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Memories of Warren "Moose" Grossetta '54 - '56
Here's a young me and current shot of me
with Norm Ferland.
Most of the guys that knew me during my Navy days didn't know that I had any other name than Moose.
I was Commanding Officer of USS Bergall from Sept '54 to Mar '56 and was therefore the C.O. when we almost sank one of our own Destroyers with our periscopes. I also had the privilege of serving with Capt Johnny Hyde when he was ComSubRon 4 and taking the Bergall on her first Med Cruise. John Ott was there as the leading engineman and we had some other characters. Bos'n Stites and Zip Zernheld (?), were a couple others.
My remembrance of the altercation we had with the Norris differs slightly from those of Abe Kern. Maybe that is because this is one episode in my life that I don't like to remember. But I will say that he is absolutely correct in his praise of the crew. There was no panic and all hands did their job in a most professional and skilled manner. That part is well worth remembering.
Where I find fault with Abe's recollection is that I am
certain that we were not snorkeling. If we had been Norris would have had
our snorkel on his radar. In any case we would have secured snorkeling as
soon as we had detected Norris and she had commenced an attack. In the
latter minutes Norris's attack I was on #1 scope and obtaining continuous ST
radar ranges. I could see Norris's running lights and was calling the
angle on the bow of about 30 Port. Radar range was steady at 300 yards. In
hind sight Norris had to be inside minimum radar range, after she crossed our
stern she turned to Port to open up for her next attack. Unfortunately and
strictly by chance she chose a course that headed directly at us. (A few
degrees on either side and she would have missed us.) By the time that I
noticed her zero angle on the bow she was damn near on top of us. Abe Kern
reported that I said "My God ... " I think that Johnson and Katlin stated at the
Inquiry that it was more like "Oh Shit .." Kenneth Johnson and Leonard
Katlin both were very helpful at the hearing. I didn't remember ordering
"Flood Negative" but they both confirmed that I had. I am sure that really
helped my case.
The Norris was holed but the Bergall was still water tight and sea worthy and could have submerged if necessary. Our sail area looked as if some giant had taken a big axe and split the sail just aft of the scopes and just forward of the Snorkel.
From early '55, here's a couple pictures of the crew.
Here's our officers. Front row: Lcdr Jim Jefferies (XO), Lcdr Warren
A. "Moose" Grossetta (CO), Lt Jg Jack McKee. Back row: Lt Robert
Anderson, Lt Jg Warren Rothman, Lt Jg Fred Ilsemann and Lt Jg Norm Berge.
Here's a group shot from that same time. Front row: ENC John
Ott, TMC Morgan (COB), Lcdr Jim Jefferies (XO), ENC White and CPO (unknown).
Back row: Lt Robert Anderson, Lt Jg Warren Rothman, Lt Jg Fred Ilsemann, Lcdr
Warren A. "Moose" Grossetta (CO), Lt Jg Jack McKee and Lt Jg Norm Berge.
And here's a dandy crew picture. (Crew rates cited from March
1st Row: Norwood C. Outten (QM3), Earl M. Willis (QM1), John W. Harries (EMFA), Norbert J. Davis (FN), Louis G. Cegelis, Jr. (EM3), Frederich W. Tinker (CS3), Ronald J. Miller (RMSN), Anthony (n) Porazzo (SN), S. J. Shepperack, Jr. (EM3), Ronald (n) Raymond (EMFA).
2nd row: Robert F. Kehoe (CSSN), Carl L. Midgett (TM2), William W. Simms, Jr. (QM3), Joseph R. Weissbach (SN), William L. Green (SD1), George A. Besler (IC3), Thomas F. Coleman (SD3), William J. Van Galen (SA), Gordon E. Townsend (RM2), Charles A. Gallagher (GM1), William H. Mills (TM1).
3rd row: Harry H. Sullivan, Jr. (EN1), R. (n) Van Derploeg (SA), Emerich (n) Polgar (SA), R. A. Taylor, Jr. (SA), John G. Sorg (TMSN), Arnold W. Fields (SA), Richard F. Ward (IC3), Malcolm (n) Snelgrove (EN2), Irwin H. Webber (HM1), Clydee E. Weeks (TM1).
4th row: Wing, Benjamin S. Travisano (YN1), Norman J. Dineen (SA), Ralph A. Kennedy (EN1), Eugene (n) Richter (EN1), Vernon D. Martin (FA), Charles L. Coleman (RM1), Richard F. Hurley (SA).
5th row: Ralph C. Weaver (ETSN), Edward A. Majchrzak (CS3), Howard (n) Waggoner (EN1), John C. DeLucas (ET2), John H. Dykes (EN1), Robert M. Carolus (EN2), Leonard J. Katlen (EN3).
6th row: Abe F. Kern (SN), A. J. Hecker (EN3), James J. Rielly (RM3), Walter P. Nelson, Jr. (SO3), John W. Orystick (TM1), Kenneth D. Johnson (SN), Lcdr Jefferies (XO), Lt Jg Ilsemann, Lt Jg Rothman, Lt Jg Whitehead
7th row: Raymond (n) Marshall (ENC), John J. Puras (EMCA), Thomas A. Wilson (SD1), R. N. Morgan (TMC), Robert P. Coy (EM1), James T. Crosier (EMC), Joseph J. Ott (ENCA), Rodney H. Lovdal (SO1), Lt Jg McKee, Lcdr Grossetta (CO), Lt Jg Berge.
