Friday, September 30, 2005

The Cause of Excessive High School Pregnancy Rates

Ohio High School Has 64 Pregnant Students Here's the money quote from the article:
"Experts, parents and students themselves struggle to explain why such pockets of high teen pregancy rates appear. Are teens getting appropriate sex education? Do they have access to birth control and are they using it consistently? Has the stigma of unwed motherhood lost its edge?"
I was going to, in the spirit of the times, blame this on Global Warming®. The high pregnancy rate must be a result of President Bush not signing the Kyoto Treaty. Everything else is... Then I got thinking....I think it's events like this, that despite the Kyoto Treaty provisions, are exactly what cause Global Warming®. What a dilemna we now face. There is no accounting for the destructive effect of excessive body heat generated by teens with nothing to do besides to practice (and sometimes succeed) at getting pregnant. On top of wringing our hands over that, we need to raise the flag now about who is to blame for the damage to the Gulf Coast. These teenagers shouldn't be allowed to escape the consequences of their actions that caused the two Category 5 storms! We must now consider whether we will try to amend the Kyoto Treaty, or is we need to have a major worldwide conference, say in like Amsterdam. At least there, the residents would be open to the discussions.... Just a thought... Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Are There More Than Two Tribes? - The Sequel

I began this story a few days ago. This mornings news is apparently trumpeting a change in society, yet what it really is is an announcement by the HBM/MSM is: "WE STILL GOT IT!" I began to update the previous post, like this: Update 9/30/05: Thank you News Media of the Main Stream for "changing the world." You'd have done more for the country by telling tht truth... I decided it may get buried in the background, so I did the best thing: Make more for you to read.... Anyhow, the MSM seems to have become imbued with some new spirit of control in the Vietnam era, when they found out how stilted reporting could end a war (without any insightful analysis as to the long term outcome, let alone the immedate carnage). They have continually tried to take on the President over Iraq, with not much success. I think they went after the hurricane stories to show they still could exert great influence over world events. The sad part is their reporting was based on lies.... Ergo, the "new attitudes" are based on lies. What a shame that they pretend to be for the greater good, yet all they really want is to be noticed and, more importantly, in control.... I will not hold my breath waiting for retractions, nor any more formal attempts to right this egregious wrong.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

An Open Note to the Democrats....

Re: Tom DeLay and moving money between companies, states, and candidates.... Dear concerned Democrat (who sees your party being continually beat up over stupid stuff); Once again, I'll remind you (as I did in some post a while back) that you'd most likely have better strategies and tactics if you could manage to attract some senior military officers to your side. They have the hands on experience to help you through the virtual minefield. Then again, your strident anti-war stance seems to drive away the very type of people who might be your best assets...and I said that before as well. Now, to the topic at hand: Remember when you tried to hang Tom Delay before over money from some lobbyist paying for trips ("junkets" I believe is the proper term)? The MSM got all whipped up, the crowds were chanting for blood, there was name calling, accusations....and then (crickets chirping).... It seems when the rest of the House representatives, who were in the forefront of the attack, reviewed their own dealing there were also "administrative irregularites" with their travel. Some of the problems were the same man who paid for Tom Delay had funded some democrats. Other issues involved that fact not being clearly stated on the travel reports. Other reports had not been submitted in the established time frame (30 days, I recall). No wonder if got quiet. The same "crimes" of Tom DeLay had been carried out by Nancy Pelosi and others on both sides of the isle. Hint: If a tactic causes you to lose a battle (and gracefully spares you from extremination), re-examine your plan and the specific tactics. You may have a good tactic, but it's best used in other circumstances. Your timing may have been off, or.... you just might have done it before, and not even realized the cause of your own demise. "Hey diddle diddle, right up the middle" tends to become very predictable, to the point the ambush awaits you and strategic defeat follows (for you, that is). Check your play book. Make sure you read the basic instructions that tell you to make sure you're clean of the "crime" yourself before you scream bloody murder. Another hint: If you only have one play in the book, have a strategic retreat and come up with other ideas. Here's some wisdom I picked up from one of my commanders that might help out a little in this area. And, if you're so inclined, study the history of human conflict, there are lots of clues there that may help guide your decision making inn your quest to regain your power you so obsessively chase after. Summary: I predict you'll find a lot of people digging in the DNC and Democratically controlled PAC funds, and the same issues will arise for your own people. It will be ugly, as once again, you beat a retreat, with the enemy at your heels. The sad part is, you'll have brought it on yourselves. Enough counselling for one day. Get back to me if you need more help. Signed, A concerned citizen who is tired of infantile attempts to grab power when we have much better things to debate.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This book isn't getting too much exposure.....hmmmmm

