Reflections on the character of submariners

A dialog between Don Merrigan and Haines Brown

From: Haines Brown <>

I recall my years on the boats with considerable pleasure. Perhaps it was the cooperative teamwork in relation to a machine completely under the team's control and rather cut off from outside concerns. I suspect there's some interesting psychological aspects to this. I've had no contact whatsoever with any submariners since I left the boats, and so have no idea how others would characterize their experience.

Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 10:22:44 -0400
From: Don Merrigan <>


Roughly the same ... Nostalgic warmth of being with those who understand without going into the details they wouldn't understand anyway.

Haines Brown:

I did attend a ceremony here for the crew of the USS Hartford when it was put together and tried to socialize a bit. But no one (I mean crew, rather than officers) seemed to be relaxed or have any sense of humor. Was that how we were, and I've only forgotten? I doubt it.

Don Merrigan:

No we weren't. We were those rotten, uncouth, crazy, smelly submariners. Today, the kids are PC'd to death. HOWEVER ... I visited DALLAS and was able to attend SEAWOLF's Commissioning and found that if these kids are able to be by themselves and you can spend some time with them, they really aren't much different than ourselves.

I had the great good fortune to spend a great deal of time with them “out of their environment” back in 1992. The enlisted crew of DALLAS gave up their Holiday Weekend over Memorial Day (including a bunch from the SubScol) and came up to Marblehead to march in our Memorial Day Parade and spend the day.

Once we got the COB drunk, everything eased up and it was like watching a rerun of experiences from years gone by, but not forgotten.

Haines Brown

We took great pride in our work and our boat and didn't feel at all insecure. A lot of horseplay. We were having a good time and knew it. My history department [where I worked for thirty years] was a lot like that, but in recent years it soured and people began to feel insecure, loose the joyful recklessness combined with a principled attention to duty. Perhaps it's just that the times have changed.

Don Merrigan

The times have changed. The miliary is no longer an environment unto itself. Too much social experimenting and forgetting that these kids have volunteered to put themselves in harm's way if necessary. The raw material hasn't changed though. They just need to be around a bunch of old foggies [for] a while to realize that what they are feeling inside is what made us and our predecessors what we were (and probably still are deep down). Even the officers are alright when you get them out of the career paths long enough to be submariners.

Haines Brown

Thanks for allowing me to reflect a bit on these things.

Don Merrigan:

My pleasure. I enjoyed the sharing. Come back to CAUSS and keep the spirit alive.

Green Board!


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