Taking Command

…with Transformational Leadership

 

By popular request, a republication of an article (with some revisions) and links to a story written by a submarine officer who started his seagoing career aboard the USS Bremerton.

I discovered this superb piece of writing by Ron LaSalvia, Captain, U.S. Navy (ret), former Commanding Officer of the USS Montpelier (SSN 765), where he served from 1999 through 2001. His article is titled, “Taking Command: The Crew Is Only as Good as the Captain”  in which he describes the major challenges he faced when becoming a CO.

To read Ron’s leadership story CLICK HERE

Some of the greatest stories in literature are about captains of warships. It is through the struggles and successes of these revered individuals that we get a sense of all the intimate challenges of preparing a ship for the lethal necessities of war. The heroes are often leaders who earn the respect of their crews in the process of forging them into a vital fighting force.

The responsibility of becoming a commander of a U.S. Navy submarine is a privilege few officers achieve. The rigorous process takes at least 20 years of service. Of the individuals who are awarded a command, some embody exceptional vision, skills, and character that are transformational and as a result their crews and ships become cut above the competition in the unforgiving realm of undersea warfare and survival.

mont_p1
Los Angeles 688i Class Fast Attack submarine  (Image source: Google)

 

Ron LaSalvia, served onboard USS Bremerton (SSN 698) from 1982-1985 where he began learning the ropes of being a submarine officer.

Click on the link below or photo of the young Ensign LaSalvia to go to Captain LaSalvia’s article.

 

ron1
Mr. Ron LaSalvia aboard the USS Bremerton SSN 698 during an expeditionary patrol in the Western Pacific in 1983(photo by Challen Yee).

Entrepreneur.com

Click on the links above to go to the article!

 

“Master-One, bearing… mark, angle on the bow…” (image source google).

698 LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for her date with destiny. Decom ceremony and reunion in Bremerton are tentatively scheduled for Spring of 2021, that puts BadFish on course for a 40 year run.

Cheers – from RMCS(SS) Don Jones, Plankowner, SSN698

 

SAVE THE 698

Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form? Do you wish to be involved before, during and after her decommissioning in whatever works are needed to establish the memory of 698 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.

Copyright © 2019-2020 bremertonreunion.net

 

“You owe me one”

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.”

Captain Douglas S. Wright with the harbor pilot standing on the bridge as USS Bremerton is preparing to enter Bremerton, Washington, in 1982. Also in photo are Lt. Erik Nelson, EM/SS Ron Martin  on the headset, and Seaman Mike Hansen on the fairwater plane (Photo courtesy of Plankowner John Scanlan, THANKS JOHN! and Tom McPhillips for the eye-witness ID work).

.

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!

 

 

Author John Brunkalla with a young lady friend during a 1982 port visit in Bremerton, Washington. John reflects, “If I had only met her 10 years later when I was ready to settle down…” (Photo  courtesy of John Scanlan).

JB

Moments in Submarine History

A collection of articles from the 698 group PFSM capital-campaign

 

Here are the links to the “Moments in Submarine History” type posts published on this website’s pages through the campaign. It was a fairly short campaign so there were only a few stories, having barely scratched the surface in regards to the treasure of legendary U.S. Navy submarine accounts. Selections were from the beginning of World War II and correspondingly those in the month of December which happened to coincide with our 698-PFSM campaign. The other aspect of the articles were helpful to illustrate how every U.S. Navy submariner is connected to the whole of the Silent Service.

 

24 NOV 2019 

THE LEGEND OF THE SILENT SERVICE

 

17 DEC 2019 

FREDERICK WARDER AND THE SEAWOLF

 

22 DEC 2019 

WHO IS THE SILENT SERVICE?

 

25 DEC 2019

FIRST WARTIME CHRISTMAS STORY

 

31 DEC 2019 

MORTON TAKES COMMAND

 

 

 

698 LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for her date with destiny. Decom ceremony and reunion in Bremerton are tentatively scheduled for Spring of 2021, that puts BadFish on course for a 40 year run.

Cheers – from RMCS(SS) Don Jones, Plankowner, SSN698

 

SAVE THE 698

Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form? Do you wish to be involved before, during and after her decommissioning in whatever works are needed to establish the memory of 698 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.

Copyright © 2020 bremertonreunion.net

 

 

 

 

698 for PFSM – The Final

USS BREMERTON – SSN 698

GROUP CAMPAIGN

 

All numbers have been tallied and here are the final results from the Bremerton alumi efforts to support The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor.  The total of all donations and pledges is equal to $11,845.00!

This amount qualifies us to be on the Interior Campaign Donor Wall, a place reserved to recognize the museum’s biggest donors.

Our efforts to secure a permanent plaque in recognition of the USS Bremerton in “the most visited submarine museum in the world” will be a source of pride and personal connection for every alumni, his family and friends.

It will make your return trip to the islands a little more special.

