Point of View No. 001
|I thought it was fitting to lead off
the POINTS OF VIEW page with an excerpt from a posting recently (1997)
made on Ron Martini's BBS by
Hal Bollman aka "bo The Nook".
bo has captured much of what we feel about our Enlisted Silver Dolphins.
For the benefit of any who still don't
"get it", we were all in our late teens or early twenties when we proudly
put on the Silver Dolphins. For the majority of us it was the most visible
public symbol of achievement that we had ever received and perhaps ever
|I reported to the USS SEAWOLF (SSN-575) at the end of August, 1974. I'd been in the Navy for just over two years. Boot camp and Machinist Mate 'A' School in Great Lakes, Nuclear Power School at Mare Island (Class 7304), Mechanical Operator and Engineering Laboratory training at the A1W reactor plant prototype at NPTU Idaho Falls, all of that time and all of those schools were behind me. It was time to really put everything that I learned to the test.|
|I mess cooked for the first couple of months on the boat, time spent underway. Mess cooking, for the uninitiated, is the submarine service's answer to KP....up at 0400, set up the crews mess for breakfast, get the cook whatever he needs, play waiter to a bunch of sleepy (read grumpy) squids, wash dishes, tables, and decks...well you get the picture. I started on my qual card a month after coming aboard. During the time I worked on my qualifications for Ship's Quals, I also worked on my Engineering Quals.|
|Every system on the card was traced, drawn, technical manuals and ships information books referred to and studied, and finally a check out from a qual petty officer or chief. Eventually, the checkouts were walkthroughs with officers, culminating in a final walkthrough with the Qualification Officer that lasted about 17 hours over a three day period. In this instance, his name was Lt. Budzik, and he was one hard case, hard nosed SOB, mainly because he didn't want his name on the card of some dirtbag that didn't deserve dolphins. The boat later instituted qual boards for the final signature. I thought that they made a huge mistake by doing so. I really don't think there is any way you can adequately test a person's knowledge in an hour, no matter how in depth the questions. The skipper signed my card on the 6th of November, 1975, 14 months and change after I reported onboard.|
|I worked hard for my dolphins. But during the entire time I worked on my Ship's Quals, I also "participated" in field day, qualified Engineering Laboratory Technician, Engine Room Lower Level, Engine Room Upper Level, Feed Station, Diesel Operator (the nuc's owned the diesels on Seawolf, both operations and maintenance), Basic Engineering Qualification (the nuc's version of ship's quals as related to the engineering plant), and i had most of the signatures required for my Engineering Room Supervisor qualifications.|
|To think that the Navy that I served in for 8 1/2 years, 6 1/2 of them onboard the Seawolf would even consider granting Silver Dolphins to a Midshipman out for his summer cruise tears my heart out. I busted my ass, as did every other crewman onboard, to earn, no EARN my dolphins. I sweated blood getting the diesel fired up during a reactor scram, I cleaned oil out of the Lube Oil bay bilges, I delivered uncounted breakfasts, lunches, and dinners while mess cooking.|
|I did all of those things while working on my qualifications. And so did every other qualified submariner. Our dolphins didn't mean that we studied systems enough to bull our way through a checkout. Our dolphins meant that we went through our apprenticeship, that we stuck with it through everything that living on and operating a submarine had to offer. Silver dolphins for middies.....what a disgrace to the men who really deserve to wear them.|