AUGUSTA – Five Maine men were inducted Sunday into the Holland Club as they reached a military milestone — it’s been at least 50 years since they first qualified to serve on a submarine.

Their service was acknowledged in a ceremony at American Legion Post 205 in Augusta by the USS Maine Base chapter of the United States Submarine Veterans. According to its creed, the group was formed “to perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in the pursuit of their duties while serving their country. That their dedication, deeds and supreme sacrifice be a constant source of motivation toward greater accomplishments.”

Gov. Paul LePage and Vice Adm. George Emery of Kennebunkport, who served on five nuclear submarines and was the 24th commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force, were among the speakers on hand to honor the submariners.

“You’re a shining example of what our nation is built upon,” LePage told the new Holland Club members.

One of the honorees was John A. McCutcheon of Fairfield, who, for three years served in — or, more specifically, under — the Pacific aboard the 311-foot USS Bluegill. The Navy submarine monitored Russian subs from a long distance away.

McCutcheon served as an electrician, working on the propulsion system of the World War II-era submarine. When he was on board, the USS Bluegill received a then-cutting-edge “super sonar” system that allowed it to monitor foreign watercraft from “hundreds — if not a thousand — of miles away.”

He said he was never scared during his time on the submarine, despite thin walls being the only thing separating him and his fellow sailors from certain death in deep water.

“You realize what you’re doing had to be done,” McCutcheon said. “Everyone stepped up to do their job. It’s a team effort.”

John S. Starbird Jr. of Arrowsic, commander of the Maine chapter of the United States Submarine Veterans, read proclamations from the certificates awarded to each honoree, finishing with the statement, “Pride runs deep.”

A ship’s bell was tolled twice, once each for the two submarines sunk in the month of September — the USS Grayling and USS Cisco. Both submarines went down in 1943 with “all hands lost.”