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"They gave me no tests, no nothing. I was a radar tech, they needed me, they took me. And, fortunately, I had the attributes they needed." (Audio Interview, 28:10)

   Marion L. Shinn
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Marion L. Shinn, Ed.D. [2002]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Guavina (SS 362)
Service Location: Boise, Idaho; Bremerton, Washington; New London, Connecticut; Mare Island, California; Marshall Islands; Palau; Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands); Australia; Philippines; South China Sea; Pacific Theater
Rank: Radar Technician Second Class
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Marion Shinn trained on radar in sub school in New London, CT, but had never even seen a sub while there. He boarded his first submarine, the USS Guavina (named for a fish), as it lay harbored in a Pacific atoll. He didn't have long to wait for action; on his first voyage the Guavina sank a Japanese ship and endured a barrage of depth charges. Even scarier was a nearly seven-hour depth charge attack in the South China Sea; as the Guavina lay on the bottom, 130 feet below the surface, Shinn was the only man on board working, as he monitored the movements of the attacking destroyer and whispered the information to the skipper. Despite his lack of on-boat training, Shinn adapted well to the claustrophobic life of the submariner.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (9 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (88 min.)
»Photo Album  (2 photos)
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»Submarines: The Silent Service
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (9 items)
Volunteering for sub school; going to school in New London, but never letting them on a boat; awful experience on troop ship heading from California to Hawaii; bunks stacked five and six high; spending much of his time topside; getting out of work detail on the ship when a veteran officer "lost" his and other submariners' papers until the ship was about to dock. (04:14) Shipping out from Pearl Harbor in a sub tender to the Marshall Islands; sights of the Pacific; arriving and seeing his first submarine. (03:53) Assigned to the Guavina; walking deck watch, his first assignment; huge light in the sky; turned out a crew on a sub tender was distilling the alcohol for drinking and someone lit a cigarette and set off a big explosion; preparing the sub to go to sea. (02:51)
First dive, a scary event for someone inexperienced; voyage to Palau; standing watch: on 12 hours, off 12 hours; inside the barrier reef at Pelelieu; spotting four destroyers and a merchant ship; went under one of the destroyers; fired torpedoes and sank one of the ships, going under the ship as it sank; not prepared emotionally for this; but he was all right with close quarters of the sub, even though he had not been psychologically tested. (06:18) An adventure in the strait between Lombok and Bali, where they were shelled from the shore; picked up on radar something massive coming toward them; turned out to be an American PBY aircraft scouting location of enemy artillery; next time they went through that strait, the guns were not there. (04:58) On their fifth run, in the South China Sea; assigned to sink cargo ships trying to make their way along the coast; after firing torpedoes, going to the sandy bottom to avoid depth charges; attack lasted from 7:30am to 2pm; Shinn was only man on duty, relaying information on enemy positions to skipper; all others were quiet to avoid detection; getting away and surfacing to make repairs at night in a rough sea. (04:57)
Communicating back home; could not write from sea; collecting mail when they pulled into port; one time, he had 87 letters waiting for him, many from his girlfriend, later his wife; being welcomed in ports with band music and array of fresh food. (03:19) Officers generally good; story of a skipper shook up by a bomb attack on the sub, retiring to his room for the rest of the voyage; "I saw him crack." (01:43) Leaving the Navy; bypassing the table where men were signing up for the Naval Reserve; taking the bus home to his new wife in Bonner's Ferry; bus arriving at midnight; walking to his house and in the door, which was unlocked; his wife finding someone familiar in the house. (01:13)

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  October 26, 2011
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