I've heard about this book, and right now, Neal Boortz has the author on the radio. He mentioned it has been on the NYT Best Seller List for six weeks, but...only two reviews so far, and by very "small" publications. He has had no call sfrom the "MSM" types....go figure.... I haven't read this one yet, but one book I did read a few years back, after hearing one of the borhters who wrote it speak was Unveiling Islam." Ergun Canor and his brother grew up Muslim and are now both Baptist preachers. I'd say their view of the Koran is exceptionally credible..... Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"RED TAPE" - The Sequel...

On 9/9/05, I pondered the rising angst with "RED TAPE" in the context of not enough relief efforts for Katrina working well. That horrible stuff that binds us in inaction, particularly when we need any level of governmental office to do what we want right this very instant. Today, I smirk with the about week long struggle in the papers and radio and TV media with the fervent calls for "accountability" and "oversight" and the need to "make sure the relief money is spent the right way!" when the issue of billions of dollars flowing to the Gulf Coast comes up. I said this in the prior posting:
"The forms, reports and procedures you love to hate, define the "Red Tape" term. Here's the real bottom line: They get there, to get in your way, directly, or indirectly, so you, the taxpayer, can have detailed oversight of where the money went and who approved or disapproved some action that now is putting a burr under your saddle."
"RED TAPE" - We love to hate it, right up until it makes sure the other guy doesn't get something we thing they should have....the difference is when we love it, it's all of a sudden not "RED TAPE."

Monday, September 26, 2005

Are There More Than Two Tribes?

Just a few weeks ago, Bill Whittle of Eject! Eject! Eject! posted a fine essay on "tribes", that was very relevant due to the news reports of the chaos in New Orleans. Update 9/27/2005: Here's a link to an article I didn't take the time to look for yesterday, that supports this post. Back to the regular post Today, I found it disturbing to hear at least two talk radio shows discuss the reality of the post-Hurricane Katrina social "unrest" seems there was some, but hardly any major crime committed. It seems, like the "body count" assessment being grossly inflated, the other stories of general lawlessness were grossly inflated. It's not to say crime didn't happen, but taking one "metric" of homocide, in a city where the going rate is about 200 murders a year, there are only 4 detected in the few weeks after the Hurricane. Remarkable. As I heard more on this this afternoon, I recalled the "Tribes" essay of Bill's. It's cogent, and communicates a clear message, yet, come to find out, the degree of emotion used isn't justified by the reality. Thos who commit crimes still need their full measure of justice, but "we" may have gone overborad in our assessment and therefore, have developed some further feelings about how to look upon those who remained in town during the storm. Now, I believe, Bill could re-write "Tribes" presenting us with 3 tribes of people, the compassionate, the criminal, and the new third member, the Media. Alternatively, he could eliminate the second group and then just replace them with the Media as those juxtaposed from the compassionate. The HBM (Has Been Media) is purposely positioning itself where the truth is irrelevant in their eyes, and therefore we should accept that their "yellow jouralism" tactics to make money are acceptable, as they are losing their audience. I'm sorry, I'm not buying in....And, note to HBM types: Try the truth, it might hurt today, but in the long run, it's a better strategy.... Update 9/28/05: The retired SEAL adds some fuel to the fire with this info.... Oxbow asks the hard question that I merely alluded to above.... Thanks to Mudville Gazette and Little Green Footballs Open Postings!

Friday, September 23, 2005

I Wasn't Evacuated and I Wasn't Flooded Out...

