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The Navy's traditions live on in the hearts of those who serve

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Navy's morality?!

Now let me get this straight. When I joined the Navy, females who were on active duty, if they got pregnant, were discharged. Females that got pregnant out of wedlock were give UCMJ punishment and discharged. It was against the UCMJ for men to have sex with men and females to have sex with females. Everyone in the Navy was supposed to be treated equal. After all, we all served in the same ship! If there was any doubt about these rules, we could always refer to GOD'S word in the "Good Book".

Today, we have repealed "Don't ask, Don't tell, Don't pursue". That was the official policy! But long before President Clinton put that policy in effect Lesbians were serving openly in the Navy. I had an Executive Officer at a command I was at as a Civil Servant, who was not married, lived with another female, had a child, out of wedlock, and paraded that child and her "Friend" at every command function including personnel inspections! She should have been court martialed, but she was not.

Speaking of GOD'S word, now we have chaplains from every fringe "Cult" you can imagine, even satan worshipers! I'm not ashamed to say that this nation was founded on Christian values. Yes, our founding fathers came here to escape religious persecution, but they were Christian and escaping persecution of that faith. I do not support or condone the idea that we have to provide for every "Cult" that wants to exist to exhalt some egotistical idiot! George Carlin had a routine that stated that " Timothy Leary's brother, "Really Leary" has started a religion that believes that when you die your soul goes to a garage in Buffalo!" Will they get a Chaplain also?

I was against females at sea, because it would bring exactly what it has, sex on the high seas, low morale, and failed marriages. Now take away any vestage of morale character and I am affraid the military will cease to be an effective fighting force. But, maybe that is what the Progressives want. The late Premier of the Soviet Union was correct, we will defeat ourselves from within. It appears we have already! Happy New Year. NOT!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor!

Today is the 69 the anniversary of the Japanese attack on the U.S. Navy home ported at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Over 2100 Sailors, Marines, and Soldiers were killed during that surprise attack, just as colors was being held, on a Sunday morning. In my reading about that day, there were many acts of heroism, bravery, and professionalism. Many men acted above and beyond the call of duty, and were never awarded any type of medal, citation, or even a "hearty well done". Why, because we were at war from that moment on. You have probably seen "Tora, Tora. Tora", or the newer movies made about the attack on Pearl Harbor. But there are some interesting stories that have fallen by the wayside of history. For instance, the USS California, an older Battleship, was sunk but kept fighting! The crew kept the anti-aircraft guns firing, moving ammunition by hand to the 20 MM and 40 MM guns! One of the Radiomen Chiefs died, overcome by smoke from the below deck fires, while organizing and directing the ammo movement from the below deck magazines to the guns in the superstructure! The ship was awash above the main deck, and kept fighting! Now that is leadership, determination, and professionalism, all wrapped up into one moment in history.
Why do I bring this up now? I remember the bombing of the USS Cole. She was sunk, de-watered, and repaired to live again. I remember the USS Stark, she was attached by an Extocet cruise missile. Her back was broken. Ships force, along with some help from other ships and personnel from Bahrain actually used steel cables and turnbuckles, attached to pad eyes that were welded in place by the repair party to lash the two halves of the ship together and save the ship. We don't save every ship that is hit, but we always try! Why, because that ship is our mistress! We love her and will do anything to save her. Think I am wrong? Think about that Chief Radioman on the USS California. What business did he have moving ammo? But HIS ship was under attack and he was going to do everything in his power to save her, even if it cost him his life! He could have ran ashore to safety, instead he ran below decks, into the fire and smoke, to bring ammunition to the anti-aircraft gins to fight for his ship's life.
When you think about the attack on Pearl Harbor today, and I hope you will. Remember that everyday the sailors of the U.S. Navy are just seconds away from the same surprise attack that happened on that fateful day, December 7, 1941, a day that SHOULD always live in our minds!

P.S. - I did not tell you the Chief's name on purpose. I want each of you to look up the history of the USS California (BB 39) and learn about the heroism and professionalism of those men. It will stir you to greater feats of your own!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day 2010!

I have not written in a while and I apologize for that. The fact is, my brain just has not been working that well the last few weeks. Memories have been dimmed by the LBD. However, your comments back to me on the last post I wrote and others has really cheered me up. It is good to know that someone is really reading what I write. Not because I am looking for recognition, or credit for what I have done or what I think needs to be done. I have a wall FULL of certificates and a chest full of medals. No, it is my intention to pass on what I know and what I have learned to ensure that knowledge, that I received from the one's who went before me, will live on. I have no lock on Navy knowledge, I just was smart enough to learn from those who already knew, had already done that, or who had already made that mistake!

You know, that fits with the idea of Veteran's Day. This is the day to celebrate those who served and lived! Yes, we also commemorate our fallen shipmates. But that is the purpose of Memorial Day. Tomorrow is Veteran's Day and if you served a "Kiddie Cruse" or 44 years of active duty, as long as you did it HONORABLY, I salute you! The veterans of our past hold a treasure trove of knowledge and experience that those on active duty should try to harvest. I challenge each of you on active duty to put you dress uniform on and go to a VFW, American Legion, a Fleet Reserve Association Hall, a Disabled American Veterans meeting or any other place that our vets gather, and just listen! Get them to talk about the leaders that lead them in their tough times. Get them to tell you about how hard it was to live on $56 a payday in 1969! Learn about or mistakes, mis-steps, and failures as well as our victories and successes. For instance, today's SUBSAFE program came from failures that cost many submarine sailor's lives. Did you know that. Did you know that the old Ordnance Safety Afloat pub (OP4) said in the first pages that "ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS ARE WRITTEN IN BLOOD!" Ask a vet why that is?

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day, honor a vet by listening to him or her. That is the best way to honor their service.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who is listening?

It surprises me, aggravates me, and amazes me that I do not get more replies on some of the topics that I discuss in this forum. The present MCPON prides himself on being 21 st century in his use of the various electronic communications methods. He or his staff must be looking for topics that are out in the blogisphere. I post these to Facebook, I know I have a number of Navy friends there, yet I receive few, if any responses. I expect someone to agree, disagree, or call me a dirty name for some of the things I write. Yet, except for a very few responses, which include my son, nothing. I can only assume that what I am writing is not being read, or that the folks reading what I am saying think I am a nut that has gone over the edge, or that no one really cares anymore.

The first two, I guess I can accept. No one has to ready what I write, and someone could surely think I was a fossil, who was out of touch and a touch crazy. But if the reason I don't receive replies is because no one cares, well that concerns me. I am addressing some real issues. Yes, I write much about my past and the hero's of my past, but they are the one who shaped my beliefs in the Navy. The truth is, I love the United States Navy, I have since 1969! If we have arrived at the point that no one really cares where our Navy is going, we have a problem. Again, I can accept being told that I don't know what I am talking about. I cannot accept the fact that we just don't care about our short comings anymore.

So, which is it? You tell me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The technical gap!

I have written before about the lack of personnel on Navy ships and the lack of creditable training that they receive. The fact is that the talent to do the job, without any help just does not exist anymore! I recently received an email from an independent duty corpsman who was bemoaning the fact that Marines were dieing in the combat zones because the corpsmen in the field just did not have the training and experience to save lives. This is a real tragedy since the independent duty corpsman has been the life saver of Marines and Sailors alike since the Second World War! But, this is only symptomatic of the big problem that exists throughout the Navy. I recently read an article that 's premise was that the Navy was contemplating putting merchant sailors on the ship's of the amphibious Navy. Not all of the billets, but the non-combat jobs. Personnelmen, engineering rates, other non-trigger puller jobs. My first reaction was a long vulgar, diatribe on the lack of intelligence of the Navy's senior management. Then, after cooling down for a couple of days, I thought, this is one way to get qualified professionals back to sea. For a long time, the Navy has used the "Up or Out" idea. If you don't make Senior Chief and have 24 years service, you HAVE to retire, regardless of how good you are at your job! That's just plain stupid! Not everyone can or even wants to be the president of the firm. If a sailor is good at his or her job, is not a disciplinary problem, rotates to sea on time, constantly passes the PRT, WHY would we tell that sailor to go home, when we obliviously need their talent, experience, and skills. So, merchant sailors on Navy ships makes sense. Hell, maybe I will go back to sea, if the Corpsman can stock all my drugs!

