Emotional reunion for former USS Phoenix sailors

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

They shared the closest of quarters, and become like brothers. On Friday, the former sailors of the USS Phoenix gathered for their first-ever reunion. 

"The last time I ever felt her, you felt the vibration and hum of life," said Jim Ratte, a former commander of the Phoenix.

"You never quite understand the relationship between a sailor and their ship." 

The USS Phoenix was mostly scrapped after the Cold War. Now, pieces of the submarine sit on the Papago Military Reservation in Phoenix. 

For some of the former sailors, Friday's reunion was the fist time they'd seen the sub since they left the service. 

Ratte was one of the last to see her fully intact. 

"One of the most uncomfortable times of my career was taking Phoenix to the ship yard to cut her up," Ratte said. 

Many said Friday's reunion was bittersweet. Seeing the Phoenix in pieces was tough, but they were glad to see old shipmates. 

"Just a time for us to all get together and share our sea stories and share that camaraderie again," said Mark Wilson, a former sailor on the USS Phoenix who coordinated the reunion.

There are also plans to create a memorial to the ship in Phoenix using the pieces of the submarine. 

Meanwhile, tides have taken the former sailors in different directions since they've served. 

"I'm now an executive pastor at a church in Omaha," said Ratte, the former commander.

Soon, it was time for the crew to get back on their bus, and leave the ship one more time.

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