Monday, October 25, 2004

The Battle Off Samar - 60th Anniversary

10/25/2004 marks 60 years from the day of the Battle off Samar, which is near Leyte Gulf in the Philippine Islands. I ask you to take a few minutes to meditate on the events of this day so long ago. As a side note, this day has a tremendous amount of meaning for me, as my personal history has become linked with not only that day, but the people who ”stood to” as the British would say, when the odds were so far against them surviving that most would have written it off as “impossible.” The story is compelling because the decks of the ships were awash in as much raw courage, as they were in blood and seawater. It speaks to the ability of the human race to rise to an inpossible challenge. The best book I have found on the events of this day is “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” by James D. Hornfischer. Not only is the story a compelling and captivating one, in and of itself, James’ research was thorough and he really brings the people to you, not merely a litany of what ship moved where, fired what and the result is history. This book was awarded the Samuel Eliot Morrison Award for books on Naval History. I will preface the rest of the post with this quote from Samuel Eliot Morrison: “In no engagement in its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar.” Samuel Morrison is one of the pre-eminent Naval Historians, particularly of the WW II era. The men in this battle are the forefathers of the men and women who risk themselves completely in Iraq and Afghanistan today land I consider them to be cut from the same cloth. The Battle off Samar had been forming for several days before the 25th of October, 1944. Two groups of attacking Japanese surface ships, without aircraft carrier support had been working their way through the Philippine Islands, enroute the vicinity as Leyte Gulf in order to destroy the amphibious landing forces. This landing was General MacArthur’s return to the Islands and the one where the historic pictures of him wading ashore were taken as he exclaimed “I have returned.” One force of battleships, cruisers and destroyers had been effectively decimated by the night of the 24th by the battle force of Admiral Olendorf. In the approaches to the Surigao Straights, in the darkness of the night, the U.S. PT boats, destroyers, cruisers and bloodied veteran battleships from Pearl Harbor would extract a high price from Admiral Nishimura’s approaching surface group. The battle was a textbook case of “Crossing the ‘T’ ” Another battle force, under Admiral Kurita, consisting of four battleships (one was the IJNS YAMATO, equipped with 18” naval guns, the largest ever put to sea), six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and eleven destroyers, had escaped detection as it slipped through the San Bernadino Straight that same night. As the sun rose on the morning of the 25th, Admiral Kurita’s Central Force bore down on an un-alerted task element that was called “Taffy 3” from 25 miles north of the U.S. group. Taffey 3 consisted of six “escort” carriers (CVEs), which were merchant ship hulls fitted with flight decks, three FLETCHER Class destroyers (DDs) and four destroyer escorts (DEs) sunder the command of Rear Admiral Clifton “Ziggy” Sprauge. Naval officers, from the earliest times fighting ships put to sea, have dreamed of being the winner in the great sea battles of history, hoping to equal Lord Nelson at Abikour Bay. In more modern times, U.S. admirals dreamt of “the great Mahanian sea battle,” described by Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, where the huge dreadnoughts duked it out in strategic battles at sea. The aircraft carrier dominance brought to the world on December 7th, 1941 pretty much ended that dream. On this fateful day, the battle came to Admiral Sprauge, Commander Evans, Commander Hathaway, Lieutenant Commander Copeland and Gunners Mate Paul Carr, and a host of other unlikely heros I haven’t listed, and they hadn’t planned for and it was nothing like Admiral Mahan ever thought of. The details above are to set the stage for what occurred next. Picture two sea-borne opponents, one Goliath, one David, yet unlike David, Admiral Sprauge had not been observing the warriors run from Goliath day after day, before he chose to step onto the battlefield. This situation was more like the war between the Philistines and Hebrews was raging and Goliath sought out David’s flock as he tended his sheep and surprised him at dawn. Admiral Sprauge, upon being told of the Japanese presence, knew the only choice was to stand and fight, regardless of the cost. Had Kurita’s Central Force gotten by Taffy 3, the heavy Japanese combatants would destroy the landing force. One lesson that both Carrier Group and combatant type officers constantly needed reminding of is you are only there to ensure the landing force gets ashore. All the other glorious “stuff” is superfluous. You are actually an “ablative shield” for the Marines, or Army, as was the case here, leather jackets and fancy high, speed ship handling be damned! The battle was quickly shaping up as one of complete sacrifice. The math says the U.S. Navy brought 23 5” guns and 42 torpedoes to the fight. All seven of the escorts were armed with nothing bigger than 5”/38 caliber guns, which can fire a 54 lb projectile. The destroyers had 5 guns, the DEs had only two. The Japanese had about 66 equivalent barrels on the 11 destroyers alone. I’m not sure what the projectile weight on an 18” Japanese round was, but U.S. Battleship 16” guns fired a 2200 lb round, so it has to be roughly equivalent to say the Japanese could attack with rounds at least that size. Commander Evans on the JOHNSTON, a DD, steamed at full speed into the approaching threat armed with torpedoes and 5-5” guns, he and his crew knew it was the moment to put all their skills and focus to work. His ship was sunk in the battle, hut not before he seriously damaged several of the attaching cruisers. As the survivors of the JOHNSTON clung to their rafts in the water later, one of the Japanese ships mustered their deck crew while the battle continued, to render a salute to their audacity and seamanship as the continued to chase the CVEs. Commander Amos T. Hathaway commanded another of the FLETCHER Class destroyers on the 25th, the HEERMANN. Captain Hathaway and his crew sent their ten torpedoes and numerous 5’; 40 mm, and 20mm rounds towards the Japanese, sustaining severe damage from battleship rounds hitting them, but the ship survived to be repaired. The SAMUEL B ROBERTS (DE-413), commanded by Lieutenant Commander Robert Copeland, raced into the salvos of the Japanese as well, with Gunners Mate 2nd Paul Carr as the Mount Captain of Mount 52 (the after 5” gun mount). Following the JOHNSTON into battle with the HEERMANN close by, the “Sammie ‘B’,” is a legend in U.S. Naval history, for the courage her crew displayed that day. This vessel has rested on the bottom off Samar Island since that day. Paul Henry Carr was a young man from Checotah, Oklahoma. The single son in the family, with 6 or 7 sisters, he enlisted in the Navy as did millions after Pearl Harbor. He was married, so he left a young wife behind when he sailed to the Pacific. In the book, Captain Copeland reported that Gunners Mate Carr’s gun mount was not only the best on the ship, but the best he had ever seen in his service time. Not only was it so clean your could eat off the deck (a real feat in a gun mount full of hydraulics and constant foot traffic, let alone heavy metal things like shell casings and tools being dropped on the deck) the gunnery performance was also excellent. Paul Carr took his duty as Supervisor of a gun and gun crew seriously. On the 25th, Mount 52 hammered out round after round, striking their targets. The rate of fire for a good 5”38 gun crew was about 10 rounds/minute. The Sammie B sustained numerous hits from large caliber weapons of the enemy, and at some point, the high pressure air compressors went off line. “HP air” is used to clear the 5” gun barrel of combustion fumes, which are toxic, after a shell is fired, and before the gun breech is opened to ram in the next round. Despite the loss of the gas clearing air, Carr’s crew kept firing their gun mount. The smoke and odors must have been overwhelming, but they kept up their rate of fire. Eventually, power to operate the hydraulic loading ram was lost, so they shifted to manual loading the gun, as the Japanese ships surrounded the fearless destroyers and destroyer escorts who had the impertinence to take on the largest battleship in the world. Continuous firing of a gun heats the metal of the breech of the gun. At some point, a condition called a “hot gun” exists. This is when the temperature of the metal is so high, that it will cause the powder in the propellant casing to ignite without operating the firing mechanism. A standard gun magazine load on destroyers has been 600 rounds for all the years during and since WWII. By this time, Mount 52 had fired almost all of their rounds, and the gun was glowing red at the breech. While loading a powder casing behind the projectile, and before the breech block could be closed, the powder exploded, killing most of the crew in the mount. Paul Carr initially survived the blast. Shortly after Mount 52 was silenced, the ROBERTS took a few more hits and was dead in the water, listing. As the medical crews went about treating the less wounded, they set Paul Carr aside to treat others. Paul had been ripped open from his chest to his crotch, and obviously wouldn’t live long. When they came back to check on him, he wasn’t where they had laid him, he had crawled back into the damaged gun mount, had picked up the last projectile and was asking for help to load and fire it. A dying man on a dying ship, stood up, as the life quite apparently drained from him, and he was trying to carry on the fight, for the enemy was still a threat. He succumbed to his wounds shortly afterwards. The airmen who got aloft from the CVEs, many without bombs or even gun ammunition make any real or mock attacks on the Japanese ships to take the pressure off their own “home plates,” as well as the surface ships engaged at close range. I’d almost venture to say you could have shoveled up the raw courage that day and stored it in 55 gallon drums, and had plenty to last centuries. I can’t begin to do honor to the men who served there that day. Read the book. I am passionate about this story for the following reasons: I served 20 years in the Navy. The last shipboard tour I had was as the Executive Officer aboard the USS CARR (FFG-52). I had some of the war diary logs in my files turned over to me by my predecessor. It captivated me then. I was required to take a computer course for my NROTC scholarship. A tall, thin man, the only Navy Officer at an Army oriented school (The Citadel) was my professor. His name was Captain Amos T. Hathaway, the Captain of the USS HEERMANN off Samar. Reporting to Fleet Combat Training Center, Atlantic at Dam Neck, Virginia, I was assigned as the Combat Systems Operational Team Training Officer for the Pre-Commissioning crews of the OLIVER HAZARD PERRY Class FFG-7 Guided Missile Frigates. The first crew I trained was going to the USS CLIFTON SPRAUGE (FFG-16). As I was leaving two years later, one of the last crews I trained was USS COPELAND (FFG-25). It was October, 1988 when I took over as XO on CARR from then CDR Tom Brown. I didn’t know much about the battle, just that one gunner’s mate had received the Silver Star for his heroism in WWII. During my time as XO, the Chief Staff Officer at our supporting destroyer squadron was Captain Paul X. Rinn, who had been the Commanding Officer on the USS SAMUEL B ROBERTS (FFG-58) when it hit a mine in the Persian Gulf. That ship would not have been saved, with out his innovative thinking and a crew that rose to an immediate danger, just as those of the DE-413 had done many years before. I know deep within me, that my association with this date is no coincidence. As I was re-reading some of the book tonight, and after scanning about for some information on the USS CARR, I found out CARR is now assigned to Destroyer Squadron Two out of Norfolk. One of the two squadrons of Japanese destroyers of Kurita’s Central Force where in their Destroyer Squadron TWO. If you’re still with me here, here are some important notes about this battle: In William Shakespeare’s Henry V (Act 4, Scene 3), there is a speech referring to “We band of brothers,” about those who are on the field of battle on Saint Crispen’s Day. The actual battle was the Battle of Agincourt October 25th, 1415. This was another battle in history where the underdogs won the day, despite the problems they faced. The Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War at Balaclava, memorialized by Alfred Lord Tennyson, happened on October 25th. The Battle off Samar is the last naval ship to ship battle (other than between or with patrol boats) in the world’s history. The battle happened with out air cover from large deck carriers, because they had been pulled away by Admiral “Bull” Halsey to try to sink Japanese aircraft carriers. There were in fact, some Japanese carriers in the area, to the north east, which were sent as a decoy to draw the large ships away from the landing area. It worked, and the other point of that most Japanese naval pilots with any significant experience had been killed, so Japanese carriers were almost no threat. On the book’s web site tonight, there was a comment that the reason the Battle off Samar wasn’t ever publicized, it would have to have called to question why Bull Halsey was off on a goose chase, and not making sure the amphibious force was protected. This past weekend, the survivors of several ships and aircraft squadrons had a 60th year reunion in San Diego. There are still many of them alive. My final point: As I read stories on weblogs such as Black Five and Mudville Gazette, I see the same courage is being exercised, but these days, it’s more than likely happening in a USMC or Army unit. We still have these sorts of young men and women answering the call to fight for freedom, even if it costs them their lives and I thank God for that. If you’re one of those men or women reading this that is serving now, you have my gratitude and my envy. May God keep you safe.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Using antiquity to find your way

