USS John C. Calhoun (SSBN 630) Veterans Association
CDR Rogerson Speech
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The following is a transcript of a speech by CDR Rogerson. He was CO of the Calhoun from 1992 to 1994 and presided over the decommisioning of the vessel.


Rosalie, who else?


I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak today. Not because I like to speak in public, but because in writing this 2 hour speech (just kidding), I was compelled to take time to review my memories and keepsakes from my time on Calhoun, and there were many.


I believe speaking here today brings me full circle, probably because my first official act in Command, while my crew and I were still in off crew, was to speak at the John C. Calhoun reunion being held in Charleston, to what I thought was a bunch of “old geezers.” Boy, was I surprised! – and impressed. By the way, you’re even older now. (In fact, you are positively “fossils.”) J It’s a good thing I am so much younger.


Well, the rest, as they say, is history. There are not many Submarine Captains who can say they officiated for a funeral at sea (Delorma Dale Webb), or a marriage (Sheryl and Tim Hare), held a Deactivation Ceremony in public before 2000 of our closest friends, including the future Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton, who also happened to be a former Calhoun sailor, and a 4th of July Celebration the next day.


By the way, it was Johnnie C.’s color guard that led the July 4th parade. A month earlier, we didn’t have a color guard. Some sailors came to me and said they thought Calhoun should lead the parade, so they had taken it upon themselves to form the first John C. Calhoun color guard. Can do.


And there was also a color guard from Toole Middle School, our partner school, because of the generous donations of our crew. I just looked at their thank you notes. We had hoped to raise funds for the color guard to attend. Once Calhoun sailors were done, there was enough funding for the whole NJROTC company. Can do.


Then there was also Barbados, and the trip through the Panama Canal, and pulling into San Diego, with Rosalie coming out to meet us and ride in with us. We were the only active submarine who had the dignitary who christened it still alive 30 years later at Decommissioning. Another Calhoun first.


Oh yeah, we also did well professionally, and held up our end of the 5000 strong chain of Calhoun sailors who went before us. Two successful patrols, Silver Anchor, Golden Anchor runner-up, Engineering E, top grades on NTPI and TRE.  


All of this within 18 months, along with a bunch more I have since forgotten.


Why we are here?


Nearly 50 years ago, on 22 June 1963, Rosalie christened the USS John C. Calhoun in Newport News, Virginia. That was before cell phones, before IPADs and Laptops, Even before landing men on the moon. It was the year Martin Luther King dreamed his dream in front of the Lincoln Memorial.


And nearly 20 years ago, at our March 28, 1994 Decommissioning, following more than 30 years of continuous outstanding performance including 77 patrols, 10,000 days, a half a million miles, numerous awards including the Top Atlantic Fleet Submarine, 1000th patrol, Battle E’s and much more, Calhoun successfully completed her mission.  


I was the last sailor to leave the ship. Calhoun had completed her mission. We had completed her mission.


That was nearly 20 years ago. Yet here we are, nearly 20 years since the last of us stood on her decks.


So, why are we here?


I would like to answer that question with three pretty good reasons (and there are probably more):


First: We are here

To remember our youth:


We were studs. We were tested against some of the most difficult tasks, from pounding seas and buffeting wind to ORSE’s, TRE’s, and mini-DASO’s. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t do, and we did it all, superbly. We handled every test the Navy, and Mother Ocean, pitted us against, and like a rough gem, got polished, and then moved on for the next challenge.


Second: We are here

To remember our ship:


We were proud to be on one of the best boomers in the navy. One of the example setters. And we’re proud to have kept that long string of success from the first of us, to the more than 5000th (of us), including my crew, not letting any of those who had gone before us down.


Finally: We are here

To remember each other:


We slept more with each other than with our wives. I guess in this day and age I need to qualify that statement. We had a commitment to each other, and had each other’s back. You didn’t stay on a submarine unless you carried your weight. Sure, we tell tall tales about those days, probably for the 100th time, and we still laugh, and we still cry. A camaraderie and friendship that has stood the test of time. In some cases, 50 years or more.


We are John C. Calhoun.


A poet who lived in Calhoun’s day, Walt Whitman, captured it well when he penned this poem, entitled:


                        The Beauty of the Ship


When staunchly entering port,

After long ventures, hauling up, worn and old,

Batter’d by sea and wind, torn by many a fight,

With the original sails gone, replaced, or mended,

I only saw, at last, the beauty of the Ship.


Like our ship that forever binds us, we no longer have the maiden’s blush of innocent beauty. We possess instead, that internal glow of knowing confidence of those who have stood together, and stood up to the test, when our nation needed us. Of sharing a time and an experience that only those who have been there can understand.  We may be older now. We may have been torn and battered over the decades. But we still have that twinkle in our eye, even yet, of knowing that we measured up. As I look out over you, I still see it. And I am proud, more than I could ever say, to have been a part of it.


So together, let’s raise a glass to each other and to our ship that will forever bind us together:


From Capt Thurtell and you plank owners out there, who brought her to life, through the thousands of others who labored to keep her continuously at the top of her game, and to me and my crew, the last heart beat inside the shark of steel, Calhoun was a beautiful ship.


To the USS John C. Calhoun, SSBN 630.

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