I'm blessed to live where the recent hurricanes haven't visited.... I know the disaster relief and donation efforts are running at all time highs, but here's a pitch for a cause that will be with us for some time: The Valour-IT project. It's about helping get voice activated software and hardware for those service members who have been injured and have a difficult time using a computer. I'd venture to say that the effort every recipient of this wonderful project will develop a skill set that will allow them to enter the civilian work force, capable of communicating as well as the rest of use who are fortunate to have all our capabilities. Right now, it's a win for the troops and their families and friends, tomorrow, it's a bonus to the economy and their future employers and customers. Add to this, the spin off to let these wounded men and women become trainers for those who are likewise disabled...think about that power! Lots of thoughts have been percolating over the last few weeks, yet I haven't felt them sufficiently developed to begin to write about them. I'm sure I lost a few ideas along the way to here, but then, they most likely were stepping stones to the root issues... I think the root issues have been swirling about in my mind for a few years, and now, the recent disaters have provided a backdrop to present them on. Not that I planned it that way, yet I believe it will facilitate a discussion, or thesis, as abstract thought seems to be a lost art form for so many any more. The other side of that coin is that when an example, such as Hurricane Katrina damage, people tend to focus on that presented scenario, and aren't able to then apply, in a larger sense, how there are conceptual issues in the discussion that transcend the particulars. Those concepts are then to be used to both understand what happened, and to allow us to, in this case, not go there again. This weekend will provide some time for me to post some of the things I'm thinking about. Topics such as "The Decay of Knowledge," "We can fix this, but you're not going to like how we do it," "Before Cindy Sheehan, there was Shannon Faulkner" and "My analysis of which political party has caused more damage and human suffering by natural disasters" (I have no clue who will be the worst, as I haven't done my homework yet, so I hope I can stay true to the scientific method and present a realistic picture for my small readership here). Some of the posts may be editorials, some reserach paper format, and at least one, my attempt at satire, which, thankfully, I have a day job, so I don't have to rely on that form of humor to support my life style. As a teaser, a new term for general use came to mind yesterday: "Demokook." I just can't think of what else to use to describe those on the left hand end of our current political spectrum. Cindy Sheehan is a "scenario" I'll present to undergird my new "concept." It's about my 4th original idea, but I place it in the public domain. Credit would be nice, but it's not like it's shareware or anything (you know, the software no one ever pays for)..... From a historical standpoint, I have something for October 1st coming up. It's militarily related, and another thing I got to be a part of, fortunately, in the aftermath, when the Navy had to make sure it didn't happen again. It's the way accidents (in this case) are handled, unlike Mayor Nagin's method of recovery from disaster. For the faithful visitors (I see you in the sitemeter logs), thanks for the "hits."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tribes. You May Have Found the Essay, If Not, Do!

Bill Whittle of Eject! Eject! Eject! has a well thought out article the discusses "tribes." His logic, as usual, is exceptional. Part of his message that is so powerful is that tribal behaviors are not related to cultural things, but the attitudes we have today are the identifying factor in tribalism. Read and be stretched in your own thinking about our human condition.

Help for Katrina Victims and Other News...

While scouting thru the sitemeter logs, I saw a referral from Dawn's Early Light. I linked over and found a great synopsis of many places to get information on finding missing family members, as well as places to make your donations was nice to see my blog at the top of the blogroll, too...Thank you, Dawn (I assume is your name). I first found this first person account while reading Black Five. It's worth your time to read about a man who decided to get off his butt and do something about the devastation along the Gulf Coast. What he did was remarkable in and of itself, but add to that a bad back and a Deuce and a 1/2 with no air conditioning being major parts of the story. The tale tells of the despair, the hope, the thoughtfulness and the bad elements of the human experience. He certainly doesn't want any accolades, but he deserves them. Read and see through his eyes.

Friday, September 09, 2005

And Just Where Do You Think "RED TAPE" Comes From?

