Hal Silverman

USS Spikefish ( SS404)

15142 Vermont St

Westminster, CA 92683

!!Jumping Fireworks!!

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: I would like to thank everybody for their kind words over the holiday season that has just passed. I appreciate all of the seasons greeting that we received from you.

I have been asked what I am going to do for 2004 and beyond. Well, since this is your newsletter, I am open to suggestions. I would suggest that if you are moving or have changed E Mail addresses, please let me know. Getting returned mail is not cost effective and since I rely on your generosity to support the newsletter, then please take a minute and drop me a note when you are moving.

In the meantime, I am going to search for articles that pertain to the boat and those who served on her. I also have a stock of Dex Armstrong articles that I intend to publish as well as other timely submarine articles that I think will be of interest.

So, the plan of the day is to enjoy the newsletter, drop me a note if you find other shipmates, and in return I will try and keep this paper interesting……….. Hal

10000th Dive Follow Up: In the last newsletter, I wrote that Bill “Hog” Hample was going to New London over the holidays and was going to get a picture of the 10000th dive plaque.  So far I have not received the picture.

In the meantime, my nephew took his son to NLON to go aboard the USS Nautilus (SSN571). He called me from his home in NJ and asked if he could take any pictures when he visited the boat and the museum.

I told him of our quest to take a picture of the plaque and, he agreed to try and accomplish this for me. Unfortunately, the plaque is stored in a building on the base and was unavailable to be photographed.

However, we are not going to give up and we are formulating another approach to do this. Stay tuned for the next installment.

More ON THE 10000th Dive: The following correspondences were photographed at the Submarine Force Library, Groton Ct. I have taken the liberty to copy the text into the newsletter because the quality of the photograph would not import very well.

FROM: SECRETARY OF THE NAVY

TO: USS SPIKEFISH ( SS404)

INFO: CINCLANTFLT

          COMSUBLANT

HEARTIEST CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING THE FIRST SUBMARINE TO MAKE 10000 DIVES. THIS PERFORMANCE IS VIVID TESTIMONY TO THE EXCELLENCE OF THE SPIKEFISH AS A SHIP AND TO THE OUTSTANDING CALIBER OF THE MEN WHO MAN HER.  WELL DONE.

FRED A. BANTZ

ACTING SECRETARY OF THE NAVY

FROM: CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS

TO: USS SPIKEFISH ( SS404)

INFO: COMSUBLANT

          CINCLANTFLT

AS THE FIRST SUBMARINE TO REACH THE ASTOUNDING TOTAL OF 10000 DIVES, PLEASE ACCEPT MY WARMEST CONGRATULATIONS X THE SPIKEFISH’S TEN THOUSANDTH DIVE ILLUSTRATES THE HIGH DEGREE OF EXCELLENCE OF THE CREW AND HER BUILDERS AND BRINGS ANOTHER PRIDEFULL “FIRST” TO THE SUBMARINE SERVICE AND TO OUR NAVY. IN THE FUTURE EVEN AS SUBMARINE TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES FARTHER, THE RECORD OF THE SPIKEFISH WILL BE A HARD ONE TO BEAT X WELL DONE

                                                          ARLEIGH BURKE

(Editor’s note: I have several more correspondence photographed at the Submarine Force Library that I will save for another issue – Hal)

Spikefish Tying up at the Pier

By

Charles “Gunner” Evans

(Editor’s note: I would like to thank Gunner Evans and Al McGuire for allowing me to reprint his painting and letting all of you enjoy his work. The painting was originally presented as a gift to Al McGuire by Gunner …….. Hal)

Welcome Aboard:

Through a chance encounter at a hospital, James Adams noticed a fellow wearing a baseball cap with USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) on the front. After a short conversation James learned that Harmon Favors EMCSS served aboard the Spikefish.

I have added Harmon to our data base and have sent him the last JF.

Obituaries: Kenneth Pettengill, EM (SS), USS Spikefish ( SS404) 1945 to 1946

(This is a reprint that I received from Mr. Pettengill’s son William)

Dear Mr. Silverman,

It is with deep regret that I have to write to you that my father, Kenneth Pettengill, former electrician’s mate on the Spikefish in ’45 and ’46 “passed over the bar” as we say here on Cape Cod. He died June 7th after a brief illness.

