Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Paying It Forward and the Veterans History Project

One day, a WWII came to my office to get some work done. He mentioned he was a vet and had been in the Army Air Corps. While the boss looked on, we began a conversation. She sort of shook her head, smiled and went back to work. Jim and I have now met several times. The fallout of this meeting ended up with me volunteering to write some of his stories down. He thought that was a grand idea. He's a salesman and can run off on tangents and come back, and doesn't like to write. I like history and now have a face and several stories from so many years ago to place it with. We spent one evening at dinner, me scribbling furiously, as we laughed heartily and tried to get the cheeseburgers down in between him telling of his youthful days and the antics that came with it. After two hours, his wife politely excused herself and went home, having heard the stories, shall I say "several" times. She told us to not rush. About an hour later, as closing time for the restaurant approached, the waitress realized what was going on and kept us in iced tea and root beer. Even after closing, we stood in the parking lot for about 30 more minutes, as he told me more. Jim has the second draft for review now. It's not terribly long, but the six typed pages are slices of history, telling of a real man, in a real war, doing those things men do. Nothing obscene at all, just reality. I'm going to post it here when he and his wife (a school teacher) get done making sure I got it right, in fact and in spelling and grammer. Now, all of this to say this about all of the above. Jim and I were on the phone Friday, scrubbing a few details and Jane asked, in the background "How are you going to repay him?" Jim started to put that question to me, but before he could, I just told him, "Jim, don't worry, you already did from 42-45." There was a few seconds of silence, and we went right back to getting the story squared away. I'm just happy to help him get this recorded, and, his contribution has been paid in full and them some, for what we have. Please check around periodically for the "Adventures of Jim," or whatever I name them, as I'll post it in pieces to cut down the sit in one place commitment requirement. The final piece, will commemorate a very interesting feat of daring, for which Jim was the first to pull it off and it has a specific date associated with it. And with that tease, stay tuned! I urge you to do something like this as well, as we are losing about 1200 WWII vets a day now. The Library of Congress Veteran's History Project has some useful tools to help you in capturing these valuable first person stories. Don't let them go undocumented! Last week, a friend of mine, who served in the Flying Tigers in Desert Storm as a plane captain, had a real, honest, to goodness Flying Tiger, from the AVG, walk into his computer store. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to meeting him, too.

A Legacy of Change - A Citadel Grad Reports

In 1993, Shannon Faulkner was accepted into The Citadel. Upon her receiving the acceptance, it then was made known that Shannon was, in fact, a female. She had filled out the entrance application properly, except for one block, the gender one. Her academics were fine, and all those other things that go into determining whether an applicant is accepted. Thus began the legal and functional ordeal of women entering The Citadel. The all-male system had shock waves through it. It appears things have smoothed out. In 1999, the first woman, Nancy Mace, graduated. In doing a little googling, I found she has written a book on her experience, which seemed to get good reviews on Amazon. Anyhow, that's not the point. My most recent Alumni News magazine had a letter from Lt Vlasta Zekulic of the Croation Army, that I think tells a great story. Here it is:
A Letter of Realization After graduating from The Citadel in 2002, all my dreams of becoming an officer in the Croation Armed Forces came true. But the education has not ended and it took more months of military trainings and studying to reach the standards of becoming a Croation Officer. I proudly got my first command positioning in March of 2003. At that time, it was still just a dream...commanding the only unit of the Croation military that is deployed to any peace operation in the world - a Military Police unit trained specifically for ISAF, the NATO mission in Afghanistan. My commanders put me on the hard road to prove that I am good enough of an officer and strong enough as a person to win this postioning and lead the troops to Kabul. Once again, the patience, endurance and the strength that mostly The Citadel evolved in me to endure all this and prove myself worthy of their trust. So in February, 2004, I gathered my new unit, trained and selected them for the following six months and, by August, 2004, I was on my way to Kabul, Afghanistan. My function here is triple. I am commandingall of the Croation MPs in Afghanistan (38 of them), commander of the Croation Camp inside the Camp Warehouse in Kabul, and within the Kabul Multinational Brigade (KMNB) Military Police Coy. I work as an Operations and Plans Officer. Commanding and taking care of my soldiers has been quite challenging so far - making sure that they have all they need so far from home, being there when they are sick, tired, angry or joyful and at the same time plan patrols, operations, missions for the whole Coy (92 multinational MPs). Being one of two females in the contingent and being the first female ever to command the national operational unit in the peace operation an even bigger challenge - hard, tough, and at the moment, almost impossible to handle. But The Citadel prepeared me for that, too. When I remember knob year in 1998, and how I thought that I could never make it and then I remember how far I came by 2002, I know I can make it anywhere. When I feel worse and when situations and problems of leadership seem hardest, when no decision I make seems good enough or fair enough, I get the words of Col Lackey (Commandant of Cadets), "Girl, it is hard work to be a commander and a good commander is never a popular one. Do what you know is right and remember, it is a lonley place on top." The Citadel made me who I am today and taught me what kind of leader I wanted to be. I hope to remain faithful and follow this path until the end of my military career. The gold Citadel ring on my hand, that I even carry in Kabul, is my daily reminder of who and what I must not fail. Respectfully, Lt. Vlasta Zelulic Platoon Commander, MN MP Coy
I'd say the boys along the banks of the Ashley figured out the women were here to stay and to just get on with it. It sounds like she got a good schooling in leadership. The Citadel has a legacy of training foreign students. There were many Thai Army Officers who graduated from there, and many Iranian Naval Officers. A few in the classes before me, and many after. They came already commissioned, with their connections with to the Shah's family. Those still awaiting graduation in the spring of 1979 could not return to their homeland, because they would have been executed.

Alternate Star Wars Script

I finally went to see Episode III yesterday. We have an IMAX here that shows the cool stuff, so my buddy and I went early, paid extra and sat about 8 rows from the front, almost centerline. I like the immersive effect. The second and thrid Matrix flicks were definitely cool here, also. As the movie ended, we thought this might have worked: Patamay: "Obi Wan, is Anikin alright?" Obi Wan: " Yes, he's on fire for you." (rim shot please...)

Desmond Doss' Movie

On May 5th this year, I posted a story on the 60th anniversay of the action where the first conscientious objector in WWII received the Congressional Medal of Honor, then PFC Desmond T. Doss, US Army. Today, I found that the documentary of his story is now available on DVD and VHS. The site is http://www.desmonddoss.com. I think it's a defineite addition to my library and have one on order now. If you don't know the story, it's a powerful one. I invite you to follow the lines from my post to a wealth of information about this man's life. And, Desmond Doss is still alive and well, living in Georgia.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day, 2005 - It’s Not All About the Numbers

Memorial Day. We take a moment to consider those who have sacrificed their lives, so we may have our freedoms. It is difficult, however, to grasp being without such things as the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, and so many other things we enjoy every moment of our lives in the United States. The ABC Nightline program will be presenting the picture and reading the name of each of the American service personnel who have most recently been those who have fallen for our privileges. As many would put it, it seems anti-military. I’m not a fan of the press’ urge to present the negative of just about anything related to our casualties, mostly because, as I heard it put this morning, the “CIE” (context is everything) issue. We honor our war dead, but if this is not presented with the backdrop of what the “ultimate sacrifice” brings, and therefore, it does appear senseless. When researching the topic of genocide in 1987 for a philosophy class, it was made clear to me, that, very much like the numbers we are presented with such as “Over 1600 dead in the War on Terror,” we really don’t grasp it. We can intellectually understand the Hitler had 6 million Jews murdered in the death camps of Europe. What our mind is too finite to grasp, is the name and history of each of those people. Certainly, they had families, jobs, hobbies, interests, friends, a place they lived and things they had been experienced, that was unique to them. I guess I can best say it as though, for all the majesty of the brain’s storage capacity, it’s too much to fathom, much like getting that “You don’t have enough memory to run this application” error in Windows. Different from our computers, we can’t run out to Best Buy and buy a stick of RAM to upgrade with. We can envision the family down the street, killed when a tractor – trailer runs a red light. We have the capacity to hold on to the images an d words that named the people and defined their lives. It’s the larger numbers of names that baffle us subconsciously. Given this is a common phenomena across humanity, we find it easy to be “clinical” about large groups of people who have suffered, be it Indonesians or Thais after a tsunami, or the Jews who died at Dachau, not even to mention those who died in Auschwitz, and the many other concentration camps of western Europe, the gulags of Siberia, and the killing fields of Cambodia. Many websites around the country have done excellent jobs paying tribute to the now dead men and women of the Global War on Terror. Some sites are for individuals, others, such as Black Five and Mudville Gazette to name just two of the many, cover many of the stories of these people, including, in many cases both the heroism in combat, the solemn times of the funerals, and sometimes, the notes from parents and friends, and comrades from the fields of battle, speaking to us, putting these dead into the context of their lives. I think the only way we can attempt to understand how to thoughtfully honor those who have paid the price, is to look carefully at their pictures, which captures them forever young, to concentrate on their name as it is read, and to listen carefully to their hometown being called out. If these are the only bits of information we can glean, to personally memorialize the reality of these men and women, then we should grasp it while we have the opportunity. If you can add to that, the stories such as the one presented in today’s Parade Magazine about Corporal Jason Dunham, USMC, who covered a dropped grenade with his Kevlar helmet and held it down, in order to save his fellow Marines on April 14th, 2002, we help to put faces on those “numbers,” in past and present wars and conflict, who gave us all they had, thereby putting things in context. In the Bangor, ME Airport Terminal, where a dedicated group of local citizens greet our incoming and outgoing service members, there is a board, where the pictures of the dead are placed. The Soldiers and Marines see their fellow servicemen and speak make testimonies to these people's lives, as their moment of honor. From what I have read, it is a place treated with the respect it is meant to have. Respect, in the case of the profession of arms, may be tears, a statment of character, maybe vows of the living to never forget and to do what this person can no longer do, and it sometimes is a shared story in the form of a a practical joke that was played, and with laughter. All of it is honoring. The Nightline presentation by Ted Koppel gives us this opportunity, which is no different than a reading of the names of the 9/11/2001 victims. It is up to us to place this in context when we hear a list like this. I can't recall which of the great philosphers it was, either Plato or Aristotle, and I'm a little too lazy to find out which one right now, discussed the issue of the "intent" and the "outcome" of any action we take. While many things, beginning with good intention go far from the mark, many things with bad intention come out being very much for the good. Our judicial system relies on the inspection of the outcome, and sometimes mitigates punishment based on the extenution of the intent. I'd like the reading of the names and the showing of the pictures of these we know to honor to have any negative effect on recruiting, public opinion, nor the support of the troops, yet I cannot control how everyone will react. But I have hope, that many people will sit and watch and, in spite of not agreeing with the path this conflict has taken, they will be moved that our youth and some not so young in age anymore, have chosen to defend that which is good, the cause of freedom. It is in these moments, we can try to have our frail minds absorb the names, and not the numbers of those who have so honored us in these times, and the past.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Arlington Ladies