Neal Boortz was on a few minutes ago extolling WalMart's ability to act faster than FEMA and I thought I'd next here some insightful analysis from him about how it is probably the most highly developed logistical system in the world, which has hundreds, if not thousands of outlets in any given state of the US. WalMart is the biggest dog driving Information Technology, too. You know why? If you want to play in their arena as a vendor, you have to do it their way. Their way is huge, so huge, because of the vast product network infrastructure, that they have to have something that effective to make it happen, and they do. The skillful use of IT has kept costs down, and delivery track records amazing. I'd say they could react so quickly because they have the "bases" and the established routes and cargo capacity doing the same thing pretty much every single day, and in most cases, it's just routine for them to do the 24/7/365 thing like it's no big deal. They are practiced. Good for WalMart. Home Depot and Lowes have similar capabilities, and I know from first person reports after the hurricanes last year, Home Depot flexed their system hard to make sure they were on time and on target, including have trucks stacked up in southern GA, just waiting for the storm to pass and the FL Troopers to give them the the go ahead to move south. Neal Boortz incorrectly proclaimed that WalMart did such a wonderful job, because it's a privately held company (there is some truth to this part) and because "THEY HAD NO RED TAPE!" You know, I can hove no red tape, but if I have no trucks, radios, computerized stocking systems and distribution networks, I couldn't hold a candle to WlMart, nor the governmental agencies. Why? because it really has little to do with "Red Tape" anyhow. What is "Red Tape?" To you who have not had the pleasure of serving within a government agency, it's all those forms we have to fill out, and then the forms and reports we had to fill out. The many signatures required establish what defines "Red Tape." All of those forms are the end result of procedures, which came to life as a result of something, more often than not, bad, occuring. In the case of the military, reports and forms and procedures are the reactionary result of accidents, or systemic shame. In the case of the non-military portion of the govenrment, I'd suspect many of those forms, reports and signatures are a result of the government getting ripped off, or systemic shame. Systemic shame in this context, is when some official does something from highly suspect, to plain old criminal. The forms, reports and procedures you love to hate, define the "Red Tape" term. Here's the real bottom line: They get there, to get in your way, directly, or indirectly, so you, the taxpayer, can have detailed oversight of where the money went and who approved or disapproved some action that now is putting a burr under your saddle. While it's not directly your fault, it is your fault, as you expect (not unrealistically, I'll concede) government officials to produce the trail of paper that got you/them/us to where you got unhappy. What's so wrong about that? After all, you hand over your tax dollars to the government and you expect it to be properly expended. In the process, procedures and policies and forms and reports are put in place so your questions can be answered. Do you think trhe Walton family will ever open their financials for your purusal? Yep, you got it right, fat chance.... Last year, after the four hurricanes crossed through Florida, it was discovered FEMA aid was paid to residents of Miami, where there was essentially no storm damage whatsoever. The "Red Tape" that seems so undesirable this moment as people try to help in Mississipp, Alabama and Louisiana will provide the path to nail the people employed by the government who were parties to the fraudulent claims, and also indentify the recipients for the monies. That's a good thing, right? So, give a rousing three cheers for "Red Tape," for it is the mechanism by which you can see what your government does to you, or not for you, and you can then make more intelligent decisions when you walk through life and what ever local, state and federal elections come next. The forms, reports, and most importantly, the signatures are yours for the asking through various levels of the Freedom of Information Act. Update 09/13/2005: I found this today regarding WalMart's data operation...simply amazing! Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Investigation? Are You Sure?????

