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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE “AMERICAN CLASSIC”

Editor’s notes:

The following article is a republication of an original work in 2016 by contributing writer and plankowner Russ Woods who offers his insights to life on the Bremerton during the early days as she began her ocean going journey out of the shipyards. Although we in the early generations of 698 crews did not refer to our boat as the BadFish, Russ offers this as a token of respect all the submariners who were ever part of the vital life blood and spirit of the Bremerton.

Not only does Russ Woods offer valuable crew member insights of the early years of the Bremerton, he also offers it with a certain retrospective sharpness, humility and self-disclosure that I appreciate as a fellow submariner and shipmate.

For the volunteers who fulfilled the mission of the United States Navy’s Silent Service, those precious years often become a legacy we never planned on.

“American Classic” is the age-defying honor publicly given to the BadFish by then Bremerton Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Wes Bringham, in the Kitsap Sun video published on February 28, 2016. To see the popular video featuring Captain Bringham, go to the link at the bottom of the page.

EastPacmanningbridge1
The new shining star of the US Navy’s submarine fleet, USSBremertonarriving in Bremerton, Washington, Fall 1982. Image courtesy of Donald Jones, Plankowner, USS Bremerton.

 

 

USS BREMERTON: AN “AMERICAN CLASSIC”

By Russ Woods

In my time I served in three different submarines: Bremerton, Henry M. Jackson and Michigan. I was fortunate enough to be a Plankowner in Bremertonand Henry M. Jackson.

I must confess in my youth I did not demonstrate the affection for my Submarine as I seem to these days. I was just as quick to make comments like “This boat sucks” or “I hate this boat” as many of my shipmates did at one time or another. Case in point “C.A.R.T.” – If you were there you know what this means.

How naïve I and we were. As many of you have experienced or at least heard, the ’98 boat was a problem child. She was impudent and cantankerous. She did not seem to want to come out of the gate. We, my Plankowner shipmates and I, collectively through hard work, inspiring dedication and endurance of significant hardships brought her out. We were also one of the last to hear the phrase “Rig for Rickover”. Those who were there know exactly what that means.

How were we to know then we were serving in a history-making Warship? The first clue should have been her maiden voyage around the southern tip of Africa and into the Indian Ocean, where she performed flawlessly while we troublemakers steered her into troubled waters and performed sneaky spy stuff on the unsuspecting Soviets and the hapless Libyans motoring around in shallow waters that they felt they were the masters of. Yea, not so, says Badfish 698.

Then a short few months later our girl goes out on a pleasure cruise to visit her namesake city and allow us steely eyed denizens a “fun run” to reward us for our great service to America. But in an instant the Badfish phone rang and Uncle Sugar needed us to re-think our priorities and turned our “fun run” into a Spec-Op. And of course our thoroughbred answered the call and hit full stride on our run to the Pacific North West to counter Ivan’s nefarious plans. She made history then by becoming the fastest submarine in the fleet and by extension the fastest in the world.

The Captain’s log from commissioning forward reads of one challenging exploit after another that our girl accepted and excelled at.

When I reflect back on my sometimes crappy attitude that at times I demonstrated I feel a strong pang of regret deep inside my soul. I am hopeful any of my shipmates who occasionally shared my bad behavior have been fortunate enough to feel remorse for their wicked tongue that blasphemed against what is now our pride.

She is now beyond a shadow of a doubt the finest of the 688 class. Testimony to the professionalism of her first august crew and every single crewman who has served in her since. We my shipmates own a part of history. No matter what those evil yard birds do to her after she is finally decommissioned, she will always belong to the Ages. Her name will be there at the top of the list of longest serving submarines in our country’s history. Our great grandchildren and beyond will see her name in Jane’s fighting Ships. They will be able to say with pride, “My great-grandfather served in her.”

Yes, any of us who besmirched her name even once should feel justly ashamed. Because USS BremertonSSN 698 was taking us all on a ride in history. Marking us as a very privileged group. A brotherhood of the Badfish, an “American Classic”.

russwoodsRuss Woods,Plankowner, back in the day.

 

 

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698 News

Support the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

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

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 Bremerton we 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 website and go directly to their renovation and expansion efforts. Corporate sponsors welcome.

Click on me! USS Bowfin.org

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

 

 

Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum – 698 Group Sponsorship

I posted this article on my personal website since originally it began as a personal donation to the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum also known was USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. It quickly morphed into something larger than myself and something worthwhile to share with the alumni.

The museum is involved in a substantial revitalization of their facility and as alumni of the Bremerton we have an opportunity to help make an impact as well as possibly achieving special sponsorship status with respect to our boat. Please click on the link/image of the Bowfin below for more information.

All donations are made through the Bowfin.org website

USS Bowfin SS-287. Source Bowfin.org

 

 

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 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.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

 

 

 

“Tug Boat” Annie’s

Some of the Bremerton Boys at Norm’s and Annie’s Lounge in Groton, CT. (circa 1979)
Bottom Row: Ken “Colonel” Collins. Tom “Mac” McPhillips, Donald Jones, Ray Rich, Tim “Burt” Noble.
Top row: Jim Rowe, Peter Berns. Timmy Naylor, Jim “the Rev” Jones, and Russ Woods (photo courtesy of Russ Woods). More photos at the end of article.

 

 

 

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.

 

RW

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Candid shots of Norm and Annie’s Lounge with the Bremerton Boys

Photos courtesy of Larry and Marianne Tharp.
Larry and Marianne Tharp had their wedding reception at Norm and Annie’s Lounge with Tommy Cox and his band providing the entertainment.
The Tommy Cox Band, Larry Tharp and Marianne on the dance floor

 

Jeff Dietrich, Mary, and “Balladeer of the Submarine” Tommy Cox

 

Peter J. Berns and Ken Burnside with the epic smoke hanging off his lips.

 

Clemon “C.C.” Cager

 

Sharon and Ken Burnside with friends of the Tharps, Patty, howard, Shirley, and Ronnie.
Jeff Dietrich and Larry Tharp with their ladies.

 

 

Marianne Tharp with Tommy Cox’s father

This token is courtesy of Marianne Tharp and she shares this story to go along with it: “Tommy Cox gave it to me one night. We have his album and his CDs. Larry [Tharp] and I met at Norm’s Lounge in January of 1980 and he asked me to marry him in February 1980…. and got married on May 10th, 1980. Seems like after that someone got married every few weeks… so much fun we all had. Good memories for sure!”

 

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

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LOOKING BACK – Bremerton’s Sister-Ships at Electric Boat

 

Electric Boat yard, USS Ohio (SSBN-726) and the USS Jacksonville (SSN-699). Photo source U.S. Navy Institute.

 

 

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 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.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net