By Oliver Durand, 1963–64

I joined Irex during a yard period in Philly [in June 1963], right after I finished sub school. I had gone from Boot Camp, to Engineman “A” School, to Sub School, and to a (three week?) submarine engineering school; so I had almost a year in the Navy before I joined the fleet. Being in the yard, and “only” 300 miles from home, I went home every weekend I could, to be with my girl. That part must have been good, for we've been married 36 years in December! After the yard period, we went back to New London, and did Sub School ops, with all weekends in port. Same deal about home, and I was digging myself a deeper and deeper hole all the time.

Looking back, I wish now I had gone to a boat that was deployed, so I would have not have been tempted to put off the Quals. Finally, I gave up and [in February 1964] was transferred to Subron 8 for a few weeks, waiting orders that eventually came, assigning me to the H.W. Gilmore, AS–16, in Charleston. There I did spend quite a bit of time in R-2 Division, Shop 38, the outside machine shop, so I still got to work on the boats. Later on, I went to other things, a main engine room, duty driver, and boat engineer.

What I remember of the crew is a little vague. There was an EN1 in the Forward Engine room that I worked for named Pospishal or something like that. He was a really good guy, and knew his stuff. I wish he'd kicked my butt a little harder. Another ENFN or EN3 I worked with was Dougas or Douglas, a little guy from Louisiana; I think Pops was from down there, too. They were real tight.

Strongest memory I have of the Irex was the day JFK was shot. We were out, maybe on school ops, I was doing mess cooking, and cleaning up in the galley space. Monty (RM1 Montgomery), came out of the radio shack, and stuck his head aft and told us that the president had been shot, before he even went foreward to tell the old man. Then the CO came on the 1MC and told the whole crew the complete text of the message.

I also remember the time a short while after the yard period, when something came through the induction and wiped out the blower on one of the engines. My memory is that it was the port engine in the foreward engine room. I don't know if they ever figured out what it was; I remember we tore it apart, and it was wiped out big time. The yard, I think in New London, cut a hole in the hull to lift it out and swing in a new one. We hooked it up and made sure everything was OK, and then they scarfed out the hole and welded the piece of hull back in. Something makes me think it was 1 1/8" thick, but I'm not sure on that. Help me out on the thickness if I'm wrong. After they had x-rayed the welds, we went out and gradually went to test depth. I was in that engine room when we went down. BOY, DID WE WATCH THAT WELD!!!!!!!!!

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