NEW ELIGIBILITY FOR COMBAT PATROL INSIGNIA?
April 11, 2000
Along with my membership application, I’d like to make an inquiry about the League’s membership at large.
I recently transferred to the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base and while visiting the St. Marys Submarine Museum I noticed posted inside the lobby a flyer discussing the approval to wear the SSBN Deterrent Patrol Insignia for personnel who served on the SSG and SSGN (Regulus I and Il) submarines during the 1950s. The SSBN Deterrent Patrol Insignia was instituted as a result of the FBM submarines in the early 1960s. However, it took almost 40 years for someone to recognize that the insignia requirements were met by the contributions of these Regulus platforms and crews.
With this as a background, here is the body of my question. I was attached to USS LOUISVILLE (SSN 724) during the Persian Gulf War. We left San Diego two days after Christmas 1990 and arrived in the northern Red Sea in time to launch the first of eight Tomahawk cruise missiles into Iraq on January 19, 1991. Once expended, we transited to Guam to reload and return to the theater of operations. However, the war ended before we could inflict more damage on Iraq. (USS PITTSBURGH launched missiles from the Med.) For our efforts, the boat received a NUC and the CO was awarded a Legion of Merit and Bronze Star (which I understand is a combat decoration). The public announcement highlighted the fact that this mission (or patrol) was the first time since WWII that a submarine had expended ordnance in combat. To many of us serving with her at the time, we wondered whether or not we’d be awarded the Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia for our efforts. However, nothing ever came of it, as we were told that it only applied to submarines in WWII. With a background on the Regulus boats and the approaching 10111 anniversary of our patrol, my curiosity was peaked in reading exactly what the award criteria is for the Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia. MILPERSMAN 1200010 states:
“Authorization for the Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia is given to members regularly assigned to submarine duty on or after 7 December 1941, who completed one or more anime combat patrols designated as successful because:
- the submarine sank or assisted in sinking at least one enemy vessel, or;
- the submarine accomplished a combat mission of comparable importance
The insignia represents the completion of one successful patrol.”
It states further that “the determination of whether a patrol is successful is made by the type of task force commander under whose command the submarine operated.”
I don’t recall if we were still under COMSUBPAC or had been transferred to USCENTCOM jurisdiction. Giving the CO and XO the benefit of doubt, maybe the request to wear the insignia was forwarded and then denied by the type or task force commander. If this was the case, by what rationale was it denied? If it wasn’t submitted for consideration, what are the available avenues for seeking recognition?
In conclusion, I don’t want to find out in 20 or 30 years that a submarine I was attached to is receiving recognition for an accomplishment of this nature. The case can be made as well for those submarines that have launched Tomahawk missiles in the Persian Gulf and Med since 1991. Wouldn’t their deployments qualify them too? Since WWII the rules of engagement and the definition of war and combat have changed. With today’s submarines’ expanded strike and offensive capabilities, this affords a continued opportunity to recognize submarine crews with this insignia. This recognition in no way tales away from the contributions and sacrifices of our submarine brothers in WWII. I’m inclined to believe in the further perpetuation of the submarine’s role in supporting and defending the interests of the United States.
I hope that someone from this membership body can give an explanation and/or direction to my questions.
Kenny L. Jacobson
USS MAINE (SSBN 741)