But there is another issue to address also. The technical ratings, have a severe deficit in training, experience, and ability. Much of the talent that was in the fleet is now retired. Some of these super techs are now civilians working for the shore establishment of the Navy, doing world wide tech assist, at an alarming rate. Quite a while ago, I was involved in a revolutionary project to establish a remote monitoring program for most of the Navy's high cost systems. The concept was to use existing systems monitoring programs, bounce the change data off the satellite and back to the shore maintenance establishment for monitoring. When a system was near failure, the super techs could tell the ship to replace the components, do the adjustment, or buy a plane ticket to meet the ship if the repair was more than the ship's tech was capable of. Please don't tell me it can't be done, the Marines adopted it, the oil and gas drilling industry has been doing it for 20+ years, and the airlines are doing it. There is a company, headquartered in Denver, named M2M that specializes in this. Ratheon Corporation jumped on the band wagon and now ALL CIWS and RAM systems are remote monitor ready. There is one particular use of this for the U.S. Army that has brought some wonderful data and set up some impressive maintenance successes, not to mention system up time that far exceeds the Navy's for the same system. But the Navy's Engineering Duty Officer program, who are in charge of what goes on Navy ships, is stuck in the "Not invented here" thought process. We can reduce manning on Navy ships, use less experienced, less trained sailors, and still complete our mission while reducing the cost of system's maintenance, if we introduce remote monitoring for most systems and develop replacement data based on usage, equipment performance parameters, and permit the gray beards in the shore establishment to manage this process. If we continue to follow "Not invented here" we will end up with dead sailors and ships on the bottom of the ocean. You figure out the cost! I say my idea is cheaper.

One other point, if they can use robots to do surgery, if the news media can send video reports back to FOX and CNN from anywhere in the world with little more than a cell phone, why can't every corpsman in the field have a satellite phone in his backpack that connects to a doctor? That might save a life or two also.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sailors of the YEAR?

OK, team, this is where I tell you that the old Master Chief Gunner's Mate in me is coming out again. For those of you new to my blogs, that means if you are "sensitive" to rough language or straight talk, you MIGHT not want to read this one.

First of all, I am a Gunner's Mate Guns through and through! I bought into the idea that Gunner's Mates were and are the BEST the Navy has!! We can and will do it all. That is why the FIRST Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy was a Master Chief Gunner's Mate. Not a Yeoman, or a CT, or some other limp wristed Radioman trying to do as little as possible and get as much liberty as possible. Gunner's Mates can move ammo all day, clean their spaces, man the lines to pull in, get cleaned up in a dress uniform, and pull the meanest, roughest liberty, all night, and be ready to go before the morning chow line opens! Read some of my posts about some of my mentors. They were men's men! John Wayne style men, who talked tough, shot straight, and would stomp a mud hole in your behind if it was necessary. I know a Chief Gunner's Mate from the USS Wisconsin that could move 2700 pound, 16"/50 projectiles from the outer ring to the moving ring, by putting his back against the wall of the turret and his feet on the projectile, and then pushing the 2700 pound projectile with his legs! I also saw him shatter a Chief's jaw and break his nose with one punch. The Chief did deserve it! In any case, Gunner's Mates are the reason surface ships exist. To deliver ordnance. We also handle and store all ordnance in the Navy, all small arms, worked special weapons, and anything else that goes boom. Prior to the mis-guided Master at Arms rate, the Chief Gunner's Mate was almost ALWAYS the Chief Master at arms, and he did this along with his regularly assigned duties. The Navy needs a special rate of Master at Arms as much as it need Navy Counselor, Musician, or the career recruiter farce. No that is not a misspelling! When I was the GMG detailer, I would not talk to the NC, I wanted to talk to the Gunner's Mate. Why, because the NC was worried about his reenlistment statistics and knew nothing about what it would take for that young man to advance as a GMG. I did. Ask some one who was a GMG when I was the detailer and ask him if I steered him right! I will stake my entire reputation on the outcome of that discussion. In my humble opinion, and I will break any one's nose who differs with me, OK, maybe not, Gunner's Mates are the best. We were always the sharpest division for personnel inspection, had the sharpest spaces for zone inspection, and scored the highest for PMS inspections. An, I don't think they give the Battle Efficiency "E" for the best pop tarts. I knew the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Israeli Navy, Master Chief Gunner's Mate Oded Ogor. He said, not my quote; "If you are not a Gunner's Mate, you ain't shit!"

Second, I have nothing against female sailors. When I was the GMG detailer, 1980-83, there were female 46 Gunner's Mate (Guns). They, by law, could not be assigned to combatants, but our community was so short on manning that if I did not have them, I would have lost every armory on every Tender in the Navy!. Not to mention magazines world wide. They did a superior job in the assignments that they were permitted to have. And, I am sure they are the best sailors, on any ship, now, not because they are females, but because they are Gunner's Mates. So take any sexist bull shit and stuff it where the sun don't shine. A Gunner's Mate is a Gunner's Mate.

Now, on to my topic, I was sent an email by an old shipmate, announcing that all four Navy Sailors of the Year were females. No SEAL, no EOD Tech, no rescue swimmer? In the picture, I could see that at least one of the Sailors of the year may have a slight problem with the PRT weight requirements. Oh, I forgot, they are females, they carry their weigh different than men. Still, I will bet she can't see her belt buckle unless she takes it off. Hell, I'll bet she can't see her shoes! Still, if this is the BEST of the E-6 and below portion of our Navy, I say, congratulations to them, they have accomplished much. But If it is not the best of our Navy, and this selection was only for political gain of someone high up in the chain of command, enlisted or officer, then I say: "Shame on you, politician" Shame on you, purveyor of lies" Shame on you, non-combatant feather merchant: "Shame on you, Command Master Chief Community!" "Shame on you, Chief's Community!"

The best should be the best, regardless of sex, race, religion, and even, rating. Yes, there are outstanding individuals in rates other than Gunner's Mates. And I will bet they are all not female.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A passing wealth of knowledge

I am having a couple of enjoyable days with a friend of mine. He is in town for a friends wedding and chose to stay with my wife and I in our apartment. He is a young Naval Officer, presently attending the Naval Post Graduate course in Monterrey, California. He is brilliant, a good shooter, a fine Christian man, and a student of history, especially, Navy history. He enjoys hearing my sea stories and talking technical stuff about weapons systems of the past and present.

Also, yesterday, I received a telephone call from an old shipmate from 33 years ago! He and I have not been in contact since I left the USS Stein in 1977. He completed his first enlistment in the Navy with flying colors, discharged honorably, and went on to have a very successful life and marriage. He credits his positive Navy experience for at least part of his success in his civilian endeavors, He was an exceptional young Gunner's Mate and I always thought he would have made a great career sailor, a great leader, and an outstanding Chief. But I know the Navy is not for everyone. Just the same, he served everyday in the navy like he was going to stay forever! A true testament to his superior character, and I salute him.

As I told my young Naval Officer friend about this wonderful telephone call that I just had, I spend a long time reflecting on the past, how we did things in the Navy of my youth, and how we learned our trade through on the job training and sea stories. And then it crossed my mind, and it will not go away, The Navy, is having a terrible time with the failure of it's training programs. They have found out that computer based training just does not make technicians that can fix anything. I told the Navy brass, all the way to the Secretary of the Navy, both John Lehman and Jim Webb, that this idea would not work. But they were Navy and Marine Officers, being told by other officers, and high priced, college educated civilians, that this new computer based education was the answer to everything. They could even train sailors the skill, just when they needed it, so we could save money not training them things they may not need for an indeterminate amount of time. No matter how much I protested, they would not listed. I don't blame them. I was only a Master Chief Gunner's Mate, who made Master Chief in 14 years and 6 months, was an "A" school and MK 42 "C"school instructor, with two Command Master Chief tours, a Master Training Certificate, and was the FIRST enlisted man in SURFPAC to qualify as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist. How could this lowly enlisted man every know or even begin to care what was best for "Their" Navy. Well, now they are up to their necks in the bullshit they sold and the Navy brass can't figure out how to pump the bilges.
But, what is more devastating, is that those of us who can teach, train, mentor, rebuild our technical base are either sick, dead, or too old to do it! I told my young Officer friend, if I were him, when I got back to sea, I would have the tech reps from what ever the Navy now calls NAVSEACENLANT on my ship and I would offer them anything I could, starting with respect, and kindly ask them to train my folks. I remember everytime Tom McKenna, Dave Davidovich, Frenchie, Pappie, Charlie Ford, Carl Morris, Bones Clark, Dean Rehard, or any other tech rep was in my gun mount, I was in his hip pocket. Learning, asking questions, getting him to let me do what ever was being done while he told me what to do. That is the last line of defense for our technical ratings. I don't care if you are a Gunners' Mate, a Gas Turbines Tech, an Engineman, a Fire Controlman, or any other technical rates. The reservoir of technical talent is being drained by attrition, it cannot be refilled, and the Navy better start to drink from this well before they are all gone.

And my friends, if you miss this advice, it may cost many lives and maybe our freedom! I am not kidding. If you have the courage, I ask you to pass this on to anyone in the Navy that you think really cares and will take some action. It's the last time I will comment on this topic.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More manning needed for ships.

