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As the sun came up on this occasion of friends gathering together...
The Bergall reunion for 2000 was held May 11-14 at Nags Head, N.C. at the SeaOtel (a Best Western unit).. Anticipation had been building for most of the guys. Some had never attended a reunion or seen these crewmates since they left the boat. For some, this went back to 1945!
Here's a list of those that attended:
SS-320; Gene Beaumont, Bob Belkowski & Brother, Mike Brood, Lawson L & Anne
Byrd, Norm Dineen (with 5), Ted Drought, Norm Ferland, Walter & Marjorie
Gallie, Ed & Lil Gibbons (Ed was on both boats!!!), Phil & Barbara Glennon,
Chuck & Dorothy Kennedy, Abe Kern, Rodney & Rosemary Lovdal, George & Marion
Marquis, Carole Palermo/Jack Ford, John, Mike & Joe Parenteau, Warren Rothman &
Ilse Willison, Don and Rosemary Small, with son, Lyndon Small and Marilyn
McQueen, Parke Spicer, Warren & Trudy Valero, Marge & Carl Weber.
SSN667; Pat Arko, Don and Yuko Basham, Ken & Kathy Bernhardt, Jon Blomberg, Ron & Babette Castonguay, Angelo and Mary Ann Christiano, Les and Diane Dionne, Andy Elnicki, Jim Doucett, Dave and Whitney Finch, Dick Fiske, Jim & Janet Garbarra, John & Elizabeth Geltz, Ed & Lil Gibbons (he was on both boats!!!), Glenn & Marion Hanson, Tom & Rick Harrington, Mike and Judy Hedgecock, Al Inboden, Pete Juhos, Nik & Tina Lewis, John & Pat Lynn, Rick & Sandy Mahler, Bob McLaren, Harry & Terri Miller, Jeff, Dom & Maddy Moreau, John & Barbara Mosticone, Pat Murphy, Brad Nelson, Dave Olson, Rock Radasch, Mike & Cindy Sobkowski, Norman Thompson, Bob Vandervliet & Connie Christensen, Mike Ward, Ray & Karen Wyatt.
(If I left someone out, please let me know.)
For those that arrived on Wednesday evening, there was a glorious lightning and thunderstorm display that started at about 9pm and lasted well past midnight when the rain finally reached Nags Head. We were completely surrounded with thunder and lightening yet there was no rain... just the most magnificent lightning displays out over the ocean. For those of us that don't get this back home... it was sure a treat and a nice start to the festivities that followed.
Thursday was an "open" day for the crews, a day to get with friends and catch up on 20-55 year old memories. The south eastern regional USSVWWII had a convention at the nearby Comfort Inn and allowed our group to share the hospitality suite. That found a small gathering of the diesel crew growing in the back room sharing pictures, stories and beer. Crew from the SSN 667 found there was a gazebo out behind the hotel (near the ocean) and gathered there for distribution of liberal spirits and stories. As the evening grew near, quite a few of the Nuke crew found the hospitality suite was a comfortable alternative to the gazebo. Ports of call, shipmates and antidotes were the call for the day. Can you name your friends from the 667?
There was a call for a meeting on Friday at noon to decide how to replace Carl Weber's excellent efforts as reunion organizer. This was attended by a reasonably large percentage of the crew and a Bergall Association was formed to attend to these duties as well as other details regarding the two boats. (see Bergall Association)
Attendance at the dinner, on Friday night, accounting for 101 people, was a tremendous attendance and a real compliment to Carl Weber's last efforts as reunion coordinator. Although the restaurant was unable to accommodate everyone in one room for dinner, everyone gathered for the evening ceremonies.
The evening group noise of conversation quieted with Don Small announcing over the 1MC, "Now hear this... Crews, sweep down, fore and aft. Sweepers man your broom." The post-dinner invocation was read by Lawson Byrd, the USSVWWII National Chaplain.
"Lord, we thank for this day. We thank you for the fellowship of
this hour. We would remember those shipmates that have served with
us and gone on to Thy heavenly kingdom, we ask that Thy would be with their
souls. Pray that thou would keep us in Thy care as we leave and go
for home. We thank you for the food we eat and for the fellowship.
We thank you for those that have committed themselves and lives to high purposes
who have risked their lives for the freedom of, not only our country but for
freedom of the world. Keep us ever free and in Thy grace we pray.
In Your holy name, Amen."
(L.L. Byrd with his wife Anne.)
At this point there was a sale of raffle tickets and subsequent drawing of
Bergall memorabilia, organized by Carol Palermo, from the two boats donated by
several people with the monies going to the Bergall Association. This drawing
earned the association $240.00.
(Carol Palermo with her friend, Jack Ford.)
