Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pride Boiled Over

My career began on December 31, 1941
by Tudor D.

Thank you for the privilege of sharing my story. I was sworn in as an Apprentice Seaman in the United States Navy at the Old Seaman’s Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was December 31, 1941. I participated in the Murmansk Patrols and the invasion of Africa and Casablanca. I later served on the USS Halibut (SS 232) on its 5th through 10th war patrols. After World War II, I remained in the Navy and served on submarines. In April 1958, I was accepted for Polaris Training School, in Sunnyvale, California. I graduated in September 1958, and assigned to the USS Observation Island (EAG 154) to proof Polaris launch system. At the time, I had the good fortune to work with Lockheed engineers on the ship and in the shops at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Little did I know, my future was being planted, and a new career was in the making!

We commissioned the USS George Washington (SSBN 598) on December 30, 1959, and proofed all 16 launch tubes and the remainder of the missile system. We eventually loaded out the Polaris A1 missiles and went on patrol. We loaded out in Charleston, South Carolina. Our skipper took us on the first patrol. After more than 60 days at sea, in places unknown to the majority of us, we returned to New London, Connecticut. After going through the boat with our reliefs, we were assigned new orders. Some of us went on to more schools at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company and other companies involved with the intricate parts of the missile.

I was fortunate to be accepted by Lockheed. J.T. McFarlane, supervisor at the office in Groton, Connecticut, explained my future, location of where I would be assigned and other job details. I was assigned to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and reported aboard in early 1961 with my wife and two daughters in tow. We were on our way to more adventures with Lockheed. The beginning of a second career was about to commence!

We had three shifts on the SSBNs, which we helped prepare for commissioning. Three to five men were on a shift—depending on the amount of testing to be performed. At times, the home office at Sunnyvale would send assistance to support us on seven-day workweeks. We observed and supervised all active/inert missile movements for testing in the 16 launch tubes in preparation for sell-off by the shipyard to the Special Projects Office and United States Navy.

I worked on the submarine tender USS Hunley (AS 31) as my first assignment. The greatest feeling on the job effort was being at commissioning ceremonies after many hours of testing, frustration with changes in operations and performing SPALT changes—pride boiled over.

In 1972, I retired, though not for long. Lockheed called me back in 1976, and I was sent to POMFPAC in Bremerton, Washington, as the logistic rep between POMFPAC, POMPFLANT, the shipyards, the training centers and Lockheed’s Sunnyvale office. I had the good fortune of a two-year assignment at POMFPAC. I witnessed its transformation into the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific (SWFPAC). I was promoted to supervisor of warehouse operations, and then retired in 1987.

How lucky we were as a family! So much good fortune was bestowed upon us. Thank you, God, the United States Navy and Lockheed Martin!

Here I am in SWFPAC.