Petty Officer 2nd Class Heath Rogers: ‘Pride Runs Deep’
Student serves country on submarine
In the U.S. Navy, a group of men serve their country from beneath the ocean, the “Silent Service” defending freedom. This is the brotherhood that Heath Rogers of Parkersburg, W.Va., joined upon graduating high school in 2005.
After training, Rogers was assigned to the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715) out of Pearl Harbor. As a machinist’s mate, Rogers worked to ensure the atmosphere systems, including carbon dioxide scrubbers, functioned properly.
The crew had 18 hour shifts broken into a six hour watch and 12 hours for sleeping, eating and doing maintenance work.
One story Rogers remembers from his Pearl Harbor days was swimming with a pod of whales. While performing exercises between some of the islands, the ship surfaced, and the crew went topside for a break.
The men jumped off the boat and swam in the open water.
“When we were doing it, there was a herd of whales that swam by us — they were maybe 100 yards from us,” he said. “That was pretty cool.”
Roughly a year after joining the crew, Rogers shipped out to Guam, the new home port for the Buffalo. From there, the ship went on tours to Japan, the Philippines, and Roger’s favorites South Korea and Australia.
The Buffalo crew would go on two month deployments followed by two weeks back in Guam and then another deployment. When asked what the submarine did on deployments, Rogers said he could not discuss it.
“Things vital to national security,” he said after a pause.
Though Rogers could not go into detail, the Navy’s public relations department did shed some light through various press releases.
The Buffalo was equipped with a Dry Deck Shelter (DDS) — an airtight pod capable of deploying Navy SEAL teams while submerged.
Performing classified operations in an inherently hazardous environment, submariners are under constant strain.
“Of all the branches of men in the forces, there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariners,” Sir Winston Churchill once said.
The crew’s transfer to Guam itself served as a reminder of the hazards of submarine service. The Buffalo was sent to replace the USS San Francisco, (SSN 711), which hit an uncharted seamount at full speed, destroying the bow and killing a crewman.
Rogers served for three and a half years in Guam before leaving the Navy last June.
He enrolled at Liberty following his sister’s recommendation and is now studying international relations with a focus on strategic intelligence.
His ultimate goal is to work for a government organization like the FBI, CIA or NSA. Whatever his career, Rogers is proud to be a submariner.
“I enjoyed seeing other countries, and I enjoyed going out to sea and hanging out with the crew — the camaraderie of it all,” he said. “That’s probably one thing I still miss.”