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Joined: May 12, 2007
Posts: 89
Location: Dublin, Ohio

PostPost subject: MEN AND EARRINGS
Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 5:14 am
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By Arthur Killam
Ex-Chief Electrician
U.S.S. Sea Dragon

Years ago in the Swashbuckling Days of old, men wore earrings.

When did today's man start wearing earrings?

I was on a submarine, the U.S.S. Sea Dragon, in WWII. As part of the Asiatic Fleet, we were stationed in Manila, Philippines. In December of 1941, we were at the Cavite Navy Yard for an overhaul. On the same day, Pearl Harbor was bombed; the Japanese wiped out all the air fields in the Philippines, thereby eliminating our air protection.

On December 10, 1941, at Noon, the Navy yard was heavily bombed. Three flights of 27 (81 in all) flew over our Navy yard dropping 500-pound bombs. We did not have a gun that could touch them - they didn't even break formation. They completely destroyed the Navy yard and the ships in dry dock.

Our Sea Dragon submarine was tied up to the dock, and our sister ship, the U.S.S. Sea Lion, was tied up outboard of us. The Sea Lion took a 500-pound bomb down the after-torpedo room hatch, sinking her. At that very instant, one of our officers and I were in the conning tower. That officer was killed there by the shrapnel he sustained. While I was rushing down the ladder to the Control Room, another concussion knocked me 14 feet below to the Control Room deck. Four knobs about 2-inches long were all that remained where the railing used to be around the pump room hatch. I fell onto one of the knobs sticking up, landing full force on the tip of my spine. I lay there senseless on the Control Room deck for quite awhile, then heard the Captain yell: "Abandon ship!" By the time I picked myself up, managing to get top-side and was started down the dock, the Captain was telling everyone to get back on board

A salvage ship, the U.S.S. Widgeon, tied up to our stern and with some effort pulled us clear of the destroyed Sea Lion. Our sub had also caught a lot of shrapnel from the Sea Lion, but luckily the pressure hull was not ruptured. We had many holes in the superstructure, and a lot of the deck was gone.

We managed to get over to Manila where we tied up subtend to the U.S.S. Canopus. For three days work was performed on the sub, all night long, preparing us to once again become seaworthy. During the night, work was done on the Sea Dragon under the cover of darkness, and during the day, we would have to lie on the bottom of Manila Bay until it turned dark again. The reason for this was that the Japanese chose daylight to attack.

Finally ready for sea on December 13, 1941, we departed for Surabaya, Java, in the Netherlands East Indies. When we passed Corregidor and started south, we saw three Japanese destroyers patrolling the entrance to Manila Bay. Corregidor is an Army island fort at the entrance to Manila Bay. As we proceeded to dive, the Japanese gave us our first taste of depth-charging. After about 2 hours, the three destroyers finally left. We surface, and after a few days we finally reached Surabaya, Java. We went into a Dutch dry dock and they fixed us up as best they could.

After our overhaul by the Dutch, we went out on our first offensive patrol run. We were assigned a patrol station off French Indochina (now known as Vietnam). We were located in Camron Bay, a Japanese naval base. We made an approach on a heavy Japanese cruiser. Our Captain ordered firing four torpedoes as the cruiser was going into their base. The torpedo missed. We were using Mark XIV torpedoes and having trouble with them, as was everybody else. The miss was costly. We were depth-charged pretty heavily.

After 55 days, we ended our patrol. We could not go back to Surabaya because the Japanese had already captured it. Our orders were to go to Perth, Australia. We made five patrol runs from there.

I had to tell this story to get to the point of why modern man wears earrings: There was this certain Japanese woman who had a radio show from Tokyo, Japan ... you know who she was. Well, she had broadcast that a Japanese destroyer had sunk a red pirate submarine off the coast of French Indochina. This crock of prop was supposedly us - the U.S.S. Sea Dragon! Due to the bombing in Cavite, and the several depth charges sustained, most of the black paint on our hull had long disappeared. The undercoating left is what was called red lead. So, a Red Pirate Submarine!

Back to the earrings. Our Pharmacist Mate decided if we were being called pirate, we should wear earrings just like them. He then proceeded to pierce every ones' ears, officers excluded. By the time we finished our 5th patrol, the entire submarine fleet had pierced ears.

Therefore, don't give the custom of men wearing earrings to rock groups and rappers - give credit where credit is due - to the U.S.S. Sea Dragon.

Fraternally yours,
Bernie Kenyon
Columbus Sub Vets Base
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