Story and Photo by Robert F. Smith - Editor
This past weekend, World War II veteran Jim Larsen of Bellows Falls had an opportunity to fly to Washington, DC and spend the day visiting a number of memorials there, along with other WW II vets. The trip was courtesy of American Warrior, an organization that flies veterans from all over the country into Washington DC for day long visits.
Larsen, still energetic and mentally sharp at 88, served in the US Navy on the submarine Crevalle (pronounced cre-VAL-ley), making six of the sub's seven, 60-day long patrols, going everywhere from Australia to Japan and the Philippines.
Larsen served from November 1942 to November 1947 as a Motor Machinist Mate.
"They trained me for six months at diesel engine school," he said, "and I never touched a diesel engine after. We were responsible for all of the mechanicals outside of the engine room."
Asked what were the best and worst parts of serving on a submarine in the Pacific during the war, Larsen is quick to answer.
"The best was that you made 50 percent more pay and you ate better than anyone else in the service," he said. "The worst was being in a sub when it was being attacked by depth charges. We were in battle on every patrol we went on. One time we had as many as 60 depth charges dropped on us in 40 minutes.
"They made two noises. There was a ping when they detonated and then the boom when they exploded. If you could hear the ping, you knew they were far enough away so you'd be safe."
Sitting on the ocean floor one time, they had a Japanese vessel drop a chain and grappling hook on them, and they could hear it sliding along the side of the sub.