At the November meeting of the Village Board of Trustees, Village Trustee Al Sterling and his son Andy presented a flag that had been flown on the historic submarine USS Nautilus (SSN-571) as a gift to the Citizens of Green Island. Commissioned in 1954, the Nautilus was the first atomic submarine, or for that matter ship in the world. The flag presented was flown on the sub Sept. 11th 2014, commemorating both 9/11 and the 60th anniversary of the Nautilus’s commissioning. The ship is now a part of the “The Submarine Force Library & Museum” is listed on the National Historic Registry and is permanently berthed in the Thames River as part of the Museum.
Al was in the Navy for 5 ½ years and was a Qualified Submariner having been in the Submarine Service until he was disabled while a member of the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (SSBN-600) and had to leave the Military. Prior to his service on the Roosevelt he was a member of the crew of the USS Seawolf (SSN-575), the second atomic Submarine ever launched and sister ship to the Nautilus. Both subs were a part of Submarine Squadron 10 out of New London, CT.
Al is very proud of his time in the submarine service. A submarine is among the most technologically advanced machines ever built. The combination of computer technology, precision navigation, atmosphere regeneration, sensitive sonar equipment, sound quieting, nuclear power, and precision weapons make for a most unusual environment. Imagine working and living in a 300-foot long, 30-foot wide, three-story building with no windows and surrounded by technology. Then lock the doors, submerge a few hundred feet beneath the surface of the ocean and travel silently underwater for months. This requires a tremendous amount of skill, knowledge, personal discipline, and teamwork. Over one hundred crewmembers work and live together for months at a time. The Submarine Service comprises less than 2% of the entire Navy, is a very select branch of the military. Everyone who serves is a volunteer and holds one or more highly technical skills to even be considered.
Al has had a long history of Public and Community Service and is now in his 42nd year having served as a member of the Board of Education at Heatly, a Green Island Town Councilperson, as Town Justice for Green Island and is now serving on the Village Board of Trustees. He was Vice-Chairmen of the Board at the former Leonard Hospital and served on the boards of several area Nursing Homes and Health Care Organizations. He is a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans and a Life Member of the Submarine Force Library & Museum in Groton, CT. and is a Past President of the Albany-Schenectady Magistrates Association.
Below (L) is a picture of Al and Mary Lou Sterling at the Groton, CT Naval Base before they were married. Also shown (R) is a photo of his gift to the Village which is presently on display at the Municipal Center.