I used to not understand how a book written many years ago would have much bearing on my life. Since October 1998, I have been growing in understanding in how the wisdom of the Bible is applicable today. A vision of a life’s experience recently came to me to help me counter the objection of: “How can a document written 2000 and more years ago have any applicability in today’s society?” I spent a career in the Navy, to include a duty that required me to be a Ship’s Navigator for 18 months. For 15 years before the moment the story following describes, I had been associated with the principles of celestial navigation, but it had not been my professional assignment to actually conduct the task. I first saw it practiced on the USS ANCHORAGE (LSD-36) by the bearded Lieutenant who was the Navigator. It was many years later when I took the sextant in my hand to look skyward and tell my Captain where I figured we where. My first effort, as a 1st Class Midshipman, was very inaccurate. I recall at least I was plotting us in the western Pacific, which is good, since we were there. By March of 1990, aboard USS CARR (FFG-52), my navigation skills had developed considerably. I have experienced the same thing in my newfound Christian life. I am confident that with each passing day and devotion to learning, I will find the messages more precise and concise. I recall the cool, humid air rushing by my face as the ship cruised at about 15 knots across the calm waters of the Persian Gulf. The night is just about to leave twilight and the sky is cloudless. All of the stars of the heavens are not yet visible, just the brightest ones, to the eye, but they are there. The western sky is still dimly lit, providing a clear view of the horizon. I review my planning sheet, completed this afternoon, and make sure my recorder has his stopwatch ready. Standing with my legs apart to stabilize myself on the starboard bridge wing, I lift my sextant and preposition the adjustable arm to the estimated angle for the first star I will “shoot.” Gazing to the southeast, my practiced eye quickly focuses on Sirius as I bring the small telescope to my eye. My left hand pinches the release mechanism to make an adjustment of the mirror. I see a split picture of the sky around Sirius in the mirror and the horizon. I pause and watch the subtle upward movement of the star in my field of view brought on by the rotation of the Earth. I turn the fine adjustment wheel to shift the view where Sirius is slight below the level of the real view of the horizon. I begin to swing the sextant left and right about 20o, “swinging the arc” to ensure I have brought the star to the horizon correctly. My legs flex to compensate for the slow rolling of the ship to provide an accurate reading. A thought crosses my mind as I wait for Sirius to match the horizon. My body is in automatic after so many times I have shot celestial bodies in the course of my assignment. I think just how marvelous the human mind is and how it can accomplish so much with so little thought – a true gift. With each slow swing of the sextant, pivoting about my eye, Sirius rises slowly ever so slightly. My urge to manipulate the fine adjustment more is overridden by my desire to savoir the moment in this peaceful state. I perceive so much, yet I am so single-minded. In the background, the crackling static of the bridge-to-bridge radio and the footfalls of the Officer of the Deck coming onto the bridge wing are heard, but do not distract me. My recorder, a signalman without professional tasks at the moment, stares at the stopwatch he holds to the clipboard with his left hand, his other holding a pen over the star sighting log sheet, dimly illuminated by a small flashlight clipped to the board. As Sirius is about to cross the horizon, I say “Standby” to alert him, then a few short seconds later “MARK!” when the view in the mirror of the brightest star in the sky crosses the horizon, by my best reckoning. He notes the time and I take the sextant from my eye and shine a red flashlight on the angular reading. As I read the numbers to him, I think about how the reading I have just taken represents the light that was made from that star many millions of years ago by the fusion process. I am using it to figure out where my ship is today, but the light has had to travel across space in time to reach me so I could use it as a reference now. God placed the stars in the heavens many years ago, so I might be able to “fix” my position, then from there I might be able to plot a course to my destination. I can come back later and take reading from the same stars to measure how far I have gone and in which direction and they are still gracing me with this information based on their presence in antiquity. The stars are large and bright and their light has spanned the millennia, being used by the ancient Phoenicians, Chinese and European sailors. The methods used by these ancient sailors have been refined, but the techniques are essentially unchanged today. The Bible is a book the does for you, what the stars did for me on that and many other nights. It may have been written many years ago, but it’s wisdom and guidance fixes us and our life’s direction today. Also, like the stars, they will report where you are, if you read them correctly. If you have traveled off course, they will reveal that to you, just as they can tell you are where you expect you would and should be to avoid navigation hazards. God made this book so we would have it today to avoid life’s hazards and it can tell you when you are right as well as wrong, once you study it. After shooting Sirius, I repeated the process for Betelgeuse, Castor, Pollux, and Aldebaran. My recorder dutifully recorder the time and the “height observed.” I review the data sheet and head back to my state room. I close my door, reach for my nautical almanac, and HO 229 on my book shelf to begin the process of reducing what I have observed. I do the lengthy calculations manually for the intellectual exercise. After stepping through a long series of formula and look up tables, I arrive at values to mark on a nautical chart. The results of this next step will tell me how accurately I can determine the results. When I first began, it was not unusual to be within five nautical miles of where I should have fixed the ship, but as the days went by, my precision became more refined and therefore more correct “interpretations.” This is a similar process with the Bible and understanding. At first, you pick up this ancient text and know there is some wisdom, but you don’t understand how well it actually speaks to you. With time and regular exposure to the Scriptures, your understanding becomes more clear and concise. The infinitesimally small arcs on the chart are drawn as straight lines, as the radius of the circle plotted in millions of light years in measurement. After a few minutes, a crossing of the lines indicates where the ship was about an hour ago, as I stood 41 feet above the water’s surface, calling marks to my recorder. I could not make an instantaneous judgement on my position, as the stars are so far and small, I could not interpret it until I studied it for some time. The Universe, created to show us God’s glory, is vast and too large to grasp, but when studied, some of the meaning will be revealed, if you make the time to observe it and devote time to interpret what you have observed in your “readings.” As the navigator looks to the ancient sky to find his place on the face of the globe today, so can we look at this example to help understand the purpose of the Bible and how it relates to our lives now. Navigation is the combination of pure mathematics and personal proficiency in interpreting what you study. With dedicated effort, your ability to find the lessons of life become clearer. With understanding, you gain the ability to pass the information on to others, but they too must devote their energy to gain the ability to know for sure when the stars cross the horizon in the split mirror view. Knowing the “math” alone will not lead you to the answers, nor can you expect that using someone else’s observations to provide as much as you need to know, if you just “plug in the values.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Report on new "toys"

