Back to BBS-093     //    A small album of images from TORSK Work Weekends
Memories of our road trips
by Joe Roche     29 May 2012
I wanted to share with those who weren't lucky enough to have driven to Torsk year after year for her WWends (Work Weekends) and shared the camaraderie, friendship and sometimes the silence with John Wynn. It was a time I will always cherish and remember with fondness for all the things in life that we shared.
Image source
Torsk Work Weekend V
May 19-21, 2000
Left to right 
John Wynn, Joe Roche (on box), Cool Bob Berry
Copied from the USS TORSK Volunteer website
I was one hell of a lucky man and thankful to have experienced that.

I met John in May of 1999 at the Torsk Work weekend. I walked into the AER to do some cleaning and there was John working on one of the small florescent lights. We started talking --- you know the small stuff --- where do you live? who did you work for? is this your first work weekend? It was John's first work weekend and my second. It was during this discussion that we talked about riding together to Baltimore for the future WWends.

He knew the area that I live in and he said he went right by my exit in New York to continue south. He could swing off and pick me up as it was only about 6 miles out of the way. So we teamed up for our next trip south, which became a tradition for us. Along the way, on later trips, we picked up the "Men From Maine":  Art Mary and Roger Ramjet.

Art and Roger drove down to John's house the night before from the north country. They stayed with John and at O-dark thirty the next morning took off for my house in lower New York State. By 0700 they would pull up to my house where I piled on my luggage, grabbed a seat, and we headed to 'Balmer' - as the locals would say.

It was during these four hours on the road that we would discuss everything and being old submariners we took up where we left off so many years ago. Although, we did not know each other when we served you would not know it to hear us talking and laughing about the things all submariners share.

Soon becoming intimate friends: the no s**tters - especially from Ramjet - who is a masterful story teller, kept us laughing all the way down I-95.

Later, Jim Christly, Launcher Lary, Chuck and Jen Emerson became one of the "Riders in the Wynn" car (pun intended). But for a few years it was John, myself and the "Men From Maine."

I recall the one time we had to make a stop in Annapolis to meet Dex and to drop off an award that he received. We had a problem finding a parking space and finally parked in a No Parking Zone. That meant we had to find Dex: give him his award; then get the hell out of town before the sheriff came along to give John a $50.00 or $100.00 fine. John was like that. He was always doing something for a shipmate.

John had a great memory for good food and where to get it: like the black bean soup from McGoverns in Annapolis - or at least I think it was called McGoverns - where we also met some of the Torsk Bandits.

Good times. Good memories.

In the meantime, the Tupelo Inn became a home away from home for many a wayward submariner. John and Lynn opened their home to everyone who attended the USSVI Anniversaries. It was virtually an open door policy. John and Lynn were always busy making sure all arrangements, large and small, for the anniversary would work. At night everyone would gather at the house for a barbecue. It was a delight.

John knew Rockland County, New York well. He had installed and repaired the MRI machines that were in a few of the places in the county and subsequently we would meet for lunch in Westchester or Rockland counties. John Kill would later join us.

John loved Japanese hibachi cooking, so we used to go to them often. When I retired and moved to Delaware John would come for overnight visits and we would go to a Hibachi restaurant every time he spent the night - he liked them that much.

One night John came down and my wife, John and myself went out for dinner. The next morning at 0400 we left to go to Washington DC to attend the funeral of Dex's wife Solveig. (She was being buried in the National Cemetery.) Neither one of us knew where the Cemetery was but John had complete faith in his GPS. Meanwhile, I didn't trust the damn thing one bit. I remember as we approached the DC area we went through a lot of construction of a new bridge, which was replacing an older one. The GPS got us through it all OK and to the cemetery with time to spare for breakfast before the ceremony.

As the years progressed John found it more difficult to breath and those trips to Little Italy - that we used to make on our first night in Baltimore - became a fond memory. John was always sorry he had to stop going - as his walking became more and more difficult - because he not only enjoyed the food but the camaraderie as well. We especially enjoyed going to Fells Point for Mexican food. John couldn't walk it anymore so we drove. We always had a blast at that place.

Eventually the trips stopped. He was always upset about it.

Around this time I stopped going to the WWends too since I got sick and no longer had the stamina. He would call me during the WWend and we would discuss what was going on and who was doing what.

At one point I had stored in my garage a large piece of sonar gear that had been removed from the USS Trout in Philly shipyards. It was a BQR something or other and was the type of gear that was more historically correct for Torsk. I remember him calling me up for photos of it and calling me back: telling me to do this or that to it --- and that 'this did this' and 'that did that' and to 'check this out'. You get the point. And I did - not knowing what the hell I was doing - but did it nevertheless. Eventually the unit made it aboard the Torsk.

As the years went on, John's disease progressed more and more. He couldn't drive anymore, so it became my turn to drive up to his house in Niantic to see him and Lynn. My son moved to Connecticut and his house became the jumping off point for the trip to Niantic, an hour and a half north.

John and I spoke to each other every other week or so. And near the end - for the past two or three months - we spoke each week.

As I said on the BBS, I spoke to him the day before he died. He said he was having a hard time swallowing his meds and that he had rung for assistance from an aide. So, I told him to take care and I would call him Saturday or Sunday. The next morning I received the call that John had died.

I will miss our weekly talks and his typical sign off: "Who luvs ya Joey."

Who luvs ya John

I will miss him.