The DECOM organizing committee is requesting a head-count of those who plan to be present at the Ceremony at Keyport.
During this unprecedented time, with restrictions still in effect, the number of alumni desiring to attend is an important factor. The State of Washington and the Navy requirements are monitored on a daily basis for signs of further relaxing of the restrictions. Nevertheless, “early” intel is useful to accommodate the many alumni, supporters and active-duty crewmembers of USS Bremerton who want to be a live part of the boat’s history.
In addition to the DECOM to be held at Keyport’s Naval Undersea Museum, plans for celebration and reunion events on May 18th are currently in progress in Bremerton and Poulsbo (more news to come). The number of alumni planning to take part is of paramount importance.
Please send an email to BremertonReunion.firstname.lastname@example.org to signal your plans to attend along with a brief description of your service history aboard SSN-698.
Note: If you are a Plankowner who has not already registered with this website, please state you are a Plankowner in your E-mail response.
HERE’S AN UPDATE, with 2 months left and counting on what is happening with the DECOM of the USS Bremerton SSN 698 and what it means for you if you are interested in attending.
The date is still May 18th, 2021 and, until further notice, will be at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport, Washington.
In the COVID environment, where nothing is planned without having to take the social restrictions into account, staunch allies are preparing for various scenarios, namely the Navy League of The United States Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Council (Capt. Alan Beam – CO#3) in coordination with community leader and super supporter Patty Lent, former Mayor of the city of Bremerton, and the liaison from the USS Bremerton, LT. William Trettin. Because of the limitations imposed by the Museum at Keyport, the organizers are considering other venues; therefore, the next month has the potential for surprises.
FIRST, they are looking into the possibilities of holding the DECOM ceremony at a venue that can accommodate more people. Keyport’s auditorium is currently limited to 50 people. IF a viable outdoor option is determined, this will allow numbers of Bremerton’s veterans and supporters to be on site to witness the ceremony. Ultimately, the number of invitations to be sent out to alumni will be affected by where the ceremony will take place. A factor in the decision process, because of the involvement of active duty personnel, is the review and approval of ComSubGrp9.
SECOND, there are several considerations for a celebration party on various dates about the time of the DECOM. The fact that the Navy has cancelled many of their normal social collaborations during the month of May makes one of the popular party venues a possibility on May 20th. This date has been held in reservation by the Navy League for an event that the Navy backed out of. The 20th date for a party is close enough to the actual DECOM to be considered as an official part of the Bremerton’s celebration with alumni present.
Despite restrictions being in place, time is on our side. The State of Washington is loosening its social distancing rules, and, thanks to the decision of Captain Christopher Lindberg, May is further away than April. Further is better. March already has loosening measures in place though we need to continue our approach to get a better picture.
What can you do now?
Besides hanging on for updates, go and submit your contact information through this website. This information will be forwarded to the Bremerton in care of LT Trettin in preparation for any scenario where invitations will be sent out.
HIT “698 ALUMNI SIGNUP” and follow the instructions if you have not already or need to update your info.
Editor’s Note: I’d like to introduce John Brunkalla, he is a USS Bremerton Plankowner who served in M-Divison from 1981-1983. We’re grateful to be able to share in one of John’s recollections especially in light of the fact that he suffered a near fatal motorcycle accident not more than a few months after he transferred off the boat in 1983. In his story he captures a glimpse of the magic and legend found in the Silent Service.
This is a reposting of an original article published on February 11, 2017.
“You owe me one”
By John Brunkalla
I was in engineroom Upper Level in an ocean somewhere, a LONG LONG time ago…….. I was standing the 2300-0700 watch when around 0100 my trusty Bremerton Zippo ran out of fuel. Damn, 6 hours to go with no lighter. Check maneuvering…no one has a light…same with COTW, ERS, ERF ERLL and the ELT. Double damn!
Picture me climbing onto the turbine generators, main engines and any other available steam pipe I could find to light my smoke, hoping it was hot enough to fire me up…close but no cigar. In the words of Wiz (shipmate David Withers): spin, Spin, SPIN!
I’m guessing around 0300 Captain Wright scared the living shit out of me as he came up the ladder and turned the corner to where I was catching up on 0000 entry logs. A Marlboro hanging from my lip. I hopped to attention and he told me, “At ease.”