Chuck Kennedy asked Mike Brood to approach the podium and presented him with
a plaque of appreciation from the living members of the Bergall and which stated
that he is now an honorary crewmember of the USS Bergall for the creation and
dedication to the USS Bergall's web pages. Joe Jr., Mike and John
Parenteau (sons of Joe Parenteau from WWII fame.) were also honored as honorary
crewmembers for their efforts and dedication to chasing down more of the history
and pictures for the SS 320.
(Chuck and his wife, Dorothy)
Here are the honorary crew members (left to right)... Mike Brood, John, Joe Jr. and Mike Parenteau.
Phil Glennon was then asked to speak. "I had some wonderful experiences on the Bergall. I was the skipper from 1950 to 1952 and during that time we got deployed from Pearl to New London and had a lot of good experiences. But let me tell you one of the things that happened to us. Towards the end, we had a conversion. We were a regular fleet boat and had the snorkel conversion and none of us had really been on a snorkel boat before. Now, you ladies know, that a snorkel brings the air in, the diesel engines run and presumably the top of the tube is out of the water. When the top of the tube gets drenched in water it closes and there's no more air coming in but the diesels are still running. So, about this time everyone in the crew goes, "Phewwwww!" and their ears are poppin' (from the extreme low pressure caused by the diesel's sucking all available air out of the boat!). Anyway, none of us had really been a snorkel boat so we got out there and, it was terrible the first day. The second and third day we are getting better and I went to one of the Chiefs on the watch and said, "How come we are getting better so fast?" and he said, "Well, with the Chiefs of the Watch, if anyone of these sailors who are running the bow or stern planes dips us, he gets kicked in the ass!"."
"I also had the pleasure of being the program planner for the building of the
SSN 667. I retired from the Navy in '66 and worked for Electric Boat
and I have two claims of fame. I watched this boat, I scheduled it and did
all those things but I did manage to get a full set of engine equipment for the
667. She was sitting on the building ways and the whole ship was
built except there were no engines, the equipment wasn't there. So I
went around and took some pictures of this and showed everything was complete,
the engine room was bare and I got some of my ex-Navy buddies, down in
Washington and I said, "Are you gonna take responsibility for delaying this
ship? Would you give us some engine room equipment....".
They said, "OK, go ahead and complete the ship." and they sulked away.
A week from then a whole set of equipment came from Portsmouth, diverted from
another ship. So the Bergall got their engine room equipment at that
time. So I accomplished that and one other thing, we got the DQS-6
sonar, which the Navy was very slow about. So I used my Navy
background to push my Navy buddies to get some equipment for you.
That's my only accomplishment. So my heart is with the 667, too.
(Here's Phillip and his wife, Barbara.)
Mike Brood was then asked to speak. "Well, I don't know if you know how the web site came up but I looked for the Bergall on the internet, I looked for crewmembers and couldn't find anything. I found something that said the diesel boat survived and that was it. Found on the nuclear that it was launched. I kept looking but finally was told, "Maybe you can find something if you can get a hold of this guy from the subs or that guy. Well, with the help of you guys, I was put in touch with other people. And with getting back in touch, a lot more information has been coming out and a lot more friends have been getting together and I think this thing is really growing. Thanks."
Don Small rescued the mike and announced, "I just met someone this evening that I haven't seen in 55 or 56 years, George Marquis. Come up here and say something. How about when the shell went through and you were standing right down there in the forward torpedo well? You don't expect me to do it all up here, do you?" Although George declined, one of the nukes referenced the knowledge of the diesel's famous second patrol, "'The Bergall Dilemma', we watched that every Bergall birthday, on the pier, against a sheet hanging on the sail."
Don then asked Quartermaster Walter Gallie to come up and speak. Mr. Gallie was a plank owner on the diesel, in 1944 and rode her for three patrols. "You were a part of the commissioning crew, weren't you?" "Yes, sir.", Walter replied. "Do you remember me? Don Small, radioman? You were Quartermaster?", Don asked. "Yes, sir.", Walter replied again. "Well, just say something here.", Don asked. "Well, I don't know why this is being dumped on me, but all I can say is; maybe there's a superior being up there looking out after everyone. All I know is that in the family that I came from, there were three of us in the service together in World War II. We all wound up in the Navy, God love us, we all wound up in the submarines. The only trouble is, I'm the only one that survived. One went down on the Wahoo (SS 238) and the other went down on the Cisco (SS 290). And boy there was a lot of heck to pay because my cousins name damn near paralleled mine, instead of being Walter A., he was Walter O. What the 'O' was I'll never know. But they got a telegram, one time, saying that he was lost on the water. Then about three weeks later, they got ANOTHER telegram saying, "God, we found him in Australia and he's having a good time.". A few weeks later a telegram arrives again. Everyone said, "God, it can't be Walter O. again, it's gotta be Walter A." But no, it was Walter O., they (the Navy) finally corrected their mistake. So maybe you gotta believe there's a superior being up there and, God love him, he's looking after each and everyone of us. We did a fairly good job and we're lucky enough to be here to talk about it. Thank you."
