Saturday, April 30, 2005

An Open Letter of Thanks to Mudville Gazette

Traffic is up over here, and most all of it has been the result of Greyhawk and Mrs. Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette having "open posts." The point of these open posts is to allow us fledgling bloggers to connect our posts to a well read blog, and therefore get more readers ourselves. By using the detail seciton of Site Meter, I can see about 90% of my hits show the "entry page" as ones I have listed on open posts on Mudville. Occassionally, some readers even hang around an view a few other pages, as well. Additionally, it looks like I've gained a core readership, as I see some of the same addresses coming in about the same time each day. For you other "newbies," they have made the offer for you to do the same,as well as having posted very detailed directions on becoming a blogger. I have found some great blogs because others have begun doing the same thing with their posts. AND! There's more! They are in Germany, so they are up while we are still snoozing away. They know what's up before we even are rolling out of our racks. Mrs. Greyhawk's "Dawn Patrol" posts are a fantastic "news clipping service" for the terminally busy. Greyhawk uses his world experience to make exceptionally cogent commetns on the world geo-political condition. These two also began and manage the MilBlog ring. All of this takes work, but moreso, it has to be a passion of theirs, as demonstrated by the results of their personal investments. If you want to join the MilBlog ring, here's the post. Bottom line: If you're not reading Mudville Gazette as you take on that first cup of coffee each day, you're missing a heads up on life.... Thank you, the Greyhawk team, for adding my main source of traffic.

Senator John McCain on the Pledge of Alliegance

It's Saturday morning and I'm out cruising the net for pictures of the former commands I served on, and some items from organizations I had significant interactions with. I had found Bluejacket and it has a nice compliation of pictures, insignia, history of the Sea Service, and another section. If you are looking for a great place to get to know our Navy and it's history, go check it out. There is an excerpt from a speech by Senator John McCain describing the dedication of one man, in a North Veitnamese prison, to making the best American flag he could, so they could pledge their allegiance to our Country:
"What so proudly we hail."

Excerpt from a speech made by United States Senator John S. McCain As you may know, I spent five and one half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. In the early years of our imprisonment, the NVA kept us in solitary confinement or two or three to a cell. In 1971 the NVA moved us from these conditions of isolation into large rooms with as many as 30 to 40 men to a room. This was, as you can imagine, a wonderful change and was a direct result of the efforts of millions of Americans on behalf of a few hundred POW's 10,000 miles from home. One of the men that moved into my room was a young man named Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair of shoes 'til he was 13 years old. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He later earned a commission by going to Officer Training School. Then he became a Naval Flight Officer and was shot down and captured in 1967. Mike had a keen and deep appreciation of the opportunities this country - and our military - provide for people who want to work and want to succeed. As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home. In some of these packages were handkerchiefs, scarves and other items of clothing. Mike got himself a bamboo needle. Over a period of a couple of months, he sewed the American flag on the inside of his shirt. Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike's shirt on the wall of the cell and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I know the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important part of our day now. But I can assure you that - in that stark cell - it was indeed the most important and meaningful event. One day the Vietnamese searched our cell, as they did periodically, and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it. That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, and for the benefit of all of us, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple hours. Then they opened the door of the cell and threw him back inside. He was not in good condition, and we tried to clean him up as well as we could. The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we slept as well as we could. Four naked light bulbs hung in each corner of the room. As I said, we tried to clean up Mike as well as we could. After the excitement died down, I looked in the corner of the room and sitting there beneath that dim light bulb with a piece of white cloth, a piece of red cloth, another shirt and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian sitting there with his eyes almost shut from the beating he had received, making another American flag. He was not making that flag because it made Mike Christian feel better. He was making that flag because he knew how important it was to us to be able to pledge our allegiance to our flag and country. So the next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, you must never forget the sacrifice and courage that thousands of Americans have made to build our nation and promote freedom around the world. You must remember our duty, our honor, and our country.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Friday, April 29, 2005

Once More, Denzel Washington Supports the Troops

Jack Army posted a short item based on a request for one of his friends about Denzel Washington visiting one of the Fisher Houses in the San Antonio area. Go read the whole post....and see the pictures...and, make a point of reading Jack's blog....

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Officer Counseling, or Lack Thereof

As a matter of setting the stage, I’ll begin here: During my career, there were many periods of time when retention was a big issue. In the Surface Community, that meant enlisted retention. This is a very important issue, and once more, it is in these times. The program for enlisted counseling was well laid out, and I’ll have to admit, until I was XO, I spent more time making sure the nuts and blots of my primary duty were in place, and then, somewhere down the available time line, enlisted retention issues were given time, mostly when the XO made a big issue of getting all those required counseling sessions in. While I was XO (88-90), it was one of those times when we needed to retain about 30% of the “1st term” sailors. I dutifully laid out a plan to make sure we did our job, and it even began to sink in as to how important it was. I rode herd on the Department Heads, and made sure the Division Officer and Chiefs followed through. It worked. In the process of making sure our enlisted counseling efforts were in place, I found out (much to my surprise) that there was a parallel officer counseling program. Here I was, with 12 years of service under my belt as an officer, and then I found out there was a program I hadn’t ever been exposed to. No one ever had mentioned it in “Little SWOS,” Department Head School, XO Afloat, nor any inspection I had ever been through, This including the dreaded “Command Admin” one, which did through evaluate the “retention” program (read “enlisted retention” program). I can’t say I was completely left out, as any time I asked a senior officer for advice, they always made dedicated time to sit down with me, and have substantive discussions on the matter of upcoming career choices. I didn’t ask but a few times. All the while, as I found out sometime in 1988 or 89, my chain of command had had an obligation to regularly sit me down and counsel me on my future. It hadn’t happened. I stayed in, because I just was always going to be in, not because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. One time, just one time, in a semi-informal setting, the Operations Officer on my ship (I worked for the Combat Systems Officer), while we stood a watch in Combat Information Center (CIC) took me aside, since it was very quiet in our independent steaming status, looked me in the eye and asked “What are you planning to do in the Navy?” His name was LT William Malone. He is probably one of the least most likely officers I served with to expect he would be the only one to ask me. He and I had a long talk that watch, about the Surface “Career Path.” I doubt he did this because it was in the OPNAVINST on officer counseling, but he did it because it was his opportunity to help grow the community. The thing that also amazes me is I worked for some outstanding officers through 20 years of service, but they were deficient in this regard. How many junior officers (JOs) took a hike, not even realizing there might be something ahead of them, if they stayed in? Here’s the point. I only heard of my peers ever talk about being pulled in and being counseled on career choices. While we were very junior officers, generally while we were in our first sea tours, when we got our fitness reports (those usually being done on an annual basis), we might get a pat on the back, a few “rudder orders” on doing some skill (related to our present duty assignment) better, but it was usually a short session, and not a forum to ask a lot of questions about “where do I go from here?” The one that did talk about it was a Surface Warfare Officer who applied to and was accepted for a transfer into the Civil Engineering Staff Corps. While he was in his indoctrination, they had to write out their career goals, and then they had a lengthy 1 on 1 with a senior Civil Engineer. I’m sure, particularly in the aviation arena, the “JOs” were regularly pulled aside to ascertain if their multi-million training would be available to the Navy after their 5 year obligation was up. I’m sure the good sticks got special attention to make sure they convinced them to hang around. I know they and the nuclear capable officer were plied with lots of money, which sounded like a lot, but, if they took it, I now understand it was a great bargain for the taxpayer in retaining them. For you officers out there, think about your experience coming up in the ranks. Did your boss ever sit you down and help you formulate your path for the few years to come, let alone possibly out to the end of your career, so you might ensure success in attaining your goals? What different choices might you have made, if only someone with more time in grade had bothered to show you what was available? If you are an officer with officers working for you, have you taken time to check the plans of your subordinates? Do you see someone with promise that you’d hate to see resign their commission? How about making some time to set them up for a successful path. It will be well worth the effort. Also, take a look around at your service’s regs and see if it’s something you should have been doing all along. You’ll look like a hero of administrative warfare, on top of retaining those sharp officers that your troops deserve to have lead them in the future.

