Apr 5

World War II Submarine Commanders

Thursday, April 5, 2018 12:01 AM

By

Captain Slade D. Cutter, USN (Ret.) (1911-2005)

Captain Slade D. Cutter, USN (Ret.) (1911-2005)

The U.S. Naval Institute Oral History Archive features the reminiscences of the legendary Captain Slade D. Cutter. 

Cutter turned down a music scholarship at an Illinois college to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, where he became an All-American football star and standout on the boxing team. Following graduation in 1935, Cutter embarked on a career heavily intertwined with sports. His first duty was as football coach for the team of the battleship USS Idaho (BB-42). After submarine school he coached football at the Naval Academy with collateral duty in the USS S-30 (SS-135). World War II found him in the crew of the USS Pompano (SS-181), where he made a name for himself as a brilliant submariner—a reputation that was enhanced further by his wartime commands of the USS Seahorse (SS-304) and Requin (SS-481). Cutter provides a vivid picture of wartime sub duty: the attributes required of a good skipper and opinions of all the top names; description of the experience of undergoing a depth charge attack; the quality of food on board subs; and the zany antics of submariners letting off steam between patrols. After the war, Cutter took charge of the Navy sports program, leading an armed forces team to the 1948 London Olympics, where he refereed boxing. His first volume ends with discussion of his assignment as executive officer of the tender USS Sperry (AS-12) in 1949-50.

In the featured audio excerpt, Captain Cutter speaks about himself and four other prominent submarine commanders, three of whom received the Medal of Honor for their service during World War II.

USS Seahorse (SS-304) underway off Mare Island, California on 12 January 1945.

USS Seahorse (SS-304) under way off Mare Island, California on 12 January 1945.

To read more about the Naval Institute Oral History Program, go to https://www.usni.org/heritage/oral-history-catalog.

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