What Little I Know About Submarines

World War II submarines were crewed by heroic men. Thousands on both sides died in the depths of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

After the war, nuclear subs cruised under Polar ice carrying lethal loads of guided missiles with atomic warheads. They were the terror of the Cold War. Unfortunately, they are still cruising. There were loses. A Soviet submarine had a reactor malfunction with casualties. The U.S.S. Thresher went down during deep-diving trials in 5500 feet of water 220 miles east of Boston in 1963—perhaps because a pipe weld failed and flooded the engine room shutting down the reactor. An associate of mine lost a son in that disaster.

During World War II there were submarine incidences on both the Atlantic and Pacific cost of the United States. One was humorous to my Aunt Isabel who lived in Los Angeles. The United States military anti-aircraft crews reacting to the threat of attack blew up a man’s garage. I remember the incident. It was called “The Battle of Los Angeles.” Well, some Japanese submarines could accommodate an aircraft.

Before the “Battle of Los Angeles” a Japanese submarine fired on an oil refinery on the California coast. (That’s why the gunners had itchy fingers.) German agents were dropped by submarine on the east coast of the United States. German submarines were common on the East Coast during the war and sunk many merchant ships.

Those were scary times for this Utah kid. (I listened to my older brother talk to his friends about Hitler and the invasion of Poland. I thought the Germans would be dropping in at any time. At the church, a scary skit showing the Gestapo invading homes, terrorizing families with bayonets, and burning books, didn’t help. I loved books.) Scary Japanese submarines just off the California coast made me consider the possibility of a Japanese invasion. Were we protected in Utah by the Sierra Nevada?

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor my cousin, Billy, and I watched the sky for Japanese aircraft. Japanese balloons landed in the Northwest. We all thought an old Japanese man picking up coal along the railroad tracks was counting the tanks and trucks rolling by and radioing the results to Tokyo.

Eventually the old fellow stopped walking along the tracks. I don’t know what happened to him, but I was worried that my friend, Ted Fuji—would Ted be shipped off to an Arizona Japanese-American internment camp? Ted was the one kid with whom I could talk about crystal-radio building.

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