NEWS | Oct. 20, 2017

SubVets again gather at torpedo

By Lisa Brichacek Wahoo Newspaper

It was again a small but reverent crowd that gathered near the torpedo monument on the courthouse lawn Sunday afternoon.

For the 55th year, submarine veterans, their family and friends gathered for a memorial service. The annual event again included the tolling of the bell for the USS Wahoo Memorial Service and other submarines lost in service.

Rear Adm. William Houston was the special speaker during the memorial service. The decorated Navy officer serves as U.S. Strategic Command's deputy director for Strategic Targeting and Nuclear Mission Planning at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

His sea tours include time aboard the USS Phoenix and the USS Tennessee and he commanded the USS Hampton. He was also commodore of the Submarine Squadron 20 in Kings Bay, Ga.

Houston said he was honored to be asked to speak at the memorial service that honors the silent patrol.

“There is no higher honor to speak on behalf of submarine veterans,” he said.

Houston did his research on the USS Wahoo and said it was also an honor to be at a service that remembered the great World War II submarine.

On her seventh war patrol, the submarine was sunk by the Japanese on Oct. 11, 1943 in the waters between Japan and Russia. During her seven combat patrols, the Wahoo (SS-238) sank 20 Japanese ships.

Houston said the Wahoo was able to amass that incredible record in what is considered by today’s standard of submarine operation shallow waters, meaning there was no place to hide from the enemy.

He also pointed out that under the command of Mush Morton, the Wahoo and her crew did not quit fighting, even when they ran out of torpedoes to fire at the enemy. The submarine would then just surface and keep fighting.

“(Morton) was still engaging with deck guns every ship he could see,” Houston said.

The Rear Admiral said that today’s submarines are designed to go deeper and faster, but the example set is still one modeled by today’s submarine service.

“We follow the tradition from the likes of Mush Morton and the Wahoo,” he said.

Houston paid tribute to all submarine veterans and especially those of World War II.