The American Spectator of May 2005. A "random" pick up from the magazine rack. Memorial Day approaching. Page 12 - Humbleness defined. I know nothing is coincidental. The article is "The Arlington Ladies - American Voluteerism at Its Most Moving."
By Shawn Macomber Published 5/27/2005 12:09:54 AM THE STORY OF THE ARLINGTON LADIES stretches back to a day in 1948 when Air Force Chief of Staff General Hoyt Vandenberg happened upon the funeral of an airman at Arlington. What he saw disturbed him: There wasn't a soul at the service, save the chaplain and the Honor Guard members conducting it."
At the link above, you can read the article. Here's the short version: Beginning in 1948, the wife of Air Force Chief of Staff, General Hoyt Vanderberg, Gladys, began attending funerals of the fallen at Arlington National Cemetary so no one would not have someone at their funeral, and, even if they did, the Arlington Ladies would be there to support the family as necessary. In 1972, the Army Arlington Ladies "stood up." In 1985, the Navy began it's "watch." The Marines will always have a representative from the Commandant's Office at every Marine funeral at Arlington. Compassion comes to mind. The women who have done this seek no recognition in these forums. They are there for the fallen, not for us. It is but one more example of the bond of the military family so many of us have been a part of, or are still. It is a read fitting for such a weekend, to show how the spouses of our military have honored our dead.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Total Quality Leadership - Why Did They Have to Sell Me?

After reading the sage words of an "ol' cavalryman" in this post at ROFASix, I reflected on this comment he made, and it took me back to sometime in the early 90s:
"Here is NOTR's explanation for this seemingly surreal realization of the obvious. It all started because a General Officer (GO) got an idea! It was probably after receiving an inquiry from a member of Congress asking what the Army was doing to reduce the number of casualties from IEDs. Instead of responding, "We are going to kill more bad guys Senator," this GO decided it was time to start an informational campaign after hiring a contractor to "study the problem." "
Sounds like a "Process Action Team" (PAT) in the making to me. Roll the time line back to the summer of 1973, teleport to Charleston Naval Base, aboard USS CONE (DD-866). Envision a 3rd Class Midshipman, in dungarees, being assigned to the Engineering Department for two weeks, while the ship would be underway in the summer, in the Caribbean (are you sweating yet?). For two weeks, I spent the 8-12 watch daily in the Aft Boiler Room. While there, I helped record all sorts of data on the many systems in the plant, which were passed to the Biloer Room Supervisor to review, and then they were sent to Main Control for the Engineering Officer of the Watches (EOOW) examination. "Out of Limits" readings were noted, and corrective actions taken. Trends were monitored, and, the next morning, the Engineer Officer would look at the mulitiude of hand written data collections and sign off on them, many times, grilling the Main Propulsion Assistant (MPA), Electical Officer, or the Auxilaries Officer as to why things were doing (or not doing) what the logs reported. Identify the problem with sound data, then develop a fix. Fast Forward, USS MILWAUKEE (AOR-2) c. 1978. Fresh caught Ensign spends time in the Engineering spaces, completing his Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) professional qualifications. Learns from the EOOW what the logs and records are useful for, getting a "guided tour" throught many of these reports. Same thing: Watch your system, identify the problems, and fix them. Fast forward, USS CONOLLY (DD-979) 1983. Assigned as Engineer Officer, qualifed as EOOW, therefore reviewed logs during the period of my watches, and also had the "pleasure" of distoring my signature to something much less legible, by signing about 30 some logs each day (and if we were inport and it was Monday, about 90 log sheets). Regularly asked my MPA, the ElecO and AuxO, sometimes to their dismay, why things were (or were not) doing what they were doing. Fast forward, Combat Systems Mobile Training Team, c. 1991. Adm Frank Kelso is Chief of Naval Operations. Someone tells him about a guy named Dr. Deming and "Total Quality Management." He gets briefed, decides it's the new sliced bread, and we all are have to get edumucated on TQL. TQL you ask? Not TQM? Nope, we do "leadership" we don't "manage." LCDR Tilden is the "facilitator" introduction to TQL, held in a building on the CINCLANTFLT compaound. I sit and listen to how we have to now learn how to gather data, so we may look at it carefully and then put our collective heads together and come up with solutions to the question: "How can we do this better?" I raise my hand, impertinant O-4 that I was, peeved for having to go to some mmeting for a day, when the Fleet had things to be trained on. "Aren't we doing that now?" But, a marketing "objection handling" routine was rolled back at me: "No, this is all new, and you have to learn to embrace it." I shut up. I saw where this was going. The tennants of TQM/TQL ahve a lot of merit. I have taught many things, in and out of the military, and have found people absord something best and quickest, when you connect the new thing to a similat old thing they are familiar with. for example, if any of my potential skydiving students in the First Jump Course had any experience flying (and I mean hands on the stick experience), I could easily explain how to pilot an open canopy, and the landing aptterns to follow during the approach to the landing area. We refused to do this in the Navy. TQL was the new method, and we had never had a clue about it. Bottom line: I think this happened because how would it go, for marketing and sales, if you showed up at a CEO/President's office and said: "I have a way to make you more efficient and therefore more profitable. All I have to do is take you back through all the good concepts of your MBA program and remind you about the methods of ecnomic analysis add a little statistical analysis, and the like. Pay me $2.7 gazillion and I'll get to work." Yeah, right. Response: "Get out of my office, I'm already doing that." How would it have looked if the CNO said: "Listen up. We are going to improve on the good work we already do daily, and have been doing for years. We'll take the successful methods from the engineering and aviation communities, and apply them everywhere it's feasible. You already have the basics down, so let's make it better!" What would the outside world have done? Oh, well, that's my long pent up rant about how the Navy blew their chance to make a TQL thing fly fast and far in the "culture." Just know that if I had been CNO, I'd have don it differently! ;)

Sending My Son Back to War - A Father's Sermon

I found this link to Pastor Charles Rush's website who actually gave the sermon that Toni and Marine Corps Mom each quoted from. They each extracted some great parts, but the entire message is a window through which you see, from a father's viewpoint, his observations of his son in the Marine Corps. He speaks to family relations, professional ethics, the concern of a parent, and the views of our society. The "link chasing" began as a result of the daily open posts (one here) that the Greyhawk "team" of Mudville Gazette so graciously puts up each day for us "little guys" to point readers to our work.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Sir, Would You Like to Conn the Ship?"

I have mentioned in other posts one of the jobs I had was conducting inspections of surface ship in the Atlantic Fleet for combat systems readiness. The inspection was called the Combat Systems Assessment (CSA), and during my three years of doing this, it was done under two different procedures. That's not important right now, but fodder for more sea stories. Near the end of my 3 year "shore duty" (oh, yeah, that's the one where you're supposed to be home) tour, the people over at Naval Surface Forces, Atlantic (NAVSURFLANT) decided we also needed to do CSAs on the patrol hydrofoils. They hadn't been given this level of scrutiny, so we pulled checksheets for their systems and programs, assembled a smaller team (myself and 4 others) and scheduled an airlift to Key West from Norfolk. Darn the bad luck the Naval Air Logistics Office (NALO) "gave" my team and I the "Station Plane" from Chambers Field (NAS Norfolk). The station planes are like the assigned vehicle for the NAS commander. It was a C-12, in military terms, but, in the civilian world (and most especially in the skydiving realm) it's just that wonderful Beechcraft King Air airframe. Read twin turboprop executive plane...:) Anyhow, we went to NAS Key West and then aboard the USS HERCULES (PHM-2). She was one of 6 ships of the PEGASUS Class of hydrofoils. 42 kts while "flying," and armed with a 76mm gun, and 4 Harpoon anti-ship missiles. We did our thing, checking the checklists, then watching the crew do a practice engagement. Once this all was completed, the CO, a LCDR (O-4) had the Officer of the Deck "land" the ship in the emergency mode, which was a tactic to run fast on the foils, get into a bunch of ships like a fishing fleet, then slam the ship down on the hull and magically look like the fishing boats around you on radar. The passed the word for all hands to brace for an "emergency landing," and proceeded to do one for us. The ship was running on a steady course and dropped from 42 kts to about 3 kts really fast. I you hadn't been hanging on, you'd become somewhat of a flesh missile hazard. Impressive. Back up on the foils we went. There was time to burn and I was on the bridge. The CO asked me: "Sir, would you like to conn the ship?" Conning the ship is discussed in my post on backing out of station here. I replied: "No, I've conned plenty of ships, I want to drive this one." He had the helmsman get up and let me take his seat. On the PHM, the helmsman and lee helmsman (the person who directly operated the throttles) sit in chairs with seat belts. The controls for a helmsman are like a bomber control yoke, the big partial steering wheel. The CO ordered the OOD to execute a "Figure Eight." They told me when the order "full rudder" is given, it means you turn the wheel until your hand touches your thigh. "Right Full Rudder!" "Right Full Rudder, Aye, Sir!" and I turned us to starboard. The ship heeled impressively at speed. "Shift Your Rudder!" (position the rudder on the opposite side, the same number of degrees) "Shift My Rudder, Aye, Sir!" The ship sped along, straighted up, then began to heel the opposite way and the bow dipped and headed for the water! WHAM! Another "emergency landing" just happened, but no one passed the word. Sea spray engulfed the ship for a few moments, as we stopped. Everyone looked around sort of dazed, not because of injury, but more the "what just happened" kind of dazed. No one was hurt, but a few a little shocked when momentum took over unannounced. In a few minutes, the Engineer reported to the Co that the landing had been caused by a gyro casualty. The PHM's had two foils aft, just forward of the stern. Each had underwater wings that were computer controlled, and the computer took the inputs from the gyros. The ship had two gyrocompasses. The initial software for the ship's flying stability did not account well for the loss of one gyro. When the software safety people evaluated the program, they found that if one gyro's signal was lost, the computer would compensate in such a way as to possibly cause the 288 ton vessel to cartwheel across the sea surface. The software was modified with a "fail safe" mode as a result of this discovery. The new software, when if sensed the loss of one gyro signal would command the ship to land, which, would result in an unannounced "emergency landing." When things were all squared away, and they gyro back on line, we proceeded into port. The CO told me I was the only non-crewmember to ever "land" the ship. As we were about to depart, the Captain had "Flying Certificates" made out for each one of us. I'm not sure if it was OSCM Dave Roddy, or GCMC Dave Cress who looked at me and said "They should have crumpled yours up, boss." History, and I was a piece of it....

