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Rated: E · Poetry · Military · #1724161
My memories of time spent in the United States Navy Submarine Service
** Image ID #1709120 Unavailable **


Memories of a Submarine Veteran

At the age of eighteen, I joined the Navy in ‘Seventy Two
Was out of high school, didn’t know what else to do
I went to boot camp and A-school in San Diego
In March of seventy-three, went to nuke school in Vallejo

In nuke school we called it two-five and survive
It was that or attend night school, starting at five
This school was tough, six classes a day
One hour study hall, some played, some prayed

Six months of prototype training, we operated a plant
Another learning curve; we studied hard, but still some can’t
Make the grade; the dropout rate was thirty percent
Somehow I made it through, my spirit was spent

My reward was sea duty on the Theodore Roosevelt
But it operated out of Hawaii, nine years there I dwelt
Transferred to the Sargo in seventy eight
Made a WestPAC on it, came home 3 months late

As nukes we were tested to keep us at our best
Had O.R.S.E boards once a year, test and more tests
Operational Reactor Safeguard Exams were always tough
We had to know it all, yet never knew enough

Made Chief Petty Officer in less than eight years,
Unheard of, I was still young, wet behind the ears
Stationed at RadCon, we worked on the submarine’s reactors
Repaired equipment that had been broken by many factors

After four years of shore duty, I went to new construction
To commission the Alabama, and its improved propulsion
By now it was eighty five, I could see the end near
Of course I was making, the Navy a ‘career’

Four more years of shore duty, teaching in Washington
Something I loved, one day, a second career begun
Then to the USS Nevada, it was back to sea
Then came that fateful year of nineteen ninety three

One day I realized that twenty years had passed
Now I was ‘old’, yet felt so young when asked
But I retired at that point, wanted to move on,
With all my learning and skills, it’s to writing I’m drawn

In my second career, I teach and travel around
I write and take photos wherever I’m bound
I’ve found something new, never thought I’d have it again
Someone who loves me for me, the man that I am

So I’ve gone from a child fresh out of school,
Into the Navy, I really thought I was cool,
Finally left the Navy for a second career,
I’m on the internet, wherever I’m at, I’m here

At fifty six I feel so much more alive
I’m a veteran and proud, it gave me my drive
I have so many fond memories of friends back then
And fresh memories from today, living once again

Happy Veteran’s Day to all who’ve served
And to all who will, you’ll get what you deserve
Thank you everyone, who have sent their respects
With each day that passes, we’ll see what’s next


Jim Dorrell
11/11/10


For the non-military folk out there, a few items of explanation.

Two Five and Survive:  In Nuclear Power School, we were given written essay tests in each class every Friday.  As long as we passed all the tests with at least a 2.5 score (on a 4.0 scale), we didn’t have to attend night study.  Night study was from 5pm to 9pm daily, and 7-11am on Saturday.  Flunk one test, and you were there the following week(s), until you successfully passed all the tests on a given Friday with a score greater than 2.5.

Theodore Roosevelt:  SSBN600, the third Polaris submarine in the nuclear submarine ballistic missile fleet.  We carried 16 multiple warhead nuclear missiles, each having more firepower than both A-bombs dropped on Japan in WW II. Sadly, the Theodore Roosevelt is now razor blades (that’s how I word it; it was cut up as part of the SALT II Treaty during the cold war).

Sargo:  SSN583, it looked a lot like the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear powered submarine.  The Sargo suffered the same fate as the Theodore Roosevelt, both disposed of at Bremerton Naval Shipyard.

WestPAC:  A six month deployment to the Western Pacific, courtesy of Uncle Sam, all expenses paid.  They usually last six months, ours lasted almost nine.  The only bad thing about one of these, on a submarine at least, is we never see much.  No port holes; just submerge in one place, and surface in another sometime later.

O.R.S.E.:  Operational Reactor Safeguards Exam.  Think of the hardest exam you’ve ever taken, multiply it by ten (we were never given multiple choice questions, just essay ones), add in some hands on type things, like doing your day to day work while being watched the whole time, with notes being hastily written as you work.  Then toss in some drills for good measure.  Example, you’re driving your car, and the brakes go out.  You have to not only stop the car safely (Oh by the way, you’re on a crowded freeway), but once stopped, figure out why the brakes went out, and plan how YOU will fix them.  The entire time, ‘they’ are there, taking notes on every little thing you do, everything you say, and what your plan is to correct the problem.  If you don’t do well enough, your reward is to possibly do it all over again in 3 months (you usually get a year between them), or a study plan so you can learn more about your brakes, and how to fix them.

RadCon:  Radiological Controls Facility.  Many times a problem would occur on a submarine’s reactor plant.  If it was beyond the capability of the crew to facilitate the repairs, we would do it.  The training program there was just as hard as the one on the submarine, and we frequently worked longer hours than when at sea.  No rest for the weary.
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