I had the honor of being the first officer to qualify in submarines aboard Skipjack, which I did in 1962. To celebrate that august occasion, I was made to wear a 20 lb plaque of large, cast-iron dolphins around my neck for 24 hours ---in addition to the other normal rituals, e.g. chugging a tall glass of various mixed hard liquors and catching in one’s teeth the set of dolphins residing in the bottom of the glass. A special touch for this occasion was provided by the ship’s CO, Shep Jenks, who, when he pinned on my dolphins, used those he had worn when he navigated Nautilus under the North Pole a few years earlier (1959).
My first assignment as “George” (the most junior officer aboard) was Gunnery Officer, First Lieutenant, and Commissary Officer. During that year, and with a lot of help from our superb enlisted ranks, we won the “E” for Gunnery and the Ney Award for the most outstanding mess in the fleet. In short, it was an exciting and memorable time on one of the finest submarines that ever sailed.