Hey, Spike! learns of submarining Erik Molina | SummitDaily.com

Hey, Spike! learns of submarining Erik Molina

Miles F. Porter IV
Special to the Daily

From the towering peaks surrounding Breckenridge, to the depths of the oceans, that’s a story Navy Lt. Erik Molina can tell.

Erik, whose parents are Mary Jo Molina and Gordon Brownlow, graduated from Summit High School in 1998. He is serving aboard the Hawaii-based, Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Texas, the first submarine to be named after the Lone Star State.

Erik is the navigator and operations officer on the USS Texas, which measures 377 feet long, is 33 feet wide and weighs 9,000 tons when submerged; it’s crewed by a complement of more than 130 sailors. It is one of the Navy’s newest and most technologically sophisticated submarines.

Attack submarines are designed to pursue and attack enemy submarines and surface ships using torpedoes. They carry cruise missiles with conventional high-explosive warheads. They also conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, mine laying and support special operations.

Erik said he joined the Navy with one path in mind and took another.

“I joined the Navy to be close to the water and work with electronics and even though I am on a different path from what I thought I would be, it is a good path,” said Molina.

Erik explains that volunteers staff the Texas, and all other U.S. Navy submarines, “because of the stressful environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation.”

Submariners are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. The training is highly technical and each crew member has to be able to operate, maintain and repair every system or piece of equipment on board. “Qualified in submarines” earns crew members the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.

Erik says he’s very proud of the work the Texas’ 130-member crew does protecting America in the world’s oceans.

“Imagine working and living in a 377-foot long, 33-foot wide, three-story building with no windows and surrounded by technology. Then lock the doors, submerge beneath the surface of the ocean and travel silently underwater for months. This requires a tremendous amount of skill, knowledge, personal discipline and teamwork,” says Erik.

Erik and his Texas crew were present earlier this week when the ship’s command was passed by Cmdr. Andrew Hertel to Cmdr. Todd Nethercott at the submarine pier on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Hertel expressed pride at having the opportunity to be in command of the submarine for the last 32 months.

“It was the privilege of a lifetime to be your commanding officer. Thank you for giving your best every day,” Hertel told his crew. “With sailors like you manning such a vessel, it is no wonder everyone knows, you don’t mess with Texas.”

Navy community outreach and public affairs personnel Glenn Sircy, Sunday Sawyer, Rowena Obrero, Jesse Dick and Jason Swink assisted with Erik’s story.

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Hey, Spike! recently chatted with longtime local Steve Immer of Breckenridge about the church jazz service Steve coordinated on Labor Day Weekend at Father Dyer Methodist Church.

In “collaboration” with King David, Steve wrote an original sacred jazz cantata, “The 150th Psalm,” that was featured at the Sunday service, starring the Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars, directed by Ed Cannava.

“The Youth All-Stars were in full force, covering 3,000 years of Judeo-Christian history in a totally swinging style that definitely brought the house (church) down,” Steve reports.

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Down at the Frisco Bay Marina the other day, Spike! met frequent Frisco visitors Louann and Rick Cramer of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“Rick and I enjoyed talking with you today. Thank you for all of the good information,” emails Louann, the ice cream maven. “We took one of your recommendations and had a lovely dinner at Greco’s. Thanks. We’ll be back in Frisco in February.”

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. He and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to milesfporteriv@aol.com


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