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89 Men Lost

March 26, 1945

USS Trigger (SS 237)

  • Gato Class Submarine
  • Keel laid: February 1, 1941, at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA
  • Launched: October 22, 1941
  • Commissioned: January 30, 1942
  • Displacement: 1,526 tons surfaced; 2,410 tons submerged
  • Length: 311′ 10″
  • Beam: 27′ 4″
  • Operating depth: 300′
  • Complement: 6 officers, 54 enlisted
  • Armament: ten 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 3″/50 dual purpose deck gun, two .50 cal. machine guns, two .30 cal. machine guns

Trigger (with new skipper Commander David R. Connole) stood out to sea on March 11th to begin her 12th war patrol and headed for the Nansei Shoto area. On March 18th, she attacked a convoy west of the islands, sinking the cargo ship Tsukushi Maru No.3 and damaging another. The attack was reported on March 20th, and the submarine was subsequently ordered to radio as many movements of the convoy as possible to help find a safe passage through a known mined area of the East China Sea. On March 24th, Trigger was ordered to begin patrolling west of the islands the next day, outside the 100 fathom curve, and to steer clear of restricted areas. On March 26th, she was ordered to join a wolf pack called “Earl’s Eliminators” and to acknowledge receipt of the message. A weather report came from the submarine that day but no confirmation of her having received the message. The weather report was Trigger’s last transmission. On April 4th, she was ordered to proceed to Midway Island, but she had not arrived by May 1st and was reported as presumed lost.

Postwar records indicate she torpedoed and sank the repair ship Odate on March 27th. The next day, Japanese planes and ships joined in a two-hour attack on a submarine heard by Silversides, Sea Dog (SS 401), Hackleback (SS 295), and Threadfin (SS 410) in adjacent areas. Threadfin was the only one of these submarines attacked that day, and she reported hearing many depth charges and several heavy explosions east of her after the attack on her ceased. Postwar Japanese records showed a Japanese aircraft detected and bombed a submarine on March 28, 1945. Surface ships were then guided to the spot and delivered an intensive depth charging. After two hours, a large oil slick appeared.

Trigger received 11 battle stars for World War II service and the Presidential Unit Citation for her fifth, sixth, and seventh war patrols. She is credited with sinking 18 ships (tied for seventh on the list of confirmed sinkings by number of ships with Seawolf and Rasher), totaling 86,552 tons (seventh on the list of confirmed sinkings by tonnage), according to the official JANAC accounting postwar.

Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

USS Trigger (SS 237)
Patch(es) were obtained from:
NavSource Online (Submarine Photo Archive).
Originally contributed by Mike Smolinski.
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There a saying that goes, “Out of sight, out of mind“.

There is truth in this but it’s also a lie. The truth is that when not seen we often don’t consciously think about it. BUT it is still in our mind. I am not talking about “in our mind” as in a “storage” context. I mean “in our mind” as in actively turning it over. I firmly believe that just because I am not aware I am thinking about something does not mean I am not thinking about something.

Triggers, a common term in many circles these days, are one proof case for my point. As some know a trigger is an event that evokes a reaction (see this blogs articles on triggers) that is not in accordance with the situation at hand. On other words the brain is reacting based upon the memories evoked. Out of sight, out of mind? Not at all. The trigger instantly brings us to the point of reacting to the here and now as if it were one more in a long string of injustices, when in fact it is completely unrelated. AND we are often not even aware of why our reaction is more severe than is called for.

Unless it’s all brought out into the open IT WILL fester, IT WILL dictate, IT WILL cause bitterness, IT WILL cause anger, IT WILL cause self-loathing. Bringing something into sight is like a doctor at the hospital. She opens the wound, scrubs the wound. Does it go away? No. Does it hurt? Yes.

So then what good is it? Yes. The healing comes with time. Leaving the wound untreated may seem like the best thing to a child but any adult knows that unless the child goes through the pain of exposing and cleansing the wound there is no assurance that it will be able to heal properly – and may cause much more serious damage.

So, now I get to my instigator for this post. A relationship. The most intimate of relationships, marriage. The unfortunate thing in life is that two people will injure one another. It’s inevitable in this fallen world. Eventually, if left untreated for long enough things begin to fester. We have seen and heard about marriages that reach their breaking point and culminate in serious atrocities committed against one another. Sometimes it looks like aggression, and for some it looks like silence.

