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Oklahoma’s Only Submarine: The USS Batfish is still ‘living history’

MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA -- It's not buried in the earth or hidden behind the cornerstone of an old building, but Brent Trout and Corrie Twillie insist this historic metal container is every bit like a huge time capsule.

"Every day that I work, I come down here maybe 30 or 40 times," says Trout who is Executive Director of the USS Batfish Museum. "It's fascinating. There's always something new to see."

The USS Batfish emerged from seven different combat patrols during World War II.

The last time we came down here in 1993 many of her original crew could still tell you where they worked and slept.

"It's somewhat similar to a dream or something along that order," said Bud Mobbs in 1993.

25 years after their 50th reunion that crew is down to two surviving members.

The reunions are over, and people like Brent and Corrie are left to stand in for the men who took this vessel into combat.

Trout relates what those original sailors told him, "The simplest explanation is that it was the best time in their lives. They won't ever say this in front of their kids or wives but the list goes sub service, marriage, kids."

No other sub has as many enemy submarine kills.

The Batfish has an unofficial record of enduring 125 depth charge explosions in one terrifying 8 hour period.

"Unlike other branches of military service," says Trout, "every moment on a submarine could be your last. You don't have to have an enemy fire on you to be killed on a sub. You could just dive and never come back up."

Twilley guesses that he's now spent more nights aboard the Batfish in Muskogee than any of the original crew.

"You feel like you're coming to visit family," he says. "This feels like home."

He and a few other living historians will dress up in their Navy gear this weekend to show people what it was like to live and work on this boat, to earn your 'Dolphins', to smell the diesel that still lingers among the kinds of wartime artifacts you can still crawl through.

The USS Batfish and War Memorial Park are located along the Arkansas River at the Port of Muskogee.

Their spring Living History Day takes place Saturday, February 24.

Click here for more information.