Hugh Pickens writes "As we move into Memorial Day and Americans remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, I wanted to share the story of my Uncle Donald Cress born in 1922 in Bath Township, Minnesota who served as a Radioman, Third Class on the USS Robalo, one of the US Navy's 'Fresh Water Submarines' because they were commissioned in the Great Lakes. On the western shore of Lake Michigan, about 80 miles north of Milwaukee, lies Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a city whose shipyards had built car ferries and ore boats since 1902. In 1939 war broke out in Europe and President Roosevelt declared a limited National Emergency and U.S. Navy shipbuilders were concerned that submarine building capacity was not sufficient to support a long war. The US Navy asked the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company to build submarines, a task far beyond their existing capabilities, but assured them that the Electric Boat Company, with the only shipyard in the country capable of building submarines, would provide plans and whatever assistance they would need. Manitowoc's shipyard grew from 500 employees to 7,000 employees at its peak working three shifts around the clock 365 days a year and by the end of the war had built 25 submarines in time to see action that together sank 132 Japanese ships. 'It appears from the results obtained at Manitowoc that given a set of good plans, competent engineers and skilled workman can follow them and build what is called for even though it might be very much more sophisticated than anything they have built before,' writes Rear Admiral William T. Nelson. But there was one more thing the shipyard had going for it. After Pearl Harbor the entire community was now engaged in vital and important war work, sacrifice was the order of the day, and each boat was their boat. 'With the entire community following the construction with such interest and spirit, success was inevitable.'"
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