Personal Veterans Day memories…

Walt & Yvonne Trandum 1951By Walt Trandum
The Old Geezer

I was just eleven years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Prior to that, most of the news had something to do with the war that was raging in Europe. When the war ended, I had only faint memories of the time when there was Peace. All of my uncles and male cousins were in the military, and my own father was a Veteran of World War One. Even when the war was over and you turned 18, you had to register for the draft. The only way to be sure you wouldn’t be drafted was to join a military reserve organization. In my case, I joined the Naval Reserve when I was 17 and began training to be a submarine sailor.
For several years, I trained at meetings each month and during the summer, spent two weeks for intensive training at a military base. Since I had decided that I would like to serve on a submarine that was the training that I received. It was also a test to see if I was capable of living and working under the sea. Along with learning all the operations of a sub, there was constant emphasis on learning to live in tight spaces and with the knowledge that air was necessary and vital to the success of any mission.  My personal goal was to earn my silver dolphins that would prove I was a qualified submarine sailor.
I was called up for active duty when I was 21, and spent a few months training to be a Quartermaster. That rate made me a signalman, helmsman and assistant to the Navigator. A particularly interesting assignment because I was right in the middle of the action, and when we surfaced, I was the first man up the ladder and through the hatch. The boat I was assigned to had been taken out of moth balls for the Korean War and while it had a fine record during the big war it didn’t have the latest in snorkels or electronic equipment. Our main mission was training anti-submarine vessels by submerging and trying to avoid them. Nobody getting killed or injured, but like a giant game of hide and seek.
A unique experience was when I volunteered to train to be a Submarine Swimmer. Along with a couple other fellows from our boat, we reported to the UDT training center at Coronado. We were merged into a unit of volunteers who were going to be Under Water Demolition Team members. It was probably the most taxing time of my life, both physical and mental challenges that prompted over 100 of the 140 people to drop out. I was among the survivors and my service record has a short note that says I was “Satisfactory”. The Korean War ended and the swimming team never happened, but what a great experience!
When the war ended, we sailed the USS Tinosa back up the coast to Mare Island where it was processed and placed back in the reserve fleet. The records show that it was eventually towed out to sea and used as a target and now rests on the bottom of the sea. Those men who served during both wars will always carry a feeling of honor for having served on a fine ship.
My three brothers and I, along with our father and many of our uncles and cousins have all served our country. Most of them were in the Navy and some had extensive experience with the invasions and battles that eventually brought us Victory. Every one of us served with pride and hope the day will come when peace will prevail all over the world.