War Stories


After a few days, Sea Poacher, another sub and the sub rescue ship Penguin went 60 miles up the Charles river to Georgetown, SC for dispersal reasons. The good citizens of Georgetown opened up their Moose Club for our recreational use. The Club had a few slot machines and of course , beer , so we were happy sailors.

On the way back to Key West , the Navy had us go to Fort Lauderdale , Florida by ourselves. We tied up to a pier at the end of a railroad line. The US Army's 2nd Armored Division , from Fort Hood , Texas, was off-loading at this site from the railroad and re-loading on Invasion craft. We had over 100, 000 US Army troops ready for the Invasion, as well as 40, 000 US Marines . The US Navy had completely blockaded the seas. We had the Russians and Cubans right where we wanted them. It was up to President Kennedy to decide whether or not to use us to eliminate that " nest of vipers".

The last US Army tank which was off-loaded from the train main diesel wouldn't run. A separate gasoline engine ran the fuel pump for the diesel. A poor US Army Lieutenant was supervising one skilled tank mechanic and two tool passing helpers. Of the four of them , only the skilled mechanic knew what he was doing. Of course , 100 submarine sailors couldn't help but point out to our Army brethren how pathetic they were!

Eventually , the Army Lieutenant had had enough , and made a call over his jeep's radio. Soon , a Sergeant Snorkel look- alike showed up . He was pot bellied , and wore no specialist markings. His pants were WW I style cavalry , that is , with wings at the mid leg position. His hash marks indicated 20 plus years in the Army. It turned out his speciality was " Motivation via four letter words". He started barking out orders, and the tool helpers rapidly assisted the mechanic. Soon the main engine was running , and then the tank 's turret rotated and pointed their main cannon at our sub! Point well taken, we subs sailors stopped harassing the tank crew!

Right after arriving at Fort Lauderdale , 3/4 of the crew were granted Liberty and took off. I had to stay several hours waiting for one of the main motor's auxiliary fan motors to cool down. After cool down , I had to repair this motor and replace its brushes. I then cleaned up and went topside to catch up with the rest of the crew. Our Captain was also just leaving and he asked where everyone went. I told him the " Peppermint Lounge " , and he said let's go. We shared a cab to the Lounge.

Senator Claude Pepper ( he might have been a Congressman in Nov 1962 ) was there, and he bought our Sea Poacher crew a round of beers. The Peppermint Lounge had Go-Go Girls in cages , and lots of Twist music from the band.

Our Captain observed the method of proper "Twisting " and went to the far reaches of the dance floor. Several of us sailors spotted him and joined together in shouting and clapping " Go Captain Go !". The lounge was full of college students , and they were amazed to see that the submarine crew , officers and enlisted , were so close..but that's how it is with shared danger.

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