This morning held a grand opportunity for me, as I was honored to sit at a table with other Submarine Veterans for the annual Breakfast Meeting of the Bremerton Chapter of USSVI. At our table sat a World War II Submarine Veteran, as well as another fellow USS Michigan sailor.
There aren’t very many places I can go anymore where I can say about things, “That was before I was even born,” but listening to the exploits and tales of some of these fine men, I feel like an infant. And compared to the WWII guys, I was still a generation away when some of them left their boats.
The guy I was sitting with served aboard USS Raton (SS-270) during the War. The boat made eight war patrols, earning six Battle Stars. But what makes her unique was where she was born. Of the hundreds of US Submarines that served in World War II and into the Cold War, twenty-eight were built in Wisconsin. Yep… Wisconsin, the heart of America where the real Americans live.
Their story is glorious and heartbreaking…
The story of a once lost and now recovered U-Boat has people debating not the technology or the usefulness of such actions, but rather what to call it? Is is a “Nazi” submarine? Or a “German” submarine? In Poland this debate has gone so far as to end up in a law being passed as to what you can and cannot call the Death Camps located in Poland during World War II…
In recent days, a City Councilman who is also a High School teacher has come under fire for openly criticizing the Military directly to and in front of his students. for his part, he refuses to back down from what he said, and most Veterans and military folk seem content to let him be the asshat that he is being. After all, his right to feel and say such things is protected by the very people he denigrates.
But there’s an even bigger problem with the Military right now. The perception that many young people have of the Services is not a good one. and why not? Well… a whole lot of well intended TV ads that portray a military that is anything but something of which they might want to be a part.