May 29, 2006

A Broken Chanter Reed...

...scuppered my big memorial day plan.

More on that in a bit.

Much of Minnesota will focus on the big Memeorial Day observances, especially those at Fort Snelling, where thousands of our veterans are buried.

There are other memorials, of course.

In January 1945, the submarine U.S.S. Swordfish was sunk in action on a "special mission" near Okinawa.

Nobody knows exactly how it sank; it might have been a depth charge attack from a Japanese plane or ship, or it could have struck a mine. 89 officers and men disappeared with the sub. As in the case of 21 of the 52 US subs lost during WWII (42 of them due to enemy action), with around 1,700 men aboard them, the Swordfish is listed "missing"; it went out on a mission, and just stopped reporting in one day. Nobody knows for sure where any of them sank or why, and it's likely as not nobody ever will.

After the war, an association of US submarine veterans set up memorials to one of the sunken or missing subs in every state.

Minnesota's contribution, in Como Park in Saint Paul, is to the Swordfish.

Every year, the US Submarine Veterans association leaves flowers at the monument (as in the image above).

I'd hoped to play Amazing Grace there, today. Maybe next year.

Remember our veterans today.

Posted by Mitch at May 29, 2006 09:58 AM | TrackBack

Thanks for the nice tribute to the USS Swordfish memorial. I live near Como Park, and being a former submariner I go to the memorial once in a while. Two years ago I spent an hour extracting a plastic Mountain Dew bottle that some jerk wedged into the back end of the torpedo. I guess that individual didn't bother to read the plaque.

Posted by: Just Me at May 29, 2006 10:42 AM

Today I remember my Granfather Carl who came over on the boat from Norway. He passed through Ellis Island, as did so many others, and travelled accross country to join his relatives in Howard, South Dakota.
It was a short stay, as Mr. Wilson requested his presence in France where he was introduced to the wonders of mustard gas by Kaiser Wilhelm. He suffered anemia the rest of his life.
Upon returning home, he took up farming as so many did, only to be introduced to the wonders of the dustbowl followed by the Great Depression.
My Grandmother left him when Dad was 14, a victim of diabetes. He spent the remainder of his 84 years at the Veterans Home at Fort Snelling, MN, fianlly succumbing to a massive stroke and gangerine.
He loved his Compenhagen, Canadian whiskey and the outdoors. He taught me much of the natural world, how to track, fish and garden, how to use my power as a thinking being to make the world a better place.
He rests in peace at Fort Snelling National Cemetary. Love you, Grandpa Carl. Always have, always will.

Posted by: Kermit at May 29, 2006 11:16 AM

Thanks for this post. This is one day when we should all be thinking of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.

My father was the only son of an elderly Iowa farmer and was needed at home on the farm during WWII. His inability to serve has always haunted him, and he made sure to teach me to revere the military and the sacrifices made by our troops.

Posted by: Mark Gisleson at May 29, 2006 11:29 AM

I've been trying to find a way of saying this which cannot be interpreted the wrong way - truly I have respect for all who served.

But I still get angry when I think about how long it took to correct - no, not even that, but how long it took for naval ordinance officials to even RECOGNIZE the deficits in their magnetic torpedoes, which not only failed to detonate on direct impact much of the time, but often made circular runs which ended up attacking the submarines that launched them. A lot of good submariners went down from their own torpedoes.

The issue isn't about war time priorities, resources, or the cruel calculations which allow inferior materials to the front because retooling and supply chain disruptions would be more costly to the war effort - I recognize that. But the naval brass should have been quicker on the ball on recognizing something needed to be changed, particularly since they KNEW the torpedoes went into production before the war with insufficient testing due to their cost.

Posted by: Bill Haverberg at May 29, 2006 11:44 PM

[comment excised by owner. It's a war memorial]

Posted by: angryclown at May 30, 2006 09:24 AM

Yeah, but it's an [excised]-shaped war memorial.

Posted by: angryclown at May 30, 2006 12:19 PM

Right. And if I let it into the post, I'd feel like an [excised].

Posted by: mitch at May 30, 2006 01:29 PM

irritable bowl syndrome http://factsaboutibs.comirritable bowl syndrome

Posted by: irritable bowl syndrome at June 11, 2006 09:38 AM

I appreciate the memorial and the veterans who remember and put flowers there. I was on the 13th mission and was in sick bay off ship when it went out and never returned. My shipmates are in my memories and always will be.We had a great crew and a great Captain.

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