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“Overdue and Presumed Lost”, was the submariner’s epitaph in WWII. In World War II the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Service suffered the highest casualty percentage of all the American armed forces, losing one in five submariners. Some 16,000 submariners served during the war, of whom 375 officers and 3131 enlisted men were killed.
During the Second World War, submarines comprised less than 2 percent of the U.S. Navy, but sank over 30 percent of Japan’s navy, including eight aircraft carriers. More important, American submarines contributed to the virtual strangling of the Japanese economy by sinking almost five million tons of shipping—over 60 percent of the Japanese merchant marine. Victory at sea did not come cheaply. The Submarine Force lost 52 boats and 3,506 men.
My dad beat the odds as a 17-year-old that enlisted in the Navy during WWII as someone who volunteered for the Submarine Service. They were all volunteers. He completed Sub school before he turned 18. He was in combat off the coast of Japan before his 19th birthday and completed 3 or more war patrols before his 20th birthday.
The following video tells the story of one boat that was overdue and presumed lost. Lost, but it has been found.
What that discovery meant to those who lost someone on that boat.
There are two poems that resonate with sailors of the Silent Service.
by Leslie Nelson Jennings
There is a port of no return, where ships
May ride at anchor for a little space
And then, some starless night, the cable slips,
Leaving an eddy at the mooring place . . .
Gulls, veer no longer. Sailor, rest your oar.
No tangled wreckage will be washed ashore.
There is a second poem written by a submariner:
Battleships are title B.
That’s Lesson One in strategy.
They are the backbone of the Fleet.
Their fighting power can’t be beat.
They dominate the raging Main
While swinging ’round the anchor chain,
And bravely guard your home and mine
While anchored out there all in line.
They fill the Japs with fear and hate
From well inside the Golden Gate.
Now Lesson Two in strategy–
Our subs and planes are title C.
Just send them out on any mission
And win your battles by attrition.
Where’er you send the subs or planes
They’re bound to chalk up lots of gains–
And losses, too, but what the hell.
Who cares about their personnel?
For planes are chauffeured by young studs;
Lieutenant Commanders run the subs.
Richard G. Voge
Lieutenant Commander, USN
I’ll leave you with some photos of my dad and his ribbons. I’ll also leave you with a reminder that we have our share of Vets that belong to Ricochet. @bossmongo, @alfrench,@django, @spin, @skyler, @cliffordbrown and @Franco, – his father. All deserving of our respect. I know I’ve left someone out please feel free to tell your story in the comments.
Dad at 18 or 19 years-old
Dad on the left, somewhere in the Pacific on look-out duty. The dress was casual after leaving Pearl Harbor on a war patrol.
His ribbons, and Submarine Combat Pin. Three stars on the pin indicate three or more war successful war patrols. The ribbon on the upper left is a Presidential Unit Citation.
USS Sand Lance Presidential Unit Citation:
On the night of 12 and 13 March, Sand Lance was running on the surface toward Honshu when a marauding airplane forced her to submerge. At about 0200 she came up to periscope depth and found herself in the midst of a Japanese convoy, consisting of five merchantmen and three heavily-armed warships. Sand Lance had only six torpedoes remaining, but she made them count. She loosed four from the stern tubes and two from the bow tubes. All six hit the mark. Two of the four stern torpedoes hit a merchantman and the other two ripped into a light cruiser, while the two from the bow tubes smashed into another freighter. At least two of the ships went to the bottom, light cruiser, Tatsuta, and cargo man, Kokuyo Maru. For her success, Sand Lance underwent a 16-hour, 100-depth charge pounding from the accompanying destroyers. Finally, she was able to head home. She arrived in Pearl Harbor on 23 April 1944. The successes of her maiden war patrol brought Sand Lance a Presidential Unit Citation.
My dad asked for a copy of the Cease Fire message sent to USS Sand Lance.