a series of anecdotes of some of the events
that took place on Sea Poacher
during the years 1965,66 and 67
as recalled by John R Saeli, EN3 (SS)

Do you remember the Forward and After Decks Watch when we were in port in Key West?
Do you remember the Bushnell on fire at the outer piers?

Do you remember Lt.Cmdr Wilson as our skipper and being relieved by Lt. Cmdr Headland, who later became Commander?
Do you remember Mr. Dietrich, Mr. Hinds, Mr. Miller, and Ensign Bartz?
Do you remember our Chiefs: Bridewell, Taylor, Guthrie, and Roth?

Do you remember pulling into Rota, Spain at the beginning of our Med Run in early 66’ and being told that we were restricted to the Base for libs, yet we all ended up in the towns of Jereth and Cadiz anyway?
Do you remember leaving Rota, on our way to Barcelona, when we and the Picuda (SS 382) were diverted to find that B-52 that went down in the Med with nuclear weapons onboard?
I do!

Do you remember later on in that Med run during War Games, that we took out the Carriers America and Enterprise and shot flares from our signal gun while we were submerged because the Skipper of one of them could not believe that we were as close as we said we were?

Do you remember tailing some Soviet Surface ships into a cove that had been harassing the Enterprise when she was launching aircraft? We snuck in, sat on the bottom, while they anchored and in the morning we surfaced , blowing our ships whistle, telling them “Good Morning”, and by the way, “ We gotcha Ya”?
I do!

Do you remember that we were on Port and Starboard Liberty, the entire Med Run, however we had overnight passes, while the Surface Pukes had to be back by 2400 hrs?
Do you remember the day before we were to leave Naples for the last time, At Quarters, we were told that the Liberty section had to be back at 2400 hrs because the entire Fleet was getting underway the following morning?
Mike Kassinger and I, having met some fine young Italian ladies, had lost track of the time, awoke to the sun coming up and ran down the streets of Naples as fast as we could, to just jump onboard as she was preparing to get underway.
Boy, was Bridewell our COB, pissed

After the Maneuvering Watch was cancelled, and the Sea detail set, Mike and I heard our names broadcast over the 1MC to report to the Forward Torpedo Room, then we proceeded to hear a lot more names being mentioned to also report to the FTR.
Mike and I were not the only ones missing roll call the evening before We were just the last to report on board.

As it turned out, a lot of the Liberty Section was still missing at 2400 hrs, and a search party from the Duty Section was sent out to find them, which they did in a local bar. Rumor had it that another search party was also sent out, not only to find to find the missing guys from the liberty section, but also to bring back the previous search party!
The skipper was pissed, he told us all that we were facing Captain’s Masts and that he was not kidding! He did however; give us the option of voluntarily restricting ourselves at our next port of call which was to be Toulon, France
We all accepted the restriction, and had to stay onboard while we were in Toulon.

Toulon brings back some memories even if I was restricted to the boat
Do you remember flying Holiday colors while we were there?
I do! At the time , I was 23 years old, single, a NQP and watching that flag fly from our stern, made be very proud to be an American Sailor and very proud To be a crew member of Sea Poacher

Do you remember the “Beaver Watch” that we had set up at the bottom of the hatches in the FTR and the ATR to assist the young ladies that would be coming down the ladder and later back up?
Yep, those French women were certainly choosy what they wore in those days—no jeans or shorts for them!

Do you remember our Torpedomen?
I remember a few of them: Dorheim, Pruitt, Fraley, Jimmy D. Martin, Barker, Clyde Baylor, and I bet that everyone remembers Russell Bauer.
I Do!

Do you remember our Chief Torpedoman Taylor?
I recall that during that Med Run, probably while we were still in Toulon, we let a couple of our guys; led by Chief Taylor, ride a French submarine for the day, And a couple of their guys rode with us also. The French allowed their crews to drink while underway, and our guys took a liking to the cognac that the French were serving, apparently Chief Taylor, had a little more than he should have, because at the end of the day, Chief Taylor had to be lowered down Sea Poachers Forward Torpedo Room hatch with a rope.

Ironically, a few years later, I believe it was in 1968 or 69, I read that, that same French Submarine, the Eurydice, had gone down in the Med with all hands aboard!

Do you remember that Ensign Bartz, (or should I say Ensign Barf, a name that he was given by the crew when we rode out those Hurricanes in the summer of 66) slept in the FTR on our Med Run because there was no room for him in Officers country.
Do you remember those very expensive tall leather boots that he had, that were used by certain torpedomen on watch to collect the water that would be dripping from the Escape Trunk every time that we were submerged
Do you remember him getting pissed when he was awakened to go on watch and slipped his feet into those boots which were very, very full of sea water?
I Do !

