USS Bluegill (SS-242) WW2
Other Life Stories:
Sub Veterans See Little Sense in
[And Here is the Complete Article:]
GROTON-- If the Groton sub base closes, it will likely cost hundreds and thousands of jobs, but retired Navy personnel say they are worried about the effect the closure will have on them as well.
"The base closing is going to cause some problems for retirees, too," said Bill Carlen of Groton, a retiree who was stationed in Groton from 1975 to 1987. "Some of the military benefits we have used along the years are no longer available locally is what it means."
Many military retirees living in the area still use the base's commissary, exchange store, pharmacy and hospital.
"If the hospital and (pharmacy) close, then I worry," said Peter Springer of Groton, who served in Groton from 1947 to 1967 and uses the base's services.
Wallace Krupenevich of Hartford, who served at the Groton base in the 1950s and 1960s, added this is equal to cutting veterans' services.
"It's just another benefit they're chipping away at," he said.
Many veterans weren't surprised the Groton base was on the realignment and closure list Friday morning.
"I was kind of disappointed, but then again, nobody said those people were smart," said Tom Connors of Gales Ferry, who served in Groton from 1978 to 1981 and 1984 to 1990.
Connors said it isn't just the veterans and people who work on the base who are losing out, but all the surrounding communities. He said there are many military family members who donate time and services to local schools and organizations that will be sorely missed if the base closes.
"We have a lot of pretty smart people in this outfit and they're more than happy to help out in the community. We'll miss out on that," Connors said.
Bill Cass of Preston, who served in Groton in the 1960s, said he is worried about the security of the northeastern states.
"We have nothing from here north," Cass said. "We don't have any military, Air Force, Navy. That's a concern."
Rollie Stephens of Waterford, who was stationed in Groton in the late 1950s, said he still has hope the base will be taken off the closure list and realigned at worst.
"I wish they'd shut (just) part of it down," Stephens said. "Pull the boats out and leave the school."
But Stephens is worried that it's not the best interest of the region or the people that is guiding the decision.
"It's all about money, period. It's not necessarily the right thing," Stephens said.
Retired submariners shared similar frustrations with Friday's announcement.
"It would be one of the stupidest mistakes the country could make by closing the base," said former Navy submariner John Deane, 80, of East Lyme.
Deane said the list of closures gives the appearance of a politically motivated move, with blue states taking the brunt of the closings.
"In my own mind, I can't conceive of this," Deane said. "I didn't think the base would be on the list. It just doesn't make any sense."
Deane attended the base's submarine school in 1943 and was later stationed aboard the submarine Bluegill. After the Navy, he worked as an engineer at Electric Boat from 1952 to 1987.
He is a founding member of the Thames River Chapter of the U.S. Submarine Veterans of WWII
Leroy Webb, a 32-year former Navy man from Mystic, said "I'd hate to see us lose it."
Along with running into old shipmates, Webb said a lot of retirees make use of the commissary, as well as medical facilities near the base. From a career that started in 1943, Webb went on to become a crew member aboard 15 different submarines.
"It's going to be a big hardship on us -- a big disappointment," he said.
Navy veteran J. "Dean" Brown of Montville said closure of the base is hard to believe from a financial point of view.
"There is a huge investment at the sub base. Many of the activities performed there now will have to be moved. That's very costly -- just a staggering figure. The thing foremost in my mind is I've seen nothing that shows this is financially advantageous."
|Page Last Updated 08/19/2007|