My American brothers and sisters:
Last night I learned several new things about our veterans and heroes. I was honored to introduce Col. Ballard a recipient of the Medal of Honor. By the way according with him the real name of this award is the “Medal of Honor”, he does not like to be call or referred as the Congressional Medal of Honor. It makes sense if you know all the levels of approval that it takes to review and confer that medal.
Several veterans from all services were there, the proud and noisy Marines, the smiley Air Force guys, the great and brave Army gentlemen, the festive Navy too, and very few from the Coast Guard, but a group caught my attention, something was different about this group.
After my speech and after some presentations, one of them approached me and presented me with a pin from the United States Submarine Veterans, and proceeds to “educate” me about this great group of American heroes, their heroic actions exemplify and define “Our Country’s greatest generation”
I am sharing with you a little bet of what I learned from George Arnold a submarine veteran…
During WWII the United States Submarines Force was composed of about 50,000 Sailors, which means 2% of our Navy’s total servicemen.
This force inflected a great damaged and losses of Japan’s maritime power, actually 55% and about 1/3 of all Japanese warship were destroyed during the war by these American heroes.
Maybe ever before in military history, such a small Naval Force accomplished so much, the sad part is that they paid the price; they perform the last supreme sacrifice by protecting our country. Of all Armed Services the Submarines Force suffered the highest percentage of losses. Over 3,500 “submariners” gave their life in defense of the United States of America! This is why they earned the nickname of “The Silent Service”.
But this time, my humble heart was in tears, I can’t believe all the things that we enjoy every day thanks to our veterans and thanks to the “Silent Service” heroes, before shaking hands and sharing a huge hug with the submariner and before our lips can pronounce the well know “Until then..brother ..until then” He placed in my hands their prayer and asked me to read it by myself before going to bed tonight…It is call the “Final Patrol” and goes like this…..
I have one consolation that lives with me today.
That God is near to them, in his own special way.
So God in all Your Mercy, keep near Thyself the soul,
Of every submariner, still on his final Patrol.
Lord, this departed shipmate with Dolphins on his chest
is part of an outfit known as the best.
Make him welcome and take him by the hand.
You will find without a doubt he was the best in all the land
So, Heavenly Father add his name to the roll
Of our departed shipmates still on their final patrol.
Let them know that we who survive
Will always keep their memories alive……….. (Permission to use by the USSVI.org)
They will be back at our Lodge and they will show us the way they keep their departed brothers alive. They do this by honoring their memory at each meeting or gathering, they pray for their brothers and they perform the “Tolling the Boats” ceremony and calling the roll of those submariners who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
You may want to see this ceremony or the Empty Chair ceremony performed by Masons to salute and remember our departed military brothers.
Until then my brothers and sisters…Until then
Submariners are certainly their own breed. The capability of the nuclear ship, let alone the crew, to remain submerged for long periods is something foreign to 99% of us. Can you imagine not seeing sunlight for days or weeks or not seeing the ocean in which they operate? Cramped quarters? How about fresh air? Of course the WWII subs would have to surface at night to recharge the batteries and run on diesel fuel when not submerged. Ahh the aroma of diesel exhaust and salty sailors!
Thank you gentlemen (and ladies) for all you did and are doing for us.
They are a bunch of magnificent heroes....They still serving.
I asked the odldest one, If our country will call you...he did not let me finish and his answer was (..."beep...I will be there even if they only need me to peel potatoes)
Something else to ponder in this discussion, and that is what is still going on at this present time. We have crews on FBM Submarines which are on constant patrol. Waiting for the worst possible order, which is to fire a load of nuclear tipped missiles.
I can remember on my first patrol after a WSRT (Weapons System Readiness Test), when I asked to one of the Senior Chiefs, “if we fire an actual load of missiles, do we then head back to port?”
He then quietly explained to me that #1 we are not an aggressor nation. By the time an enemy strike was confirmed, the decision for us to fire, receipt of that order, verification and spinup of the missiles for launch, that what we knew of a nation would probably not be there, and he had no idea of where we would return.
My wife and children being in New London CN, which is next door to New York City would no longer be there.
This sobering thought never left me.
One of our former Lenexa Lodge's Past Masters (George Arnold) is a veteran submariner. I don't recall the name of his "unit" submarine
Brother Dell Russell
If you are local please join us on Moday September 24 for a dinner at our Lodge (6:30pm), you may find few submariners there. This month speaker is the Election Office Commissioner (B. Newby)