Frederick A. Judd, Evening Sun copy editor, submarine veteran

December 31, 1991|By Bruce Reid

Frederick A. Judd, a longtime Evening Sun copy editor who had a love affair with submarines since his days as a sailor on the USS Bowfin during World War II, died Dec. 13 of lung cancer in Florida.

Before his death, Mr. Judd, who was 67, began making arrangements to have his cremated remains buried at sea by being shot through the torpedo tube of a submarine.

"He can join his brothers at the bottom of the ocean. That's what he always said," noted his son, Fred Judd Jr. of Littlestown, Pa.

Petty Officer Demonica Porter-Musch, a spokeswoman for the Atlantic submarine force at the Norfolk (Va.) Naval Base, said burials of submarine veterans at sea are not uncommon. However, they're usually a little more tame than what Mr. Judd had in mind -- an officer usually sprinkles the ashes on the ocean surface by hand.

The Navy hasn't yet ruled on Mr. Judd's specific request.

An Evening Sun slot and copy editor from 1961 until his retirement in 1986, Mr. Judd also served for 10 years during that time as a public affairs officer for the Submarine Veterans of World War II.

Described by his Evening Sun colleagues as a skilled and witty editor, he also wrote frequent articles about submarines for the paper, as well as a column on antiques.

In 1983, Mr. Judd was the first journalist to take a submerged trip aboard the newly commissioned nuclear submarine Baltimore. He chronicled the test voyage to the Bahamas in a series of articles, including this description of how he was allowed to give the Baltimore's "dive" order:

"For an old submariner from World War II, it had to be the high

light of the trip. . . . I saw the crystal clear water breaking over the blunt nose of the steel-skinned whale, glistening as it rolled off the round sides into frothy white furrows. Picking up speed, the black behemoth gradually eased its nose down and, with a powerful surge, disappeared beneath the surface of the ocean, leaving a boiling sea on the surface to mark the spot the sub had occupied seconds before."

Mr. Judd's fascination with submarines began when he served on the diesel-powered Bowfin in the Pacific theater between 1941 and 1945.

The Bowfin sank 40 Japanese merchant ships and six warships, ranking 16th in total tonnage sunk among 280 Navy subs. On one patrol, the Bowfin attacked a convoy of Japanese ships moored in a harbor, and then destroyed a pier with a torpedo. A bus happened to be loading passengers on the pier, and the Bowfin gained the distinction of "sinking" a bus.

Mr. Judd also recalled spending two days on the floor of the South China Sea while a Japanese battle group pounded the sub with depth charges. With air running low, the captain released an oil slick that fooled the Japanese into thinking the sub had sunk.

Before coming to The Evening Sun, Mr. Judd worked as an editor for a Harrisburg newspaper and as a reporter for his hometown Hartford (Conn.) Courant. He graduated from Boston University in 1951.

After his retirement from The Evening Sun, Mr. Judd worked part time as a reporter and editor at the Merritt Island Press, a new 17,000-circulation weekly in Merritt Island, Fla. Barney Waters, editor of the Press, said Mr. Judd's work became the core of the newspaper's coverage.

"His interesting personality profiles, his Desert Shield and Desert Storm stories and his superb coverage of the island were some of the reasons for the Press' early reader acceptance," Waters wrote in a recent tribute to Mr. Judd.

Mr. Judd's wife, Jean C. Judd, died of cancer in 1986 at age 56. She was part owner of the Touch of Elegance dress shop in Randallstown. The couple lived in Woodlawn and were members of the First Unitarian Church.

In addition to his son, Mr. Judd is survived by a daughter, Janine Koch of Houston; two brothers, Clifton and Robert, both of Hartford; two sisters, Evelyn Babella and Helen Lord, both of Hartford; his mother, Helen Ward, also of Hartford; and three grandchildren.

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