A Now for a Humor Break...or Maybe a Reality Break

These links will either make you laugh yourself silly (and wonder how you can get some of the posters to hang up), or make you cringe. Hence, this may be a humor break, or a reality break from your normal routine. Despair.Com. Check out the posters and stuff. I kinda liked this one. If that wasn't enough, take a peek here. I found the lead to this information via that submariner guy, Chapomatic, who is a real thinker and writer, in addition to a guy who spent lots of time sinking ships he was riding on. Chap, if you're reading this, a Spru Can sounds like a light rain squall when it's about to put a Mk 46 in the water near you..... Bonus link of the day: Ever get a little upset when someone parks so that they take up all the spots or block traffic? Get a pack of bumper stickers here to adorn their vehicle.

I’m Not Sure What to Believe Now...

Scientific American for May 2005 says on the cover “Do-It-Yourself Black Holes: Physics Gets Ready.” For the loyal blog readers here, you’ll recall that physicists decided a earlier this month that Black Holes didn’t exist. I guess the Scientific American writing staff and editors didn’t get the word. And, for those of you in the military, we know it’s not an excuse when you don’t know, you just get nailed for "Failure to get the word." I’ll admit it, I’m confused as to what’s the truth here. Ok, it looks like if you get out to the garage and dust off your particle accelerator (or head down the community center to use theirs), you know, the one you built as from a Heathkit project, a model of the accelerator at CERN near Geneva, you can possibly make microscopic Black Holes, so you can play in the quantum particle physics field. Don’t worry, these "small" Black Holes won’t rip stars apart (they didn’t mention what it will do to the Harley you also keep in the garage). Once you produce a hole, you should be able to make discoveries to enhance our understanding of the universe. Just make sure you keep your prized Craftsman tools, the golf clubs and your Harley at a safe distance (just in case), to make sure they aren’t taken to a parallel universe.

Looking for a Way to Donate Unused CPU Cycles?

The May, 2005 Scientific American (see page 30) says there are many projects out there that can make use of the time your computer is sitting there, making pretty designs with the screen saver. Using a "Distributed Computing" network, you can help in up to 60 programs. To see a list of these projects, try this place. Many people have heard about doing this for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project, but there’s many more to choose from.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Retirement Speech for a Navy Master Chief Petty Officer

At the end of a military career, it is customary to honor the one departing. Recently, Neptunus Rex, as he is known on his blog, had the honor of being the one asked to be the speaker when a shipmate retired. I for one, asked if he might be able to post the text of what he said, in order to share an example of what is said, when a sailor leaves active service. He has, and, like the rest of his writing, it is a powerful testimony of a man who trusted another man to keep he and his pilots alive. In civilian life, there are precious few relationships like this. Not only will you find a piece of history, and understand words such as these have been spoken for many, you will find many first person accounts of life in the Naval Aviation arena by an active duty Navy Captain, who has been around the block in peace and war. As a side note, you will find in Lex's speech, the same theme I have had in two of my posts (here and here) about Chief Petty Officers and their importance to the Naval serivice, in days gone by, and today.


Need a time waster that helps you comprehend external ballistics? Whack the Penguin My record is 316 "units" (ther is no indication for NASA Mars guys as to whether the distance is metric or english...) High angle whacks result in a very "pointed" landing, as the penguin's beak digs into the ice. Watch out for the low glancing, skipping shots, they cause too much friction on each skip. The sweet spot seems to be about a 35 degree angle, but my boss got it out to 322, for the lunch time record... Flash, it's a wonderful thing...

Free Muslims Against Terror

It's easy to point out that the "moderate" Muslims are still AWOL (or UA those those in the know), because they sure haven't been seeking a public forum of any significant size, if they do feel peace is the answer. I found this post about a demonstration for peace in the Middle East by Muslims over at Atlas Shrugs. Mark your calenders for May 14th, 2005. Maybe the spark of democracy has been fanned enough to let us see a little bit of a flame lapping up from the tinder. Lets hope the voice of reason gets a larger voice.

Monday, April 25, 2005

"PowerPoint Rangers"

I think I may have earned the fact, I may be eligible for the posthumous award. For all who have had the "pleasure" of using that wonderful weapon of administrative warfare, MS PowerPoint, you have to go here.... Be ready to laugh...

Where are women making progess you ask?

In Afghanistan..... The Afghan Warrior, Waheed, posted this a few days back. It's encouraging to me that women are becoming part of the Middle Eastern, Islamic society. First provincial woman Governor in Afghanistan is the post. I'm thinking the "revolution" is going to head into places the male dominated society in that part of the world had no concpet, and I think it will produce some very positive results..... Still, I wonder where the NOW crowd is (as I did before). They don't seem to get mentioned at all any more. Have they become completely irrelevant, or have they become too smug in their power base in the US? Maybe they just can't stomach the idea of helping their sisters in a place where running water and inside "facilities" pretty much don't exist.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The "Democratic Revolution"

She captured my thoughts, in a way I hadn't thought of. This post discusses a point of interest for the active duty military today.
Since when did the military become a democracy? There appearantly was a revolution that I missed. When did the enlisted, lower ranking soldiers become empowered; and the officers divert their attention away so they can pretend not to see what is happening and thus avoid the confrontation.
Who is this person making such a comment in support of a structured military organization? She is a 35 year old wife and mother, that decided she had to do something in return for the life she had been given by those before her, so she joined the US Army, and is now serving as a medic with the 101st Airborne. I have her blogrolled over on the left of the page, and she is telling a great story. Being the oldest one around, she is taking a ribbing, but that comes with the territory. It's a sign of affection between soldiers. She is one of many women serving today, but she is telling a story, from the almost daily viewpoint of a soldier. If you have some free time, go back in her archives and spend a few minutes catching up on her story, then stick with her, as the 101st will be heading to Iraq soon. I'm sure there will be plenty of good reading to come.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Ancient Texts Found in Egypt Can Be Read

It will most likely will take years to come to the point where, we, the general populace has access to the extracted information, but, Fjordman has an incredible post about discoving these recovered ancient writings can be read using infrared lighting techniques. BTW, Fjordman is a good news "integrator" for the march of Islam through Scandanavia. Pop over there and review his work.

Physics Processing Unit?

I enjoy reading CPU Magazine. Having been sticking my hands inside of computers for about 24 years, the "how to upgrade your PC" type articles of most computer magazines miss the mark with me. On the other hand, CPU Mag is aimed at those of you who are well beyond how to add more memory. Check it out. Anyhow, I was reading the May issue last night and they had a brief note on a company that is coming out with a Physics Processing Unit (PPU). Since the new simulations are maxing out your CPU, and your GPU on your nVidia 6800 is clsoe to maxing out, if you had a PPU, it could offlaod the f=ma type calculations. Watch your car's fender realistically crumple, when you kiss the driver's vehicle next to you in a NASCAR race. See explosions sending fragments out in realistic patterns, etc, etc, etc. I recall the first 386SX chips. They were supposed to have the math co-processor function working in them, but since some failed this QA test, but the main part of the chip worked, Intel sold the "SX" series, which was the defective set of CPUs coming from the fabrication process. Mother boards back then had a socket where you could install a math co-processor. The 80486 series similarly had the "DX" (the math function worked in these) and the "SX" types series. Smart marketing by Intel, but us hard core geeks just reffered to the "SX" chips as "386 SUX" or "486 SUX." As the games became more demanding, video cards began having their own Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). Sound cards (high end ones) have processing these days. Now we'll get a PPU, and then, when display technology cranks up the pixel density, the computer display will almost substitute for real life. Cool and spooky all at once... But, I have wondered for years, who will demand royalties when the actors of days gone by go digital, and we are treated to Humphrey Bogart, and Marilyn Monroe in digital format? That will get exciting...

"Field" Promotion of Thunder6

Recently an Army 1st Lt was authorized to be promoted to Captain. On the 13th of this month (April, and I'm basing this on the date of his posting), his LTC honored his promotion in a special way, one that a true warrior won't forget. It's another of Thunder 6's long, but execellent reads. If you're not checking here daily, shame on you, but it's you who is missing some great writing. I was authorized to be frocked to O-3 in 1979. The chain of command I worked for was the opposite end of the spectrum of what Thunder 6 has . They told the three of us to get our LT bars, then told us they weren't going to frock us, then they scheduled an awards ceremony, and told us to just show up wearing them. Well, being the young and impetuious juniors offcers we were (well, two of the three of us), we had our own awards ceremony in the head, with the senior division officer, who was a hard working LT, but living in "our" strata, pin on our new rank insignia. We did take pictures...We did show up at the awards ceremony wearing our new rank.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

More of "the Real Deal" reporting from Iraq

Red 2 Alpha has a long post up, with a great amount of detail about a patrol in Baghdad. His story contradicts the defeatist stories we see daily from the MSM. Red 2's words, once again, are joined with the many other articulate and thoughtful service people's "journals" for the world to read, because it's real first person history. As a related matter, Greyhawk at Mudville Gazettte rhetorically wondered how history may have been different if service men in Vietnam could have been blogging in a post titled "Why Bother?" He discusses how truth and accuracy seem to be common virtures among the milblogs.

