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|76k||A Lepidocybium flavobrunneum, an Escolar.||Photo courtesy of kingsailfishmounts.com. Text courtesy of wikipedia.com.|
|107k||Mrs. J. Bilisoly Hudgins makes an impact on Escolar's (SS-294) bow with a bottle of champagne.||Photo by Harry L. Raynore courtesy of digital.library.temple.edu.|
|114k||A good view of the prop and rudder area of the Escolar (SS-294). The stern planes are being held in position by temporary supports during this construction photo taken at Cramp Shipbuilding Co., Philadelphia, PA. in April 1943. Metal still needed to be fitted around the torpedo tubes and the lower outer door.||U.S. Navy photo # 19-N-437637. Photo and text courtesy of The Floating Drydock, "Fleet Subs of WW II" by Thomas F. Walkowiak.|
|851k||Escolar (SS-294), at Cramp Shipbuilding Co., Philadelphia, PA. on the launching blocks moments before she starts her slide down the ways, 18 April 1943.||U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Claude Hill.|
|728k||Escolar (SS-294) sliding down the ways, 18 April 1943.||U.S. Navy photo # 80-G77167,courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.|
|1.20k||Escolar (SS-294) down the ways and into the waters of the Delawere River on 18 April 1943.||Photo courtesy of Ric Hedman.|
|148k||Most likely on the Delaware River off Cramp Shipbuilding Co., Philadelphia, PA. 18 April 1943, Escolar (SS-294) has what appears to be a number of civillian technicians on board observing her first movements.||U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Ronald Norford, whose brother, Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR was lost on the Escolar (SS-294).|
|136k|| Escolar (SS-294) graduating class at the Submarine Training School, Navy Yard Portsmouth, NH, taken March 9, 1944. The following is a partrial list of the crew:
Sitting L to R: 2-Krause SM 1/c, (Note: Krause had originally served on the Wahoo (SS-238) and had transferred stateside to be with his family) 3-Boesel S 1/c, 4-Killough MM 1/c, 5-Smith, A.R., S 1/c, 6-Norford F 1/c, 7-Newton TM 1/c, 8-Miller EM 1/c, 9-Wallace TM 2/c, 10-Tocharcheck GM 1/c, 11-Hampton QM 1/c, 12-Jones MA 2/c, 16-Cifrodella TM 2/c, 17-Turner EM 3/c, 18-Caldwell TM 1/c.
2nd row L to R: 4-Gancarz EM 2/c, 6-Michaud CTM, 7-Gorecki CCS, 8-Johnson C PHM, 9-Davis CEM, 10-Pennington CMM, 13-Patterson S 2/c, & 13-LaRoe S 2/c.
3rd row L to R: 1-Ennis S 2/c, 4-Slavik F 2/c, 5-Fulton MM 1/c, 7-Smith, B.T. F 2/C, 8-Brouskie EM 1/c, 12-Bonk S 1/c, 13-Parrish TM 3/c, 14-Valentino MM 2/c & 16-Patrou TM 3/c.
4th row L to R: 1-Hahn S 2/c, 4-Wybrow SC 3/c, 5-Bailey EM 1/c, 7-Munsel MoMM 3/c, 8-Cahill MoMM 3/c, 9-Tucker S 1/c, 10-Campbell RM 1/c, 11-Lieder MM 1/c, 14-McConnell S 1/C & 16-Fostair QM 2/c.
|U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Ronald Norford, whose brother, Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR was lost on the Escolar (SS-294).|
|117k||Escolar (SS-294) torpedoman Charles Yaworsky, W. TM3 is pictured in the second row, second person on the right hand side behind the torpedo at the Naval Training School at Newport, CT.
||U.S. Navy photo courtesy of csp.navy.mil.|
|127k||The following 4 photos appear to be an awards ceremony for the officers and crew of the Escolar (SS-294), May 3, 1944, probably in Philadelphia. The following text are comments based on what seems to be happening here, contributed by Dave Johnston (USNR).
Well, in taking a look at the uniform, it is the aviation officer working greens. The officer is an ensign, and has just been awarded what looks like the Silver Star (or possibly the Bronze Star). He also has several other ribbons/medals, and appears to have some sort of warfare badge just below the ribbons (it looks like wings), and possibly another badge above the ribbons. I am normally bad at guessing ages, but this guy looks considerably older than the typical 23 year old naval aviation officer program graduate.
