by Dex Armstrong
One loses all objectivity when
writing about a dear friend and shipmate as Ron "Warshot" Smith was to
this family and to submarine sailors throughout the world.
1944 - San Francisco
Ron Smith (Center)
Ron was a product of America's heartland,
a section of the country known to produce sons who rally to the banner
of national defense after war is declared.
Ron volunteered for naval service and
volunteered a second time to serve in submarines. Ron Smith was not a shy
or timid man. History tells us that the men of the United States Submarine
Force sunk the most tonnage by far than any other element of our combined
naval force and in so doing, suffered the highest percentage of loss.
Ron Accepted the risk and reaped the
reward given the men who served far beyond the lines of established contact.
In other times Ron would have been a powder blackened gunner on a privateer
or swung a Viking axe on a longship. It was his nature. From the first
time he singled up and took in lines and put to sea, he had saltwater pumping
through his mighty heart. .
He was called "Warshot," the term used
for combat rigged torpedoes. It was an apt nickname for the man for throughout
his life he was an explosive man with deeply held opinions and rock hard
convictions. Pound for pound there was more fight in Warshot than 98% of
the remaining planetary occupants. Warshot would have taken on a Bengal
tiger with an ostrich feather.
He understood submariner's humor and
mastered it. No one could pin the tail on your donkey faster than the little
torpedoman of the USS SEAL.
He had the warmth and capacity of character
to rub elbows with hobos and kings. He left concentric beer glass rings
on tables with admirals and lower flats rats. He was as "at home" in the
grand ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria as he was in a pier head gin mill
in a rundown port. .
Over time, he became the enlisted boatsailor's
face to America's public. He authored or co-authored two books; "Torpedoman"
and "Depths of Courage." He appeared on numerous television historical
programs to include productions on the History and Discovery channels.
He was the submersible Bluejacket's ambassador to the population at large.
He was the sterling standard representation of old Navy sailoring and a
hero to those of us who followed in his wake. .
To understand his taste in lovely ladies
all you have to do is spend five minutes in the company of Georgianna,
his wonderful bride. .
Wherever my old shipmate is today, old
scarred and dinged-up submariners are telling each other lies... ones told
and retold hundreds if not thousands of times... they're drinking beer
or tossing down shots... playing acey-duecey, shooting pool and patting
barmaids in the vicinity of their unmentionables... they are dropping invisible
quarters in old damn-near-worn-out juke boxes full of Glenn Miller tunes
and laughing... most of all laughing.
Save me a rack in Hogan's Alley, Warshot,
and sign me up for the twelve to fours. I'll be along shortly. Your shipmate
misses you! .
thanks Robert "Dex" Armstrong for this keynote address.]