Monday, August 29, 2016

Black Diamond Labor Days Invitation

Former Seattle Base Commander Keith Watson wants to remind everyone about this year’s Black Diamond Labor Days. There are events planned for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Check out the Black Diamond Labor Days website for a list of events and times.

We would really love to have some base members show up for the Labor Day Black Diamond Parade on Monday, September 5th.

Seattle Base Float in a previous Black Diamond Parade
If you are interested in parade, we will meet at the museum (32627 Railroad Ave. Black Diamond 98010) at 9am for coffee and sweets. The parade starting at 10 with the blast of the museum siren. The float should be in place by 9 with check in at the fire station on Baker Street up the hill from the museum between 8 and 9. Across the street from the museum will be the 200 car display with the restored fire truck in front of the museum.

Please take a look at your schedule for Monday and let Keith or Dutch know if you can make it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Eternal Patrol: Peter McCafferty

Seattle Base member Peter McCafferty departed on Eternal Patrol on August 13, 2016.
We last saw Peter at the Kirkland Independence Day Parade in July. Peter joined the Navy in 1981 and qualified on USS Daniel Boone (SSBN-629) in 1982. He also qualified on USS Stonewall Jackson (SSBN-634) and left the Navy in 1987 as an MM1(SS).

We don't have any information on funeral service yet. We will post more information as soon as we get it. Please remember Peter’s family in your thoughts and prayers.

Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Monday, August 8, 2016

2016 Smokey Point Rest Stop Event

Seattle Base USSVI manned the coffee both at the Smokey Point rest area (southbound side) over the weekend of July 22 – 25, 2016.

We want to thank everyone for your help, but especially all the watch-standers: Larry Abbott, Earl Greenling, Roy Burt, Doug Abramson, Dick Gonzalez, Carl Minor, Shel Harmon, Cliff Nutter, Bill Thompson, Kerry Ryan, Ralph Sterley, Bob Opple and Thea Benjamin, Ric Hedman and Patti Lynn.

Special thanks to those who covered multiple shifts: Earl Greenling and Doug Abramson for the graveyard lonely times (3), Carl Minor (2), Roy Burt for three shifts and a relief so I could go to breakfast on Monday morning, Ric and Patti Lynn for two big watches, and Ralph Sterley (3).
The Smokey Point south coffee booth
Earl Greening and Larry Abbott
Schell Harmon and Cliff Nutter
Roy Burt
Bob Opple and Thea Benjamin
Patti Lynn and Ric Hedman
Doug Abramson and Earl Greening
Steve Shelton - project organizer
If I’ve left someone out, please let me know and I will make sure to include them in my thanks at the next meeting.

We netted $759.90 in donations (after expenses for supplies). Not too bad for the southbound exit and better than we thought we did.

We do this event for fun, and it really is. We hope to see you the next time we do this.

Steve Shelton
Editor's Note: Special thanks to Steve for organizing this event and taking the photos. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Submarine Hero: Howard Gilmore

Editor's Note: While Seattle USSVI Base has cancelled our Tolling the boats ceremony, we still want follow the USSVI creed to perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in the pursuit of their duties while serving their country. With that in mind, here is an article on Medal of Honor recipient Howard Gilmore. This article first appeared several years ago in Undersea Warfare magazine.
The first U.S. submariner to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II, Commander Howard W. Gilmore, lost his life in a selfless act of heroism that has become one of the most inspiring legends of the Submarine Force. Gilmore was born in Selma, Alabama, in 1902 and served first as an enlisted Sailor before entering the U.S. Naval Academy by competitive examination. He graduated from the Academy in 1926, standing 34th in a class of 456. Before the war, Gilmore had served as the executive officer of USS Shark (SS-174), and in a colorful incident during that time, narrowly survived an assault by a group of thugs in Panama, who cut his throat during an excursion ashore. In March 1942, four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he took command of the new USS Growler (SS-215), fourth boat of the 81-ship Gato (SS-212) class and sailed her to the Pacific theater.

Operating out of Pearl Harbor, Growler was one of seven submarines assigned picket duty north and west of the islands as part of the Hawaii defense force during the early phases of the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Later that month, she embarked on her first war patrol in the vicinity of the Aleutian Islands, where Gilmore attacked three Japanese destroyers off Kiska, sinking one and severely damaging the other two, while narrowly avoiding two torpedoes fired at him in return. In early August, Gilmore took Growler on her second and most successful war patrol in the East China Sea near Taiwan, sinking four merchant ships totaling 15,000 tons, before returning to Hawaii in late September.

