On August 29, 1997, after almost 25 years of outstanding service, Cavalla was inactivated in preparation for her decommissioning. With her crew resplendent in white dress uniforms, the occasion was both solemn and splendid. The small Navy band played many standards as the guests were chaperoned to their seats. A red-white-and-blue-bannered podium situated on the submarine aft of the sail faced the onlookers. At the appointed hour of 1000, the master of ceremonies announced the arrival of the principals. All stood for the anthem, the flag gently stirring on the pole.
The invocation was given by Lt. Underwood, the COMSUBRON ONE Chaplain. This was followed by a welcome from the Commander of Submarine Squadron One, Capt. Thomas Kyle. RADM Jerry Ellis, Commander of the Submarine Forces, US Pacific Fleet, gave an introductory speech.
The principle address was delivered by ADM Bruce DeMars, USN, Ret. Adm. DeMars was Cavalla's first Commanding Officer, from Feb. 1973 to Dec 1974, and was the Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion, for the eight years prior to his retirement. Adm. DeMars outlined the objectives for which Cavalla was created: to contain an aggressive and powerful Soviet Union, and deter any nation from encroachment on US interests. He said that Cavalla was called upon for many specialized operations and was known as the Pacific Fleet's "SpecOps" vessel.
Next, Cavalla's Commanding Officer, CDR Charles J. Leidig, explained his role in the success of this boat. He pointed out the hard work and contributions of his officers and crew. He expressed his heartfelt thanks to his lovely wife, Mary, for her loyalty and support. Cdr. Leidig then relinquished command of the submarine to CDR Russel J. Grocki. Cdr. Grocki delivered his remarks and stood by as the commissioning pennant was hauled down.
Following the ceremony, a reception was held. A procession formed up to greet and congratulate Commanders Leidig and Grocki. The hall was filled with Navy men and their families and friends. A wide array of hot and cold dishes, champagne, and salads were served around an ice sculpture representing a triumphant dolphin. COB John C. Veverka and the chiefs presented Cmd. Leidig with a special award--a large framed photo of Cavalla thrusting her sail through the Arctic ice, with a commemorative brass plaque. It didn't stop there. Several other presentations were made by a crew that obviously respected and admired their captain.
As the reception began to wind down, some members of the Internet journalism community were given tours of the boat by Chief Pat Miller. Several knowledgeable crew members explained the general workings and compartments of Cavalla. She was in tip-top shape and looked ready for another 25 years of service.
On a personal note: I was fortunate in making the CO's acquaintance early this year through the Internet, the Cavalla SS-244 Tribute being the joining medium. He exceeded the bounds of graciousness by extending an invitation to attend the Inactivation Ceremony. Quickly thereafter, I received e-mail from the COB John Veverka and Chief Pat Miller. These men were my hosts to this event and to a large extent, to my trip in Hawaii. John and Pat went way out of their way, taking us to outstanding restaurants and island attractions and in making my wife and me feel welcome. The ceremony was mightily impressive, and Adm. DeMars rendered a stirring speech. I wish to publicly extend my deepest appreciation to them and the Navy for a wonderful experience that I'll never forget.