Just a side note. This has nothing to do with politics, so if you're here to get your blood pressure up, move on. If you need a non-partisan break, keep reading. I'm working on a post about my work in the recycling world, but it's going to need some work. Because of that job, I made a friend who tracked down about 50 Compaq TC1000 "Tablet" PCs. I told him not to let me see it, because if it was good, I'd have to get one. He failed me and brought it to my office. I have one now, as does one of my co-workers. Many of you know what a PDA is and possibly have one. What if you could put that kind of functionality in your hands, the handwriting recognition in particular, and make it weigh 2 pounds, and give you a 1024x768 10.4" display? Oh, yes, it's a 1G processor, 512M of RAM and a 30G drive inside, running XP w/ SP2. No more little cut down versions of Excel and Word, or Internet Explorer, you now have the real stuff! TC1000 Specs from HP for the curious. The display can transmogrify (I learned that word from the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strips) between landscape or portrait mode by clicking a button on the bezel. The hand writing interface is amazing. The day after I got the tablet, I sat at Borders writing posts for here. I cranked out about 6 pages in Word and maybe corrected about 3% of my "typing." You can do letters, or cursive and it learns your handwriting better the more you use it. It has become my choice of "tools" now and as I type this on my big computer, my fingers are rebelling somewhat. I could write very quickly and it kept up with me and as I botched some cursive words, thinking "it's not going to get that!" in many cases, it did just fine. For meetings, classes, lectures, jotting quick notes, without the agony of sitting down later to type them up is eliminated with this tablet. No subtle clicking of keys in that lecture hall, or at the board room table on your obtrusive laptop. Better yet, you can pull it down on your lap, just like the clipboards of days gone by, and just jot away with the stylus. Silent and effective. There is an application named Windows Journal, which looks like a regular lined pad of paper and has "tools" like highlighters (pick one of 8 colors) and erasers, as well as "flags" to drop on the page to call attention to your scribbling. You can actually just write/draw on the pages here. It's not great in bright outdoor light, as I found out this weekend sitting on the end of a friend's dock on the Intercoastal. I was going to write, but I sat and watched the seaguills and pelicans, and Marine one fly over instead. Anyhow, It's difficult to describe how useful it has become, with it's built in 802.11b around the house, as well as working elsewhere. It boots like a regular PC, so the "instant on" isn't there, but it's like a PDA on steriods. If you see one, ask the owner if you can play with it, but be ready to reach for a credit card. I'm selling my notebook to finance it! To find out more tips on saving money on electronics, come back in a few days and I'll share some of what I have learned in the recycling world in how to save lots of money on toys such as this.... This is not an advertisement for my friend. His source for these was sold out within two weeks of getting them. I just wanted to share my excitement about this new capability. There are some still on eBay, but it appears they came from the same place Mark was getting them, so they will most likely dry up soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Peter's Views from Vietnam

I ran across a comment on a blog from a Vietnam Veteran named Peter a few months ago. He expressed remorse about not stepping up to the plate until a few months ago, to express his outrage at the statements of John Kerry in the Senate Hearings in 1971. He posted an eloquent, first person story, of what some men he served with did, in order that others may play fast and loose with the truth. Those men of which he spoke, did not leave Vietnam alive so many years ago. Peter has some more words I found tonight I think are worth sharing. They are posted below. I think he needs to write a book of his experiences. Read it and see the passion this man has from a truly searing experience in his young life: Further, it doesn't take long to spot a bogus 'veteran'. Many of those telling the lurid stories had never spent one day wearing Uncle's suit. Others never set foot in Southeast Asia. Poseurs misuse the military jargon. I've been out of uniform for three and a half decades I still have to force myself to, when I start walking, step off with my right foot, stepping off with the left foot is ingrained in Boot Camp. Every infantry type I ever saw who spent time in the Southeast Asian War Games has little round scars spread about from infected leech and insect bites, we called them 'gook sores'. You can tell me that The Hee-row didn't know that he was lying through his teeth. I won't believe you but you can tell me. He knew it then, he knows it now. Kerry stood over the open graves of some fifty-eight thousand Americans, some of whom I served alongside, and pissed on their bodies. He pissed on every one of those neatly folded flags that were all that mothers and fathers, wives and children and brothers and sisters had left to hold. He is now trying to wrap himself in those flags. It will not work, I, along with many who served with far more distinction than me, shall not allow it. It's bad enough that our children were taught those lies as fact in their history classes, I was able to refute them. What about the children of the dead? Who told them that their Daddy wasn't really a murdering rapist? What about the parents of the dead? Most of those parents are gone now. How many of those parents died still wondering if those accusations about their sons could be true? Those men, those children, those parents, they deserved better. May the seventh of this year marked the thirty-ninth anniversary of the first man in my platoon to die in that war, he fell off the net climbing off the troopship and was crushed between the ship and the landing craft. He never got ashore. Over my two and a half tours there were many other young men that never grew old. Young men that I sweated with during the dry seasons and shivered with in the monsoons. Men that shared the joy of a letter from home and the tears of the Dear John. Men who helped carry my load when I turned an ankle on a long hump as I did when it happened to them. Men that I loved like a brother and men that I could barely stand. Men that for years after that war used to visit me in my sleep. Men that I thought had finally stopped visiting, that constant prayer had allowed to rest comfortably are back. Civilians mostly don't understand those visits. They're visiting again, those men. They want something from me, just one thing. "Tell them" they say. I try. Shall I try to tell you about the young man who's last act on this earth was to put his body over a wounded man who lives today because his body stopped the mortar shrapnel? His name was Steve. He was a Corpsman, he joined so that he could go to medical school on the GI Bill. He never became a Doctor, he saved a lot of lives. Shall I tell you of Mike? A farm boy having his Big Adventure before he settled in to a life of growing things. A piece of shrapnel hit a white phosphorus grenade on his web gear, there's no way to put that stuff out. After it finally burned out pieces of him kept falling off as we were trying to get him into the body bag. He was twenty. Every day he wrote a letter to his mom and another to his girlfriend. We lied when we wrote that letter, told her that he died instantly from an artillery shell. How about Jack? A lifer, veteran of Korea. A Viet kid was out in the middle of a VC minefield, this father of three bled to death after both legs were blown off trying to retrieve that kid. He had made the promotion list and had orders sending him back to take the course to be a First Sergeant. Three weeks left in the field. There are many more stories like this, some who's names I know, some, like the pilot of the medevac bird killed going into a hot LZ because he knew that there were men that would die if they didn't get to the hospital, I never learned his name. The crew chief pulled his body away from the controls so the copilot could fly the bird. Our men lived. Those are John Kerry's war criminals. Those are the men that I have spent my life trying, and mostly failing, to live up to. They deserve a better spokesman than me, someone famous, heroic and eloquent. I hope they get such a spokesman, I pray for it. They deserve a spokesman who can speak of them without tears. I only know that the young men, and now women, wearing the uniforms must be protected from this man, John Kerry. It's not just that he isn't fit to command them, he is not fit to speak their names.