New "toys" reporting....

I saw an ad for "FingerWorks" tonight. It's a pad that replaces the mouse, and then you use gestures of your finger tips on the surface to do all the regular mouse functions, plus some common commands like cut, paste, copy, open, close files. Here's a movie (WMV format, but they also have a QuickTime one, too), of the FingerWorks in action.

And While I'm on the Subject of Chiefs...

I have plenty of "sea stories" about the E-7s, -8s, and -9s that made me look successful for 20 years. Most of them are uplifting and more than a few just plain humorous. Some are not so good, but I found out that incompetents, lazy, and slackers come in both genders, all colors and backgrounds. Conversely, dedicated, hard charging, make it happen people come in both genders and all colors and backgrounds. In both cases, there is no exclusivity. When I was an XO, and we were on cruise, a few of the Chief Petty Officers were complaining to the Senior Chief Petty Officer of the Command (SCPOC) about how bad the junior officer were. Well, instead of the EMCS doing the "right thing," and having a short "meeting" in the Goat Locker, where he would have read them the riot act and then handed them the solution, he came to me. I enjoy solving problems. On the other hand, on a Persian Gulf deployment, being the Navigator, the second in command, and the guy who had to keep all the right balls in the air, I was sort of busy with the "big picture" stuff. When the SCPOC brought this one and dropped it in my lap, I was slightly annoyed, so I had called the meeting in the Goat Locker. I didn't yell, I didn't throw anything around. I just provided them with this fact of life (or words to this effect): "You know how you you have served with COs and XOs and department heads that really sucked and made your life miserable, because they didn't know anything? Well, guess what? Their CPOS, when they were division officers failed to take them aside and train them, so you got stuck holding the bag." "Not only do you have my permission to bring your JO down here, close the door, put a cup of coffee, no, strike that, can of Coke, in their hands and tell them how life is, I actually expect you will do that, because that's your job. If you don't take the time to do it, you'll just be stuck with them as department heads, XOs and COs who will make your life miserable and you'll have no one to blame but yourself." It sure seemed pretty clear to me how to solve the problem. Once more, I refer you back to one of my earliest posts about RDC Mac and his ensigns beginnings. We need those senior enlisted to step up to the plate and form a bond with their "butter bars," so the wisdom of real leadership can be passed on. We also need the "butter bars" to resist the urge to think they have a commission and therefore a corner on the knowledge market in the profession of arms. When this happens, we see a military that can slice and dice more bad guys before breakfast, than most other armed forces could do in a week. Since we see this capability in action via the many blogs, I know there is this sort of "training" happening. Let's hope the tradition stays with us. A few "hall of fame" names of my enlisted mentors (in order of appearance): OSC Michael P. MacCaffery RMC Hansen GMCM(SW) Don Dolance STGCM(SW) David Frey FTCS(SW) David Magnus GSCS(SW) John "JC" Wiegman GSMC(SW) John Graham GSEC(SW) Denny Rohr RMCM(SW) Rumbaugh OSC(SW) Michael Bennett GMCM(SW) David Cress To swipe General Doolittle's book title, I'll just say, I could never be so lucky again, to have such great senior enlisted men who took the time to invest in me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Chiefs Run the Navy....Real Time Proof Follows

For a fresh caught Ensign, sometimes it's hard to understand you are so far behind the power curve, you need to just chill out and observe, stepping in in those moments where you are useful. Early on in a career, this is in watchstanding (for us "shoes"). With time, you "grow up" and can then become a better leader of sailors. Until you mature, it's helpful to (fully) comprehend that the Chiefs run the Navy....'nuff said here. While chasing links this afternoon, I wandered across The Strategy Page. I then dug around through some interesting articles and found this (I extracted the text of interest to quote, as it was in a mulitple topic article):
April 6, 2005: The Chinese navy is having a hard time dealing with the task of training crews able to handle high tech equipment and ships. The Chinese admirals know that, if they are to prepare for war with the Taiwanese, American, or even Japanese, fleets, they have to close the “training gap.” The U.S. Navy, and its major Asian allies, all spend a lot of time at sea, and get lots of technical training, using computerized training aids and expert instructors. China started with a lot of disadvantages when it comes to training. Until the 1990s, China didn’t even try to train to Western standards. Most of their ships were low tech, and conscript sailors could be taught simple tasks using officer instructors and lots of classroom training and some OJT (On The Job Training.) China was poor, and could not afford the fuel to send their ships to sea a lot. They could not afford the wear and tear (and repairs and maintenance that follow that) either. Since Communist China built its navy using Russian assistance, they did not develop NCOs (Petty Officers). In particular, a navy needs lots of experienced CPOs (Chief Petty Officers, or “Chiefs.”) It’s not just a catchy saying that, “the Chiefs run the navy,” it’s true. The officers command the ships, but without the Chiefs, the effectiveness of those ships, and their crews, would quickly decline. Reforms have been underway for some time. Over the last two decades, the Chinese navy has gone from 25 percent of the sailors being petty officers, to sixty percent. Along with this has come an avalanche of training courses, including paying for about ten percent of petty officers to get some college training (two or four year.) It’s been more difficult creating a lot of those crusty old Chief Petty Officers. That takes time. A few generations of effort will do it, but the Chinese are already seeing these guys start to appear in greater numbers. But there aren’t enough of them to put the fleet on the same level as the United States and its Asian allies. Moreover, China still has problems with the naval officers, who have not gotten over the old Russian style of leadership. This involved officers doing a lot of the training and supervisory work the Chiefs and other petty officers are supposed to be doing. However, time will cure this problem. Junior naval officers are glad to have experienced Chiefs around, and in another decade or two, the Chinese navy will be run efficiently by thousands of experienced Chiefs. But there’s still the money problem. With the price of oil over $50 a barrel, the Chinese navy can’t afford a lot of sea time for its ships. It’s that abundance of sea time that gave Western navies an edge. The Japanese learned this before World War II, and their crews were formidable during World War II because they had spent lots of time at sea beforehand. Japan, in the 1930s, was willing to spend the money to keep their ships at sea. China today is more reluctant. Foreign sailors can see the results when Chinese warships are at sea. The ships are poorly maintained, and operated in a haphazard, by Western standards, manner. If China decides to spend the money on fuel, and keeps developing its petty officers, in another decade, Chinese warships will present a more formidable appearance at sea, and be more lethal as well.
There you have it! For all you old goats out there, thanks for whipping us JOs into shape, and sometimes even facing off with us as we got senior and forgot from whence we came. The article is also interesting, as a few months back, I began to think the Chinese Navy was an up and coming threat. Since they have adopted a Soviet style infrastructure for the chain of command, I'll predict it will be a long time before they are ready to step up to the plate, based on the indicators in this article.... Update 4/21/2005: Over at Andi's World, she talks about how at an Army officer's promotion ceremony, the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) were an integral ingredient in the officer's success. I'm biased towards the Navy, but I know the value of these people in any service.

Sgt Chris Missick Describes His Return Home

Sgt Chris Missick, US Army is a gifted writer and a well read individual, with a grasp of geopolitics similar to those I have known who have graduated from the Country's service War Colleges. It's wonderful to read things written by a young man, who is at the real tip of the spear, who can flesh his writing out with a greater picture of the issues surrounding what is/has happening/happened. I hadn't been by his site lately, as he last posted, when I was checking, back in February, as his Signal Corps unit was just about to leave Iraq. Today, I found his post of 4/14/05, which is another piece of the experience, a combat veteran, who is "re-uniting" with society; his family, his friends, and mexican restaurants. It is defintiely worth a read. For us who will never have a life experience like Chris, and so many of the people who know (and read), and for those "in the sandbox" who will come home, Chris tells a story that lays bare some of the emotions he is feeling.

