Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ten Years Past - MM2(SS) Joe Ashley Not Forgotten

What more can be said?  After ten years, the submarine force continues strong, hopefully with many lessons learned from the USS San Francisco disaster which took Petty Officer Ashley's life.

For any readers here who are not familiar with the submariner psyche, this seems like a good time to quote from an article written by Doctor Joyce Brothers about submariners following the loss of the USS Thresher in 1965.  This is not the complete article, but I'm sure the entirety can be found online somewhere.

I have little doubt Brother's assessment speaks of Joe Ashley as well as both of my sons who are currently serving in the US Submarine Force, and all the other bubbleheads out there.

The tragic loss of the submarine Thresher and 129 men had a special kind of an impact on the nation.....a special kind of sadness, mixed with universal admiration for the men who choose this type of work.

One could not mention the Thresher without observing, in the same breath how utterly final and alone the end is when a ship dies at the bottom of the sea....and what a remarkable specimen of man it must be who accepts such a risk.

In an undersea craft, each man is totally dependent upon the skill of every other man in the crew, not only for top performance but for actual survival. Each knows that his very life depends on the others and because this is so, there is a bond among them that both challenges and comforts them.

The aim in the submarine service is to battle danger, to minimize the risk, to take every measure to make certain that safety, rather than danger, is maintained at all times.

Are the men in the submarine service braver than those in other pursuits where the possibilty of a sudden tragedy is constant? The glib answer would be to say they are. It is more accurate, from a psychological point of view, to say they are not necessarily braver, but that they are men who have a little more insight into themselves and their capabilities.

They know themselves a little better than the next man. They are generally a cut healthier emotionally than others of the similar age and background because of their willingness to push themselves a little bit farther and not settle for an easier kind of existence.

We all have tremendous capabilities but are rarely straining at the upper level of what we can do; these men are.

This country can be proud and grateful that so many of its sound, young, eager men care enough about their own stature in life and the welfare of their country to pool their skills and match them collectively against the power of the sea.