I saw an article in the Virginia Pilot quoting some Navy Admirals complaining that they needed more manpower on the few Navy Combatant ships we have. First of all, I said that 30 years ago when they, the so called "Leadership" of MY Navy started this ridicules downsizing. The decisions to "Downsize" the crews were made by Officers, (You know how much I love Officers) and civilian that have never deployed on a Navy ship, stood port and starboard watches underway, maintained all the equipment, fix the the systems when they broke, regardless of time, made sure the Captain's passage way had a spit polished deck and was cleaner that an operating room, stood inport watches, did PRT, went on working parties to bring aboard everything from food to ammo, and than got tagged to be a tour guide for some civilian who wanted to see a Navy ship. The decision was uninformed, not based in fact and overall STUPID. Now, 30 years later, a group of Admirals have the Revelation that we need more people. I could have told them that for FREE. While I am on my soap box, we have more admirals than ships in the U.S. Navy. We have ten times the Admirals we had during World War Two! And of course, if you have an Admiral, he, or she, has a staff! The entire Navy manning plan is broke and it needs to be fixed, by someone who had sea duty on combatant ship, that has more than one deployment in HIS resume, does NOT have a college degree, and does not use words with more that 4 syllables. We have over engineered fighting to the point that, by the time we figure out what we might do, we already have had the shit kicked out of us. Give me a blood and guts leader, who leads FROM THE FRONT, and is not afraid to tell the truth anytime. But especially, now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Anger from the Military side, Part two

You know, another issue is, those men from my era of service and before thought it was not manly to ask for help. So, applying for a VA Disability was not in their mind. I have friends right now, that have issues, serious issues, directly related to their military service, yet they will not engage the Va for compensation. I love America. I am a true blue, patriot. I would put on my war suit and fight for this country, right this minute. When the war in Iraq began, I sent a letter to the Navy asking for voluntary recall. They said no.

But, the truth is, the military and the country uses it's young men and now young women. And, when that use and abuse leads to a life altering disease, the country owes us just compensation. Let me tell you a true story. When I was stationed at BUPERS in Washington D.C, we lived on the base at Dahlgren Virginia. It was a heck of a drive to work, but a wonderful place to raise your family. In any case, my next door neighbor, was one of the enlisted me, that was on the deck of a Light Cruiser, (CL) for the Bikini Atoll atom bomb tests. He, and most of the enlisted crew were directed to stand on deck, facing the direction of the blast, without ANY protective clothing. They had their hands over their eyes when the blast was set off. The ship was 10 miles from the blast. Jay, and the rest of the enlisted men, were exposed to massive doses of alpha and gamma radiation. They suffered terrible cancers, died young, and lived terrible disfigured lives. They did not volunteer to do this, they were ordered to do this. All. I repeat, ALL of the Officers, were in the depths of the ship in what was called deep shelter, with all external ventilation sealed, until the ship was safely away from the radiation and the men on deck had decontaminated the ship. And people wonder why I dislike Officers so much. Jay would go from active duty, to the Temporary Duty Retired List and back to active duty, as his health permitted. The Navy's goal was to get him to 20 years of active service so they could give him his retirement. As far as I know, he, nor his family, every received any compensation from the VA. In the Navy, and I am sure other services, the enlisted men and women are used, abused, and thrown away. Yes, it HAS gotten better over the last 40 years. Recently, the VA has been involved in the discharge and retirement physical process and some sailors are getting just compensation, but not as many as deserve it. But that still leaves the many, who because they think it unmanly to ask for VA compensation, or admit that they have a problem, do without treatment, mental or physical. Viet Nam vets particularly suffer from this. As I have written about before, my friend and mentor, Master Chief James Smith suffered from combat stress. He was wounded severely twice, exposed to Agent Orange overflight spraying, and in general a mental wreck. After his death, his widow took his records to the VA to get the $255 death benefit, and the counselor reviewing James' record said, "Your husband was 100% disabled! He should have been compensated." , but he never was. James' name should be on the Viet Nam Memorial Wall, but it will never be. And there there are many more like Jim. I can tell you stories about friends, right now, suffering from cancer that is directly related to their work and long term exposure to "Special Weapons" and the military will not even acknowledge that they did what they did. I can tell you about friends that have stress conditions that make them incompatible with living in a polite society. They are not that way because they want to be, they are that way because the gore, stress, fatigue, and terror of real combat made them that way, and they can not get better, EVER.

Then, of course, I see people with no combat time, who worked in an office, ate too much, did not exercise, and now have Sleep Apnea, getting 50% VA disability! Bull Shit! Sleep Apnea is self induced! Loose weight, and the sleep apnea goes away. It's just like AIDS, don't share needles for illegal drug use, don't have homosexual sex, be monogamous, that is have one, life time sex partner, and you won't get AIDS. At least, that's what the center for disease control tells us. Remember, the Government said the blood supply was safe. So, AIDS is 100% preventable. And will someone please tell me how a 100% disabled vet, with a 100% VA Disabled license plate, can ride a two wheel Harley Davidson? Not a trike. I can see that, and have seen one recently with a wheel chair rack on the back. But if you can hold that two wheel beast up, you are not disabled. So their are still disparities in the system.

Again, don't read me wrong; Freedom is not FREE. I joined voluntarily, well maybe with the encouragement of a Juvenile Court Judge, but I reenlisted several times of my own accord. But the country should pay those who actually secure that freedom, not the Officers who are in the rear with the beer and the gear, getting chests full of war medals by flying over the combat zone for an hour at 50,000 feet. And we who served, and lost all or part of our lives or our ability to live life, should be compensated first. From my perspective, it's time to pay up America!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Anger, from the military side

I must really be on a rip tonight. Last Friday, my wife and I went out to the Virginia Veterans Cemetery, in Suffolk, to reserve my burial space. Yes, sounds sort of morbid, but prior planning prevents piss poor performance! Not to mention stress on the family at a time that they don't need it. While I was there, I visited the graves of two friends that recently died. Both of them, Electronic Technicians, one an active duty Master Chief, the other a recently retired Chief. Both, hands on the equipment sailors. Not desk jockeys, not shore duty sailors. But ship riders, owners, who worked on their equipment, were proud to keep it running, all the time, trained their junior sailors, hands on, and both died of cancer, way to young. What is the contributing factor, radiation, from high power radars. Tuning the transmitter of a search radar equates to standing in front of an X-ray machine, all day long, 7 days a week! There is another Senior Chief Electronics Technician who had cataract surgery on both eyes before he retired from the Navy. Why, radiation from working on high power radars. There is my best friend, Master Chief Gunner's Mate James Andrew Smith, who had three serious heart attacks, and two bypass surgeries, one quad and one sextuplet, n active duty. He did two in country Viet Nam tours, and was wounded twice. Additionally, he did 7 gun line tours on ship's off the coast of Viet Nam providing Naval Gun Fire support for the troops on the ground. He died of a massive heart attack, less than 5 years after he retired. I believe his death was attributed to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Oh, he was also exposed to Agent Orange during his two in country tours. Then, there is me, and every other long term Gunner's Mate, guns or missiles, who worked shipboard gun and missile systems through 1994 or so. We were hyper-exposed to Tricryssel Phosphate (TCP)(sp) which the Navy said in 1989 was carcinogenic and neuro-toxic. I know may of my brethren who have serious skin conditions that prevent them from working because of this. I myself have a VA disability for my condition, not to mention my Parkinson's and Dementia which OSHA has stated that TCP show a "Causal" effect for Parkinson's and Dementia. That appeal is pending with the VA and has been for over a year. Just for your edification, in the VA denial letter, they stated; We agree that TCP is carcinogenic and neuro-toxic. We further agree that OSHA has proven a causal effect between TCP and Parkinson's and Dementia. Further, we agree that you were hyper-exposed to TCP over a long period of time. However, we do not agree that your Parkinson's and Dementia were caused by exposure to TCP."

The family of my Master Chief ET friend who died on active duty will get some benefits. My friend who died, shortly after he died, his family will not. My friend, James Smith's wife, did not benefit, and many other will not. There is a pattern here, that I hope gets reversed. It was for those exposed to Agent Orange, thanks to the efforts of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, who almost single handled carried the blight of those affected to congress and got them and their families due compensation. But what about the others, like my ET friends, my Gunner's Mate friends, the Gas Turbine Techs who work with celulube, and so on. I am beginning to believe that we serve, and when the government is done with us, they want us to quietly fade away.

Well, much like my post on my other Blog, I am tired of being the quiet, respectful, citizen soldier. The government owes us and our families, and I am going to take the fight to them. Look our Senator Webb, I know where your office is and I am making an appointment to discuss this with you. You were a past SECNAV, if only for 9 months. It's time you earn your keep.

Funny situations.

