oUSS New Mexico
+George H. Smith leads the dignitaries
+after commissioning ceremonies.
+The USS New Mexico underway flying
+the state flag.
+USS Pompon SS267 at the time of her sea trials on Lake Michigan. The boat was commissioned
+in early 1943. The Pompon made 9 war patrols in the Pacific. During the war years submarines   
+didn't display their numbers on the bow and bridge area as was done during peacetime.
+The USS Caiman SS323 as George would have remembered her before the  
+conversion for a snorkel enabling the sub to use engine power instead of      
+battery power while submerged.
+The USS Redfish SS395 passing under the Golden Gate Bridge in
+the spring of 1952. The boat had been at Hunter's Point for an       
+overhaul and was undergoing sea trials.
+The sleek profile of the Caiman after the GUPPY  
+conversion in 1951 at Mare Island.
+52 decommissioned submarines at Mare
+Island, ironically, the same number of        
+boats that the U.S. lost in World War II.
+George, as I remembered
+him in 1953.
+The New Mexico is moored near the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush CVN77 at the
+Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia.
+Emilee Sena submitted this oil painting
+for the winning design.
+The New Mexico crest is an unique   
+and clever design.
When the submarine New Mexico SSN779 was commissioned
in March 2010 at Norfolk, Virginia the state of New
Mexico was involved, very involved. The USS New
Mexico Commissioning Committee, a group of dedicated
New Mexicans, became active about ten years ago when
the committee began lobbying for a ship to be named after
the state, and then after being awarded the honor almost six
years passed during construction of the vessel. The
successful commissioning events were a result of the
financial and kind support provided by the citizens of New
Mexico and other states.   
The committee’s search for a for a qualified person
to be   an honorary guest at the ceremonies led to
Media, Penn. and the home of George H. Smith. As
a young sailor, George(
1) was stationed on the
Battleship New Mexico BB40 during 1938-’40. He
was transferred to another ship and was at Pearl
Harbor December 7, 1941. During the war George
was on the submarine Pompon SS267 and made 8
war patrols, winning the Bronze Star on one patrol
for his individual effort. The New Mexico selection
committee could not have chosen a more qualified
person to represent the state for the occasion.
George was not told by what means that he was
chosen for the honor.
--------------------
1--I’ll refer to him as George, instead of Mr. Smith, since
we’re on a first name basis. At one time I addressed him as
sir. He uses my nickname of “Gabby” which I acquired when
I was in the Navy and surfaces at the Caiman reunions.
After the war George was a crew member on the USS Caiman SS323
from 1946-’50.  I missed him by about 3½ years. Then he was
transferred to the USS Redfish SS395 during 1950-’51. I missed him by
about 4 months. George was transferred to Mare Island, Calif. for shore
duty with the Pacific Submarine Reserve Fleet, consisting of
decommissioned subs and a few submarine tenders, and I didn’t miss
him—he was my boss most of 1953. He was a warrant officer by then
and that’s how the “sir” came about.
I had some nice conversation with George in May of
2010 at the Caiman reunion in Reno. We talked about
men that we served with on the Redfish almost 60
years ago. He related some stories to me, a few about
the war. I know that he’s loaded with interesting
information and since he said that he expects to attend
the next reunion in 2012, I’ll be prepared with a list of
questions. At 93-years-young George has a
remarkable memory, and I might add stamina when he
has to negotiate the airports. George attended the
Pompon reunion in June at Plymouth, Mass.
The 377-foot, 7,800-ton nuclear submarine is hailed as one of the most technologically advanced war machines on the planet. The USS New
Mexico can dive deeper than 800 feet and cruise at speeds faster than 25 knots. It is quieter and stealthier than any other ship. The sub carries
heavy weight torpedoes, mines, tomahawk cruise missiles and undersea vehicles. The boat(
2) has a complement of about 130 men quartered in a
most sophisticated piece of hardware that man has ever devised. The cost was 2.3 billion. This isn’t the first USS New Mexico. A battleship
served the navy from 1918 to 1946. The Navy says they expect that this new USS New Mexico will serve for the next 30 years. The USS New
Mexico’s home port is Groton, Conn.
-------------------------------
2–Is it a boat or a ship? Technically it would be a ship as Navy submarines have been for many years, but referred to as boats, especially in sailor lingo. This will have to be checked
out. But I’m sure that ships/boats are still referred to as “she.”
As the host state, New Mexico feels an obligation to support the
crew of the USS New Mexico. The SSN 779 Committee, part of
the Navy League’s New Mexico Council, has taken on a
continuing effort to raise funds and organize support for the SSN
779 crew. Some projects that the SSN 779 Committee is
organizing support for in 2010 are: a crew party in August,
decoration of the crew’s mess, replacement of passageway curtains
with New Mexico style fabrics and a crew visit to New Mexico.
The USS New Mexico won’t only carry the Land of Enchantment’
s name, but curtains on the sailors' bunks are a New Mexican
creation.
Does a submarine need curtains? Certainly, because that
individual that doesn’t get a glimpse of the outer world for 60
days, in a vessel, that if it was used for detention would probably
deemed as extremely overcrowded, needs some privacy and
solitude. And the committee decided to give the crew some nice
curtains to help with that privacy. The company, Simply
Windows, in Las Cruces, N.M. was approached. ”The
committee wanted everything to be Southwest style and wanted
as much as possible for everything to be made in New Mexico.”
So, the submarine received 432 berthing curtains made from
Native American prints of flame retardant material.
There was a contest for a design for a crest for the  
submarine and Albuquerque high school student Emilee
Sena was the winner. Her winning design was selected by
the crew members from 180 designs submitted from
schools throughout the state. She incorporated colors and
symbols to designate—An image of a New Mexico sunset,
representing the beauty that makes New Mexico the "Land
of Enchantment
;" red in the upper right corner represents
the red in the US flag, symbolizing valor and the blood that
has been sacrificed in battle
; blue in the lower left corner
represents the blue of the American flag, symbolizing
justice, vigilance, and perseverance
; the Zia symbol
represents the state flag, as well as the prominence of the
sun in New Mexico
; the shape of the emblem is unique
because it reflects the influence of the Native American
people in New Mexico, the shape being a design that can
be commonly found in Native American art, such as
blankets and pots; the naval dolphins on the sides are symbols for naval submarines, shining with a white color because they represent the white
on the American flag, symbolizing purity and innocence
; the submarine in the center represents what the USS New Mexico is––a Virginia-class
submarine, the bow wave in front of it because it is in motion, with the naval officers on top of the ship holding a flag proudly for the world to see,
representing pride in the U.S.
; the gold in the border symbolizes courage, prosperity, wisdom, and confidence, being essential qualities for
members of the Navy
; and there is a nuclear symbol in the bottom left corner for two purposes, one to represent that the Virginia-class
submarines are nuclear submarines and that a lot of nuclear development has taken place in New Mexico at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)
and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and so this honors the people that have, and will contribute to the growth of nuclear
advancements.       
 Navy Days

George Hugh Smith

February 11, 1917-March 15, 2012

A Patriot of The Greatest Generation