Don Small then asked Don Basham to talk and explain about the earlier
luncheon and what he's gonna do with $217.00 (??? Someone already made off with
$27.00??). Don Basham began, "I think it was said better this
afternoon at the luncheon and I can't remember exactly what was said but I'm the
new President of the association, I didn't ask for this but I want all of your
help in order to make this association work. By next year we're
going to meet in St. Louis and there will be more out on the internet and also,
people that don't have internet addresses will have snail mail come through, US
Mail, Pony Express, whatever you want to call it. So, we'll get the word
out to everybody."
(Don and Yuko Basham)
"I would like to recognize somebody that served in ICO, my old CO, Ray Wyatt, wherever he is. Where are you hiding? The 667 had their CO show up too, at least one of 'em. Would you step up here?"
Ray Wyatt, CO on the SSN 667 from '73 - '76, stood up from his table and replied, "I would like to say that this is the...". Someone asked him to walk up to the podium and use the microphone. "I don't NEED microphones!" was followed with much laughter and Don Basham appended, "He didn't need the 1MC!". "I DID need a 1MC", Ray cut back as he walked up to the front. "I also wanted to give my appreciation for everyone. This is a real blast, the last two days and I want to thank Mike and John (Parenteau)... I liked John right away because he's left handed and the left-handers are gonna take over the world! My wife always wonders why I notice that but you have to be left-handed to appreciate it. And of course, Don (Basham) and Carl (Weber)... It's been a great function. I've really loved it. So, I'm NOT gonna tell you any sea stories."
"I'm NOT gonna tell you about the tonnage that the 667 had. I saw
that great book that was put together by, I think Mike (Parenteau), on the
tonnage of the 320. Well, the 667 had the record for peacetime
tonnage! Unfortunately it was a US ship! No, actually
that was a Bob Newhart thing and on one of our deployments, when we were coming
back, I decided to send over the whole ship this Bob Newhart tape. I
don't know if any of you guys remember that or not but we played it 4 or 5 times
just to get people loosened up because it was about 'Give me the XO back' kinda
thing. I WON'T tell you about Medina Straits where we ran over a
fishing net and we couldn't move and our engineer, George Barsley, had to go
down and cut it all loose. I WON'T tell you about, I think it was me and I
think it was one of the A-gang guys, were the only guys not seasick one time
when we had to make a surface transit up from somewhere south. I
WON'T tell you about the time, well,... I kept the topside watch on the
Pargo, the 650, down in Lauderdale, occupied. Our XO, Jack Mower
went under water, came up and sprayed 667 on their rudder. I
WON'T tell you about the time that we tried to get our sonarmen alert as we came
into port. I had one of our Russian speaking friends go to the
forward escape trunk and one go to the aft and they started talking back and
forth and the first thing I know, the sonar Officer of the Deck and then the
sonar guys all ran in and said, "We've got a HOT ONE!!!". A whole
lot of fun on the 667 and I think we contributed, like was mentioned before, to
continue the success of our country and I've been so proud to be a member of the
Navy and the submarine force and an American citizen. Thanks."
"Thank you, Bob Newhart.", Don Basham replied.
(Ray Wyatt with his wife, Karen with Marion and George Marquis.)
Don Basham continued, "I don't know what else to tell you about the meeting this afternoon, most of you were there. I'm not a great orator. I'm gonna try to do what I was elected to do today and put together at least as good of a showing as we've had this time. Maybe we can find some more people, and it's up to YOU to go out there and search for them. You search for them and give us their names and we'll contact them. Or you can contact them, which is probably better, 'cause they'll probably want to see you more than they want to see us. I want to thank Mike Brood because he's the guy that really, really put this together this year. That web site is just fabulous. I'll turn it back over to the master of ceremonies."
Don Small resumed the mic, "When did I get saddled with the master of
ceremonies, anyway? Carl Weber is hiding around the corner
somewhere. There's no reason that he should get away without saying
something around here. Carl! Over all of the
years, Carl has been the instigator for the Bergall reunions, so it's been a
long time and he needs to say a kind of farewell speech. Carl Weber assumed the
position, " Well, I'll tell you, it's great to see ALL of you Bergall sailors,
every one. I've been doing this since 1987 and this is the greatest
group I've seen since then and I sure appreciate all of you showing up.
Help Don (Basham) and we'll be keeping it up from here on in.
Here's Carl Weber and his lovely wife, Marg, who have been helping bring the boat crews together for reunions and maintaining home address lists for the guys.
Don Small returned with, "Well, I don't have anyone else on the agenda, I just made it up as I went along. I'd like to have some volunteers to say a few words about either boat. Oh, I do have one other thing, this gentleman sitting right down here,..." With this, the audience interrupted and asked that Ed Gibbons get up to speak.
