Location: [USS Holder Homepage] [USS Holder - Portrait of a Shipmate] USS Holder - Portrait of a Shipmate - CAPT George L. Street III
On 26 February 2000 the HOLDER lost a great shipmate and the nation lost a World War ll hero and an outstanding citizen.
George Levick Street III, was born in Richmond, Virginia on 27 July 1913. He enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve as a Seaman, second class on 23 September 1931. In the Reserves, he trained with units in Richmond, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland while studying for competitive examinations for entrance to the U. S. Naval Academy.
Standing ninth out of approximately one hundred competitors for the twenty-five nationwide vacancies, he was appointed Midshipman in April 1933 and entered the Academy on 8 June of that year. There he was Varsity Cheer Leader and a member of the Academy Sailing Team. He participated in tennis, swimming and soccer and sang in the Choir. On 3 June 1937 he graduated and was commissioned an Ensign in the U. S. Navy.
After attending Cruiser School in July of '37, he reported to the USS CONCORD (CL 10 ) where he served in Junior Officer billets in the gunnery and communications departments. He was then transferred to the USS ARKANSAS (BB 33 ) where he had duty in the navigation and engineering departments and was the General Quarters Officer of the Deck. In September 1940 he was transferred at his own request to the Submarine School at New London, Connecticut.
Graduating second in his class of forty students on 6 January 1941, he reported to the Supervisor of Shipbuilding at the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut, where he assisted in fitting out USS GAR (SS 206 ). From her commissioning on 14 April 1941 until 27 February 1944, Street served in this fleet type submarine, first as Gunnery and Torpedo Officer, then as First Lieutenant and Torpedo Data Computer Operator and finally as Executive Officer and Navigator. While serving in GAR, he made nine War Patrols in the Southwest Pacific and Japanese Empire patrol areas.
"For conspicuous gallantry... as Torpedo Data Computer Operator in the GAR during the First War Patrol in Japanese waters from February 2 to March 28, 1942...'' LTJG Street was awarded the Silver Star. He had assisted his commanding officer in the sinking of over 10,000 tons of enemy shipping.
He was awarded a Gold Star clasp in lieu of the second Silver Star Medal "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action (performing) his duties as Assistant Approach Officer ....during the tenth War Patrol ...in enemy Japanese controlled waters from December 16. 1943, to February 9. 1944..." again assisting his commanding officer in conducting successful attacks against hostile shipping, resulting in the sinking of three ships totaling more than 10,000 tons.
From 27 February to 20 May 1944, he served as Engineer on the Staff of Commander Submarine Division 61, as prospective Commanding Officer of a submarine and as relief CO of submarines undergoing refit at Midway Island. With collateral duty as Submarine Base Engineer he was in charge of refitting an average of four boats at one time, supervising voyage repairs to boats en route to their patrol areas.
On 6 July 1944, LCDR Street reported to the Naval Base, Portsmouth, New Hampshire to fit out the USS TIRANTE (SS 420 ), his first command. Commissioning the ship on 6 November, the captain took his new boat to New London for a brief but intensive "shakedown", then headed to Pearl Harbor for another short training period. The ship's First War Patrol commencing 3 March 1945 was to be areas 9 and 10, southwest of Kyushu, Japan's southernmost island. That late in the war targets were scarce, two-thirds of Japan's Merchant fleet already resting at the bottom of the seas. What ships that were found, were traveling close to the shore in shallow, heavily patrolled waters. Knowing this, the captain called his officers together for a brainstorming session. Instead of leading the discussion as senior officer, he began with the most junior members of his team, encouraging each to put forth ideas of how best to accomplish the task of sinking enemy ships. This unique method of leadership paid big dividends, with many new ideas and a true feeling of teamwork. The first payoff came on 25 March with the sinking of a small tanker off Kagoshimo. On 28 March TIRANTE sank a freighter southwest of Nagasaki, then she headed into the Yellow Sea. On 7 April she sank a small sub-chaser, then, on the 9th another freighter was sunk as well as a 5057 ton transport loaded with troops. This last attack was followed by a furious 14 hour counterattack. After shaking her attackers, TIRANTE surfaced and received an urgent message concerning a transport and 2 MIKURA class frigates ( the best ASW ships the enemy had ) in the anchorage at Cheju on the north shore of Quelpart Island, 60 miles south of Korea. The waters leading to the area were too shallow to permit diving and the harbor was mined. Another brainstorming session prepared the ship for what was to be one of the most daring and spectacular actions of the war. There were 5 radars and two patrol boats guarding the anchorage. Fortunately there was also a fishing fleet offshore, so Captain Street flooded down until his conning tower was all that showed above the surface in the hope that the boat would appear simply as another fisherman. With almost no landmarks, it was necessary to use the ship's radar like a flashlight .... on for one sweep, then off, then on again. Once clear of the harbor patrols, TIRANTE surfaced and the crew manned their deck gun, knowing there was a good chance that they would have to fight their way out of the harbor. Sighting a target dead ahead, Street fired 3 torpedoes. Expecting a "pop", the crew was startled when the target erupted in a huge ball of fire. She had been a 10,000 ton tanker or an ammunition ship! In the light of the fire the 3 frigates were sighted at anchor. Street had only 3 torpedoes left and he fired them. One ship took a hit and blew up, another broke in half and sank. Then "all hell broke loose''. One patrol boat headed directly for TIRANTE and those on the bridge swore that they could see the surprised look on the skipper's face as he surveyed the havoc in the harbor. Making 18.5 knots, running with all tanks blown completely dry, the boat managed to outdistance her pursuers. Once the fathometer indicated deep water, TIRANTE submerged. Seconds later the nearest patrol boat dropped a pattern of depth charges which rocked the boat and broke a few light bulbs. After what the crew had been through earlier, this was "child's play". Before completing the patrol, the ship sank a 100 ton lugger, captured 3 prisoners from a schooner and rescued 2 Japanese aviators whose plane had crashed into the sea.
