AUGUSTA — When Maine Public Safety Commissioner John E. Morris served as a submariner in the U.S. Navy a half century ago, the only communication home with his wife and family was by letter.

“There was no Internet, no email, no Skype or cellphone,” he said. Letters kept him in touch with wife Kay and their three children as he served a year in Vietnam and aboard submarines for seven-month stretches.

“My wife still has some of those letters,” he recalled Sunday afternoon, shortly after he and Paul Talbot, of Corinna, were inducted into the Holland Club, a group composed of those who have reached at least 50 years since they first qualified on submarines.

Morris, of West Gardiner, and Talbot were recognized by about 20 fellow Holland Club members of the USS Maine Base chapter of the United States Submarine Veterans Incorporated, most of whom wore a distinctive bright yellow ball cap. They also were praised by Maine Gov. Paul LePage, his wife, Ann LePage, and other officials and guests at the ceremony at American Legion Post 205.

“I’m so proud to have served our nation,” said Morris, who spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in 1990 as a captain. “I really enjoyed my Navy career. It was a wonderful life made possible by my wife and family.”

Talbot, who spent 1961-69 in the Navy and was an electrician’s mate first class, recalled one specific time aboard the boat.

“I was a line handler when President Kennedy was shot,” Talbot said. “I was coming into New London, Connecticut.” He was aboard the USS Clamagore, his third sub at the time.

“I was topside and the captain made an announcement over the loudspeaker. That was my introduction to home.” He was from Fall River, Massachusetts.

Talbot said that while he served during the Vietnam war, he spent almost all his time on the East Coast.

“I was under water most of the time,” he said, and when he wasn’t, he was in shipyards. He did five patrols on five different boats, ending on the USS James K. Polk.

The Holland Club is part of United States Submarine Veterans Inc., which lists its aim on its website: “Perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in the pursuit of their duties while serving their country. That their dedication, deeds and supreme sacrifice be a constant source of motivation toward greater accomplishments. Pledge loyalty and patriotism to the United States of America and its Constitution.”

Most of the veterans at the ceremony wore navy blue vests with the names of their submarines emblazoned on the back.

Governor LePage urged all the veterans present to get in touch with his office about a new legacy program being offered through the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services to gather the history of veterans from World War II on, “and not just your military history,” he said.

LePage said the collection will eventually end up at the Library of Congress.

He turned directly to the veteran who tolled the bell during the Lost Boat Ceremony, saying, “Real Cyr has got a fantastic story to tell.”

Cyr started his service in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1941, became a commando in the British naval combined forces, was captured in Norway and escaped to the French resistance. He then served in the U.S. Navy, according to information from his induction into the Holland Club in 2006.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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