Lt Prakash Tests His First Aid Skills

You have to read this one. Red Six at Armor Geddon relates a story about using way too big a knife for the job at hand, and the results. The man has a gift for writing, but I can see where he'll maybe grow up to be a comedian, also. Don't try drinking anything while you read the post, just so you don't spew it out on your KB and monitor when you read the funny parts.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

"You Ever Back One of These Out of Station?"

UNITAS, it's a wonderful deal, which, as one of my commenters noted to my post here, is no longer. The "deployment" is no longer done. I arrived aboard USS CONOLLY (DD-979) in late September, 1983. Assigned as Engineer Officer, I felt it was my duty to quickly and properly qualify as Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW). My CO, CDR Harry Maxiner, had other plans. Reporting aboard in Puerto Mont, Chile, the ship was to begin a transit down the Chilean Inland Waterway. That breathtaking passage is about 1/2 the length of Chile, with the foothills of the Andes to port and jagged island and smaller mountain chains to the starboard side. It is a route taken because the South Pacific at that time of year is very rough. Chilean Naval Officers are the pilots for the transit. There is a group of them assigned with this as their duty for their Navy and visitors such as us. Capt Maxiner told me I would be standing watches on the bridge. I was disappointed, but, orders is orders. That's another interesting story. We would be arriving home in Mid-December and then, after leave and standdown (30 days), we would be prepping the ship for a complex overhaul. For 10 months, we would be held captive by Supervisor of Ships in Portland, ME, so Bath Iron Works could do the work on us. That over haul would go from Feb through Dec. After that would be some local work ups and qualification of newly installed Tomahawk, MK23 Target Acquisition System (TAS) and MK15 CIWS. Next in the operational schedule would be a trip to that wonderful garden spot we just call "Gitmo" for 6 weeks of "Refresher Training." By my rotation date, I would be off the ship before she sailed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and headed to the second half of my Department Head tour. In order to be selectable for Command at Sea, there is a (go figure) checklist. One of the items (again, go figure) is demonstrating the ability to handle a ship. Included in the list of ship handling evolution was taking the ship alongside another. The other evolutions didn't require the presence of another ship, so they could be done entering any port, or when the ship was independently streaming. I had three months when we would be operating around other ships, and then the overhaul, then I'd depart (if the plan would hold for my normal rotation). I needed to go alongside a ship while on UNITAS, or I'd not get the option later. Not good for the Fitness Report to leave out "qualified for Command at Sea." While I stood bridge watches for the first month, the alongside opportunities didn't present themselves. I went to the Senior Watch Officer, at the time Lt Mike Moe and asked for him to put me on the list for the next time we'd be refueling at sea. He told me the junior officers needed the handling time and I was a "proven commodity." "That's true Mike, but I'm staying in and we have no idea how many of them will go to Department Head School." It didn't work, he said maybe later. I countered with my short time window to do this, and he wasn't terribly concerned. I went up to the bridge and found the Captain on the port bridge wing. I began to tell him about my desire to wrap up my shiphandling this cruise. He looked at me, listening, and when I was done, said "Ok, go take the conn (the person who is legally able to give engine and rudder orders, usually the Junior Officer of the Deck)." I looked at him, and it must have been in a funny way, then he said "We just got ordered to go alongside the MINEAS GERIAS" (an aircraft carrier of the Brazilian Navy). I took the conn and we took waiting station starboard, hoisted "Romeo" at the dip, indicating we were ready to approach. The Romeo flag on the MINEAS GERIAS was "closed up" and we smartly increased speed and began to come alongside. This process requires a lot of attention to detail, a throrough understanding of the handling characteristics of your ship, and hydrodynamic interactions between ships close aboard. I'll cover that in another post. I settled the ship in at the desired position alongside, at 120 ft separation, and matched the speed of the carrier. We remained there about 10 minutes, then received a signal to return to our screening station. Capt Maxiner looked at me and said "Have you ever backed one of these out of station?" The conventional wisdom is you depart from your place alongside by increasing speed, and, until your stern is clear of the other vessel's bow, and then you begin to steer away. Capt Maxiner was suggesting that we go backwards to leave. The SPRUANCE Class Destroyers were the first combatant class to be fitted with controllable, reversible propellers (CRP). The shaft turns the same way all the time (in this case, the two shafts counter rotate as well, turning inboard from their respective sides), with large hydraulics physically changing pitch on the blades. Because of this, you can reverse your course very quickly, since the engines don't have to be stopped to turn the shafts in the opposite direction. UPDATE: 74 of Bow Ramp corrected me. in the comments: "For the record, the Ashville class gunboats were the first US Navy combatants with CRP shafts. We could go from DIW to 40 knots in under 60 seconds and from Ahead Flank to DIW in 300 feet (under two ship lengths.)" I stand corrected. Thanks! "No" I said. "Do what I say" was the next order. "All back flank." "ALL BACK FLANK!" I spoke into the handset to the helm. The ship quickly began to shudder as we rapidly decelerated. The eyes on the people on the MINEAS GERIAS got big as pie plates....The carrier, proceeding at 12 knots, with us now approaching 0, pulled ahead quickly. The four turbines whined as the fuel pumps sent the maximum amount of liquid into the combustion chambers on the GE LM-2500 main engines. Our bow rapidly cleared their stern. Our screening station was on the port bow of the MINEAS GERIAS, so coming away from her starboard side, we had to get around her to carry out or orders. "ALL AHEAD FLANK THREE!" was the next command to the lee helmsman. The engines were up to speed, so now it was up to the hydraulics of the Byrd-Johnson system to change our direction. "LEFT FULL RUDDER!" "LEFT FULL RUDDER, AYE, SIR!" came back in the amplified speaker. The crew of the MINEAS GERIAS was moving aft to watch us back out of station. "RUDDER AMIDSHIPS!" as I saw we could steer straight ahead and clear the transom of the carrier. "Combat, course to station!" As we secured the navigation team on the bridge, Capt Maxiner looked at me and asked "Is that what you needed to do?" then laughed a big belly laugh, as he sat perched in the captain's chair on the bridge wing. "Yes, sir, that was it." While slicing through the ocean at 32 knots may not sound near as exciting as some of the things Neptunus Lex graces us with, it's still a trip to be able to haul about 8000 tons of Tin Can about with such grace and flair. Like everything else, when you do it right, it looks great. On the other hand, if not, it can be scraped paint and ruined careers. I'll also say, with certainty, no one ever was heard to yell "Do some of that SWO (Surface Warfare Officer) stuff!" just in case you were wondering, even when we looked as cool as Tom Cruise, sunglasses on, short hair blowing in the stiff breeze across the deck, while the ship surged along with "a bone in her teeth." Captain Maxiner was a tactician, ship handler and gunner, with the heart of a warrior. One post I hope to get to is his use of 5" gun powder casing tubes, and weather ballons to kick the USS SCOTT's "can." Stay tuned, same station, but unknown time, for the next episode.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Mine Got Here...

I got mine...how about you? I know many of you are readers of The Paratrooper of Love, Black Five. Now he has T's for his weblog. Not only will they create interest, but some of the profits go to Soldier's Angels, to help the wounded service members, as well as helping with purchasing kevlar blankets for added protection in the vechicles. If you're not a regular reader of Matt's blog, you won't be disappointed in his postings. Best MilBlog for 2004 says it all.... Don't be cheap, or worse yet, left out, BUY ONE TODAY! Full Disclosure: This post is compeletely non-compensated, and I'm not even on the blog roll at Black Five, but it's all good! What's your excuse for not getting another cool T?