Ed Gibbons served as the COB (Chief of the Boat) on both boats, the diesel and as a plank owner on the nuke.. "I'm not very much for talking. I guess most of those that know me know that. But I was on both submarines. I was on the 320 and the 667 after they commissioned (her). I had some good times on both ships. I guess one of the most memorial was when I was on the 320 and we were out off of the Outer Banks (North Carolina), a little further out and we got ran over by a destroyer. We were making passes at an aircraft carrier and I think this was in '57 (Oct. '54), and this destroyer (DDE Norris) was her escort and she came in and as we were making our pass, the captain (Moose Grossetta) turns around, he sees it coming down on us. It came down right on top of the sail. It pulled our scopes off and put a hole, I guess about a hundred feet, in the bottom of that destroyer. It rolled us over. So once we got on the surface, we found the destroyer wanting us to come and stand by them because they were about to sink. We then went into the Navy yard in Philadelphia and we got overhauled there. It took them about seven or eight weeks, it took that long to put a snorkel back on us. Anyway, that's one of my most serious on there that I remember. That's about it. I'm kinda short." In reliving Ed, Don Small responded, "Well, I'm short too. My NAME is Small. This gentleman sitting here on the floor beside me is my son, Lyndon Small and he was born on January the 28th, 1945 and until someone makes a prior/better claim, I think he is the plank owner Bergall baby." From the back of the room, John Geltz proclaimed, "I was Chief of the Boat (COB) for several years ('78-'81) on the 667 and I was born on January 28th, 1945!"
The audience asked John Geltz to go up to speak. "My most memorable experience on the 667,... I went to the Bergall on my anniversary , Oct. 9th, 1977, my wedding anniversary. We flew into Rome , I was an A-gang Chief and was relieving Paul Gagness (SP?). Some of you knew Paul. I got on the boat, Paul got on the barge. We were tied up in Naples and he said, "See ya, John. I'm outta here. Taking 30 days leave." So I looked her over and I'd never been on a 637 class. Two days later we submerge. The forward hatch was leaking, the after hatch was leaking and the bridge hatch was leaking! That's basically three closing (?) casualties on the first dive. But the rest of the trip went great, the rest of thee tour on the Bergall went great and thanks to the guys I served with. I guess there's about 12 guys here that served with me; Jeff Moreau, Pat Arko, Pete Juhos, Ken Bernhardt, Nik Lewis, Coach (?), Dave Finch (?), and Pitman I knew for two months, and Rich Mahler... That's a pretty good turn out for that period of time... from '77 - '81."
Bob McClaren took the mic. "My name is Bob McClaren. I am the baby electrician here from the commissioning crew (667), believe it or not I'm the smallest guy.... NAHH (he's a pretty good size guy!). From the commissioning crew of the Bergall I think there was 10 electricians and we have 5 of 'em here including maiden Chief, Chief Hanson, we've got Andy Elnicki who was our LPO, he was a first class, John Lynn and John Mosticone. There's half of the electrician on that boat. Now... we were talking today and being electricians our sea stories were about fantastic sparks, you know... things that blew up. We had just come out of Electric Boat from commissioning and was moving up to Sub Base. I had the duty that night, walking back towards maneuvering and there's a trail on the deck in the machery2 (?), a little black trail that looked like snakes. We were trying to figure out what it was and who made the mess, because the duty section had to clean up the boat. We started looking and there were little, inch long, curly, rubber-looking-like snakes and I couldn't figure out what happened until we figured out that it was all nicely laid out and we looked up and in the overhead, one of the three shore power cables was melting... inside the boat! As it was melting the rubber insulation was being squeezed out of the armor on the cable and it was dropping in inch-long little snakes, following the path of the cable. What had happened, when we moved up to Sub Base they had hooked us up. We had 1200 amps of shore power across three cable with each at 400 amps. Well, two cable they put on one breaker and the third cable they hooked up to another breaker. Of course the one with two cables tripped the breaker and we were carrying, oh, I don't know, maybe a 1000 amps through one 400 amp cable... and it melted. But we found out, because of the snakes, we didn't have a fire on board the boat... that night. We got down one time, one memorable thing was the crew was down in Rosie Roads, Puerto Rico (Roosevelt Road, 1969). (At this point some crew were shaking their head in memories of time gone past, deeds that should never see the light of mixed company and some are starting to panic wondering what is about to be told!!!) It was a clear night with a huge moon and we were watching the moon then we went down into the crew's mess 'cause they had a TV set on, watching the guys walk on the moon! We were sitting at Rosie Roads! THAT was a memorable night. And I remember so many of us were outside looking at the moon then we went down and actually watched the guys WALK on the moon."
