Last night I had dinner in Glasgow with US Navy Admiral Jerry Holland (ret'd) and his wife Anne. I had never met them before. Jerry had contacted a couple of years ago with a copy of the very generous book review on my "On Her Majesty's Nuclear Service' he had written for the US Navy's Historical Society magazine. That in turn led to e-contact with Captain Jim Patton USN (RIP 2022) who also wrote a flattering review for the USN Submarine League magazine, as a result of which I was invited to write an article by Captain Mike Hewitt USN, the magazine's editor. (I wrote a 'A Brief History of the the British Submarine Service', which was duly published). All three were ex USN submarine captains and Jerry had been head of the USN's Pacific Submarine fleet, but until last night I had not met any of them.
When having dinner with Jerry and Anne, now senior citizens, I felt as if we had been friends for life. We finished the meal with a toast to 'Absent Friends - the late Jim and editor Mike'. When I informed Mike of this, I received this reply:
'Eric, I'm honored that you and the Hollands remembered Jim and me at your soiree in Glasgow. I would have liked to have been at that table in person. Cheers, my friend. Mike'
I find it so life affirming that across continents and in different navies, such spiritual bonds of friendship can be created between strangers.
It is ironic that submariners who are trained to kill are the most friendly people in the world and virtually blood brothers. Would that the rest of the world was so friendly.