Do you remember our cooks? Lamont Clark, Smitty, Buck Helms and Tommy Nemes who was just learning?

How about every Friday, when we were in port in Key West, there were cases of lobsters dropped off on the pier that we would have for our noon meal, or when we were underway, we always had Lobster Tails for the Friday noon meal!
I especially remember Buck and very fondly, because I messed cooked a good portion of the Med run and we became good friends.
Do you remember his nickname? It was Buck the F—K, and he lived up to it every time he went on the Beach
I remember one afternoon, while on libs in Palma de Majorca, he was a bit inebriated, and he fell off the curb, onto the cobblestone road and was run over by a horse cart, which was ironically carrying our Skipper.
I ran to his aid, helped picked him up, saw that he was ok and almost died laughing because on the back of his whites was the tracks of the wheels that ran him over.
The Skipper ordered us back to the boat immediately, and Buck had to be lowered down the After Battery Hatch. Buck, being Buck, changed into a clean set of whites and was back on the Beach before the Duty Officer even knew that he had come aboard.

Do you remember when we were in Livorno, Italy and one of our Stewards got into a fight with some big Army dude and bit his ear off?
I do!

Do you remember the crew taking up a collection and presenting Captain Headland with his new hat, scrambled eggs and all, when he made Commander? I wonder what happened to him, he was a great Skipper,
I know that Lt. Cmdr Bill Dietrich, another great Officer, went on to be a skipper of a couple of SSN’s and retired from the Navy as a four-stripe Captain

Do you remember our radiomen, Scotty and Taylor, and our yeoman, Frank Lukens?
Do you remember that Lukens, along with Stanley Sobotka, vowed not to screw around in the Med because they promised their wives they wouldn’t and stuck to it.
I do !

Do you remember when Sea Poacher and Picuda returned from the Med and tied up at the same pier in Key West?
The Navy Band was playing on the pier along with all the wives and kids from both boats Sea Poacher set our brow and all the married johns ran to their families, yet The Picuda’s crew had to stay onboard—they were not allowed over because the whole boat was in Quarantine.
It seems that when we made our last port of call in Palma , Picuda went to Malta, where they met up with a bunch of Canadian Wrens, who gave them a dose of you know what!
I do!

Do you remember Ensign Bartz flunking his Officers Quals and the Skipper getting rid of him immediately?
Do you remember hearing that the entire crew of the Sea Cat (SS 399) non-vol'ed because their Skipper was a horror?

Do you remember our Electricians? Chief Roth, Russell Burrows, Saunders, Bill Sargent, Santino, Hollingsworth, Scorier, Tiny and Roy Yancey was a striker.

Do you remember the only FTG that we had on board who would eat 8 to 10 eggs every morning?
I wonder what his Cholesterol is like today.

Do you remember that 3rd Class Quartermaster who got caught forging signatures on his Quals Card—and they let him stay aboard!

Do you remember one of our Officers being late for quarters when we were leaving Nassau? When he did not show up, we stood down from the Maneuvering Watch and the crew was allowed to stay topside while a search party was sent out to find him. When they brought him back in a cab, the entire crew stood cheering for him.

Do you remember in Freeport, The Bahamas, when there were not enough ladies to go around and the crew drew straws to determine the “Lucky Winners”
Thank God, I was one of the losers!

Do you remember when were leaving Miami after a 3 day weekend, and there were so many people waiting to go on a tour of the boat, that the Skipper got permission to delay our getting underway for a few hours so we could accommodate everyone and then bought us a few rounds of drinks while we waited?
I Do!

Do you remember the “A” gang? Tom Sireci, Arne Weinfurter, Romano, Ty Meritt, and Carney

How about the Enginemen? Sobotka, Urban, Benson, McCain, Jimmy-Joe, Kassinger, Parker and myself, all in the AER

How about the FER? Cuzz, Carson, Morgan, Dunkin, Al Lang, Whitmire, and Burkett

Do you remember the Mini-Bex operations up and down the Atlantic Coast in early 67’ where we took out the USS Shark (an SSN) and the USS Entemedor?
I think we won our 3rd straight “E” on that one.

Do you remember that after winning that third “E” we were given a run to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans as a reward?
Do you remember the entire crew volunteering to help us rebuild the #4 engine, so we could go?
I do!

Do you remember that 8 hour Maneuvering Watch up the Mississippi?
on our way to New Orleans, and the farmhands picking cotton on the shore and not caring one bit that our Sub was there?

Do you remember Rich McCain getting sucker punched outside a bar in New Orleans And Yours Truly knocking out that guy who did it with one well placed right cross, and the girls coming to our side when the Shore Patrol wanted to bring us in?
Do you remember diving in New Orleans Harbor with the local TV camera crew on board ?
I Do!