Monday, April 18, 2005

63rd Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid on Japan

This post at Mudville Gazette reminded me it's 63 years since those brave Army Air Corps men departed from the heaving decks of the USS HORNET, 400 miles further out than they planned, to show our enemy we we're going to sit back and take it. Some lost thier lives, some became POWs, some made it to China, to be rescued and fly another day for the USAAF. It took lots of guts, and lots of brains to pull this "joint operation" off so many years ago. I read Jimmy Doolittle's autobiography, "I Could Never Be So Lucky Again" several years ago. General Doolittle was a jewel of a man and a lead from the front kind of guy. It's a great read, and while the account of the raid is wonderful, it also gives a view into service in the post-WWI Army, as well as some service to this country after WWII. And....there was a B-25 at Sun 'n' Fun this past weekend. See this post about some of the other things I saw there.

"Glacier Girl" @ Lakeland Sun 'n' Fun

Saturdays around here are getting pretty awesome. Last week and thru this past weekend was the big fly in for the annual Sun 'n' Fun gathering in Lakeland, Florida. There was plenty of "eye candy," whether you prefer an F-16/FA-18 era jet, or 1930's vintage Belancas that are still well maintained. The highlight of the week was the presense of the P-38 "Glacier Girl," which was crash landed in 1942 in Greenland, and recovered from under 250' of accumulated snow in 1992. The plane has been restored to flyable condition. If you chase the link for the history, it's an amazing story. There were 6 T-28 Trojans that flew, one with USAF markings, the rest USN. The very first P-51 rescued from the scrappers after WWII by the Commerative Air Force was there and made a few high spped, low, then climbing passes, also. Here are some pictures of some of the warbirds on the tarmac for Sun 'n' Fun. I didn't have time to make it through the Sun'n' Fun Museum, but there is a Convair XF2Y Sea Dart outside the main building. There's also a Convair XFY-1 "Pogo," sans engine. Both were the early attempts to get more fighter power aboard smaller vessels. A Sky Fury, Westand Lysnader and P-39 were also present. I don't have the card with me, but of the many L-39 Albatrosses there, as we walked down the flight line after the demos, one of the ladies at one of the L-39s told us how they were selling 1/4 shares in L-39s. $99K gets you 25% of a plane and your type rating. Upkeep is $1200/month. If any one really cares to get more info, I'll dig out the business card and email you the contact info. I'm pretty sure the one pictures in the link is the one we walked up to, as it was still in a flat finish camo scheme, with the yellow nose and wingtips. While finding links for this post, I also found this: Fly MiG. Got a few K buring a hole in your pocket and yearn for some adrenalin....check it out...

Friday, April 15, 2005

Cool Aviation Reading

I finished reading Flight Journal June 2005 iuuse tonight. It had some great articles..... "Do I Feel Lucky?" by Lt. Col. Braxton "Brick" Eisel, USAF (Ret). His F-4G Wild Weasel operations in Desert Storm. Trying being first the bait, then the shooter... "The Ace in Action" by Richard Kirkland. A short memoir of a man who flew in Major Richard Bong’s P-38 squadron in 1943. A view of the top scoring USAAF pilot. "F-35 – A New Breed of Bird" by Steve Pace. Great break out on the A (USAF), B (USMC) and C (USN) models of the Joint Strike Fighter. "Mission Completed" by Lt. Col. Robert W. McClung, USMC (Ret). Just another interesting glimpse of life in "Pappy" Boyington’s Black Sheep, on a short notice straffing run over a Japanese airfield. Oh, except for 20/40 at the end of high school...:(

Talk about “immersion”….NovInt Falcon

Just saw this in the May 2005 Popular Mechanics. The Falcon is a new input device, with advanced "force feedback." The short article said it should be about $100 and provide far more realistic force feedback from your PC, while you hack, shoot or maneuver. We’ll have to wait until next year, but it may be worth it..

Modern Anti-Submarine Warfare on your PC

“Dangerous Waters” from Sonalysts Combat Simulations has been released. You can get it here Battle Front. The game includes P-3 Orions, MH-60R SeaHawks, FFG-7 Perry Class Guided Missile Frigates, Soviet diesel and nuclear subs, as well as Improved Los Angeles 688(I) and SEAWOLF US subs. From the looks of the movies and screen shots, this is a serious game, not for the faint hearted and impatient. Get ready to do some serious data integration and thinking how to complete your missions. Update 4/15/2005: I downloaded the demo and did look at many of the screen shots. I spent 2 years training crews for the FFG-7 combat systems, and have spent a 18 months assigned to one, and have been inside SH-60 helicopters. The graphics and displays aren't far off of real in those two platforms in the game, so I can only guess these designers really did their homework. Additionally, the position names for the operators are real. The demo has two playable scenarios, one in the MH-60R, the other in a Kilo Class SS. Like I said, this game isn't for the space invaders crowd, it's a thinker. It will give you a real taste of the complexity of operations, even in the days of lots of automation....Back to the original post. “ASW” is a thinking person’s game. It takes skill, thinking ahead, lots of knowledge of the ocean environment (it’s not one big mass of water at one temperature), patience and audacity. It’s a very high stakes game of chess in the real world. Scenarios I’ve been in in “the real world” have gone on for weeks at a time. Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s an active duty Naval Officer created a board game named “NavTag.” It was used to exercise tactical decision making. It was quite good at forcing you to dredge through your memorized databases, in order to react to the threat units, without the requirement to find an available time slot in a multi-million dollar training facility, either at FCTCL Dam Neck, VA, or FCTCP, San Diego, CA. While on paper, it required an umpire to keep you from waiting forever to make decisions that wouldn’t be allowed in the real world. A few years later, there was a PC based version, with all the “charm” of mid to late 80’s IBM PC Clone quality (4 colors and beeps, with a 320x200 display). This certainly allowed replacement of the human referee, and made it even more effective. A few units were dispersed to the squadrons to allow a rotation of the equipment. While I was attending War College in 87-88, one of the local civilians I got to know was an employee at Sonalysts, where he was part of the development team for the computerized version of NavTag. My point? Sonalysts have been working with this material for a lot of years. Add to this my 27 months on a tactical Destroyer Squadron staff chasing submarines, I’m really looking forward to getting some time to try Dangerous Waters out.

No word from the USAF reader(s)….

I usually check my site stats a few times a day. Today, when I dropped down to "details," I noticed a login from an server three times, with the first two IP groups being the same for each one. Each of the three visits went to my post from last year regarding my feelings about the USAF thinking they are the best service to be in charge of space operations. I’m not sure why Blogger doesn’t have the comments link displayed when you go there, but there is an icon to email me. So far, no comments have come my way. I could have had three separate east coast USAF types come by for a laugh, or one visiting three times, to make sure it was well read. Since writing that, and being a student of the current trends in military technology, it looks like they aren’t going to need either the Navy or Air Force, as technology from the Global Hawks and Predators, not to mention the wiz-bang stuff NASA is doing already out in space, may make all of the people who wear a uniform and want to be "explorers" obsolete. Based on an article in the May 2005 Popular Mechanics, "America 2025," on page 80, Arthur Moorish of DARPA indicates future aircraft will be "optionally manned." Would you get into a C-17 crossing the ocean with only an auto-pilot to get you off the ground and to your destination? It’s not out of the question in the not too distant future. Think about it, who ever heard of a computer complaining about pulling too many Gs?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A useful bit of information about Iraq...

I was reading the comments on the new Jihad Recruiting Infomercial on Little Green Footballs and found this jewel, referenceing a phone call the the Don Imus show this morning, discussing how for every IED, 10 more are reported to the US Military. I can see daylight in the tunnel of Democracy....

Hmmm...looks like a scene from The Terminator...

DARPA and your defense dollars at work producing advanced prosthetic devices. I wonder if years from now, some amputee, as a result of an industrial accident, who possibly happened to be against defense spending, and is the recipient of such a life like limb replacement will realize that many projects developed for the military make it into our everyday lifes, much to our benefit? Anyhow, the picture in there reminds me of the scene where Arnold was repairing himself after a few close range shotgun blasts from Sgt Reese...

Now that's dedication!

Talk about a Navy family! Take a look at this article about a family of 4 who are now all in the Navy. If you haven't yet found, it's a good newsletter....

