Sunday, January 01, 2006

Marker to honor submarine history


Manitowoc Herald Times
By Tara Meissner
April 14, 2005

USS Rasher (SSR-269) crew on the deck.

MANITOWOC — The south bank of the Manitowoc River will hold a significant historical marker honoring Manitowoc’s submarine-building legacy and the World War II Navy veterans who served on the subs.

Next year, a replica of the USS Rasher conning tower will be dedicated to the 28 submarines built in Manitowoc during the WWII era. It was partially funded with a $40,000 Coastal Management grant awarded jointly to the city of Manitowoc and the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.

“These boats being built here involved so much of this community — it is very fitting,” Valders resident Carol Sickinger said during a ceremony to announce the grant on Wednesday.

Her father, Roland Soucy, a volunteer Maritime Museum tour guide and Rasher veteran, died in January. He was the last-living local veteran who served on the Rasher. Just nine of the original 80 Rasher crew members are still alive, according to his wife, Catherine Soucy.

“He would have absolutely loved this day,” Sickinger said.The memorial will be located southeast of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, across the Manitowoc River on Quay Street.

Work is underway for the extension of Quay Street to the car ferry docks, with completion slated for 2006.

Manitowoc Alderwoman Dolly Stokes said the memorial will serve as a nice addition to the city, especially as an entrance into the city’s downtown from the car ferry Badger.

The USS Rasher Submariners Memorial project will result in an exact replica of the sub’s conning tower, the vertical extension of the submarine on deck, according to Karen Duvalle, events coordinator of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.

A large part of the interior will consist of the original submarine’s conning tower and include one of the submarine’s original periscopes. The Rasher’s conning tower is the only remaining remnant of the 28 Manitowoc-built submarines that hasn’t been scrapped or destroyed, Duvalle added.

USS Rasher (SSR-269) Off the Mare Island
Naval Shipyard, California, 29 August 1955.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the
collections of the Naval Historical Center.

The memorial will serve to educate the local community and visitors about the community’s rich shipbuilding heritage and World War II efforts.

“Many local residents will now have a memorial dedicated to family members that have played an important role in the construction of the submarines or have served on them,” Duvalle said.

The USS Rasher was one of the most highly decorated and distinguished submarines of World War II, and continued to serve into the 1970s, earning the affection of many generations of submariners that served on board, according to Duvalle.

“It’s a nice memorial for the fellas who served on the Rasher,” Soucy said.

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum is seeking additional funding for the construction. The total project cost is $100,000. The city of Manitowoc is contributing the land.

If interested in donating contact Bill Thiessen, curator/assistant director at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, 75 Maritime Dr., Manitowoc, WI, 54220 or by phone (920) 684-0218; or toll free at 866-724-2356.



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