I was just sitting here, at the computer. It is a nice and quiet, HOT, Sunday afternoon with the exception of my neighbors car alarm continuously going off for no reason. I went down and knocked on his door, politely, to inform him of his problem. He acted like the police were after him. He calmed down after he saw it was me, unarmed. I did think about shooting his new Hyundai with about a hundred rounds of 223 cal ammo, but I thought that would hurt our relationship.

When I was the Command Master Chief on the USS Caron and at Attack Squadron 55, reenlistment and retirement ceremonies were orchestrated by me. I got them set up, made sure everything was there and in order, met the wife, the kids, the parents, got all the names and the descriptions of all the players, before I went and got the Captain for the ceremony. Why descriptions? Well, the Captain of the ship or squadron needs to know who's who in the zoo. It's good to know that the 350 pound woman with the parrot on her shoulder, an eye patch, wearing skin tight leopard skin leotards, a tube top, 6 inch stiletto heals, with more tattoos than Master Chief T.C. Oneyear, is the wife of the 120 pound Third Class Boatswain Mate who is reenlisting. The Captain probably never saw this man's wife before, but he needs to control that shocked look that may come across his face as he first sees her. It would be embarrassing. Of course, it's also good to let the Captain know that the sailor's father came to watch his son reenlist, without telling anyone, and oh, by the way, his father is a Brigadier General. Yes, both of these happened to me, and many others. Like the retirement we held for a Chief who brought his new wife. The Captain wanted to change the certificate to the wife to recognize her for her faithful support to her husband over the 3 months of his 24 year career. I advised him that would not be proper.
So, ceremonies can be fun, funny, and stressful, if you don't do your homework.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Second Class messes?!?

I was in the commissary yesterday and I was reading the Navy Time in the check out line. The headlines were something to the effect of Second Class messes are being formed and the MCPON is thrilled!

OK, I know that I am a dinosaur, living in the past, that I do not understand the "Modern" Navy, and that times change. But good leadership does not change. There is a section in "Proceedings" magazine titled; "Nobody asked me, but.." and that is how I feel on this topic.

During my 20+ years of active duty, including two Command Master Chief assignments, it was my experience that the senior petty officers were most effective if they lived with, ate with, relaxed with, and interacted with, the younger sailors. The Second Class Petty Officer or young First Class Petty Officer is closest to the age group of the new sailor. He or she is more culturally attuned to this group that any other enlisted person. Living in the berthing space, meal time, and those few down hours after the work day are precious times to shape the new sailor. I believe I have written before about my own experiences interacting with some very influential GMG2's during my first tour on the USS Mullinnix. I listened to their "Sea Stories" and learned how to be a successful sailor. We discussed professional issues, in a fun and entertaining way. This lead to me, and the other junior sailors, learning more about our jobs, when we though we were just relaxing and having fun.

Of course, there is also the discipline factor. Many issues, disagreements that could turn into something worse, and just housekeeping issues, can be solved by that Senior Petty Office living the berthing space with everyone else. I remember when I became the Command Master Chief of Attack Squadron 55 (VA55). The ship was deployed when I arrived and the First Class Petty Officers had some how set up their own berthing space. A small berthing space, with nothing but First Class Petty Officers from the squadron. It was a pit. The ship's Executive Officer held a messing and berthing inspection, not long after I arrived, and their berthing space failed miserably! I met with them, in their berthing space, to discuss the problem. I listened to their perceived problems and their idea of a solution. They wanted mess cooks to clean their berthing space, like the Officers and Chiefs had. While I was getting upset inside, I kept my cool and said;" OK, I agree. Which one of you will provide the people to do this job?" I said that because I already knew they were all stretched to the max. No one volunteered. So, I explained to them why I was against separate First Class messes and berthing. And I closed the meeting with this: You have to keep this space clean on your own. I will inspect it regularly. If it fails again, all of you move back into your respective divisional berthing spaces." They kept the space clean for a few days, and then the ship's XO held a surprise Messing and Berthing inspection and they again failed badly. The so called "President" of the First Class mess came to me and said; "We lost it huh." My reply was, when are you all moving.

Another experience I have with First Class messes is on a Spruance Class destroyer that I was the Command Master Chief on. It seemed every time we had an evolution like replenishment at sea, sea detail, or a working party, that the division that did not provide the proper personnel, I could find their First Class sitting in the First Class mess. I solved that problem with a padlock a couple of times!

There is a way to get a messing and berthing space of you own, Make Chief or become an Officer! The opportunity is there and it is plentiful. Yes it requires work, dedication, extra hours, and desire. But that is how my parents taught me to earn things. My personal view of First Class messes, and now Second Class messes, it that it equates to the trap in the bottom of the dishwasher where all the junk gets trapped. The good stuff keep flowing, and the stuff you don't want stays there.

I disagree withe the MCPON, but it is not the first time I have disagreed with a MCPON. Young sailors need 24/7 leadership, and that cannot be provided when you seperate the mid grade, seasoned Petty Officers from the newly minted sailors. This idea, if it is permitted to take root, will only further lower the technical proficiency and military bearing of our sailors.

"Nobody asked me, but I said it anyway"

Monday, June 14, 2010

The order of battle

General George Patton, is famous for his salty language and his determination in battle. The beginning of the movie "Patton", George C. Scott, portraying General Patton, gives Patton's speech about dying for your country. Without directly quoting the General's speech, his point was, killing the enemy, in large enough numbers, to make him quit fighting, is the objective of war. No military man wants a war to go on for years and years. No military man, unless he is suffering from mental stress, wants to die for his country. War is HELL. On a ship, on the beach, in an aircraft. Yes it's exciting, yes, there are minutes of exhilaration, I know from personal experience. But, living every minute, knowing it might be you last is not enjoyable. In modern history, the American military has never lost a war. Read what I said! I wrote, the American military has not lost a war in modern history. Yes, we lost in Korea, but we may get A REMATCH soon. Yes, we lost in Viet Nam. We are loosing in Iraq and in Afghanistan. We lost in Somalia, We lost in Haiti, We lost in Panama. Why, because politicians, who never wore the uniform of the United States, never fought in a war, never saw a man die a gruesome death, prevent the American military from doing their job.

We are wonderful, and completely trained. Out equipment is top notch, our motives are, for the most part, pure. But the American politicians put is in situations, with rules of engagement, that prevent us from taking the war to the enemy and making him hurt so bad, that he no longer wants to fight. Think for a moment, if a small female, wants to stop a large man from assaulting her, what does she do? That's right, she kicks him in his private parts. If you have never been hit there, trust me, you no longer want to fight.

In Viet Nam, we were prevented from hitting the enemy in many places that would have crippled him. We could not pursue the enemy over the borders of Laos or Cambodia, even though that was where his safe place was. In Afghanistan, we cannot bomb places because civilians might be hurt. Remember the bombing raids in World War two on Germany, Japan? If you kill enough civilians, they will rise up against their government and stop the war themselves, even if they have to over throw the government.

But, I have a simple solution to this problem. I know it will never be enacted, because the Chicken Hawk politicians won't do it. But, a constitutional amendment requiring military ACTIVE DUTY for at least 4 years should be added to the requirements to hold a House or Senate seat and also for the Presidency and Vice President. That ought to sort out the good guys from the bad guys.

I am tired of unqualified, landed gentry, rich boys, governing MY country. I dedicated 40 years of my life actively "defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. " I now know who the domestic enemies are, and I believe we need to take the offensive against them. So I ask you to check the service record of those you vote for, and if they have not ACTIVELY served this great nation, vote against them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Timber!!!!...

Another true, funny story about the hard working, well educated, Gunner's Mate came to mind today, after my afternoon nap. When I was the GMG Detailer at BUPERS in Washington D.C., the Chief that was the one and only GMT Detailer lived on a farm that he and his family rented at the corner of Stafford and Faquier Counties. It was at the end of a street called "Rainbow's End". Aptly named. It was a very large old, but well preserved farm house on 5 cleared acres, set in about 1200 acres of corn and trees. The house had two large fireplaces and they used them to supplement the oil furnace heating system. Many of us from the FT/GM Detailing section would go our to the GMT's rented homestead on the weekends and have a good time shooting firearms, eating good food, drinking beer, and falling trees for the fireplaces. The latter is where we almost got in trouble. the GMT and I were our in a stand of trees, cutting down some dead trees. At least they looked dead, it was December and they did not have any leaves on them. The GMT used a 1980 or so, Chevy Malibu station wagon as a farm truck. He also commuted in it, drove his family around in it, and took it on trips back to Texarcanna. In any case, he was cutting this fairly large tree and I was looking at where the Malibu was. I said, "Don't you think we should move the car?" He said, with his thick Arkansan drawl, "No, I know what I am doing, it won't come close to the car." But, I insisted on moving the car. So, I backed the car up just in time to have the tree miss the front of the car by inches! The GMT said; " I didn't expect that!" I guess not. But that was all that was said, until now. I guess even the now extinct GMT is a hard head.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day

I was just sitting here, thinking about old Navy friends, lost, fighting for our freedom. They "Stood the Watch" to the end. They never quit, shrunk from their responsibilities, or tried to find a way out of serving their country. They just did what they knew was right. I was proud to know them and happy to remember them.

