The USS Rasher was in active duty in WWII and Vietnam. And for those who served on the boat, they knew what every valve, lever, and switch did like the backs of their hands.
“I enlisted when I was 17 years old and I wanted to join right away, quit high school,” said Ken Tate, a veteran of the Navy from 1942-45. “I was a senior and my mother said, ‘No, I won’t sign the papers unless you finish high school.’ Best thing she ever did for me.”
It has been 75 years since the USS Rasher was first commissioned. And though it has long been scrapped, the largely identical USS Cobia acted as its stand-in.
The Rasher was built in Manitowoc, finished eight war patrols and sank 18 ships.
During the Second World War, it primarily operated out of Australia, interfering with Japanese supply routes.
Many of the veterans remember their time aboard the boat with fondness.
“Just away from home, you know, a young kid away from home,” he said. “I got the chance to see a lot of the world. I loved it over in Australia. People were so nice to us.”
It is a reflection of the past, but some veterans looked at it as a reminder that time is limited.
“I figure this is going to be my last reunion,” said Ben Schultz, a veteran who served on the submarine in the 1950s. “I’m going to be 83 this year and a lot of my ship mates have gone on before and I just feel like this is probably going to be a last time for me.”
Still to this day, the Rasher remains a part of their lives.
“We had some good times, some bad times,” said Tate. “Some close depth charges that you want to forget. I often think back, but it’s been over 70 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long.”
The USS Rasher was the second most efficient American submarine during World War II in terms of damage done to enemy ships.