Hal Silverman

USS Spikefish (SS404)

15142 Vermont St

Westminster, CA 92683


Jumping Fireworks

Newsletter of the USS SPIKEFISH ( SS404)

Originated in 1982 by Plank Owner Jim Green

Editor Emeritus: C.T. Cooper 468 Alder Road, Dover, DE 19904-4877

(302) 674-0889 coopct@dmv.com

Editor: Hal Silverman, 15142 Vermont St, Westminster, CA 92683

(714) 897-5002 ha.silverman@verizon.net

Spikefish: The name given to the marlins or spearfish in the family of Istiophridae. Spikefish is usually applied to the striped marlin in the Pacific off the West Coast of the United States .


Editorial: By God it is spring time again and, the ice on the Thames River in NLON has begun to thaw. It is time for me to get underway and start cranking out a news letter. I would like to thank the immense staff of reporters that have contributed articles and pictures to the making of the newsletter. Keep them coming.

I read recently that the Navy is going to re-deploy several boats to Guam. For a then single guy, I thought Key West was bad. I wonder what liberty is going to be like in Guam.

For those ex QMs, get a copy of Victory at Sea and you can practice your reception of flashing light. I had the opportunity to see it again after many years and I was surprised at my self to be able pick out letters on flashing light after almost 50 years.

We are like PBS: It has been over a year since I have asked for donations. It is time to reach down in your in your pockets and send out a small donation to the Jumping Fireworks.

T o keep the cost down, I E-Mail as many copies as I can. The cost of printing and postage is typically about $1.50 per copy including postage. That depends upon the number of pages that are copied. I have the pages copied on both sides to reduce the number of pages copied.

We have enough in the kitty to send out this edition of the newsletter.

Happenings………Correspondence…………Visual Sightings

Dale Rorabough wrote and told me that he is going to retire this year and that he and his wife Pat were going to do some traveling. We want to wish both of them many years of happy retirement.

I recently got this picture from Morley Juby. Here is what your shipmates look like 40 years later. Morley, thanks for the picture. Hal

Walter Schmidt on the left and Morley Juby on the right.

Welcome Aboard: I recently went through the web site subsailors.com and came up with several new names. I have included them on the mailing list………….Hal

Clifford “Don” Atkins

PO Box 943

Bertram, TX 78605



I have received several E Mails from Don and put him in touch with Gunner Evans. Both the guys have been able to hook up on the telephone for an over the phone “reunion”

Gary Hughes (EN2SS)


Gary swapped aboard the Spikefish from the Angler (SSK240) just before the boat transferred to Key West. He and his wife just celebrated 47 years of marriage.  He and Jon Kusluch became friends on the boat.

Chuck Keebler (MM2SS)


Chuck sent me a short note and referred to a time when C.J. Glassford missed the boat during WWII in the Pacific. (CJ any comments!!!)

George L. Graveson ( XO 10/61 ~ 03/63)


George, you were most fortunate to be assigned to one of the best boats in the fleet.  I am glad that it turned out to be a wonderful experience for you.

Robert A. Brouse

800 Cherry Hill Rd

Bloomsburg, PA 17815-8978

570-784-9311 Home

570-594-9311 Cell


Editor’s note: For those names listed above, I would appreciate it if you could fill in some missing blanks. I would like to get your addresses and telephone numbers rates/rank when you were on the boat and possibly your rate/rank when you left the Navy…..Hal


Robert Francis Keegan was ordered to eternal patrol February 2, 2004. I was informed by Ken Jacobs, Secretary Runner Chapter US Submarine Veterans WWII

He is interred at St. John’s Cemetery located in his area.

Grieve not

Nor speak of me

With tears

But laugh

And talk of me

As though I were

Beside you

I love you so

‘twas Heaven

Here with you.

Sailor rest your oars

May you now have fair winds, a following sea, & Godspeed

Congratulations to Ernie Plantz. As indicated in the recent article below, it was recently announced by Governor Rell that Ernie was in the first group of 10 people in CT elected to the CT VETERANS HALL OF FAME. What a distinguished honor, and there couldn't be a finer choice.  There will be a ceremony 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in the Hall of Flags at the state Capitol to honor Ernie and the other inductees. I am planning on attending, and I encourage as many of you who can attend to join me in supporting Ernie as a group in supporting Ernie. For those interested in Car Pooling up there to Hartford, plans are to meet at the club at 12:45, and be on the road no later than 1 pm. If you would like to car pool up there please be at the club on time. Vests and hats are recommended, but not required.

Waterford, Ledyard Men Are Named To New State Veterans Hall Of Fame

Ernest Plantz

Day Staff Writer, Waterford
Published on 11/2/2005

A Waterford school superintendent who wrote propaganda for the Army during the Vietnam War and a Gales Ferry veteran disabled by the ravages of a prison camp during World War II will be among the first inductees to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office announced Tuesday that 10 men with ties to Connecticut have been selected for the honor, including Randall H. Collins of Waterford and retired Navy Lt. Ernest V. Plantz of Gales Ferry.

