Submarine Force celebrates 112th birthday - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Submarine Force celebrates 112th birthday

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- Veterans came together to celebrate this week's 112th birthday of the U.S. Navy Submarine Force.

On April 11, 1900, the Navy acquired its first submarine.

The Central Washington chapter of U.S. Submarines Veterans met outside of the Howard Johnson in Yakima, and showed off a new, 16-foot-long model of a fast-attack submarine they made together.

A champagne bottle was broken to christen the boat, named the USS Yakima.

Herb Brunkhorst, 88, of Yakima, who is a World War II submarine veteran served on the USS Darter.

"We went aground out in the South China Sea during the war. We attacked the big submarine, a big Japanese Task Force early in the morning," explains Brunkhorst of the 1944 event. "At midnight, we went aground. It was on the surface. Another submarine, the USS Dace came and picked us up. We got off at daybreak."

Bill Richards, 70, of Selah, served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 to1977. "I was in ballistic missile submarines. We didn't actually go into combat situations. So our job was to go and hide some where and be ready to launch missiles, if we were called on," says Richards.

Although he didn't have any "close-call" stories to share, Richards did bring up an incident in 1960 that he says was "kind of exciting" while on a boat.

"We were down in Cape Canaveral and we launched a missile, a practice missile," recalls Richards. "And it went up, broke in half and came back down on us."

Friends and family members of the submariners were also at Saturday's event.

"I think it's great to have these kids come and see this, what's going on and learn what happened," says Brunkhorst. "I have my daughter and great granddaughter here today. She see the submarine here and I can tell her about people living inside it."

The event was followed by memorial and a banquet celebration inside the hotel.

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