I believe I’ve said it before in this blog – but for sure I have said it before in many places at many times. Whether a couple is “fighting” or running to their separate rooms to avoid the fight – it’s all the same. Both are emotionally injurious to the relationship. In both cases the most basic of human needs, to be loved, is withheld. We’d all look in horror if a newborn were left in a room, fed at regular intervals but had no other contact with their parents. Why do couples who go to their corners somehow think they are better than those that fight? It is abuse in another form. Every human being needs love and attention.

So what keeps us from doing this. Well to be quite simple… and honest, it’s you.

“If only you , I could fill your need.” It’s your fault, sure I am not perfect BUT you’re way less perfect.”

Isn’t that the approach we often have in relationships? Maybe it gets so bad that a friend steps in to help mediate (or we take it to a professional). Most people will often admit they aren’t perfect (to throw us off the scent) and then direct our attention to the matter at hand. Admit it, that bone of “I’m not perfect” is a masked way of saying “Hey, I’m exposing myself so you can see I am NOT the problem”.

So then what happens when we may be exposed or at least our facade may have a crack in it? You know the answer, if I can’t deflect – I’ll do what it takes to hide who I really am. After all, “you need to understand the PROBLEM is not me”.

I recall attending marriage counseling years ago thinking “today has been a tough day at work, tough things happened recently in the relationship – I wonder if I’ll be perceived wrongly. Sure, I’ve got issues but you’ve just GOT to see THE PROBLEM!”

My instinct is self-preservation. Avoiding would give me time to be the rational being I am. After all the ugly is not my norm. Everything we do is about about making sure the big I is presented in the best light. I always ensuring I have justification for the wrongs I have committed. Left without check I will always take care of me.

Christ said it best, “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? ” Matthew 7:3

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Q: Why is it that a “serious” talk between a couple near bedtime usually results in frustration and inadequate sleep?
A: Because it’s not focused on resolution.
The answer may be overly simplistic but I tried to take into account that other garbage often gets dragged in as well as attitudes of rightness.
Yesterdays post was based upon an understanding of something that was going on a few days prior.  Nothing huge, but a problem nonetheless.  We knew we’d need to revisit the triggering event and dissect it.  After several days talking about making such a time and both with an attitude of let’s-understand-this-so-we-can-put-it-behind-us we found the opportunity.  Unfortunately we were forced to violate every rule for such a discussion because the only foreseeable timeframe would be prior to retiring.
The conversation was pleasant and mutually agreeable.  Even though it is not complete it promoted a healthier sleep than expected.  We knew we wanted to get to core issues.  We didn’t wrap it up but we did begin the unwrap process.
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Triggers: A trigger can be viewed as a stimulus to a response pattern.
    1. Proust’s madeleine cake(see footnote) triggered his memories of times past.
    2. Rejection may trigger depression etc.
    Such triggers are usefully identified in clinical psychology so that strategies can be worked on to alter the response, so that clinical problems are avoided or managed more appropriately.

    In the most basic of layman’s term (into which class I fall), a trigger is something that sets me off.  A sight, a sound, a smell.  It is something which causes my brain to recall a memory I did not consciously intend to recall.  It’s effect often has negative consequences.  It’s because of a trigger things can be going fine one minute, then in the next the world is crumbling before my eyes.  A temper could go from non-existent to extreme.  What is a happy time can instantly turn into a period of intense anxiety or fear.
    Triggers recall memories.  Triggers can be a single word which then colors my current experience.  A bearded man or short woman can trigger something deep within me which makes me despise this person I have never met.  I see reality but a trigger alters that reality and tells me “this is the way things really are.”
    Memories of this type are often only partial and out of context.  Triggers change the context.  Others will look at us when “we’re triggered” and wonder what happened.
    So, does it take a clinical psychologist to identify a trigger?  I think not.  We’ve all been triggered.  We all see others triggered.  We knows it’s happened.  When it happens between two people, this is an ideal time to begin honest introspection and create unity by carefully dissecting what made me feel the way I felt when…
    I’m not saying the process is simple.  But a few strategic questions phrased as statements to be repeated can be a very useful diagnostic tool.
    Fill in the blanks: “I felt _____ when you ____ because ….
    Then in response, dig deeper by saying something like: “you felt _____ because….
    (Don’t say “why did you feel….”  ’Because’ is a much better word because it digs deeper than logic)
    Processing like this could help to understand feelings and thought patterns which seem entirely disconnected for the reality of current events, but are in fact the distortions to current events making something that is now seem like something that was then.
    When two go through this process it brings understanding to both parties and with time could diffuse the trigger bringing the relationship into the present.

