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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The inmates are running the Nut House!!

I don't even know where to post this one.  I just read on Drudge, at 1559, 31 May 2010, that the head of the DNC states; "Republicans believe illegal immigration should be a crime."  As my 14 year old Grandson says, DUH!!  What part of ILLEGAL does she not understand!  This woman is a member of Congress and supposedly has a college degree!  But, it does not say much for the Republicans, if they only believe ILLEGAL immigration should be a crime.  Let me clue you dolts in, IT IS A CRIME!!!  THAT'S WHAT ILLEGAL MEANS, STUPID!!

I was worried about the future of our Republic.  I am no longer worried, I am convinced that we will collapse from the weight of our own stupidity, and soon!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Funny things

When I joined the Navy, the culture of the Navy was different.  Shore duty was almost non-existent for most ratings.  You were lucky if you got one shore duty assignment in 20 years of service.  Single men, even Chiefs, lived on board the ship and in the barracks if they were on shore duty.  Many career sailors did not have automobiles.  They were not needed since the ship was underway most of the time anyway and you had to be an E-5 to park on the base.   No one below the pay grade of a Chief Petty Officer was permitted to have civilian clothes on a ship or wear them on liberty.  The streets outside of any Navy base was filled with bars, bad restaurants, locker clubs, and shyster jewelry stores.  With this culture, few career sailors got married.  If they did, few of those marriages survived a few years.  Mainly because sailors married for all the wrong reasons!  But, those are some of the funniest stories.

I remember when I was at Great Lakes as a student, a Chief, who was an instructor, and was married and lived in Navy Housing, had the usual problem of most sailors of that day.  He was a drunk!  I might interject at this point, the difference between a "Drunk" and an "Alcoholic".  The "Alcoholic" goes to meetings, the "Drunk" doesn't!  In any case he would go to work, leave at 1500, go to the Chief's Club, and drink until he did not remember his name.  He would then drive home, (yes drive!) and pass out on the sofa until it was time to get up to go to work the next day.  Naturally, his bride grew tired of this daily routine.  One evening, while the Chief slept it off on the couch, she swatted him in the face with a cast iron frying pan!  She then got worried about him, (it was probably all the blood he was leaking) and called the Base Police.  The Chief spent quite a while in the hospital, and she visited him everyday.  They reconciled and started living together again.  He promised to change his ways.

But, after a few months of being "good" he went back to his old ways.  Soon, he was back to sleeping it off on the couch.  One evening, his bride was fed up with the status quo again and decided to teach him another lesson.  Out came the trusty cast iron frying pan.  But this time, she boiled some grease in it and poured the boiling grease on his face.  She must have had issues with the way he looked, judging from the way she constantly attacked his face.  She was again, immediately filled with remorse and called the Base Police again.  After another protracted time in the hospital, the Chief decided they should go their separate ways!

The thing that always struck me, no pun intended, is, why did it take him two facial assaults to see that they were not made for each other?  Honest, hit me in the face with a frying pan and I will get the immediate revelation that you don't like me and I will be gone, for good.  But, that was a different time and a different culture.  Some things have changed for the better. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My career, my life.

I started out writing this blog a few years ago with the desire to write about my life, my Navy career, and the things that are important to me.  It was meant primarily to be a record of my life for my family and those who survive me.  In the years that followed, I have written about issues that effect the Navy and our country.  This blog has also given growth to two other blogs I write.  That being said, I have been spending more and more time reminiscing about the past.  That is the nature of my disease, so don't be surprised.  I have said before on this site that the things that give me pleasure today are serving GOD as a Pastor, talking with old shipmates, and thinking about my past Navy career, all 40 years.

So, I have been thinking a lot, about the things I have done.  If you go back to my first posts, you will learn I had a rough beginning.  I dropped out of High School in my senior year.  Not smart, I know.  I joined the Navy and found a home.  I was a 14 year Master Chief.  A command Master Chief of a Spruance Class Destroyer and an A-6 attack Air Squadron.  I was Force Master Chief, Surface Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet with 17 years of service.  Retired with 20 years after being a semi-finalist for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.  I went to work for the government as a civil servant with Naval Sea Support Center, Atlantic.  I was a tech rep, a program manager, and a Branch Head.  I earned a Bachelors Degree in Human Resources Administration, graduating Cum Laude.  I have been the Commander of two AWANA programs, one with a sustained membership of 400 children under the age of 13.  I have been an Elder in two Churches, a Deacon, in one, and have just been Ordained as an Associate Pastor.  I have been married to the same, beautiful, educated, terrible patient wife for over 38 years.  She earned her Master's Degree in Library Science and was a professional Librarian for over 25 years.   I have an adult son and three grandsons.  And now, I have a new challenge.