There was GMG1 Robert "Red" Mills, who died when the MK 42 gun mount on the USS Benjamin Stoddard blew up while providing naval gun fire support, off the coast of Viet Nam.

GMCM James Andrew Smith, wounded twice during two in country, Viet Nam tours. Who suffered from delayed stress syndrome, which lead to his death, after 33 years of Naval Service.

There were others, but my memory fails me right now. That does not mean I don't remember them, it just means I can't remember their names. But their service to our country was still important.

Use a few minutes of this Holiday weekend to remember those you knew, who gave the final measure, for us.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gunner's Mates!

I woke up this morning, thinking about someone who I was stationed with at Great Lakes as a student, later as an instructor, and also at BUPERS. He was an exceptional Gunner's Mate even IF he was a Gunner's Mate Missiles. He was funny, fun to be with, and an exceptional Chief. I remember when we were Detailers together, in Washington D.C. in 1980. The Chrysler "K" car had just came out, and he liked to have the latest car. So, he bought one. A real good looking two door model. Blue, with all the bells and whistles. But, it did not come with a sun roof at that time. No problem, he would install his own. After all, he was a Chief Gunner's Mate! So, down to the auto parts store at the local Montgomery Wards he goes, to purchase his new sun roof. He then went home, read the instructions, and proceeded to install said sun roof. He carefully removed the headliner, preserving it for future use. He removed the roof insulation panel. Using the enclosed template, he carefully measured where the sun roof would be placed on the roof, taped the template on the top of his roof, drilled a pilot hole, and then cut the hole out of his roof, carefully, following the provided template to a "T". The, as the next step in the instruction book called for, he placed the sun roof assembly, with the gasket attached, in the hole. It promptly fell through to the front seat without touching the roof. The hole was too big!! WAY TOO BIG!!

So, back to Montgomery Wards auto section he goes, in his car with the hole in the roof. Did I mention it was winter? Did I mention this was the ONLY car he had? Did I mention he had two kids under three? Boy was his wife unhappy. Montgomery Wards auto manager wanted to give him his money back! That was nice of them! No wonder they are out of business. But He did not accept their gracious offer. Instead, after explaining that it was their fault because they sold him a faulty unit, in a sealed box, the auto manager saw the error of his ways, after his ears quit ringing, and procured a rental car for my friend, sent the "K" car with the large hole in the roof to a custom shop to get a custom sun roof installed. That process took three weeks! Again, no wonder Montgomery Wards is out of business. He did get the car back, and the glass roof was nice. It reminded me of a 1956 Ford Galaxy Sunliner, the glass was so big! I would have loved to be there when he traded that car in.

Just a funny story about a friend I miss. His kids are grown, he is long retired from the Navy, like me, and is still working for the Navy, making better sailors. Someday I will tell you how he shot another GMM on a hunting trip to Wyoming. But that is another story.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Firing the Reduced Charge in a MK 42 Gun Mount

OK, reaching back into my past, where I often live, I wrote a few days ago about Short Charges and closed with the difference between them and Reduced Charges. That brought back a heated disagreement I had with one of my mentors and hero's, Master Chief Bill Mowery. He and I met in MK 42 "C" school during the Mod 9 difference course. I have written about him, and what he did for my career before, so I will dispense with that history. Bill and I were both MK 42 mod 1-8 experienced Gunner's Mates. I will confess that he had a lot more experience that I did, but at the time of our disagreement I was a brand new GMG2 and he was a seasoned Chief. Just the same, we were on the USS Stein (DE 1065) and getting ready to shoot Naval Gun Fire Support (NGFS) for a grade that would impact the ship receiving, or not receiving the Battle Efficiency "E". A big deal to many of us! One of the events was to shoot a reverse slope mission. The idea was to shoot the gun at a high elevation and drop the rounds behind a mountain or just beyond your own troops line. To accomplish this, we use less gun powder. For case ammunition guns, like the MK 42, the engineers have already made up "Reduced Charge" powders.

On the MK 42 mod 1-8 gun mount, to shoot "Reduced Charge" mode, the Gunner's Mates had to reduce the counter recoil air pressure from 1800 psi to 1200 psi. If you failed to do this, the gun would not fully recoil and the breech would not open and eject the expended powder case. I remembered that the MK 42 mod 9 & 10 had an extra valve in the breechblock control assembly to compensate for the shorter recoil and therefore, we did not have to reduce the counter recoil air pressure. Well, then Chief Mowery, remember he retired as a Master Chief Gunner's Mate, did not agree with me. Maybe he missed that part of the course because he was at the Navy Exam Center straightening out my Second Class exam . In any case, we could not continue our "Discussion" because I had to get ready for an anti- air shoot. We were supposed to shoot three runs, 8 rounds a run. We would be shooting at a target, called a sleeve, towed behind an airplane. We shot VT Non Frag which was a practice round that had a proximity fuze that sends out a radio signal and listens for the return. When the projectile is close enough to the target to do damage, the signal sets off the projectile. With Non- Frag, it sets off a puff of smoke. The scoring calls these "Puffs of Smoke" Time Triggered Bursts. (TTB) So, we began the shoot, and the first run was 8 TTB's. GREAT!! The second run was 6 misses and 2 TTB'b. Not so good what happened? The third run was 7 TTB's. We passed and everyone was happy except me and Chief Mowery. He headed to the Chief's Quarters and I set out to find the problem. The GMG3 who ran the magazine crew for General Quarters handed me the lot numbers for the ammunition fired. As I looked at the powder lot numbers, I asked; "Are you SURE?" Why, because 14 0f the 24 rounds were REDUCED CHARGE rounds!! In all the confusion, someone made a mistake in the magazine. About that time, the Chief Fire Controlman, Gary Babcock came up to me and asked "What happened?". He went on to explain that we fell far short in the second run and he had to crank Initial Velocity (IV) way up on the Fire Control Computer to compensate and get us back on target. The MK 68 Gun Fire Control System was a great system and could actually see the projectiles in the air. I told Gary what happened and he said; "Mowery's not going to be happy!" I went to the Chief's Quarters to give the Chief the lot numbers. I handed him the list as I stood at the door. He looked at the numbers and saw the same thing I saw, Reduced Charges! He looked up at me with that angry stare, and I said: "And I didn't reduce the counter recoil pressure either!" and scampered back up the the gun mount. He never brought the topic up again and we did not reduce counter recoil air pressure for the reverse slope mission. I never brought it up either, until today.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Short Charge

I am up early on a Saturday morning, at least early for me. I was thinking about the past as I often do, and believe it or not, the clearing of live ammunition came to mind. Before you fall down laughing, remember my medical conditions, I often "slip back" to my Navy days. In any case, there are times when a naval gun, any version, will fail to fire. That is called a misfire. The resulting condition is called a "Foul Bore". This can be a very dangerous situation if the gun barrel is hot enough to "Cook Off" the ammunition contained in the gun barrel. Thus, the Navy wrote an entire tech manual for "Clearing of live ammunition from Naval Guns, OP 1591". In any case, most times, if the powder did not fire, and all systems check satisfactory, you must remove the powder case and replace it with another. In some cases, the projectile may not have seated all the way, or there may be other reasons, that the Mount Captain, the senior Gunner's Mate in the gun, decides to use a "Short Charge". A "Short Charge" is a powder tank that is substantially shorter in length than the operational powder cases. This allows for any number of issues in the breech including an improperly seated projectile or even trapped air between the projectile and the incoming powder tank. But here is the reason to write this post;

It is a little know fact, but the "Short Charge" has the same amount of propellant powder as the regular length powder! The round will go just as far with a "Short Charge" as with a full charge. I am willing to be most folks, even Gunner's Mates, don't know that!

Now a "Short Charge" is NOT to be confused with a "Reduced Charge" which actually has less propellant powder and is used for special firing situations, ie shooting behind mountains.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Battle for Vertical Launch

Prior to the commissioning of the USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) all missiles, fired from U.S. Navy ships, with the exception of Harpoon and Armor Box Tomahawk, were fired from launchers that moved in train and elevation, just like a gun mount. The launcher was assigned to the fire control system, slewed out, synchronized with the position of the fire control radar, before the missile was launched. Then, General Dynamics came up with the MK 41 Vertical Launching System. (VLS). This system revolutionized the launching of all surface launched missiles. Surface to air, cruise, Anti Submarine Warfare, you name it. VLS was a great idea. No power drives to maintain, no moving launcher, no missile assembly area, no separate missile magazine for stowage. VLS contained everything, even shipping, in a neat, compact, package. We could get more missiles in place for less money, less maintenance, less man power. I liked the idea.

