Tomorrow, April 10th is one of those days.
I will have nightmares tonight because I will – once again – read words long ago memorized. Words that describe with clinical detachment and sterile passion the final microseconds of the USS Thresher.
These were words that terrified me in the summer of 1984 when I was working on the last of my own Submarine qualifications. Thirty-two years after my last dive into the depths of the ocean, the words still chill the blood in my veins and make my knees weak.
Of all the things that I wish that I did not know, the facts – cold, hard, sanitary and shocking – of Threshers final seconds are at the top of the list. That it was painless is one of the Navy’s great salves. But it wasn’t painless.
Men who knew their jobs every bit as well as I did, men who believed that they could save their ship from anything, felt every bend of the steel. They felt the terror of knowing what was about to happen.
Their pain lives on in every man or woman who has closed the hatch and dived into the cold waters since that day. We all read the reports and the clinical description.
And in the dark, when nobody else can see, we feel their pain and we weep for them.