Russ Vaughn's Latest Poem - The Eagle and the Serpents

Russ Vaughn is an excellent poet. A Vietnam War Veteran, he has penned some incredible poems that speak to our society and current events. Here is the first stanza of his new poem:
The Eagle and the Serpents Such discord now ‘tween you and us, Mainstream Media and populace: You envenom all that we hold dear, And revel in those things we fear. You denigrate our national pride Taking always now the others’ side. A Media mamba, a poisonous pest That lurks within our Eagle’s nest.
The rest is published on Mudville Gazette in this posting.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Cold Warrior Certificates - For Service Sept 2, 45 - Dec 26, 91

No kidding. The Army is responsible for issuing certificates to those military and federal civilian workers who served during the Cold War, as delineated in the Defense Authorization Act of 1998.
Cold War Certificate Program In accordance with section 1084 of the Fiscal Year 1998 National Defense Authorization Act, the Secretary of Defense approved awarding Cold War Recognition Certificates to all members of the armed forces and qualified federal government civilian personnel who faithfully and honorably served the United States anytime during the Cold War era, which is defined as Sept. 2, 1945 to Dec. 26, 1991.
I just quoted the opening part. More info, such as how to apply is on the Amry's PERSCOM site here. I foound this on the Navy Mustang site.

I Didn't Know I Had Seen This Guy Before

Digging around the urban legend site Snopes, I came across a speech by a retired Air Force Officer. The speech was given in the fall of 2001, obviously from the text, after 9/11. Great speech. Brian Shul has flown 212 combat missions from Vietnam, and in the Cold War. Here's what caught my eye:
And many years later, while fighting another terrorist over Libya, my backseater and I outraced Khaddafi's missiles in our SR-71 as we headed for the Mediterranean...
I recall clearly that night in April, 1986, while aboard USS BIDDLE (CG-34), we had been told a "national asset" would be traversing our airspace. We gathered around the radar scopes in the Combat Information Center, switched on the SPS-48 air search display and proceeded to watch the SR-71 smoke by. We probably could see about 600 miles across (about 300 around the ship). As the radar rotated, we saw about 4 radar returns from one side of the area of coverage to the other. He was a real "fast mover." Now I know it was Brian Shul who flew by.

How Many Times Have You Felt This Way?

Doc Russia of the Bloodletting blog is a marine who got out and is Med School. Sounds like the intership time is as grueling as the TV shows and Movies make it out to be, if he would write this post:
These are the dark days. The despairing days. These are the days when you don't know why you are still marching. When you are 12 miles into a 30 mile forced march, in the inky blackness, and under the cover of darkness you look up at the stars and wonder why you should bother. It hurts. Each step hurts exquisitely. As the blisters spread, each painful step is a little different from the last, blocking your mental attempts to make the pain something ignorable, like the radio in the background....
Enjoy the read, as it presents a man's internal thoughts when the task is seemingly impossible.

Reading the "Book"

My earlier post on the Commencement speech at Old Dominion University from John McCaslin contained an interesting piece of wisdom he got from his mother:
"The World is a book and he who does not travel the World reads only one page."
This weekend, that thought rolled around in the realm of the chaotic synaptic activity, and on the way to work this morning, something coagulated. I present it as advise to those military menbmers who now travel the World, especially you sailors because I see something interesting in my own reading of the World. Short of making it from Singapore to Naha, Okinawa on the surface of the sea, on various journies, have made the rest of that cricumnavigation of the globe. As a result, I have seen many places, but here's my self acknowledged fault: I read "it" (the World) from a technical standpoint. My reading style is almost exclusively technical or historical in nature. Many years ago, when I picked up the reading habits I have retained, I read the "Dune" series, the Tolkien Trilogy, and possibly a few other novels/science fiction, but precious little of those types of writing. Today, it's the same, and in my adult life, I'd venture to say I have read a handful of novels, and about the only ones I can remember are "Fight of the Old Dog" by Dale Brown (sucked technically, IMO), "The Hunt for Red October" and "Clear and Present Danger" by Tom Clancy. I tried "Patriot Games" and "The Sum of All Fears" and put them down early in the text. I had opportunities galore to look at the World from a technical standpoint, and did. I never read it like a good thriller, or science fiction, or even a historical novel. I didn't go on tours to Rome and Pompei, even when we were in Naples, Italy all the time. I'd randomly leave the ship to venture out for a good meal and to stretch my legs, or to attend "mandatory fun," as we called those events put on by the Embassy where we visited. Trot the nice sailors and officers out in their whites.....Free food, and yes, interesting people, but I never looked forward to that. On my last sea tour, while depolyed to the Persian Gulf, we pulled into Dubai for Christmas. I scanned the tour list I had posted in the Plan of the Day for the crew, and as we got close to pulling in, I asked the tours officer to sign me up for the day trip to ski on the sand dunes (set up years before when two French guys saw the dunes, had a "what if" moment, got some snow skis on and tried it. The developed snad skis, and had a nice concession going out in the desert near some really tall dunes. Having snow skied a few times, I figured that would be a wonderful story to tell years later. The tour was full for all the days I would be free. There was a second tour that caught my eye, an overnight trip to the open desert on Christmas Eve. That certainly had adventure, in a quiet way. Guess what...all full. Back to "technical" reading. That was my last sea duty, where, despite the hi tempo, at least there would be chances to look around occassionally. In retrospect, I didn't take the opportunity to wander among the local population much, to see the world they lived in daily. I did, close to the port, but not in other parts of their countries. I missed a lot of opportunity. I didn't miss everything, but it was a clinical look I came home with. My advice: Take some time and, as the cliche goes, smell the roses. If you have a spouse that can come to where you are, or some interesting place near for R&R, bring them and the both of you go exploring. Read as many "styles" of writing the book of the World has to offer, so you don't regret it many years later.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Maybe I have found the reason.....

You'd think it would have ended a few days a go with the retraction of Newsweeks fake, but accurate story on Korans in the toilet, but no, a big picture on the front of the St. Petersburg Times and a headline: "Tormented, Beaten, They Died at US Hands." Well, good morning to you, St Pete Times editors. Would you like Shar'ia with that whine? I'm sure they will be serving YOU up, right along with the rest of the Infidels, just as soon as they can break into your "safe room" you had put in your house and/or office....I just wonder many times, why the press has such a deep hatred for our govenrment. The article discusses the report that the US Governement published on the abuse. My rhetorical question is: Who else do you see making public the problems they find with in and actually taking care of it? Hmmmm....silence on the line... As I'm prone to do, I was in Borders today, and, as usual, I browse the new book table. I found "Death Sentences" by Don Watson, an Australian writer. It's a thesis on how we have so jerked words around that it's pretty much impossible to know what is being meant by what is said, but that's not important right now. This is. I flipped the book open and saw things formatted like quotes, so I stopped (page 89). The answer to the recent assault on the Govenment is explained in this quote:
“Who could not be moved by the sight of that poor, demoralized rabble, outwitted, outflanked and outmaneuvered by the U.S. Military? Yet, given time, I think the press will bounce back.” - James Baker, 1991
Look at the date of the quote. It was from the first Gulf War, it was under the hand of Bush 41. Can you argue with my analysis above? I think they are out for payback. The funny part is it has taken them all this time to regroup. Kinda slow OODA loop you boys got there, I'd say, you "professional journalists." This next quote points to what I have said about politicians since this last Presidential Campaign. I think Andre is much more consise than how I say it. I now see it applies equally well to the MSM.
“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” – Andre Gide

Saturday, May 21, 2005

“We Don’t Have Enough Fuel to Reach Africa”

