Article on Torsk and Lynn Wardlaw, Savannah GA News

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Article on Torsk and Lynn Wardlaw, Savannah GA News

Postby Gilbert » Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:38 pm

Article from from this past Saturday. Lynn Wardlaw, Torsk crew, had been searching and finally found what happened to his shipmate John F "Mac" McGovern.
Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016
Tom Barton: Veteran submariner gets a proper sendoff
By Tom Barton

The USS Torsk SS423 is a submarine named after a Norwegian fish that was commissioned in 1944 and saw action in World War II off the Japanese coast.

Lynn Zack Wardlaw is a former manager at BellSouth and the former manager of the old Savannah Dragstrip who lives in Savannah and is a Facebook friend of mine, which means I sort of know him, but not well enough to loan him serious money.

But Lynn and I appear to be of like minds when it comes to the subjects of death and dying, especially when it comes to the fast disappearing number of World War II veterans who selflessly served this country and whose vast contributions are mostly unknown except by the few who served next to them. So when Wardlaw, a country boy who hails from Cajun country down near Shreveport, La., sent me the following message Friday, I was hooked and felt it deserved a wider and more appreciative audience than a smallish Facebook group:

“No man should be buried un-noticed,” Wardlaw wrote.

I agree with him 200 percent. And that goes for anyone who dies.

Life is tough, and there’s usually a little good to be found in everyone, you just have to look hard enough. Lynn told me he had been searching for many years for his old Navy buddy “Mac.”

“He is mentioned frequently and with great favor in my book, ‘Me, My Torsk and God.’ Today I Googled obituaries and found Walter J. Kent Funeral Home in Elmira, N.Y., buried John F. McGovern in 2013. It was a simple military service with no family and no obituary. A simple investigation confirmed my grief. It was ‘Mac.’ I cried and wrote:

“Obituary of a great man: John F. McGovern, U.S. Navy submarine service.

“John F. “Mac” McGovern, born 1938 in Syracuse, N.Y., departed this earth in 2013 for his Heavenly reward. Mac was a golden glove boxer with moderate success before enlisting in the U.S. Navy at age 19. Mac was not enthusiastic about military service, but with the encouragement of a judge he chose the Navy and volunteered for Submarine Service. Mac was a rare individual to pass all the preliminaries for submarine service without any previous Navy experience, but Mac was, indeed, a rare man. He served his first tour on board the U.S.S. Torsk SS423 and achieved the rate of Quartermaster 2nd Class. He served his country well, but served his fellow crewman even greater. His friendship, compassion, loyalty and wisdom helped to form the foundation of the lives of all he came in contact with. Mac was a quiet man who was keenly aware of all that transpired around him.

“He was a buddy, a brother in arms, and a genuine friend. It was good just being around him. Mac always ‘had your back!’ After his enlistment was up, Mac, being a talented freehand artist, signed on as an illustrator in the fashion department for a Tampa newspaper. Mac missed the Navy and soon re-enlisted, going back to his love “under the sea.” The rest of Mac’s life is unknown to this writer, but he thanks God for having known “MAC” McGovern.


Splendid, I think. And good for Lynn Wardlaw. His Navy buddies and their mommas would be proud. So would the judge who “encouraged” the teenaged boxer to serve his country.

But what, pray tell, is a Torsk and what makes it book-title worthy?

A Torsk, or more specifically, the USS Torsk SS423 is a submarine named after a Norwegian fish — which seems wrong— that was commissioned in 1944 and saw action in World War II off the Japanese coast. Its main job was to be the “lifeguard” for B-29 bombers making raids on Japan that were shot down and had to ditch into the ocean. It was later used as a sub trainer then decommissioned in 1968 and is now based in Baltimore, where it is a museum ship and submarine memorial. I haven’t read Wardlaw’s self-published memoir, which is billed as “a true story of a young man’s desire to serve his country in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. All caution is thrown to the wind as the life of a sailor was embraced. Soon it was evident that a power far greater than his own was controlling his life.”

I don’t know anything about any of that. But after reading Wardlaw’s obit, I’d have to agree with the writer’s assessment that Mac McGovern was a great man, who deserved a proper sendoff in 2013. Good on Lynn Wardlaw for making it happen two years later.

Tom Barton is the editorial page editor of the Savannah Morning News.

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