Remember McCain and his GTO, and Santini with his brand new red Vette?
How about that yellow Porsche that was owned by that Ensign on the Picuda? Do you remember that he lost his life in the North Atlantic when he was washed overboard By a wave when he was securing some stuff that was loose in the Line locker? I don’t remember his name, and I wonder if he was ever entered in the list of the USSVI Memorial?

Do you remember the “Phantom Shitter” in the barracks in Key West? That is still a mystery to us all (except one).

Do you remember when Sea Poacher went to the yards in Philly?
Do you remember the huge holes that were cut in the Pressure Hull above each Engine Room, so the Generators could be lifted out by the Yardbirds and re-built?
Do you remember the countless hours of welding, x-raying and re-welding those patches back on?
I do!

Do you remember Sobotka building his go-cart in the Enginemen’s cage in Philly and would race it around the yard, only to have an accident with it and have to tear it apart before anyone would find him with it?
Do you remember the Battleship New Jersey getting put back into service so she could go to VietNam and our beloved Buck putting in his transfer papers to her?
Do you remember the earthquake in Oakland during the World Series a while back?
Someone told me that he had heard that Buck ( Brian K. Helms) was one of the guys that were killed in their cars when the overpass collapsed.
God, I hope not, he was a great guy!

Do you remember Fraley getting circumcised while we were in Philly, and one night Someone replaced his “Dermoplast”spray that he needed for pain with a can of deodorant?
Ron denies that ever happened, but the Shadow knows!

Do you remember our test dive at the completion of yard period?
Do you remember that when we “pulled the plug” we were so heavy forward we experienced a down angle like we never had before. I remember seeing the depth gauge passing 200 feet and hearing the surface craft telling us on the “Gertrude” “Feveroute, Feveroute, I see your screws”

I remember Cmdr Headland yelling orders to “ blow Bow Buoyancy, blow the Forward Group, Blow the After Group, blow Safety, blow Negative, blow Everything, all back Emergency Full!”

Do you remember that after getting back to the surface, the Skipper ordered most of the Officers and Chiefs to the Wardroom, to go over the Compensation figures, because, obviously the yards’ computer had screwed up. Do you remember saying a few Hail Mary’s because we had to do it all over again?
I do!

Do you remember playing softball in Key West and we played the Tirante, in their fancy black uniforms for the Championship?
Do you remember that we were losing by two runs in the very late innings, when I hit a bases-loaded double down the right field line, which cleared the bases, Only to have the umpire call me out for stepping out of the batters box. A bogus call—we needed to go to the Video tape, but Our Skipper, Officer and Gentleman that he was, told us all to behave, and that we had to abide by the umps call— We lost that game, by the margin of those runs not being scored, but we did get even with the Tirante.
Just read on.

Later on in the year, because we were the E Boat of our squadron, they used Sea Poacher for the Admirals Change of Command Ceremony.
Did you know that only hours before, in the evening, We had taken on Fuel Oil and “lost” quite a few gallons in the drink?
Did you know that the Duty Officer, Sobotka and myself ran to the nearby firehouse, got some Lengths of 2 1/2inch hose, hooked up to a hydrant, and in the cover of night, moved that fuel oil slick well down the pier, away from Sea Poacher.
In the morning, when the sun came up, that slick had settled around the Penguin ( which was the ASR) for the squadron, and guess who—the Tirante! The both of those ships swore that they were not responsible, I felt a little bad for those snipes on the Penguin, but the Tirante got what she deserved.

Do you remember when the Shore Patrol in Key West ordered all Boat sailors back to their boats immediately?
Do you remember taking on torpedoes and stores and getting underway immediately for the Med Only to turn around two days later, because the 3 Day War was over?

Do you remember our Corpsman, “Doc” Hardin getting pissed off when no one would take the “Freebies” that he would be handing out every time we pulled into a Foreign port? Or when they airlifted him off the boat via helicopter when we were in the Caribbean, because his wife was in an auto accident and died leaving him with 3 little kids.
I do!

Funny thing, I mostly remember the good things, the fun things, the things that made us stick together as a great crew.
The fact that we won that “E” three years in a row was no accident, We were a great crew!

Sea Poacher had her share of “hard-asses”, but I don’t remember them I don’t remember too much of the hard times, or the “equalizers” that we had to stand, Or cleaning the bilge, or cleaning the Lube Oil Purifier

My wife always says to me “How can you remember those few years that you spent on that submarine, better than our 38 years of Marriage and our 5 kids .” and my answer to her has been ,
“Honey, you will never know the camaraderie that we shared”

John R Saeli

(Some names have been left-out to protect the innocent!)

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