My father was very proud of his service on the Spikefish, of his boat, his crew mates, and United States Submariners. Since I was a boy, I would listen to “what it was like”: of the Great Lakes Naval training center, the long train rides to San Francisco, shipping out to the Pacific. Stories of tuning top secret cavity magnetrons to find out which one’s worked best, then throwing the rest, under orders, overboard. Of getting a 5 minute shower once a week. Climbing a palm tree during R&R – and getting some jungle rot on his legs from the tree. The cure? Torpedo alcohol applied topically ( burned like hell). 2 bottles of warm 3.2 beer on some island every once in a while. The long tedium-then the sinking  of a Japanese submarine in the closing days of the war-dodging mines, heading home of a furious storm off the coast of Mexico which made submerging impossible – the passage of the Canal and arrival home in early ’46-and all of the parades were over.

Back a few years he took us on a tour of a boat tied up in Fall River Massachusetts- and took us aside and pointed out things he could still recall. Quietly, people began to join our little group because “here was someone that had been there”. The volunteers who gave tours shanghaied him into giving the next two tours.

My father went on to do many things-graduated MIT, had 8 children, was married for 56 years. But always he was very proud of his service and the Spikefish. Above the mantelpiece of the family home on Cape Cod there is a large photo of the Spikefish underway.

I hope that you, and all of your brethren who have earned your dolphins, will find time to raise a glass in honor of boat and shipmate.

Best Wishes,

William Pettengill.

( Editors note: If any of you that served with Kenneth Pettengill have any stories that you with to share with his family, please write to William Pettengill, 867 Long Pond Road, Brewster MA 02631)

We are like PBS: Well folks, we are like Public Broadcasting, this the time when we do “begging for dollars”.  The newsletter has been published with the funds sent to me by Al Jesshope and some donations  from you over the past year or so.

The fund that supports the newsletter has enough money to fund this and one more newsletter.  To give you an idea of the costs to produce this letter, we send out one hundred copies of the letter. It runs $1.60 for each copy.

We defray some of expense by E Mailing copies to those of you that have computers. I think that list has about 40+ names.

So it is time to reach down into your pockets, and then send a small donation to me.

Reunion Stuff: While there is no formal reunion planned for 2004, my plans are to be in Providence RI for my high school reunion ( Number 50) on June 12th.

I plan to drive to NLON on June 15, 2004 for a few days and then return to RI and fly back to California.

If anyone has an interest meet up and having dinner let me know.  At this writing, Ken “Gil” Guilfoil has indicated that he has to be in the NOLN area to attend a high school graduation. Al McGuire, Gunner Evans and Ben Twombly have expressed an interest to meet up in NLON during that week.

Al McGuire has told me that he would come up from North Carolina to meet up with Gil and me.

If anyone else is interested, let me know.

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 $16.00 including shipping

Sizes XXXL and XXXXL $19.00 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.

Windbreaker:

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 $35 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 $15 includes shipping

Caps with scrambled eggs $17.50 includes shipping

Shirts with either gold or silver dolphins $25.00 includes shipping

Sizes SM to XXL

Note: “SILENT SERVICE” may be substituted for the words SPIKEFISH    SS404 on the caps or shirts.

Patch:  $5.25 each. The design is the same as is on the cover sheet of the newsletter. It is on a 4” diameter circle and is suitable for sewing on to your Sub-Vets vest.

Note: We have 5 caps with smaller than normal lettering that we are selling for $13.50. This includes shipping.

(Remember that the sale of the small stores goes to help offset the cost of the newsletter ……… Hal)

OK my fellow DBFers, you old Stink Boat Sailors. Get all wet and read on, perhaps this will bring back a memory or two. Salivate and remember. HooYa.

The Submariner's Seabag

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

   
There was a time when everything you owned had to fit in your seabag. Remember those nasty rascals? Fully packed, one of the sonuvabitches weighed more than the poor devil hauling it. The damn things weighed a ton and some idiot with an off-center sense of humor sewed a carry handle on it to help you haul it. Hell, you could bolt a handle on a Greyhound bus but it wouldn't make the damn thing portable.

The Army, Marines and Air Force got footlockers and we got a big ole' canvas bag.

