Veteran Salute: Sub sailor honors those on eternal patrol

Veteran Salute

A Vietnam veteran said he was inspired by Chaplain Emil Kapaun’s service in WWII and the Korean War, while he was going to what was Chaplain Kapaun Memorial High School.

Bob Fugit started sailing competitively when he was a teenager, and he ended up on submarines, and he said it was quite the experience being on patrol.

“This is the Mark 14 steam torpedo,” Vietnam Veteran Bob Fugit said.

Fugit would know, he was just 18 when he got a letter.

“The draft notice said, ‘Greetings, your friends and neighbors, have selected you’,” Fugit said.

Fugit had already signed up.

“To me it was a natural thing to do,” Fugit said.

He headed to boot camp, as a sailor.

“I volunteered for submarines,” Fugit said.

He then climbed aboard the Bugara.

“Most memorable would be the time spent with the crew,” Fugit said.

That’s a good thing, because space is very limited, when you are serving on a submarine.

“You had to decide, if you wanted to sleep on your back or your stomach when you went into the berth, because you couldn’t roll over,” Fugit said.

The Conning tower, the primarily attack and navigation center is the smallest on the boat, at just eight feet in diameter and 16 feet long.

“It included two periscopes, the helm, radar, a navigating station, the torpedo data computer, and other stuff,” Fugit said.

He says the torpedo data computer was key.

“You’d load the range, as best you can,” Fugit said.

He said they would then plot the course.

“At the end of the run, it would blow that water out and it would go straight up so you could find the torpedo, and reuse it,” Fugit said.

The Bugara first sailed in 1944, and was active in the fleet for decades.

He said to qualify to wear dolphins, you had to know so much about the boat, and how to keep it dry.

“If you go very deep down, water comes in really, really fast,” Fugit said.

Being so far below made it very interesting when it came to doing his job.

“It took me longer to get the part, than it did to repair it,” Fugit said.

He was also aboard the Bonefish.

“The Bonefish was actually really designed to stay submerged, it was one of the first teardrop shaped boats,” Fugit said.

He said since WWI submarines have served an important role in warfare.

In WWII, U.S. boats sank nearly 1400 Japanese ships.

“It’s my understanding that the last time a huge battleship stood out to sea, she had enough fuel to get to Okinawa, but not to get back,” Fugit said.

He said it’s important to remember those on eternal patrol.

“If we want to retain our freedom, then we have to retain our history, we have to know what happened,” Fugit said.

Each year, Fugit is part of the Tolling of the Boats, that honors the shipmates who paid the ultimate price.

The memorial ceremony is held at the Dorado Memorial, on the Arkansas River.

“That’s a pretty expensive piece of machinery,” Fugit said.

Fugit is talking about the torpedo, that holds important connections to the past, and Fugit will always take the opportunity to share.

“To come down here and talk to kids about submarines and torpedoes,” Fugit said.

He is the Commander of the Dorado Base of Submarine Vets, and invites all to join them in October for the Tolling of the Boats Ceremony.

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