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Bob Berry Bob Berry aboard the USS Torsk in 1998.
Bob Berry
(back to Life on a Submarine)

I remember one time when we were coming off of the surface, running four engines at probably full speed. We made a dive, and we happened to have a guy on the stern plane who was not real acquainted with going at those particular speeds. We took about a 45-degree down angle and we went past the test depth. That was probably the scariest feeling I have ever had in my life, just knowing that any moment death was at hand and not being able to do much about it.

It happened that we had a couple of forward-thinking electricians in the back who generally operate the motors for ship propulsion. They started backing out, and another guy started blowing it, and we finally started getting upright. I don't know what the depth was, I just know that we had gone past it.

Bob Berry Bob Berry at submarine school in 1966.

I'd serve again in a heart beat. I don't know if at 51 I could handle the rigors much anymore, but it would be worth a go. I would like to be as young as I was then. I think now about some of the awesome responsibility I had from the time I was 19 to when I was 23. Probably never again in my life will I have that type of responsibility. And we are talking responsibility for 80 people and doing what is right and making sure that you don't get into situations like that dive.

It's a very disciplined group. I don't know how to put this correctly, but we didn't generally go along with the Navy rules and regulations. We were a little bit more loose and lax about it, at least at that time. We did stuff that probably the surface Navy could have never gotten away with. But also we had a greater responsibility out there. You had to know your ship from stem to stern, and also it was a very tight knit group out there. If there was something that needed to be done, it was almost an all-hands thing. Everybody pitched in and helped everybody else. I think the camaraderie is some of the tightest that I have ever seen in my whole life.

And it lasts. I've run into a lot of former submariners through the Internet. I haven't run into many that were on my boat, but once you find out that a guy is another submariner, the old stories start like you've known the guy all your life.

—Robert "Cool Bob" Berry worked in the engine room of the USS Trumpetfish (SS-425) between 1966 and 1970. He lives in Fort Scott, Kansas.

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