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“We controlled the missile submarines operating in the Mediterranean. It was so secret, when we first got there, that we couldn’t wear our dolphins on our uniform.” (Audio recording, 36:16)

   Harold Douglas Barker
Image of Harold Douglas Barker
Harold Barker in uniform [1956]
War: Cold War
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Cavalier (APA 37); USS Sarda (SS 488); USS Sea Robin (SS 407); USS Entemedor (SS 340); Submarine Squadron 2
Service Location: Long Beach and Monterey, California; Washington, DC; Groton, Connecticut; Naples, Italy; Norfolk, Virginia; Dunoon, Scotland
Rank: Commander
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The son of an Army officer, Commander Douglas Barker chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a military career, but he opted to spend it at sea rather than on land. After attending the Naval Academy at Annapolis, he decided to apply for submarine school, and eventually earned his “dolphins” (the submariner’s equivalent of a pilot’s wings). In his oral history, he recounts his day-to-day life aboard a missile submarine during the Cold War: “You’re standing your watches, you’re doing your job, and you’re always wondering if there is somebody out there, following you.”

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (9 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (81 min.)
»Transcript
  Photos
»Photo Album  (7 photos)
More like this
»Cold War Dispatches: Service Stories from 1947-1991
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (9 items)
Wanting a military career; approaching Senator for endorsement; told he could be third alternate to West Point or principal to Naval Academy; choosing the Navy. (01:20) Rigors of first year at Annapolis. (01:37) Best and worst parts of being in the Navy. (00:28)
Emotions during first submersion on a submarine. (00:38) Memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis; many volunteers for submarine service. (00:19) Transfer to Naples, Italy; controlling missile submarines operating in the Mediterranean. (01:26)
Limited communication between submarine and outside world. (05:57) Incident in which there was a fire in the submarine while cooking a turkey dinner for Christmas. (03:25) Qualities of submarines, what sets them apart from other sailors. (01:07)
  
 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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