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Key Wives Area

This area is set aside for stories about the Key wives.  If you have a story about or from a KEY wife, please submit it to ssbn657@comcast,net.  The wives of FBM sailors had a very challenging time, never knowing where their husbands were or when they would return.  I'm sure many interesting thing happened.  Share your stories here.


The KEY Wives

Some of you are lucky enough to still be married to the same woman you were with when you were on the KEY.  I think they deserve to be a part of this web site as much as we do.  The struggle of handling all that life throws at you while your husband is totally out of contact is a major undertaking and there should be plenty of stories to tell such as giving birth alone, how to word family grams, things that go bump in the night while you're alone, kids - kids - kids.  Ladies please feel free to contribute stories, tales, pictures to the KEY Wives area.  And guys, if you have a story about your Key wife or former Key wife, send it in.



05/27/09  Navy Wives What'ya gon'na do?

Submitted by Jim Cortell ETCS/SS Ret

Summer 75' off crew in Charleston, SC
You remember the bright yellow tee-shirt that read on the front "There two types of ships in the Navy .... Submarines" with a picture of a surface ship as seen through a periscope, on the back, a picture of the same surface ship sinking and the word "targets".  I guess the Charleston Naval Base CO was worried that the surface pukes would have their feelings hurt or something cuz' he got all irate an banned them from being worn on base.  My wife, Kaye, and I were getting ready to go to the ships picnic/ballgame on base.  She came out of the bedroom wearing her bright yellow submarines and targets tee-shirt.  I politely told her she couldn't wear it cuz' it had been banned from wear on base.  After ten minutes of rant which included things like "not in the Navy" "can't tell me what I can wear" and many other things, we were on our way, her wearing a bright yellow tee-shirt.  As we pulled into the ball field parking the XO (the one just before CDR Wright, can't remember his name) pulled into the space next to me.  We got out I said "XO" and we nodded to each other, and I was thinking "boy, the S--T is going to hit the fan now.  Then our wives got out, both wearing bright yellow tee-shirts, we just looked at each other raised our eyes skyward, shrugged, and headed for the ball field. That was also the day that my 2yr old Daughter Kathy discovered it's not good to play in the fine dirt of a fire ant hill, special thanks to the other wives that helped us get the ants off Kathy.  Kathy is married to a Fireman, with three children, she is an EMT and is working towards paramedic certification and trauma RN as time an money allows.


08/28/07 -  The Great Key Wives Mutiny of 1977:

Submitted by Ron "Lonnie" Marchand 
Everyone on Key Gold was close. The Crew hung together and it was my understanding that the Key Wives did also. The Key Wives was a support group with the CO, XO and the COB's wives running the show. The COBs wife, Anita Peterson, was a sweet lady. She was the backbone of the Wives Group for many years. All the Wives looked to her for guidance and advice. Though the Wives Club was an "Unofficial" group, you could not tell them that. In 1977 Chief Pete transferred out and we got a new COB, whose name escapes me. Having said all of that, we were on patrol in 77. I was on watch in Radio when a encrypted message came over the Broadcast. Normally the On-Watch Supervisor would decrypt the message and route it to the CO. If the message concerned a Radioman, we stopped the message at a certain
point, called the CO/XO into Radio, he would lock the door, and read the rest of the message alone. Well, we got one of those messages and we followed SOP. A couple of hours later, I along with RM2 Brown was to report to the CO's stateroom. Our Chief, RMC(SS) Kelly told us something was up, but he did not know what. Immediately, you think the worst in a situation like that. My wife (Karen) and Willie's wife (Ronnie) were close friends. I was shaking in my boots because I thought they were hurt in an car accident or something. Well, Willie (RM2) Brown, Chief Kelly and I all go into the CO's Stateroom, CDR Mensch. We were informed that our wives were "OUT OF CONTROL". Well it turns out that our new COB was married to a lady who was in her early, I mean very early 20's. And of course, she was thrust into the hierarchy of the Key Wives Club, over women that were old enough to be her mother. Well, all those "SALTY"
wives, with patrols under their belts did not take to kindly to a very young girl giving them orders. It turns out that Karen and Ronnie were the "Ring Leaders" in an attempt to overthrow, down right Mutiny of the Key Wives Club. Of course Willie and I did nothing, what could we do, we were out on patrol, besides our wives were civilians and they did not
listen to us anyways. 

08/28/07 - The Super Secret Island in the Atlantic:

Submitted by Ron "Lonnie" Marchand
I got married right before my first patrol in October of 75. When we got back from patrol in January, my wife (Karen) and I settled into the Edac Apartments in North Charleston. She was new to the military lifestyle. Every Saturday, we held field day. We cleaned the apartment, went to the laundry mat, cleaned the car and went to the Grocery. I guess she heard
thru the grapevine that Sub Sailors were a rowdy bunch. A bunch of sex starved, hard drinking maniacs. Well one Saturday after we'd just returned from Rota we were doing the Saturday routine. Out of the blue, Karen asked me, she said that she could not understand how a bunch of guys could curb the sexual lust for so long of a period while they were
underway. It was then and there I decided to jerk her chain a little and have a little fun. First I told her that it was a military secret and if I told, I could be in a lot of trouble with the Navy and the crew. Of course she pestered me all day to tell the "Great Secret". I side stepped the subject all day long, stringing her along and finally over dinner, with a straight face, I made her raise her right hand and promise to keep the "Secret". Without laughing, I told her that right after we left Rota, there was a "Secret" Island off the Azores. We would go through a secret tunnel, surface in the middle of the island, and we would all go ashore, quench our sexual thirst, go on patrol, then come home to our wives and girlfriends. And of course all involved promise to keep the secret and never tell any of the wives. I assured her that I was faithful and stayed aboard while all the other guys were with the native girls. Afterwards, she said "You are joking right". I said "yeah,
sure, anything you say". Nothing else was said for the rest of the night. About 3am I'm asleep, and all of a sudden I feel fists, punches, kicking and a whole lot of cursing. When I finally woke up and gathered my senses, I hear "HOW MANY WOMEN DID YOU HAVE S.O.B., I KNOW YOU, AND I KNOW YOU WENT ASHORE, YOU LIAR, YOU BASTARD". Then she threaten to call "Anita Peterson" AT 4 in the morning to let her know what the Crew was
doing. I tried to tell her I was just kidding, but she refused to believe me. And the more I tried to convince her I was just teasing her, the more she felt it was the truth. I knew, if the Crew ever found out what I did, they would never let me live that down. Needless to say, the rest of that Off Period was a living hell. I remembered when we were at the MAC Terminal, getting ready to fly out, the last thing Karen told me as I was departing was, "If I ever find out you went on that Island, I'll kill ya". 


04/20/07 - I'll get the ball rolling. I married Mark Pinchback (now Sr. Chief at Squadron 20, Kings Bay - about to retire) in 1989. We're still here even through changing tides and rough waters. Its been a long hard road but we're gonna make it!


To anyone who served with MT Mark Pinchback would love to hear from you. Planning his retirement.

Lenette R. Pinchback