Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Me & Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy has left us and his death brought back many memories.  When The Hunt for Red October hit
the theaters, yours truly was an inmate of Uncle Hyman's School For Wayward Boys of Orlando.  We were so green our class had yet to get our civies. My bunkmate from Boot Camp had managed to get a pair of passes to the premiere at the Colonial Squid Mall just a few yards out of the main gate.

Every swinging Richard that had ever eaten an oblong sandwich and considered themselves a Sub expert was there to see the Daring Men of the Deep on the Big Screen.  I'm not sure, but there may have even been a pair of actual Dolphins in the theater.  It was here that Clancy's naval masterpiece taught us some very important lessons about the Sub Force:
  1. All US Submariners MUST wear a white turtleneck under their poopie suits.
  2. The Soviet Sub Force had us beat in the chrome department.
  3. Unrated Seaman freely float in and out of Sonar according to their whims.
  4. Russian Senior Captains don't take a dump without a plan.
  5. Clancy in his pseudo uniform
  6. And, Some things don't react well with bullets. 
After shipping over into the fleet, the COB, 1st Lt. and Deck Div LPO completed the process of un-educating me about Hollywood's vision of Submarines.

Some years later, I was home from the fleet enjoying dinner with friends, several hundred miles from salt water.  The door to the restaurant opens and in walks a gentleman who apparently just walked off of the D&S piers.  He was clad in all khaki with an A-1 Flight Jacket and Aviator sunglasses.  My first thought was, "Look at this wannabe.  Who does he think HE is, Tom Clancy?"  Well, sportsfans.  That is exactly who it was.

I waited for him to get seated at the bar and light up his smoke before I made my approach. (This was back in the good old days when you could actually smoke in a bar/restaurant w/o having the SWAT team descend on the Applebees.) I walked over and introduced myself as a veteran of the Ustafish and his reaction was priceless.  "Aw Jeez, here we go again," he said.  He then introduced to his dining companion.   Commodore Douglas Littlejohns, RN Ret. formerly Commander of Her Majesty's Submarine Sceptre.  He was a close friend of Clancy's and had been brought across the pond to run Clancy's gaming software company, Red Storm Entertainment. 

Clancy & Littlejohns didn't have to spend their time making small talk with a former junior petty officer that night but the fact that they did reflected greatly on their character. We talked about the Cold War, the Falklands and politics.  Apparently, some of Senator Jesse Helms' political strategists had tried to talk Clancy into running for the Senate from Maryland.  Can you imagine appearing before Senator Clancy's Armed Services Committee?

Clancy never served in the military due to his poor eyesight.  Had he served, he would have never been able to write the novels that he did.  He possessed a knack for learning about the US's technical capabilities and the using that base of knowledge to forecast the next logical advance.  Rumor has it that military intelligence hauled him in early in his literary career and grilled him about who his sources were.

Tom, Fair Winds & Following Seas on your voyage to Valhalla.  No greater friend have the US Navy, her Submarines & Sailors ever had than Tom Clancy.


Vigilis said...

Excellent, and thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...
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Aruvqan said...

I had the sort of opposite reaction to running into him a few times at the base library in Groton [ever tried explaining to people why the sub base in New London is actually in Groton? *le sigh*] He may be nice to the service member, but he was shite to the dependent of one.