The introduction of VLS happened while I was the Gunner's Mate (Gun) detailer in Washington D.C. That was 1980 to 1983. Let me digress for a moment. There has always been a slight, no, bitter rivalry between Fire Control Technicians, called in the past, FTG, FTM, FT's, now FC's and Gunner's Mates. (I actually helped the Master Chief Fire Control tech in the Bureau design and sell the FC rating.) Fire Controlmen have always seen Gunner's Mates as knuckle dragging gorillas. We were called Boatswain's Mates with a hunting license or a fresh air snipe. Both derogatory terms. We in turn, called the FC's our own endearing terms. Do you know why the Navy invented Fire Control Techs? So Gunner's Mates had someone to dance with at the ship's party! That being said, there was a real battle in D.C. about WHO , that is what rating, was going to own VLS. The FC community was certain since there was plenty of electronics, that they should own it. After all, a Gunner's Mate didn't know anything about electricity or electronics.

In any case, a meeting, to finally determine the out come of this fight was scheduled and I made sure I was there representing my community. Representing the Fire Control community was an out of date, CWO4 Fire Control man who's last ship was a World War two 2250 class destroyer with 5"/38 guns and a MK 37 Fire Control System. He stated the standard case that Gunner's Mates never worked on their own electrical or electronic systems and that the FC's did all of it. I countered, with my back ground on the MK 42 Mod 9 and 10, and MK 45 Gun Mounts, MK 13 Mod 4 and MK 26 Guided Missile Launching Systems, all of which used logic computers to control gun loading and gun laying systems, Hall Effect switches, circuit boards, solid state everything, and all of which was maintained by the Gunner's Mates. The debate got heated, and I may have been a little rough on the old Warrant Officer. It got a little loud as I remember and I remember a certain Captain acting as the referee. Remember my view of Officers and especially, those who quit the enlisted ranks to become Warrants and LDO's. My buddy Jim Smith used to say; " Those who can make E-9, those who CAN'T make Warrant and LDO!" Actually, I have know, worked for, and respected many Warrants and LDO's, but this guy was out of date and out of ammunition in a debate with me. I won! Gunner's Mates got control of VLS, and have it to this day. VLS is an exceptional system, capable of almost anything. It recently shot down a failing space station and saved some city plenty of devastation and misery. I am glad I was in the position I was, to carry the day for the Navy and for Gunner's Mates. I only wish I was there when the Navy gave the maintenance responsibilities for the Close In Weapon's System (CIWS) to the Fire Control community. That system has been poorly maintained from the beginning and continues to be a problem child with a very high cost of ownership.

GD invited me to the "Roll Out "ceremony of the first production VLS launcher. It was an honor to be there, and a great memory of mine.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another final chapter.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the wonderful retirement dinner the Search Radar Branch had for my wife and I. It was just us. It was intimate, and it was special. Today, the entire command had a retirement luncheon for me. It was overwhelming for me, and I am still reeling from it emotionally. I was overwhelmed at the turn out, the emotional connection, the camaraderie, and respect that they gave to me. Yes, there were many gifts, that will help me remember the day, my career, and each individual. But the handshakes, hugs, and fellowship was far more valuable to me. People, are the value of any organization and friendship is the measure of any individual. Today I was bathed in friendship, and I really, truly appreciate it. Some folks that I have not seen for quite a while came, some who transferred, promoted, or retired before me. It was good to catch up with them, and tell a funny story or two. The depressing part of retirement for me is not loosing my exalted position as a manager, it is not being with a group of people that I respect, mentor, and care for on a daily basis. I will miss that relationship most of all.
I was blessed to work, for 20 years, with the best, the brightest, the most talented group of friends any man could ever have. Each one of them made my life brighter, and more fulfilling than anyone could ever want. There is no where I would have rather spent the last 20 years of my life that at this command, regardless of it's name, with these people, helping the Navy be more combat ready. Thank you, one and all.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Enlistment Oath.

I don't know what oath Officers take when they are commissioned. I just never paid attention to that. I know that they serve at the PLEASURE of the President of the United States. But I am 100% sure of the Oath that Enlisted Men and Women take when they enlist and each time they re-enlist. That oath is;

"I, (State your Name) do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. That I will obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the Officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, So Help Me GOD."

Think about that oath for a moment. If any one in the chain of command issues an order that is not according to Regulations or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, then those orders do not have to be obeyed. We learned that during the court martial of Army Second Lieutenant William Calley, and those whom he lead, for the Mi Lai massacre during the Viet Nam conflict.

You may also remember that for being the premise of a popular movie, based on fact, titled; "A Few Good Men". The Commanding Marine Colonial, played by Jack Nicholson, ordered Marines, under his command, to beat up a young Marine who was performing in a substandard manner. He was convicted of giving the illegal order. Of course, the two young Marines who mistakenly followed that order were also convicted of lesser charges.

Again, I state, if anyone in the chain of command is illegally giving orders, or is giving orders that do not support the Constitution of the United States and if those orders are not upholding regulations, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Those orders do not have to be obeyed and as a matter of fact, must be disobeyed, at any cost. It is the DUTY of the LEADER to disobey in this circumstance.

There is a cost to an individual who chooses to be a real LEADER. Blind following of things that are wrong, just because they are directed by our superiors is never the answer. Just a thought. But there is strong American history that agrees with me on this.

But DON'T believe me. Read our countries history, make your own decisions.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Anti-Chucker Pawls?

A while back, OK, a long time ago, I said that I would explain what Anti-Chucker Pawls were. Now this really dates me. The Forrestal class aircraft carriers originally had 5"/54 MK 42 mod 6 gun mounts installed on the sponsen decks below the flight deck. The designer's idea was to provide anti-surface and anti-air defense for the ship. Later, these gun mounts were replaced with MK 10 Terrier missile launchers. In any case, the sponsen decks are cantilevered out from the side of the ship and are not very deep. The MK 42 gun mount required three vertical decks to accommodate all of the gun handling system to make the single barrel gun fire 40 rounds per minute. To make this work, the loader drums were inside the main structure of the ship and the lower hoist tubes actually rose from the loader drum and then made a 90 degree turn to run out to the sponsen deck and then made another 90 degree turn up to bring the ammunition into the carrier tubes. Remember, there were two loader drums, two lower hoists, a two sided carrier. two upper hoists, two cradles, two transfer trays, and ONE gun barrel. That's why the gun shot so fast. Again, remember, the MK 42 gun mounts fired semi-fixed ammunition, That means the projectile, weighing 75 pounds, was separate from the powder charge, contained in a metal case weighing 44 pounds. The lower hoist held a number of rounds of ammunition before the first round made it to the carrier, out on the sponsen deck. The lower hoist would cycle one flight level, about 6 feet, and then another complete round of ammunition would be placed on the lower hoist lift pawl by the loader drum, and then the lower hoist would cycle another flight level. This starting and stopping was quite quick. Now picture what would happen if, while the ammunition was traveling horizontally in the hoist tube, on it's trek to the sponsen and the carrier, when the hoist chain stopped. Correct, inertia took over, Remember inertia? A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force. There is the definition of inertia straight from Gunner's Mate "A" school. In any case, these 5"/54 projectiles were being thrown into the powder tank above them, in the hoist chain flight level at a respectable speed!.. Some bright engineer decided this was a bad idea, So, they installed a pawl that looked like an upside down "J" on the chain, just above the projectile, to keep the projectile in it's place during the horizontal trip in the lower hoist. Only MK 42 gun mounts installed on Forrestal Class Aircraft Carriers had anti- chucker pawls. And, since the MK 42 Mods 1-8 gun mounts used 115 volt AC micro switches to tell where ever piece of equipment was, there were additional micro switches on these gun mounts. A normal MK 42 Mod 1-8 had 1492 115 vac micro switches. The guns with Anti-Chucker Pawls had 1496. Now there is a piece of ordnance trivia I will bet not many people know. But now you do.

But, there's more, these Anti-Chucker pawls were used to strike down, (Lower) ammunition into the magazine from the carrier room. There was a strike down loading door in the top of the lower hoist, next to the carrier loading station. The extra 115 vac micro switches actually told the gun loading system that the Anti-Chucker Pawl was in position for strike down. All other MK 42 Gun mounts did not have this capability and the strike down loading station door was bolted closed. As the late Paul Harvey used to say; "Now you know the rest of the story."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

You have to be crazy to do this for a living!

