From: Toledo, Ohio
19 March 1942, Perth, Australia
LT(jg) DJ Haskins is making his way through the streets of Perth this morning. He is hoping he will finally found out what his new billet will be. LCDR Smith left two days ago for the Australian East Coast. From there he is heading back to the States to brief ADM Lockwood's staff on Swordfish's experiences. The rest of the crew had already been assigned to other submarines operating out of Perth. DJ was the odd man out at this point and didn't like it at all. He has a strong desire to prove himself once again. Even though the loss of Swordfish was not his doing, he still somehow feels like it is a blot on his career.
He makes his way to the HQ building for Sub Force Southwest Pacific Areas (Asiatic Fleet is no more). Its the same building he had been to when he first arrived in Perth. Entering the building from the brightly lit street, he takes a moment to let his eyes adjust to the diminished light. He makes his way over to the desk of the same LCDR he spoke to two weeks ago. DJ has found out the man's name is LCDR Gary Rybka, and that his is pretty much despised by most of the officers assigned to the command.
“LCDR Rybka”, DJ says. “LT(jg) Daniel Haskins reporting. My current billet is SubForce SWPA. I am here to find out if you have a new billet for me”
“Ah, Haskins,” Rybka says shuffling through a stack of papers. “Yes, here we go. Take this to CPT Reynolds over there”
He hands DJ a large manila envelope and points to the Admiral's office without even looking up.
“Thank you, sir,” DJ salutes and turns away from the man. He is beginning to understand why everyone dislikes him. He walks across the building and announces himself to the CPO at the desk.
CPT Reynolds comes out and after exchanging salutes invites DJ into his office.
“Remain standing, Lieutenant Haskins,” Reynolds says rather formally.
DJ isn't sure what this is about but he feels himself stiffen. He thought the matter of Swordfish's loss was a settled matter , but the Captains tone concerned him. Without warning CDR Grayson and another officer Haskins does not know enter the room. Now he is really concerned.
“I wish we had more time to do this properly, but there is a war on in case you didn't hear, Haskins,” CPT Reynolds says. He lifts a piece of paper he had taken from the envelope DJ had given him.
“By order of the Secretary of the Navy, Lieutenant (junior grade) Daniel P. Haskins, Jr. is promoted to the temporary rank of Lieutenant”, the Captain says. “The rank to be made permanent pending the approval of the United States Senate.”
The Captain steps forward, removes the single silver bar from DJ's lapel and replaces it with a double silver bar. The Captain steps back with a smile on his face.
“Congratulations, Haskins,” he says
“Thank you, sir”, DJ says noticeably relieved. He salutes CPT Reynolds smartly.
The men all exchange handshakes and some strong pats on the back. CPT Reynolds then dismisses the others.
“Sit down, Lieutenant”, Reynolds says. “SS Shark suffered some serious damage up off Indochina. We had to send her over to Melbourne as that was the nearest dry dock space available. “
“I am assuming that Shark is my next billet,” DJ says.
“Well, that's the second matter we need to discuss,” Reynolds says. “There is no easy way to ask this so I will just cut to the chase. I need to know if you are ready to go back out. I am sure you have guessed that LCDR Smith's reassignment was in part because I judged he was not ready to take command of another boat just yet. I have known him for over ten years. He's a fine officer.”
“One of the best, Sir,” DJ interrupts.
“I admire your loyalty,” the Captain says, “but this isn't about LCDR Smith. Its about you. I need to know that you are ready before I send you back out.”
“Sir, I will not deny that losing Swordfish has been weighing on me,” DJ says. “ The hardest part to deal with is not knowing what happened to the remainder of the crew. I don't know what I can say to you to convince you I am ready to go back out. I don't know if this will make a difference but I want to go back out. I NEED to go back out. They only way I will be able to put it behind me is to get back into the war and do my best to make a difference.”
“That's all I needed to hear, Lieutenant,” Reynolds says. “Shark's XO has been promoted. He has been sent back to the States to take command of one the new subs. I need you to take over as XO of Shark. How do you feel about that?”
Now DJ knows why CPT Reynolds was pressing him. This wasn't just another billet. He was going to take over as second in command of one the Navy's submarines!
“If you think I'm ready, Sir,” DJ replies. “I am good to go”
“I know you're ready, Lieutenant,” Reynolds says. “You're an Academy grad. We don't have many of those in the Submarine Force. I think you are exactly what Shark needs right now. They need a professional sailor on board to set the example they need to be an effective boat”
“I appreciate your confidence in me,” Haskins say.
“LCDR Rybka will get you on the next train heading east,” Reynolds says. He stands and DJ does likewise. They exchange salutes. The Captain offers his hand.
“Good luck, Haskins,” he says. “Give those Jap bastards hell the next time you see them.”
“Thank you, Sir,” DJ says returning the handshake.
(So our first "Dog" makes O-3. By tradition, they would be eligible for promotion in June which would mark six years in service. I figure the war would accelerate most of these promotions at least a little. Having been the only "dog" to see real combat, I thought DJ would be the obvious first choice)
"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry