Note: I am dead in the middle of the book tour this week, and, between barely knowing what city I'm in right now, not having access to either my own books or a reliable Internet connection, and the nasty case of food poisoning I've recently come down with, I'm not really in any condition to be researching and writing hilarious new content - no matter how badly I wanted to write an April Fool's Day article about Fred Rogers' career as a Marine Corps sniper in Vietnam. So, having said that, this week's update is a piece that was emailed to me a few years ago by a reader named Henry Jacobs. I thought it was pretty awesome, so I've rewritten parts of it and am posting it here in lieu of my regular update.
In October of 1942, seven months into the overt American involvement in World War II, the USS Wahoo (SS-238) was a submarine with a fine crew, a totally sweet name, and a frighteningly limp-dicked pussy of a commander. His name was Pinky, a name more fitting a cartoon villain in a Ms. Pac-Man arcade cabinet than a hardcore flesh-reaving submarine commander, and ol' Pinky seemed a little unclear on the concept of "tetch'in off" Japanese freighters in the frontal cranium with an endless wall of large ass torpedoes. Although he had almost-accidentally destroyed a Japanese submarine that pretty much parked in front of his torpedo tubes, Pinky fucked up attack after attack, including once when he had the chance to donkey-punch a damned Japanese aircraft carrier. This guy had a lot of excuses, like his torpedoes being kinda fucked up and not exploding when they were supposed to, but in the end it was just a bunch of bullshit; he was getting punked and everyone knew it.
So, before we get too far along, you need to understand a little bit about the nature of submarine warfare in the 1940s. Most combat surface ships were built tough, with lots of extra buoyancy to spare so they could get all shot up to shit and keep on pummeling people retarded. Submarines, in contrast, were required to sink as part of their job, so they had almost no excess buoyancy, and they could and did fucking sink instantly on a permanent basis in seconds if they got hit by pretty much anything bigger than a slingshot. They were also really fucking hard to get out of, so, if and when they did sink, everybody on board was pretty much guaranteed to be fish food. It was like fighting for keeps while sitting on a water balloon filled with ass-melting acid. US submarine crews had the highest death rate of anyone in the service. It required nuts the size of cannonballs to step onto a US fleet class submarine, and those men had 'em - they were all volunteers.
The US Navy doctrine for submarine warfare held that submarines were supposed to hang out quietly and passively and suckerpunch passing ships with torpedoes. While subs also had 102mm deck guns, 20mm AA guns, .50 caliber machine guns, and plenty of small arms, the real ass-ripper was the torpedo, which contained enough high explosives to break a fucking ship in half and dump all its sailors into shark-infested waters. Navy doctrine basically regarded all the other weapons as excess bling, and they certainly didn't approve of any sub commanders going toe-to-toe with surface ships in a badass mano-a-mano death match. This would have been great, except that US torpedoes of this time period didn't always explode. The Japanese, on the other hand, knew how to make a serious torpedo: their "Long Lance" motherfuckers always blew up, mostly because they had no safety devices to speak of, but American torpedoes were too nice and safe for everyone involved, including the fucking enemy. More often than not, a surprise torpedo attack would result in a giant phallic-shapped hunk of metal harmlessly clanging off the underside of a depth-charge-laden warship. This is not ideal.
Into this world stepped Commander Dudley "Mush" Morton. He was assigned to USS Wahoo as a "Prospective Commanding Officer" (PCO), a "coach in waiting" type of dude who's just supposed to observe so he can get his own sub later. Wahoo went out on her second war patrol with Pinky still in command. Pinky fucked it up again, big time, sinking only one ship while the rest of the Imperial Navy sailedon through his gunsights like ducks in a carnival game. Pinky got his ass fired and they put Morton in command.
(Note: Pinky later grew a substantial dick and nutsack, and commanded a US destroyer with valor and distinction in the 1944 Normandy invasion of France.)
