1968 was a bad year for submarines. The French, the Israelis, the Russians, and the United States all lost boats that year. For the US, the loss of Scorpion has proven to be particularly vexing. Even in Submarine School in 1982 it was discussed and debated.
At the end of the day, there are several theories as to what happened. Was it a Russian torpedo in retaliation for the loss of K-129? was it a hot running Mk 37 that couldn’t be shut down and detonated in the torpedo room? Was it a battery that exploded? Why did at least one crew member try to escape?
When everything is said and done, when we think about the loss of 99 men on this day in 1968, there is really only one thing that we know.
And that is that we don’t know…
In 1944, a submarine slid sideways into the Manitowoc River near where it empties into Lake Michigan. As she kissed the water, some 1500 miles to the west, a young man who wanted to be a farmer heard the clarion call of his country, left his home in Ogden, Utah and joined the US Navy. After a detour through Connecticut and New Guinea, he would arrive in Manitowoc and report aboard that new submarine.
Commissioned in September, the USS Kraken (SS-370) would sail down the Mississippi River, through the Panama Canal and on to the Pacific Ocean where Wendall would make all four combat patrols of USS Kraken, and eventually leave the Navy after the war ended. He would return to Ogden and become well involved in farming. Kraken would be decommissioned and placed in reserve until she was needed again.
The United States Submarine Veterans exists “To Perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in the pursuit of their duties while serving their country. That their dedication, deeds and supreme sacrifice be a constant source of motivation toward greater accomplishments. Pledge loyalty and patriotism to the United States of America and its Constitution.”
In 1982, almost 38 years after she touched the waters of Lake Michigan, Kraken was scrapped. Last year, Wendall passed away, after a long and fruitful life.
I just thought that you might like to know their stories…
More “bombs,” more questions…
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