"Here's another shore power story for you and then I'll shut up. We pulled in to Rosie Roads, tied up and taking on shore power and the darned shore power breaker on the pier blew up, I mean, it was AWESOME. The thing wouldn't shut and stay shut. The base wouldn't come down and fix the shore power cable so we ended up shutting it by putting a big 2x4 to hold it shut and covered it with a tarp so that no one see it. We had the shore power breaker being held shut by a 2x4 so we wouldn't have to snorkel in Rosie Roads. But we have a lot more stories."
Mike Ward then assumed the podium. Mike started as a cook and progressed through the ranks to become a Lt. Cmdr (Mustang). "When I first checked on the Bergall in May of '68, COB of the mob (Chief Of the Boat) and there was a guy named Glen France, my leading chief at that time and I was going to be a cook on board, and they have... whether they knew it or not... I know Glen did, I don't know if the COB of the mob knows, they molded my career in their actions and I was very fortunate to do well, I guess you could say, I retired as an LDO (Limited Duty Officer). But when I was on there, we had a strange crew. There was a guy named Harris on A (A-gang), MM2 Harris, MM2 Dufresne...the Duke, tattooed... he had a girlfriend... ah... who knows that girlfriend? Back in the sixties, I don't know if you remember this, women used to wear these big beehive things. One of the things that happened, it was a Sunday morning and I was in the galley cooking and they wanted some specific juice and I said, "Well, we have this down in the forward diesel generator room tied down to the deck.". So I said, "Alright, I'll go get it.". I went down there to get this juice and as I reached down to get the juice this thing went like this. (He shows two hands closing together like a dog's mouth biting something.) and I look real close and there's these two beady eyes looking up. And when it opened it's mouth again I saw an alligator. Now that's not suppose to be on submarines. So anyway, I left the diesel generator room and went back to the galley and the XO... who was the XO then?... Not Lawson... ALLEN... yeah, he's a wacky dude... he had this procrastination, he had to have this friggin' apple juice and I told him, "We ain't got none." So the Senior Chief gets up, Glen France, and he was not happy to be woken and he comes in the galley and says, " Why don't we have apple juice?" And I said, "Well, like, we don't have apple juice." He says, "It's down in the forward diesel generator room.", and I said, "I couldn't find it.". He says, "Follow me.". Now France is about six foot and I'm following him down the passageway and he jumps down the hatch to the diesel generator room and I stayed up top and he says, "It's right here!", and I said, "Well... pass it up!". He reached down and said, "Holy shit!" and he comes up the hatch! I said, "What happened Senior Chief?" and he said, "Alligator!". Back to the galley we go and a few minutes later Allen comes back, or a steward or somebody, and said, "The XO wants apple juice.", and France said, "We ain't got none!" So if you persist, you can win."
"Another personal story was that we were down in Fort Lauderdale at the same time as these guys blew the breakers. I was on liberty and the Senior Chief (The COB of the mob) said, "Jump in the cab and we'll go down there. We pulled into a place that Joe Namath used to own and the COB was in his whites, you know, his jacket all stiff and all the Chiefs were there. It was him, France, Master Chief Manny... and the (USS) America carrier was in at that time and at 10 o'clock there was Cinderella Liberty (the shore patrol coming through to send the crews back to their surface ships!) and they came through this club and said, "All you guys, back to the ship.". He touched me. I was in my whites and I said, "Well, I'm on a submarine.". I didn't have dolphins, I hadn't qualified yet and I had a problem with that. But anyway, eventually it got taken care of somehow. But anyway, I said, "I'm on a submarine." and he said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah" and he went through the club. About fifteen minutes later he comes back and he says, "OK, pal, that's it... back to the ship." and I said, "No, no, I'm on a submarine." and he said, "Where's you dolphins?" and I said, "I'm not qualified yet." and he said, "Where's your patch?" and they were new whites so I didn't have a patch on. I said, "Come on over to this table." And I said, "Senior Chief,", meaning my Chief, Chief France, "Tell him I belong on the Bergall.". "Who are you?", France replied. I looked at the other guy and said, "Well, he's jerkin' my chain!" and I went to the COB of the mob. So I went to the COB of the mob and he kinda looks up and says, "Who are you?". The next thing I know I'm on this bus heading for the USS America that's going on a UNITAS (?) cruise that's leaving at 6 am in the morning. And the only thing that saved me was the Master Chief on the carrier came out and he said, "I don't know who the frick this guy is but he doesn't belong on this ship.". So they threw me off of that ship and here I am, broke and stranded in Fort Lauderdale and finally ended up back on the Bergall and everybody goes, "Really great job!""