I often tell people that fighting this disease is like being in a heavy weight boxing match with an opponent that is 6 inches taller that you, 50 pounds heavier, and has a 12 inch reach advantage.  I am going to loose.  But I keep trying to get inside and punch for all I am worth, thinking I may slow him down and delay the inevitable.  Maybe I will even go the distance and get a decision!  Maybe not.

I write all of this because I don't want who I am to get lost in my memory or in yours.  That is something that frightens me like never before.  I have great difficulties remembering the names of friends, relatives, and old shipmates.  So, I guess they have the same problems as me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

Memorial Day, the day we honor our fallen military men and women.  I have know quite a few personally.  There was Bobby, the son of the folks that owned and operated the Rollercade in Cleveland, Ohio.  He was an Army Warrant Officer and a Helo pilot during the recent unpleasantness in Viet Nam.  Then there was Red Mills, and ASROC Gunner's Mate who changed specialities and went to MK 42 5"/54 school with me.  He was assigned to the USS Benjamin Stoddard and died off the coast of Viet Nam, providing Naval Gunfire Support for our troops on the ground.  He died when his inexperience lead him to do the ultimate "Dumb ass" in a Hot Gun Foul Bore situation.  What was that, he removed the firing lock, leaving a 3" diameter hole in the breech, when the gun cooked off!

But I also see men around me today, that died during that conflict, but are still breathing and talking.  In my retirement apartment complex, I have two neighbors that are suffering terrible medical issues from Agent Orange exposure from Viet Nam.  Both Army, both Rangers.  One has lost both legs, goes to kidney dialysis three times a week.  The other has cancer of the everything, does chemo at home, goes to the VA hospital three times a week for radiation treatments, and has a visiting nurse everyday.  Then there is my friend, Master Chief Gunner's Mate, James Andrew Smith.  He died three times in Viet Nam.  The first time when his younger brother was killed there while serving in the Army, and twice, when he was serving in country for his two tours, when he was wounded both times.  He survived a long time on bourbon, cigarettes, and the brotherhood of career Navy Chiefs.  But when he was forced to retire, he quickly lost his desire to survive. 

Then there is me, I was a Gunner's Mate on 5"/54 guns and served off the coast of Viet Nam, Llybia, Lebanon, (twice) Central America, the Persian Gulf, and other places I don't remember.  I was exposed, daily for over 20 years, to a chemical that was placed in the hydraulic oil used in gun mounts and missile launchers.  That chemical has been certified by the Navy, OSHA, and other Government agencies as carcinogenic and neurotoxic.  There is also a causal effect shown for Parkinson's Disease and Dementia!  Gee, that's exactly what I have!  Yes, they call it Lewy Body Dementia.  But Google that,.  you will find the other name is Parkinson's with Dementia!

My point of this rambling is;  Yes, Memorial Day is the day we honor our fallen service members.  And we should honor them!   But, some died in our nations wars, that did not get buried until long after the conflict ended.  Some may not be buried yet!  If there is one of these service members related to you, living near you, or known to you, stop by this weekend as tell them you understand, just a little, the sacrifice they made too.       

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Loose lips sink ships"

When I went to Boot Camp, this was drummed into us on a daily basis.  When I got married, I taught my wife this and she still is very cautions to talk about my Navy career.  But, it seems some of our political minions have not been taught this or have chose to ignore it.  The raid to kill Usama Bin Ladin was a success because it was done in secrecy.  The group that did it was formed, trained, and operated, in secrecy.  Their existence was rumored, talked about in veiled nuances, but never confirmed.  Yes a retired SEAL Commander has written books about covert ops, but they are mostly fiction.  After the UBL raid, the President did not name the group responsible for the operation.  Good on him!  But the Vice President, in one of his "Senior Moments", blew almost 30 years of secrecy!

I suppose it's not such a big thing since many people knew they existed anyway, even though there was never an official government recognition of their existence.   But the Vice President even gave their home base location!

When I worked in a special program back in my uniformed days, our trained response, when asked about our capability was; "I can neither confirm or deny...".  That worked then, and someone should teach those words to the VP, soon!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The OATH we take.

May I, once again, bring back to every one's memory the OATH we all take as members of the United States military:

I (State your name) do solemnly swear, that I will support and defend, 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.

I just read an article on the Drudge Report, quoting Senator Saxby Chambliss as saying the Presidential Order issues to the SEALS that terminated Usama Bin Laden was to KILL not capture him.

Our fighting men upheld their OATH by following the orders of the President of the United States, as they should.  The chicken hawks and the left wing, progressive, socialist, communists can say what they will, but our men bear no fault.  They did as ordered and as sworn, to GOD, to do.