Also to be inducted are former President George H.W. Bush, Nathan Agostinelli of Manchester, Bruce Ey of Wethersfield, Dr. James Peters of Storrs, Joseph Lombardo of Middlefield, Giacomo “Jack” Mordente of Branford, William Coffey of Plainville and Norman VanCor of Harwinton.

According to Adam Liegeot, a spokesman for Rell, the governor decided early this year to establish the Hall of Fame and began soliciting nominations in March. Of the 70 people recommended, the honorees were the best examples of those who followed military service with service to their community in civilian life, Liegeot said.

“This is a first,” Liegeot said. “The governor thought this would be a nice lasting tribute to veterans and all they've done for Connecticut.”

Plantz served as an electrician's mate on the submarine USS Perch, which was destroyed by the Japanese. He spent more than three years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp on an Indonesian island, where he suffered the effects of starvation, malaria and dysentery. Permanently disabled, he earned a Purple Heart and served 30 years in the Navy and 10 years on Ledyard's Planning & Zoning Commission.

Jane Smith of Norwich, a close family friend, nominated Plantz, whom she described as giving and upbeat. Plantz is active in the Lion's Club and until recently helped deliver meals to the needy, she said.

“I gripe about my aches and pains, and here's a person who's been through so much,” Smith said.

Collins spent a year in South Vietnam writing leaflets that were dropped on enemy territory in an effort to get Vietnamese soldiers to defect. He earned several medals and upon returning home took a job as a Head Start teacher. Over 18 years, he has made his mark as a superintendent in three school districts.

According to Enrico DeMatto, a former Waterford school administrator who nominated him, Collins was one of the first educators in the country to institute Learning Through Service requirements for high school students. He has been named the state's Superintendent of the Year and a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club.

“I thought about all the things he has accomplished, and I thought he'd be the perfect candidate,” DeMatto said.

Reached by phone Tuesday, both men said they felt honored by the tribute.

“I've always had a bent for civic involvement and community service,” Collins said. “The message is, we need to give back to the community, and there's a price for freedom.”

“I've always had a strong desire to help other people,” Plantz said. “Aside from learning a trade in the military, I felt my military service was important to the nation.”

An induction ceremony is set for 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in the Hall of Flags at the state Capitol.

John J. Carcioppolo
SUBVETS Groton Base  First and Finest
Base Commander

Editors Note: This was reprinted from the Groton Base Sub-Vets newsletter……Hal

Hello ~ Maxine Rides Again !!\

Another tip of the old chief’s hat to Yeoman Fred Young for Maxine…………Hal

Down Memory Lane

Fred and Penny Young                                                                       Jerry and Joan Bledsoe

Editor’s Note: The above pictures were taken at a Spikefish picnic in 1955. Many thanks again to Fred Young for the pictures. Jerry Bledsoe was a QM1(SS) during the time I was on the boat….Hal

Here is another classic by Dex Armstrong.

Off Watch at Sea

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

The late night hours underway submerged became late in life, gentle memories.

Night people have always been a different breed of cat. There's something kinda special about people who own the middle of the night...cab drivers; Waffle House waitresses; 'Dirty Apron Bill', the short order cook at the I-95 truck stop; and midnight shift highway patrolmen. Great people, great conversationalists...there are few competing distractions so you tend to pay more attention to what people say during the hours most folks are sleeping.

Coffee always tastes better when it has percolated to the point of massive liquid reduction...stuff one step above hot tar. Coffee that can pop rivet your eyelids to your eyebrows...a concoction resembling boiled Egyptian mummy wrappings or Pakistani bunion pads. Late night submarine, bottom of the pot midwatch, wake the dead, put hair on your chest jamoke can dissolve your adenoids.

But, you never forget it...and you never get any cup of coffee that matches submarine midwatch coffee the rest of your life.

When you turn in to an after battery rack...as you are corking off you can pick up bits and pieces of messdeck conversation as on duty crewmen pass through the crews' mess airlock door.

"Yeah...Mary told him to..."

Then the door would close.

"Back around 1952, my old man..."

And then the door would shut again. You never learned what his dad did in 1952. If it was one of those mid-western farm kids, his dad probably bought a damn hay baler or married some big, corn fed gal with John Deere tractor seat butt.

It was great layin' there in your hot sack rack picking up bits and pieces of late night 'Go nowhere' pass the time, revelations.

Every smokeboat sailor had those gentle memories.

Aft of the After Battery berthing compartment was the enlisted head.

Here you could pick up entire conversations from guys using the side-by-side, port and starboard sinks...or between some using the urinal and some socially convivial bluejacket with his butt parked on a freckle maker head seat.

"Hey Pete...That you?"

"Yeah...it's me...That you, Ralph?"

"It's me...Hey, when we pull in tomorrow morning, you got the duty?"

"Naw...Section Three has the duty...I'm in two."

"You hittin' the beach?"

"Yeah, if the COB opens the Saltwater Savings and Loan."

