This was my belt buckle for most of my career in the Submarine Force. I got it shortly after I qualified in Submarines, which is one of the those rare, banner-days in a Submariner’s life. I remember my LPO coming around the boat with the order forms and everyone was signing up to get their rank/rate put on it, or their nickname, or whatever profane designation they could dream up, but I just wanted my last name. To me, the rate and rank and all the other stuff didn’t matter, it was only my last name under those so-sought-after dolphins that I wanted. Yes, you can’t tell, but those two blurbs of metal on the left and right are supposed to be dolphins, and that steel tower in the middle is a submarine. It’s the Submarine Warfare insignia, and dammit, you’ve got to earn that SOB. I call it “Plot Buckle” because all of the etching is pretty much faded away because my waistline was constantly rubbing up against the navigation plot where I was stationed as Quartermaster. The “plot” simply means where the charts are laid out and worked on, and even though all navigation was done digitally, it was still there. I like to look at it here and there, pick it up, feel its grooves and lines, because it brings back that tactile sense of all those years I spent on the boat. Especially now as I write my memoir about that time, I need any physical connection to the boat that will rejuvenate my mind and heighten the memory. And, I’m just damn proud of it!