With the above in mind, the immediate question that comes to mind is how did an aviation officer come to be on Escolar's crew? Trying to come up with a likely scenario that fits all of the observed parameters is quite difficult. An older man, an ensign (not much time in the navy), a prestigious combat award, from the aviation branch, assigned to a submarine crew is just not a routine thing, even in the fast paced days of WWII. After pondering on it for a few days, I came up with a couple of scenarios that might explain this, with none of them being rock solid:
He was some sort of liaison officer temporarily assigned to the Escolar for training purposes. He might have been facilitating communications with the aviation forces, or was engaging in some cross type training for familiarization (maybe a airship pilot seeing how subs operate). I remember reading somewhere that this had been done on a few occasions in the Pacific, mostly to coordinate with the carrier forces for lifeguard duty. Obviously since the Escolar hadn't yet conducted a war patrol this probably isn't the case, but it may have been a precursor to this.
He was an aviation officer candidate who completed pilot training, but was medically disqualified from flight for some reason and transferred to submarines. This doesn't explain the Silver Star, though. That can only be obtained in combat. And, in my opinion the most likely scenario:
He was a former enlisted man from the aviation branch who received a commission, and either voluntarily or involuntarily was transferred to submarines once he received his commission. This would explain the "advanced" age with a low rank. The Silver Star may have been earned on a combat mission while an enlisted man and was only just awarded upon his arrival to the Escolar after sub school. As an enlisted man he may have been a crew member on a PBY Catalina or similar. He put in for or received a commission and was approved, only to find out afterward that he was being transferred to subs. I freely admit that these are all long shots, with a hell of a lot of old fashioned informed speculation weighing in. This combination is so unlikely that it really piqued my interest and I would love to know if anyone can fully explain it.
Subsequently, according to the info from the book "The U.S. Navy in World War II" by Mark Henry (Osprey Publishing); Apparently, in the spring of 1943 the navy felt it needed a new uniform that blended in better with the background aboard ship. They also intended that oil and dirt stains be less noticeable, a real problem on whites and khakis. So they introduced a slate grey version of the khakis with black buttons. It was to be worn with a light grey shirt. Overall, it was virtually the same as the aviation greens, just a different color, making the two hard to distinguish in a black and white photo.
The new uniform was authorized in May, 1943 and phased in slowly. Unfortunately for the Navy, it was universally hated by the sailors. Very few officers purchased and wore it, the enlisted version was even rarer and was virtually unknown. Apparently it "just wasn't Navy". It managed to hold on until 1947 when it was officially disestablished.
In addition to the ensign in the award photos (which I still think is a former enlisted man), several of the officers in the later commissioning party photos are wearing the grey uniform. One photo even shows two chiefs wearing the ultra rare enlisted version. Maybe Moke Milligan became one of the few fans of the uniform after seeing it on the ensign and "encouraged" his crew to wear it. Whatever the reason, this makes these photos quite special.
| Photo I.D. & text courtesy of John Hummel, Dave Johnston & Darryl L. Baker.
U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Ronald Norford, whose brother, Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR was lost on the Escolar (SS-294).
|125k||Awards ceremony for the officers and crew of the Escolar (SS-294), May 3, 1944, probably in Philadelphia.
||U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Ronald Norford, whose brother, Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR was lost on the Escolar (SS-294).|
|199k||Awards ceremony for the officers and crew of the Escolar (SS-294), May 3, 1944, probably in Philadelphia.
Cdr. William J. Millican is congratulating the officer receiving the award. The officer on the right margin of the photo is the Engineering Officer, Lt. Claude J. Hill.
|113k||Awards ceremony for the officers and crew of the Escolar (SS-294), May 3, 1944, probably in Philadelphia. |
Cdr. William J. Millican is holding a tablet of paper next to the officer receiving an award.
Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, is the third person on the right, first row.
|Text i.d. courtesy of John Hummel. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Ronald Norford, whose brother, Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR was lost on the Escolar (SS-294).|
|120k||Commissioning party for the crew of the Escolar (SS-294), May 19, 1944, probably in Portsmouth, N.H.
Cdr. William J. Millican is on the extreme left on the first row. Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR is at the top row, right.
|79k||Commissioning party for the officers and crew of the Escolar (SS-294), May 19, 1944, probably in Portsmouth, N.H. Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR is seated in the left hand corner of the photo.
|108k||Commissioning party for the officers and crew of the Escolar (SS-294), May 19, 1944, probably in Portsmouth, N.H.
Cdr. William J. Millican is the 7th person seated against the wall, between the two ladies.
The wife of Engineering Officer, Lt. Claude J. Hill, Mildred Carlisle Herndon Hill, is the blonde in the polkadot ruffled collar dress, 4th from the left.
|U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Ronald Norford, whose brother, Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR was lost on the Escolar (SS-294). Photo i.d. courtesy of Claude Hill, whose father, Engineering Officer Lt. Claude J. Hill, was lost with the boat.|
|82k||Commissioning party for the officers and crew of the Escolar (SS-294), May 19, 1944, probably in Portsmouth, N.H.