John Kerry to heal the lame (if elected)

I can’t believe it. Yesterday, John Edwards nominated John Kerry as Jesus Christ. He said “When John Kerry is elected, people like Christopher Reeves will get up out of their wheelchairs and walk.” That sounds arrogant beyond any level that is acceptable. Ok, so he‘ll fix the economy, stop the war, make more jobs (or maybe jobs for all), provide drugs cheap, make Medicare less, and – to top it off, make the lame walk The last stories I heard about that are in the New Testament. So, now he’s (John Kerry) not satisfied to just be a lowly President of the United States, he wants to be like God. Suddenly it is becoming clear. John Kerry is being consistent, in that he wants to “take America back from the church going people,” yet he is now pandering to get the Pentecostal Christian vote on his side, but he is using a surrogate to get the message out. Yes, he’s consistently trying to work both sides of the equation. I guess as it comes down to the wire, we’ll see more moves on the pat of the Kerry-Edwards campaign to demonstrate more and more Christ like behaviors. What might we anticipate next? Possibly we’ll see the blind being promised vision. That would actually be something most people could easily correlate to Jesus Christ. Promising to turn French bottled water into fine French wine might he something he can commit to at his inaugural ball. He’d be under a lot of pressure to come through here, since this was also Christ’s first miracle. Sarcasm aside, there is something sinister going on here. There once was this angel named Satan, who decided he wasn’t getting enough glory. The story, at a basic levels pretty well known. Let me just end this discussion with it was all about the sin of Pride then land I see itsthe same thing now. Pray for no more superbly stupid promises from any candidates, ever again, not just for this election.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Is your access to cheap health care more important than me losing my head?

Or: more important than you losing your head? A few weeks ago, I was having a discussion with a customer. With the election heating up, I mentioned I had some information B would like to email regarding John Kerry saying “we have to take America take from the church going people.” I won’t digress, but that’s the subject for an entirely other post. Anyhow, she told me she was upset with George Bush because he made it so ”we” couldn’t buy cheap drugs from Canada and that her mother-in-law’s Medicare was going to be unaffordable. She went on to tell me how these Circumstances were his fault. I asked if she had called her congressman. She had not. Once more, that could he a rich topic for another post-the failure of the Mark I/ Mod 0 U.S. citizen to understand the responsibilities of the branches of Government. I’d hazard a guess that even naturalized U.S. citizens have a better comprehension of this topic than the “locals.” The point of this article is why is an issue that only affects your pocketbook more important than that of the basic protection of U.S. citizens, wherever they may be? The answer, of course, is far too easy to be considered rhetorical. Pure self-centeredness. We are most certainly in a land where it’s a rare case that someone is turned away from medical care. Yes, it happens, and that is on issue, but we aren’t perfect, and corporate America is in the business to make money. That leads to mere material for posts! Now, if I understand my customer, who does have major issues with John Kerry’s positions, all of those objections are trumped for a dollar amount that could probably be figured using available information. So this leads to the following conclusion: The Global War on Terror, that is a “distraction,” that is in place because of several decades of U.S. military members and civilians being murdered in cold blood, and is a preventative measure against the mass killings from occurring in the future, (sorry, take a breath) and should not get in the way of “affordable” healthcare. Did I get that right? Say we get access to cheap drugs and major medical services. What is the cost of the lost humanity, here and abroad, when the next innocent is butchered for a video camera? It just occurred to me the liberal thinkers of today seem to think that, as Teresa Heinz-Kerry calls them “boys and girls,” being sent overseas to die is an abomination. I submit they are saying the life of the service people (that they treat with such contempt) is more valuable than a U.S. citizen. Now that is truly a revelation! The U.S. citizen, no longer backed by the “diplomatic currency” of military force applied at the enemy’s centers of gravity, are now fair game in the global/international blackmail market (This is great stream of consciousness stuff!) . What other conclusion can you come to, if they keep calling to bring the troops home? That action takes them out of the line of fire and preserves their lives. This clears the way for the U.S. Citizen to become prey, and in this context, expendable. Is this a plan to mallet a greater probability that a competing business person is killed? Sorry, that was too far into the tinfoil hat realm. Seriously, people will be put at risk as a result of pulling back. As a member of the uniformed service for 20 years during the Cold War, I anxiously awaited an opportunity to show you taxpayers that your tax dollars had been well invested in my combat preparation. My plan was to be victorious, and to be able to come back and tell the stories, while fully buying into the reality that I may not come back at all. Within the last few days, analogies to “sheepdogs” have graced some great blogs. I was a sheepdog and proud of it. Presidential hopeful John Kerry want people like me to come home and be safe. That strategy makes no sense (yes, that’s a personal opinion). The logical extension of this discussion point is American citizens I who are not interested in “sitting up.” Are now the prey for those who are perpetual victims land seek to “take it out” on a person who happens to come from this country. Pardon my condescension, but how adult! We all know, from a few years at the playground they do this because they perceive no consequence for their actions are inevitable. If we add up all the savings for cheap drugs and medical care, can I take those dollars and go somewhere and purchase replacement person for everyone killed just because some terrorist thought they deserved it for being an American? And, even if we can compute the number, and could actually go and buy people, would you gladly deposit allot the money you personally saved into the boot of the fireman at the intersection? Would you maybe decide you only had to give a little, and put 50% in , so we could at least put ½ a person back into life with us? Regardless of how you’d like to portray it, the Judeo-Christian foundations of this Nation make us a compassionate people. I have personally witnessed the outpouring of help that came to Charleston, SC and the surrounding communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in late September, 1989. I have firsthand knowledge of how much was given to the areas of Florida hit by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Anyone reading this most certainly is aware of the money, volunteer help and materials that flowed into New York and Washington, D.C. We donate to Iran after earthquakes, Bangladesh after the monsoons, and to every other recognized formal disaster that affects those on our planet. We see beyond ideologies on a regular basis, as compassion blinds us to the routine things of life that might otherwise separate us. As members of the world community, we value the human well above all else. Why all of sudden is it more important to save money? If you’re reading this and are one trying to balance your medical checkbook in the shadow of this argument, would you take some time and honestly evaluate your position on this issue? Given that “heart and soul” of the regular American, how could we turn our backs on the sanctity of human life, most particularly, our own countryman, just to save a few dollars? Yes, it’s really more than a few I know. Could you agree that however many dollars that comes to, that all of it piled together could never provide enough comfort to a mother, father, sister or brother of someone killed for the sake of someone else’s unhappiness? That leads me to another thought thread: We have pushed to pass “hate crime” laws all over the country, and at the Federal level, yet we seem happy to excuse those who even randomly hate (note: Get new bumper stickers for sale in Fallujah- “Commit random acts of hatred.” ) in the name of almost anything or anyone they can conceive, and we respond in honor. The Muslims are pushing for Sharia haw to become the law of the world. Some have even put forth the proposal to make blaspheming of Mohammed as a crime. Where are all of our ACLU and Gay Rights activists? There sure isn’t any coverage of them in New York in front of the hinted Nations, protesting that there are few, if any hate crime statutes in the rest of the world. I’d guess they are in the laws of the Northern European countries, but there is probably a noticeable absence of them is the Middle East and Africa and the Far East. Russians probably lacking as well. This has been longer than I thought it would be, yet there is more here that is ripe for discussion. Keep in mind this bad enough that you would get your cheap drugs and almost free medical care at the expense of the life of a fellow citizen of the planet Earth. Oh, or at the expense of your own life, when the bomb blast rips the stadium seats apart at Madison Square Gardens while you watch the Nicks play. Will you be willing to count the savings then?

