Carol "Nate" Pierce: Squalus Survivor, Kentucky Colonel

On Sat. 18 Aug. 01, Derby Branch 177 of the Fleet Reserve Assn. held a flag dedication ceremony at its Louisville, Kentucky home. Squalus Survivor, Carol "Nate" Pierce, a life member of the FRA, Sub Vets of WWII, and USSVI, was presented his Commission as a Kentucky Colonel as part of the ceremonies.

Doris smiles as Colonel Nate is presented the FRA's Presidential
Award by Shipmate National President Eugene Smith

Presentation by Otis K. Franks CWO USN Ret. Aug 18, 2001

Today we have the honor of formally presenting the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky To our shipmate Carol “Nate” Pierce. The Colonels are Kentucky's ambassadors of goodwill and fellowship around the world.

Commissions for Kentucky Colonels are awarded and signed by the Governor and the Secretary of State to individuals in recognition of their noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state, or the nation. In Nates’ particular case, a unique defender of our country.

Born in 1914 puts him in an golden era of when all industry was powered by muscle, man or animal, or waterpower, flow or steam. He has seen wondrous changes in his lifetime from muscle power to nuclear power, from kite-like flight to space flight. More memories than any other era of life can give.

He joined the US Navy as a teen and became a submariner during the first two of three major stages of submarines; riveted hull, welded hull, and deep diving nuclear powered designs.

Otis Franks presents Kentucky Colonel Commission to
Nate Pierce while wife Doris and Bob DeVore look on.

In 1939 Nate was a crewmember of the submarine Squalus that sank in about 300 feet of water off the coast of New England. Thirty-Three men were rescued through the combined efforts of the ship’s crew and salvage crews. Of that 33 only four are alive today. It was and is the only successful submarine rescue effort in the history of the world. For this to happen, a lot of C-words had to inter play:

  • Coincidence--- Luck, both bad and good. Bad that the air intake valve did not close and Good that infant rescue effort was far enough along to field a rescue. Etc.
  • Courage--- Without courage, Cool heads would not have prevailed.
  • Commitment---A “We’re going to make it” attitude moved efforts in the right direction
  • Communication--- a short sound powered phone conversation and tapped signals proved vital to the successful rescue.
  • Concentration--- A very difficult task under low oxygen conditions, nonetheless necessary.

Nate spent most of WWII in the western pacific servicing submarines. His survival made him a different person, he developed a deep trust for his fellow man, and he is a giver not a taker. Of course he has no enemies, he’s outlived them all. He is slow of speech and hard of hearing, but if you pay attention and speak loudly you will find yourself involved in a bright conversation.

We of the Fleet Reserve Association, Sub Vets of WWII, and US Sub Vets are proud of his membership. In the name of Governor Paul Patton. I present to him this certificate of his commission and membership in the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. Along with this special FRA symbolic bow Tie. All present please Stand. Hand Salute, Colonel Nate Pierce we salute you, we are all proud to have you in Kentucky.

Update: Sadly, Nate passed away in early October, 2003 - Ed.

Thanks to shipmate Otis Franks for submitting this article.