I know I have written before about dangerous situations in gun mounts and around live ammunition. But I was thinking the other day; I had to be crazy to do what I did for a living! Really, as far back as I can remember in my Navy Gunner's Mate career, ammunition was being treated harshly by temperamental gun loading systems, being dropped, falling from heights that should have cause explosions, and in general, being mistreated to the point of abuse. I remember a mechanical malfunction in Mount 51 on the USS Mullinnix, a MK 42 Mod 8 gun mount that completely tore a powder case open, spreading smokeless gun powder all over the gun pocket. There I was, a young Seaman Apprentice, sweeping up gun powder pellets with a dust pan and a fox tale! Any stray spark could have started a fire that would have lead to an explosion that could have sunk the ship. Or the time, on the same ship, that the mechanical fuze setter "Forgot" to retract off of the projectile before the transfer tray lowered. This fuze setter memory failure resulted in ripping a mechanical timed fuze clean off an AAC Projectile. But, the gun loading system did not seem to think this was a problem and the rammer tried diligently to ram the powder and projectile in to the bore. What a mess.
I also recall a time when we were handling Hedge Hog ammunition, and the deck was wet. someone slipped, carrying a Hedge Hog, it went flying into the air as he fell backwards and crashed to the deck smashing the cover over the nose impeller! There is a television program on one of the cable channels titled, "I shouldn't be Alive" I really shouldn't! More ammo has been dropped, cracked, riped apart, and failed to function around me that I now care to remember. But, it was part of the job. And this is a good time to make one point. Yes, everyone on a ship, in the Navy, or in the Military, may at one time or another be called to actual combat and risk their lives. But Gunner's Mates and those in other parts of the military like Ordnancemen, Army Artillery, and others, risk their lives with LIVE ammunition, every day they go to work!

Still,, I would not do it any other way, nor would I change a thing. I love the Navy and I love being a Gunner's Mate!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Warring Natures.

A few weeks ago, I think, I wrote and posted a diatribe about the health of the Navy Chief Petty Officer's community. I was fired up, to say the least. I reverted, but not without warning to my readers, to the profanity that was so much of my Navy vernacular. I reviewed the posting and posted it. A few minutes later, I decided to take the posting down, not because I did not agree with what I wrote, but because I thought some of my friends would not understand how I expressed my opinion. Since some of you are much more technically savvy than I, and use RSS to immediately get anything I post, I decided to explain myself.

Some of you know me, as a Master Chief Gunner's Mate. Others know me as a Deacon, Church Elder, and Lay minister and have even heard me preach God's word. That is where the difficulty lies. There are two warring natures that live within me, that appear to be diametrically opposed to the outsider, but not to me. Yes, God's word instructs us not to use profanity and not to blaspheme the Lord's name. I agree whole heartedly. And while I will tell you that I am not without sin in this area, I am very careful not to take the Lord's name in vane or to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. However, my 40 years associated with the Navy taught me that, sometimes, a verbal PUNCH in the nose, is exactly what some folks need to understand what you are trying to teach them. And, since we are a kinder and gentler Navy and actually punching one in the nose is looked down upon, I still use harsh language, in my Navy community, to get my point across. Since some of you have never been associated with the military, or never knew me in the Navy, my diatribe may have offended you. If it did, I am sincerely sorry. But you have to understand that God made me, put me in the life that I lead, and used me to do his will in may different venues. My Navy career was definitely God's doing. Go back and read my earliest postings, I hated authority, and only joined the Navy to evade incarceration. But, almost from the first day in Boot Camp, I found the Navy to be an organization that I fit into very well. That "Fit" resulted in success that I could not have imagined. Yes, my Navy career has it's "Salty" stories and harsher moments. But those experiences have helped me understand the people I work and Live with and helped me to help them. I did not grow up in the Church and only came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as an adult. I understand what people struggle with in a life without Christ. I have been there. Did Christ abandon me during those times, NO. He was there, watching over me, protecting me, trust me, he was. In 1972, in Bremerton Washington, a Stewburner friend of mine and I got drunk, and then decided to go to Seattle. We boarded the ferry from Brememton to Seattle in his 1965 Pontiac Tempest, and drunk as we were, drank a fifth of some cheap whiskey, without chaser, in that hour ferry ride. We drove off the ferry and soon had an automobile accident. Imagine that! We hit a wood, telephone pole, sliding on the ice, doing about 80 mph! I was the passenger, and I was not wearing a seat belt. I went through the windshield ad was stuck to the bottom rim of the windshield when I heard someone say; "Are they dead?" I thought I might be, since I could not move. But, after a police officer pulled me free of the windshield, I walked to the ambulance and was fine, with the exception of a few scars on my face that I bear today. I should have died in the wreck, Trust me, the transmission was in the back seat of the Pontiac! Jesus was watching over me because He has plans for me. Did I do something he was proud of, NO! Did I learn from it, eventually. Have I helped others avoid my stupidity, absolutely, including my Niece at my Dad's 80th birthday party!

Look, I am not trying to justify my occasional use of profanity, I am asking you to understand that I am a complex mix of the world and all it's sins and a man who, knowing that I am a sinner, still love Jesus for what He did for me. Do I recommend my way of life, NO! As a matter of fact, I spend plenty of time telling folks to stay away from the trappings of the world. But sometimes, the passion I feel for the institutions that I love, boil up in me, and I express that passion in the manner that I am equipped to do. If I offended anyone, I am sorry. But I meant what I said and I stand by my statements. As Popeye said; "I am what I am!"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Greatest Team of All!

As many of you know, I just retired from my civilian career with the Navy. For the last 20 years, I have worked for a government agency, under different names, that provides technical assistance to all of the Navy, Coast Guard, and Military Sea Lift Command ships, worldwide. My last 12 or 13 years have been spent with the Greatest Group of individuals that I have ever been with. When all else fails, call these people and they will fix the problem. Day or night, holidays, kid's birthday, vacation day, it does not matter. They can and will solve the problem, anywhere, anytime, at a cost that can't be duplicated! I became associated with this group of professionals through a strange turn of events. But, it was the best thing that ever happened to my Navy career.

Why do I write this, because this wonderful group of friends and their wives, held a retirement dinner for my wife and me this evening. This was an exceptional evening that words do not begin to describe. These friends, that do so much for the Navy and did so much for me, professionally and personally, made my wife and I feel so loved and special. I am at a loss for words. And if you know me, that's not normal. To top it off, they gave me a beautiful shadow box with a U.S. Ensign, flown over the USS Constitution, a group photograph of the entire team, and a very generous gift certificate. Since I don't normal put individuals names in my Blog, without their permission, I will only use their "Gator" given names. Linda and I appreciate all that each of you did for us through our long time together and tonight. Naturally, the lead instigator was Gator. Thanks for carrying me and being my friend. Squig, PBJ, Toy Story, Picachu, and the Slayer of Small Fish, thanks for planning this entire day, from the firing range time, which Linda and I really enjoyed, to the magnificent evening. Picachu, the slide show was a hit. Thanks for letting me tell a few "Sea" stories. The rest of the team was there too, Big Head, Bat Man, Hey Yu, Wacko, Big Money, Cell Block, T-Rex, Bubba and Cal, who retired a few years before me. Thanks also to all of the wives. I realize how hard it is to be out with a group of people you barely know but whom your Husbands are great friends with. But I really appreciated seeing each of you and being able to thank you for sharing your extremely talented Husband with the Navy and me. Trust me, the Navy could not do it's job without this group of dedicated professionals.

I'd be remiss if I did not say thanks to those who could not come tonight. PP had a very important Father - Son event. In my estimation, if he would have missed that event with his son, to be with me, I would have been angry with him. PP, your a great tech rep and a wonderful Father. Keep up the good work. Everyone of us missed Captain Kenny, but he was there in our hearts. There were other team members, from the early days in the Search Radar Branch, that were not able to come, but still hold a loving place in my heart like, Crash, Grumpy, Gumby, MacGiver, Jaws, OB, and others whose "Gator" given names have escaped my failing memory.

I have written before, but it bears repeating; I spend much time reliving past memories. Today, is hard to remember and harder to deal with. But my memories are safe, warm, enjoyable, places for me to rest. Thanks to each of you, for writing such a pleasant, loving memory of The Greatest Team of All. I will never forget you.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good friends, Great memories.

