On April 20, 2000, Admiral James Metzger, Commander of The U. S. Navy’s Eighth Submarine Division and allied Submarines in the Mediterranean along with the Navy Chaplain, a contingent of Navy people and Mr. and Mrs J. Philip Matuzic went out into the Bay of Naples aboard the Admiral’s Barge. The Chaplain gave an invocation and prayer and Admiral Metzger eulogized all Submariners lost in Submarine service. The two bell ceremony was performed with the reading of all lost Boats and the tolling of the Bell. The Admiral and Phil Matuzic then tossed a floral wreath onto the waters in memory of our lost shipmates. This ceremony was taped and broadcast by Armed Forces News to all U.S. Bases in Europe.
Speech given by J.Philip Matuzic, Submarine Veteran of WWII at the Navy Submarine Centennial Ball in Naples Italy on April 22, 2000. Phil is a member of the Niagara Frontier Grenadier Chapter and has card #2207. Phil also put the USS Blenny (SS-324) in commission and made all four war patrols on her.
Admiral Giambastiani, Mrs Giambastiani, Admiral Metzger, Mrs Metzger, American Consul- General, Marianne Myles and her husband Stan. Also my bride of 52 years Ellie Matuzic. Honored Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. I feel honored and privileged to be here tonight celebrating our submarine centennial with you. I say our centennial because we submariners feel proprietary when it comes to the submarine service. I want to give a special thanks to our daughter Marianne because if it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be here tonight. Come to think of it, if it weren’t for me she wouldn’t be here either. At my age I’ve been a part of about 80% of our submarine history because as a young lad fresh out of submarine school I was assigned to the USS R-13, a Sub that was commissioned in October of 1919.
We operated in the Caribbean and believe me, I was more afraid of that Boat than of any potential Enemy. When diving it sounded like the door of the inner sanctum with its moaning and groaning until we attained periscope depth. It was an old riveted job and the rivets were worn to where the structural plates slid back and forth with the changes in pressure. Getting a brand new Boat, (USS Blenny, SS-324), out of Electric Boat in Groton was like seventh heaven. It sure made fighting the war a lot more comfortable. Along with Air Conditioning, we even had an ice cream machine.
Several years ago I had the privilege of going out for a one day operation, out of New London, aboard the USS Greenling-SSN 614 and that was quite an enlightening experience as to the equipment you fellows have to work with today. We, WWII submariners had more physical jobs, where yours today take a lot of brain power and we salute you for the job you’re doing. The Submarine Force of today was called "The Crown Jewel" of the armed forces by the Defense Science Board. During WWII the Submarines were called our Country's First Line of Defense. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz stated, that it was our submarines that held the lines against the enemy while our Fleets replaced losses and repaired wounds. As active members of the Navy League, we civilians are well aware of our Navy’s needs and shortcomings due to actions by the powers that be in Washington. Rear Admiral Al Konetzni, ComSubPac, was the guest speaker at our convention in Fort Worth last September. He shocked the audience when he stated that there are fewer Boats in commission today than we had in 1936. This is something we should all think about and write and talk about to the people that want our votes.
It has been a pleasure for me to speak here tonight and as my four year old granddaughter said when I handed her a small gift, "I thank you from my bottom to my heart". Gentlemen today you are America's First Line of Defense and the WWII veterans are damned proud of you. God bless you and God bless America.