Returning to Pearl Harbor on 25 April with a broom lashed to #2 periscope, the submariners signal of a "clean sweep", TIRANTE's crew was more than ready for some R&R at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach.
On 20 May TIRANTE departed Midway to return to the area south of Nagasaki as command ship of a nine boat "wolfpack" called "Street's Sweepers". On 10 June a small convoy was sighted and, evading the 3 escorts, a spread was fired at an 800 ton freighter. Although a hit was heard on sonar, the kill could not be confirmed. About 0800 the next morning captain Street spotted a cargo ship lying alongside a coaling wharf at Ha Shima, a small island 7 miles southwest of Nagasaki. All night and through the early morning, the boat had been surrounded by fishing boats, sampans, coasters and an excursion boat or two. To get into a good shooting position, TIRANTE had a long way to go. Destroyers were not likely in the area, but it was necessary to pass within a short distance of a fortified headland and run along a stretch of beach. The waters were shallow and crystal clear, and shore batteries were everywhere. Taking soundings every 5 minutes, though risky, was absolutely necessary while approaching the target submerged. As the boat crept forward, color movies were being taken with a new 8 mm camera specially rigged on the eyepiece of #1 periscope, the first time this was done by any boat. At 1115, one torpedo was fired with a 1/2 knot target speed set in the TDC to take the estimated current into account. The movie camera caught the explosion as the fish hit 50 feet forward of the point of aim. A crew manning the 4.7 inch gun on the stern could be seen scanning the sky for aircraft. A MK 18 electric torpedo was fired at the stern to eliminate the threat posed by the gun and it's crew, but it was heard to come to a sudden stop, either hitting the mud at the bottom of the harbor, or striking an anti-torpedo net. The SD radar mast had been raised when it was decided to surface for a high speed run to deep water. Gunners somewhere had spotted the mast or a periscope and shells were smashing into the water all around the boat. Quickly setting up for another shot while turning to an escape course, a second electric fish was fired, set for shallow depth. This shot hit just aft of midships and as the smoke cleared, the ship could be seen listing heavily to starboard. With the target about 1800 yards astern, TIRANTE surfaced and began running at flank speed on 4 engines. Automatic gunfire from the beach was hitting all around the conning tower, but the gunners appeared to be poor marksmen or overly anxious, or both. As the boat picked up speed an alarming discovery was made: The bow planes had failed to rig in and the ship was bouncing on each wave, no matter how small. The Chief-of-the-Boat assembled a team and they crouched below the armored section of the open bridge. When ready, the captain ordered "All stop" and the Chief and his team rushed onto the fo'c's'le to nudge the planes, while another team in the control room cranked their hearts out, rigging the planes in by hand. When the job was done, all but the lookouts, the OOD and the skipper went below, and the ship went "all ahead frantic" again. But the ship was far from safe. To clear a shoal, it was necessary to head directly toward the guns atop the headland of Nomo Saki. At a range of about a mile and a half, the guns began firing and the ship snaked her way through a hail of lead, turned and headed for the open sea where she quickly submerged. Nearly all of this action was caught on film proving what would have been an unbelievable tale.
Joining her "pack" mates, TIRANTE roamed the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea searching for targets. After sinking a few small junks and two heavily armed picket boats, TIRANTE sank one last merchant ship, a passenger-cargo ship rated at 1045 tons near Dairen, Korea. On 19 July, she sailed into Apra Harbor, Guam, again sporting a broom on her periscope. For this patrol, LCDR Street was awarded the Navy Cross. That citation reads in part "...For extraordinary heroism ...Tracking his targets relentlessly ...(he) launched his smashing torpedo and gunfire attacks against hostile freighters, junks and picket boats, sinking over 7000 tons of shipping vital to Japanese supply..."
