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A message from our Chaplain:

In all likelihood, none of you have ever heard of a fellow by the name of Archie Holte. There are millions of guys just like Archie. They grew up poor, worked on farms in their youth, then the world is ripped apart by war. They were eager to serve their nation but they were too young. They would have to wait until they were a little older to enlist in the armed services. These young men, however, were unable to wait, and at the age of 17 or younger they would lie about their age, and enlist in the US military service. Archie is one of those millions who did just that, he said goodbye to his farm life and enlisted in the US Navy.

After basic training, Archie was sent to gunnery school. He excelled and graduated top of his class. A very important distinction, because he volunteered to go into the silent service, and they only took those who graduated top of their class. Another thing Archie had going for him, he was exceptionally bright, he had to master every rate (job specialty) a requirement in the silent service. He wasn’t a real big guy in stature, which was another plus, because there isn’t a lot of room on a submarine during World War II.

Archie was the assigned gunners mate, aboard the newly commissioned submarine the USS Gabilan. His new home and family of six officers and 54 enlisted men, would earn four battle stars, plus rescue down airmen from the seas of Tokyo Bay. When pressed about his military service, Archie will say little or just change the subject. What I am about to tell you, I had to piece together using my knowledge of the US Naval service and the after action report on the last battle mission of the Gabilan.

It was late in the war, and the Gabilan had used up all of her torpedoes, when the Japanese light cruiser Isuzu was spotted. An enemy ship, like the Isuzu was too great of a target of opportunity to pass up. They could have, because without torpedoes there wasn’t much a submarine could do to sink this enemy war vessel. An enemy war ship that displaced 5,659 tons and had the top speed of 36 knots; compared to the Gabilan’s 1,549 ton displacement and top surface speed of 21 knots. Aboard a submarine there is a close relationship between officers and enlisted men, I suspect, the captain asked Archie if he thought it was possible to sink a light cruiser with their deck guns. Despite this David versus Goliath scenario, the skipper of the Gabilan armed with Archie’s input, made the decision to surface, the Gabilian would attack the Isuzu with their 40 MM and 20 MM anti-aircraft deck guns.

Second Class Gunners Mate Archie Holte and three other men completely exposed on the deck of the Gabilian, began to open fire on the Isuzu. The Isuzu returned fire, even though the Gabilan was out gunned, she pressed on her attack. The men kept firing, until they ran out of ammunition, inflicting enough damage on the enemy cruiser to sink the bow of the Isuzu. The Isuzu was now a sitting duck. A signal was sent out for assistance, later that day, another American sub would arrive, and using her last six torpedoes to send the Isuzu beneath the waves. The Isuzu would be the last Japanese light cruiser to be sunk by torpedoes before the war ended.

Archie, a humble man now 93 years old, never mentioned what he and three others did that day. When I discovered what he had done, I told his son Mitch. When Mitch asked his dad about it; his dad just changed the subject. Which is no real surprise, after all they call it the silent service. As a nation, we owe much to the Archies who served our nation in her time of need. I ask all of you to bow your heads in silent prayer and thank our Lord, for the Archies’ who have given much to protect our nation, preserve our constitution, and help to bring an end to WW II.

Doug Thompson, Chaplain



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