Investigations are veritable treasure troves of information. The view of the value of this information generated is directly related to which side of the table you are on. I conducted two investigations as the investigating officer, and I did just about everything else for another one, when my boss was the named IO, however, I was the poor guy with the past experience with the issue at hand, so I may as well have been the IO as far as the work load I had. Senator Hillary Clinton is now demanding an investigation. Wonderful. I'd think the "breaking news" of the last few days regarding how the breached section of levee was actually the most recently reworked section, and how millions and millions have flowed into NO for such projects, but the money didn't seem to go where it was needed, would cause her to sit back in the saddle for a few weeks, and wait for the fallout to settle. It may come ouot that not only was there a disaster for humanity, but it may well turn out a pile of Democrats may end up looking rather stained by the results. Another issue is how to "man up" the investigative team. While it may be exciting for some old cronies of each party to come out and get a big paycheck in the service of their country, that sort of investigation, in recent history doesn't seem to get to the meat of the issues. I'd suggest, humbly, of course, that you put some of the best and brightest we have in the disater preparedness and recovery professions, as well as those from supporting disciplines, sucah as medical/public health, logistics/transportation, civil engineering, etc, etc, but you get the idea. This group has the potential of bringing us some information we can take to the bank, and have more hope pf things working out better in the future. I have a candidate in mind who has had experience in investigations of big and highly visible disaster: Admiral Hank Gehman, USN, Ret. I'm sure he can take the heat, and can lead an investigative team to a proper set of conclusions, FOR THE BETTERMENT OF OUR CITIZENS, and not the betterment (in terms of not getting caught) of politicians. His "black shoe" (Surface Warfare Officer) background and senior leadership positions have equipped him for such a task. I'd rather have a man of the caliber of Admiral John Bulkeley, but he's passed on, for the task. Besides getting MacArthur out of the Phillipines, he went on to head the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey, and he doggedly pursured propblems aboard our ships, so future ship architects would build the ship's we needed. That's a story for another day. I met the man and he just was all business. We sure could use him right about now. General Schwartzkopf comes to mind as a man who could slice thru the BS and get us to where we need to be as well. Speaking of "black shoes," the next issue is how to conduct the investigation. We, the black shoes, who have been known to "eat our young," seem to be very anal retentive in the conduct of these types of fact finding missions. They have a two fold mission, and it's hard to figure out which takes the greater precedence sometimes, but the competition is between "What went wrong (so we can keep from it happening again)" and "who's the guilty 'ONE'?" We get to the bottom of it, but we like to know who to write up the UCMJ charges for, too. Contrasting this are my fellow aviators, the "brown shoes," when a crash type situation occurs, they immediately have a mishap board for the aircrew. from what I understand, the purpose is to figure out if there is some kind of mechanical or aerodynamic reason for the mishap. If so, they want to know right away, to save lives in expensive flying machines. Anything the crew spouts out in this forum is no longer fair game for disciplinary charges, so they regularly spill everything, knowing they have a form of immunity for what they have disclosed there. The thought to leave with is: They do this to save lives and airframes. Assessment of guilt will be handled later on, safety is paramount right now, while thoughts are fresh in people's minds. I also think Senator Clinton would be well advised to look at the recent debacle over the Rep Tom DeLay trip funding. The Democrats planted their battle standard and promptly found out they had also been funded in a like manner, and in some cases, hadn't filed the right reports. Once this happened, we just heard the crickets chirping away. Senator Clinton, get a clue before you end up with your party looking very bad over this..... More thoughts later, or not...I have notes from listening to the news today on this topic. Above, I have mentioned some...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and Human Behavior

