Memorial Day

In 1998 I joined the U.S. Navy and took the job as a Submarine Sonar Technician.  My first submarine was the USS Louisiana (SSBN-743) Gold.  An SSBN type of submarine has two crews, a Blue and a Gold, and each crew has the boat for approximately 100 days or so.  I was assigned to the Gold crew.

The Sonar Chief on the Blue crew was Chief John Bishop.  Now the reason I am talking about Chief Bishop in this Memorial Day post is because Chief Bishop lost his father on a submarine that never returned home.  On June 5th, 1968 the USS Scorpion was declared lost at sea.  It was later determined that she sank on May 22nd of the same year.  All 99 members of her crew were lost.  Chief John Bishop’s father was among the crew that was lost.  Chief Walter Bishop was not just any crew member though.  He was the Chief of the Boat or as we call them, COB.  The COB is the senior enlisted person on the boat and answers directly to the Commanding Officer and is basically a liaison between the enlisted community and the Commanding Officer.

When Chief John Bishop was selected the be advanced to the rank of Chief Petty Officer a ceremony was held for the “pinning”.  The pinning is when a newly selected Chief gets his/her anchors pinned on.  At the pinning ceremony John’s wife Darlene took his shiny set of dolphins (submarine warfare pin) off his chest and replaced them with an older, more tarnished set of dolphins.  This is significant because as it turns out, this older set of dolphins actually had once belonged to John’s dad, Chief Walter Bishop.

On or about May 19th, 1968 Scorpion and her crew pulled in to Spain and three crew members disembarked the boat and flew back to the US.  One of those crew members had recently qualified in submarines and the COB had given him his set of dolphins as is sometimes customary, kind of like passing the torch.

When I first heard this story I was amazed at how those dolphins found their way back to the son of the man who once wore them.  From thousands of miles, hundreds of feet below the surface and after nearly forty years, those dolphins returned home and were once again being worn by a Chief Bishop.

As we celebrate this Memorial Day this year.  I would ask that you pick one family to think about each year who has been affected by the loss of a soldier or sailor.  By doing this it will give this holiday much more meaning.

To the crew of the USS Scorpion I say rest in peace men.  Fair winds and fowling seas.

Happy Memorial Day!

Photo Workshop

Last Sunday I attended a studio lighting workshop hosted by Photonooga in Chattanooga,TN.  The instructor was Rocke of  This was my first workshop and was definitely the first time doing any type of work with models.  I learned a lot but still have much to learn.  Here are a few images I made.




The MCPON visits Cleveland, TN

As many of you may know I am a Reservist in the U.S. Navy. That means I am basically in the Navy on a part-time basis and “play” Navy on one weekend a month and then two weeks at some point during the year. A couple of weeks ago while at “drill” we were notified that the annual Armed Forces Day Parade would be held in downtown Chattanooga, TN on May 7th, 2010 and that the Grand Marshall would be the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West.

The MCPON is the most senior enlisted person in the Navy and is a liaison for the enlisted community to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). The MCPON is also called upon to testify in front of Congress on various issues involving the enlisted naval community.

MCPON West is a previous Quartermaster (QM) in the submarine community and his accomplishments are too many to list here. For more detailed information on him you can visit either his Facebook page or his official Navy page.

Now back to the point…

During that drill weekend several of us were asked if we would like to march in the parade since the Navy needed to make a good showing for the MCPON. Reluctantly I volunteered. So on May 7th about 20 reservist met at the drill center. I’ll fast forward a bit and take you to the point where we are marching down the street and start to pass the reviewing stand where MCPON West is watching us. As we pass by he breaks his salute and starts clapping loudly, at which point cold chills went down my spine and I was instantly filled with more Navy pride than I can ever remember.

After the parade a few buddies and I walked back over towards the viewing stand and eventually got to shake the MCPON’s hand and get a picture with him. That moment was awesome. Here I was shaking hands with the senior enlisted person in the Navy and he just happens to be wearing the same submarine warfare pin that I was wearing. Like two brothers separated by three pay-grades and a lot of years.

That moment was trumped only to the event that happened the next day. I was invited to attend a submarine veteran’s meeting at my local Golden Coral and the guest speaker was MCPON West. I arrived early and sat down with his photographer, MC1 Jennifer Villalovos. We made small talk and all the while the MCPON was sitting right next to me.

Without a doubt, this past weekend was the highlight of my military career.