A few weeks ago, I finally got off my duff and called an old friend, Charlie Ford. He is an Engineer who was one of the smartest people I ever met when it came to the MK 45 Gun Mount and one of the nicest, most humble gentlemen I ever met, bar none. Charlie has always been gracious to me, helped me through some of my most difficult problems with hthe MK 45 gun Mount and kept me laughing. We spent a long time on the phone, remembering other old friends and telling sea stories as only those of us who "Lived" Navy can. I remember early in my MK 45 days, on the USS Leftwich, I had an unusual problem come up. When we commissioned Leftwich, President Jimmy Carter was in office and was systematically disarming America. When we manned that ship up, we were so short on people it was dangerous. To make things worse, the people we had were without experience. There were only 12 Chiefs in the commissioning crew for the entire ship. That was about 8 Chief Petty Officers low. I had 4 Gunner's Mates and me to maintain two MK 45 Gun Mounts and all of the associated and not so associated equipment and spaces. I was billetted for 8! To say the least, I was totally overwhelmed. To top that off, only one of the four had been to MK 45 "C" school and only he had ever been in a firing gun mount before. Get the idea. I had to teach everything, be everywhere, and do most everything. One day, one of my young GMGSN's came to me with some bolt heads in his hand. He said, "Chief, I think we have a problem." It seemed that he was doing the preventative maintenance card on the hold down bolts in Mount 51. The PMS card listed numerous torque readings to test for, based on what alteration of hold down bolts were installed in your gun mount. Instead of trying to determine what our status was, he "ASSUMED" that the highest torque rating would be good, and he promptly twisted off the heads of 5 or so hold down bolts!!! Of course, that made the gun unsafe to fire. So, I called Cahrlie in Louisville and explained my dilemma. Unfazed, Charlie shipped me enough "New Style" hold down bolts for both gun mounts. His quick action is admirable in itself, but Charlie shipped the bolts to my home address so I could get them quicker and solve my embarassing problem quickly. He also, quietly set up for the NAVSEACENPAC reps, Bill Luder and Pappy, to come over with their magnetic drill base and drill out the broken bolts. No reports, nothing said, no snickering, just help.

That's not the only time Charlie came to my rescue. While still on Leftwich I had a severe hydraulic failure with the upper accumulator unloading valve, (UVX24). I still think it's amazing I can remember that but forget how to sign my name. In any case, that failure started a strange chain of events that mimicked air being trapped in the cradle raise hydraulic circuit. On the MK 45 Mod ) gun mount, air in the hydraulic system was your enemy! He and I chased that problem for months and Charlie made numerous visits to my ship to help. Buy we could not find the problem. I was working everyday, 7 days a week on this problem, and the west coast Louisville tech rep, Dean Reahart was due on my ship Saturday morning to help me, once again. Friday evening, Charlie called me on the ship and said that he had spoken to another old friend, Dave Flippo, who I went to MK 42 "C" school with, a long time before. Dave had left the Navy and went to work for FMC, the manufacturer of the MK 45 gun mount. As it turned out Dave had seen this problem before. Charlie had Dave call me the next morning and Dave did, at 7AM. He told me to check an orifice plate in the hydraulic interlock pipe that came from the cradle in the right trunnion. I believe it was pipe P8 or P16. I may be wrong. I told Dave the prints did not show an orifice there, he agreed and told me to check it anyway. Without draining down the header tank, I pulled the four cap screws out of the pipe flange and pulled the pipe off, sure enough, there was a small orifice plate in this little 3/8" hydraulic line, and low and behold, there was half of an O-Ring stuck through the hole in the orifice plate. I removed the half an O-Ring, replaced the pipe, and had the gun running, correctly before Dean got there. I was happy because I finally got mount 52 running after 4 months and I was going to get to go home to my wife and son. Dean was happy because he did not have to work on the weekend. But it was Charlie's tenacious "Never Say Die" attitude and dedication to the success of all Gunner's Mates, including me that made the success possible.

My Navy career was filled with great men like Charlie Ford. I appreciate their efforts and dedication. But Charlie was a mentor, a teacher, and a friend. Charlie, enjoy your retirement, you deserve it.

PS- I did give Charlie a copy of the picture of the USS Caron, Mount 51, taken the morning of February 5, 1984 after we had fired over 400 rounds out of that gun, including 2 one hundred round rapid fire runs to support the Marines that were trapped at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon. That photo shows a forecastle littered with empty 5" powder cases and a gun barrel with it's paint proudly burned off from the blistering firing the night before. That was a proud night for USS Caron, the MK 45 Gun Mounts, fleet wide, for my Gunner's Mate's and Fire Control Technicians, and of course, for me. Thanks again Charlie!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Fellowship of the Military

I was just sitting here thinking, about old friends from the Navy, the good times we had, tough times too, and it crossed my mind, you never see any Ford assembly line reunions! Yes, there are High School reunions, and college home coming days, but never a reunion of hair dressers from Ruby's House of Peroxide. But, those of us who served in the military will go out of of way to get together with the old unit, shipmates, or even those who served on the same ship we did, but we never met. Why is that? In my humble opinion, its' because we share a unique experience. The training we go through, living so close to each other, knowing that that guy who stands watch with you might be the only one who can save your life when you really need someone to stop the bleeding or patch up that sucking chest wound. Do we like everyone we serve with, probably not. I suspect there were folks in your unit or on your ship that you MAY have had a quarrel or worse with, at least once. But, when the chips were down, you knew, he would come to your aid, and you to his. he close living and shared misery puts all of us in the same "kettle of fish" as my Dad used to say. And, it does not matter if you served 44 years like Master Chief Rudy Boesch or served a "Kiddie" cruise. It matters that you served honorably, fulfilled your obligations to the best of your ability, and were a member of the team. That's what they call camaraderie. So, the next time you see a reunion for your ship or your unit, GO, no matter how far it it. It will bring back great memories of a wonderful thing that you did. Thanks for your service!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Navy IS fun!!

I know that I have written some pretty down posts lately. I am sorry about that, but, I have to write what my memory gives me. Today, I was thinking about some of the great FUN I had in my Navy career. That's right, the Navy is FUN. I remember deploying for the Med on USS Caron in 1985. We were making the transit across the Atlantic, in company with the USS Garcia, and doing plenty of training. Gun shoots on a minutes notice, ship handling drills, fire drills, anything to hone our edge. One day, we were shooting .50 caliber machine guns at a sled being towed by the USS Garcia. I was on the starboard bridge wing with Captain Polk, watching our Gunner's Mates fire the .50 caliber, M2 Heavy Barrel machine gun. They were having great fun and great success hitting the target. We were about 1200 yards away from the target on a parallel course. All of the sudden, Captain Polk asks me, Master Chief, do we still have M79 grenade launchers? My answer was a simple yes. He said, let's shoot them at the target. Sounded like a good idea to me, so I went and got an M79 and a case of ammo. He and I were on the bridge wing, shooting 40 millimeter grenades at this towed sled. The first couple of rounds missed until we got the range, then, we started to pepper the target with grenade after grenade. We were having a great time. The .50 caliber machine gun was singing it's song and the Captain an I were taking turns playing the base note of the M79. Wow!

When the grading of our firing came back from the Garcia, we scored well on our .50 caliber firing and commended on our M79 accuracy. The DESRON Commodore really got a kick out of our extended training idea. You can never be too well trained or have too much fun!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Saying good bye to a great friend

I have put off writing this one for a couple of weeks. But, I need to address the loss of a great individual. This friend, co-worker, and confidant, was not a fleet sailor, yet he spent over 30 years making sure the detection systems on Navy ships and submarines were working to peak efficiency. He didn't deploy to exotic places for long periods of time or make voyages to places we don't tell our wives about. But he did go anywhere the Navy sent him to repair IFF, TACAN, and surface search radars, that no one else COULD fix. He was a model family man, an avid fisherman, and a true gentleman. He worked hard, diligently, for everything he attained and he treated all of the nice thing in life with respect and honor. He NEVER had a harsh word to say about anyone or any situation. Recently, he spent 5 weeks in the Persian gulf, grooming and fixing numerous ship's detection systems in person, and through the use of the telephone and email. I have to tell you, Kenny was a magician when it came to coaxing a sailor into finding the problem with a system! He was a master of distance support. Why, because he knew every IFF and TACAN tech on EVERY East Coast ship. He knew their strengths and weaknesses. He capitalize on their strengths and built on their weak points. Any sailor, that would listen to Kenny, would go away with much more knowledge and ability than he or she started with. I used to watch him teach an IFF class. He would take green techs, afraid to stick a probe in an AIMS MK XII encoder and turn them into competent fleet technicians. In any case. At the end of that recent 5 week stint in the "Sand Box". Kenny came down with what he thought was a cold. He took some "Patent" medicines and started the long flight home. By the time he got back, he had pneumonia. That was Saturday. Sunday, he went to the emergency room and they confirmed pneumonia. Monday he visited his doctor, and by Wednesday he was in the hospital in a medically induced comma. Two weeks later, Kenny was with the Lord. He was young, too young to be gone, only 56. But, too many things went wrong and his body could not fight it off. Yes, I know what GOD told us about our lives in Psalm 139 verse 16. "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." GOD was not surprised when Kenny passed from this life into his reward, but we were and I was. I know James, Christ's half brother wrote; "Faith without works is dead." Kenny had a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and I know he is in heaven today, because his life was a testimony of his faith. Kenny's entire life was an example for all of us to follow. If you knew him, look at his life and emulate it. If you did not know Kenny. I am sorry for you. You missed a truly good man. I will miss him, but I WILL see him again!