Veteran of the Month – Paul Kramarchyk

August 1, 2014

  • Name: Paul Boris Kramarchyk
  • Place of Birth: Troy, New York
  • Date of Birth: July 29, 1948
  • Town: Barkhamsted, Connecticut
  • Military Branch of Service: U.S. Navy (enlisted ranks, 6 years)
  • Service Dates: November 1968 —November 1974
  • Highest Rank: 2nd Class Petty Officer (E-5)
  • Military Jobs and Duties:
    • 1) Engine Room Supervisor — Supervise engine room operations. The engine room is where ship’s speed is controlled (via throttles), electricity generation, and fresh water is made via distillation of sea water.
    • 2) Engineering Lab Tech — Responsible for reactor coolant radio chemistry, steam plant chemistry, and radiation monitoring and control.
  • Boat: (Submarines are called “boats” rather than “ships”):

USS Patrick Henry SSBN 599, nuclear submarine, fleet ballistic missile type

– Patrick Henry’s mission was to deter attack of continental U.S. by providing a no-win retaliatory counter attack.

– Patrick Henry carried 16 sea launched Polaris Missiles, each w/multiple nuclear warheads.

  • Service in Time of War: Cold War:

– 4 Cold War deterrent patrols (each patrol approx. 90 days submerged).

– 2 half-world transits (each via Panama Canal).

  • Locations of Service:

– July/August 1969, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba– Bremerton, Washington State (ship’s overhaul and reactor refuel).

– Rota, Spain (still under Francisco Franco): 2 deterrent patrols, Mediterranean.

– Guam: 2 deterrent patrols, North Pacific.

  • Decorations:

– Submarine Dolphins (qualified submariner)

– Good Conduct Medal

  • Military Schools/Training:

– Navy Nuclear Power School, Bainbridge, Maryland

– Navy Submarine Reactor Prototype Training, upstate New York

  • Bio/Narrative/memorable events:

Paul Kramarchyk was born in Troy, NY on July 29, 1948, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in November of 1968. During his service, major world events took place, such as the moon landing and Woodstock. However, one of his most memorable stories is as follows:

Fleet ballistic missile submarines on deterrent patrol were required to carry a full medical doctor for a crew of 128 healthy twenty & thirty somethings. Not much for him to do. So out of boredom our ‘doc’ wanted to qualify as “diving officer.” The diving officer is responsible for depth control and steering. On our way down to Florida for a missile test launch, when we were not on patrol status, we decided it was a good time to give the doc some diving officer training.

The planesmen were told to follow the doc’s orders (even if they were wrong, but not dangerous). Soon the doc had 7-thousand tons of nuclear submarine porpoising through the Atlantic like we were Flipper! Instead of awarding the doc a traditional submariner dolphins badge, on one of our charter flights we got the flight crew to give the doc “wings.” Our doc, like most submariners, was a great guy and an exceptional human being.

It is important to note that Submarine service is self-selecting and completely voluntary. To qualify and be accepted as a submarine crew member is an honor and a privilege. The officers and crew determine whether they will accept you, or not.

A submarine crew is a different thing, unlike any other military combat group. All submariners know it’s never about the individual; it’s always about the boat. An Army squad may go out on patrol and engage in a firefight. Some survive, some not. A war plane may get shot down or crash. Some survive, some not. A ship (surface) may sink. Some survive, some not. With a submarine it’s a different story, you either save the boat and we all go home. Or you lose the boat and nobody goes home. It’s always about saving the boat. There are no lifeboats on a submarine. That knowledge, the tight quarters (zero privacy), and long patrols with lots of time to get to know one another brings an ‘esprit de corps’ and intimacy to a submarine crew that lasts a lifetime. It was a great adventure.

Paul was discharged from military service in November 1974. He relocated from New York to Connecticut and accepted a job with Westinghouse Electric Co. as a nuclear engineer in the Windsor plant. He retired about 1 ½ years ago, and resides in the town of Barkhamsted, where he has lived for the past 38 years.