Sailor Rest Your Oar!
This page is a place for us to honor the passing of those who served on USS Puffer (SSN652).
Have any pictures or stories to share?
Bruce "Bull" McCroskey passed away on 29 May 2004 in Virginia Beach VA. He was an Ensign when he reported aboard mid to late 1972. He made the second WesPac and then took Puffer through the yard. He was a 1971 grad of USNA and retired from the Navy in '91. He was 56 years old. He continued to work on projects dealing with the Navy.
"Sailor rest your oar!"
Joe Cooper passed away on 7/22/2003. It was a great loss not only to his friends but also the world. He will be missed greatly. I think Joe was the only one on the first 2 westpack that knew how to run the O2 generator.
Fair Winds and Following Seas
John G. Harness, passed away at his home in California City, California at 4:30AM this morning (28 June 2000, Wednesday).
He will be missed, and forever loved.
Michael E. Austreng
Mark McGrath was on the boat when I was some time from 79-84 or so, he was and E Div-er and now he's gone. It's been a while since he died but here's what I know.
Mark was married to a former University of Hawaii cheerleader who, at the time of his death, was an emergency room surgeon at Tripler Army Medical Center. She was a Major, I think in rank. They had no kids.
Mark had made Chief and was selected for the Officer Program, but he decided to leave the service and work for Raytheon at US $140,000.00 a year prior to accepting either advancement. When he died he was a Vice President for Hawaiian Electric, I think that was the company, in Hawaii.
He died from a blow to the head from a large metal flashlight. He was drinking in combination with other medication and apparently seemed deranged to the bartender in the bar he was in. The man felt he was in danger and hit him with the flashlight.
It would be nice to put something up about him. Maybe the details of his demise would further sully his less than stellar reputation among his peers. He was shipmate and deserved better.
My father CPO Jim Curlee was cob on the puffer (1973-75) He died in 1983 in Bremerton WA.
I would like to talk to any who knew him. Fact finding for myself and children.
Alana S. Curlee
Harold Snider (Blue) torpedo guy was killed several years ago in Alabama in a car accident.
VIC VAN HORN passed away November 19th from a sudden battle with lupus. Five weeks from detection to the end. I posted notice on the Archerfish page (his other boat) but didn't see your page until recently. I felt some of you might want to know. Fell free to contact me for details.
The day Vic checked onboard here I saw him in the Chiefs club. I asked him what a 'fuckin bubblehead' was doing in the middle of the Mojave Desert? Once he found out I had my Dolphins also we became good friends. I wrote up a brief bio of what happened since Vic retired for some guys on the Archerfish. Here's the same for you, his Puffer Shipmates.
Vic's last duty station was here at China lake as head of PSD. He retired, as a Senior Chief early (19 yrs) and opened up a local nightclub called Primetime. Not willing to just settle down he continued to expand the business into concessions for the local racetrack, a small catering service and control of a pinball/video machine service. He and Crystal divorced about 4 years ago. Crystal, within Dustin and Chelsea, moved back to Ohio. After a local concert that Vic put on last summer he thought he hurt his back lifting tables. Not long after that he got a funny (severe) rash on his face and noticed his feet would occasionally go numb/tingly. He tried several doctors but got zero good answers. As to whether the back and the rest are connected, I'm not certain. He could have hurt his back AND started showing the other symptoms coincidently. So he finally get's a good doctor down south (Marina Del Ray) and 5 weeks ago they say he has Lupus. They started treating him with steroids and Chemo-therapy. About the 7th of Nov. he has a heart attack while in the hospital. They decide to transfer him to UCLA for better care. The tenth of Nov. he gets transferred and UCLA starts doing their tests. They confirm the Lupus, and a side product of Lupus is Vasiculitis. This causes a thickening of the red blood cells. Very tough on the heart and liver (this is what caused the heart attack most likely). November nineteenth about 23:00 he dies, heart failure due to the vasiculitis/lupus. Friday the 20th we had an impromptu Irish wake at Primetime. Wednesday the 25th a memorial service was held at All Faiths Chapel on base. It was packed. Dustin, his ten year old son received the flag. The Marine color guard performed the salute and Taps. Afterwards we had the official wake again at Primetime. It was also packed. Food and drink were donated by the local restaurants and the IWV brewery. The body was cremated and although I'm not certain, I heard they were going to attempt to spread his ashes at sea. I think it would be appropriate to do it from a boat but the only guys I know that are still serving on subs are up in Washington.
Sean Keck AKA BlackBeard
John Will, CO USS Puffer, from 1968 to 1972 passed away in the summer of 1996 after a brief but fierce battle with cancer.
Lt. Pat Brown, another Puffer plank owner, was killed in a car accident weeks later on the way home from visiting my mom.
As I grew up, many of the men who served aboard Puffer under my dad said the ship was very special. She was very special to me and the rest of the Will family. At the time of the 1971 WESPAC I was 13 years old. I felt like I had the entire wardroom for older brothers. The photos sure bring back memories.
My youngest brother, Alex, is the first-ever third generation submariner. Alex served aboard the USS Silversides in the mid-80's. He's now a reservist LCDR and lives in the DC area.
My grandfather John M. Will Sr. was a submariner in the WWII days. He retired as a full Admiral in 1959. If you check the index of books about submarines in WWII, you can usually find 'Dutch' Will.
Dad retired as a Captain in the early '80s.
It was my mom's father, Hans Walleen, who painted the woman shown on the wardroom wall. In case you've forgotten, her name was 'Red Right Reclining'. Grandaddy Walleen also designed the Puffer emblem. Mom lives in the DC area and is quite active in the submarine community, particularly the Naval Submarine League.
Submarines are in our blood. I may be the only 12 year old who ever 'dove' a submarine XC Hard Tank. I used to eat ice cream in the wardroom with Lt. Brown when he had the duty. One night he had to close out the tank and asked if I wanted to come along. (The nuclear Navy was a little different back then.)
I'm very proud to be a member of the submarine community, if only as a dependant. I'm lucky to be able to give something back to the community as an engineer at Sanders. We build serveral of the electronics systems aboard submarines, and we're working on technology that will be of great benefit to the US submarine service.
I recognized a few of the names in your guest book. Among them was Dave Lamb. If I'm not mixing folks up, Dave had an incredible beard. It would have done Sebastian Cabot proud. It really defined him. At the time, regulations required that he shave it off. As I recall, Dave was allowed to keep it by demonstrating to the corpsman that he could still get a good seal on an EAB. You might confirm the story with him.
The Puffer was and always will be a part of the Will family. Thanks so much for the wonderful trip down memory lane.
'68 to '72
Andy Anderson, a Quartermaster in early 1970's passed on to the Eternal Patrol.
Last Updated 06/19/2010 18:40