sailed for Pearl Harbor from her second war patrol, arriving January 23, 1943.

KINGFISH was underway for her third war patrol on February 16th. Enroute to Formosa she sank a trawler off Bonins and torpedoed a passenger freighter. Damage to this ship could not be ascertained as the submarine was immediately attacked by enemy bombs and depth charges. On March 17th a freighter was tracked and a precise torpedo spread damaged it considerably. Two days later she sighted, tracked, and sank a troop transport as enemy troops scrambled down her sides. On March 23rd KINGFISH was subjected to a severe depth charge attack. The attack was so intense and the damage so great that secret codes and material were burned in preparation to abandoning ship. The last string of depth charges bashed in the main induction piping allowing a huge bubble to escape to the surface, apparently causing the enemy to think the ship had sunk. KINGFISH cautiously surfaced, cleared the area and set course for Pearl Harbor, arriving on April 9th with a grateful crew. The submarine then proceeded to Mare Island Navy Yard, where entire sections were rebuilt and installed. The rest of her story can be found at

Here's a shot of some of her crew and their battle flag. Later, after the war, the United States used Japanese documents to confirm or deny the reported sinking of all boats and ships to establish a 'real' tonnage credit for our boats. Unfortunately, as the war was closing and the Japanese knew they were facing defeat, they destroyed tons of documents, plans logs to prevent the U.S. from possibly using them against them. Nonetheless, after this report was issued the KINGFISH's tonnage 'officially' reduced to only 48,866 tons consisting of 14 Ships.

It was about this time that he was reassigned to a new boat just being readied for commissioning, the USS Bergall. As an Ensign, Martin was designated as the 1st Lt. of the boat.

He tipped his glass at the commissioning party.

And he and his wife watched as the cake was cut.

Although Melvin rode the Bergall for only the 1st war patrol and then transferred off her... after the 5th patrol, the Bergall was damaged and told to return to Pearl for repairs and the muster logs show Melvin climbed back aboard for the trip home on the 21st of June, 1945 as the Bergall set to sea from Subic Bay!

Serving from 6-12-44 to 11-29-44 on the Bergall, it seems he got to ride her out of the war!   He was still shown aboard at the end of August. The Bergall arrived in Portsmouth on August 4 and the Japanese surrendered on the 14th.

In amongst many of Melvin's treasures, his grandson came across this poem.
One of our Submarines is Overdue and must be presumed to be lost

Melvin left his loving wife, Jauneva and his loving family on June 21, 1978. In answering the bells of the highest kind, we thank him for his time with us and send our love.

His daughter, Shirleen McDougall can be contacted through e-mail at
His grandson, Mike Hill, provided most of the pictures and can be contacted through e-mail at

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