P.O.D.

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USS WILLIAM H. BATES (SSN 680) tied up pier-side in Diego Garcia, B.I.O.T. circa 1983, reminding us that freedom is bought with nothing less than the sacrifice of our veterans.

(Originally posted on www.ssn-680.org for Veterans day 2018. and revised for www.coldwarboats.org)

Veterans Day…

You called. You called for aid, for someone to stand in the gap. You called in war, because the enemy was at the gates. You called in peace, because the price of peace is eternal vigilance. You called because there was no alternative…

We answered. We all had our reasons, but we answered the call. We put on the uniform. We kissed our wives and sweethearts goodbye, and walked across the brow to take up life on a 5500 ton, 300 foot long, nuclear-powered submarine. Most of those days we had no idea when, or even if we would return. Often we didn’t know where we were going until the hatches were closed and sealed, the boat was submerged, and we were well underway into our next mission. But we answered.

We didn’t count the cost. We didn’t ask how much, or how long, or why. We just went. We left our homes, and endured months and years of physical and mental training to prepare us to fight. We surrendered our rights under the Constitution and lived under the Uniform Code of Military Justice because we learned that practicing democracy is not effective in defending democracy.

We trained, and drilled, and trained and drilled some more, sometimes to the point of exhaustion and collapse, because we learned the hard way that you bleed in training so you don’t bleed in combat. We often spent 11 months out of 12 at sea, because submarines are not meant for the comfort of the harbor, but the danger of the deep blue, and it would not be prudent to let the enemy bring the fight to us.

We voluntarily gave ourselves to the service of the U.S. Navy, without regard to the impact it would have on our life, our schedules, our plans, our careers, our families, or our future. We even offered up our very lives, gratefully spared, so that we might be here today to celebrate Veterans Day, and not remembered under a slab of white granite on Memorial Day.

We spent very little, if any, time thinking about these things. We simply answered the call. We groused and complained, because that is what sailors do, but we did what had to be done, every single time.

One hundred and twenty of us lived together in a submarine 300 feet long and 30 feet in diameter. We came from every corner of the country. Alaska to Florida, Hawaii to Maine, and all points in between, and some points across the sea. We found that where you were from mattered little compared to what you could do for the mission.

We represented every strata of our economy and culture. Wealthy, poor, single, married, inner city, upscale suburbs, rural farms and ranches. We found that financial situation and the community you were raised in made no difference at all provided it had taught you respect, responsibility, integrity, and all the things that build a reliable character.

Every race, color and creed worked side by side. Black, mocha, cappuccino, brown, tan, bronze, golden, pink, ashen, white, albino, and every shade in between, which meant precious little, because we all bled red, froze blue, and a few minutes on the surface in a confused sea turned most of us green.

College degrees, high-school diplomas, and self-taught polymaths lived and worked side by side. If you had knowledge and information, you shared it because your survival might depend on it.

Religion and spirituality? We ran the gamut. From atheist to Bible-thumper, Christian or Jew, agnostic or animistic, we were learning that we had much more in common than we had that was different.

We lived in a crucible. It wasn’t easy, but we had no choice but to make it work. It molded us into a sophisticated weapon, merging man and machine into a single mission-oriented entity. Our character was forged on the anvil of submarine hull metal under the hammer of crisis and conflict, and tempered by the depth and breadth of the indifferent and unforgiving sea.

But we answered. We didn’t do it for glory, and certainly not for the money, thin as it was. We each had our reasons, and we are proud to have answered the call. We didn’t do it for thanks, or the veterans discount, or free meals on Veterans Day, or even the reserved parking spot, though we are appreciative and flattered that you would remember us in this fashion. We probably could not even have articulated why we we served back when we were serving. It was just simply the thing we had to volunteer to do.

Today we look back and perhaps we see more clearly. It strikes many of us that we did what needed to be done then so that all of us, not just us veterans, but each person who calls him or herself an American could live with the same opportunity that we shared when this adventure called life started for us. The opportunity of freedom to choose, freedom to succeed, freedom to live as we desired, and perhaps most importantly, freedom to say what we think. Our forefathers said it more succinctly in the Declaration of Independence - they sought what we defended - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Today we see a country divided. A country that struggles to find its lost national identity, once a country of opportunity and a beacon of hope to those that were poor and oppressed. A country that, despite all this, is still those things, even though our reputation is tarnished and stained. And we grieve.

We swore an oath, to support and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that oath, as is often tritely said, has no expiration date. An oath that requires us to speak up for which we paid such a high price. It is not sufficient to sit idly by while our freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness is denigrated by those that would divide or destroy the country that so many have given so much to preserve.