In October 1942, Growler sailed from Pearl Harbor to Brisbane, Australia, by way of Truk in the Caroline Islands, both to support the blockade of that Japanese bastion and as part of a general re-positioning of submarine assets ordered by ADM Chester Nimitz during the early struggle for the Solomon Islands. Gilmore and Growler scored no kills on this third war patrol but arrived safely in Brisbane in mid-December.

Growler departed Brisbane on New Year’s Day 1943 for her fateful fourth war patrol, targeting Japanese shipping lanes between Truk and Rabaul in the Bismarck Archipelago. On 16 January, Gilmore sighted an enemy convoy, maneuvered inside the escorts, and sank Chifuku Maru, a 6,000-ton passenger-cargo ship. He was unsuccessful in subsequent attacks on a small convoy and a converted gunboat, but on the night of 6-7 February, while charging batteries on the surface, Gilmore spotted the 900-ton provision ship Hayasaki and manned the bridge for a surface attack. With Growler still a mile away, however, Hayasaki’s watch saw the on-coming submarine, and Hayasaki turned to the attack herself, attempting to ram her assailant. As the small ship charged out of the darkness, Gilmore sounded the collision alarm and shouted, “Left full rudder!” – to no avail. Perhaps inadvertently, Growler hit the Japanese adversary amidships at 17 knots, heeling the submarine 50 degrees, bending sideways 18 feet of her the bow, and disabling the forward torpedo tubes.
Growler's bent bow at Brisbane, Australia, for repairs to her bow, after she rammed a Japanese patrol vessel in the Bismarck Islands on 7 February 1943
Simultaneously, the Japanese crew unleashed a murderous burst of machine gun fire at Growler’s bridge, killing the assistant officer of the deck and a lookout, while wounding Gilmore himself and two other men. “Clear the bridge!” Gilmore ordered as he struggled to hang on to a frame. As the rest of the bridge party dropped down the hatch into the conning tower, the executive officer, Lt. Commander Arnold Schade – shaken by the impact and dazed by his own fall into the control room – waited expectantly for his captain to appear. Instead from above came the shouted command: “Take her down!” Realizing that he could not himself get below in time if the ship were to escape, Gilmore chose to make the supreme sacrifice for his shipmates. Schade hesitated briefly – then followed his captain’s last order and submerged the crippled ship.

Surfacing some time later in hope of re-attacking the Hayasaki, Schade found the seas empty. The Japanese ship had, in fact, survived the encounter, but there was no sign of Gilmore, who apparently had drifted away in the night. Schade and Growler’s crew managed to control the ship’s flooding and limped back to Brisbane on 17 February. Taken immediately into dry dock, Growler was repaired and fought again – at first under the command of Lt. Commander Schade, and then under Commander Thomas B. Oakley, Jr. Sadly, she was lost on her 11th war patrol in November 1944, while attacking a Japanese convoy south of Mindoro in the Philippine Islands. Growler received eight battle stars for her role in the Pacific War.

For sacrificing his own life to save his ship, Commander Howard Gilmore was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Subsequently, the submarine tender Howard W. Gilmore (AS-16) was named for him and sponsored by his widow. Even today – over 50 years later – “Take her down!” remains one of the legendary phrases of the U.S. Submarine Force.
"Take Her Down" Commander Howard W. Gilmore, wounded on the bridge of Growler, orders the submarine to dive
Medal of Honor Citation for Commander Howard W. Gilmore
For distinguished gallantry and valor above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the USS Growler during her Fourth War Patrol in the Southwest Pacific from 10 January to 7 February 1943. Boldly striking at the enemy in spite of continuous hostile air and antisubmarine patrols, CDR Gilmore sank one Japanese freighter and damaged another by torpedo fire, successfully evading severe depth charges following each attack. In the darkness of night on 7 February, an enemy gunboat closed range and prepared to ram the Growler. CDR Gilmore daringly maneuvered to avoid the crash and rammed the attacker instead, ripping into her port side at 11 knots and bursting wide her plates. In the terrific fire of the sinking gunboat’s heavy machineguns, CDR Gilmore calmly gave the order to clear the bridge, and refusing safety for himself, remained on deck while his men preceded him below. Struck down by the fusillade of bullets and having done his utmost against the enemy, in his final living moments, CDR Gilmore gave his last order to the officer of the deck, “Take her down.” The Growler dived; seriously damaged but under control, she was brought safely to port by her well-trained crew inspired by the courageous fighting spirit of their dead captain.