Date of Interview
Reynold Dittrich was born 26 June 1925 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is a lifelong resident of the city. He attended vocational school until enlisting in the US Navy in June 1942; following Basic Training and electrician school at Farragut, Idaho, Reynold volunteered for the submarine service and in early 1943 was sent to New London, Connecticut, for training. In mid-1943 Reynold was posted to the submarine base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he served on a relief crew, overhauling and repairing submarines. Finally, in September 1944, he joined the crew of the sub USS Aspro (SS-309), a Balao class sub, as an electricianâ€™s mate, and completed three war patrols in the Pacific. During Aspro's seventh and final war patrol, which began 25 June 1945, she performed lifeguard duties, coming to the aid of pilots downed on missions over Japan. On 3 August, she came within several miles of the Japanese mainland to retrieve a downed American fighter pilot. Despite repeated Japanese air attacks, Aspro's crew succeeded in saving the pilot. In the interview below, Reynold talks about this rescue operation from his perspective, below deck. Aspro's final war patrol ended on 13 August 1945, when she moored at Midway Island to commence a refit--it was here that news came of the Japanese capitulation. On 1 September Aspro departed Midway for San Francisco; she was placed out of commission in January 1946. Prior to this, in December 1945, Reynold Dittrich left the boat and joined the crew of the USS Remora (SS-487), a new Tench class sub, where he served until his discharge in July 1946. After the Navy, Reynold returned to St. Paul, got married (wife Mabel, d. 1996), and worked as an electrician in the construction business; he worked 20 years at Kehne Electric and 14 years at Northern States Power (NSP), retiring in 1988. Reynold was a member of the American Legion, and devoted much time to the local branch of the Submarine Veterans of World War II. Reynold passed away on 8 October 2013.
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced without the written permission of Concordia University Library or Thomas Saylor, Department of History, Concordia University, St. Paul.
Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Reynold Dittrich" (2002). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 110.