Sid's N T I N S Locker
by Bill Parker (aka SOB) on July 15, 1998
This is my third attempt at this tonight, maybe I'll get through this one.
I just learned tonight that George Gunther SOC(SS) died recently. George was a shipmate, a friend, a mentor, and above all else, the most vicious cribbage player known on the seven seas and assorted lakes.
Sitting numbly in the dark, cursing myself because of all of the tough scrapes and good times George and I shared, we hadn't stayed in touch like we should have over the past 20 years. A chance encounter here, a card there. But not like two friends should have been. My friends on Ron's BBS, how many of you are making this same mistake? There will be another day ...
Well, thinking of George and the missions we went on together and a lot of other associations with that funny, talented, and well skilled Johnathan Winters sort of person brings back to my memory the greatest NO SH**TER that I've ever heard.
Just for George, I want to share it with anyone interested in wading through it.
I had gotten out of the Navy. George was still in, at the Navy's Scientific & Technical Intelligence Center in Washington DC, in a nondescript building on the incredibly beautiful grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory up on "embassy row." The CO at STIC was a submariner captain by the name of Bill Banks. A fire hydrant of a man, smarter than you could imagine and as aggressively outspoken as any Navy captain I've ever known ... but sensible and logical.
George blew in Captain Banks' ear and I was hired as a civilian at STIC, working in my specialty of electronics intelligence. George was an Acoustic Intelligence specialist and "rider." That is where he and I met years earlier on board the 490-boat when he rode us for a trip.
STIC, George and I had the pleasure of being "shipmates" again 3 or 4 more
times, him with his pings and me with my green worms.
|Captain Banks told us that there were not enough words in the English language to describe Captain Greene, but here's what he told us. And this is NO S**T!|
|OK, one old diesel submarine, USS TIRANTE
One unnamed Division Commander with a real horse's-ass reputation ...
One unnamed CO who, as the result of a trainwreck ORI, was relieved of command by the DIVCOM upon return to port ...
And the new CO, LCDR Wally Greene, a Hoss Cartright sort of man, but with real brains and a fantastic sense of loyalty to his Navy and his crew.
A few days into his tenure as CO, Captain Greene had succeeded in getting the whipped puppy crew aimed in the right direction, regaining pride and self confidence bit by bit each day.
Three bells into the midwatch during an in-port availability period, the DIVCOM boiled aboard past the PO of the Watch, and dropped into the FTR.
He loudly announced to the sleeping TMs "THE UNITED STATES IS AT WAR, MEN. PREPARE TO GET UNDERWAY."
He then popped into the forward battery and repeated the announcement to the Goat Locker, noting that there was NO duty officer visible in the wardroom.
As he lurched through the WTD into Control, he was disappointed to run smack into Captain Greene. On receiving the orders, Captain Green and barely more than one duty section got TIRANTE underway, rigged for dive, crossed the 100 fathom curve, and submerged. A good solid 1/3 trim (no 1000# canaries, thank you) and then two nights and days of pure grueling hell. Fire in Maneuvering, a hot run in #6 tube, chlorine in the Forward Battery, hydrogen aft, on and on.
Crew's asses dragging, the DIVCOM continued to pour it on. Then the batteries ran to the point of cell reversal, so the DIVCOM permitted a "wartime basis" night surface charge. Ram and jam all those amps into the can, none to spare for anything more than bare steerageway. This, as you will see, saved a life.
The DIVCOM committed a Cardinal Sin ... he snuck, as was his only reputed skill besides asskissing his boss, onto the bridge and hid in the superstructure. No "COMING UP" or "PERMISSION TO COME UP??" and the OOD and 2 lookouts were oblivious to his presence.
On the way up the DIVCOM handed a folded slip of paper to the QM in the Conn ... "In 10 minutes, notify the OOD that RADAR has an enemy aircraft, 5 miles and closing fast."
Captain Greene, for reasons he has never fessed up to, was in the Conn. The QM somehow "misread" the note and gave the alarm to the OOD ONE minute later.
"CLEAR THE BRIDGE, CLEAR THE BRIDGE" The reverberations of the first AOOGHAAA hadn't stopped when the COB pulled the hydraulic manifold levers, popping MBT #2A and B vents right under the feet of the scrambling bridge watchstanders. Good motivation to get below, right?
"PORT LOOKOUT DOWN ... STARBOARD LOOKOUT DOWN ... LAST MAN DOWN, HATCH SECURED SIR" OK, a plain vanilla dive. "MAKE YOUR DEPTH 150 FEET, ALL AHEAD FULL, LEFT FULL RUDDER" followed by the appropriate repeat-backs. "MAIN INDUCTION SHUT AND LOCKED ... GREEN BOARD ... PRESSURE IN THE BOAT..." More plain vanilla.
On the 1MC, DIVCOM's panic-stricken screams.. "SURFACE, YOU LEFT ME TOPSIDE ... SURFACE"
"Is this a trick??" thinks Captain Greene
Captain Greene: "CONTINUE THE DIVE, ONE FIVE ZERO FEET"
More frantic screams on the 1MC: "EMERGENCY SURFACE, YOU LEFT ME TOPSIDE!!!"
Captain Greene on the 1MC: "CONTINUE THE DIVE, ENEMY AIRCRAFT CLOSE IN, YOU ARE EXPENDABLE"
DIVCOM on the 1MC, gurgling water plainly heard: "THE WAR IS OVER, REPEAT, OVER. EMERGENCY SURFACE!!!"
Captain Greene executes the emergency surface and the DIVCOM forces his way into the Conn before the lookouts and OOD get to the bridge, soaked to his scalp, madder than hell, described by an eyewitness as "so furious he was shaking like a dog sh**ing razor blades."
Loud tirade, "attempted murder" ... "general court martial" ... Portsmouth Naval Prison ... reaching from the Conn all the way to crew's mess. DIVCOM's voice goes hoarse.
Captain Greene: "You almost died up there because of your ego and stupidity. Had you not called the war off, I would have followed doctrine and gone to 150 feet. This crew did exactly what they were trained to do, so if you want to court martial me, go right ahead, I'm prepared to face any charge you choose to make."
my biggest regret was that I only got to serve Captain Green as a sandcrab
civilian and not as a sailor on board a fleet boat. What a leader and what
George, my friend and shipmate, my tears tonight upon learning of your death, are lightened by the thoughts I associate with having known you and had the pleasure of your friendship.
Sailor, rest your oars and God keep you.
Sid's N T I N S Locker