With Morton at the helm, shiploads of Imperial Japanese shit suddenly started getting seriously wrecked throughout the Pacific. You see, it turned out that that Commander Morton was of the opinion that Navy submarine warfare doctrine was complete bullshit, and he set about perfecting the business of capping Imperial Japanese asses with a special psychotic vengeance. Wahoo started off by taking on a Japanese destroyer head-to-head and breaking it in half. Now, destroyers were supposed to hunt subs (not the other way around), but what the fuck. Not long afterwards, Wahoo tracked down a convoy of Japanese Navy ships, steered into the middle of the decent-sized formation, and opened up with every tube they had in one continuous spin move that basically resembled the balls-to-the-wall final scene from The Last Starfighter. Wahoo hit three of the enemy ships right off, cracking them open. Two stopped and the other two moved off and Morton let them go – for the moment. Then Morton surfaced the Wahoo (this is not stantard operating procedure for submarines, in case you need me to tell you this) and basically went absofuckinglutely apeshit with his torpedoes, deck guns, machine guns, sidearms, throwing knives, and whatever the hell else they could get their hands on. One of the ships had sunk immediately, but the other, a troop transport called Buyo Maru, was still afloat. Not for long. Morton blasted the transport out of the water with another torpedo, and the troops scrambled into lifeboats as the ship sank. So the Wahoo's crew figured, like, game over, good job, let's hit the Xbox dude. Wrong-o there Cochise, said Morton.
See, many true badasses are dissatisfied anytime the enemy is left with a fucking pulse, and Morton was no exception. The way he saw it, the ship's cargo was soldiers who were now waiting in lifeboats to be picked up to go on to cap American soldiers. Not on his watch. Now the Japanese in the lifeboats may or may not have fired on Wahoo first, but the Wahoo's crew were still a little stunned when Morton ordered them to open up on the lifeboats with every gun the Wahoo had. They were like "machine-gunning survivors in lifeboats... isn't that a little... ah?", but Morton told them to shut up and fire until the lifeboats were matchwood. Turns out that they didn't actually kill very many of the troops in the boats, but hey, it's the thought that counts. A lot of people like to talk shit about Morton for this, and you could definitely make a case that it's not exactly the most honorable course of action he could have taken (being that shooting shipwreck survivors is explicitly forbidden by the Hague Convention), but you also kind of have to appreciate that he was always willing to take everything he did to the fucking xtreme gonzo.
After taking down an entire convoy by itself Wahoo was out of torpedoes, so the crew figured, like, cool, we get to go home now. Not a fucking chance, said Morton. After all they still had ammunition for the deck gun, a pack of Roman Candles and a couple strings a Black Cats, didn't they? Commander Dudley Morton wasn't going home as long as he still had bullets, and if there were shells for the deck guns sitting in the hold he was damn well going to use them.
First he took on a convoy of eight ships on the surface by himself, using his one fucking deck gun, and damaged several of the enemy ships before barely escaping after a destroyer depth-charged the shit out of Wahoo. Then he tried to shell a Japanese refinery over a fucking mountaintop. No American submarine had ever gone so completely out-of-control Frank Castle apeshit on the enemy before. Finally they head back to Pearl Harbor with a broom tied to the mast – clean sweep, killed all the motherfuckers.
Back at Pearl, the admirals are happy about the sunk tonnage, but that Buyo Maru thing bugged them. Since a true badass could give a shit about anything but the sound of the enemy's intestines spilling out on his boots, he just squinted, drank a shot of whiskey, loaded up more ammo, and rode out of town before they could call him up on charges.
