Navy veteran shares story of Cold War era submarine service

Local naval veteran Uel Smith spent several months aboard submarines during the heart of the Cold War.

Local naval veteran Uel Smith spent several months aboard submarines during the heart of the Cold War.

Leaving high school as an inexperienced and restless 17-year-old, Uel Smith was simply searching for a break from the monotony of his Jefferson City surroundings.

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What he discovered, however, was an adventure below the ocean’s surface that placed him in an uncomfortable proximity to a Cold War era foe.

“My friends were talking about joining the Navy,” recalled Smith. “I was 17 at the time and it didn’t make a difference where they were going — I was going to follow.”

He traveled to St. Louis to enlist in June 1956, and was soon on his way to boot camp at Bainbridge, Md.

While in training, he was asked if he would be interested in becoming a submariner. Responding with an emphatic “Yes!,” he was sent to complete the submarine physical.

Following his graduation from boot camp, he was given orders and $14 in travel money to attend submariner school at New London, Conn.

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