So to close, I would ask simply this. If you truly are thankful for your veterans and what they have bought you, and I suspect that deep down, you are, then live as if that is the case.

Simply live a grateful, thankful, life.

Live every day with gratitude, in everything you say and everything you do, for the men and women of this country that, sacrificing everything, put their lives on hold, and sometimes gave them up that you, yes, even you, would have the freedoms, the prosperity, and the rights and privileges that you do.

We have done what you asked us to do. We answered the call.

It is now up to you to carry this forward.

Earn it, with gratitude.

 

 

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USS WILLIAM H. BATES (SSN 680) - ETR2(SS) Curt Folio, LTJG Jeff Griffiths, ETR2(SS) Ken Deakyne, and LTJG John Dempsey find something to smile about on a bright Ft. Lauderdale morning prepping for public visitor tours ~ 1976 (Neal Degner)

Are you wondering why your registration for Cold War Boats has never been approved?

Do you want to make sure you don't miss any Familygrams?

Are you hoping to reconnect with old shipmates, but you haven't been contacted?

Here are three tips to help you stay connected:

USS WILLIAM H. BATES (SSN 680), Diego Garcia, 1983

It is the fourth of July, and it seems both fitting and proper to remind you of what we do at Cold War Boats to honor the memory of those who gave so much to preserve the freedoms on which this country was founded and that have so long endured.

The Cold War Boats Association exists in service to the men who served on the submarines of the United States Navy Submarine Service during the forty-six years of the Cold War, those sailors that supported them, their families, friends, and associates.

The three-fold mission of the Association is:

  • Assisting shipmates from years ago in reconnecting, simply, easily, and without compromising their privacy,
  • Preserving the unclassified history of Cold War submarine crews and their boats in the form of photographs, stories, artifacts, and audio or video recordings, and
  • Honoring the sailors and families who sacrificed so much to help bring an end to the Cold War.

Everything we do is aligned to these three precepts,

USS RICHARD B. RUSSELL (SSN 687) departs Mare Island Naval Shipyard
  • Date: 04JUL22
  • From: Brad Williamson, Lead Administrator
  • RE: Current activity on the coldwarboats.org website.
  • •Eleven fully functional sites, including the USS WILLIAM H. BATES (SSN 680). (Located by menu items shaded light orange):
    • USS GRENADIER (SS 525)
    • USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571)
    • USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (SSBN 600)
    • USS LAFAYETTE (SSBN 616)
    • USS STURGEON (SSN 637)
    • USS ASPRO (SSN 648)
    • USS FLYING FISH (SSN 673)
    • USS RICHARD B. RUSSELL (SSN 687)
    • USS BIRMINGHAM (SSN 695)
    • USSVI - USS HADDO Base (Cleveland, TN)

USS GRENADIER (SS 525) center, USS ARCHERFISH (SS 311) left, and USS CHOPPER (SS 342) right

Date: 14APR22

From: Brad Williamson, Lead Administrator

RE: Current activity on the coldwarboats.org website.

    • Seven fully functional sites, including the USS WILLIAM H. BATES (SSN 680). (Located by menu items shaded light orange):
      • USS GRENADIER (SS 525)
      • USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571)
      • USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (SSBN 600)
      • USS STURGEON (SSN 637)
      • USS ASPRO (SSN 648)
      • USSVI - USS HADDO Base (Cleveland, TN)

USS ASPRO (SSN 648) and crew in drydock, Pearl Harbor, HI

Date: 02 FEB 22

From: Brad Williamson, Lead Administrator

RE: Current activity on the coldwarboats.org website.

  • Four fully functional sites, in addition to the USS WILLIAM H. BATES (SSN 680). (Located by menu items shaded light orange):
    • USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571)
    • USS STURGEON (SSN 637)
    • USS ASPRO (SSN 648)
    • USSVI - USS HADDO Base (Cleveland, TN)
  • Two sites currently under development. (Also located by menu items shaded light orange):
    • USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (SSBN 600)
    • USS LAFAYETTE (SSBN 616)
  • Features added:
    • File upload capability added for 571, 637, 648, 600, 616 for images and documents. Found at the bottom of each of the four boat menus - The Boat, The Men, The Logroom, The Reunions.
    • Historical timelines for 571, 637, and 648, under The Logroom >> History.
  • Shipmates Added:
ssbn658-patch-04.jpg
ssbn629-patch-04.jpg
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ssn690-patch-01.jpg
ss219-patch-01.jpg

U.S. Naval Institute News

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