Lots of thoughts have boiled up over the last week as the aftermath of Katrina is the just about singular discussion on talk raido, which is my usual fare in the car and while at work. I reflect on the times of Hurricane Hugo. One incident where a looter caught some salt rock as he left the area of his crime was publicized. For the most part, there was never a whipser of looting the rest of the time Charleston and the rest of the impacted SE region recovered. I don't recall hearing about looting as an issue in the aftermath of Andrew in Homestead. I don't recall looters running rampant in New York City on 9/11 and the days afterwards. The same was true for the Earthquake in LA back in 89.... Even today, there seems to be a lack of news reports of looting on a grand scale other than in New Orleans proper. There obviously is an inherent issue with New Orleans, and not people in general. Leadership. Not enough going around at the top levels. I suspect there is plenty happening all over the southeast, and some of the most mild mannered people, and some of the biggest slackers are propbably showing a positive side of themselves that they may never have known was in them. Some to the "people in charge" have deserted their posts, but this is not unheard of in the war zones, now and across time in the human experience. I think the leadership skills taught to almost everyone who has served in the military will serve us well. Basic premise: Look around, assess who is currently at the party and find out what they bring to the table. Make a plan and execute, and do it now. As more people come to the party, add to your capability in new skills, or more people power, If someone with more experience than you happens to arrive, brief them on the staus and step down to where you can be most effective. The "after action report" is just that: After the action, not during. On gassing up my car when I pass a gas station: Years ago, a few central american fishermen became adrift in the Pacific, and ended up being found near Hawaii about 30 days later. They had been dismantling their boat, very carefully, to get wood to make a cooking fore for when they could catch sea birds, or fish. I read an interview in People Magazine with one of them a few years later. He said he, and his fellow fishermen had become obese, as they couldn't pass up food, as it had become ingrained in them during their ordeal at sea is you eat when you find food, for the next meal isn't guaranteed. Even over 1/2 a tank, I'll pull in if it looks like there is gas to be had at a reasonable price. Logistics. He who has the better logistics wins. Logistics take planning, and time to flow. Yes, the 82nd has a ready brigade, but those boys are laoded out with food for themselves, and lots of firepower. It takes a significant amount of time to pack up all that equipment for air drops. Then it's staged where it can be combat loaded quickly. While the 82nd could have taken off right away, they would have arrived in New Orleans without the necessary medial supplies and food stores to hand them out. To replace their warfighting load with humnitarian aid supplies takes a little bit of time, but you can bet the troops worked far longer than their work days to get the changes in place for load outs. That happaned in all units, reseves, National Guard, and active duty. The fact that the Coast Guard could jump in the game so quickly is that type of work is one of their primary mission areas (Search and Rescue), so they are fitted out for that effort, hence the rapid response from that service. The Nintendo, cell phone, XBox instant gratification culture response from the people. Great. We have become spoiled by technology to the point we have no patience when thens are off th tracks. Grow up, and get with the program. You'll be happier when you can accept that life isn't always delivered to you 1) your way and 2) when you want it. Decision making. All forms of communications evaporated. When was the last time "we" exercised without the "stuff" we think will always be there? I suggest just a handfull of people even could project their voice to a crowd or unit for longer than a few minutes without going hoarse. The "art" of pushing your voice out to a large area, and still be intelligible is pretty much gone. It will be a useful method for the next few days, before amplificed systems can once more make us lazy. Oh, back to decision making. I can't recall who was posting it, it seems to me it was either Yankee Sailor of CDR Salamander, both still active Navy guys, but the discussion was wrapped around the fact that they had so many ways to keep in contact with the "boss" that they never really had to/got to make decisions. When you don't "go there" as a result of not so good decisions, sometimes you end up never developing the skills needed to make tough, fast, and effective decisions. The NOPD and Fire Department were in that fix. Not only could they no call to ask how to handle things, and therefore had to decide themselves, the "system" relies on being able to communicate and call in help, such as police backup or more firefighting capacity when the situation gets too big to handle. So, the local authorities are kinda overwhelmed, and in an environment they never envisioned. Some people folded, other rose to the occassion. On the concept of practicing without, I once graded a "selected exercise" (meaning it was the one for the books for the readiness guys) for a cruiser. The drill was a an exercise in how to handle a nuclear attack. One of the things the Damage Control Assistant had to do was calculate the radiation values. Once the simulated bomb burst had occurred and geiger counter reading being passed to Damage Control Central, he reached in his drawer and picked up his little creidt card sized calculator. I told him to put it away, that the electomagnetic pulse of the blast had fried the electronic brains. The look of horror crossed his face, part for my directing him, part because he knew that would be the case. He hadn't practiced "punching the pubs," so he felt lost. He regained his composure, and got to work. He did fine, but may have done better later Following "The Plan." We Americans are great at making plans, but we so much more prefer "winging it" when the barbarians are at the gate. I think one reason is that unless you're the poor person who got strapped with typing up "The Plan" (hereinafter referred to as "TP"), no one knows it well enough to carry it out. Now, since the TP is so ominous looking in volumes I through V, no one else will pick it up and read it, except for us few "by the Book" types... So much for drifting along in the stream of consciousness today. Typos and gramatical things are placed within this post for you reading pleasure....

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Derelict Hull

I fear the object of my post my now have become history as a result of Hurricane Katrina, but, then again, maybe not….