After you warped your spine jackassing the goofy thing through a bus or train station, sat on it waiting for connecting transportation and made folks mad because it was too gahdam big to fit in any overhead rack on any bus, train and airplane ever made, the contents looked like hell. All your gear appeared to have come from bums who slept on park benches.

Traveling with a seabag was something left over from the 'Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum' sailing ship days.

Sailors used to sleep in hammocks. You stowed your issue in a big canvas bag and lashed your hammock to it, hoisted it on your shoulder and in effect, moved your entire home and complete inventory of earthly possessions from ship to ship. I wouldn't say you traveled light because with one strap it was a one-shoulder load that could torque your skeletal frame and bust your ankles. It was like hauling around a dead linebacker.

They wasted a lot of time in boot camp telling you how to pack one of the sonuvabitches. There was an officially sanctioned method of organization that you forgot after ten minutes on the other side of the gate at Great Lakes. You got rid of a lot of issue gear when you went to the boats. Did you ever know a smokeboat sailor who had a raincoat? A flat hat? One of those nut-hugger knit swimsuits? How bout those roll your own neckerchiefs... The ones the girls in a good Naval tailor shop would cut down and sew into a 'greasy snake' for two bucks?

Within six months, every boat sailor was down to one set of dress blues, port and starboard undress blues and whites, a couple of raghats, boots, shoes, assorted skivvies a peacoat and three sets of leper colony-looking dungarees.

The rest of your original issue was either in the tender lucky bag or had been reduced to wipe down rags in the engineroom.

Submarines were not ships that allowed vast accumulation of private gear. Hobos who lived in discarded refrigerator crates could amass greater loads of pack rat crap than boatsailors. The confines of a diesel boat side locker and a couple of bunk bags did not allow one to live a Donald Trump existence.

Space and the going pay scale at the anchor end of the submersible social order combined to make us envy the lifestyle of a mud hut Ethiopian. We were the global equivalents of nomadic Monguls without ponies to haul our stuff. And after the rigid routine of boot camp we learned the skill of random compression packing... Known by mothers world-wide as 'cramming'. It is amazing what you can jam into a space no bigger than a breadbox if you pull a watch cap over a boot and push it in with your foot… Of course it looks kinda weird when you pull it out but they never hold fashion shows at sea and wrinkles added character underwater appearance.

There was a four-hundred mile gap between the images on recruiting posters and the actual appearance of submarine sailors at sea. It was not without justifiable reason that we were called the 'sewer pipe' Navy.

We operated on the premise that if 'Cleanliness was next to Godliness', we must be next to the other end of that spectrum... We looked like our clothing had been pressed with a waffle iron and packed by a bulldozer. But what in the hell did they expect from a bunch of jerks hot-sacking in a 'Hogan's Alley Hell Hole' on a contraption that leaked like a screen door and smelled like a skunk jamboree?

After a while you got used to it... You got used to everything you owned picking up and retraining that distinctive pig boat aroma... You got used to old ladies on busses taking a couple of wrinkled nose sniffs of your peacoat then getting up and finding another seat... It came with Dolphins.

Do they still issue seabags? Can you still make five bucks sitting up half the night drawing a diesel boat and Dolphins on the side of one of the damn things with black and white marking pens that drive old master-at-arms into a 'rig for heart attack' frenzy? Make their faces red... The veins on their neck bulge out... And yell, "Jeezus H. Christ! What in god's name is that all over your seabag?" "Artwork, Chief... It's like the work of Michelangelo... Dolphins... My boat... Great huh?"
"Looks like some gahdam comic book..."

Here was a man with cobras tattooed on his arms... A skull with a dagger through one eye and a ribbon reading 'DEATH BEFORE SHORE DUTY' on his shoulder... Crossed anchors with ' Subic Bay 1945' on the other shoulder... An eagle on his chest and a full blown Chinese dragon peeking out between the cheeks of his butt. If anyone was an authority on stuff that looked like a comic book, it had to be this E-8 sonuvabitch.

Sometimes I look at all the crap stacked in my garage, close my eyes and smile, remembering a time when everything I owned could be crammed into a canvas bag. Maturity is hell.

If my feeble mind is working, this looks like Bill Dretke in the foreground and Mike Matonic in the rear on the planes. I believe that is Chief Carlen standing in the rear. 

Any help is greatly appreciated as to the occasion. It may have been the 9000th or 10000th dive.

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