A local veteran shares his story

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pearl River County resident and military veteran Ron Miles began his service with the Louisiana National Guard in Feb. 1955. After his honorable discharge in 1957, Miles enlisted in the Navy where he completed schooling as an electrical technician.

During his time on a repair ship in Japan, he went aboard a submarine to tend to some electrical issues on the vessel. It was this experience that inspired Miles to enroll in submarine school in early 1959.

Miles served on the U.S.S. Cubera, a modified fleet attack submarine referred to as a GUPPY-II. The Cubera would do short patrols in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia and was also sent to the Mediterranean Sea to monitor Russian vessels.

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“Every now and then we’d encounter one of their submarines,” Miles said. “We were playing tag with the Russians.”

Miles got married in 1960, and in July 1961, he was preparing to re-enlist with the Navy. His commanding officers had promised to send him to nuclear power school and to give him a first class rating.

But before he had the opportunity to re-enlist, another submarine was struck by a tanker. The media reported the accident, but did not list the name of the boat. Upon hearing the news, Miles’ wife, Patricia, was frantic since she had no way of knowing that he was okay because he was still out at sea.

When Miles returned home safely, Patricia gave him an ultimatum.

“She said that if I wanted to stay married to her, then I better not re-enlist,” Miles said, laughing, “so I didn’t.”

A short time later, the U.S.S. Thresher, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, was lost during a deep-diving test.

“If I had completed nuclear power school, I would have been put on the Thresher, which went down with all hands up in the Atlantic,” said Miles. “I like to say that my wife saved my life.”

After his time in the Navy, Miles worked for Boeing where he helped with testing on the Apollo rockets. He took classes part-time at what was then Louisiana State University in New Orleans, where he completed his degree in Engineering Sciences.

Miles’ career came full circle when he found himself on a nuclear submarine in the Arctic working for the Naval Research Lab, where he worked for 15 years. While there, he helped design a system that measures the forces endured by the superstructure of a submarine when the vessel is breaching thick ice.

The hope was to make submarines more cold-weather capable in anticipation of an escalating conflict with Russia. Years after his military service had officially ended, Miles was still aiding the United States Navy in the Cold War through work accomplished in his professional life.

After spending time all over the world, Miles moved to Picayune with his wife about 16 years ago.

“We lived in Slidell for about 34 years, and now every time we go back to visit, we’re glad we moved to Picayune,” Miles said, “We like it here.”