Close Quarters Battle

"CQB" is the acronym you'll hear. It means when you're just about nose to nose with the enemy. In the street of a city, or in the more confined spaces inside a house or building. Engagement ranges are short and the battle intense. Jack Army has a post on the CQB that gives a little more detail. But....the best part is the windows media file of a CQB drill....

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"Was it Worth It?"

I found this on Black Five. It's a poem by an Iraqi citizen written on the 2nd anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. It's powerful in it's sentiment. When I cruised over to A Free Iraqi blog, I found some good links in the sidebar. This one discussed some of the history of the middle east back in the time of the French conquering Egypt and other areas in that region. Just makes you think how they were so opposed to this was, yet they went there to have artillery practice on the Great Sphinx. It looks like A Free Iraqi is going on my daily read list.....

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The precursors to de-segregation of the US Military

It seems that just about everyone who has studied either WWII history, or civil rights history knows about the Tuskegee Airmen. This was just one of the units that was put together due to the urgings of Eleanor Roosevelt that was comprised almost completely of African-Americans. I go to church with a Benjamin Garrison, who was a radioman aboard the USS MASON (DE-529), which was crewed (initially) by African-American enlisted and white officers. As time went on, African-American officers were brought aboard. As with the Tuskegee Airmen, the story of the USS MASON shows professionalism and courage is not an imbedded characteristic of a skin color. The book that tells the story of the USS MASON is "Proudly We Served: The Men of the USS MASON" by Mary P. Kelly. Not only is there a book out, the book has been turned into a movie, "Proud," which has been produced by Tommy Hilfiger. The screening of the movie was held for the crew members and present Navy leadership last summer in Norfolk, Virginia. I understand they are looking for a distributing agent for the film. Add to the Army Air Corps and Navy stories of African-Americans the 761st Tank Battalion. Their story was written by Kareem Abdul Jabar in "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heros." Once more, heroism was a common virtue, with white units initially being upset when they arrived to support the infantry units, yet didn’t want them to leave when they were assigned to another unit. The book is a great story of men in combat, with the discussion of some of the hurdles they faced, but the book is mostly a narrative of training and combat operations, while assigned to General Patton’s 3rd Army. I also found "Patton’s Panthers" by Charles Sasser covering the 761st as well. To complete the list of African-American units in WWII I have discovered, is the 555th Parachute Battalion. I found out about this unit, because Ben Garrison is the Chaplin for the association. A short history for the Battalion’s is here. So far I haven’t found any books so far. I'm sure there are a few more units out there that helped blaze the trail for the desegregation of the US Military in the early 50's. In any case, the history of those who were part of the units mentioned above are worth a bit of reading.

Living History - Dick Rohde

I had the honor of spending yesterday afternoon with a man who was a part of the last naval battle: The Battle Off Samar. I blogged about this battle here on the 60th anniversary of the battle. Richard Rohde was a radioman aboard the USS SAMUEL B ROBERTS (DE-413) on Oct 25th, 1944. The battle is well documented in Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" by James Hornfischer. Imagine running at full speed towards the YAMATO, all 68,000 tons, in a 1745 ton destroyer escort. It's somewhat of a skewed battle, taking 2 5"/38 caliber guns up against 9 18.1" guns. The battle is the last naval battle to have taken place, and it was a fierce one. Dick was there, and was wounded, and then suffered throught two days in the shark infested waters off Leyte Gulf before being rescued. He graciously spent almost 5 hours with me, sharing some stories, and listening to a few of mine, and it's amazing how so much of Navy life is still the same. One man killed that day aboard the "Sammie B" was Paul Henry Carr. I was XO aboard USS CARR (FFG-52), which is what has made the opportunity to meet Dick a special occassion, as I have heard something of Paul, who won the Silver Star for his heroism that day and to get a sense of the battle that day. It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Final Book Report - A Short History of Nearly Everything

A few days ago, in my post on the revelation that black holes don't exist, I mentioned "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. I finished listening to it today and here's my review: Sort of like the line in "Top Gun:" "That was some of the best flying I've seen, right up until the time you got killed." this was a good book, right up until the last commentary by the author. After 5 CDs of listening not only to the fantastic things man has discovered, by who and how, and many stories of how things were either not understood, or not even comprehended, and later, once something was discovered ("plate tectonics" was a term first used in 1968), all of a sudden, right at the end of the book, Bill Vryson begins to pontificate about how life was actually a series of highly improbible things happening over and over again, so that's how it works we're told. He describes "miraculous" things, then makes it a result of a few chemicals and a spark. He goes on to tell us how they (scientists) postulate that 90% of the species on Earth still haven't been discovered, and a few moments later, he starts berating mankind for being the most selfish and inept species ever in the history of the planet, uncaringly either letting species be eliminated, or actually wantonly eliminating them. It struck me as incredible that the very history of our journey into modernity has been rife with misunderstandings, personality conflict, rejection of actual fact, yet all of a sudden, we are chastised for destroying the planet and what lives here. We have also been responsible for global warming (it couldn't have been the big yellow ball hanging up there in the sky!), since that began when humans first walked the earth. Anyhow, listen to it all, but if you're not in the mood for a lecture on how bad humanity is for dear old mother earth, skip the last track on the last CD and spare your blood pressure.

“The Most Valuable Commodity on the Ship is My Rest.”

This post is a comment on leadership philosphy. While I was XO, my Captain, Commander Wade Johnson, would lock his cabin door at 2000 (8:00PM) when we were at sea. By that time, the "normal" work day had ended, I had taken "8 o’clock reports," written the "Night Orders" (navigation and operational directions for the evening hours for the bridge and Combat Information Center (CIC) watches), the Battle Orders, and had sat down with him, getting his approval on those two important documents, as well as discussing any crucial outstanding issues, and the next day’s schedule. I usually was in his cabin by about 7:15PM and out about 15 minutes later. That sequence set the conditions for routine operations that evening, and concluded his work day. It was far too easy, in all the sea going tours I had, to extend the work day, using the quieter time of the night to get a few messages reviewed and signed, or follow up on outstanding issues, with out the frequent interruptions that seemed to be a characteristic of the day time. All the commanding officers I had worked for, besides Wade, never seemed to set this boundary for themselves, and it wasn’t uncommon to see people (sometimes that "people" was me) taking advantage of this up to Taps (2200, 10:00PM). The captain of the ship can be awakened for all sorts of reasons. While it’s nice to plan things for the night, other vessels, not part of friendly forces, and sometime even those of the friendly forces, that you didn’t know were in the area, are on a course to come within some set distance from the ship, which required a report to the Captain. Any unusual weather, astrological, or oceanographic phenomena requires a call. Casualties to equipment, or personnel on the ship, or on a ship in company were more opportunities to call the CO. Messages may be received requiring a change of plans or schedule, and the captain needs to know. On some nights, I have been known to call many times during a 4 hour deck watch, as there were that many things going on. To constantly have your sleep interrupted, as most all of us know, wears on you. Try doing that for 6 month periods at a time, let alone the 1 year tours the Army and Marines are doing right now. In many instances, your call requires a decision from the Captain on the acceptable course of action, or, at the least, his coherent acknowledgment of the report. The commander’s judgment in these moments are critical. Obviously, the more worn out the captain is, whether from avoidable, or unavoidable conditions, the greater possibility to make an error, when responding to the watch stander’s call. When Captain Johnson told me about his door being locked at 2000, he explained that his rest was crucial for making the right decision, in some cases, this would require an immediate and correct reply, to avoid loss of life, or prevent damage to the ship. I knew this subconsciously, but had never thought of the issue of the CO "guarding" his rest for this purpose. Over time, I saw the value of his clearly stated position, where he ensured he was in the best condition to manage the most critical issues of the ship. His point was merely "routine" work was to be done at the end of the routine day. Emergencies were welcomed anytime, for that was his job to handle them. This story came to mind, as I had recently begun reading a blog by a company commander in Iraq. I had gotten used to his daily postings, that were well written, and a very interesting view into the daily life of someone in the midst of current events. On the day of the attack by the terrorists on Abu Gharib prison, there was no post, nor was there for the next few days. It was disconcerting, and I found myself checking for something new every time I had a moment to get near a computer. After all, if I miss a day of posting, it may merely mean I felt like crawling under the hood of my other car and seeing if I can figure out it’s lack of power. If a blogger in theater misses, there is a reasonable chance it’s for much darker reasons. When he returned to posting a few days later, he explained he had just been too worn out, and needed to catch up on his sleep. As an officer in a command position, he needs that, as would any NCO, or fire team leader. The in theater bloggers bring us a wealth of first person reports, which are enriching, yet it is often done as they sacrifice their rest time, in an already stressful environment. I’m grateful for his writing, and I sure hope he only blogs when he’s rested.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Are there any Air Force bloggers?

