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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The highest honor of my Navy career

As many of you know, I am dealing with a degenerative neurological disease called Lewy Body Dementia.  The thumb nail description of this disease is; Alzheimer's with Parkinson's combined.  Not a big deal right now, but as it progresses, as it has, I am faced with new challenges.  I spend much of my time thinking about the past, and of course, my Navy career is foremost in my mind most of the time.

I had a wonderful career both in uniform and as a Civil Servant.  I worked with some wonderful individuals that did more for me than me than I could ever repay.  I was afforded many honors and awards, most of which I did not deserve!   Most of you know I was the Forcer Master Chief, Surface Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet when I retired.  I was also the Gunner's Mate Guns Detailer from 1980 to 1983.   I truly enjoyed being the GMG Detailer and I believe I was able to help our community grow and mature.  Some may disagree and I respect their right to disagree with me.

But, the accomplishment I cherish most is being a Gunner's Mate!  I truly enjoyed being a Gunner's Mate and I appreciate the commeraderee and fellowship of the community.  I remember when I was on the USS Mullinnix.  I was in Deck Force after being dropped from Personnelmen "A" School.  Now honestly, can you picture me as a PN?!  I was standing in the chow line, my tray in hand, and GMGC Sadowsky came up to me and said in his gruff voice; "I hear you want to be a Gunner's Mate!"  I replied; "Yes sir Chief".  He said;  "What's your GCT/ARI?"  I replied; "122 Chief".  He said; "Good, you are mine now.  Muster by Mt 52 tomorrow morning for quarters!"  That was my Striker Board and that was the beginning of my love affair with the Gunner's Mate Rating.

I have such fond memories of the men who taught me, corrected me, and cheered me on.  I grew up in the Navy of the Viet Nam war.  Many of the Gunner's Mates I worked for were Riverine Sailors in teh deltas of Viet Nam.  The were tough, combat hardened men.  It was also the era of the Draft and many individuals joined the Navy to avoid the draft!  That's right, 3 or 4 years in the Navy was thought to be better that 2 years in the Army with 13 months in the rice paddies of Viet Nam!  So, many of the individuals in the Navy really did not want to be there!  So, anyone who was motivated to do what they were told and to do that to the best of their ability was looked upon favorably.  I was that person.  I was not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I was the one who followed orders and tried to show some initiative.

I have written about many of the men who helped me succeed and I owe my success to them and all the Gunner's Mates that I worked with throughout my career.  Success comes from working with people not working against them. I learned that early in my career and I never forgot it.

I was blessed to be promoted to Master Chief in1984 and that was the crowning achievement of my career.   Most of my hero's were Master Chief Gunner's Mates and many of the Gunner's Mates in my peer group also promoted to Master Chief.  It was a special time for me and I remember it like it was yesterday.

So, my sincere respect goes out to all the Gunner's Mates that I worked with and to the Fire Controlmen that were there to keep me on track too.   I appreciate each of you and cherish our time together.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The weight of Leadership

Forty-one years ago, give or take a day or two, I was advanced to GMG2!  For you who never served in the military, I was promoted to E-5 or Second Class Petty Officer.   I worked for a Chief Gunner's Mate who I idolized then and now.  He and I both were fortunate enough to be later promoted to Master Chief or E-9.  In any case, when I was advanced to GMG2 and the celebration and customary
Tacking" on of my crow was done, my Chief told me something I have never forgot.  This Pearl of Wisdom guided me throughout my Navy career, in uniform and as a Civil Servant.  He told me; "Now that you are a Second Class Petty Officer, any order you give, is YOUR order and YOU are responsible for it's outcome and YOU share in the glow of a good job and YOU are responsible for the ramifications of a failure!"  He went on to say; "I never want to hear you say that The Chief wants this done or the Division Officer wants this done.  It is your order and YOU want the job done!"

I bring this up because of the present leadership of our Nation.  It seems the present group of suits that lead us pass the blame to the previous occupant of the office and take credit for every success dating back to President Washington!  I have always taken responsible for what ever happened in my Division, Work Center, Department, or Command, from the moment I took over!  I relieved the individual before me and when I did that, I was in charge and responsible and accountable for everything!!  If I did not check out my spaces, my equipment, inventory of sensitive equipment or publications, I was at fault, not my predecessor!

So you can see why I am angered by President Obama's constant drumbeat of; "It's Bush's fault".  He certainly took credit for what Presidents since President Reagan built and maintained, SEAL Team 6!  He and his bumbling Vice President also declassified the best weapon we had against terrorism.  He did not take responsibility for that mistake, did he?!

