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

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.