Good one Rick...and really good to hear from you. I fondly look back at our time a Dam Neck. You and Pete Kalvig were the best sub-finding duo at the command...hands down.
Mike Lamczyk first came to Kef in spring/summer 1978 and came to my section. He was OT2 coming from Turks as a qual'd sup.
Qual'd sup downrange didn't mean qual'd sup in Kef and I had to test him. I assigned him to read 22 on our first mid. An EII was going home and was going to shat on that complex during our watch.
He handled it flawlessly so I went to Gary Pete and recommended he get his own section. A few days later, that happened.
Mike is as bright as they come and remains a dear friend. Glad you got to know him, too.
Maybe if Mike could tell the story he would say he held on to his anchors just in case the experiment Kef pulled with he and I had failed. He was probably thinking he would get reduced in grade back to Chief, so tightwad that he is, he kept them so he wouldn't have to buy more. Then, when I was on my last watch - last watch, mind you, not when I was in receipt of orders - he finally felt that he was going to be safe and I wouldn't wreck his career. That may be what he would say John, so maybe his absence here is to my advantage! And by the way, while your words about me are very nice, just know I was never going to be wearing gold hash marks due to some early mistakes. I was definitely no angel! Now you know the other side of the story.
Nick, I never got your anchors, but you are one of the people that had the most profound impact on me both personally and professionally.
My best memory (memories, because it was always the same) of Nick "Silver Tongue" McConnell was when I would go get him to come look at something that needed to be sent in to COSL while we were at NOPF Dam Neck. Watch sections always had friendly rivalries about the best monthly stats (accuracy, timeliness, etc.). Our section was always the best, and we always looked for ways to get the numbers even better. This included getting time lates for IC down to minutes. We would get an IC, identify it, and go get Nick for his authorization to send it in. "Chief McConnell, we have a new one we need to get out". His response every.single.time. was "Hey, did I tell you the story about that time..." and he would just go on and on. Meanwhile, the time late was getting larger. He would get done with the story, you would run back to the beams with him sauntering slowly behind. You get there, turnaround, and no Chief. You look back, and he is telling a story to the plotter. You wait a bit, that story is over, and he is finally coming. Then he stops to tell a story to the DAC operator. You wait, he finishes there, but then walks to the OWO to tell another story.
I really don't know how we kept our stats so good. Looking back, it was all so funny. He molded our section into a perfect SOSUS machine. We got the job done and done well, but he always allowed us to let our hair down a little on midwatches. He made us into a great team. Leadership at it's best. The only cost he charged was those never-ending sea stories! And he taught me the word MoshKosh (Japanese for hurry I think) which I still use today. Ironic that while he sued that term often, he never practiced it!
Rick, There's always two sides to every story. The facts are some get caught, some don't. Right Nick? Some of my early "criminals" evolved into some of the best the system had. Using golf terminology, "Its not how you drive, its how you arrive"
Nick, the real (back-story) truth to this tale is that I have never stood an ops watch in my life before I joined your section in Kef. After I crossed rated from ET my first NAVFAC was Grand Turk. I should have gone to the watch floor with Jack Lecza but I had a CAL-TECH NEC and the EMO needed a CAL-TECH so I went to Maintenance and worked for Wayne Rennee. Anyway Gary Peterson was the Grand Turk Training Chief and he agreed to train me on my duty nights and I qualified thru SUP with Chief Pete's help. When Chief Pete & I were transferring to Kef he told me to just tell everyone at Kef that I was a qualified Sup. That's the how I snuck into the OT Ops world.
Of course six months after getting to Kef the EMO there discovered I was his missing CAL-TECH but it was too late then.
John...I read your post and you are so kind with your comments. I remember that for many years, when we worked together, that I was absolutely amazed I that I was given the opportunity to work with such brilliant people. to this day I still carry the lessons I learned in IUSS forward as I continue our endeavors in undersea warfare. I'm still out in the front lines everyday trying the teach the next generation, but in do so I am always grateful that I learned from the best.
I'll try to stay in touch better in the future.
Good to see your post, Rick. Hope you and yours doing well.
Al, you are another one of my heroes. I hope you have enjoyed your career, and you should know you had a big impact on a whole bunch of us!