Captain Gary Voorheis on “Crisis Management”

It was one of these days inport Norfolk. There we sat at the Wardroom table, waiting for the meal and something, which isn’t really important, except to know it was something that required unplanned, immediate attention for some shore based command, had just been called to our ship’s attention. Then Commander Gary Voorheis , Commanding Officer of USS CONOLLY (DD- 979), sat at the head of the forward table, and I two seats away. I offered my opinion at this point, with some remark about crisis management, clearly indicating my displeasure and disgust. I’m some I used some standard “Naval” terminology to ensure how I really felt about it came out. Captain Voorheis looked at me and then gave me some incredible words that completely changed my outlook on this issue. He posed this question: “Engineer, isn’t war the ultimate human crisis? “ Well, it sure didn’t take too much thought to get this answer right. “Yes” I responded. Then he connected the dots with this sage logic: “Then every time you have a chance to exercise ‘crisis management,’ aren’t you just practicing your profession?” Thank you, Captain Voorheis for your wisdom.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A little silliness never hurt, did it?

By nosing around various blogs, I wandered across a link to Stupid Videos and a clip named "British Attack." "Hungry Date" was also fun. Scan around when you need a laugh....

"The Right Thing"

About two years ago,I found this book on the new book table at Borders. I sat in the coffee shop area and read it, which is what I usually do, rationalizing paying for expensive coffee is tribute the the Corporation. Different from most other books, I then walked to the cash register and bought it. Subsequently, I have bought two more copies and handed them out as gifts, for this is one story worth reading. The book, "The Right Thing" by Scott Waddle, is the story of the fateful day in 2001 when the USS GREENVILLE (SSN-772) surfaced off Hawaii and hit the Japanese fishing boat, killing 9 Japanese citizens. CDR Scott Waddle was the Commanding Officer that day. You can't get any better an account than the one through the eyes of the one who was there, who can also lay out the thought process that lead to the collision. I was assigned to assist in conducting one major JAG Manual investigation, and had to completely conduct two others (not near as major) as the investigating officer. In early 1993, I was sent to all the East Coast ships that had a particular missile system, in the wake of a major international incident, as a follow up to the investigation. The details Scott lays out in the book are precise and the way it's done. It's fascinating to see how a few little things, when left to continue unhindered, can lead to a major disaster, and at the core of all the investigations, was human failures as the proximate cause. Once it has happened, then you are to learn as much as you can to keep it from occurring again. For any of you military readers, I'd highly recommend this well written book by Scott, for you will connect with the pressures that do come as a result of VIPs in the area, and how that needs to be highlighted to watch closely if you have them around. For anyone elese, who wonders what goes into the military investigations in these circumstances, you will be rewarded with the first person insight of the inner workings.

A view thru the eyes of the oppressed

Greyhawk, of Mudville Gazette has a post on a documentary coming out where a couple of MTV producers and an Army Vet took 150 digital video cameras into Iraq and handed them out to the people on the streets and then put together "Voices of Iraq." I suspect this will be a monumental film, that will show us a side of the average person over there that was never allowed out under Saddam. Details at the link.....

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Poetry about life in Iraq.....

JOC(SW) Joe Kane has a poem about life in Iraq posted. No credit to who wrote it, but its still got me thinking....I have things to do today, but I intend to get back to re-read it several times. Take a read, it's one referencing the history and the present conditions.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Iraq is not like Vietnam, it's Guadalcanal

Tremendously well argued article here about what the current "Global War on Terror" is truly analagous to. Read this! It's written by an Army Colonel, who has served as a counter terrorism staff officer for the Army in Europe. His experience, as well as career in the service makes this credible. Gaudalcanal is a memory in the history books for most of us, but there are some survivors of that opening land/sea/air battle in the desperate days of 1942, when we took the battle to the empire that had attacked us. It's a great history lesson in what our US Marines did to hang on against a fanatical enemy.

The US Air Force makes a play for space.....

I have always thought vessels in space need to be crewed and operated like Naval vessels. Tonite I found a link to an article about a new position paper the USAF has on how they should be in charge in space. This is merely a power grab on the part of the Air Force, that constantly wants to have war a on a go to combat, come back for a beer concept. That has it's merits for here on earth, but it doesn't "fly" (pun intended) in space. I say: THE NAVY CAN HANDLE SPACE! Here are my comments that rounds out my logic: Intersting article. I'd add my comment that we should seriously consider the high ground of space for our national defense, yet I submit, the US Navy is who should be in charge of this effort. I know the USAF thinks they desreve it, but the Air Force (please sit back down, you jet jockeys, and listen) has experience in things that go up and come back to earth a few hours later, well, if you're a bomber crew person, then maybe a day later. The key here is staying aloft a day or less only requires you to take a few essentials, if anything at all, with you for the period of your operation. The US Navy, on the other hand, has the edge in knowling how to set up for an extended operation. One key here is you can't do it with a few people. The crew has to rotate duty stations, so they are effective after the first 24-36 hours. As a result, they have to have berthing spaces, not just a shared bunk in the rear of the aircraft, and things like mess halls, and medical facilities, and storerooms full of spare parts, and most of all, crews with a reasonable amount of cross training to be able to quickly handle emergencies and combat operations. Gee, sounds like a ship or submarine to me. The Army has more ships thatn the Navy, but they are little ones, so possibily you could argue that some of the sea-going soldiers would have a place in the space faring force, besides being assault troops. Certainly the Marines know all about having to hang out on ships, working out all day, eating all the ice cream and watching all the movies, then complaining about nothing to eat, and no more movies to watch, so they'd fit right in. The Air Force does little to train for this type of environment. They have clubs, where you can come back from a mission and have a beer, and then go to the base theater, or bowling alley, have more beer, and be entertained, safe in the rear areas. This is not to say that the Air Force doens't contribute to the battle, they do, just their exposure to combat comes and goes, while the other services enter a combat zone and have to manage in it for extended periods of time, and this implies inclusion of massive logistical support requirements, which, certainly the Navy is well suited to do. and, in case you want to argue the point, the Navy was around long before the Wright brothers go us into the air... Now, to my crowning point: Can you name a serious space Sci-Fi show or movie where the crew of the craft had the Commanding Officer take a place at the helm in other than emergency conditions? Nope, they fly about the to the final frontier, with the Captain giving orders to the helmsman, who then steers the vessel. They ahve officers and enlisted to handle the myriad of jobs this creates, and a working chain of command designed for larger crews. Even the series "Enterprise," the postulated first long term exploration of space has a crew hurtling around at Warp, running the show just like a ship! Captain Kirk and Picard, along with the same model of vessel control being used by the Klingons, Vulcans and Romulans! I rest my case. I say put the Squids in Space! Besides, who need s a zoomie complaining all the way to the asteroid belt about no place within an astronomical unit to get a cold one? That would be really annoying.... Full disclosure: My first professional career was as a Naval Surface Warfare Officer, and I spent 9 years assigned to sea going commands, driving ships across most of the oceans of the world, to include extended operational deployments (6-7 months) to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, the Western Pacific, and the South Pacific and Atlantic. My operational responsibilities included assignments in Operations, Combat Systems and Engineering departments. I stood watches as Officer of the Deck (Underway), Combat Information Center Watch Officer, Tactical Action Officer, Ships Weapons Controller, and Engineering Officer of the Watch. I also picked up a few hours of "stick" time in T-34s, TA-4s and CH-46s along the way. This article is a little tounge in cheek humor, yet has a degree of seriousness to it as well. All memebers of the Armed forces of the US are valuable members in the defense of freedom, and all of us were trained to specific skill sets. Certainly the Air Force personnel could be trained in "ship handling," it's just more fun to see them squirm as the thread of inter-service rivalry continues to play out into the future.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