Note: Slush Funds were totally illegal and outlawed by the United States Navy...they operated far beyond anything remotely resembling Federal banking regulation, inspection or protection. It was a cross between an Aboriginal headhunters' credit union and the booty split of the brotherhood of pirates.

The Chief of Naval Operations and Secretary of the Navy had no idea of the complexity of E-3 finances and the periodic difficulty of financing a night of inebriated lust.

Our slush fund was run out of a beat-up 'Have-a-Tampa' cigar box in the COB's bunk locker. Every payday, the animals tossed five bucks in the box. You could borrow $10.00 for $11.00 or $20.00 for $22.00. Profits went to beer ball games, ships parties aft of the conning tower fairwater, Luaus, and flowers for deceased people...and one baby crib for a strapped E-3 new dad.

The Saltwater Savings and Loan was a great, faith based financial institution, that saved more submarine sailors than Billy Graham.

All night long, the lads on duty in the maneuvering room and both engine rooms sent men forward to get coffee.

Another set of sounds that originated from the crews' mess were the rattle of silverware being washed and the banging of pots, pans, aluminum trays and crockery. Mess cooking was not a delicate art...the mess cooks created racket like tossing horseshoes on a tin roof.

But the racket was a familiar sound...one of those comforting sounds that a boatsailor accepted as indicating all being right in the underwater environment in which he lived.

Every time someone passed through the watertight door from the forward engine room, you would get a momentary ear full of the pounding of a pair of Fairbanks-Morse 38D rock crushers...then it would suddenly stop and you would hear the click of the spring loaded latch.

Some nights, cooks and mess cooks would play hell with your sleep when they started rooting around the compartment in search of the location of specific canned goods needed for future meal preparation.

"Jeezus, what in the hell's going on?"

"Lookin' for some gahdam cans of beans."

"You gotta disturb a working sailor's sleep to find a couple of cans of lousy beans??"

"There isn't a sailor sleeping back here that would qualify as a working sailor on his best day."

"Yeah...nobody listens to a stupid, worthless canned food heater-upper."

"Mickey...don't bother to ask what's in the soup the next time yours tastes like somebody peed in it."

Nonsensical, go absolutely nowhere conversation between men who would have shown up for a kidney transplant if either needed one. The gentle, no malice bullshit that was the common coin of diesel submariners.

No narrative of the nocturnal activities of the underwater kingdom would be complete without mentioning the acid-eaten dungaree voltage ferrets...the main power electricians.

Those bastards would show up...open a manhole hinged door in the thwart ships passageway and drop down into a world where they snaked around taking battery temperatures and topping the cells off with pure distilled water. In short, they feed the electron wizards that pushed us through saltwater below snorkel depth.

In my tour in the boats, I never met a bad electrician. They, like enginemen, machinist mates and other auxiliary rates were numbered among God's most generous people.

I have no idea what late night sounds a modern day sailor will carry with him into old age, but, I do know, having seen living conditions aboard the most recent classes of the modern high-tech submersibles, there are certain memories we will not share in common.

No modern day nuke rider will carry the memory of feet in stinking socks stepping on him on the way to an upper bunk just below an air conditioning condensate drip pan.

He won't have memories of waking up to a close-up view of a bare butt when the Chief Corpsman was conducting a sick call crab check in Hogan's Alley.

He won't remember the aromatic wonder fog that accompanies the venting of #2 Sanitary Tank Inboard.

He won't remember midwatch cheese sandwiches made from Navy contract self-healing, scab forming mayonnaise and sliced cheese that could patch a tractor tire blowout.

He, or maybe she in the not so distant future, won't leave the boat service with memories of CPO dried armpit salt stains that would deflect a 20mm round.

Each generation will collect memories to pass on to downline generations.

These are mine...the ones I carry in my heart of wonderful times spent among the finest men I would ever know during the time I spent as an oxygen thief on this planet.


Spikefish Small Stores:

We have added a T shirt to our product line. It is in white and features Gunner Evans’ painting on the back with the words above the painting “USS Spikefish SS404” above the picture and the words Mission Accomplished” below the picture.

The front has the words “USS Spikefish” above a set of dolphins and SS404” below the dolphins.

Sizes Med through XXL $17.00 including shipping

Sizes XXXL and XXXXL $20.00 including shipping

Hats, Caps, Shirts etc.:  Al McGuire and I are still pushing the cap and shirts. We are also adding a patch that can be sewed on your jacket or WWII Sub Vets Vest.


I have been wearing a light windbreaker and it is great for the autumn or spring. The color is black and will be embroidered the name of the boat, gold or silver dolphins and SS404 below the dolphins.  I have also had a patch sewed on to the jacket. The sale price is $40 including shipping. This does not include the patch .Sizes are from Medium to XXL.

Caps & Shirts: SPIKEFISH above the dolphins and SS404 below the dolphins.

Caps with either Gold or Silver Dolphins $18.50 includes shipping

Caps with scrambled eggs $21.00includes shipping

Shirts with either gold or silver dolphins $27.50 includes shipping

Sizes SM to XXL

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