He asked how things were going. I gave him a rundown and he then asked if I had any problems. “As a matter of fact sir, my lighter ran out of fuel earlier in the watch, nobody back here has a light and I can’t run to my rack to fill it up. I need a smoke BAD” (I know, Waah, waah, waah, right?).
The Captain reached into his pocket, pulled out his lighter and fired up my smoke. Then he looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t forget now…you owe me one.”
Maybe a month or so down the road I was just hitting the rack, it was after having stood watch, followed by drills, followed by field day, then some poker, working on quals and another watch. Finally, eight glorious hours to sleep!
I had pretty much just gotten into the beginning of my equalizer when the runner slid my curtain open and said “Bronk, get up, the Captain wants to see you on the bridge ASAP.”
WHAT? WTF had I done to piss him off so bad that it bypassed everyone up the chain? And on the bridge no less!
I dressed as quickly as I could, hoping I looked at least half way presentable and ran up to Control where the OOD was pointing topside and said, “He’s waiting for you.”
HOLY SHIT! My mind reeled as I climbed the ladder to the bridge, running through the past 24 hours trying to figure out what it was I had done wrong.
I climbed out into the fresh air…AHHH that smells GOOD…then I noticed the Captain’s back was turned to me. I announced my presence, “Petty Officer Brunkalla reporting as ordered, sir.”
He held up his hand and said, “Give me a minute” and proceeded giving orders to the lookouts and instructions below. When finished he turned to face me…unlit cigarette hanging from his lip…and said, “I believe you owe me one.”
After lighting his smoke he let me stay topside a few minutes and check out the glorious view of being surfaced in the middle of nowhere where there is nothing but ocean and sky, standing on the bridge of the baddest boat ever to sail the seven seas!
What a magnificent few minutes those were.
Thank you for that memory Captain Wright. I would sail through the gates of hell with you sir!
Cold War Submariner Paul Henri Gagnon of Fernandina Beach, Florida, departed 12/25/2019
He qualified in submarines aboard JOHN ADAMS in 1965
Paul served on USS John Adams SSBN 620 (G) & (B) 1963-1971
NRD Boston 1971 thorugh 1975
USS Bergal SSN 667 1974 to 1978
USS Bremerton SSN 698 1978 to 1981
Submarine Squadron Seven 1981 to 1986
He served in the USN from 1962 to 1986
He was a Life and Holland Club member of USSVI Bowfin Base.
Sailor, Rest your oar.
USS Bremerton SSN 698 Plankowner and Chief of the Boat
The Chief of the Boat (COB) carries an immense responsibility in the Silent Service as the the senior enlisted advisor to the commanding officer and executive officer.
It cannot be overstated, how the leadership of one man, in conjunction with the commanding officer, directly effects the cohesion necessary for an effective fighting unit, especially in the closed, intimate, and demanding environment of a submarine preparing for its life and execution of its duty at sea.
The COB’s support for the discipline, morale, meaningful navy tradition, and personal mentorship manifests in the collective soul of the crew and through their work, the submarine herself.
Command Master Chief Paul Henri Gagnon performed his duty with invaluable leadership, authenticity, and heart, eliciting great respect from officers and enlisted men whose loyalty and admiration for the man continues undiminished to this day.
We bid him peace on his journey onward with the greatest gratitude for his dedicated service to his shipmates and to his country.
Paul’s wishes are to be interred along side his wife at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Image of MMCM/SS Paul Gagnon from the USS Bremerton’s Commissioning program, courtesy of John Scanlan, plank owner.
How Norm’s Lounge and the Bremerton Boys came to be
Story by Russ Woods, Plankowner
It was late in 1979 the Bremerton Boys were in search of a place to hang out and let our hair down. Someone in our posse heard the soon to be legendary Tommy Cox, was gonna be playing at Rosa’s Cantina. Of course being newly minted sailors fresh out of Sub School we flocked to see this balladeer of the Submarine.
As it turned out Tommy Cox, was a good ole boy who welcomed us nubs as though we were salty veterans of the deep abyss. We danced and cheered as Tommy sang songs of daring do, done by bad ass boat sailors. After his show he willingly engaged us in conversation and informed us he and his band mates would be playing regular at “Tug Boat Annie’s” AKA Norm’s Lounge beginning the next week. Well of course we marked the date and time in our calendars. We eagerly arrived as early birds and staked out prime real estate in the corner near the fire place which was never used. This became our corner.