It's a wonderful time in the neighborhood of the tolerant liberal Democratic supporters! This act of AFL-CIO protesters in Orlando on 10/05/2004 is merely on of several recently stated events to go beyond the bounds of civil disobedience. At Little Green Footballs, charles posted this article and commentary. This post helped me put some words to my frustration. Here's my commentary, I posted ealier today (with as many typos and gramatical errors cleaned up as I could figure out): #124 Curt 10/6/2004 06:14AM PST Last night I was considering how so many "accusations" or labels coming from the mouths of the Democratic party are in fact what they have become. As pointed out in post #122, yes, Watergate. Bad thing...people breaking the law, and especially bad when the President himself is in on the action. The amount of abnormal violence all of a sudden seems completely uncharacteristic of normal human behavior, except when you see a crowd mentality take hold and people somehow forget their moral compass. This rash of illegal acts, seemingly considered "no big deal" by the MSM, fit the mold of people being whipped up into a fervor at a mass meeting, but not something you'd think of happening in a disbursed manner such as we have, Seattle, Knoxville, Orlando, Tampa....It leads me to believe beside talking up "stuffing" poll boxes electronically, that there is a back-channel message being sent out, demanding liberals take some horrific action. It makes me wonder even more.... Anyhow, the issue presented of Gun Control...they are against it as a party, yet use them. Dissenting opinions being "supressed?" Hey, Tim Robbins, what about storming offices and defacing signs and destroying campaign material? Did that ever happen to your movie studio? Storming the streets, yes, just as the Brown Shirts roaming the streets of Germany in the 1930s....Wasn't it Gore who called the right "Digital Brown Shirts?" Ok, I get it ...little words typed on a screen are horrific, up there with Saddm's murder of 350,000+ people, but your opinion is worse. Maybe its morally acceptable when you do it in real life, and actually injure or destroy in the name of your party and its ideal... Terrorists? Yes, they are becoming that, with the propaganda they have the audacity to push to us, with straight faces, knowing they are all lying. Then they tell people you must react to the threat they have skillfully composed in the public eye. I'd say John Kerry did learn something from his Vietnam experieince, he learned how to model classic communist methodology to take down an establihed govenrment. Look how the North Vietnamese invaded the halls of Congress and the University/College campuses to change minds? If you look at actual scientific polling data of the era, the nation was in favor of the Vietnam War, except those groupings from academia and in our very own law making body. What will the morning bring on November 3rd, if this is happening now? If Kerry wins, there will be parties on one side and grudging acceptance on the other. If Bush wins, I suspect parties on one side and wanton, party sanctioned "willful destruction" on the part of the other side. I use willful destruction, as I learned in an investigation while I was in the Navy, that when one of your own sailors destroys equipment to keep a unit from completing it's mission, it's not "sabotage." That's something the enemy does. Since we're still all Americans, then it will be willful destruction. Manchurian Candidate? Possibly. I thought it was Bill Clinton taking money from China. On the other hand, this may just be the continuance of the strategy of that "setback" in the takeover. Look at history, the Vietnamese fought the Chinese for 1000 years...and finally won. Determination, across the generations can exist. Not trying to dredge up any demons that don't really exist, but all too many patterns of totalitarianism and communism surface these days. Rampant hipocracy, bold faced lies, control of thoughts, pandering to any one, just to get in, then you cna turn the tables. Dr Lazardo said "Egads! It makes the ganglia twitch!" I argeee. I just hope the nightmare ends 11/3/2004, but then again, it won't, we have too many lawyers in the halls of power already. It will be ugly and contested to the last breath. Pardon my typos in advance....only have a few minutes here...but had to say something.

Outsourcing the Hunt for Osama bin Laden

I posted my thought over at Black Five today on this topic. They stem from the, once again, shrill accusation from the Kerry camp, via the VP debate last night, about how we bungled the war and failed to capture the terrorist mastermind. There is a serious issue here, when will the MSM pick up on it? If you care for some real, first hand comments on the possibility of capture of OSL, this link takes you to what one of the Green Beret Colonels had to say about it all, and he was there. I'll take his word over anyone elses, any day. I suggest you give this man's words their proper consideration. Here we (I) go! Simply amazing. For any person, outside the center of the control of the war to state so forcefully things that he protrays as though he has intimate knowledge.... One of two things: He (they) is (are) lying through his teeth, without any shame, or he is exposing intelligence information of the highest level. Interesting, when a "leak" about someone's wife comes out, it's time for a Congressional inquiry (what are they really worth these days, besides entertainment?). If a person, so desparate to get into the office of the most powerful person on earth, that they will stop short of no bounds, this is not who any of us need, regardless of what he promises to line our pockets with federal money or benefits. So, if John Edwards and John Kerry are speaking the truth, I suspect the source documents are way up there in the compartmented stratosphere, and federal laws have been broken. If no one from the FBI shows up to arrest them for disclosing classified information, then it's guess what? They're trying to copy Dan Rather. What a compliment to c-BS news, that they would have to come down from their mansions to imitate such immoral behavior. Oh, and I love the "Way Back" machine they got from Mr. Peabody. We need one, does anyone want to help pony up to buy it? I'll share, I promise...:) From a strategic view, going after OSL alone, would be tatamount to an oncologist excising the single, visible skin tumor, and saying "OK, I'm done!" and disregarding the reality of the disease, that by the time you can detect it, it's not just there, and in the future, if not agressively treeated, will metastisize (sp?) to other locations, to continue the fight. Point: Go after "it" hard, fast, on all fronts, and strong, or, with cancer and terrorists, you're lost. "Knock, knock!" "Who's there?" "al-Queda Beheading Squad. Did you vote for Kerry?" .....(cloned from SNL "Land Shark" skits of long ago.) My contention is I wasn't equipped to deal in strategic issues as a LTjg, or even LT. I was well trained, but it was at the tactical level. jfK was at the same level, yet the difference, is he got out and most likely never bothered to read "On War." That one book alone would have helped. I was lucky enough to get set to school for an MA in Strategic Sudies and it changed my entire view of politics, business, new reports and, most importantly, life.. (For full disclosure for future reference: I did correct the misspelling of "politics" from the other post...:))

Deterence - An essay

Bill Whittle has some great writing at his site. One came out in the last few days on the issue of deterence. Deterence is a concept the United Sates of America adopted as a strategic policy concept at the end of WWII. It has served us well, but not perfectly. It has been the basic premsie of all the administrations, Democratic and Republican for over a half century. John Kerry seems to say he's for it, but when you take all his commentary over time, it sounds like he'd fold fast and let Ameican interests abroard be attacked. Just had a blinding flash of the obvious: What if the plants of the Heinz corporation are under threat of being nationalized, or destroyed? Will he suddenly change his tune and step out in advance? Anyhow, wander over to Bill's site and settle in for a thought provoking read. If you value the brain God gave you, I urge you to think about what Bill has to say.