History, it’s fun stuff, especially when you are present. Each year, the Navy sends a group of ships, to exercise with the navies of Central and South America. The cruise is named “UNITAS” and has been a long tradition of showing the flag in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere. While there is good professional, at sea experience to be had, and the opportunity to meet with your professional counterparts from other countries, there also is a requirement to enter port and attended “mandatory fun.” More on what that looks like is a topic to be reserved for a later post. In the later part of 1983, two of the ships of the UNITAS task force were detached to go on the West African Training Cruise (WATC). One ship was mine, USS CONOLLY (DD-979), where I was assigned as Engineer Officer. The other was the USS JESSE L BROWN (FF-1089). We had both been import in Brazil, in a port north of Rio de Janeiro. The BROWN was next to the pier, and we had been “nested” (moored to the outboard side) to the BROWN. The day before departure, both ships were scheduled to refuel. The hoses first went to the BROWN, and upon her completion of fueling, the hose would be brought across her deck to our fueling stations. I had my fueling team stay aboard that day, anticipating it would be our time to fuel about noon. About mid-morning, the Duty Engineer called me and said BROWN was done fueling and we were getting ready to receive the hoses. I recall thinking that had been a very fast refueling, but, ordered the engineers to get us fueled. We sailed east the next morning without incident, the BROWN leaving port right behind us. Our destination was Liberville, Gabon, and hers Equatorial Guinea. While we were “proceeding independently,” because our destinations were close together on the continent of Africa, we would end up sailing close to one another for about half of the transit across the Southern Atlantic Ocean. We sailed in the warm, almost empty ocean for several days, when we received a message from the BROWN: “We don’t have enough fuel to reach Africa.” Exacerbating the problem tremendously was the fact that the USS SEATTLE (AOE-3), who had sailed south to meet the UNITAS group for exercises with the Brazilian Navy, had already headed back north the States. CONOLLY was the only ship within thousands of miles that could help. No destroyer is designed to give fuel away. That being said, we have to get fuel down from the topside refueling stations, and it’s just a matter of pipes and valves, and having some sort of pumping system to reverse the flow. There is a very minimal capability to do this, in particular for a condition where you may have to de-fuel the ship. Having the competent crew that we did, I sat down with CDR Harry Maxiner (the Captain) and LT John Taylor, the Weapons Officer, and a few key players to figure out how to transfer fuel at sea to another ship. We had two options. One was to rendezvous with the BROWN, have one ship go to all stop and rig fenders, so the other ship could come alongside and moor together. Option two was to pass the fuel via connected replenishment while underway, using a manila “highline” and 2 ½ inch fire hose as the delivery method. Option two had the least impact on the arrival schedule in Africa for both ships. In any case, the transfer rate of fuel would be very slow, so to stop at sea for a better part of a day would put us both behind in meeting our “show the flag” commitments. LT Al Curry, my Main Propulsion Assistant, GSMC “JC” Wiegman, and men of “M” Division got the plan together for using our fuel transfer pumps (used to take fuel from the storage or “bunker” tanks to the service or “day” tanks) to send the fuel about 50 feet up in the fuel piping, where it would cross over to the BROWN in the fire hoses. John Taylor put the Boatswains Mates to work laying out the lines, hoses and blocks necessary to make a RAS (replenishment at sea) rig. We rendezvoused with BROWN and Captain Maxiner set it up for us to make the approach (meaning BROWN would sail at a set course and speed and we would come up from astern of her, off to one side about 120 ft, at a higher speed, until we were alongside her where the location of our fueling station and her receiving station were across from each other, then match BROWN’s speed). The best part about this is that meant our officers and crew would get the experience of shiphandling in close quarters, and all BROWN would have to do was make sure their helmsman steered his course. The approach was generally uneventful except for our smirks at our peers, who, I’d conjecture, had been too anxious to get out for a last day of liberty in Brazil (and let me just add, liberty in Brazil is wonderful), than making sure they had been “topped off” prior to sailing. It is customary when a ship comes alongside a delivery ship, such as the USS MILWAUKEE (AOR-2), my first duty at sea, the delivery ship would announce over the topside 1MC circuit (the loudspeakers) something to the effect of “Aboard the USS JESSE L BROWN, welcome alongside USS CONOLLY. You are the first ship alongside this deployment. Standby for shot lines fore and aft!” After that, the receiving ship deck crew would have the fueling station supervisor blow a long whistle burst and direct the signalman to indicate readiness to accept the shot line. The delivery ship station crew blew a whistle and the directed the gunner’s mate to shoot. The passing of the hoses to the BROWN as planned and we pumped about 30K gallons of fuel to her in the next four hours. It was history. No SPRUANCE Class destroyer had yet done this. To document the event, we sent a message off to Destroyer Squadron TEN, our parent command. In response, we got a message back, telling us they would log in the successful completion of a “Z-26-S Delivering Fuel” exercise in our training and readiness matrix. In the TREAD Manual, that was not one we had been required to do (for obvious reasons). They gave us a score of 100%. The BROWN proceeded to Equatorial Guinea, making it safely. We still had plenty of fuel to arrive in Liberville on time. We had bragging rights for the first, and gloating rights over our counterparts aboard BROWN. We didn’t have any close interaction with them for the rest of the cruise, such as a port visit together, where I’m sure my “snipes” would have made the point of who was better in the local bars. Our homeport was Norfolk, and the BROWN’s was Charleston, so we went on our separate ways, returning home in mid-December of 83. Our mistake on the CONOLLY was to not have the Public Affairs Officer write up the event for an article in All Hands, or Surface Warfare Magazine. A few years later, one of the Pacific Fleet SPRUANCEs did the same type of operation, and they took the time to grab that overworked junior officer and make him draft and submit the article to Surface Warfare Magazine. I was there, I know who was really first.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Desert Sky (and Gunner Palace, too!): GO ORDER YOUR COPIES!

Who could resist a movie done by the troops who were there? It's about (and done by) the service members of the 159th Aviation Brigade, documenting their year in Iraq. I clicked on the link on 2Slick's blog and ordered my copy of Desert Sky via PayPal. It all went through like every other PayPal purchase. When I got home, I had a message from Eric Simon, aka 2Slick, the producer/director, asking me if the purchase went fine, as I was the first one to purchase online. Get off your tails and go and order your copy. You need these documentaries for your library! I know there's gonna be some of that real pilot stuff in there, as well as us seeing the men and women who have taken on this task of our Nation. Also, Gunner Palace is now taking pre-orders via Amazon for the DVD. Michael Tucker did a superb job of capturing reality for the 2/3 Field Artillery, while they were in Baghdad. If you haven't heard of this one, then you need to check it out. And, oh, yeah: Wilf for President!

Survivors from The Battle of Coral Sea - USS NEOSHO (AO-23)

While checking the referring links, I followed one of the inbound search engine links back. They had come looking up "whaleboat." One of the other links presented with one of my posts was to a 1st person story about the sinking of the USS NEOSHO (AO-23), a fleet oiler, at the Battle of Coral Sea in May 1942. for those without an understanding of the significance of that battle in WWII, it was the first time the US forces in the Pacific took offensive action against the Japanese. It was pretty much a draw, but it stopped the advance of the Japanese in the Pacific, and after that, we just kept pushing them back to their homeland. I am always facinated by 1st person reports, and this link provides some good reading. This quote is of particular interest, as there was some similar discussions on this topic when I spent the afternoon with Dick Rohde, regarding being in the rafts after the Battle Off Samar:
"Three whaleboats were put safely over the side of the tanker," continued the sailor. "One of them took me and the other wounded from a raft and the other two boats were also rapidly filling with men. "When it became apparent there wouldn't be enough room for all the men struggling in the water. Lieutenant Bradford suddenly stood up and said: ‘I guess those of us not wounded will have to get off.’” “Then he dived into the water. “Several other uninjured men in our boat followed his example and we later learned that fifteen men in all had voluntarily quit the whaleboats to make room for the wounded. The lieutenant and two enlisted men of the fifteen survived."
Read the link on the NEOSHO. It will give you an appreciation for the perils of the sea service, when you have a capable enemy to confront. To get even more info on the story, this link will provide more detail on the NEOSHO, as well as having links to Bill Leu's video interview (the person who did the 1st person report mentioned above)..

Lt Currie on Change

The pretty worldly Lt Currie, who is a National Guard Officer in Baghdad, part way though this post, asked the question:
Speaking of change, what is it about people that makes them so totally afraid to change?
He then goes on to answer this, with some interesting self analysis, and pretty soild wisdom. Here's some of his observations that helped him see what the lack of change does to people, and why he chose another path:
For 14 years I have witnessed friends of mine destroy themselves in useless self pitty, in failed relationships, and a voluminous archive of reasons why not to do something, There comes a time when you have to let go, and I think I have reached the red line. Letting go is the only logical solution, the only viable answer to this "Why" is good bye. To what I speak here it is not relevant that you know. Of relevance is this, it has been a culminating point from which I have now moved on. Excuses are no longer acceptable. My mind fire gave form to hope, yet logic hath brought me to my senses and rejected what I now know to be false. In my existence in the military hope has been the beginning of unhappiness. So, I relinquished hope 16 years ago and replaced it with action. I move forward in this life and those that chose to exist in a past that has no future will be forever blackend from my mind's eye. Specters of what was once possible, but that which is now dead or dying.
I've only posted part of his work here...go and read the rest. By the way, he is going to run for Congress when he returns home. Sounds like a good candidate to me.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Comparison and Contrast: SFC Paul Smith and 2Lt Ilario Pantano

After reading with interest the stories of the two men in the topic line, one the first Congressional Medal of Honor Winner in the GWoT, the other, a combat leader who has been subjected to an Article 32 (equivalent of a civilian Grand Jury proceeding). That contrast, for each man, is their distinction is a result of combat action in Iraq. One a hero, one accused of murder. That's about as far at the opposite ends of the spectrum as you can get. Now for some comparison: In the stories of who each of these men are, there was a common thread between the two. They both demanded their men were ready for combat. Training was the method, and it sounds like was used for thier units by SFC Smith and Lt Pantano, while other units went on Liberty. Paul Smith had been called "the morale nazi" by his men, implied in the St. Petersburg Times articles, because he made them do things over and over, making sure they had them right. SFC Smith's life philosophy seemed to be that his profession was what he focused on. His troops, after his death in the firefight, credit his training, taring, and training, as what kept them alive, while he took on the terrorists. The men in his charge, who thought he was some kind of fanatic about traiing, I suspect are now "reborn" and will hammer the lesson into their units. They are the next generation of "morale nazis" as well as combat heros. SFC Paul Smith's legacy will save more lives. 2Lt Pantano sounds like he is cut from the same cloth. Insisting on doing it right through training, and then demanding those procedures on the battle field. As a result, he was accused of murder. The man who accused him was a sargent who was relieved of his squad leader position for failing to follow procedures while the platoon took a break in the field. the sargent didn't have his men follow the correc tsecurity procedures. Sounds like a good reason to pull someone out of leadership to me. Not only can a mistake like this get the sargent killed in combat, but many of the other members of the unit. From my experience, I cannot see how the reprimand and relief of duty could not have been a causative factor in the bringing of charges against his platoon leader. Not to compare any of my work with these two combat heros, but I'll tell you what I found while in the training world, to help frame the Lt Pantano case issues. for three years, I was assigned to a mobile training team and my duty in the organization was to evaluate the Combat Systems readiness of Atlantic Fleet surface units. I reported as a senior O-4 and left as an O-5. I'll say this: I didn't have the job to make friends, nor to make enemies. I had it to report to a 3 star the status of his ships, as they worked their way up through the readiness for deployment cycle. As a result, I had to make some calls, based on established criterai from printed Navy and DoD references. In a few cases, the "grade" wasn't to the liking of the Captain of the ship, or maybe his boss. The bottom line: A few senior officers wanted to throw me under the bus, along with my team, because we did what we had to do. One very senior O-6 Squadron Commodore, made a point of publicly berating me on the bridge wing of a ship because I was "flunking his best Engineering ship." I don't know about you, but it sure seemed like a disconnected argument to me. The equipemt to ward off attackers wasn't working to design specs, and under preformed (by a big margin) that day. I had an obligation to report it. The Commodore flew to Norfolk to walk straight into the Type Commander's office the next morning. Thankfully, the Type Commander "got it." Case closed, grade stood. My point: Most of the people I met in the service, to include my two tours while assigned to training organizations, really weren't interested in doing training, training and more training. The ones who did were looked at, at the least, like they had three heads. SFC Smith's actions on the day of his death dispelled any thoughts of him being a morale nazi. The sargent who accused Lt Pantano of committing murder is alive to do so, because he served a leader who knew it was important, above all else, to be ready for combat and to carry out that training. With luck, Lt Pantano's case will be dropped,as the Article 32 board seems to have recommended. I just hope the leadership of the Corps does the right thing.

