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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!