Fairhope, Ala. (WKRG) — Wally Sabin, originally from Long Island, New York, decided to enlist in the Navy as soon as he was of legal age. And so he tried.

“Went down to Broadway to enlist, and they told me I was too short,” Sabin said.

Sabin was featured in the WKRG documentary about Honor Flight South Alabama more than a decade ago. He told us the story then of how he finally got into the Navy.

“Then I went to my family doctor and he told me, he said, ‘Wally, just lay on the floor for a few months and stretch out at night, and that’s what I did.”

He doesn’t know if his height was any different, or if the Navy just desperately needed more warm bodies for the war effort.  Either way, Wally got in.

“He didn’t even check my height, he said ‘get the hell in there.”

And he would end up serving in perhaps one of the most dangerous jobs the Navy offered, submariner.  

Sabin said, “And the first patrol we made, first two patrols, we sunk 29,000-something tons.”

But being a submariner wasn’t easy, especially passing all of the tests, physical and mental, to make it.

“I went in for it.  A friend of mine was in it and telling me about the food and everything, and said if you come back you’d be okay. If you did come back, you wouldn’t be wounded or anything,” he said.

Sabin has a lot of pride in being a submariner during World War Two, especially those times when his ship operated in enemy territory in the Sea of Japan.

“Made a patrol there, we rescued a pilot where you could see the shore, how close to the shore we were when we picked him up and got out of there. We were fired on by shore batteries,” Sabin said.

And he has fond memories of being on board his ship and the jobs he and his fellow submariners performed.

“The food was the best you can get, but everything was so disciplined,” he said. “And when you got to be a submariner, you wore the dolphins on your sleeve.  And that means you can do every job on the boat from the captain on down.”

And he’s especially proud of being one of the first World War Two veterans from our area to go see their memorial in Washington on Honor Flight South Alabama. That’s why we present Wally Sabin with our Serving Those Who Serve award.