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Navy veteran served on ballistic missile and fast attack submarines

Brunswick News - 9/17/2022

Sep. 17—Today's veteran: Bradley Shuck, 53

Born: Mincie, Ind.

Residence: Kingsland

Service: Navy, 23 years

Duties: Torpedoman

Rank: Senior chief

Duty stations: Great Lakes Naval Station; Charleston, S.C.; Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay; Pearl Harbor, and aboard USS Vallego; USS Maryland and USS Pasadena

Recognitions: Global War on Terrorism Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; Navy Commendation Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Master Corrections Specialist, Master Training Specialist; Expert Rifle Badge; Expert Pistol Badge

His story: Bradley Shuck used to listen to recruiters speak when he was in high school, simply to get out of class.

He decided to enlist while he was in high school for four years to learn something in the electronics field. But he misunderstood the recruiter and learned he would be trained as an electrician's mate.

But when he filled out his list of preferred duty assignments, his third and last choice was serving aboard submarines. But at the time, sailors who expressed an interest in serving aboard submarines were assigned to the boats.

After training, Shuck was assigned to the crew of an old ballistic missile submarine, USS Vallego, with no designated job.

"I was scared at first. The realization set in that there are no windows, no going outside," he said of his first deployment on a submarine.

He expressed interest in fire control and was told torpedomen worked closely with fire control specialists. A possible path to being in fire control is to start as a torpedoman, he said.

He ended up serving aboard the Vallego for 13 deployments over seven years.

"I loved it," he said. "I knew that boat."

His next duty station was in Charleston, S.C., where he served two and a half years as a corrections officer assigned to a maximum security unit shortly after an escape of a sailor on America's top 10 most wanted list.

"It was tough at first because of the scrutiny from the escape," he said.

He later ran the base armory and taught firearms and security classes.

Shuck was sent to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay for his next duty station, assigned to the crew of the USS Maryland.

He had to qualify for his Dolphins Pin for a second time aboard the Maryland because the boat's systems were different.

The biggest difference was there were many more backup systems on the Maryland, which Shuck had mixed opinions about. On the Vallego, is a system failed, he and fellow sailors repaired it. While on the Maryland, the backups were activated when an electronic component failed.

"On the old Boomers, I could fix it," he said. "The level of knowledge went down for the sailors (with the backups)."

He did six deployments aboard the Maryland. He was sent to Hawaii to serve aboard the USS Pasadena, a fast attack submarine home ported at Pearl Harbor.

The Pasadena had just returned from a patrol and went into a 14-month refit when he arrived. He did one six-month deployment aboard the boat, with stops in Guam and Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean.

"It's a different dynamic," he said. "If I had a choice, I would have done my whole career on fast attacks. On a fast attack, you are doing something."

After three years assigned to the Pasadena, Shuck was assigned to Submarine Group One at Pearl Harbor, where he helped crews prepare for inspections of their boats.

His last duty station was at Kings Bay, where he worked at Trident Training Facility teaching torpedoman and weapons courses.

Shuck said he never planned to make the Navy a career, taking it one enlistment at a time.

"The timing was everything," he said. "I believe it was all God's timing."

Shuck said he has no regrets about his decision to enlist, and he wouldn't change a thing about his career.

"I think it had a 100% impact on my life," he said. "It gave me structure. It gave me discipline."


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