The Wahoo returned to sea, and the shit got even more fucking insane. This time they headed for Korea, and they stopped off for fuel at Midway Island (subs ran on Diesel fuel, and the Pacific is a mother big ocean). While there, the crew found some insane Molotov cocktail exploding firebombs the Marines had made to fend off the expected Japanese invasion of Midway. These things were unstable as shit, and the Marines were like, dudes, seriously, don't fuck around with those, they're really really dangerous. Commander Morton didn't give a crap. He put those death bombs in the submarine and headed to Korea. In spite of a particularly fucked-up batch of dud torpedoes, Wahoo sank 9 Japanese ships, including one with the deck gun after they ran out of torpedoes. It was a US Navy record for ship kills in a single patrol.
But, as you might expect, Morton still wasn't done. Not long after smoking nine warships by himself, Morton found another ship, a smaller one, and Wahoo moved in in to wreck its ass. The were out of torpedoes and out of 102mm ammo for the deck gun, but fuck it, says Morton, use the 20mm anti-aircraft guns. The Wahoo opened up, but all three 20mm guns quickly jammed up. This only made Morton EVEN MORE PISSED. "No problem" says Morton, "get the fucking Death Bombs". Sailors run up to the upper decks with these goddamned Molotov cocktails, Morton orders his ship to dive, pull up directly beside the enemy ship (which was currently trying to blast them with everything they had) and Morton and his men popped up out the hatch and hand threw all of the bombs onto the enemy ship, torching it into a flaming wreck in one of the most balls-out events in Naval warfare since the days of the Roman Empire. The sea off Korea was full of flaming wreckage and floating bodies – the Japanese figured they had been hit with an entire wolfpack of submarines. There wasn't so much as a match stick left on Wahoo, so they returned to Pearl – clean sweep once again.
The next patrol went about the same, Morton and the Wahoo were ramming new Japanese assholes and dealing out headshots left and right in spite of the still-faulty torpedoes. When they got back to Pearl, Admiral Chester Nimitz himself finally cameaboard and personally pinned a medal on Morton. It goes on like this for two more patrols: ass-kicking galore. Then they head to the Sea of Japan for the final showdown. Morton and the Wahoo took down four ships in one battle, but then their luck ran out, and they were sunk by depth charges – fighting to the end, dying in a manner just as balls-out as they had conducted the entire war. The wreck of the Wahoo was found in 2006 on the bottom of the Sea of Japan, her crew is still aboard. The Admirals at least came and threw a wreath, that was nice.
Commander "Mush" Morton was a true badass who took charge of shit and layed the smackdown over and over when America desperately needed it done. Inspired by his badassitude the US submarine force went on to become a deadly group of mofos who wrecked the shit of the Japanese Navy a hellacious way, and Morton was the OG who started it all. It wasn't just the number of chump ships he personally capped – his actions changed Navy doctrine forever by showing other sub skippers how to be Real Men. At the time of his death, Morton was the top-scoring sub commander in U.S. history, having taken down 19 confirmed enemy vessels, and his executive officer Richard O'Kane was so overawed by the size of Mush Morton's nutsack that when left the Wahoo for his own command he went on to surpass for former commander and become the top scoring US sub commander of the war. Just by way of comparison, Mush Morton, whose insane rampage of death was came to a close in 1943, still ended up as the #3 top sub ace of the entire war, which went on two years after his death. Morton didn't give a shit about anything but destroying the enemies of his country. He was a true hero, and a badass dude in every sense of the word – learn from this, bitches.
O'Kane, Richard H., Rear Admiral, USN (ret.), Wahoo: The Patrols of America's Most Famous WWII Submarine, Presidio Press, Novato, CA (1987)
Sterling, Forest J., Wake of the Wahoo: The Heroic Story of America's Most Daring WWII Submarine, USS Wahoo (4th ed.), R.A. Cline, Riverside, CA (1999)
Beach, Edward L. "Ned", Jr., Captain, USN (ret.), Submarine!, United States Naval Institute Press, Annapoilis, MD (2003) (reprint of 1952 edition)
JANAC (Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee). Japanese Naval and Merchant Shipping Losses. During World War II by all causes, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC (1947)
Blair, Jr., Clay, Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan. Philadelphia: Lippincott (2001).