Uel W. Smith Oral History
Identifier: OHP 113
Uel Smith served aboard Growler as a seaman from 1958 to 1960. Smith began his interview by discussing the first time he saw Growler and explaining how he came to serve aboard Growler. He then backtracked and stated that he joined the Navy with a group of friends from Missouri when he was 17 years old. Smith continued, noting that he attended boot camp in Bainbridge, Maryland, and sub school in New London, CT. He described the submarine specific training he received, such as exercises involving the pressure chamber and escape tank, and he also spoke about the written exams and studying that were required in sub school. Smith then stated that after graduation, he was stationed on the Cubera, where he first qualified, and that he went aboard Growler in 1958, and had to requalify. As the interview continued, Smith discussed his duties on Growler, including mess cooking and later being assigned to the torpedo rooms, where he was responsible for keeping the torpedoes cleaned and shined, and keeping their batteries charged. Smith also stated that he was put in charge of small arms, including “Tommy guns,” pistols, and M1s, and he provided a brief description of this job. The interview then transitioned to a discussion on liberty, and Smith spoke about his experiences, from the bars in Waikiki and a double-date, to the occasional fights that occurred. He also noted that in order to pass the time while on patrol, he would read books or watch movies, and he remembered that Growler had sixty movies on board. The interview then shifted back to jobs aboard Growler, and Smith stated that he stood periscope watches, noting that he relieved officers who were on the periscope and describing what it was like to look through the periscope. He also pointed out that the Russians knew Growler was there, however there was a mutual feeling of “you don’t bother us and we won’t bother you.” Smith then recalled that crew members had to receive a clearance in order to serve aboard Growler and how the FBI went to his hometown to speak with his family, visit his school, and find out about his history. Uel Smith ended his interview by reflecting on his time aboard Growler and stating how much respect he has for the officers and crew of Growler.
- September 14, 2016
- Smith, Uel W. (Narrator, Person)
- Burkart, John
- Cold War, October 1945–March 15, 1974
- Education -- Training -- Basic Training
- Education -- Training -- Military Training -- Naval Training -- Submarine Training
- Ekelund, John J.
- Growler -- sail
- Guided Missiles -- Cruise Missiles -- Regulus 1
- Harrison, Jack, Jr.
- Horsman, Wallace
- Military Forces (United States) -- Navy
- Murphy, James
- Optical Equipment -- Periscopes -- Submarine Periscopes
- Ordnance -- Guns -- Small Arms
- Priest, Charles, Jr.
- Seaman, E-3
- Seaman, SN
- USS Cubera (SS-347)
- USS Growler (SSG-577)
- United States (nation) -- Connecticut (state) -- New London (county) -- Groton (inhabited place) -- Naval Submarine Base New London (submarine base)
- United States (nation) -- Hawaii (state) -- Honolulu (county) -- Oahu (island) -- Honolulu (inhabited place)
- United States (nation) -- Maryland (state) -- Cecil (county) -- Port Deposit (inhabited place) -- United States Naval Training Center, Bainbridge (military installation)
- United States (nation) -- Virginia (state) -- Norfolk (independent city) -- Norfolk (inhabited place) -- Naval Station Norfolk (naval base)
- David Dzendzel
- September 27, 2018
- March 1, 2019: Biography and Summary Added. Completed by Emma Tainter, edited by David Dzendzel.