President by Judical Appointment?

I for one, foresee a moment, in the very near future, where we wake up to find the President of the United States determined by appointed judges. Hello, McFly! Does that stop your heart? It does mine. The rumors are flying that serveal things are in place now that will allow challenges to President Bush being elected. I'd just comment that while this may seem like a good idea for the potential loser of the election, just as you oppose the meddling with the Constitution for an amendment for the definition of marriage, you had better lose sleep over opening the door to letting the judges put you into the highest office in the Country. Here's what jfK (btw, I use that particular case indication, as John F Kerry cannot possibly measure up to John F Kennedy, so I use lower case for john Kerry) doesn't ever seem to conprehend: If you can do it to someone else, someone else can do it to you. Once more I say: It's always dangerous to set a precedent. If Presidential contender can manage to overturn the Electroial College system, which has been a pretty good way to handle our elections for the prior 228 years, they will have nullified the votes of any and all citizens. We, The People, those named specifically in Preamble of The Constitution of The United States of America, in order to create a more perfect union (not a more perfect - indicating it has room to grow, but a recognition of it never being perfect)will no longer have a voice. The power to place a President in Office will become the domain of the Judicial branch. He's what I propose: If anyone attempts to do this, we need to IMMEDIATELY make the lawyers and politician know, we aren't going to stand for this. It doesn't even matter which party is doing this, if either one does it, then we are all lost. Letters, phone calls, demonstrations, etc all in order. Do you understand how important this is? I hope you do, for that spectre lurks in the shadows of the nearing 11/3/2004 elections. Keep your freedom, keep your vote. I will not stand for Presidents by Judical Appointment! Are you with me, or against your own freedom?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Where's the Way-Back machine when we need it?

I'm pretty disgusted with the VP debate. The moderator is pretty plainly after the Bush Administration. John Edwards is merely a shill for the man who might be his boss. It seems from the K-E side, there is a strnage belief that by saying "we'll do better" is good enough. It's great to be Monday Morning Quarterbacks, but not when it's about the safety of American citizens. If you haven't had any experience in running a war, at least be intelligent enough to do your homework first. John Kerry, using the mouth of JE tonight, wants us to believe a good strategy is to focus on a single target, take care of it, then go after the others in sequence. Certainly that's nice, when the threat is isolated, but not when it's from all directions. John Edwards himself, while trying to defend a flawed strategy, mentioned al-Queda members came from 60 different countries. OK, there's the answer why not to go after "point" targets in a serial manner. I'd still disgusted. Especially when a trial lawyer says there are too many law cases, and we will have the lawyers be responsible to fix the systems. Great to hear, when he is going to be able to not have to be a lawyer the rest of his life. He'll ride his House job, or VP resume the rest of his life, and not have to set foot in a classroom. That's exactly like Karl Marx writing "The Communist Manifesto" when he was a retired industrialist. Strange, he had the idea of utopia after he had made his riches off the Proletariat. Put JE in the same category. I'm taking the night off,it hurts my head.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

What RDC Michael P. McCaffery taught me

I sent an email to Matt at Black Five to make some personal observations about a story about John Kerry riding in a military aircraft. By telling a story of my Navy experience, I wanted to bring out differences in leadership. I could do this because of a man who was the first person I actually had working for me, once I was assigned my first leadership tasks at my first command, the USS MILWAUKEE (AOR-2). I have decided to repost it here, as it is a tribute to Operations Specialist Chief Petty Officer Michael P. MacCaffery, USN, a man whom I owe much to for taking me aside and teaching me things that are the foundation of leadership. If he ever manages to read this, he'll be upset that I didn't refer to him as "RDC," the Radarman rating that had been replaced with "Operations Specialist" just before I came into the service. He was proud of the old moniker, and had a certain passion about him as he chomped on his half smoked stub of a cigar and snarled "RDC MacCaffery!" to make sure everyone one knew who he really was, after being addressed or introduced as "OSC Mac." Here's my posting: Once more, it's the "when you think no one is looking" stories that tell your heart... Before I begin, let me say something I learned about leadership. My twenty years in the Navy began aboard a replenishment oiler out of Norfolk. As an Ensign, I was a Division Officer, fresh out of several professional schools and college, but with no hands on experience in leadership of any significance beyond Boy Scouts and "playing Army" at The Citadel. OSC Michael P. MacCaffrey, USN, began the age old duty of making something out of the know nothing that just became his "boss." For at least the next six months (and I didn't realize what this was until about 4 years later), the Chief would ask me if I'd like a cup of coffee. I'd say "yes," and we'd head off to the "Goat Locker" (what a Chief's Mess is called). Chief Mac would regal me with all sorts of stories, interspersed with questions, as we drank coffee, surrounded by the Backbone of the Fleet, the senior enlisted men. These stories were in the best fashion of parables. He slowly injected principles of leadership learned over centuries of human interaction, yet rasied to a fine art in modern western society, into my consciousneess, and sub-consciousness. That's the ground work, for the point of one of these coffee induced meetings (read "disguised lectures"). The discussion went something like this: Chief Mac: "Sir, if were at GQ (General Quarters) and we have to do Battle Messing (boxed meals delivered to yout combat stations, since you can't leave during heavy fighting), if we come up one ration short, who doesn't eat?" Me: (Sort of knowing there was a key lesson here, and pondering the answer) "Me." (I really had to think to come up with this answer, so I noticably hesitated before answering) CM: "Right! What if we're short two rations? Me: (I answered quicker now, as I was finally catching up mentally) "You and I!" CM: "You got it! What if we're short three?" Me: "You, I and the Leading Petty Officer!" CM: "Right again. Sir, the other thing is before you open yours, you make the rounds of every man in the watch station area and make sure he has a proper meal and don't you dare open yours up and start to eat, until they are ALL taken care of. Do this and these men will follow you anywhere." Over the next 19 years from that tour of duty, that simple leadership principle served me well, and the great leaders I worked for and with all had that as a part of their core beliefs. I was blessed by compentent people believing in me and together my units routinely stood out at the top of the heap, whether a Division, Department, Section, or a Ship, or Inspection or Training Team. It was more than about Battle Messing, it's all about the highest duty of a leader is to make sure his people are cared for before him or herself. Think about that for a moment, and consider those you have worked with whom you hold in highest esteem, and know they demonstrated that over and over to you. John Kerry grabbing the pizza in the story below is a statement not on his hunger, but his character. Thank God I had many Michael P. MacCafferys in my life as a leader. I'm saddened that John Kerry did not.

An open letter to Ms. Cocco from Greyhawk

Greyhawk, of the The Mudville Gazette, has posted a letter on his site to Ms. Cocco (the lady who recently was interviewed by Dan Rather of CBS), regarding her concerns expressed about her sons possibly having to face a military draft. His letter shows the heart of a man committed to preserve this concept we hold so dear: Freedom. I agree with it, and believe a vast majority of the members of the armed forces would second his thoughts. Read it here. Greyhawk in in the US Army, and has just recently reported to duty in Iraq. His blog is a well written one, and another great read. I say again Read it here!.

Delivery of a document - a seed planted

For those of you who think a document from the 1780's is outdated, I challenge you to read this and not know you are wrong. Better yet, 20 years from now, I suspect you will hear something powerful that originated from this meeting between a US Navy Chief Petty Officer (one of the backbones of the Fleet) and this Iraqi, who had the willingness to open his mind to a new concept: Freedom. Read it yourself, and follow the links for the blog of the guy who was but one piece of the war on terror: "From The biggest need we have here is information of the right sort. When I put the U.S. Constitution (in Arabic) in the hands of the Iraqi citizen who had asked me about it previously, tears filled his eyes. He shook my hand and held onto it for a long time with his head down and then looked at me and said thank you. This is the man who two weeks ago was warned not to continue working with the Americans. The man whose wife is 5 months pregnant. He is one of the people here, desperate to learn and to influence the process of political development." Thank you JOC(SW) Joe Kane, USN, for being a Nation Builder!

