USS Spikefish (
Newsletter of the USS SPIKEFISH (
Originated in 1982 by Plank owner Jim Green
Editor Emeritus: C.T. Cooper 468
(302) 674-0889 firstname.lastname@example.org
(714) 897-5002 email@example.com
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
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………..
10000th Dive Follow Up: In the last newsletter, I wrote that Bill “Hog” Hample was
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
(Editor’s note: I have
several more correspondence photographed at the Submarine Force Library that I will save for another issue –
Spikefish Tying up at the Pier
Charles “Gunner” Evans
(Editor’s note: I
would like to thank Gunner Evans and
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.
Pettengill, EM (SS), USS Spikefish (
(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
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
Back a few years he took us on a tour of a boat tied up in
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
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.
( 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
I plan to drive to NLON on
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 has
told me that he would come up from
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
The front has the words “USS Spikefish” above a set of dolphins
Sizes Med through XXL $16.00 including shipping
Sizes XXXL and XXXXL $19.00 including shipping
Hats, Caps, Shirts etc.:
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
Caps & Shirts: SPIKEFISH above the dolphins and
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
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 ………
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
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 '
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.