|Dear Mr. Decker,
I have been looking for some time now, and your name has cropped up serval times as a contact for the crew of USS Raton (AGSS 270).
In October of 1968, I spent some time aboard Raton as sort of an "exchange sailor" from the destroyer escort USS Ramsey. As part of the ASW Tracking Team on Ramsey, I was to observe ASW from the "other side".
As we got off the whaleboat and clambered aboard the sub, each of us was assigned our own guide (or guard?) who's job, I'm sure, was to make certain we didn't get into too much trouble or inadvertently scuttle the boat. My guide immediately made me feel right at thome. He took me from the forward torpedo tubes to the aft, explaining everything as we went, carefully answering my neophyte questions, and introducing me to everyone along the way like a long-lost relative. Most of his effort was probably "above and beyond", and it certainly was appreciated.
Lunch was steak AND lobster! Heck, I hadn't been within smelling distance of a steak since we left Hong Kong, and the last lobster I had heard of was in San Francisco. The other crewmen around assured me that it was common fare aboard U.S. subs, but that they were embarassed the steak was so tough, the lobster drier than normal, and the butter sauce much too salty. I didn't refute them, I couldn't talk with a full mouth.
After lunch, my guide asked what I would like to do, and I suggested I might curl up in an unused corner and get some sleep. With the war on, our operating schedule hadn't allowed much time for such a frivolous activity. And not being one to let a good opportunity pass me by...So my guide pointed out an empty rack and the rest is history. A few years after the fact, I learned that not everyone on a sub has his very own perconal bunk, and that most racks are shared in shifts, so I was taking up someone else's sack time.
Some hours later I was awakened - there had been an emercency aboard and the sub had to return to port, so we had to go back to the ship. Scuttlebutt had it that a crew member had been electrocuted and they were taking the body to Subic, but I don't know for sure.
All this preamble is to say that it has bothered me now for 30 years that I never got a chance to properly express my appreciation to the crew members for the hospitality afforded my team while aboard Raton. Wherever I start swapping sea stories with other ex-Navy men, the story of Raton usually crops up: "Now there was a group of guys who knew how to treat a guest!"
So, would you be so kind as to pass on my heart-felt appreciation to anyone you run accross? Here's hoisting a virtual cold one to the men of Raton in '68, and in particular to the tour guides in October, and especially to that unknown submariner who gave up his rack time to a bagged-out destroyerman.
MMC(SS) Steve King
1965 - 1967
|Bill Shipmate! Put me down on the list for the reunion Steve King MMC(SS) USS Raton SS270 1965-1967. Any word from Carmen "Moose" Moore, George "Silvertip" Sterrett, Jerry Price, "Too Short" Paul Hunt, Dick Meyers, Smokey DeBore, Jack Stokes, Mike Cronk, Joe Leslie, Lozelle Collins, Mumbles Vinyard! Can't remember to many more names at the moment! Had a laugh the other day, got to thinking about Ltjg Gardner Randall and the "Seagull Incident" and the No2 "Sanitary Blow" on the reserve IC Chief from "South Emerica" San Francisco 1966, Horse n Cow ukk ukk! Best Regards, S. L. King