Now for the story on my personal flag and the Med
A QM, T.J. "Zip" Zernhelt reported aboard Bergall shortly before departed for our Med deployment in November 1955. One of the first things he asked me was would I like a personal flag. To humor him I said yes. He said fine but we will have to have a yard arm. That was no problem as part as our rig for surface routine was a yard arm rigged on top of the sail.
As we entered port we would fly our Navy call sign on one side (Is that what all ships do?) and my flag on the other. My original flag was a white moose head on a red back ground. QMs on the other boats at the base had a hard time figuring out what a red and white flag was. The Commodore had no trouble he just told the DivCom to tell me "Take the God damn thing down"
We took it down until we sailed for the Med in company with Jallao. From then on we used it as an absentee pennant in reverse. When I was on board it was up. When I was ashore it was down. All went well until we were ready to sail from Livorno (Leghorn) Italy when the flag was nowhere to be found. We surmised that it was purloined (That's a fancy word for stolen) by some of the jealous crew of Jallao.
This was proven to be true when many years later I ran into a
guy from Jallao who told me that they had taken it and that they hung it up in a
bordello (That is a polite word for Whore House.) in Livorno. Here's
the two boats in Livorno.
Needless to say, the loss of the flag was a shock to Bergall
but, undaunted, over night they had a replacement ready when we entered Monaco
the next day. You could almost see the look of surprise and disappointment
on the faces of the Jalloa crew when they moored alongside. This new flag
was a gold moose head on a blue background. Here's "Zip" and I with
the replacement (12/'55). When I was relieved the crew had it framed
and gave it to me. It is one of my prize possessions. As it was
framed I couldn't use it when I was C.O. of Nereus (AS 17) so I had another one
made to fly on her.
Here's a close-up of my "replacement" flag and a shot of the
USS Bergall with the USS Jallao tied outboard of us. You can see my flag on the
port side of our sail where we moored in Monaco.
Here's a nice shot of her as we pulled into Monoco in 1955.
Here's some of our crew taking a rest from a ball game.
Here's a shot from Lisbon. The driver, Ed Travers,
Fred Ilsemann, Sandy Sandeford (XO) and Jack McKee.
Here's Lt. Fred Ilsemann going overboard. A proud
submarine tradition of the day, being tossed over the side of the tanks was a
right of passage for promotions and getting "qualified" on the boats.
Here's EMCA John J. Puras on the left with ENC A. J. Joachim
on the other side.
Here I am congratulating ENC A. J. Joachim with ENC John Ott
and ENC John Puras in the background.
In the Caribbean we took a few moments for a swim call.
In the water on the far left looks like Rod Lovdal and Norwood Outtten second
from the right.
In the Bahamas, here's some crew relaxing!
The "Change of Command" happened during inclement weather so
it was held in the Battery Shop of Subase N. L. as I passed command to LCdr
Herbert Harris-Warren. J.J Ott is standing off my right shoulder!
Warren "Moose" Grossetta
Captain Warren A. Grossetta USN (Ret) died October 14, 2011. He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, his daughter, Linda Renfro (Gary) of Pinetop; his son, Warren of Christchurch, N.Z.; five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Warren was a native Tucsonan and the son of native Tucsonans, a rarity for someone of his vintage. He attended University Heights, Mansfeld Junior High and Tucson High School. He often remarked that he was most fortunate to have had such wonderful teachers to start him out in life.
Captain Grossetta entered the U.S. Naval Academy June 9, 1939 with the class of '43. On Graduation in June 1942 he was ordered for duty aboard the destroyer Jarvis operating in the South Pacific. Fortunately for him he never made connection with Jarvis as she was torpedoed during the invasion of Guadalcanal and disappeared with all hands on her way to Australia for emergency repairs. In April 1943 Lt. (jg) Grossetta received orders to attend Submarine School in New London, Connecticut. Upon completion of Sub School in September of that year he was assigned to a submarine operating out of Fremantle, Western Australia and he served in submarines in the Pacific Theater for the remainder of World War II. He made seven War Patrols and was awarded the Silver Star Medal and Bronze Star Medal and the Submarine Combat Pin with four stars. On his first day in Fremantle a friend introduced him to Margaret Nunn, a lovely Aussie nurse. Some 20 months later his submarine was back in Fremantle and on August 13, 1945 (two days before WWII ended) Margaret and Warren were married.
For the next 24 years they enjoyed their life together in the Navy mostly with the Submarine family. Captain Grossetta retired from the Navy in July 1969 and dragging Margaret they returned to Tucson. It took several months away from the ocean before Margaret became happy with life in the desert. But soon both were active in civic affairs.
Captain Grossetta owned a small business for a couple of years and then was the Chief Deputy Clerk of the U.S. District Court for several years. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson, a life member of the Board of Directors of Tucson Chapter of the American Red Cross and for many years served on the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center.
To return to memories of the SS 320,
To return to the main page of the SS 320, click here.