I am proud of our President for his resolve and fortitude in prosecuting this terrorist and I am exceedingly proud of our men.  They did an very difficult task, under treacherous conditions, on short notice.  But, that's exactly what SEALS do.  That's why they are the BEST!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Water hours!

Keeping with my original purpose of this I was thinking about the "Good Old Days" sea duty.  A friend I worked with both served on a then, state of the art, 1200 pound steam plant ship.  He served on the USS Mitschner, originally a DL class ship and later a DDG, and I served on the USS Mullinnix, a Forrest Sherman class destroyer.  Both ships were then thought to be modern, fast, and very capable combatants.  Their Achilles heel was fresh water.  These ships, and all the ships of the Navy at that time, used flash evaporators to convert salt water into fresh water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and most important, feed water for the 1200 pound pressure boilers.  These boilers made the steam that turned the turbines that turned the propellers that made us go fast through the water!  A Navy ship is worthless if it can't get to the war.  But those boilers never heard about water conservation!  So, since the most important user of fresh water was a water hog.  The secondary users of fresh water, the crew, had to conserve what's left!

Underway, we lived on water hours.  That meant the showers were only open an hour at night.  Navy showers were enforced by the Master at Arms force.  Navy showers consist of get wet, turn off the water, soap up, everywhere, including hair, turn the water on and rinse off.  you were supposed to use 2 minutes of water!  Not real good for long hair, cream rinses, or soaking!  Hence forth, most of us got real short haircuts before the cruise.  As the efficiency of the evaporators was reduced by wear and tear, or warmer sea water temperatures, they would make less water, and our water hours became, no water.  That meant, no showers, no shaving, no washing your hands, and in some cases, the scuttle butts (drinking fountains) were even secured (turned off) for all but the meal hours.  It also meant the crews laundry was not washed!  I once went 30 days without a shower, clean clothes, or even washing my hands.  When we were in this state, if water was available, the Captain would have the wash basins turned on, for a short period of time.  We would parade, naked, to the space that had the wash basins, usually 6-8 wash basins in this room.  Each basin held about a quart of water.  The Master at Arms would let each individual fill the basin once!  You could do what ever you wanted with your quart of water.  Brush you teeth, wash your hands, take a bird bath!    The problem was, the stoppers in the sink(wash basin) did not work very well, so your precious water went quickly down the drain!  Too bad, next person!

I also remember the ship chasing a rain storm, and the crew running around on deck, naked, soap in hand, trying to take a rain shower!!  Now, you may say, why not take salt water showers?  Sometimes we did, but it left you feeling sticky and just as dirty as when you started.  Another sea duty note.  At this time in the navy, and all the way until the Spruance class destroyers were built, all commodes and urinals flushed with salt water.  So, no problem with water hours there.  But, after you did your business, there was no place to wash your hands, and these water free hand sanitizers were not invented yet.  Also, think of it.  I was a Gunner's Mate, and we were constantly working in grease, oil, and hydraulic fluid.  There were ratings like Boiler Technicians, Machinist Mates, Engine men, and others that got even more dirty and sweaty that I did.  But there was no place to wash up before meals, or before going to bed!   You can imagine how bad a berthing space smelled after a few weeks of this routine!  Today's sailor's have it much better, and I am glad.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Used and thrown away!

I am going to address an issue that effects ALL veterans, whether they did their time honorably, and got out or stayed for 20, 25. 30, 35, 40+ years.  We are celebrating the great success of the SEALS that terminated Usama Bib Ladin.  The politicians, the liberal news media, the bureaucrats, all want to have their pictures taken with the "Brave" men that did this extraordinary task.  I am sure the unit will receive the "Presidential Unit Citation", and rightly so.  I am sure there will be numerous personal awards presented to each of the men in the team, and again, rightly so.  But after the bloom has come off the rose, they will be thrown away like a used condom!  Sorry to be so blunt, but it is true.  And it is a SHAME!  We discard the men and women who selflessly serve this country, especially in conflict and war, with complete disdain and repulsion.  Look at the terrible state of the Veteran's Administration  hospitals.  The view that most veterans that I know have is that you go to the VA hospital to die.  When we hear the politicians talking about cutting entitlements, one of the main ones they target, behind closed doors, is the military retirement and our health care guarantees.  Additionally, the VA has an over 4 year back log on VA disability claims!  I think they are hoping we will DIE before they have to pay us!