Tommy and his band arrived and played our songs mixed with some nice covers of the day’s standard country music fare. We all felt like this was a cool place to be. Moving forward every Friday and Saturday night from then until Bremerton left for Hawaii save for a handful of times we were at sea the Bremerton Boys were there in our corner.
We developed a strong bond with the owners Norm and Annie. Yes, Tug Boat Annie, was Norm’s wife. I have no clue how she got that moniker. We were such a fixture in our corner of the bar on those few occasions when we had to go to sea, the staff would close that section off lest some interlopers might attempt to stake it out as theirs.
There were nights at Norm’s when one or more of us would be nursing a single beer for an hour. The waitress would see this and magically that sailor’s beer would be refreshed on a regular basis. Gratis. I know this to be true because I was the beneficiary of this kindness on at least one occasion. I know from conversation others in this group were treated with equal generosity.
Many magical things occurred at Norm’s. My A#1 good buddy Peter Burns met the love of his life Lori there. Another charter member and very dear friend Timmy “Tithead” Naylor, got real good acquainted with his lifelong love Daphne while hanging at Norm’s.
Many of our Bremerton shipmates would stop in every so often some more often than others. We always had a party going on in our corner. We were as much a fixture in there as Tommy and his band. We would be dancing and singing along and on occasion there would be dancing on the tables. The harder we partied the more energetic Tommy and his boys played.
Norm and Annie were also very forgiving. In my youth I was not always patient with folks and on some occasions there were ner’ do wells who sought to interject themselves into our party in what might be considered a rude manner. Normally a discrete trip out to the parking lot would allow a solution for the problem. On one occasion the misunderstanding escalated quickly and someone got a bloody nose right there in our corner. Of course that behavior was frowned upon by most civilized folks and Norm. He came over after the offending group had left.
He had a look on his face and I was sure I was about to get banished forever. I was very sad and angry at myself for behaving as I had.
Norm sat in a chair and motioned for me to sit beside him. The Bremerton boys all moved away as far as they could in the corner giving us space. I think they sensed Woody was about to get the boot.
Norm looked at me like I was the Beaver, and he was Ward Cleaver.
In a very fatherly tone he asked me “What happened?”
I explained in the most contrite manner I could muster up the miscreant who had just been smited about the head and shoulders was talking trash about this place and those of us who were there. “…I took offense and lost my temper and I am sorry.”
Norm smiles puts his arm around my shoulder and says,
“Well, we’re gonna do better to stay calm next time. Right?
“Yes Sir, I certainly will.”
He got up and never said another word.
On other times during Christmas and New Year’s Norm would close the bar – It would be invitation only. Steamship round and beer. The beef was free we paid for the beer. Tommy would be playing and of course the Bremerton Boys were VIP’s.
Norm bought the building next door. He asked if we would be able to show up on Saturday and help knock down the wall between the two buildings. We did not understand how God could grace us with such great luck. A really cool bar, with a really cool owner, Tommy Cox Band playing AND we get to come in and tear shit up without getting into trouble. Well understand we took great glee in knocking down that wall. Our only regret is we weren’t allowed to knock down the wall on the other side. Norm paid us off in cold Miller beers.
During the time we haunted Tug Boat Annie’s. A number of the Chiefs and Officers including Capt. Anderson made visits on a Saturday night. In our brief time together, in our little corner of a small bar in Groton, Connecticut, we were all royalty. It was a grand time to be alive and none of us will ever trade our time there for anything.
After Bremerton sailed us around to Pearl, Tommy Cox continued to play at Norm’s a few more years. We left there in 1981 and I returned in 1983 for my second trip through Elastic Boat. I of course made my way in there. Our waitress was still there, she hugged me and said Friday and Saturday nights were never the same after we left. I replied the same was true for us.
Candid shots of Norm and Annie’s Lounge with the Bremerton Boys
Photos courtesy of Larry and Marianne Tharp.
Editor’s Note: If anyone is able and willing to contribute a few qualified photo’s of Norm’s Lounge with 698 Shipmates and/or especially photos of Norm and Annie or the store front. please contact me through this website. I will amend this article with the appropriate photos.
LISTEN TO TOMMY COX SING
“The Dives We’ve Known” and more on You-Tube including “Still on Patrol” which mentions the Bremerton
click on the image
LOOKING BACK – Bremerton’s Sister-Ships at Electric Boat
USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for Decommissioning.
SAVE THE 698
Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.