Mo bettah, all same sailoh man
The subject is...... "the other guys"
by Mike Hemming
Webmaster note:    Here is one submariner's response to that over-the-top and never-ending pinging among men who served in different types of boats in different eras.

Sometimes (frequently) they require a good, solid, smack in the head just to put it all back in the proper perspective.... and I believe Mike did that well.

Sid H.   Nov 02     (Common sense is such a wonderful thing)


I would like to know what the hell makes you guys think that the average nuke sailor is really any different from the average WW 2 subsailor. Don't you remember somebody saying at one time or another saying "you don't have to be crazy to be here, but it helps."

It takes a certain type of man to ride submarines, from the Holland to the Seawolf, how could there be any difference? Human nature doesn't change. Call it bravery, guts or insanity it has to be there or you cant stick it out to qualify. In every generation of sub sailors there are those that can't hack it. Those that can't leave.

Those that don't leave keep on sailing

The pre-war boats - some were gasoline powered for God's sake - can you imagine diving a boat you know would make you half drunk from the fumes. Talk about the smoking lamp being out. Knowing it was time to surface when the rats and canaries passed out. Those boats exploded and sank; were rammed and sunk; mechanical things went wrong and they sank.

But the guys kept sailing them.

WW2 guys that were in before the war started had their test too - and most passed it. Those that came in later did what they had to do. They had the greatest test of all. Some I'm sure couldn't stay, and they left, probably to do something just as dangerous. Those that stayed deserve all the respect we can give them. Their losses were horrendous. Guys went out thinking they were not going to come back.

But the guys kept on sailing them.

After the war another war was fought - this one less violent and brutal (Unless you or a loved one was killed or wounded) but it sure was long. Old submarines made new with snorkels and extra batteries went out to patrol our new enemy's northern coasts. Batteries exploded, fires started, flooding happened, sometimes men washed overboard rescuing other boat sailors.

But the guys kept on sailing them.

Then a new power source came along that let the submarine live up to its potential. But at the stress of even longer times at sea. And still fighting a deadly long-time enemy willing to sink a boat if they got the chance. As always the sea waits for its chance to win its battle with those that dare to enter its domain. Nuclear power and fancy toys mean nothing when seawater rushes in. Men with guts to sail undersea either win or lose when that happens. Sadly 228 men were lost on 2 boats.

But the guys kept on sailing them.

Today men still sail on subs, and men still get injured and die in ones, twos and threes --- from fires, smoke, flooding, and all the other ways a submarine can kill you.

I recently met some of a graduating Sub School class. I have no doubt you could drop one of them on an "O" boat and he could handle it - oh the lack of technology might throw him for a while. Or you could take one off the "O" boat and put him on the Seawolf. Remember its the man and what's inside him that makes him a sub sailor not the pressure hull around him.

All sub sailors face a test sooner or later, and its the man that passes or fails - not his hull number. With some the test was Jap depth charges again and again, a long and harsh test. With others to go out on a salvaged and renamed boat. Some to go out to sea when a sister ship had gone down (in an as yet unexplained manner). Others had to go down for 100 days missing family and normalcy while following an enemy quite willing to turn on them and try to sink them. With some it was to enter a smoke filled compartment or to close themselves in a flooding one, not knowing the dangers or the future. They did it for their shipmates and because they had stepped forward and had dolphins pinned on their chests.

Next time you think that what powered your boat, or what war you did or didn't fight in makes you better than another --- look at the list of Lost Boats.

Gasoline, battery, nuke or diesel, war no war, hot-war or cold-war, tested to the ultimate or not, they were all manned by men just like you deep down inside.

Time and tide and accident of birth is all that separates us from them and each other.

We all volunteered and did our best at the time it was asked of us. Win, Lose or Draw.

To disparage another's service past the point of good natured smokeboat/nukeboat chow hall pinging makes you less not more.

Mike Hemming MM1(SS)
USS REQUIN  SS-481   [62-63]
USS CARP  SS-338   [63-68]

Also:   We Are A Submarine Sailor  (External Link - use back button to return)