Technology Report – Aviators and Wannabes Are Going to Love This and Other Stuff

CPU Magazine – Jun 2005, page 6: Pepper Pad, a 2.3 lb, “knee board” computer with an 8.4" screen. That should make pilots and Naval Aviators feel right at home. Anyhow, the author of this brief in CPU leads off with “Giant PDA? Midget Tablet? Monster Remote?” It’s Linux based, wireless built in, with a 624Mhz Intel XScale processor, and both a thumb pad, QWERTY keyboard and stylus input. A browser, IM software email and media player software are built in as well. It’s instant on (like my HP 3850 IPaq PDA), but lacks the horsepower of my Compaq TC1000 Tablet PC (1G Transmeta processor, 512M RAM, 30G HDD, wireless, with a stylus input inn addition to keyboard, and it weighs 3 lbs. (take the keyboard off to loose a lb, so it beats the Pepper Pad in that spec, too. The TC1000 has a 10.4” screen. I can put the TC1000 into hibernate from WinXP, to get an almost instant on, but that has battery use implications. Anyhow, looks like the price is $949, and, get ready wives, it also has the remote capability to be used as the control for the TV and entertainment system. Man with small computer that can also change channels and crank up the volume for the stereo and can be set on the knee to get a little feel of cruising around like Tom Cruise in an F-14…, such a deal. Hitachi Global Storage Technology Division looks like they have mastered perpendicular recording technology storage for hard drives, moving capacities for 1 sq In to 230G (yep, no typo, that’s 230 GIGABYTES!). They have a Flash cartoon, “Get Perpendicular,” to describe the method. This technology will be applied in the upcoming 1.8” Hitachi 80G drive to be used in things like jukeboxes. When I first read about this a few years back, it was being billed as “Perpendicular Magnetic Storage.” I’m thinking I know why it’s now called perpendicular recording technology…. On page 7, it sounds like Sony has come up with a way to use ultrasonic signals to transmit sensory signals, such as sound and smell, directly into the brain. A Sony scientist was awarded the patent for pulsed ultrasonic signals that alter the neural timing of the cortex. This technology has medical implications, to restore sensation to an injured area, as well as in the gaming world. Think about it, DOOM IV just won’t be the same when you decimate one of those ugly monsters with a BFG…now you’ll get to smell the burnt flesh from the blaster’s effect, too. Jumping to page 9, it seems Google Maps now will show the places using satellite imagery. Kinda cool, but until those slick personal aero cars are a reality, it migh just be a little bit of overkill. Page 10: Washington State University students have provided a free replacement for that rarely used Paint program that comes with Windows 2000 and XP. It will import directly from a scanner, too! Page 44: Don’t fret, they are getting close to 1GP camera resolution. Good reason for the Hitachi PRS capability, to save those monstrous pictures…Geez, and they are talking about the atmospheric conditions becoming an issue when you start snapping pictures like that. Break out those old "Met" books...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

While I Love the Smell of Jet Fuel in the Morning....

I hate the smell of hipocracy at any time of the day (or night, for the literalists of the world). Once again, I feel as though I'm in some strange, parallel dimension. When the President's press secretary want to encourage an organization, that has admitted they were wrong, to do something, since this falls into the realm of "Foriegn relations," some "journalist" (quotation marks for I question the objectivity of the man who was in the press conference and allowed to ask questions. Those are supposed to be jounalists, reporting both sides), blasts Scott McClellen with "With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?" For starters, lets just look at the reality of the "journalists" and the editors (no qutations, for this is their function) when something happens in a not so positive way with the Federal Government. They have no reservations of filling the editorial pages, as well as adding "comments" to "news" reports in every paper, saying how they think the President should have handled things. We accept this, it's good for us in an open society. Now, in contrast to the current events of someone from the Presidents staff making recommendations in the arean of foriegn policy, to a periodical whose purpose is to be a news document, I thnk that's fair. Scott McClellen, no doubt, has access to many of the conversations so he can prepare relsease, therefore, he is in the company of those elected, appointed and confirmed people who represent the will of the American populace, and in this case, in matters of foreign policy. I'd submit that the news periodical doesn't have near the foreign experience on thier staff as the President has at his command (and this goes for any administration), so it most likely is wise council. Scott did not threaten, nor demand. Encouraged is the same type of word the liberals use when they discuss "encouraging" the youth to have more self-esteem. When it is used in this context, it's viewed as a positive word. When the staff of George Bush uses it, it become some sort of government dictate, superceeding the Constitution, particularly the 1st Amendment. So, to the hipocrites in the press, I say chill out. First off, you got it wrong and you even admitted it, second off, you got free advice on how to fix it from people in the know, but don't forget "you" regularly tell all levels of elected and paid governmental people how to do their job. Get over it...and try to make amends, just as you demand of the President on a regular basis. "It's always dangerous to set a precedent, because you never know when you'll have to live by it." - Me, sometime in 1988 after finishing Naval War College, for that was the lesson I toook away from the history of the world and human conflict. /rant off

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

"Why We Are In Iraq"

The blogosphere is a wonderous thing. I checked in on Redleg 07 and found he has published an article on why we are in Iraq. His comment, and I echo it: "I didn’t write it, but I wish I would have." Here's the post actually written by Raymond Kraft (a lawyer and writer living and working in Northern California. Raymond receives e-mail at rskraft@vfr.net) Mr Kraft skillfully draws parallels between WWII and today's conflict. I know, I say this a lot, but...it's a must read!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Living with History - Captain Cecil B. Hawkins, Jr. USN (Ret)

He was my second Commanding Officer. An aviator on a “deep-draft” vessel, the stepping stone to command of an aircraft carrier. Getting this far, you knew people in these positions would be wearing flag rank one day. Capt Cecil B. Hawkins, Jr. At 6’4”, half Cherokee Indian he was now in the “Combat Logistics Force” (CLF) on a replenishment oiler. He was the kind of CO that was all over the ship, but only for the reason was he was interested in what made the ship tick. When you found him looking over your shoulder, and he asked “What are you doing?” he wanted to know the details. Prior to being my CO, he had been the CO of the largest aviation squadron at the time. If I remember correctly, it was an A-7 training squadron in Texas, with about 1000 people assigned. Quite a responsibility. Sometime in 1978, we had pulled into Port Canaveral for a few days, I can’t remember the reason, but, as usual, the Commanding Officer was given a car, but the rest of us had to hoof it if we wanted to go somewhere. Several of us were sitting in the Wardroom, it must have been a Saturday, and Capt Hawkins came in the door from the weather deck and asked “Does anyone want to go to Cape Kennedy?” The 1st Lieutenant, LCDR Mike Pivonka, and I said we would like to come along. We changed and met him on the pier. Capt Hawkins had been the CO for a while at this point, but as we drove to the Cape, he began to tell us about being part of the initial set of men being trained as Mercury astronauts, that he had not mentioned. As we walked about the Cape, he told us stories of the original Mercury 7 astronauts selected. One put his house up for sale as “A Future Astronaut.” One of the others had the reputation of doing anything it took to make sure he was one of the astronauts selected. Over the years, his stories have squared with other historical accounts, such as “The Right Stuff" and "From the Earth to the Moon." I did a little searching and found that there were 32 men who were not only passed the selection process, but also volunteered to enter the training program. Capt Hawkins told us he went almost all the way through the program, but was “cut” when the final design of the Mercury capsule was completed. The tallest you could be was 5’8” and still fit inside the capsule. At 6’4”, he wasn’t going to get to fly. Capt Hawkins had another story he told, and if any of you out there who have been in Naval Aviation, or worked with some of the aviators, see if you can confirm this: For the filming of “Tora, Tora, Tora!," a large group of Naval Aviators were recruited to take leave and fly as stunt me in the movie. With scenes of Japanese planes launching from their aircraft carriers, where else do you get people who can actually do that while the camera rolls? Anyhow, Capt Hawkins was one of those, and told of the film producers paying their stunt actor guild fees, and how there were really big parties every night. His next claim is one I’m not sure is all real, as I ran across someone else, who had a CO who made the same claim. He told us that the one plane in the carrier launch scene that leaves the deck, then sinks out of sight, only to reappear a few breath taking seconds later was piloted by himself! He never made a big deal of all of this, but just presented it as the story of his life, just a slice of history. I learned many things from Capt Hawkins, as a very junior officer on a CLF ship.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Operation Iraqi Children

Just headed over to do my daily reading and checked on the news from Baghdad from Major k. He had a link to Operation Iraqi Children posted in his post on the current events in theater, Operation Matador. Check it out, and make sure you visit the link to Operation Iraqi Children....

Friday, May 13, 2005

A 7.62 Mini-gun, Helos and Heavy Metal...

Hosing down targets, day, night, from Hueys, AH-6s and a vehicle mounted gun. Lots of tracers, serious heavy metal background.

It's Something Naval Aviators Do

Lots of great material on Big Boys, such as this collage of video of Naval Aviators do what they doing second best: Enjoy being "special." High speed, low passes, inverted flight, using your nintendo controls, and things blowing up...with a little MC Hammer style background sound....

"Live it Like Pat"

I just found this video tribute to Pat Tillman. I went Big Boys for a few chuckles, and came away with a better understanding of who Pat Tillman was. I knew he turned away from wealth and athletic success, to serve his country, and in this clip, he is speaking of how deeply he understands what freedom means and how most of his family had served this Nation, beginning with his Grandfather being at Pearl Harbor on December 7th. It begins with The Star Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendricks as a backdrop, and ends with the immortal words of JFK about how some men ask "Why?" and others ask "Why not?" For some, who are moved to tears by such tributes, grab your box of kleenex before you click on the link above.

