The Pima County Board of Supervisors proclaimed August 27th through September 2nd “US Submarine Veterans Week” in Pima County, as a convention happened in Tucson, welcoming hundreds of submarine veterans from all over the country.

Each one has a unique story, so Claire Graham met up with one to hear about his time at sea.

“My title in the service I was an Electronics Technician first class submarine qualified. I was actually a reactor operator. I ran the nuclear reactor on the submarine, the USS Narwhal,” explained Buck Crouch.

Crouch is truly Tucson, through and through. He went to Sunnyside Elementary School, Sunnyside Junior High, and Sunnyside High School.

So much so, he even keeps a model of the USS Tucson in his yard, which he shows in parades, and brings to local schools. The submarine, maybe unexpected in our climate.

“I think the reason that you see a lot of sailors coming out of Arizona,” he said, “is because we grew up in the desert.”

Crouch’s service began at the height of the cold war..

“I joined the Navy in 1967 after a year at the University of Arizona,” Crouch explained. “I enrolled in the nuclear power program because that was very interesting to me. I went onto the submarine after my first three years in the Navy. It was was in 1970, and I got out in 1973.”

Those three years were spent on the USS Narwhal, 315 feet long, and around 7,000 tons, stationed off the coast of Connecticut.

“I made steam to run all the equipment in the engine room,” Crouch said. “That included the main turbine to propel the submarine through the water, turbine generators to generate electricity from all the hotel loads on the submarine itself. But you had to depend on all your shipmates, all the time. Everyone’s critical>

On the narwhal, he and more than a hundred other men would be at sea for three months at a time.

“We were super quiet,” Crouch remembered. “We did not make noise, and it was the quietest submarine until the Sea Wolf came out, many years later. You couldn’t drop a wrench because that would give away your position. Any sharp noise permeates through water.”

Their job was surveillance, keeping an eye on the soviet union.

“Our boat was so quiet,” Crouch said, “we thought if there were 10 Soviet subs and us, we had them outnumbered. Because we knew where they were all the time. They did not know where we were. That’s the name of the game.”

Now, many of those sailors are members of a national group of submarine veterans, and they converged on Tucson for a week of events at the USSVI National Convention, featuring guest speakers, field days, a special memorial service recognizing those who died on submarines, and the especially meaningful reunions.

“You trust these people with your life literally every day” Crouch said. “And you get friendships that last forever. I have friendships I formed in 1970 that are still in place today.”