A Quiet Hero. A Shipmate.

Via The Sub Report comes this story of what it means to be a shipmate, and a citizen.

Sometimes, all too often, really, those who do the most get the least notice except, perhaps, among their peers. These are the quiet heroes, who remember their shipmates, who look around them and see something that ought to be done, and just go ahead and do it.  They don’t do these things because they seek recognition or reward, but because they understand what it means to take care of your own, to remember those who gave their all, to be a brother, and most of all, a shipmate.

George Cross was one of those men:

Most people “don’t know if we lost even one submarine – and we lost 52,” the Tulsan once told The Tulsa Tribune.

That concern compelled Cross, who worked in concrete construction, and fellow members of the Oklahoma Chapter of Submarine Veterans of World War II to do their part to change things.

In 1989, after raising the money, members of the group began personally erecting a series of granite monuments at the USS Batfish War Memorial in Muskogee.

By the time they finished, there was a marker for each of the 52 submarines the U.S. lost in WWII, complete with the names of all 3,505 sailors who went down with them.

No government money, no big committees,   just veterans and their families & friends doing the right thing.

Go and read the rest of his obituary, and give thanks that our nation has folks like George Cross who remember what it means to be a citizen, and a shipmate.

As the poet Laurence Binyon so eloquently wrote,

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


9 Responses to “A Quiet Hero. A Shipmate.”

  1. 1 virgil xenophon
    May 18, 2011 at 20:02

    Tim, IIRC, wasn’t the Batfish the only sub EVER to sink THREE (3) Jap subs on a single patrol!?

  2. May 18, 2011 at 21:04


    USS Batfish is credited with sinking 3 “I” class submarines on 10, 11, & 13 February, 1945.

  3. 4 virgil xenophon
    May 19, 2011 at 11:50

    I actually knew the ans, Tim, just wanted to see if you could dig it up. 🙂 I read the exploits of the Batfish as a child in Capt (then CMDR) Edward L. Beache’s 1952 book “Submarine!” which was a compilation of his experiences on various boats (he was XO on TANG (Killer Kane) and HARDER) and other selected prominate combat patrols of various subs–the Batfish being one. (All the I-Clas subs sunk were on the surface transiting at night–each shot based on radar bearings alone, iirc, one w. stern tubes.) A GREAT TV series was made based on the book called “The Silent Service” (57-58) that was VERY true (i.e., non-Hollywood High School treatment) to operational reality. A number of future TV stars appeared in various roles to include Leonard Nemoy and DeForest Kelly, Mike Connors and Craig Stevenson. The Wiki art. on the series OMITS, however, Dennis Weaver (who played a sub CO) of “Gunsmoke and “McCloud” fame–as does the IMDB filmography on Weaver. Just illustrative of how ANY historical fact can slip thru the crack to be lost forever except in memories of individuals–in this case viewers like me who saw the series and still remember.

    (BTW, an ex-Navy Carrier guy named Richad Chamblis published a book based on the TV series in 1959 titled “The Silent Service” and copies Beaches format of individual chapters on each patrol and fleshes out some of the info that Beaches earlier book didn’t have. Long out-of-print it was only ever published in paperback (I have an original copy) and now sells for $19.95 IF you can get it. Also a good read)

  4. 5 virgil xenophon
    May 19, 2011 at 11:52

    Well, I see I’ve got “Beache” down pat–LOL!!

  5. May 19, 2011 at 16:08

    One of my favorite movies, later made into a TV series, was “12 O’Clock High”. The movie was so very well done, and I thought did a remarkable job portraying the problems faced with squadron morale and command issues.

    Anyway, I still love the “Victory at Sea” series. I had seen various episodes of it when I was young, but when I went through boot camp, we were required to watch the entire series. We had one episode every morning as part of our general military instruction, and it had a deep impact on everyone watching.

    Glad to see you back and posting. 🙂

    • 7 Quartermaster
      May 28, 2011 at 23:52

      I never saw “Victory At Sea” while I was in. I saw it on Nashville’s Public TV station in the 70s and now have the series on DVD. I also have “12 O’Clock” High and used to watch the series in first run back in the early 60s. Both Series and Movie were well done.

      “12 O’Clock High” is recommended watching for CAP Cadets. Years ago an article entitles “Smoking With Ernie” appeared in their magazine dealing with the transition Savage made from the Air Staff to command and showing the break point for Savage as he assume command of the Bomb Group. I’m sure there are other examples that can be cited, but that is the most recent I have encountered, and that was 10 years ago.

  6. 8 TwoFiveZulu
    May 24, 2011 at 14:15

    This last weekend I had the honor to attend the memorial for the USS Grayling (SS-209), lost in September of 1943 with all hands, including my great uncle Alex Sawerbrey. The memorial is an annual event in Denver hosted by the Colorado Submarine vets association. They too built a memorial featuring an old steam torpedo and honoring all 52 lost boats. Too many people pass these monuments without knowing or caring what they’re about, and it’s a damn shame.

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