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WWII Veteran Roy Solt Visits USS Pennsylvania
by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Amanda Gray
Commander, Submarine Group Nine
January 14, 2018

The Blue crew of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735) welcomed a World War II veteran on the Navy’s 243rd birthday for a tour.

Roy Solt, who served on the Pennsylvania-class battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38), was invited to see the capabilities of the ballistic missile submarine and meet with Sailors.

October 13, 2018 - Sailors proudly watch World War II veteran Roy Solt as he man's the helm during a tour of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735). Solt served aboard the Pennsylvania-class battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) as a Fire Controlman and was aboard when the ship was torpedoed in 1945. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda R. Gray)

“I have been waiting for this tour for over a year,” said Solt. “I was invited by one of the old commanding officers and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to come here and do this.”

Solt enlisted in the Navy in Salt Lake City when he was 17. He was sent to boot camp in San Diego and arrived there via cattle car, he added that they cleaned out the poop out first. Following boot camp, he reported to the battleship Pennsylvania. On August 12, 1945, while anchored in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, a Japanese torpedo bomber struck the boat, leaving a 25-foot by 40-foot hole in the ship, flooding many compartments. Solt recounts offloading 100-pound bags of wet sugar to prevent the ship from sinking. He lost 20 shipmates that day.

“Sailors today will never be able to understand what people like Solt went through when they served in the military,” said Senior Chief Missile Technician Sheldon Brammer, one of the tour guides. “I am probably never going to get another opportunity to sit and talk with a World War II veteran, so this was an incredible experience.”

Master Chief Dylan Lapinski, Gold Crew Chief of the Boat, recently received a box of memorabilia from a deceased World War II veteran. In that box there were many photos that he got framed and placed in the chief’s mess. By coincidence, one of those photos had Roy Solt in it and was taken right after the torpedo had hit the boat.

“I had no idea that Mr. Solt was in the photos that we received, and to have that piece of history on the boat, and now to have met someone that was there is something I will never forget,” said Brammer. “It brings this all full circle and means a lot to me.”

Solt served on Pennsylvania as a Fire Controlman. He was especially interested in the weapon’s system aboard the submarine.

“The battleship was more impressive to look at on the outside with all of its guns, but when you get inside the submarine, and see the 24 missile silos, the power that this submarine has is unbelievable,” said Solt. “To know that just one of them can do more damage than all of the battleship’s guns put together, that's amazing. We thought it was great if you could shoot one of our weapons 20 miles, but these things can shoot their weapons hundreds of thousands of miles. I loved seeing those missile tubes; walking down those isles of weapons was remarkable.”

Solt finished his visit to the Pacific Northwest by attending the Navy’s 243rd birthday ball at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Sailors lined up to talk with him and listen to his stories.

“The people that I met during this trip were great,” said Solt. “I knew that the submarines were big but I hadn’t realized they were that big. This was an amazing visit.”

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