NEWS | Oct. 20, 2016

Retired USS Drum Sailors Reunite in San Diego

By Petty Officer 1st Class Derek Stroop, Submarine Squadron 11 Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO -- Retired Sailors once assigned to former Sturgeon-class fast attack submarine USS Drum (SSN 677) gathered in San Diego for a reunion celebration, Oct. 13-16.

"This is the first major reunion for the Drum since its decommissioning in 1995," said retired Electronics Technician 1st Class Rick Wetmore, a plankowner. "We've got a whole range of guys who have served on the Drum joining us here, including guys who served in the early to late 1980s and even into the 1990s before decommissioning."

The group had the opportunity to tour Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS San Francisco (SSN 711), which is homeported at Naval Base Point Loma, as part of their reunion festivities.

"While touring the submarine, a lot came back to me," said Wetmore. "You notice some things are different, like the weapons systems, while other things are exactly the same after forty years -- namely, the acronyms. Altogether, though, the submarine tour was the highlight. A lot of people, including myself, were really looking forward to it."

During the tours, they also got an opportunity to talk with the crew of San Francisco and discuss the similarities and differences in the Navy, now and in the past.

"You can see all the pride and spirit they have in both their accomplishments and in their boat," said retired Lt. Charlie Bomberger, who served aboard Drum 1975-1978. "They are all very respectful of the traditions that we believed in and stood for. They hold the heritage of submarines close to their heart, and I believe the future [of the submarine force] is in good hands."

The submarine tours on base were only one facet of the San Diego reunion. The retired crew also had a chance to gather together and regale in old sea stories. They flew in from all over the world, including Alaska, Massachusetts, and even the Netherlands.

"We had a table set up because a lot of the fellas brought some Drum memorabilia," said Wetmore. "It was fun to see some of the bits and pieces. Some brought old qualification cards and they could point out who got signatures from whom at the reunion. It was pretty neat."

On Friday, several of the retirees took a harbor cruise so they could see the base from a different perspective.

"We got to see the water side of the base," said Wetmore. "Only those standing topside maneuvering watch would be able to see the base while pulling in. It was a nice sight after all these years."

The reunion wrapped up on Saturday evening, following a grand banquet where the retirees and their families could unwind and visit with old friends.

"My fondest memories are related to the people I dealt with," said Bomberger. "It was the greatest learning experience I've ever had. I credit that to some of the strongest friendships and relationships with my crew members. I treasure that time and those memories."

Drum was commissioned April 15, 1972 and earned a multitude of awards including two Navy Unit Commendations, seven Meritorious Unit Commendations, and the Battle Efficiency Award, or Battle "E," in 1991. Drum was decommissioned Oct. 30, 1995.

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