Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Reason for the Trip

Here's a precious artifact which figured prominently in the U.S. Naval Submariner's Reunion and accompanying ceremony. This is the original bell from my grandfather's submarine. It was lost for many years, but has now been recovered. Long story short, prior to the U.S.S. Triton SS201's involvement in the Pacific theater of WWII, it was removed from the submarine for stealth reasons, as were all bells of involved ships. Tragically, the Triton and all hands on board were lost in 1943. She has never been recovered.

The Triton 201's bell was placed aboard the next Triton submarine -- the Triton SSN 586, for its historic submerged circumnavigation of the world in 1960, during which the crew performed a ceremony to honor the lost Triton SS201 north of New Guinea, where it is supposed the sub may have gone down. After this historic event, on dry land, a soldier was ordered to have the bell melted down. Instead, he decided to keep it for himself and had it made into the base of a side table. The soldier's grandson was always fascinated with the bell and constantly begged to be able to ring it. When the grandson's mother divorced the soldier's son, she decided to do what she could to return the bell to a more decorous station. She contacted the crew of the USS Triton SSN 586 and arranged to bring it home. We had the honor of meeting this thoughtful woman and her son -- now a 20 year old man. Each of them were finally able to ring the bell.

Before my mother's death last month, she was so excited that she would be able to touch the bell in San Francisco -- the very same one her father must have touched, lovingly polished and rung before the attack at Pearl Harbor. My Mom was only 3 when her Dad was lost, and he was only 28.

Here's my sweet Dad, ringing the bell in honor of my Mom. Dad, Aunt Gayle (Mom's sister), Grandma (Mom's Mom) and I participated in a solomn ceremony before dinner Saturday night, in which my Grandma, age 95, rang the bell slowly three times for her departed husband. She was the only known surviving spouse of a sailor lost on the Triton 201. Grandma is quite a musician, and as such her timing of the tolls was impeccable. It was very moving.

Here I am with Aunt Gayle.

Here's my beautiful Grandma, Elna McKenzie Roop.

Here she is again, along with her sweetheart, my grandfather, Chief Petty Officer Lloyd Charles McKenzie. What a handsome couple!

This is the reason for the San Francisco journey, but I also want to share a few delicious meals I had -- stay tuned for another post soon.


  1. Oh Cheryl, I feel so blessed to have been given this glimpse into that memorable occasion....and thank you so much for sharing the picture of your grandparents together!

    Love you and your family so...and have been remembering you all in thoughts and prayers. (Have thought of your mom so often these weeks...what a love she was. <3 )

  2. Thank you, my wonderful friend! I think about you and your family too. Prayers and good vibes are still flowing!

  3. What a touching story. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you so much Linda! I've been enjoying your blog. You have such a lovely family!