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The best of times, the worst of times...

Memories of Gary M. Kelch

I served on the ole girl from Jan. 1979 to June 1983. I arrived as MM3 and discharged
as MM1(SS), and I was a Phillies fan.   I was a
Lieutenant, NR AS-39 DET 106, in the Reserves.

Most of us had a moniker of some type. Some a play on the name and others, like mine, "Crash", representative of some event.

We had an opportunity to hold a Blue Nose ceremony, twice as a matter of fact. The ports listed are obviously those we pulled in. Refit in Holy Loch, a little liberty in Faslane between runs, and then a few days in Halifax at the end to blow off some steam before returning to port. One of those runs was 70 days. The longest I made. We had to eat our way down to the deck.

There is also a cruise book from that run. It was over Christmas and there are some great pictures of Christmas at sea

Here I am in a kilt, sporren, and top hat made from cleaning rags by Crazy Fred Baumbach as a Christmas gift (my Christmas outfit).

As we crossed the Artic Circle, we had to suffer the initiation for the "Blue Nose".

Here's QM1 Verdel (itchy-bro or Turtle depending on who you talk to) Myers posing as the Royal Baby with a cherry in his greased up belly button (we had to fish it out with our tongue)... yechhhh.  MM1 Willis Linares even got a bit squeamish at the thought of diving for the cherry.

And the Captain, Reid Smith, in his King Neptune crown with the sea witch.

On earlier submarines and surface craft, the Blue Nose ceremony was held up on deck, in the freezing weather and many of the initiations that they would do just didn't fit with our assignment and being underwater, thank goodness.  

I was not involved with making the cruise book, but I saw the effort unfold. A junior Officer, Mr. Wolfs, was given the task of heading up the effort. He really did not have a choice, the Captain, Reid Smith (Ol' Blinky), assigned it to him and he had to produce. With us on a Northern patrol I don't know where he found the time to do it. One of the A-gangers, Peter Juhos  took many of the pictures. Many from the crew provided material, but it was Mr. Wolfs and Juhos that brought it together. I have seen cruise books for Carriers and larger ships, but never have I even heard of a Submarine doing one so elaborate.

Here's a more recent shot...   This is LT Gary Kelch, USNR, in front of the Maneuvering Room Control Panels (the SPCP, RPCP, and EPCP) from the USSS Trepang (SSN-674).   I was the last person to field day and paint the panels before they were put into the Smithsonian Submarine Centennial Exhibit.   (Note the Bergall cap.)

When I got out (in '83) I got a "Holiday Flag" from the old girl.   It stayed safely away in storage until I came across a "good" reason... well, a good one came across and she flies again... click on the flag for larger pictures...

Two Bergallites 20 Years later

Here's Captain W. Scott Gray, Commanding Officer, AS-39, USS Emory S. Land (LT Gray, USS Bergall, 1981-1984) presenting the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal to Lieutenant Gary M. Kelch, NR AS-39 DET 106 (earlier MM1(SS) Kelch, USS
Bergall, 1979-1983) in a Wardroom ceremony on board Emory S. Land, home ported in LaMaddelana, Italy 21 August 2002.

I transferred from there to NR Military Sealift Command Operations, Det 104, in November of 2002.   In January I was activated and I am writing you now from my apartment near Naples Italy where I am working in the MSC Operations Center Europe.    My recall is for one year with an option (the Navy's, not mine) for two years.   Say hi to the gang for me at the 2004 reunion.

Back and Happy

I'm now back from deployment and glad to be home. I was gone nearly 11 months. Here is a picture receiving my end of tour award.  It's the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.   It was supposed to be Gold Star in lieu of third award, but they gave me an extra medal for my collection.   More wall candy!


Gary Kelch

Our Cruise Book

editors note: We have created a CD of the pages from the cruise book that Gary, so kindly, let me borrow.   The resolution and size limits of most internet pages don't allow easy viewing and to reduce the resolution would not credit the great work. If you want a copy of said CD... drop Mike Brood a note.

To return to memories of the SSN 667, click here.
To return to the main page of the SSN 667, click here.