Another very sad fact is that the veteran has NO advocate!  We have NO recourse!  That is, unless you want to hire an attorney and give that person a large chunk of what ever you finally get.  Many of the politicians that are presently lauding our military, have in the past told us how much they despise and loathe the military.   Case in point, the Clinton's.  The VAST MAJORITY of these "Chicken Hawks" have never served a day in uniform, much less seen a minute of combat.   I know that I have written about this topic before, but my disdain for the "system" is growing and the events of a few days ago resurfaced my emotions.

On a personal note, Most of you know I retired, from the Navy as a Master Chief.  I then worked for the Navy for another 20 years as a civil servant, deployed all over the world, in war zones and out, repairing Navy ships and managing that process.  I retired over a year ago, on a disability for Parkinson's with Dementia.  That diagnosis has further been narrowed down to Lewy Body Dementia.  This a a terminal disease, related to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.  The life expectancy is 2-20 years, based on what I can gleam from the Lewy Body Dementia Society.   The hydraulic oil that I bathed in as a Gunner's Mate for over 20 years had a chemical in it that OSHA, the Navy, and the manufacturer all agree is neuro-toxic and carcinogenic.  We were NEVER told, no cautionary notes, until 1989, the year I retired!  Furthermore, OSH has drawn a causal effect between Parkinson's, dementia, and that chemical!  The VA has had my case for 3 years!  No motion.  The Disabled American Veterans Association, who are supposed to be our advocate, tell me that I just have to wait.  Wait for what, my death!  My civil service retirement pay has been wrong, since the first check.  I have told OPM, but they never gave me a case number, a place to see my pay, or a pay statement, for 9 months.  Then they told me I was $14k overpaid.  I told them that a year before they found it!  I was then told I had to pay back the money, I already knew that, in installments, but they, OPM, would not tell me how much my check was, so I could not tell how much of a hardship it would be.  Now, my civil service retirement check is more messed up than ever,  I call OPM and I get nothing.  I called my Congressman, Scott Rigell, and got nothing.  Just who is supposed to be the advocate of the Veteran?  Myself, and thousands of others have the same problems.  But the politicians only care about us when we make them look good.  I give up!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Permissions post

Permissions post

The death of Usama Bin Ladin!

I was up last night, when the news broke that Usama Bin Ladin was dead. This morning, the news has reported that Navy SEALS were the unit that performed the mission.   Various broad cast and print news sources are reporting the unit designation of the SEAL unit.  I will not repeat that information here, because as General Jack Keene (Ret) stated on FOX News; "that is a highly classified unit."  But I will say this;  If the unit that the news sources stated did carry out the mission, then the American people and the world owe two individuals a tremondous debt of gratitude.  First, President Ronald Reagan.  He established this unit and in it's beginnings, it worked directly for him.  Second, Commander Richard Marcinko.  He was the Commanding Officer that established this unit, trained it, developed their tactics that obviously remain today.  Trust me, I know their signature.  This single event should be enough to reinstate Commander Marcinko to Captain!!  You will remember that he was reduced to Commander and imprisoned for 18 months in a politically motivated court martial.   All of his methods, training, tactics, and bravado, were justified in this one mission. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

War and International Law

I am not an attorney and I don't play one on television, so I do not have the back ground or the experience  to make learned arguments about international law.  However, I have made it a point to learn from the people I surround myself with, and I have been surrounded by some very intelligent and experienced individuals.  I also pride myself on being well read.  Since I am married to a highly educated Librarian, if there is a topic that I am curious about or interested in, I get a BOOK.  Books have boundless information, presented from all sides of an argument.  You can be well served by reading and digesting knowledge from books.   

That being said, when I was in the Navy's Senior Enlisted Academy, one of my group members was an Army E-8 who's MOS was intelligence.  He was a very smart individual, and very quiet about what he really did for a living.  The morning that the news reported the invasion of Grenada, he was absolutely in an uproar!  He was telling us that using regular Army troops to invade a country was tantamount to a declaration of war.  He went on to explain that is why we have a Marine Corps.  Because their job is to get in and get out, but not occupy land or countries.  The Army's job is to occupy.  Made sense to me.   I also remember, some years ago, the United States got itself involved in some secret mission to assassinate some South American dictator.  My memory, not being as good as it once was, I don't remember who it was or what country.  But I think it was Pinochet in Chili, but I may be wrong.  In any case, I remember this coming to light and the Congress getting completely upset over the actions of the President.  The Congress passed a law, and the President signed it, making the assassination of foreign leaders, outside of a formal declaration of war, ILLEGAL!

If what I remember is true, how is it different if we, disguised as NATO troops, using U.S. issue drones, airplanes, ordnance, and people, try to assassinate Colonial Qaddafi?  I thought we were wrong the last time we did it, and I think we are wrong now.  What say ye?