MUNCIE -- Talk to Rebekah Hughes for any length of time, and it's hard to believe she has never served as a sailor aboard a submarine.
The 31-year-old Taylor University graduate discusses America's World War ll submarine service, the courageous youngsters who served aboard them and the inner workings of the boats themselves with surprising knowledge and aplomb.
Guess working as an archivist for the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum will do that to you.
"I earned my way through Taylor as a student archivist," the mother of two young girls noted.
Needing a job in 2005, Hughes applied for an opening at a Muskegon, Mich., bird business, then learned its owner was also assistant director of the naval museum.
"Their archivist had just left," Hughes explained.
She soon found herself with two jobs, one at the bird business and one at the museum, home of the retired submarine USS Silversides. She "loved every minute" of working at the latter, as her fascination with the submarine service grew.
That service, she said, was secretive and hazardous.
During the war, 20 percent of American submariners -- the Navy's "cream of the crop," she said -- died in their subs, the highest loss percentage recorded. In addition, submariners were told not to reveal details about their service for 40 years.
"The submarine service was stricter about it," said Hughes, whose husband, Justin, is an employee of Ontario Systems.
An historical treasure she encountered in her job was six years worth of letters home written by radioman Walter Clock, but beginning in 1941 you could see where censors had begun deleting information on where subs originated, went and whether they engaged in action etc.
Or take technological secrets. Did you know those WW ll subs were equipped with an analog computer to aid in aiming torpedoes?
No? Well, don;'t feel bad.
"Nobody did," Hughes emphasized, adding that the depths to which our subs could dive was another big secret, though one that eventually was inadvertently revealed.