For those who have spent some time in the BB&G in Pascagoula, MS, you will know of the old wooden hull grounded in the mud on the east bank of the Pascagoula River. For the rest of you, know this is a "sea story," and therefore, is truth.

The USS SPRUANCE (DD-963) was built in (then) Ingalls Shipbuilding and Drydock on the gulf coast of Mississippi. It was commissioned in 1975, and the first of 31 (30 were originally planned, then the one more was added to the procurement) destroyers of the class. I was a "plank owner" (initially assigned crewmember) on the 22nd hull of the class, USS LEFTWICH (DD-984) and was first "exposed" to the industrial shipyard lifestyle of a new ship in July 1979. While there, I learned of a new tradition that had begun during the days of the SPRUANCE Class building.

As you travel west on Hiway 90 through Pascagoula towards Gautier, you eye caught a old fishing boat hull imbedded in the mud, stern in, bow out towards the river, just a few yards north of the bridge. The decks had long since caved in, but the mast was still standing skyward. The wooden hull was a disgusting brown tone, showing the inattention given to the boat as a whole. As you got abreast of the vessel, there was a white set of numbers on a haze grey rectangle painted near the stem, in the approximate position that would mimic a set of hull numbers painted on a US Navy warship. The paint for these numbers was generally pretty bright, as it was renewed about once a month for the “tradition” that had grown in the local area, as a good natured joke between ship’s crews.

During the rapid building of the SPRUANCE Class, there was generally a number of sailors and officers present for several of the ships. Obviously, the closer to commissioning, the larger the crew assigned. While I was there for two months prior to the commissioning of the LEFTWICH, the full crew of the JOHN ROGERS (DD-983), a better part of the CUSHING’s (DD-985) crew was around, and then the core of the HARRY W HILL’s (DD-985) where there. The ships were being commissioned about a month apart, so it was a busy time.

When I arrived in July, the wooden hull was marked with "983." ROGERS would be the next ship commissioned. The night before commissioning of the NICHOLSON (DD-982), that crew had made off with some government issue white and haze grey paint and sent a detail out to honor the ROGERS by painting their hull number up on this derelict hull. A few days after my arrival, the ROGERS commissioned, and lo and behold, when we went to work from our barracks the next morning, the numbers “984” had replaced the "983." It was the local tradition….

One the night before our commissioning, who were we to break the pattern? A small detail did their job and put up the CUSHING's "985." The day after our commissioning, we sailed south west towards the Panama Canal, as Hurricanes Daniel and Frederick churned towards the Gulf of Mexico, our time at Ingalls over for the next few months.

In late January 80, we sailed to Pascagoula from our homeport of San Diego for both warranty work (a standard yard period after the ship had been operated for about 6 months), to be followed by a several month shipyard restricted availability (SRA), where we would have upgrades of radars and weapons installed. Since our departure from Pacagoula the prior August, several more SPRUANCE Class destroyers had joined the fleet. The expectation was there certainly should have been something like the hull number of the FIFE or the FLETCHER on the derelict hull by then, but that was not the case.

I actually knew before the rest of the crew, having driven ahead of the ship to be the liaison between the shipyard and SUPSHIP reps and our crew. I arrived about a week before the ship did. I crossed the bridge heading east into town and looked at the boat, only to see a not so brightly white "984" adorning the unseaworthy hull. As it turned out, the Commanding Officer of the CUSHING had waited until after we sailed for our home port and sent his crew out to paint over 985 with our hull number. Subsequently, no other crew felt the inclination to poke fun at the hulls behind them in the commissioning sequence, hence the fact the white paint of our hull number was no longer so fresh.

At some point after the ship arrived, some of our sailors went out one night to undo the "honor" bestowed on us. I can claim that the LEFTWICH had her hull number on display longer than any of the other SPRUANCEs and most likely longer than any ship built at Ingalls.

In 1984, I flew to Pascagoula in preparation for the overhaul my ship, USS CONOLLY (DD-979) would soon be going through. I was happy to note that there was a "5" painted on the derelict’s bow for the USS PELELIU (LHA-5), which was finishing up construction at the time.