Like many Submariners, I was friends with Gary “Cowboy” McLaughlin long before I’d met him. We had discussed many issues, both submarine-related or not, on Ron Martini’s and Don Gentry’s Submarine Bulletin Boards. We didn’t always agree, but we frequently did, and I always respected him. In 2001, Gary hosted the original “Bash at the Ranch” at his Caballo Gordo Ranch in Raymond, CA. He invited virtually everyone in the Submarine community to visit, and I’ve always regretted having missed it.
The first time I saw him, I instantly knew who he was, even before we’d been introduced. Dan and I had gone to the Pampanito for a memorial service for the Kursk, when we saw Gary being interviewed by a local TV News crew.
I found out that Cowboy worked as a Docent onboard the Pampanito, so every few months, I’d drive over to the city to chat and rekindle memories. Over the years, each of the kids got to know and appreciate Cowboy and his marvelous sea-stories.
On September 17, 2005, while on his way home from a USSVI meeting, Gary felt ill, so he pulled over to the side of the road, put his truck in park, and had a heart attack.
We will miss you, Shipmate!
Via con Dios!
Gary always wanted to host a 2nd Bash at the Ranch.
On October 8, 2005, we met at the Ranch
to honor his memory and celebrate his life.