It has been a busy few months, and I have been remiss in keeping you up to date on the news that comes our way. It's hard enough keeping up with the good news, let alone getting lost in thought about shipmates from a long time ago that have crossed the bar and are no longer with us. Every shipmate that rests his oar reminds each of us that our days our numbered, and, like getting underway, there’s not a moment to lose.
It is my duty to report the passing of CDR(SS) Kurt M. Trautman 1945 – 2018 and SDC(SS) Manuel (Manny) C. Chavez 1938 – 2018.
CDR Trautman first reported on board on 17 August 1973 as an Ensign who served as MPA and ultimately the Weapons Officer before he left on 20 January 1976. Over nine years later, he would return in August of 1985, about a month before I left for Separations, relieving CDR Leon Uplinger as Commanding Officer. His Honors page and obituary can be found here:
Chief Chavez reported to the Bates on 6 March, 1972, while under construction in Pascagoula, MS. He spent a year getting the department in order and left the day after the boat was commissioned on 6 May, 1973. His Honors page and obituary can be found here:
Both of these men had extraordinary careers. CDR Trautman earned the Navy Distinguished Service medal (on the Bates) and the Legion of Merit. Promoted to Captain, he went on to command the USS Florida (SSBN 728) Gold crew and served as Deputy Commander of Submarine Squadron Seventeen. SDC Chavez served on eleven boats (three diesels!) attaining the rank of Master Chief. He served as COB on the USS James K. Polk (SSBN 645) before he retired.
Neither of these men had been able to reconnect with former shipmates and experience the pleasure of old friendships, great sea stories, and the heartfelt thanks of those that served with them. Let’s not make that mistake with others that are still missing from the USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) Association and website. Make the effort to reach out to someone that is not yet registered on the site and encourage their participation. All of us benefit when we reconnect with those we served with.
There’s not a moment to lose!