This is a bit of a departure in terms of an article for us. I read it, and felt it was something we normally do not get. I remember a fine Navy marathoner, Phil Camp, who ran 2:17 in the 1970s.
East Troy, Wis. native serves aboard USS Texas
by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Sawyer, Navy Office of Community Outreach
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – A 2001 East Troy High School graduate and East Troy, Wis., native is serving aboard a U.S. Navy attack submarine, the USS Texas (SSN 775).
Petty Officer 1st Class Walter W. McKinney is an information systems technician (submarine) aboard the Hawaii-based boat, a Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, and the first submarine to be named after the Lone Star State.
Measuring 377 feet long, 33 feet wide, weighing 9,000 tons when submerged and with a complement of more than 130 sailors, USS Texas is one of the Navy’s newest and most technologically sophisticated submarines.
Attack submarines are designed to pursue and attack enemy submarines and surface ships using torpedoes. They also carry cruise missiles with conventional high-explosive warheads to attack enemy shore facilities. They also conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, mine laying and support special operations.
McKinney said training and school was what motivated him to join the Navy.
“I knew that I wanted to go to a technical school and the Navy’s information systems program is one of the best,” said McKinney. “I get the education and training I need as well as the experience.”
Texas, along with all other U.S. Navy submarines, is manned solely by volunteers from within the Navy. Because of the stressful environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. Submariners are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. The training is highly technical and each crew has to be able to operate, maintain, and repair every system or piece of equipment on board. Regardless of their specialty, everyone also has to learn how everything on the ship works and how to respond in emergencies to become “qualified in submarines” and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.
Although it is difficult for most people to imagine living on a submarine, challenging submarine living conditions actually build strong fellowship among the crew. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills where Sailors learn to rely on others, and learn they must be relied upon themselves. The submarine environment is demanding, but these demands and the trust crew members have for each other, help make the crew perform better as a team.
McKinney said he is very proud of the work he is doing as part of the Texas’ 130-member crew, protecting America on the world’s oceans. Imagine working and living in a 377-foot long, 33-foot wide, three-story building with no windows and surrounded by technology. Then lock the doors, submerge beneath the surface of the ocean and travel silently underwater for months. This requires a tremendous amount of skill, knowledge, personal discipline, and teamwork.
“I’m very proud of all USS Texas Sailors and equally impressed with the type and quality of work that goes aboard this submarine each day,” said Cmdr. Andrew C. Hertel, Texas’ commanding officer. “Our team is filled with highly qualified young adults, reliable, flexible, and ready to respond worldwide at any time. Their work ethic, enthusiasm, and esprit de corps are second to none and they are the backbone of the Navy’s undersea warfighting capability. With crew members like McKinney as part of our team, everybody knows you ‘Don’
t Mess with TEXAS.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, McKinney and other USS Texas Sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“Why Being There Matters”
On our planet, more than 70 percent of which is covered by water, being there means having the ability to act from the sea. The Navy is uniquely positioned to be there; the world’s oceans give the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, and at any time. Your Navy protects and defends America on the world’s oceans. Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and, most importantly, tens of thousands of America’s finest young men and women are deployed around the world doing just that. They are there now. They will be there when we are sleeping tonight. They will be there every , and holiday this year. They are there around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times.