BUTLER TWP — Robert Domanski's 5-month-old daughter saved his life 50 years ago, but nothing over those years could blot out the anguish of losing 99 friends.
Navy veteran Domanski served aboard the USS Scorpion nuclear attack submarine from February 1964 until February 1968, when he decided to forego the sub's upcoming trip to the Mediterranean and leave the Navy to spend time with his wife and baby daughter.
Three weeks later, on May 21 or 22, and for unknown reasons, the Scorpion disappeared into the depths of the Atlantic near the Azores.
“The families were waiting on the piers and the submarine never showed up,” Domanski said sadly.
The 22-year-old and his young wife had discussed Domanski serving on what turned out to be the sub's final mission because he always wanted to see the Mediterranean.
But his final decision was to be a father to his baby.
He thought about the sub's disappearance “constantly” for 30 straight years after she plummeted to her watery grave and took nearly 100 Americans along.
Many of his thoughts are of William Fennick, a Butler man who perished in the submarine.
“We talked about Butler a lot,” Domanski said, his voice trailing off.
The Scorpion was eventually found in 9,800 feet of water with significant structural damage. No bodies were ever recovered.
On Monday, Domanski won't travel to Norfolk or the Azores, where a monument was erected to his 99 friends.
Read more of Domanski and WIlliam Fennick's stories in Sunday's Butler Eagle.