"The last one I'll tell you, we pulled into Earl (?), New Jersey and the carrier (USS) Intrepid was going for decommissioning and was going to sail back to New York and my wife was in Manhattan at that time and I went to the COB and said, "Chief, can I catch a ride with the Intrepid to go back and he said, "Oh yeah, sure.". Now unbeknownst to me, see I was pretty dumb, on carriers or surface ships you need 'liberty card'. So I get on the Intrepid and I'm down there drinkin' coffee. We sail into New York harbor. We pull into our bay at 8 o'clock at night and I want to go on the beach and I'm getting ready to get off the ship and this guys says, "Where's your liberty card?". I said, "I don't belong to this ship." Well, that kinda confused him, Chief Master and all so after a fairly long period of time I spent the night, Friday, on board that ship and I think they sent a radio message to the Bergall which didn't get answered until a day later. In failing at that, I was hitching a ride and they left me off that ship and I believe that was the COB's... he set that one up ALSO! So you don't to be too smart to retire Lt. Cmdr., LDO."
Parke Spicer was next up. "My name is Parke Spicer and I went aboard the Bergall in 1956 as a damage controlman and changed our rate to engineman. I was engineman 3rd and I was starving. I made engineman 3rd AGAIN and I was STARVING. I made engineman 3rd again! The NEXT time... I was SEAMAN APPRENTICE! Commander Harris Warren (?) said, "Spicer, you're gonna leave submarine service or you're gonna start cooking." So I started cooking. I want to say , Bob Carolus (deceased Bergall crewmember and ex-boyfriend of Carol Palermo),... Carol donated some things from him tonight... Portsmouth, 1956, we were in there for overhaul and it was a really good tour of duty. It was almost like being on shore duty because we were there about a year and a half, right? Anyway, the great white hunters of 1956 were John Ott, Bob Carolus, Luise Sigellis and another. They went hunting and came back after a week and only one shot was fired and that was right through the roof of Carolus' 1956 Oldsmobile. There was a BIG hole in the roof. I had a lot of good times on there despite the fact that Commander Harris Warren was becoming good, close friends because I was up in the quarters all the time having a Captain's Mast."
"Out in Fort Lauderdale in 1957, on the 320... I heard that the chief say that the nuke was there also... We had a guy named Flynn, don't remember his name, he was from Glen, Massachusetts. This guy was about 6'3" and weighed about 87 pounds. They said he was the only guy in the world that could make an escape though the garbage ejector. Anyway,... we're in Fort Lauderdale and everybody is going off the boat and went to the Marlin (?) Beach Hotel. Now I don't know if anybody has ever been there, but the Marlin Beach had a pool, below ground and you could go in the bar and look through the glass and watch the girls put on a show. The skipper, Harris Warren was up on the pool side with the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, who was throwing a cocktail party for the skipper and officer, and Glenn staggered upon the scene and Commander Harris Warren wanted to get rid of him and he said, "Uh, Flynn, what are you doing here?". And Flynn says, "Well I wanted to go swimming." and Harris said, "Well, go ahead." So Flynn dove in and got his face against the glass and is looking at the people at the bar. To be honest with ya, the only times I can remember... I had A LOT of bad times, but I like to think of the good times! Submarine service taught me a lot and I went on to a career in politics (But that don't take much!). I retired from that five years ago and now I run a restaurant. I have a lot of good stories. I was on there with Corky... Corky, I met one of your friends the other day, that you work with from CBS... and Lillian, Corky's wife, she's from Norwick and I live right outside of Norwick, and your brother lives down there... Tony... Tony Iatolza (SP?) and it's good to see you and I'll see you out there. I really did have a good time on the Bergall and I had a good time in the Navy. Shucks, I have a good time in LIFE! Thank you!"
Don Small responded, "What fantastic tales! Why not get someone else to reconnoiter a little bit!" Several in the crowd were asking for Rich Mahler to speak and Don agreed, "Come on, tell one or two."
"My nickname is "El Smoke", but that's another story....that's Pre-Bergall! My name is Rich Mahler. I was "A" divisions leading first when I came aboard 667. The morale was in,... seeping at it's all time low point. So, my right-hand man here, AL (Inboden), worked with me and things improved as promised and workload back at the division level....well... straightened out. There was a morale problem with liberty the first off, and it was like the wardroom was running everything and everyone was sitting around at 1800 waiting for liberty to go down. So I delegated various tasks like hunting down overdue parts, run 1250's for hydraulic oil, 1348's for priority stuff for the short upkeeps. The men worked their butts off and I was keeping them dispersed LOGISTICALLY searching for various parts and status and allowed them to be going home at a decent time. The DCA came down to AMR-1, after a long wardroom session at 1800, "Where's all your men? We have to make repairs to the hydraulic plant, fix leaks on the external plant, needle valves are blowing by on the air bank blow downs." "They're out and about, Sir. The boy's are searching for repair parts needed for the systems you mentioned, and the duty section has the load.", I said. He wheeled around leaving the machinery space NOT A HAPPY CAMPER. So you learn most of all how to take authority with responsibility and experience and the submarine force taught me how to play a lot of head games. One of those memorable games took place when we were scheduled to surface southeast of Diamond Shoals, and we were in the middle of the evening flick doing TDU OPs. It gets a bit sloppy in the TDU Room when at P/D, pitching in a trough. At my rear, standing in the door way, is the phone talker communicating to the Chief of The Watch on the BCP. It's important that he pays attention and relays the procedure over the circuit clear and concise. So one of the sailor's favorite past time was who would get the "NEWBIE" on the phones, not paying attention by watching the movie, and short chord him. And, of course, running TDU Ops has a strict procedure you have to follow for this inverted torpedo tube of sorts. When the hull valve goes shut there's enough pressure trapped by a water column under the breech door of the "gun". I'd spin the locking ring off the breech and the door would fly up followed by a column of water (about 20gals) hitting the stainless overhead and settle down real quick. The sound of the door catching the latch also caught the NEWBIE's dinner plate eyes, and he hauls butt down middle level passage. At the same time someone, like Jeff (Moreau), is counting one.. two.. three.. KAPLOOO! Laid out about the milk machine location was one phone talker, don't yah know. "Someone wasn't paying attention again!" reverberates from within the movie crew.