I was just updating my links on the left sidebar and noticed my "Zoomies" category is empty. I'm sure there's some USAF types with computers. Actually, back in the mid 80's, the AF cut staffing for secretaries and administrative support, since they were giving just about everyone a computer to use. All they had to do was issue unit letterhead, and the secretarial function was completely overtaken. On the other hand, I'm sure that caused a lot of chaos in the tracking and management of official correspondence.... If you know of any bloggers from the wild blue younder crowd, please leave the site in the comments, so I can include them. UPDATE 04/10/2005: I added one of the AF blogs to the links! Thanks for the input. Anyone know of any Coast Guard blogs?

Helping Military Families

Here's a heads up to a site that is a tribute to a fallen Marine, Corporal Nich, that uses the donations to help military families. I found this info on Black Five. Matt, as usual, has the great stuff. Here's the mission statement:
Our Mission The Corporal Nich Dieruf Memorial Fund strives to help military service members and their families across the United States by providing financial assistance and/or resources to those families in distress. We hope to bring peace of mind to those who gave some and to those who gave all.
As they point out, pay for military families isn't really good. Please take a moment to visit the site.

Yes, MSM, the "insurgents" are winning...NOT!

I would think if the "insurgents" were really winning, as the MSM would have us believe, they certainly wouldn't have to stoop to blowing up children trying to make a community cleaner. I guess these kids were a threat to the "insurgent" movement's power base. On the other hand, maybe after all the stories we have read about how the Iraqi children have responded to the kindness of the US Military, they are trying to kill them in order to keep that influence from playing out in the future... While I was attending Naval War College in 87-88, and taking classes down the road at Salve Regina for an MA, we had an assignment to share some of our experiences in our philosophy class. One Marine Major, who had been assigned as an attache in Lebanon shared told about a formal reception where he enganged a Lebanese Christian Army officer in a conversation regarding the Christian/Muslim conflict of the time. It went like this: "How can you kill a pregnant woman?" Response: "If I don't kill her now, in 16 years, I have two people I have to kill." Chilling, but speaks to the power of influence...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I'm Crushed

I like science stuff, in fact I was loaned the CDs for "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. If you like books on tape (CD) and are facinated how our speices figured out all the stuff we have, I recommend this. As a long time skydiver, I've studied a little physics. That also facinates me. By, today (and please pardon the pun), I'm crushed, as I just found a weblog that led me to an article that says Black Holes don't exist. Besides having to drop all refernecs to such things as "singularlity" and event horizon" from my vocabulary, just hink of all the scifi that will have to be rewritten...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Lessons from the Commodore

If Bill Clinton had had this lecture, he wouldn't have needed to risk the freedom of Sandy Berger.... We know Sandy accidentally stuffed his pants and socks with National secrets, just before the 9-11 Hearings. When I saw this quoted email from Buzz Patterson, author of "Dereliction of Duty" (a fine read, by the way), and Buzz's remarks about it wasn't about the documents themselves, but the handwritten notes on the margins. He is so correct. We can only surmise why the followers of Clinton didn't want that on the street. It was back in 1987, and we had returned from a major fleet exercise a few days before. While we had been at sea, there was a change of command, and the incoming commodore of our destroyer squadron was Capt Joe Lopez. It was our first time back in the office (somewhere we didn't get to visit very often) and he walked out of his office, holding a naval message in his hand. Since we were still feeling him out, and he us, it got quiet. What Joe Lopez said next has stuck with me since that day. It went something like this: "Gentlemen, we may make our jokes and derogatory comments about the units we work with at times, but those things should be kept among us." He held the message up facing us, and there were some handwritten remarks in the margins. He didn't tell us what it was, but in this context, that wasn't important. "We have people from our units and other places that come in here regularly to meet with us. How would you feel if you walked in here, as one of the ship's company of a unit of ours, and saw something about your ship written on a message sitting on one of the desks in here?" "If something needs to be written on a document, make it factual and professional. That way, you'll never be called upon to explain something you regret writing." He didn't have to say any more, the point was quickly grasped.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Single Engine Night "Trap" into a Barricade!

