NORFOLK (NNS) -- A World War II veteran who served aboard the submarine USS Batfish (SS 310) will pass the "long glass," a tradition to signify the start of the first watch, during the commissioning ceremony aboard the Virginia-class submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit California (SSN 781) Oct. 29.
Dr. Joseph Cox, former national president of the U.S. Submarine Veterans Organization will be passing the "long glass" to Pre-Commissioning Unit California's first officer of the deck.
Cox will pass the long glass to Lt. j.g. Kyle Jones, from Knob Noster, Mo.
"Dr. Cox has been very active from day one as it relates to the commissioning of PCU California," said Bill Huesmann, director of the commissioning support team.
Huesmann is coordinating the Virginia-class submarine's commissioning and working with Cmdr. Dana Nelson, California's commanding officer, on the best person to perform this pivotal role.
"On the captain's behalf, I asked Dr. Cox if he would be willing to perform this time honored tradition during the ceremony," said Huesmann.
Some would say Cox has lived a storied life full of highs and lows from living through the Great Depression, to enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II at the age of 18 to earning both a master's and doctoral degree in education.
"I'm very excited about it and to be a part of the commissioning," said Cox.
When asked what advice the sage veteran has for the crew of the newest Virginia-class submarine, Cox replied, "Try to do the job the best you can, and you will succeed."
The 86-year old World War II veteran will arrive in Norfolk Oct. 28 to participate in the pre-commissioning activities.
Cox has resided in California since 1935 when his parents moved there from Booneville, Ark. during the Great Depression.
California will be commissioned Oct. 29 at Naval Station Norfolk. The ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m., will be streamed live on www.navy.mil.
Once California is commissioned it will become the seventh U.S. Navy ship - and the first submarine - to bear the name of the great state of California.