As we get more details on the plaque, we will let you know, though you may read about the general details at the museum’s Capital Campaign page.

Sincere thanks to every donor and for the moral support from all. Your contributions went beyond the call of duty to help with this effort!

 

PFSM Looking Forward

The Bowfin Memorial in conjunction with the new and exciting developments offered by the PFSM will be a worthy tribute to the Silent Service and something to look forward to in the future on your next trip to Pearl Harbor. Here’s are few words from the Museum about what’s been happening and where they are headed…

 

NOW PRESENTING…

An interview with Captain Merkel

Captain Chuck Merkel is interviewed by Island Focus about the PFSM and submarines (courtesy of Bob Miller).Click on photo or link to see.

 

If you haven’t seen the great and powerfully introduced Capital Campaign video yet  it is narrated by former USS Bremerton skipper RON COX who now serves as Chairman of the Board of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum. One more time, here’s the link https://www.bowfin.org/capital-campaign
*

When you, your family and friends come out to the Islands, put the Bowfin and the PFSM on your list of PLACES TO SEE!

 

 

 

 

698 LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for her date with destiny. Decom ceremony and reunion in Bremerton are tentatively scheduled for Spring of 2021, that puts BadFish on course for a 40 year run.

Cheers – from RMCS(SS) Don Jones, Plankowner, SSN698

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 bremertonreunion.net

 

Mission Accomplished

 

PACIFIC FLEET SUBMARINE MUSEUM GROUP DONATION UPDATE  31 DEC 2019

We’ve Reached Our Goal!

Yes shipmates, we have reached our goal of $10,000 before the end of 2019

 

Every single contribution is sincerely appreciated in the effort of providing recognition for the Bremerton and support for the creation of The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor.

We’ve secured something every USS BREMERTON SSN 698 alumni, their family, and friends can take pride and interest in.

We had a great range of support from alumni plus some corporate matching.

Based on the numbers that I have (and there may be more coming in by the end of the 31st) we are at $10,190 of completed donations and pledge commitments transacted through the museum.

A spot for USS BREMERTON on the Interior Campaign Donor Wall is secured honoring the campaign’s biggest supporters!

With one day left before the end of 2019, we’ve reached our amazing mutual goal. So let’s party!…

Wait – One

There is one piece of business that’s not yet resolved, at least not until the strike of midnight Hawaii time and that is, who will get the Angel’s Envy Award?

Currently, the Angel’s Envy Award will go to two shipmates (who have chosen to remain anonymous)  whose donation/pledge amounts are $3000 each. In order for someone take top spot for the prize, pledge a greater amount than $3050 by midnight or perhaps go for the gusto, another $15,000 more either individually or collaboratively and that will launch us to the next lofty donor level.

Hey, what can I to say, when there is still time left on the clock?!

 

CONGRATULATIONS SHIPMATES, WE MADE A CLEAN SWEEP OF THE $10K GOAL

RAISE AN ADULT BEVERAGE IN A TOAST TO:

 

OUR SHIPMATES

and

THOSE ON ETERNAL PATROL

 

 THE BREMERTON

and

THE SILENT SERVICE

 

THANK YOU AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE ADDITIONAL DONATIONS TO THE MUSEUM

For your convenience, your pledge may be paid in installments over a 5-year period.

All contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law and made directly to The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum via the Bowfin.org website.

TO DONATE GO TO THE WEBSITE BELOW:

https://www.bowfin.org/capital-campaign or click on the Bowfin 

 

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

CMDCM(SS) PAUL HENRI GAGNON

August 8, 1945 – December 25, 2019

from Eternal Patrol by USSVI

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

  • by bremertonreunion.net

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.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

Who is the Silent Service?

“From December 7, 1941, until the end of the war, our undersea fleet operated in strictest secrecy, which resulted in the well-deserved sobriquet – the “Silent Service.”  Concealment of results of submarine operations was intended to keep from the enemy knowledge of what we were doing, how it was accomplished, and who was responsible. Consequently, it was not until the end of the war that the full extent of our submarine campaign became known to the people of the United States. Only recently has it been appreciated that although we never had as many submarines as the Germans, ship for ship and man for man the United States Submarine Force was the more effective.”

-From  “Submarine!” by then Commander Edward L. Beach, U.S.N. (first published June , 1952).

 

COMING FULL CIRCLE AS A MEMBER OF THE SILENT SERVICE

My shipmates and I served as submariners in the US Navy, and I presume, like virtually all other sailors who served as navy submariners carry on the some of these essential tenets as described by Captain Beach.

Things have changed since WWII in a public way, as unlike 1941, modern sub sailors wear and publicly present our twin dolphin insignia of being a qualified submariner with a sense of pride for our quiet contributions in the service of our country.

Especially with the advent of internet and social media, the post Cold War strategy of the Navy often appears to have become as much a battle for public opinion as anything else.

