World War II submarine veteran meets USS Columbia crew members

Saturday, May 29, 2010 | 5:26 p.m. CDT; updated 10:49 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Harold Mauller, left, a World War II submarine veteran, speaks with USS Columbia Petty Officer Charles Laymon during the 16th annual reception for Columbia’s namesake partnership at Boone Tavern and Restaurant on May 28. Three USS Columbia crew members were invited to the event, which has been an annual tradition during Memorial Day Weekend since the submarine was christened in September 1994.

COLUMBIA — Navy veteran Harold Mauller said it is not easy for him to find sailors in Columbia to talk with about his time serving on a submarine.

Mauller, an 84-year-old World War II veteran, had an opportunity to talk about submarines with three USS Columbia crew members Friday.

The crew members, Cmdr. Craig Blakely, Master Chief Don Williams and Petty Officer Charles Laymon, attended the 16th annual reception of Columbia’s namesake partnership with the USS Columbia, which was held at Boone Tavern & Restaurant.

“I am always thrilled to meet them,” Mauller said. He said he has been waiting for this moment since last year's reception.

Inspired by his own experience serving on submarines, Mauller is one of the Columbia Submarine Committee members who has been maintaining the partnership.

Mauller decided at 16 to join the Navy after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He needed to wait six months until he turned 17, when he could join the military without parental consent.

He originally wanted to become a PT boat sailor, but Mauller said he checked a wrong box on his application. This is how he mistakenly chose to become a submariner.

He did not know anything about submarines until he arrived at Pearl Harbor for training. Since then, his interest has always stayed with submarines, even after his retirement from the Navy.

Mauller spent about 30 minutes of the 90-minute event speaking with Laymon, a sonar technician.

“It is a little different talking to someone who was actually in the fights that I read from the books,” Laymon said. “It holds more meaning when it's coming out of someone's mouth.”

Laymon said he especially liked Mauller's wartime patrol story about confronting the enemy at Midway.

Laymon said he expects Mauller to deliver his “vivid” World War II experiences to next year’s USS Columbia delegations as well.

The reunion has been an annual tradition during Memorial Day weekend since the submarine was christened in September 1994.

The three USS Columbia crew members will stay in Columbia until Tuesday and plan to attend the Memorial Day parade.

"It is like an annual family reunion," Mauller said. "I like to have them again like I have been doing for 16 years."

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Carl Kabler May 30, 2010 | 12:12 a.m.

This Memorial Day, as we remember those who serve and have served, and those who have given their very lives let's not also lose sight of why wars are really fought and perhaps how we can all play a role in always trying to move humanity forward, despite the opposite direction of those who create such things for ever more money and power.

While we honor such decorated veterns as the Marine Corps. most honored Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, let's not just honor him with token gestures and empty meaningless Orwellian phrases, but rather by trying to understand exactly what he was trying to tell us and his warning to the world as to the nature of 'created wars' and the deeper motivations and factors.

"A racket is best described, I believe as something that is not what it seems to be to the majority of people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is all about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the very many".--- S. Butler

How true Mr. Butler, I'll be considering your words this Memorial Day and giving thanks there were (and are) people like yourself willing to cut through all the crap and tell it like it is after experiencing it all first hand. A big Salute to you sir! So tell them:

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger May 30, 2010 | 9:10 a.m.

Thanks to those who made the editorial decision to reprint Ernie Pyle's "Death in the shadow of a wall," a most powerful and poignant piece of writing unlike most of what comes out of war zones today. Rather than patriotic chest-thumping, noisy fly-bys, and candy-throwing paraders, we should all read this and pay heed to muffled drums.

(Report Comment)

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