I know enough about flying that just about everyone who flys serious stuff will readily admit the most difficult thing to do in flying is landing on an aircraft carrier at night. The story I had emailed to me describes a night flight that's bad right off the "cat" at night....It's got lots of good stuff, besides just a good story, not the times the writer indicates something from training came right back to him in the midst of a critical situation. Also note he was getting calls to eject. The unfortunate analysis of many crashes shows the pilot continued to think they could fly through the problem, rather than get blown out into space on the business end of a rocket motor. This guy flew it out, and we taxpayers have a mostly functional multi-million dollar airplane back, as well as an uninjured pilot, who cost a lot of $$$ to train.
Here's a personal story of an F-18 Hornet's recent recovery by barricade, at night . . on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. [ Note : the barricade is a 20 foot high net that stretches across the carrier's deck to 'catch' airplanes during extreme emergencies.] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- " Oyster, here. This note is to share with you the exciting night I had the other month. It has nothing to do with me wanting to talk about me. But it has everything to do with sharing what will no doubt become a better story as the years go by. So.... There I was .. ' manned up' a hot seat for the 2030 night launch about 500 miles north of Hawaii. I was taxied off toward the carrier's island where I did a 180 degree turn to get spotted to be the first one off Catapult # 1. They lowered my launch bar and started the launch cycle. All systems were ' go' on the runup. And after waiting the requisite 5 seconds to make sure my flight controls are good to go, I turned on my lights. As is my habit I shifted my eyes to the catwalk and watched the deck edge dude and as he started his routine of looking left, then right. I put my head back against the head rest. The Hornet cat shot is pretty impressive. As the cat fires, I stage the afterburners and I am along for the ride. Just prior to the end of the stroke .. there's a huge flash . . and a simultaneous . . B-O-O-M ! And my night world is in turmoil. My little pink body is doing 145 knots or so and is 100 feet above the black Pacific. And there it stays -- except for the airspeed, which decreases to 140 knots. Some where in here I raised my gear. And the throttles aren't going any farther forward despite my Schwarzze-negerian efforts to make them do so. From out of the ether I hear a voice say one word: "JETTISON ! " Rogered that ! And a nano second later my two drops and single MER [about 4,500 pounds in all ] are Black Pacific bound. The airplane leapt up a bit but not enough. I'm now about a mile in front of the boat at 160 feet and fluctuating from 135 to 140 knots. The next comment that comes out of the ether is another one-worder: " EJECT ! " I'm still flying . . so I respond . . " Not yet . . I've still got it." Finally, at 4 miles ahead of the boat, I take a peek at my engine instruments and notice my left engine . . doesn't match the right. ( Funny, how quick glimpses at instruments get burned into your brain.) The left rpm is at 48% even though I'm still doing the Ah-Nold thing. I bring it back out of afterburner to military power. About now I get another " EJECT ! " call. " Nope ! It's still flying." At 5 1/2 miles I asked tower to please get the helo headed my way as I truly thought I was going to be ' shelling out '. At some point, I thought it would probably be a good idea to start dumping some gas. But as my hand reached down for the dump switch, I actually remembered that we had a NATOPS operation prohibition against dumping fuel while in afterburner. But after a second or two [contemplating the threat of the unnecessarily burden] I turned the fuel dump switches on. Immediately [ I was told later ] . . A SIXTY FOOT ROMAN CANDLE . . BEGAN TRAILING BEHIND. At 7 miles I started a ( very slight ) climb to get a little breathing room. CATCC control chimes in giving me a downwind [ landing pattern] heading . . and I'm like: " Ooh . . what a good idea " . and I throw down my tail hook. . Eventually I get headed downwind to the carrier at 900 feet and ask for a Tech Rep [Manufacturer's Technical Representative]. While waiting, I shut down the left engine. But in short order, I hear Scott "Fuzz" McClure's voice. I tell him the following : " OK Fuzz, my gear's up . . my left motor's off . . and I'm only able to stay level by using minimum afterburner. And every time I pull it back to military power, I start down at about a hundred feet per minute." I just continue trucking downwind . . trying to stay level . and keep dumping fuel. I think I must have been in afterburner for = about fifteen minutes. At ten miles or so I'm down to 5000 pounds of gas and start a turn back toward the ship. I don't intend to land but I don't want to get too far away. Of course, as soon I as I stuck in that angle of bank . . I start dropping like a stone. So I end up doing a [shallow bank] 5 mile [radius] circle around the ship. Fuzz is reading me the single engine rate of climb numbers from the ' book' based on temperature, etc. And it doesn't take us long to figure out that things aren't adding up. One of the things I'd learned about the Hornet is that it is a perfectly good single engine aircraft . flies . great on one motor. So why do I now need blower [afterburner ] to stay level ? By this time, I'm talking to the Deputy CAG ( turning [duty] on the flight deck) and CAG who's on the bridge with the Captain. And we decide that the thing to do is climb to three thousand feet and ' dirty up' [gear and flaps down] to see if I'm going to have the excess power needed to be able to shoot a night approach for a landing. I get headed downwind . . go full burner on my remaining motor . . and eventually make it to 2000 feet before leveling out below a scattered layer of puffy clouds. And the ' puffies ' are silhouetted against a half a moon which was really, really cool. I start a turn back toward the ship . . and when I get pointed in the right direction . I . throw the gear down and pull the throttle out of after-burner. Remember that flash/boom . . that started this little tale ? [ Repeat it here ] . . Boom ! I jam it back into afterburner, and after three or four huge compressor stalls [and accompanying deceleration] the right motor ' comes back'. I'm thinking my blood pressure was probably ' up there' about now . . and for the first time, I notice that my mouth has dried up. This next part is great. You know those stories about guys who deadstick crippled airplanes away from the orphanages and puppy stores and stuff and get all this great media attention? Well, at this point I'm looking at the picket ship in front of me, at about two miles, and I transmit to no one in particular, "You need to have the picket ship hang a left right now. I think I'm gonna be outta here in a second." I said it very calmly but with meaning. The picket immediately pitched out of the fight. Ha! I scored major points with the heavies afterwards for this. Anyway, it's funny how your mind works in these situations. OK, so I'm dirty and I get it back level and pass a couple miles up the starboard side of the ship. I'm still in minimum blower and my fuel state is now about 2500 pounds. Hmmm. I hadn't really thought about running out of gas. I muster up the gonads to pull it out of blower again and sure enough...flash, BOOM! I'm thinking that I'm gonna end up punching out and tell Fuzz at this point " Dude, I really don't want to try that again." Don't think everyone else got it . . but he chuckled. Eventually I discover that even the tiniest throttle movements cause the ' flash/boom thing ' to happen so I'm trying to be as smooth as I can. I'm downwind a couple miles when CAG comes up and says, " Oyster, we're going to rig the barricade." Remember, CAG's up on the bridge watching me fly around doing blower donuts in the sky and he's also thinking I'm gonna run outta JP-5 fuel. By now I've told everyone who's listening that there a better than average chance that I'm going to be ejecting. The helicopter bubbas - God bless 'em - have been following me around this entire time.) I continue downwind and again, sounding more calm than I probably was, call the LSO. " Paddles, you up [listening] ?" "Go ahead" replies " Max" Stout, one of our LSO's. "Max, I probably know most of it ,but do you want to shoot me the barricade briefing ?" So, in about a minute . . he went from expecting me to ' punch out ' . . to have me asking for the barricade brief [so he was hyperventilating.] But he was awesome to hear on the radio though . . just the kind of voice you'd want to hear in this situation. He gives me the barricade brief. And at nine miles I say, "If I turn now will ' it ' be up when I get there? Because I don't want to have to go around again." "It's going up right now, Oyster. Go ahead and turn." "Turning in, say the final bearing." "Zero six three," replies the voice in CATCC. " OK, I'm on a four degree glide slope and I'm at 800 feet. I will intercept glide slope at about a mile and three quarters then reduce power. " When I reduced power : Flash/boom ! [ Add power out of fear.] Going high ! Pull power. Flash/boom ! [ Add power out of fear.] Going higher ! [ Flashback to LSO school...." All right class, today's lecture will be on the single engine barricade approach. Remember, the one place you really, really don't want to be is high. O.K.? You can go play golf now."] I start to set up a higher than desired sink rate the LSO hits the " Eat At Joe's" wave-off night lights." Very timely too. I stroke the AB and cross the flight deck with my right hand on the stick and my left thinking about the little yellow and black ejection handle between my legs. No worries. I cleared that sucker by at least ten feet. By the way my fuel state at the ball call was [now low] at 1.1. As I slowly climb out I punched the radio button saying . . again to no one in particular : " I can do this." I'm in blower still and CAG says, "Turn downwind." After I get turned around he says, " Oyster, this is gonna be your last look [at the boat in the dark below] so you can turn in again as soon as you're comfortable." I flew the DAY pattern and I lost about 200 feet in the turn and like a total dumbs___ I look out of the cockpit as I get on centerline and " that ' NIGHT THING ' about feeling that I'm too high " GRABBED ME . . and [ in error ] I pushed down further to 400 feet [ above the dark water ]. I got kinda irked at myself then as I realized I would now be intercepting the four degree glide slope in the middle .. with a flash/boom every several seconds all the way down. Last look at my gas was 600-and-some pounds [100 gallons] at a mile and a half. " Where am I on the glide slope, Max ?" I ask. And I and hear a calm "Roger Ball." I know I'm low because the ILS [needle] is waaay up there. I can't remember what the response was but by now the ball's shooting up from the depths. I start flying it but before I get a chance to spot the deck I hear : " Cut, cut, CUT !" I'm really glad I was a ' Paddles' for so long because my mind said to me " Do what he says Oyster ! " and I pulled it back to idle. My hook hit 11 paces from the ramp. The rest is pretty tame. I hit the deck . . skipped the one, the two and snagged the three wire and rolled into the barricade about a foot right of centerline. Once stopped, my vocal cords involuntarily shouted, " VICTORY ! " The deck lights came on bright . . and off to my right there must have been a . . ga-zillion cranials and eyes watching. You could hear a huge cheer across the flight deck. After I open the canopy and the first guy I see is our huge Flight Deck Chief named Richards. And he gives me the coolest personal look . . and then two thumbs up. I will remember all of that forever. P.S. You're probably wondering what gave motors problems. When they taxied that last Hornet over the catapult .. they forgot to remove a section or two of the rubber cat seal. When the catapult shuttle came back [ to hook me up ], it removed the cat rubber seal which was then inhaled by both motors during my catapult stroke. Left engine basically quit even though the motor is in pretty good shape. But it was producing no thrust and during the wave-off one of the LSO's saw "about thirty feet" of black rubber hanging off the left side of the airplane. The right motor .. the one that kept running .. had 340 major hits to all engine stages. The compressor section is trashed . . and best of all . it had two pieces of the cat seal [ one 2 feet and the other about 4 = feet long ] sticking out of the first stage and into the air intake. God Bless General Electric ! By the way, maintenance data showed that I was fat on fuel -- I had 380 pounds ( 61 gallons) of gas when I shut down. Again, remember this particular number as in ten years [ of story telling] when it will surely be . .' FUMES MAN . . FUMES . . I TELL YOU ! ' Oyster, out."

Monday, April 04, 2005

"Those sync amps sure are shooting good!"