However, even though for myself and my contemporaries whose active duty time took place over 30 years ago, we still do not publicly disclose “what we did” in the Cold War.

 

Because of this silence, it is with particular gratitude and a sense of relief we can recognize the contributions of our World War II submariner brethren. Why? Their license for “unrestricted warfare” against a declared enemy and their exploits are, for the most part, no longer secret and have not been for a long time.  The U.S. Navy submarine sailors’ masterful pioneering of one of the most complex and technologically advanced machines ever built is a marvel of human spirit, endurance and intelligence in the crisis and tragedy of war. The ultimate sacrifices of the over 3500 submarine sailors and 52 U.S. Navy submarines on eternal patrol reaches the soul of every submariner.

 

In a full circled awareness extending from our own service, acknowledging our place in the progression of time among the pioneers and legends, imbues within us a meaning greater than ourselves, the commands we served under and the submarines we served in. This recognition is in synergy with the loyalty developed in serving together with our shipmates and a common bond that stretches through time due to the unique nature of the submarine service.

USS Bremerton SSN 698 on her final voyage as she approaches Bremerton , Washington. April 2018. (image source king5.com)

 

 

THE USS BREMERTON ANGLE 

 

As a benefit of our service as Bremertonsailors, we have an opportunity to help with the funding of the work involved with an important submarine landmark as well as to secure some recognition for our boat.

The museum is at Pearl Harbor, the long time homeport of theUSS Bremerton SSN698 (the BadFish, the “American Classic”). SSN-698 is a descendent of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet submarine community.

We have a special connection to the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, as I am proud to help support the efforts of my shipmate who was my weapons officer on the Bremerton, Chuck Merkel.  Later in his career, Chuck served as the Commanding Officer of the USS Key West SSN 722 (2000-2003)Captain Merkel, now retired, serves as the Executive Director of the Bowfin Memorial and is overseeing the amazing changes taking place to transform the popular attraction to the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum.

While there are innumerable organizations to support, I have an affinity to support my shipmate and his cause, while at the same time contributing to our legacy in history in the name of the boat who many of us called our home away from home.

The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum’s mission is to educate the public of not only the World War II exploits of the Silent Service, but to further develop the Bowfin Memorial Park facilities to incorporate a more comprehensive look at what submarining in the United States Navy is all about.

HERE IS THE TARGET FOR THE “INSIDE-THE-MUSEUM” RECOGNITION OF SSN698:

I invite you to join our group of shipmate donors to make a push the last week of 2019 in effort to reach $10,000 as our current total is $3200. Nothing is impossible if everyone pitches together, small and large amounts welcome.

THIS IS BIG NEWS:

PLEDGES MADE NOW BEFORE JANUARY 1st 2020, CAN BE PAID IN INSTALLMENTS WITHIN A 5 YEAR PERIOD.

THESE PLEDGES WILL COUNT TOWARD OUR BREMERTON GROUP INSIDE THE MUSEUM RECOGNITION PLAQUE 

Just FYI, the museum increments donations and pledges counting towards the INSIDE at 10K, 25K, 50K, 100K, and 250K.

 

Support the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

Don’t miss the opportunity to support the legacy of the Silent Service while providing recognition of SSN-698with a tax-deductible gift. It’s a twofer. Make your donation before January 1st 2020 in our effort to achieve special honors for USS BremertonSSN 698. Donations of any amount are welcome!

.

SPEC DEAL THRU CHRISTMAS 2019: Mention “DiverDaveDunn” along with “USS BREMERTON” and/or “SSN 698” in your donation to the museum by Christmas 2019 and Diver Dave Dunn will double your donation of $50 or less by contributing a matching amount toward the group fund.

SPEC DEAL THRU JANUARY 1st, 2020: Mention your affiliation with “USS Bremerton” and/or “SSN 698” and I will match up to $50 of your donation towards the 698 Group donation by January 1st, 2020.

BE THE LARGEST 698 DONOR BY JANUARY 1st, 2020: Receive a complimentary bottle of ANGEL’s ENVY – KENTUCKY STRAIGHT BOURBON.

The museum is involved in a substantial and exciting new revitalization of their facility to help better educate the public about the Silent Service. As alumni of the Bremertonwe have an opportunity to help make an impact as well as driving at achieving special sponsorship status and recognition with respect to USS Bremerton SSN-698. Please click on the link/image of the Bowfin below for more information.

All donations are made through the Bowfin.org websiteand go directly to their renovation and expansion efforts. Corporate sponsors welcome.

.

 

Captain Wes Bringham dub-honors 698

as the “American Classic”

Go to this link for the story and video. or click on the image

CDR Wes Bringham and the famous O’Kane cribbage board.

 

 

698 LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for her date with destiny. Decom ceremony and reunion in Bremerton are tentatively scheduled for Spring of 2021, that puts BadFish on course for a 40 year run.

Cheers – from RMCS(SS) Don Jones, Plankowner, SSN698

 

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.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net