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During the period 1972 through 1974, while I was serving as Chief Staff Officer of COMSUBFLOT SEVEN (later COMSUBGRU SEVEN), we always sent a Sayonara message to each boat as it departed at the end of its Westpac tour. In it, we spoke briefly to the submarine’s outstanding accomplishments and bid them a heartfelt farewell.

However, there was an exception. This departing boat had managed to screw up almost everything it touched. The staff decided that the usual Sayonara message was not really appropriate, so the bogus message below was drafted and then carefully placed on the Commodore’s morning message board for his routine reading of all incoming and outgoing traffic. Needless to say, we had numerous people posted to intercept him and keep him from committing one or several acts of homicide when he read this particular message. He came in, got his cup of coffee, and sat down to read.

After what seemed a very long moment to the waiting conspirators, a suitably colorful verbal explosion took place. As I recall, it took several minutes to collect the Commodore the overhead and convince him that the message in question was totally fictitious and that he was looking at the only copy in existence. Later that day he even smiled about it.

“As [blacked out] departs for home, her officers and men can be proud of the relief which will be felt throughout Westpac, your sub-standard performance left no area unblemished. Although assigned to operations of great importance to the U.S. government you managed in every instance to either retreat to an upkeep port or proceed blindly and unprofessionally, always to the chagrin of naval authorities. We have watched the internal management of [blacked out] with interest. Never before have so few done so little with so much. To amass as many non-performers into one wardroom is truly a triumph in detailing.

“We pray you to make it home to your loved ones. Keep the vents shut.”


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