Skip to main content

Wayne J. Mehl Oral History

Identifier: OHP 137

Scope and Contents

Wayne Mehl served aboard Growler as the engineering officer and the nuclear weapons officer from 1961 to 1964. He began his interview by discussing his childhood growing up on a naval base in San Francisco during World War II and noting how his father, a lieutenant during the First World War, heavily influenced his decision to join the Navy. Mehl then discussed his education at Stanford University and explained his decision to join the NROTC program, stating that his engineering degree, along with the help of an admiral, had enabled him to join the submarine service. As the interview continued, Mehl recalled his experiences in submarine school and nuclear weapon school, before discussing the Regulus missile, how the Regulus missile functioned, and how Growler tested the missile. Mehl then recounted the first time he saw Growler and explained how he acclimated to life aboard a submarine, which led to a discussion on the different foods that were served to the crew. He also noted the crew’s lack of communication with family and how this caused difficulties for some crew members. The interview then shifted to duties on board a submarine, and Mehl explained the importance of qualifying, recalled eventful dives, and spoke about Growler’s deterrence mission. Mehl also discussed how Growler’s mission had changed his mindset toward nuclear weapons for the rest of his life and eventually led to his involvement with the group, Beyond War. This discussion then led to an explanation of the process for launching a Regulus missile, before the interview shifted to Mehl’s role as the engineering officer. Mehl discussed maintaining the three diesel engines, keeping the submarine balanced, and addressing different problems that arose both in port and at sea. He then described day to day life aboard Growler and noted some activities the crew enjoyed while off duty, such as watching movies, playing pranks on one another, reading, and eating. As the interview came to end, Mehl recalled his last day aboard Growler, noted the boat’s decommissioning, and stated that he moved to Stanford with his wife, Helen, after he left the Navy. He then reflected on his time aboard Growler, noting the importance that those experiences had on the rest of his life. Wayne Mehl ended his interview by discussing his opinions regarding war and nuclear weapons and stating that he hopes people will learn from their visit aboard Growler.


  • June 29, 2017



40 Files

47 Sheets

Language of Materials



David Dzendzel
October 18, 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Online Archives Repository

One Intrepid Square
W. 46th Street and 12th Avenue
New York NY 10036-4103 United States