"Way down in Kosovo....."

See what a few creative Norwegian peacekeepers did with a little extra time on their hands and the backgound tune from the Beach Boys "Kokomo."

What is an “opinion?”

Just blowing off some steam here. If you're not in the mood for a rant, move along. If you are, scroll down... A few weeks ago, I found a new blog and I linked into the comments on one of the posts. There were some statements there, presented as the opinions of the commenters, yet and I had personal experience with the issues being discussed. While the comments were not totally off the edge, they were leaning far over the side, ready to fall off the cliff. I entered my own comments. As a basis for my comments, I used my own personal experience, not that of others, as they had discussed. In my remarks, I even admitted that a part of what they stated was true, but there was a far bigger picture to understand. They had formed their opinions based on a small sample size, you might say. I thought it would be useful to provide some more input. I did end on a note indicating I thought that with the ability to research vast amounts of information in the net these days, it would be useful to do some homework, before making those comments. I’ll admit, I could have left that part out. I went back the next day. The response was interesting, yet I think it encapsulates so much of what happens on the net. The main commenter on that blog launched into me, telling me I had no right to tell them to do their homework, and further more, he didn’t care what I had been doing in 1972 (that was an integral part of the first person report, relating to the issue of Vietnam), since he wasn’t alive at that time anyhow. Besides, he had formed his opinion based on the comment made by one of his friends. Wow. I think his “I don’t care” remark actually summed up his basic demeanor. The owner of the blog’s response was to tell that guy he was off base, but then she made an interesting point: She was just stating her opinions, and, after all, isn’t that what blogs are all about? Yes, I agree, but the thing that sticks in my throat is what is an opinion. Too many things these days ask our “opinion.” The many polls and surveys we are bombarded with try to get us to believe that those 1000 people surveyed essentially represent the over all feelings on an issue. That certainly could be the truth, as it used to be, but now that we have “dumbed down” our youth, many times I think the “advice” of those who don’t even know where most other countries in the world are, let alone what the Constitution says may not be the best ones to ask. Opinions, like feelings it seems these days, are our own personal domain, and inviolate. I have a different view, which may help to bring the understanding of opinions back to reality. Here’s a dictionary definition of “opinion” with the help of Merriam-Webster: 1) Judgment; 2) a belief stronger than impression and less strong than personal knowledge; 3) a formal statement by an expert after careful study. All great stuff here. Here is more way too detailed analysis: Judgment, from the same dictionary, in this scenario is best represented by this definition: “the process of forming an opinion by discerning and comparing.” “A belief stronger than…” I guess it comes down to how you assess the strength of your thoughts on the subject. “An expert…” is someone “showing special skill or knowledge.” Ok, I think I was on firm ground in representing my experiences on the subject matter, yet “it’s our opinion” that takes top level position. Looking at my :”opinions,” I have found they have changed over time, as I have been exposed to, or gained more information. Am I correct in my opinions? Well, if it’s an opinion I hold, then it is something I will have to admit I do not have “strong personal knowledge” of the topic, unless, as an expert, I am asked to comment, then my “opinion” takes on the weight approaching fact. While in the service, I had to conduct two JAG Manual Investigations as the investigating officer. I essentially wrote two more, but then they were signed by senior officers, who were the designated investigating officers. This is where I learned where “opinions” fit into the hierarchy of information. A “JAGMAN” had three basic sections: 1) Finding of Fact 2) Opinions 3) Conclusions/Recommendations The first section listed all the hard, cold facts you found. The supporting documentation for these facts were enclosed in the investigation ad appendices, in order to provide the reviewers up the chain of command with the ability to fact check you. If you couldn’t find a source for it, it wasn’t a fact. That’s pretty easy to understand. For example, let’s say some of the facts are: 1) Seaman Smotz was not aboard the USS NEVERSAIL on March 15th, 2005, when the ship departed 32nd Street Naval Station, San Diego, CA (Appendix A: OI Division Muster Report of 3/15/2005) 2) Seaman Smotz was present for Muster on USS NEVERSAIL on March 14th, 2005 (Appendix B: OI Division Muster Report of 3/14/2005) 3) The Plan of the Day for March 14th, 2005 aboard USS NEVERSAIL listed the time and date for reporting aboard on March 15th, 2005 for the planned Ship’s movement. (Appendix C: USS NEVERSAIL POD 3/14/2005) 4) OI Division Leading Chief Petty Officer Smith read entire USS NEVERSAIL POD to the assembled OI Division during Muster on March 14th, 2005. (Appendix D: Sworn statement of OSC(SW) Leighton Smith, USN dated 3/31/2005) The opinion section was not how you felt about it, but a series of observations of the collected factual information. From the facts, you derived opinions. You listed the paragraph numbers of the findings of fact that led you to those “opinions.” This also allowed the reviewers with an understanding of how you arrived at these opinions. From the above facts, then opinions are formed: 1) Seaman Smotz was aware of the planned movement of USS NEVERSAIL on March 15th, 2005, to include the reporting aboard time that day. (FOF 1-4) You couldn’t prove he paid attention to the reading of the Plan of the Day, which was read and the essential written orders for reporting time were delineated. By forming the opinion that his presence provided ample opportunity to hear the information allows an opinion of his understanding, but you can take it no further. You got to add some of your “feelings” in the conclusions and recommendations. Not that opinions need to be left to the experts, but that, as more facts are gained, that an opinion will either be solidified into a fact, or it will have to change, when the facts show the presently held opinion no longer fits the conditions. It’s great to have opinions, but when someone presents a personal testimony, not their opinion, and the response is: “Well, it’s just my opinion” seems to be the mantra of these days, which seems to translate into: “I don’t care what you say, I’m hanging onto my opinion.”

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Recyclable Career Counselling

I recently found a blog where a young service man seemed to not be liking his time in. I understand the service life in not for everyone. I have come to dislike those who don't like it, yet from their perspective, the system needs to change to suit them. Whether I heard it from a junior enlited or a junior officer, I never really had much tolerance for such attitudes, but I chose, as I discuss below, to try to help them understand the bigger picture than themselves. I had one tremendous success. I posted the below comment, after reading all of this young man's posts and all the comments. The other commenters, who are in the uniform and forward deployed, and many of you have read their blogs, even made some staight forward comments, but I'm sure ones that he (the blogger in the spotlight here) liked at all. He's still stateside, and still hasn't gone to the Sandbox for a deployment. They think (as do I) this young man doesn't have much of a clue. We can pray he gets it. The quote follwing is my guidance to him, which includes the case I mentioned above (typos have been corrected from my original posting on his blog, otherwise it's unedited - that's my full disclosure):
I'll try to make this brief, but maybe it will help you out, attitude wise. I've read your posts and the comments you have gotten. When the guys from the Sandbox, who are also enlisted, tell you to buck up and suck it up, it would be good for you to pay attention. Yes, it's your blog, yes, you can bitch. The reality is you're angry and I'm sure that gets in the way of you seeing the reality of what can be done, and therefore, you're most likely not the favorite of your chain of command, which in turn, bears down on your a little harder (happens out as well as in, sport) and then you get more aggravated. Vicious cycle, and an ugly one...break it. As far as cut backs, how about addressing that to the voters all around you. It may look like the Pentagon is doing it, but the real deal is the voters are calling the shots and then it has to roll like a wave thru all the government. I got my "pink slip" in 96, because the voters wouldn't stand for a large military with the Soviets out of the game. Fair enough. I'm out and making it. When I was XO, I had a 32 YO guy enlist in the Navy to get training as an electronic tech, so in 6 years, he could be out and in the field. Only problem was, almost at the end of his ET training pipeline, he flunked out. There he was, sent to my ship to be a deck seaman. Sounds great, a 32 YO chipping paint under the watchful eyes of 19 and 20 YO E-4 Boatswain's Mate 3rds. He complained like you have here. He wrote letters to the CO, demanding to be released from his obligation, because the Navy didn't give him what he signed up for (the reality is he screwed it up himself). I finally sat him down and told him to find something he liked, because he was going be in a few years. He was barred from taking the test to become an E-4 ET, so he didn't want to do anything else. I told him to look at Radioman, since they and the ETs worked together all the time. He took the RM3 test, passed it and soon was a watch supervisor. Two years later, I'm coming down the pier with my inspection team and he sees me and comes over. He's now an E-5, and loving his new job, and told me he was thinking of reupping. He looked happy. I felt good. It is what you make of it. You can have crappy leaders and you can make that work, too. I've worked for a few brutal ones, who were worse on their officers than the enlisted. I've also worked for some magnificent men. Better yet, I had excellent enlisted men, who made me look good, and taught me many things.
As I wrap this up, I think of the awesome opportunity to provide some herat felt counselling to those who come behind us. An excellent example are the postings of author John Harriman, in his series of "Warrior to Warrior" letters, one of which is here on Mudville Gazette. The rest of John's letters are posted on Mudville and are timeless guidance to those serving now, or in the future. What an interesting world we are part of....

