War Stories


Eventually in late November 1962 , we went to Guantanamo Bay , Cuba. We entered the Bay at night and I was on the bow. Suddenly , without warning , all the US Navy Cruisers and Destroyers in the bay and the US Marines ashore with their artillery and tanks started firing star shells into the night sky. It was the most spectacular fireworks show I've ever seen.

My first thought was that World War III has just started and ( since our biggest gun was a Thompson sub-machine gun ) that our submarine was in the wrong place at the wrong time! It turned out that this fireworks show was a nightly show of force to Fidel Castro and his troops surrounding the US Naval Base at "Gitmo". The message we transmitted by the nightly show was " look at all the stuff we can throw , do you really want to cross the barbed wire and our fence?"

The navy had evacuated all dependants from the base and all woman personnel. Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine did visit our sub while we were there. Also, Perry Como and his troup where at Gitmo putting on USO type shows for us and also for his Christmas Special. Besides Perry , he had dancers , and Senor Wencis ( hand puppet guyÖThat's Allright.) We really had no place to go , so we had hung a sheet off a barge next to our sub and showed my 25 movies. We put 10 cent beer in a garbage can filled with ice on the pier, and sat on the pier watching the movies. Perry Como is a down to earth kind of guy. The Navy and Marine officers planned on having him going to a different Officer's Club every night after his shows for the week he'd be there. Instead , at the first Officer's Club, one of our sub's Ensigns asked him for a ride back to Sea Poacher. When Perry and his brother arrived, we greeted him. We showed him where the steaks were located , how to fire up the sub's grill , and generally , make himself at home.

Guess what? Every night after his shows , he'd come to watch movies, drink a few 10 cent beers , and make his own steak sandwich! Also , he told the Show girls to go "visit the Submarine". The Admiral's quickly sent us away to Ocho Rios , Jamaica for a weekend. We originally were due back to Gitmo , but Ed Sullivan and his crew were coming in for another Christmas Special ( and they knew we would "Steal Ed" ) , so the Admiral sent us back to Key West around the west coast of Cuba.

Our adventures were not over. All the way back we were on the surface. Suddenly , we dived , stayed down a few hours , and then surfaced to continue to Key West. Three months later , Roach Rossell visited me in Roanoke , Virginia and told me why we dived. It turns out that a Russian ship reported a US Submarine diving near her , and the Russians accused us of taping their screw sounds for later target identification. Russia complained to the UN as the Crises was not over and this incident made the New York Times !

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