Thresher

World War II submariner Bill Tebo, left, pins “dolphins” on MMN2 Sheldon Faulkner of the USS Virginia submarine, signifying Faulkner’s official certification to serve on U.S. submarines.

SEABROOK — The annual meeting of the Thresher Base chapter of United States Submarine Veterans Inc. was an occasion to celebrate a milestone 56 years in the making — a place in Arlington National Cemetery for a memorial to the USS Thresher.

“The story of the Thresher will get beyond the submarine community and out into the general community,” said Kevin Galeaz at American Legion Post 70 on Saturday.

The attack submarine USS Thresher claimed the lives of 129 sailors and civilians when it sank due to an electrical failure off the coast of Cape Cod in 1963.

Galeaz is the former head of Thresher Base and the current president of the USS Thresher Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Foundation.

“Our goal is to ensure this never happens again and to continue to save lives of the men and women who serve in our nation’s submarines,” he said.

The memorial represents the end product of decades of work to receive federal approval for the project. , with Galeaz and the members of the Memorial Foundation working tirelessly over the last few years to turn the vision into a reality. Galeaz announced June 20 that the project had received final approval.

Joined by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who’s set to deliver the keynote address at the Sept. 26 dedication of the memorial at Arlington, Galeaz recognized members of the local media, Albacore Park Executive Director Patti Violette and Lt. Col. Kevin Major for their contributions to the success of the memorial project.

Shaheen reminded her audience that SUBSAFE, the 1963 submarine safety program created in direct response to Thresher’s loss, had helped to prevent the loss of any additional U.S. submarines, thereby ensuring that the men of the Thresher “did not die in vain.”

Saturday’s meeting also took time to honor living submariners. In a ceremony performed by World War II-era submariner Bill Tebo, MMN2 Sheldon Faulkner of the USS Virginia submarine received his “dolphins,” signifying his certification to serve on submarines.

In addition, veterans Robert Levertu and Paul White were inducted into the Holland Club, an organization that commemorates those who have been qualified in submarines for at least 50 years.

Capt. David Hunt, commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, said groups like Thresher Base, and projects such as the Thresher memorial, give needed recognition to the men and women who occupy an often thankless sector of the nation’s armed services.

“The submarine force is relatively small and insular,” said Hunt. “We don’t talk about a lot of the things we do because we’re not supposed to be seen. So the fact that we can recognize a whole submarine crew ... and the civilians that perished on (Thresher) when she was out during sea trials, it’s really special for both this area of the country and the entire submarine force.”

Galeaz said the Memorial Foundation has raised approximately $7,000 toward the $47,000 needed to fund the Sept. 26 reception. Donations can be made at threshermemorial.org/fundraising.html.

Saturday, December 14, 2019
Wednesday, December 11, 2019