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Richard Marcinko on "terrorist tactics"

It has been 13 years since Richard Marcinko's autobiography, Rogue Warrior was published. He was the first commander of SEAL TEAM SIX, back when it didn't exist, and was the Navy's first full time counter terrorist organization. It would be wise to review his findings (hint: READ HIS BOOK!) I read it with great interest many years ago, and as I listened to the discussions about the errant pilot in a Cessna 150 that flew too close to the White House and Capitol buildings today, a piece of Richard's story came back to me. Close to the end of Rogue Warrior, Richard Marcinko describes how his unit, SEAL Team 6, was tasked to conduct a terrorist attack on a Naval Base in Southern California. I don't recall if it was Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station, or the Naval Weapons Systems Engineering Station at Port Hueneme, but in either case, they were bases with perimeter fences, and the general public did not have access to the base. What has stuck with me all these years was Richard's description of his tactics. He had a two week window for the exercise. His could attack at any time during this period. Start with the premise that we have not manned our bases to have a person physically present at every point of a a perimeter, but we have elected to place guarded access points (gates), and then use physical structures, most usually, cyclone type fencing topped with barbed or concertina wire. The base to be attacked knew they had to put out vehicle and foot patrols to protect against the impending attack. If you're the bad guys, what do you do? Well, for a bunch of SEALs (remember, they were playing terrorist roles) with two weeks to just get in and show they could, the answer was easy. Prep your gear, do your scouting, then it's party time for almost all the rest of the two week window. Why would they do that, besides the fact that most every sailor won't turn down paid "liberty " time, when they had a mission to complete? Simple: The base security had to guard every approach, all the time. Because they were not manned to do this under regular operating conditions, it meant they would have to suck it up and put a much more intense watch schedule into effect. Over time, it's easy to figure out that before long, the defenders would be dog tired, trying to cover everywhere, all the time. What happens when you get tired? Complacency and lack of attention to detail. Both, in a combat environment, will kill you or the others you are with or protecting. The SEALs partied it up in San Diego, then headed up within a few days of the end of the time frame for the exercise, made their final checks and coordination, and they successfully (and easily) made it into the base. We have been in that set of circumstances since well before the morning of 9/11/2001. We have made conscious, money related decisions, even back a number of years, to acknowledge that "we" cannot defend against any kind of attack everywhere and all the time. The inevitable finger pointing will come, most likely as early as tonight, saying things were chaos, there was no plan, no one knew what to do, yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah. The result was a slow, small aircraft, with a very tiny radar "paint" (return signature) was detected and people were alerted and sent away from the possible target (in a worst case scenario), or directed to shelter. Not only did the White House get the message, but so did at least the Capitol and the Supreme Court buildings. I heard they had people cleared out in about 4 minutes. Pretty good response time, I'd say, given it's not a ship full of trained sailors being called to General Quarters. Actually, in light of that, 4 minutes to herd a whole bunch of civilians, both in and out of the Federal Goverment's employ, that quickly is remarkable. I for one am pleased at the response. Consider what Richard Marcinko taught us back in the 1980's, and told about in 1992. It applies to the circumstances of today, but the "adversaries" aren't going to just embarass the base commander and his security department....

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"Great! You've been to Legal School!"

Said the XO, CDR Dave Martin on 4/4/1977. It was a different time in our history, and I present this story as a contrast to the young men and women we see today, who put on a uniform and do the many things they do, at home and abroad, to protect us. I had officially reported aboard Saturday evening, checking in the with Command Duty Officer, as my first ship was moored at Pier 2 in Norfolk. George told me to take the rest of the weekend off and show up Monday morning. I originally had orders to be the Communications Officer on USS OPPORTUNE (ARS-8), but....things changed. My orignal orders had refelected that I would have many "hats" to wear, so after "Little SWOS" (Surface Warfare Officer's Basic Course), I was sent to Communications Officer School and also Legal Officer. The purpose of a Ship's Legal Officer, which on most every ship is a "collateral duty" and not a primary one, was to be the person to provide guidance to the Command on the Uniform Code Of Military Justice (UCMJ), mostly from an administative support role. While the XO reviewed my terribly skinny servie record that day, his eye caught that I had attended the training to allow me to handle the Legal Officer duties. No one else aboard had been to the course. My first ship was USS MILWAUKEE (AOR-2), a replenishment oiler. The letters in the hull humber, we often joked, stood for "Always Out Replenishing." As part of the Combat Logistics Force (CLF), we were not one of the sleek greyhounds of the sea, nor a mighty aircraft carrier, capable of projecting power "across the beach." We were just the ship that hauled around a bunch of crusty old sailors, who had been around the block and the world many times, making sure the boilers and aircraft on those fancy, "high value" ships didn't have empty tanks. As a result, some of the best and the brightest sailors and officers eluded these assignments. We carried two CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. On any ship, when "flight quarters" is sounded, an emergency firefighting team is on station, with their equipment laid out, just in case. For rhe most part, specially trained crew members man the "crash and smash" team, having recevied additional training over what every sailor gets as a matter of course. We had many small boats for the ship. The largest ones were the "40 Footers," which could double as cargo haulers, in addition to getting the crew to and from "the Beach," as the ship drew a 40' draft, and many times had to anchor away from shore. We also had two 26 foot motor whale boats. When you ride in one, you will notice most small boats do not have "dry bilges," and what's down there, mixed with sea water, is usually a little diesel fule, as well as engine oil. Flammable stuff. One of the universal rules of Navy small boats: No Smoking, and that was in effect long before the Navy decided Smoking was bad in the mid-80's. It's a safety thing. When you carry fuel in large quantity, and MILWAUKEE did, you need vents on the tanks. On Navy oilers, the cargo storage tanks have very large vents, and are located on the main deck. We worked and walked around them daily. Rule on the "weather decks" of Navy oilers: No Smoking (I hope I don't have to explain that one). MILWAUKEE carried 6M gals of Diesel Fuel, Marine (DFM or "F-76") and 2M gallons of JP-5 (jet engine fuel, or "F-44"). I was sowrn into the Naval Reserves as an E-3 in August, 72. That was the first year when there was no ore draft. Fighting was still raging in Vietnam, riots were happening on aircraft carriers, where enlisted minority groups made their displeasure known to the chain of command. It was the opening days of the "All Volunteer Force," and I can state I was one of the charter members. Fast forward to Apr, 1977. I was assigned to fill the collateral duty of Legal Officer, and within a few days, I was attending one of the very many "Article 15s" or "Non-Judicial Punishments" I would attend over the next 19 years. Three enlisted men from the Engineering Department were charged with: 1) Unauthorized Absence (UA) from apointed duty station (crash and smash crew) during Flight Quarters and 2) Unauthorized use of drugs, to wit: Smoking marijuana 3) While in a small boat 4) in a skid (cradle to store the boat in while it's not in the water), which was 5) On the main deck of an oiler.... Five punishable offenses in one moment of drug use. Welcome to the duties of the Legal Officer.... By the time I retired in 1996, the crew of ships (and I travelled extensively to Atlantic Fleet ships weekly in 90-93)were exactly the opposite of those early examples of sailors I first ran across in 1977. I don't mean to imply it happened that late, just that the contrast is remarkable across that time span, and a powerful reason to support and all volunteer, professional fighting force.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

“One Ship a Week Would be Allowed to Stay Out Overnight…”

In the most unlikely places, you sometimes find out how history repeats itself. I was having dinner with a former shipmate. While retired, he is a contractor to support a major training system and therefore is around the waterfront, and on the ships underway, on a regular basis. I asked how the fleet was doing, and he told me the forward deployed ships, which now have rotating crews are a problem. For years, the SSBN units had “blue” and “gold” crews, that would take turns taking the submarine to sea for deterrent patrols. I hadn’t been following surface operations closely, so I found out we are now doing it on the surface combatants. The forward deployed hulls seem to be doing find, but “they (the deploying crews) are even taking the light bulbs (from the hull they inhabit Stateside) with them. It would take them three months to get XXXXXXXX ready to get underway.” That comment took me back to 1980. I was Missile Officer and was responsible for the newly installed NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System (NSSMS). For full operational certification, we had to fire two “birds” (AIM-9F) to finish the Combat Systems Qualification Trail (CSSQT). The civil servant from Naval Surface Weapons Systems, Port Hueneme assigned at the Systems Command team leader was an older gentleman who had enlisted in the Navy about a year before Pearl Harbor. In between testing, he told me about the Navy of so many years ago. He told me how there were many destroyers in San Diego, all painted up and with shined brass fittings. A few ships would be sent out to sea each week, but they had to return that evening. One ship a week would get to stay out for the night While the conditions are not exactly the same, the concept is very similar. He told me they would regularly, rhetorically ask: “She looks good, but can she sail?” Are we there again? Then again, maybe the “skimmers” have discovered the fine art of using “hanger queens” in order to met operational requirements, refined by our aviation brethren.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Few "Money Quotes" From Old Dominion University Graduation

This morning I atteneded the 102nd Commencement Ceremony for Old Dominion University. despite the "doom and gloom" weather reports of earlier in the week, the sky got it all out of it's system last night and moved north east. The day was cool and clear by the time the event of the morning was completed. The speaker for the morning ceremony (they had an AM and PM event, to handle the Class of 2005) was John McCaslin. I'm going to put up a few comments from his speech that that are those uplifting words to new graduates, having to face the reality of "The Real World." John focused on "filling those empty spaces." He was communicating the need to find and fill the holes out there, as you don't know where they will take you, if you don't step forward to see what's in there. Having recently returned from Jordan, he described how he had a new appreciation for those living in the Middle East, and now understood much differently than he had while being "Inside the Beltway" mindset. On "distingiushed spaces:" "They materialize when you choose to take them (over)." "...sometime, somewhere, opportunities arise in the most unlikely places." "...these unexplainable quirks and consequences are that which make life worth living." As to the World, and our Nation after 9/11/2001: "...ours suddenly became a world without 'Front Lines'." On the wisdom of his mother: "The World is a book and he who does not travel the World reads only one page." To those who will become jounalists: "Your job will be to report both sides." And on life in general: "It's never to late to learn." While some us us, those who have travelled the World, and have read volume after volume, to us who have seen the "unexplainable quirks and consequences," and to those of us who have stepped forward to fill open and distinguished spaces, we comprehend what he means. To those just stepping out to the actual work force and life pretty well separated from the family of origin, I think it was great advice to take on board. Almost live from Norfolk, VA, that's the World as it is.