Belsan in San Diego, or what I learned from Wesley E. Jordan, Jr.

Once again, great material is over in Little Green footballs. The link to the specific post quoting a news report regarding School Crisis Plan Found on Disk in Iraq. This story should scare you into next week, but in case you need to understand why, let’s think about this (for those who “get it,” see your calender has magically jumped two weeks ahead, are free to leave this post and move on to something else). To begin with, there may be some valid reason for someone in Iraq to desire to download this material and read it. In the optimistic view of the world, they would be planning on how to handle crises at their own schools. Come on, they were shooting school children with RPG-7s a few days ago, while the Marines delivered school supplies. Let me digress for a moment: These are Michael Moore’s patriots. Yes, those who are just doing the same as our forefathers in the American Revolution. They are honorable enough to come from surrounding countries and to use school children as ‘bait” to find our Marines to shoot at. A few off topic points. The “RPG-7” is an ingeniously deadly device courtesy of the USSR weapon designers and the Marxist Practical Joke® perpetrated on the world for about 70 years (with some vestiges still with us). It is a rocket propelled grenade, which has a “shaped charge.” Shaped charges are constructed to take a normally omni-directional blast from an explosive and “aim” the majority of the force of the explosion, so it is concentrated to cause maximum damage. The RPG-7 can penetrate the armor plating of some of armored vehicles, such as the Marine LAV’s and the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Yep, good stuff to use in the general direction of school kids by “honorable” people. Makes me sick to my stomach to think about it, what about you? Back on topic. So it may be legitimate for someone to have this material, or….. I was assigned to a Destroyer Squadron for 25 months. I was supposed to be there 18 months, but somehow they couldn’t find a replacement for me. There was good news in that story. For the first 21 months, I had Captain Wesley E. Jordan, Jr., as my Commodore. He was a man possessing incredible intelligence, and an amazing ability to learn massive amounts of material quickly, but he was not the kind and gentle leader we on the staff would have preferred. ‘Nuff said there. “Wes” volunteered us for every type of operation he could weasel his way into. The good was we got exposed to many new things, and interacted with many other types of organizations we wouldn’t have otherwise run across, the bad news was 24 hour days were about two weeks shy of being long enough to get the work done. When we were “assigned” an exercise, or real world operation, the stops came out and we had to find every thing there was to read on the subject we could get, then we had to read it, digest it, analyze it, figure out, usually, how the “other guys” did it wrong, then come up with innovative ways to “do it better.” A great concept, now try doing it while existing on an hour of sleep a day and being yelled at most of the time you were trying to think it through. Great training for combat, with the constant injection of chaos, but it was rough. We dissected stuff like you couldn’t imagine. We called all sorts of people and made them talk to us. I was on the phone to a programmer who was the one to write the flight software for a cruise missile for days, so I could get the same formulas he used. From that information, I put it into our computers and modeled how we might exploit the strengths and weaknesses of the weapon for an upcoming operational test. The others on the staff were busy mentally “dismantling” other things in the process to do the same, then we put all this gleaned knowledge together and we did have success, and documentation of some more issues to correct with the missile. Entirely new tactical procedures were adopted by the Navy as a result. We showed there were upgrades needed to support systems for the information used to target the system and within months, new computers were going aboard the ships. The impact of the work of our 10 man staff had immediate and lasting effects. A few years later, the knowledge I acquired was used to make changes to the Joint Chief’s of Staff Rules of Engagement, a US military wide set of rules for use during combat. Moral of the story (after the testimony of Wes Jordan’s leadership): If you’re planning something, get your hands on anything that seems even loosely related to the matter at hand. In the reading you will see how the enemy forces, friendly forces, neutral parties, weapons, and the environment will all factor into the equation. Wes said, and it has proven itself again and again, in and out of the military for me, “Know the enemy capabilities, know your capabilities, know the environment and THE PLAN WRITES ITSELF!” We became hated and loved by those ships, aviaton squadrons, submarines and afloat and shore staffs we "interacted" with. Because of Wes' insistence to work like this, we changed may people's minds, tactics and procedures in a variety of areas. Does the person, who has ties to the Iraqi insurgents, have peaceful plans to use this material to help model Iraqi school systems so they can protect the children in fire, earthquake and flooding conditions, as well as a terrorist/Colombine/Beslan type assault. Or is this material there for the specific purpose to identify the strong points to avoid and the weak points to exploit in an attack on a school in the San Diego school district? Side note. In both WWII, and the Cold War, our adversaries at the top level were know to be terribly frustrated with the way we fought. It is a particularly American trait to plan it out, write it out, then put it on a shelf, and when the time to follow our “doctrine” comes, we improvise and destroy them with something we didn’t expect. We can pray the plans for San Diego are executed in the same manner, if they are attacked. Thank you, Wes Jordan, for your leadership and bone crunching style of people management. It was in that crucible that I learned many valuable lessons that have served me well to this day.

It's in the differences...

Thank God that we have differences…it would be so boring if we all were the same… I’m sure this one is making the rounds, but I’ll post it here: A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." The man consulted his portable GPS and replied "you're in a hot air balloon approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level... You are 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude." She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican." I am," replied the man. "How did you know?" "Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and I'm still lost... Frankly, you've not been much help to me." The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Democrat." "I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?" "Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect ME to solve your problem. You're in EXACTLY the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's MY fault." Thank you, Tom, for forwarding this one….

Friday, October 01, 2004

The truth about Iraq...

Once more, I find illuminating material on Matt's site. Go through his site to get to the link to The Truth About Iraq.

What happens when you mess with a combat vet?

Great post over on Black Five about what an MP back from the 'Stan and Iraq did when some bozo decided to try a random act of will do your heart good to read this. There is an important thread of how the mind works in the article: Notice how he reacted when a gun was pointed at him. He took an action that 1) Had a great probaility of foiling the attack. Our troops train to run into an ambush when it's srung on them, rather than to cower on the ground in the "kill zone," which usually is chosen by the ambushers because of it's clear field of fire. The opening rounds fired in an ambush are usually not very accurate and you can take advantage of this and futher put the enemy off guard by doing what they don't expect, you turning and running into the firing.2) He moved to protect those around him, again without giving it a seconed thought. He had a cnace of saving his borhter in this unknown situation. Question: How do you get people to respond to firing weapons to run at them and IMMEDIATELY counter-attack them? Answer: First, teach them the truth: You're chances of living are dramatically increased in doing this and 2) Make them practice it over and over and over and over and over. Outcome: The body's "muscle memory" responds in miliseconds to put the person in the condition that will best keep them alive. Normal, thought out reactions, which are not resting on top of a solidly produced foundation of training, take 2-3 seconds to process. That's a tribute to a little mass of tissue in the brain that God gave us named the amygalda. Summation: If you want to do something the right way, and you want your body to "do it without thinking" (that's a mis-diagnosis, it's really you have "pre-pallned" and the thinking has already occured), then find out what action you want to take, then practice it....

An analysis of what's happening in Iraq

The acts of terrorists are pretty foreign to us, as they do not honor life or courage. We have a view that is juxtaposed to this and I think it does limit our ability to "get into their heads," and therefore defeat them. That being said, I feel it's better we don't ever really try to think like them, as that would have to be such a soul searing mindset, that it may well ruin a person. When you strip it down to the roots, you will see there is the good vs. evil to this all and the good is triumphing, just not as fast as you microwave meal gets cooked. It's a crock pot thing going on, and we must be patient. From the Mudville Gazette comes a well thought out analysis. It's not too long a read, but to the point. BTW, Greyhawk, the guy who runs Mudville, is now in country in Iraq, as an active duty Army guy. He just got there, so check his pages out for the first person view of the conditions in Iraq.