Monday, July 04, 2005

Born on the Fourth of July

Captain Edward F. Steffanides (he went by "Steve") was born on July 4, 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

After attending Boys Technical High School in Milwaukee, he entered the US Naval Academy.
While there, he lettered in both football and crew, and graduated with the class of 1931.

His first duty station was aboard the USS ARIZONA (BB-39) from June 1931 to March 1932.

In 1932, he resigned his commission and reverted to the US Naval Reserve. From '32 to '38, he worked on Wall Street as a bond trader and salesman.

In 1938, he returned to active duty, serving on the USS COLORADO (BB 45) during the period between December 1938 and March 1941

In June of 1941, Steve graduated from the United States Submarine School at New London, CT.

He served on the USS CACHALOT (SS 170) from July 1941 to April 1943. CACHALOT was undergoing overhaul at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard on December 7, 1941, and fired upon enemy aircraft with her machine guns during the Japanese attack. While serving on CACHALOT, Steve took part in 3 war patrols.

In May 1943 he joined the USS S-13 (SS 118) as CO and served on her for a year.

In June 1944, he was assigned to the USS TUNA (SS 203), where he served as PCO & CO and took part in 3 war patrols. During TUNA's 13th and final war partol, she performed reconnaissance off the NW coast of Borneo. On March 3, 1945, TUNA landed a party of Allied Intelligence Bureau personnel and 4,000 lbs. of equipment in Labuk Bay, Borneo. For this, E.F. Steffanides was awarded the Commendation Ribbon with "V" device. His service on TUNA ended in August 1945.

He then worked on the SUBRON 4 staff, serving there until February 1947, when he joined the USS CLAMAGORE (SS 343) as her second CO.

He continued serving in various roles between February 1948 and June 1956. At that time he was assigned to his last command, USS VEGA (AF 59).

In 1961, Capt. E. F. Steffanides retired from the US Navy.

He passed away on December 23, 2003.

He was my grandfather.

Sadly, I never got to know him the way I should have, but I'm pretty damn sure he'd approve of the company I'm keeping here on this blog. I wish I could relay stories of his to you, but alas I don't know them. I am fortunate enough to be entrusted with his personal effects, which include the files that provided me with the information you see above. "Grandpa Steve," as I called him, is the main reason I became interested in submarines.

And while I don't know nearly as much about this old submariner as I wish I did, I rest comfortably in the knowledge that one day I'll be in the same place he is, and we can sit back, relax, and have a nice long conversation to get caught up. I won't be able to share the stories I hear then, but I'll be glad to finally know them.

So on this July 4th, which would have been his 97th birthday, I thought I'd share the history that I do know.

I'm glad I'm able to pay tribute among others who appreciate men like him.

Thanks.

Updated: Corrected a typo re: his graduation year from submarine school. I had typed 1951, when in fact he graduated in 1941. Thanks to the NoonzWife for pointing this out.

4 Comments:

At 1:33 AM, Blogger Vigilis said...

Excellent July 4th commemorative, Alex. Your grandfather would be proud of you, too. Always great to read about the fleet boat captains of WWII. And it is our loss that men with his experience are not around to share their wisdom and perspectives when needed more than ever.

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger WillyShake said...

Your wonderful tribute recalls these words from Shakespeare:

His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world 'This was a man!'

Thank you for sharing!

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger Catherine said...

Alex
i just read through 10 or 15 letters your grandfather wrote to my great aunt..they started in 1940 or so through the 50s and many of them are during his time on the Tuna and when in submarine school. They are wonderful letters and she treasured them. Her name was Edna Munson and she died in 1995. Please contact me about getting the letters.

Catherine

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Scratch. Craig Steffanides said...

Well, What can you say about, Edward F Steffanides, that expresses his great patriotic spirit! It is interesting to read about him as my
Father Chester H Steffanides was Merchant Mariner and Frank Sr. was his father s well so I guess that made Edward my Uncle!
My name is Craig Steffanides, my father was Cheter who spent twenty years as a chief engineer on the Great Lakes , Iron ore
Ships which were driven by steam, he retired and went on to become a chief engineer of several of the Panama Canal Companies
Dredges, such as the USS Mindy. the Cascadus, and a few others, it took twenty years to finish the Gatoon Cut, to widen the Canal.
My dad died in Walnut Creek California and my mom, they were both 98. God rest all their souls.
Needless to say, how could I walk a mile in either one of their shoes.
Born in Milwuakee Wisc. As was Edward , I attended St. John's Military Academy, to follow the familly tradition, I was being molded
To be a military man like Edward. I to ended up with a appointment to Anapollis Naval Acdemy, but crazy as it may seem I enlisted in
The navy as the draft in 1964 was about to nab me! Being 6'2" I knew I would not survive a rice paddy being that tall.
So with the familly ties , I ended up with a top secret clearance and when for communications at Corry field Pensecola, there I was transferred to RFVAH. 13. Recon aboard the USS Kitty Hawk. Injured aboard ship I spent. 6 months in the Sandiego Balboa Hospital and that put a end to me following the familly tradition, I was no war hero, I never attained his or dad's accomplishments but always looked up to my uncles. My other Uncles were also military. One, Emil was a POW in Germany, B 17 pilot . I thought this might be interesting to some of my kin I never met.

 

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