My father served in the US Navy and was involved in both the Vietnam and Korean Wars. My father was my hero growing up (most of the time!), raised me as a conservative, and taught me the difference between right and wrong. He also shared a story with me of his hero, Slade Deville Cutter. I would like to share his story with you.
My father was a Recruit Chief Petty Officer of Company 497 and completed his US Navy training in San Diego (my father is on the front right). The training was brutal – it involved “gunnery” training (doesn’t sound that bad to me!) and practice run-throughs of the “gas chamber” (that sounds brutal!).
My father then went on to serve on the USS Neosho . It was there he met his hero, Captain Slade Cutter.
Slade Cutter was ‘da man. He was a career US Naval Officer and was awarded four Navy Crosses and tied for 2nd place for Japanese ships sunk during World War II. My dad shared the following with me:
“I spent about 2 1/2 years on The USS Neosho, some with Slade Cutter as Captain and some with Reuben Whitaker as Captain. Both were famous and excellent World War II submarine captains. The only bad feature about the Neosho was no air conditioning! The air search radar was obsolete, but our radar repeaters and communications equipment were good. Most importantly, we respected and admired our Captain Cutter. He was a man of courage.”
“Cutter was really concerned about the welfare of his crew. (Dad presumed it came from the fact that he survived so many attacks.) His crew always came first. The better the performance of the people on the ship, the better chance they had of surviving.”
Cutter’s four war patrols as Commanding Officer of the USS Seahorse netted 19 sinkings and more than 70,000 tons of shipping in the postwar accounting. Cutter succeeded in sinking 9 vessels in enemy Japanese-controlled waters during a Second Water Patrol. He also succeeded in delivering damaging torpedo attacks against heavily escorted enemy convoys. On one occasion, it was necessary to pursue an enemy convoy over a period of 80 hours and only by exceptional determination and skill was Cutter able to penetrate the escort screen and sink two freighters.
Captain Cutter once stated, “The Seahorse sank 19 enemy ships during the four war patrols I was the skipper. The crew got the job done. I was merely the coordinator. They were brave and talented, and I never had to be reckless. I thought of the lives of those fine men, and frankly, I was aboard too.“
Spoken like a true hero.