At the reunion dinner, Al spoke up from the crowd, "Just remember, the statue of limitations for me hasn't run out yet." "Well, I promised yah not to DO any of the better ones.", Rich retorted, "But I had an excellent crew that I served with, ...second generation on the Bergall and I've seen a lot of thing that have changed and not for the better to this business. I started in '92', going to the meet, my first reunion with Carl Weber, in Orlando, and his statement to me as "Where's the guys from the 667? We invite them but never see them. You know I've tried to get a hold of them." I said, "Give them a boat......THEY'LL COME." So, I tried to help by keeping in touch with most of my crew, and the best thing that Mike did with the web site...kinda linked everything together, with several of the crews that served on 320 and 667. The technology is really great when you can pool so many different resources, I think. And.....So Carl. You got to see your dream come true. I think you packed the house!! Thank you." El Smoke 81 - 85 MM1(SS)
Don Small came back to the podium. "Yeah, we have a packed house. So packed that the restaurant couldn't even take care of it. But, you know what? You can't blame the restaurant much, we started off estimating that there would be 40 or 50 people here it grew up to be 101 and you can't blame the restaurant cause they certainly couldn't accommodate it on such short notice. I think the restaurant has done an excellent job, regardless."
"Tomorrow we have a memorial service at the Comfort Inn. You are invited to come, everyone is invited... even the natives are coming. I think you will find it will be quite impressive, we have the local Manteo high school band is going to be there to play the National Anthem, the Navy Hymn, Anchors Away and that sort of thing. We are going to have the American Legion present the colors and we are going to have two speakers. One of them was an S-28 shipmate, the S-28 is the North Carolina state boat, and it was lost off of Hawaii back during the war. Not through enemy action but through some operational accident. Albert Wood was a crew member of that boat. Obviously he wasn't on it when it went down but he's one of the speakers. The other speaker is going to be a gentlemen who's father was assigned to the Bonefish which we lost June 18th, 1945, the next to the last boat lost. But his father walked off the boat, got transferred just before she went down. So this gentleman has always wondered, who was the man that replaced his father on his boat and how does his family feel. He's going tell us a little about that. The Tolling of the Bell, we don't have a swimming pool at the Comfort Inn now, so we are not going have a little submarine sinking, but they are going to have a drum roll immediately prior to calling of the calling of the boat name and all of the statistics of the boat. We have a bell that rings... the normal ceremony. But the little drum roll will be nice just immediately before they call out the boat name. After that we are going to have the band trumpeters play "Echo Taps". We are going to have a three gun salute from the National Guard and then we have an airplane, scheduled to drop a wreath into the ocean. It will fly over the Comfort Inn, make a loop a round and drop the wreath in the ocean as the last thing. I think it's going to be a pretty impressive thing and everybody is invited to come to it. It starts at 11 o'clock tomorrow morning."
"One other thing I wanted to mention... this time of night there's going to be a lot of policemen on the road... and I don't want anybody calling me up saying, 'I'm down here in the Manteo jail.'. So be very careful when you go out of here, don't cross double white lines, don't drive too fast, don't drive too slow and I don't know what else to tell you. There's only two roads going up this beach and at 10pm there's plenty of policemen out there. If you would prefer, we can call you a cab."