On 12 August, TIRANTE departed Guam to begin her third War Patrol. The war's end cut this patrol short and the ship put into Midway on the 23rd. Sailing to the east coast of the United States, TIRANTE moored at the Washington Navy Yard. The battle at Quelpart, fought on 14 April, won the ship and crew a Presidential Unit Citation and LCDR Street was awarded the Medal of Honor, presented by President Harry S. Truman at a White House ceremony on "Nimitz Day", 5 October 1945. The citation reads, in part, "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty..... His illustrious record of combat achievement during TIRANTE's First War Patrol characterized Commander Street as a daring and skilled leader and reflects the highest credit upon his valiant command and the U. S. Naval Service". LT Edward L. "Ned" Beach, Street's exec was awarded a Navy Cross for this patrol, having been awarded a Silver Star for TIRANTE's second patrol.
Street was detached from TIRANTE on 7 January 1946, after the ship was visited informally by the President. A week later he reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to be Technical Advisor to a submarine documentary film "The Silent Service". In July 1946 he was transferred to the Office of Naval Research for duty as Head of Subsurface and Surface Warfare Branch of the Planning Division, involved in undersea warfare research. There he assisted in arranging for and conducting the first Undersea Symposium for the exchange of scientific and military ideas.
In November 1946, CDR Street took command of USS REQUIN (SS 481 ) which was being converted to a Radar Picket Submarine at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Upon completion of her conversion, she returned to duty with SubRon 4 in Key West, Florida. During HOLDER's R&D work, evaluating the new scanning QHB sonar and developing tactics for it's use, REQUIN was a frequent, wily and elusive "target". Reclassified SSR 481 in January of 1948, REQUIN was transferred to SubRon 8 in New London. She was the first submarine to perform as a picket during Fast Carrier Task Force operations. She was visited by the President, SecNav and other important persons. She was also the first submarine to take 185 students and 20 officers of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army Field Forces Headquarters, respectively, to sea on successive days for familiarization operations. CDR Street was transferred to The Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia on 28 July 1948. After graduation in 1949 he served as a member of the faculty in the R&D Division for Undersea Warfare until February 1951.
After attending the Prospective Commanding Officer's course at the Sonar School in Key West, CDR Street reported to HOLDER while it was undergoing overhaul in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, relieving CDR Franklin D. Buckley, thus becoming the fourth commanding officer. After shakedown in Gitmo and local operations out of Norfolk, CDR Street took the ship to the Med, departing Norfolk on 3 September '51. Several memorable incidents during this deployment are part of the HOLDER's story, "RETIRED ON THIRTY". On 25 January 1952, HOLDER headed "home" arriving in Norfolk on 4 February. CDR Robert G. Merritt was to relieve CDR Street in late April, but Street had been taken to the Portsmouth Naval Hospital upon arrival in Norfolk. He had become ill after eating tainted seafood before leaving the Med and had become increasingly sick as time went on. CDR Merritt took the ship to sea before officially relieving CDR Street, but that formality was concluded on 22 April.
After spending 2 months in the hospital, CDR Street commanded Submarine Division 62, evaluating for the first time 3 SSR's operating as a picket team. In July 1953, he returned to the Office of CNO as Assistant for Joint Chiefs of Staff and Armed Forces Policy Council matters in the Politico-Military Policy Division. During 1955-'56 he attended the National War College after which he served as Fleet Operational Readiness and Training Officer on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, U. S. Atlantic Fleet. In July 1958 he took command of the USS FREMONT (APA 44 ) and participated in the Lebanese crisis during the first of two deployments to the Mediterranean. In August 1959 he became Commanding Officer and Professor of Naval Science with the NROTC unit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In October 1961 he assumed command of Submarine Squadron 5 in San Diego. In September 1962, he joined the Staff of the Director of the Institute of Naval Studies, Naval War College, Newport, R1. In December 1964, he became Commander Submarine Group, San Francisco Bay Area and Commander Mare Island Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. He was detached from the latter assignment in September 1965, but continued to command the submarine group until relieved of active duty pending his retirement, effective 10 August 1966.
CAPT Street attended the fall semester of the Graduate School of the George Washington University, studying International Relations. On 28 March 1967, he was appointed to the post of Senior Naval Instructor and Chairman of the Department of Naval Science of Woburn Senior High School in Woburn, MA. This department had recently been authorized as a Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps and CAPT Street worked closely with the Navy to administer this new program designed to attract qualified volunteers to a challenging technical and practical program of study and naval activity, motivating students for careers in the Navy.
It has been written that CAPT Street was the inspiration for the 1958 movie "RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP' which starred Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster. While true, it would be more correct to say that he inspired the book written by CAPT "Ned" Beach. Although the book was fiction, the experiences of the author as executive officer of TIRANTE greatly influenced the story line. Both the book and the movie were tremendously successful.
Before his death, CAPT Street was active in civic affairs in his adopted home town of Andover, MA, Cub Scout work and choir. He loved golf and tennis, sailing and hunting. He was an avid gardener and a good home carpenter. According to his wishes, his remains were cremated, half his ashes scattered at sea from a beloved submarine, the other half interred in an impressive ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on 15 March 2000. The Navy had a 150 man Honor Guard and the services were attended by 33 former submarine skippers. He will be sorely missed.
He is survived by his wife, the former Mary Martha McKimmey of Norfolk, VA, his son COL George L Street IV, U. S. Army, Retired and a daughter, Christopher Corkran Street.
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