Richard Halloran
Richard Halloran
Richard Halloran

Richard Halloran

Career in submarine service is Navy veterans’ dream come true

By Mary Kay Gominger

`Former Gulfport resident Richard Halloran, a retired Navy veteran, borrowed a little phrase from the Army - 'Be All That You Can Be' - and during his 29 years in the Navy, did he ever. Going against his father's wishes, Richard joined the Navy in 1938, at the age of 17. It was a combination of the overwhelming desire to serve his country and the reality of surviving in the final years of the Great Depression that led Richard to the Navy. His father angrily signed his approval as Richard was underage and shortly he was off to do his part and make his way and he exceeded at both, in a very big way.

It was January 1939 before Richard actually left for boot camp and the young seaman recruit diligently went about beginning his career in the Navy, though he had no idea at the time what all that would involve. It was a roof over his head and three squares. About a year later he saw a note in the POD looking for men to volunteer for submarine duty. He was fascinated with everything about submarines and weeks later a submarine tied up to his tender and he remembers looking over at it and thinking, “That is what I want to do. I want to serve on a submarine.”

Richard got submarine duty and a lot of it. He started as a torpedoman and throughout his career served on six submarines: the USS S-37 (SS-142), USS Scamp (SS 247), USS S-20 (SS-125), USS Sea Owl (SS-405), USS Bergall (SS-320) and the USS Flying Fish (SS-229). He progressed through the enlisted ranks of the Navy until he achieved the rank of chief petty officer. It was at this point that he applied to the Navy's chief warrant officer program and was accepted and promoted to the rank of CWO2. From there, he applied to the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) Program and progressed to the rank of Lieutenant Commander before retiring with 29 years.

Richard saw a lot of action during WWII and made many submarine war patrols. On the USS Scamp's fourth war patrol, in the New Guinea-Bismarck Archipelago Area, Richard received the Bronze Star Medal. The commendation he has cites him for his “outstanding skill and inspiring leadership of torpedo personnel in maintaining torpedo and torpedo tubes in a constant state of readiness, and his excellent supervision of firing of torpedoes, contributing materially to the successful attacks which resulted in the sinking of 14,600 tons of enemy shipping and in the damaging of 500 tons,” signed by Rear Admiral A.R. McCann, Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

He has many memories of shipmates and faraway places, of firing torpedoes into the abyss and witnessing the volcanic explosion of a hit. He's also experienced the jolt of being hit, scrambling in dark tiny spaces, surviving and crew members working together to get back for repairs. He faced the challenge of raising three young children as a single dad and acknowledges that this was his greatest feat and how appreciative he is for help from his Navy family.

Now, 87 years old, Richard lives in Gulfport with his son, waiting the reopening of the AFRH-G, his home for 10 years prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He walks everyday at the Seabee base to keep up his strength and looks forward to moving back into his home in when it reopens in 2010.

The following poem, written by Richard Halloran, is inscribed on a plaque and is on display at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas. He wrote it for his fellow shipmates of the USS Scamp. As fate would have it, he had received orders to transfer just days before the Scamp set out on her eighth war patrol on October 16, 1944, never to return. From records available, it appears the Scamp was sunk sometime around Nov. 11, 1944.

Won't Somebody - Please - Relieve The Watch

This submarine's still on patrol

Carrying 83 weary souls.

Some are on watch and some are asleep

But all are encased in the mighty deep.

Won't somebody - please - relieve the watch?

This patrol is a long one

Fifty full years to be exact.

Does anyone care that we are here?

Does anyone ever shed a tear?

Won't somebody - please - relieve the watch?

Do you know of our dreams and aspirations?

And how desperate we were to achieve them?

What of our families and what of our foe?

How did they fare and where did they go?

Won't somebody - please - relieve the watch?

Does anyone remember our last dive?

Do you know that we are still inside?

We ran silent and we ran deep.

Hoping and praying our souls to keep!

Now we are tired and all worn out - -

Won't somebody - please - relieve the watch?

Richard Halloran