The Engineering Officer, Lt. Claude J. Hill & his wife, Mildred Carlisle Herndon Hill, (7 months pregnant), is sitting on his right in the right upper corner. Cdr. William J. Millican is sitting immeadiatley in front of them with his legs crossed.
|U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Claude Hill, whose father, Engineering Officer Lt. Claude J. Hill, was lost with the Escolar (SS-294).|
|51k|| Escolar's (SS-294) Engineering Officer, Lt. Claude J. Hill, 1944.
||U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Claude Hill, whose father, Engineering Officer Lt. Claude J. Hill, was lost with the Escolar (SS-294).|
|78k||Page 1 of the service record of Escolar's (SS-294) Engineering Officer, Lt. Claude J. Hill, 1945.
||U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Claude Hill, whose father, Engineering Officer Lt. Claude J. Hill, was lost with the Escolar (SS-294).|
|36k||Page 2 of the service record of Escolar's (SS-294) Engineering Officer, Lt. Claude J. Hill, 1945.
|71k||Official U.S. Navy photo of the Escolar (SS-294), probably off Portsmouth, N.H., possibly around the time of her commissioning, circa June 1944.
|169k||Escolar (SS-294), underway, starboard side view while undergoing her final training for combat at Pearl Harbor, September 1944.|
|169k||Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR, who was lost on the Escolar (SS-294). Enlisting in March 1943, shortly after his 17th birthday. He worked at the Hagerstown Maryland ACME before enlisting in the Navy and completing sub school at New London, CT.
|320k||Escolar (SS-294) Submarine Challenge Coin.||Photo courtesy of ebay.com.|
|276k||Google Earth satellite photo of the East China & Yellow Seas, where the Escolar's (SS-294) last approximate position based during post-war debriefings. This position is thought to be the final resting place of the Escolar and her crew.||View courtesy of Google Earth.|
|117k||This painting is offered as a hypothesis and not presented as THE ANSWER for the Escolar's (SS-294) demise.||Drawing courtesy of Ben Kennedy.
Photo added 03/23/13.
|166k||Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the Escolar (SS-294).||Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen. Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via quinlanroad.com.|
|117k||Joyce DaSilva, the wife of Jesse DaSilva of the Tang (SS-306), one of the nine survivors of the boat, tosses a flower into a reflecting pool to honor the memory of one of the 52 submarines lost during World War II at the National Submarine Memorial-West on board Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif. On this Veterans Day, the Submarine Veterans of World War II transferred ownership of the memorial to the U.S. Navy.
The following text is from The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton., pg. 478.
"Major Sullivan Ballou of Rhode Island was killed in the battle, and just before it he had written to his wife, Sarah, to tell her that he believed he was going to be killed and to express a tremulous faith that could see a gleam of light in the dark:
"But O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and float unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the gladdest days and in the gloomiest nights, always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your chest it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait, for we shall meet again!"
|Text i.d. courtesy of Marlynn Starring. Photo i.d. courtesy of Chuck Senior, Vice Commander, Los Angeles-Pasadena Base, USSVI.
U.S. Navy photo # N-1159B-021 by Journalist 2nd Class Brian Brannon, courtesy of news.navy.mil.
|300k||The crew of the Escolar (SS-294) pose for a group shot, probably at the Philadelphia Navy Yard prior to commissioning, circa April 1944, about six months before they were all K.I.A.
Cdr. William J. Millican is on the extreme right on the first row. His XO, LCDR Frank Blaha, I think, is the first officer on the left side. The Engineering Officer, Lt. Claude J. Hill is standing next to Cdr. Millican. Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR is standing in the second row, third from the right.
In the Second Book of Shmuel (Samuel), 22nd chapter, 5th through the 20th verses, translated from the original in Hebrew and published by the Koren Publishers of Jerusalem, Israel, 1982, can perhaps aptly describe the fate of the crew and all other U.S. submariners who died defending their county:
"When the waves of death compassed me / the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; / the bonds of She'ol encircled me; / the snares of death took me by surprise; / in my distress I called upon the Lord, / and cried to my G-D: / and he heard my voice out of his temple, / and my cry entered into his ears. / Then the earth shook and trembled; /the foundations of heaven moved / and shook because of his anger /...the heavy mass of waters, and thick clouds of the skies /... And the channels of the sea appeared, / the foundations of the world were laid bare, / at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast at the breath of his nostrils. / He sent from above, he took me; / he drew me out of many waters; / he delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me. / They surprised me in the day of my calamity: / but the Lord was my stay / He brought me forth also into a large place: / he delivered me because he delighted in me./"
|Courtesy of Ronald Norford, whose brother, Robert Nelson Norford, F1/C, USNR was lost on the Escolar (SS-294).|
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