As Engineer Officer in a surface ship, the maintenance and operation of the ships gyroscopes fell under my purview. We were in the South Atlantic Ocean, operating with one of the South American navies for a surface gunnery exercise. The Weapons Officer was having a bad day, as the fall of shot from our main guns (5 "/54 caliber) wasn’t landing near the towed target. The CO, being the warfighter he was, as well as being a gunnery expert, asked Weps what the problem was. Reportedly, without much hesitation, he proclaimed the signal amplifiers for the gyros weren’t operating properly and therefore, the gun orders from the fire control system was off. Gee, thanks, John, is really all I could think about as Captain Maxiner chewed on me about equipment not operating to specs. I called Ensign Hale and got him to work running checks. After a few hours, Nolan came back, showing me the sync amp outputs were all within specifications. I reported this to the Captain. What I found out later that day was that while we were scratching our heads and checking the gyros, the fire control division had been madly swapping out circuit cards in the MK 86 Gunfire Control System. If my sync amps were the problem, it was odd that they would be doing this kind of work on their system, particularly if you didn’t know where the problem was. It turned out Weps hosed me, but I did get a dig in a few days later when we were doing another gunnery shoot. I wandered up to the bridge, and stood behind the Co and Weps, as the guns pounded out round after round and got calls back over the radio from the tug that was towing the target sled of "Alpha Mike" over and over. "AM" is the report that the round hit within close enough proximity to the target sled that it would have been a direct hit on a real ship. I waited for several of the reports of success to come over the radio, then, when there was a lull in the firing, said loudly "Those sync amps sure are shooting good!" All I got was two hard, cold stares from the Captain and the Weapons Officer. All I could do was stand there and smile. One small victory for the Engineering Department was racked up that day.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Wilf for President

If you're scratching your head over this one, go see this movie.

The Value of the Military Skill Set – Part XII

Part XII - "Red Blood or Red Ink" Index to the Series: Part I: Initiative, marketing, sales, project planning and program management skills Part II: Auditing Skills Part III: Operations 24/7/365 Part IV: “Point Papers” Part V: Collateral Duties Part VI: The “Git ‘er done!” Factor Part VII: “Total Care” Part VIII: Communications in the Workplace Part IX: "Give a smart person with potential a chance" Part X: Process Engineering, Continuous Improvement, Total Quality Management, Total Quality Leadership, or what ever you call it. The bottom line title: Making “it” better Part XI: The Military's Supply System Part XII: “Red Blood or Red Ink” Part XIII: Constructive Plagerism This is probably an original way to portray what I’ll comment on below. It’s been running around in my head for a few years now, and this seems to be the right time to roll it out. Think jeopardy. What’s the difference between warfare and business? Bingo. On is a more gentile form of the other, but in each case, the goal is to take something from the other party, and make it yours. What’s the difference between Wal-Mart moving in, with the local hardware, toy and grocery stores taking a significant, if not financially fatal "hit," and Hitler moving into Poland? I think you can’t argue that there is a fundamental difference here. It’s all about competition. It’s about figuring out your enemy/competitor’s weakness and exploiting it to your gain. Certainly one venue is far more radical, and in many cases, far more final. Particularly for those service members who have been able to attend one of the National or international service colleges, this is a daily exercised skill, and therefore, a part of their thought processes. The curriculums of the war colleges focus on building better warfighters, at the upper levels. The degrees awarded are in the Strategic Studies arena at the Master’s level. The almost universally studied texts is "On War" by Carl von Clausewitz. The other classic is “The Ancient Art of War” by Sun Tzu. These writings are studies in how people operate in the most extreme climes of competition, that of armed conflict. Reduce this to the business environment and what you have is people who subconsciously know what to look for when you ask them to figure out how to increase market share, or how to take over, or penetrate a market. To them, it’s just second nature to mentally construct an operational concept, that will form the "battle plan." Not only will they formulate the concept, they will have had practice in drafting the operational plan and then communicating it to the office/sales force staff. Think about it. How many business seminars have you been to where some tremendously successful business person stand before you and they reference some great philosophy that is directly derived from a great warrior? Why shouldn’t they, it’s the same concept at work.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Yes, Marty, I did it.....

As I discussed some things with my friend last evening, I recalled a simple, yet effective, practical joke during one of my at-sea tours. I realized it is time to publically confess. I can only hope Marty finds out here... Life at sea on a combatant is not all hard work, lots of sweat and no sleep for the line officers. During my XO tour, I used to regularly get up at 0500, grab a shower, get my radio traffic, then a cup of coffee. By the time reville sounded at 0630, I had a pretty good head start on the day. We had a helicopter detachment assigned to the ship, and Marty was the Officer in Charge. Being a Naval Aviator, he had been "raised" with a little different work place ethic, and he regularly worked to make ship board life more like that of he and his avaitors. That wasn't all bad, but, as you might expect, I resisted, which wasn't hard as XO to call the shots. I had a master key for the wardroom area (where the officer's rooms were). It was the implement that allowed me to secretly torture Marty, as a pay back for the friendly jibes he made about us "shoes" (short version of "black shoe," the name avaitors, who wear brown shoes, called us ship drivers). The officers didn't have "heads" in their staterooms, but they had a shared facility in the passageway right outside their rooms. Once I was up and dressed, and had headed forward to get my traffic from Radio Central, I would continue forward, check in Combat Information Center (CIC) and the Bridge, then head down and after to the wardroom for coffee and breakfast. When taking this route, I could take the short way through the wardroom area, past the staterooms, then into the dining area of the wardroom itself. Marty's room, as you've probably guessed, was right on that route. The stateroom doorknobs had a button on the inside to lock them, but when locked, needed a key on the outside to open them. With the key, you could lock the door, but the button on the inside stayed in the unlocked position. Because of this design, I could, in the dim red light of the darkened ship condition in the passageway, well before reveille, lock Marty's door with the master key. It was quite fun to sit eating breakfast and see Marty stick his head into the wardroom, obviously fresh out of the shower, and ask on of the mess cooks to get the key, as he had locked himself out of his room. I only did it a few times in the 6 month deployment, yet, for as smart as he was, he never suspected what had happened. I'm sorry, Marty, but it was just too much fun to pass it up.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Value of the Military Skill Set - Part XI

Part XI - The Military's Supply System Index to the Series: Part I: Initiative, marketing, sales, project planning and program management skills Part II: Auditing Skills Part III: Operations 24/7/365 Part IV: “Point Papers” Part V: Collateral Duties Part VI: The “Git ‘er done!” Factor Part VII: “Total Care” Part VIII: Communications in the Workplace Part IX: "Give a smart person with potential a chance" Part X: Process Engineering, Continuous Improvement, Total Quality Management, Total Quality Leadership, or what ever you call it. The bottom line title: Making “it” better Part XI: The Military's Supply System Part XII: “Red Blood or Red Ink” Part XIII: Constructive Plagerism This isn't going to be a long diatribe on what the US Military has for a supply system, as much as a comment on how much exposure military members have to it. Specifically, I can speak most clearly about what would be the experience of someone assigned to a Navy ship or submarine, which was my experience. Long before Wal-Mart had a huge "cradle to grave" logistical network, the Navy had one. I'm sure the other services have almost identical structures, but the forms and who's in chagre is listed differently. As far back as the mid-80's, when it was my job to manage the maintenance of a squadron of forward deployed surface ships, I had very close to real time information on where every spare part needed for critical operational systems was, and when we could expect it's delivery. Most all of my peers in the officer corps had similar hands on experiences. For most non-commissioned officers and above, pretty much everone on on the ship had to interact with the supply system in detail. I have good and bad sea stories regarding the actual supply officers I worked with, but for the most part, while we didn't like the thought that they didn't have watches to stand at sea, they were a perofessional bunch, with only a few radical bean counters in the bunch. If you needed something, there were ways to look up exactly what it was, and then a form to order it with. While it seemed like a pain in the butt for a pad of paper, it was pretty handy when you turbine front frame attached gear box failed, and you needed another one in order to put that engine back in service. We all learned it wasn't a wild, wild west oout there, with easy access to the storerooms, but a structured system, which accounted for useage and made sure the next one got on order to be able to keep the authorized spares in place. My point is that military person in front of you understands the need for a large, seemingly cumbersome logisitics network, and how, in fact, it really does make life easier. The requisition form goes to the supply petty officer, he logs it in the division's records and it begins it's journey to the chain of command. The chief or leading petty officer usually has a grasp on the budget and knows if it's a go or not, so they can justify it to the division officer, if it's not a part of the planned, budgeted perocess. You won't need much to educate an ex-military person about your system, because the basic concepts and operation are already a part of what they have done. Show them the forms and tell them were to go to submit them and when and where to expect a delivery. I ended up becoming very connected to training issues in my career. In the outside world, I was a skydiving instructor for about 15 years. I always found the quickest way to get someone into the "program" was to use correct analogies, that drew on their past experiences. When you see their eyes light up in a few minutes, and they are saying words indicating they "get it," you're on the way and probably saved many hoours of classroom time with your new employee. This post was to provide an analogy that may be useful for just this situation, when you bring someone into a large corporation, with an extensive logistics system.