"I'd like to have someone else come up and say something." From his table, Parke Spicer said, "I said I wouldn't get up again but... there is a story that I promised... I had lunch with the former Captain Phil Glennon... and he asked me about a... this has nothing to do with the Bergall but I still had traces of the Bergall when it happened. In the period of 1956 I was retiring... the boat was being transferred, I think in January 1958, to Key West and I got a transfer to the Becuna, well at any rate, Captain Phil Lassey (SP?) and Grant Aptoll (SP?), some of you may have heard of him, we were going for a shakedown to Springstreet on the Becuna and I didn't really want to go because my wife was expecting a child (I was working fast in those days). The boat was getting ready to leave, I went aboard, got the mail with me, and my whole neck was full but I had the mumps when I was a kid, so I told the corpsman, "I think I have the the mumps.", because I didn't want to go on that trip anyway. So he calls the Exec Officer, who I didn't know very well, and he got a cowbell from his stateroom and he's leading me back and forth in the boat, saying, "Mumps! Mumps!". He really thought it was a big deal. Well, the boat comes back, my wife has the baby... blahhh blahhh blahhh... And 14 years later I was at a cocktail party in the town that I was living in and I was running for State Representative. I'm sitting next to this gentleman, portly, if you know Grant and I have a tattoo that he looked at. He says, "I see you were in the Navy.", and I said, "Yes.". "When were you in?", and I told him. "You were in subs? What coast were you on?", so I told him, "I was on the Bergall, I was on the Becuna." He said, "When were you on the Becuna?" I said, "January or February of 1958." He says, "Nah, you weren't on there because I was on there and I don't remember you." I said, "Well, the only time I was off the Becuna was when I went to the base hospital with the mumps." He grabbed me by the arm... now Grant is a strong man... and he marches me over to his wife and said, "THIS is the son-of-a-bitch that gave me the mumps in 1958!"
Don Small came back up to the stand and said, "I've almost forgot the finale. How many people were in Australia at one time or another?" Followed by about 18 hands, he asked, "Do you remember what the national anthem of Australia is?" Then through the PA he played "Who'll Come A-Waltzing Mattilda". As this song is about men who have no home and are on the road (a waltzing Mattilda would be like an American hobo) and reflected the homeless feeling of many American in Australia, it was sang many times over an Emo Bitter Beer in Perth. "If there's nothing else..." At this time Pat Murphy raised his hand. Don responded, "Ok, come on up!" As he made the walk up to the front, many of the nuke crew were asking, "What's you name?"
"I'm Pat Murphy. I was storekeeper on the commissioning crew and I want to thank Matt for stopping where he did with Roosevelt Road stories. To any of the wives that are here... that's really all that happened, absolutely nothing else! I want to say something to the guys from the 320 that served in World War II, particularly those that served on the fourth patrol. My father was assigned to a B-25 out of the Philippines and apparently on the fourth patrol of the Bergall, she picked up four members of a B-25 in his group that went down. Four of the six survived and they were picked up by the Bergall. One of the crew members lives in this area and I talked to my father before I came down and he said, maybe eight years ago, they had an Army Air Corp reunion in Norfolk and the nuke Bergall was there at the time. My dad was saying, "Oh, there's the Bergall. My son served on that.", and this guy next to him said, "Well, that the same name as the submarine that picked us up in the Pacific." So, any of you guys that might have been on that patrol can get with me and I will give you my dad's name and he'll put you in touch with one of the guys you picked up. He lives in this area. I've met Chief Wyatt... er, I mean... Captain Wyatt. He seems like a really nice guy. I never had the privilege of serving him. I served Captain Tally and he will always have my respect. Thanks."
Don Basham approached the podium and announced, "We'll see you in St. Louis for the next reunion in 2001!", and the evenings dinner came to an end.
Some of the nuke crew were planning for further activities at the Gazebo after the dinner while most of the diesel guys were planning on a warm bed and an early start on the next day.
At the Gazebo, several crew members of the 667 gathered, still wound up from the evening and enlivened by the fact that there was more beer and they were stagger distance from their room, started in earnest to enjoy the feeling of being with friends, swapping lies and drinking beer... again! It was interesting to see these guys transformed from 40 and 50 year old farts into 20 and 30 year old men for a while again!
A couple of the crew decided that Mike Brood, the most recent crew addition, should "drink his dolphins". There were several sinister grins and more than one volunteer. As there were no "extra" dolphins, it was getting a bit late and "there is ALWAYS the next reunion.", it was decided to await the next reunion and make the guy "PROPERLY drink them". The laughter at this "plan" was well received and I'm convinced plans will be contrived.
It was hard to tell if these guys were winding up (heaven forbid!) or winding down. I'm sure we all enjoyed the rest of the evening and stories but at 4pm I figured out how to make it to my bed. It's hard to party like you were 20 when you aren't!
Here's a good gathering of nukies at the hospitality suite...
Back row, Babbett & Ron Castonguay, Tom Harrington, Rick Harrington, Bob Vandervliet
Front row, Cindy & Mike Sobkowski, Dick Fiske and Connie Christensen.
A couple shots of the gazebo gathering on Saturday. Can you name them?
As everyone was preparing to head home, Al Inboden waves goodbye to a
wonderful time and hopes to see more friends in St. Louis in 2001.
For information on the 2001 reunion in St. Louis... click here.
To return to the
SS-320 home page click here.
To return to the SSN-667 home page click here.