Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Submarines, Always Silent and Stranger Than Fiction

My brother who was never a submariner, played one of the Hunley's crewmen in a made for TV movie. Subsequently, when I got my first civilian job after real submarine service, my new employer assigned me to play a foreigner in a promotional video produced for a large trade association. Later, our cousin would become a real Hollywood actor and director (he was one of those evil terrorists in Die Hard). Some might say we played the good, the bad and the ugly. You can deduce which one I was.

What real celebrity can you think of who joined the Navy at 18, and found himself on a missile-carrying submarine? This biography also says "[he] Served in the US Naval Submarine Corps (sic) stationed in Southeast Asia." (I am going to guess that like healthy sub sailors you already cheated and looked at the foregoing links, so that leaves only this question): What was the hull number of his submarine? I have no clue yet.

Next, one Bernard Schwartz enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 17, in 1942. Following his Submarine schooling at Groton, he joined WWII, already in progress. After Mare Island he was on to Guam, where he found himself aboard AS-19 in submarine Relief Crew 202. "Whenever a sub came in after a war patrol, they would tie up alongside the tender and the crew would go on liberty." He said. "We would go aboard then and clean it up and scrape the barnacles off from the sides. It was hard work sure, but it didn't matter. This was great work for those of us waiting to be assigned to a submarine. It was great practice to get those submarines ready to go back out on patrol."

He never got assigned to a submarine, but he was able to make a short run on USS DRAGONET (SS-293) before the war ended. "I wanted to qualify submarines so badly" he remembered. Schwartz would later star as Lt. (j.g.) Nicholas Holden in Operation Petticoat (1959) with Cary Grant.

This time, I know you already looked at the link and photos so you know Schwartz's more famous identity. I do know where the Dragonet was sunk, however.


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