John Socotch was a 20-year-old torpedoman when he went aboard the USS Barbero (SS-317) submarine in Freemantle, Australia Aug. 9, 1944. The new Balao Class sub sailed to war into the South China Sea, between Japan and China Sea, on her first combat patrol Oct. 4.
At 90 Don Lumsden of Boca Royale subdivision in Englewood, Fla. has the distinction of being the oldest living “Frogman” in the United States of America. He learned about this honor a few days ago from Mike Howard, Director of the Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla.
“We were anchored at Pearl about 1,000 feet from Battleship Row when the Japs attacked,” the 85-year-old former sailor recalled. “We got underway in 17 minutes, but our path to the open sea was blocked by the battleship West Virginia that had been torpedoed and run up on a shoal to keep from sinking.”