Freedom Fighters: Bill Snow

By Joan Hallmark - bio | email

VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - During World War II Bill Snow was a "submariner" aboard the legendary U.S.S. Flasher, which had destroyed a record hundred thousand plus tons of Japanese shipping in the south pacific.

Bill Snow joined the navy as an 18 year old in 1943. The Snows were a patriotic family with sister Wanna in the Waves and brother Joe also joining the Navy. Although Snow had been tapped for submarine service right off the bat, it wasn't until after extensive testing and training that he became a submariner.

"You go through a lot of psychological tests and other tests, aptitude tests and they see if you're suitable for submarine service because if you've got claustrophobia or anything like that you never make it," said Snow.

After two months on a subtender, Snow was assigned to the U.S.S. Flasher, a submarine with an unparalleled record in World War II.

"Our ship claims, or actually earned the distinction of having sunk more tonnage than any other ship in the sub fleet," said Snow.

It's said that in the early part of the war "the Japanese conquered the land, the sea, and the air, but they lost the ocean depth and their ships to the U.S. submarines."

"You had to get a certain amount of ships and tonnage to be considered a war patrol," explained Snow.

Unlike the nuclear subs of today that can stay submerged for months at a time, the submarines of World War II stayed on the surface a great deal of time.

"Generally at night, we'd come to surface ad charge batteries," he said. "Daytime you'd stay submerged and search."

Snow was usually manning the periscope looking for tankers. Our submarines' success in destroying fuel tankers eventually succeeded in grounding much of the Japanese airforce. So, for the most part, danger to submarines usually didn't come from the air. It came from the dreaded depth charges.

"Our regular dive to escape depth charges was 300 feet."

At 300 feet, the sub's motors would be cut off, and the crew wouldn't move nor hardly breathe in fear the sounds would be picked up by radar.

"They could track you from any kind of noise you made," he said.

On leave in May of 1945, Snow married his childhood sweetheart Zelma and soon afterwards was able to come home for good Bill Snow says he and his generation never questioned their duty to fight for their country. It's a feeling that is as strong today as it was 66 years ago.

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