Wasn't All Fun
by Bob Moore
May was nice that year (1968).
We had been providing ping time for the target Navy and had settled into a smooth routine. Back and forth we went, pretty much at the beck and call of the fleet. Dive. Surface. Snorkel. Send up a smoke now and then so they could find us. Fresh food never got scarce, so it really wasn't bad duty at all.
Toward the end of the month we came alongside for a two week upkeep period, and it wasn't long until pier 22 was buzzing with rumors. Scuttlebutt was a dime a ton and every bluejacket had at least three opinions. Soon word came down for us to get underway. My maneuvering watch station was the forward capstan phones, and as we were singling up I got a good look at the faces of everybody around me. You could have cut the tension with a knife. Everything was pure business. Nobody had a word to say that didn't concern getting away from the pier.
A few hours later we were in deep water and began to call, "Brandywine, Brandywine, REQUIN calling Brandywine, please come in".
That whole evolution was not in sharp focus for most of us. Almost all of us had friends aboard, and we were praying as hard as any bunch of sailors ever had, but we never got an answer from the SCORPION. She had already been dead for a week.
My friends Steve, Joe Miller, and Don Karmasek were not coming back --- and I finally came to understand just how deadly serious a profession we were engaged in.
There was still something in the air around pier 22 when I left it for the last time at the end of 1970. I wonder if it is still there?
On May 22nd you might pause for a moment and think of those men, and thousands of others like them, who rest in the deep.