In preparation for the 25 August 2017 dive with Nautilus Live, NHF conducted two interviews with former crew members of USS Bugara (SS 331). The following interviews were conducted in August 2017 with Bob Fleck and Pete Smith, and are including in our first installments of the “Rediscovering Naval History” Podcasts on Soundcloud.
Bob Fleck Interview Part I: Harsh Realities
In this segment, Torpedoman 3rd Class Bob Fleck discusses his first impressions of Bugara and the transition from training on the auxiliary submarine USS Silversides as a 17-year old reservist to becoming a junior crew member on “the Bug,” complete with all the harsh realities that came with newly minted pig boat sailors.
Bob Fleck Interview Part II: Seals on Subs
Former Bugara crew member Bob Fleck, a 3rd class Torpedoman at the time, discusses the experience of working with the elite Navy Seals off the coast of Vietnam during the war – an experience he felt he would never forget.
Bob Fleck Interview Part III: Flame Out
In this segment, Bob talks about how he got the infamous nickname of “flame out” aboard Bugara during an early morning below the waters of the Tonkin Gulf.
Pete Smith Interview Part I: Diesel Boats Forever
Pete Smith opened the interview by talking about joining the Navy as a reservist out of high school and his first experiences with submarines in the Navy. The talk then shifted to the nature of serving on diesel-electric submarines in an era when Admiral Rickover’s nuclear navy became a prominent factor in cold war deterrence.
Pete Smith Interview Part II: Hong Kong Suits
As previously discussed, submarine sailors are a particularly tight knit group. Pete Smith discusses his living situation both on and off the ship, and comments on the infamous “Hong Kong Suit” so familiar with WESTPAC sailors.
Pete Smith Interview Part III: The Diesel Smell
As any pig boat sailor can attest to, you either love or hate the smell of diesel. For Pete Smith, it’s a smell he both remembers and is openly fond of to this day.