    (footnote):  French writer Marcel Proust in his novel In Search of Lost Time made famous the concept of involuntary memory.  Proust contrasts involuntary memory with voluntary memory. The latter designates memories retrieved by “intelligence,” that is, memories produced by putting conscious effort into remembering events, people, and places. Proust’s narrator laments that such memories are inevitably partial, and do not bear the “essence” of the past. The most famous instance of involuntary memory by Proust is known as the “episode of the madeleine,” yet there are at least half a dozen other examples in In Search of Lost Time including such distinct memories produced by the scent of a public lavatory on the Champs-Élysées.
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    Fear is a distressing negative emotion induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger and flee from it or confront it.
    Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which is an emotional response to a perceived threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is related to situations perceived as uncontrollable or unavoidable.
    An alternative view defines anxiety as “a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events”, suggesting that it is a distinction between future vs. present dangers which divides anxiety and fear.
    That’s a mouthful and does it matter?  Thinking of the darkroom in my April 22, 2011 post…
    Funny how the mind can have such control over the body and its physical reaction to the world.  We underestimate the power of that computer on our shoulders.  It can make or break us.  It can fill us with confidence or take us to the depths of despair.
    Enough thinking for one day.
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    74 Men Lost

    March 15, 1943

    USS Triton (SS 201)
    At Dutch Harbor, Alaska on July 16, 1942

    • Tambor Class Submarine
    • Keel laid: July 5, 1939, at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, ME
    • Launched: March 25, 1940
    • Commissioned: August 15, 1940
    • Displacement: 1,475 tons surfaced; 2,370 tons submerged
    • Length: 307′ 2″
    • Beam: 27′ 3″
    • Depth limit: 250′
    • Complement: 5 officers, 54 enlisted
    • Armament: ten 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 3″/50 deck gun, two .50 caliber machine guns, two .30 caliber machine guns

    On February 16th, Triton began her sixth and final war patrol, hoping to destroy enemy shipping between the Shortland Basin and Rabaul. Ten days later, she reported that she had seen smoke on February 22nd and that the Japanese had installed radar at Buka. On March 6th, the submarine attacked a convoy of five destroyer escorted ships, sinking the cargo ship Kiriha Maru and damaging another freighter. One of her torpedoes made a circular run, and Triton crash-dived to evade it. She attacked another convoy on the night of March 8th and claimed that five of the eight torpedoes she had fired scored hits. She could not observe the results or make a follow-up attack because gunfire from the escorts forced her down. On March 11th, Triton reported that she was chasing two convoys, each made up of five or more ships. She was informed that submarine Trigger (SS-237) was operating in an adjoining area and ordered to stay south of the equator. On March 13th, Triton was warned that three enemy destroyers in her area were either looking for a convoy or were hunting American submarines.

    On March 15th, Trigger reported that she had attacked a convoy and had been depth charged. Even though attacks on her ceased, she could still hear distant depth charging for about an hour. No further messages from Triton were ever received. Post-war examination of Japanese records revealed that on March 15, 1943, three Japanese destroyers attacked a submarine a little northwest of Triton’s assigned area and subsequently observed an oil slick, debris, and items with American markings. On April 10, 1943, Triton was reported overdue from patrol and presumed lost.

    However, there are persistent rumors that Triton was actually lost off Moreton Island near Brisbane; that she was sunk either by friendly fire from an Australian pilot or by Japanese naval mines or torpedoes. Its loss was allegedly covered up by the Australian military. It is undisputed that two weeks after Triton was supposed to have been sunk, a welcoming committee, complete with band, mail delivery, fresh fruit and ice-cream was waiting for it on the dock at New Farm on the Brisbane River. The Australian Defence Department refers inquiries to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The Memorial’s position is that it was highly unlikely Australian fire had sunk the submarine, and if there had been a cover-up during the war, the truth would have come out in the intervening years.

    Triton received five battle stars for World War II service.

    Was is sunk by friendly fire?

    Naval Historical Center

    Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

    USS Triton (SS 201)
    Patch(es) were obtained from:
    NavSource Online (Submarine Photo Archive).
    Originally contributed by Mike Smolinski.
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