By Gannon McHale
2008 Naval Institute Press 9781591145028 New York actor Gannon McHale, like many of his generation coming of age in the 1960s, faced the dilemma of being drafted into the US Army and going to Vietnam or enlisting in another service. He chose the US Navy for a single enlistment and it is of this time he has written an enjoyable addition to naval history – submarine service from an enlisted man’s perspective. As opposed to other books that have employed questionable interview techniques or delved into the realm of speculative or trashy journalism. Author McHale chose the high road and only wrote on material available through the Freedom of Information Act.
Submarine USS Sturgeon was the first of a large class of submarines which were in frontline service for over 30 years. McHale experienced two COs and two XOs with one good and one bad in each category. The good XO was Bruce DeMars who later went on to command the US Navy Nuclear Program.
Life ashore in the Groton/New London area during the late 1960s is enjoyable with what now seem quaint drinking laws and municipal actions.
McHale’s second submarine was the World War II vintage USS Dogfish that mostly conducted routine coastal training operations and most weekends in port. A stark contrast to high tempo Cold War operations on front line nuclear attack sub which saw them in near combat conditions and operating clandestinely. This book is highly recommended.