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Memories of Bob Peterson '48 - '51
First, the Navy let me train at
Great Lakes Boot Camp (check out the 'leggings') .
Here's a shot from my Great Lakes ET school in 1948.
and a shot from '49 aboard the Bergall.
Ulrey, Frizell, & Bob Peterson,
Sub School buddies, in 1948..
Onboard the USS Bergall, I was an ET2(SS). The boat went through the Panama Canal and we got some of the best liberty times there were to be had as we visited the various islands on our way to New England.
When I got to Pearl after Sub School, they assigned me to the Bergall and J.J. Ott was my mentor....I don't know if I ever would have qualified without his help.......He was an auxilliary (pump) man and knew every system by heart......He is also a planker....He says to me that when you go through with the captain on your final test he may ask you some weird questions just to rattle you, and one of his favorites was "How do you blow the sanitary (shit) tank overboard through the whistle?" John knew that he might ask this and explained how by opening and closing certain manifold valves that you could actually do it... Guess what the old man asked me? Boy, did that make my day.....He is still probably wondering how this young punk knew that, but thanks to J.J., I was a hero !
The closest we ever came to losing the boat while I was aboard was a time at Pearl Harbor where we were diving in a marked Naval restricted area off of Barbers Point. I was on the radar console in the conning tower. As we were about to surface, the old man said " Up scope for a look-around" which was SOP. He then hollered "Down scope", and all hell broke loose. The conning tower flooded and we all dove down to the control room. It turned out that we had surfaced right under a Van Camp tuna boat, which was laying to, apparently skinning fish, so it never showed up on the sonar. We managed to surface and made it back to the sub base with ambulances standing by , and lots of brass. We had bent #1 scope over into an inverted U, and sheared off the SV radar mast.
The skipper at the time was a guy they called "Slick" Johnson for some of the things he had pulled while at the Naval Academy. He was married to Admiral Radford's daughter, and the whole incident blew over. The tuna boat was not supposed to be in that area, but I suppose that's where the fish were so they took a chance. We heard that it cost Van Camps $250,000.
When she went into the yard for overhaul, I was in Tripler hospital (Some call it "Crippler") as a result of an accident while offloading torpedoes and I was afraid that I wouldn't get out in time to go back to the states with the boat, or that I couldn't pass a physical good enough to get back on as I had my left arm implanted with two steel plates......Everything worked out though with a hell of a lot of PT...
Here's a nice shot of her before
they took away the deck guns...
Here's a few friends enjoying
themselves at a local bar. From Left to right is EM1 Punchy Doyle, FN Ted
Waslzewski, FN C. T. Ezell, Jr., EN2 George Grimm, (me) Bob Peterson, and YNSN
Here's the officers supervising
taking in the bowspring, June 2, 1950.
Here's our COB, Frank Vodopich. A "plank owner" and vet of the
Bergall war patrols, he took care of the boat and the men... his way! He
has since passed on, about 1995, I think. He pissed everybody off,
but I made sure to kiss up to him. On the other hand, George Gambel
was a perfect gentleman at all times. I'll have to ask George about
the time we were in Santiago, Cuba in the Bacardi distillery sampling liquors
all day... and sampling the ladies all night... but he was a perfect
gentleman... held his liquor by the ears...
Here's Nick Dudley (ET2 SS) and his co-horts standing watch (?) on June 3,
Here's Nick Dudley (ET2 SS) in a some of his "normal" positions.
I was in touch with Nick by phone several times in the 50's.
He had testicular cancer, and is probably gone, since the phone number was no longer active.
He was an ET2 and went to Nuke school after I got out, and retired on a Medical as a Lt.Commander.
He married an English girl and they lived in Oregon the last time I talked to him. Nick and I were pretty tight.
Here's a couple shots looking around the sub base in Pearl... The diving tower.
The slips beside us with a few boats "at home" and a "target" in the background.
Here's the pretty girl herself.
Here's the Commander, Phil Glennon, coming aboard, June 4, 1950.
Here's a typical day at the beach in 1950.
Then we were given word that we were headed to the states for refit to a fleet snorkel...
So we had to say good-by to this great territory. When we left Pearl for the states in 1950,
the SV high powered search radar was out, due to the pulse network shorting to ground...
the old man did not want to leave without it, so I ordered one from Mare Island..."out of
stock "...I then ordered from an Oakland depot... "out of stock ". The last resort was
Bayonne, NJ, and they had one. After about two weeks, he decided that we had to leave...
We got to the point of casting off the bow spring, and a truck came down the dock with
THREE 4x4 crates, 150 lbs each, with networks. The CO said " Keep the best looking
one and when we clear the harbor mouth, deep six the other two ". Incidentally, we
could see the pineapple Dole water tank from the base, but our canned pineapple came
from the Bayonne depot !!
The trip from Pearl to Panama
took us 19 days, as some scientists from out East were taking measurements of
the Earth's gravitational fields. We had to dive every 400 miles and hold her
steady for a half-hour. This may have had something to do with the later
development of inertial guidance systems. Getting ready to leave Pearl, I
grabbed a few more shots.
With the lines being released, we left some good friends behind.
With hands at the watch, we slide out of the slip.
One last wave.
Watching our "home" and the dive tower recede.
Now even the shore is getting distant.
Cook Wasson made us a cake for the Bergall's 6th birthday, mid Pacific, June
Arriving in Panama was an experience.
It was 120 degrees and the humidity made it a little less fun!
Coming into the locks with the "donkeys" up on the rails.
Passing from one lock to the next! Did I mention it was HOT?
Here's a rough map of the transit
Out of the initial gates and onto Lake Gatun.
We had come back to the states for a snorkel conversion, and in 1950 went to Guantanamo Bay Cuba for ASW exercises. We got to Havana, Haiti, and a few other places.
I don't think that any of the Bacardi rum that is available today is as good as the Cuban stuff. One guy said that the reason is that the Cubans used cane and the rest use molasses.
These may have fallen out of Marvin "Big Willie" Wilson's pocket at the
recent reunion in St. Louis... 'cause I'm sure I only visited churches and
libraries in Cuba.
It was funny to watch the lizards on the golf course at Gitmo as they would run out and steal your balls. I guess they thought they were some kind of edible eggs or something.
I also remember that strange sickness everybody got on the way home. They called it "Virus X" at the dispensary in New London. J.J. Ott still talks about it. We hardly had enough guys well enough to run the boat. I also remember the penicillin pills they issued us in Panama with your liberty cards before you could even get off the boat and then finding a pro station on every corner. There was one 'famous' spot called "Casa De Amour" in Panama. Words escape me!
For all of my service at keeping the world safe... and not being caught at
all of the "other" stuff, I recently received my cold war award.
Here's a recent shot of me and my bride!
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