This Veteran Helped to Change the Course of Naval History
On November 1, 2020, the world lost an incredible man. He wasn't a war hero or a celebrity, but to me, he was both a hero and a man to be celebrated. His name was Jessie and he was my grandfather.
After two decades of service in the United States Navy, my grandfather retired. He didn't talk much about his time in the service because, by the time I was born, he'd put himself through seminary, become a pastor, and moved away from his military life. Pop's eyes were on living in the present, not in the days of the past, but every once in a while a story from his Navy days would weave itself into conversations and I would listen intently.
My grandfather was part of a special Navy project called "Operation Sandblast" which was the military code name for the first submerged circumnavigation of the world. My grandfather was one of 188 officers and crew aboard the USS Triton during Operation Sandblast, serving as an Electrician Mate First Class, a job that would (in the far future) play a role in my grandfather becoming a nuclear engineer.
2020 marked the 60th anniversary of the submarine that my grandpa served on making its trip around the globe completely underwater. Until the USS Triton made its trip submerged, most submarines spent the majority of their operational time on the surface on the water, rather than below it. Operation Sandblast was truly a remarkable operation because it demonstrated that it was, in fact, possible for a submarine to successfully operate completely submerged thanks to nuclear energy.
A submarine powered by nuclear energy didn't need air to help power it and so with the transition of submarines to nuclear power came a new fleet of submarines more streamlined than those of the past. These new submarines weren't just more aesthetically pleasing, but they were able to tap into hydrodynamic efficiency which meant that they were quieter and able to travel three times faster underwater than the submarines that came before them.
To know that my grandpa was part of such an incredible and groundbreaking discovery for the United States Navy makes my heart swell. My Pops helped to change naval history, literally.
Veterans Day has always been a special day to me, a day to recognize the service of my loved ones, but the holiday holds extra special meaning to me this year because of the loss of my grandpa. His contribution to military history is one that I will never forget and one that I will never stop sharing with the world.