Sixty-six years ago today, Flier pulled away from Mare Island, passed under the Golden Gate bridge and left America behind. The people who waved her good-bye didn’t realize that for the vast majority of the people aboard, and the sub itself, that good-bye was permanent.
It would take nine days to get to Pearl Harbor, with Crowley testing his boat and crew the entire way, because like any submarine coming straight from the continental US, Flier was scheduled for two weeks of further training and provisioning before being sent off for their first real patrol once again.
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As this story starts again, I’m finding that it’s sometimes difficult to write about. As I’m getting to know the families of those who still patrol aboard the Flier, these men are becoming more real, and I can’t help but feel a touch depressed, since I know that this story, for one family already, and soon for 76 more, will have a tragic ending.
In talking with Al, I know that sometimes he felt he had to live a certain life to honor those who didn’t make it. He gave to his family, his community, his employees. I sometimes wonder if the other survivors felt the same way. I only know what happened to four of the men: Captain Crowley had a long and successful career in the Navy, Lt. Liddell founded a company that today employs hundreds, Baumgart became a police and fireman. Where Miller, Howell, Tremaine and Russo ended up, I don’t know.
I hope, but re-living this journey 66 years later, I can honor these men’s memories and sacrifices.
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In other news, in a few days, I’ll be heading out for a business trip to meet the family of one of the survivors to see photos, letters, and other items from Flier’s history. I’m really excited to go, but due to safety and privacy reasons, I won’t say when where and who until it’s all over (and I won’t say who unless given permission!) But as the story of the Flier unfolds, I hope to have some new images and things to share.
Finally, in regards to my post a week ago about USS Virginia returning to port and how the submarine squadrons are arranged, I received a note from Lt. Evans of Submarine Group Two who told me that USS New Mexico will be assigned to Squadron 8 along with the Boise, the Newport News, and the Oklahoma City.