Only three more days, and then we’ll see the Dive Detective’s American debut!
It’s funny, I worked with and on USS Silversides and her history for a few years before I met Al Jacobson and got involved with the Flier. When you look at the Silversides and Flier’s histories, they look so different. Silversides had a long, successful history, but outside of her underwater appendectomy on her Murphy’s Law Patrol, she was a stellar example of the average submarine. (I’m not putting down Silversides, she’s a wonderful little boat, so full of quirks and I’m glad she’s still around to stand for her sisters, but trying to keep her
twelve fourteen (I had to look it up) patrols straight is a monumental task! The correction in this sentence should be evidence of that!)
Flier, on the other hand, seemed to want to make her mark on history. Her first patrol ended on the reef of Midway, she sank four ships on her first full patrol , an unusual number by 1944, when targets were growing scarce and those that were left were more heavily guarded by escort ships. Things were looking up when she went down on August 13, becoming one of only eight submarines which sank leaving some of the crew behind. And her crew became the only ones to return home eluding a stay at a POW camp. Amazing odds really: Only 4 submarines (Tarpon, Scorpion, Trigger and Flier) grounded at Midway for any length of time, only eight sunken submarines left some crew behind, (Perch, Gernadier, Sculpin, Tang, S-44, Tullibee, Robalo, and Flier) and only five sunken submarines have been found since WWII: (Lagarto, Grunion, Perch, Wahoo and Flier).
In a strange way, she really was a remarkable boat.
But she was more than that. Jim Alls ended up serving on a number of boats, but said there was a special closeness that the Flier crew had that he never found again. They certainly had a lot of fun together. Walter Klock wrote to his mother just prior to Flier leaving on her first full patrol and told her how the Flier crew decided to have a beer party and baseball game and barbecue. They took a small series of photos, likely using Klock’s camera. (His mother sent it to him for his birthday a couple of years earlier).
It’s become one of my favorite photos of this crew. It’s hard to remember these guys were mostly teenagers and in their twenties in WWII.
Well, to my Flier people out there, I see Walter Klock, Bernard Fite and Paul Barron in this photo. Do you recognize anyone?