I guess my Chief's training made a big impression on me and since neither the President or Vice President ever had any Military training, I guess they have an excuse.  Maybe not!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Standing Duty BUPERS

When I was the GMG Detailer (1980-83) each Detailer stood Duty BUPERS one night a week for four consecutive weeks and then you were the Super for one night a week for four consecutive weeks.  Then, w did not stand any duty again.  Not a bad deal!  But I learned may things about the condition of man during those long, all night duty days.

There was a Duty Officer and that individual had a bunk room and they used it!  But the Duty Chief had to stay up all night.   That turned out to be the best part of the Duty Day because there were some interesting and weird telephone calls.

One early morning, I answered a telephone call from a retired sailor who wanted to talk to Admiral Rickover.  It was apparent my shipmate had had a few too many adult beverages, but I was going to humor him anyway.   He asked me if the Admiral was available and I said, no.  He then asked if Admiral Rickover knew what the Soviet's were doing?  I assured my shipmate that the Admiral had been full briefed on the Soviet's actions and intentions.  He said, OK and asked me if I was the Chief of Staff.  Since I was a Chief and I was on the Staff, I replied; Yes!  That seemed to be the right answer because my shipmate said;  OK, but make sure you tell him I called in the morning.  I said I would and we bid each other good night.

There were also many calls from shipmates trying to locate their shipmates from many years ago.  Sometimes we could help, but most of the time the individual was out of the Navy and in that case, we had no opportunity to locate then.

But the important question is why these many shipmates called BUPERS in the middle of the night?   Well, now that I am of a certain age, as my best friend says, I believe I know why we received so many interesting and sometimes touching telephone calls.  These retired sailors were lonely!  Most likely, they had no one to talk "Navy" with.  No one who has a shared experience to base a conversation or friendship on.  Some of them came to this decision with the help some adult beverages and some, just because the night is empty and lonely.

I know I have said this before but it bears repeating.  Email is nice but a telephone call or a personal visit with your old shipmate is worth more than any gift you could give.  That friend who you deployed with, worked with, went on liberty wit, wants to talk to you, see you, and need to talk about what you both did.  Yes, I know you are both over 60 now, but it is important, to both of you!  So, let's make this, contact a shipmate month!  And if you don't have their number, try "White Pages" on the Internet.  You will be surprised!  And so will the one you call!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The "Old" Navy!

I know I have written at length about the issues of the day, so I would like to write about how things were when I joined the Navy.   My first ship was the USS Mullinnix (DD 944).  She was a Forrest Sherman class Destroyer with three, 5"/54 Mk 42 gun mounts, one 3"/50 twin mount, two Mk 11 Hedge Hog projectors, two MK 32 torpedo tubes, and 450 romping, stomping, fleet sailors proficient at drinking copious amounts of alcohol!

When I first got aboard in 1969, we still worked on Saturday!  That's right, we worked a half day on Saturday and that amounted to cleaning the ship, washing down all topside spaces, and polishing anything that could or would shine!!  Sometimes, we would have a personnel inspection after the "Field Day".  One Saturday, the First Class Gunner's Mate in charge of Mount 51, where I worked, was no where for us junior personnel to see.  When it came time for our personnel inspection in "Tropical White Long" uniform, GMG1 Harold "Suitcase" Simpson was standing tall in ranks, looking sharp.  Well, at least his uniform was looking sharp!  He looked a little peeked!  The Captain began his inspection of our Division after the Division Officer, LTJG Breeden had presented us.  The inspecting party proceeded through the ranks with the Captain in the lead, followed by the Yeoman writing down the discrepancies, the Executive Officer, the Weapons Officer, and LTJG Breeden.  The Captain got to GMG1 Simpson and inspected his uniform and haircut without comment.  He moved on and the Executive Officer was next to look over GMG1 Simpson, then came the Weapons Officer, and our Division Officer, LTJG Breeden.  Just as LTJG Breden moved past GMG1 Simpson, he passed out, AT attention!  He fell forward and laid there on the forecastle deck, at attention!  The Captain looked back for a second and then proceeded to inspect the rest of the Division.  At the completion of the inspection, he commented to LTJG Breeden about how well we had done in the inspection and then he departed returning the Division Officer's salute.  All the time with "Suitcase: laying at attention on the deck!

It seemed that the Chief and Division Officer knew GMG1 Simpson had gone on Liberty the night before and had maybe one too many beers!  After the inspection the other First Class, there wed five of them, got "Suitcase" up and carried him off to the compartment where he got cleaned up and went on Liberty again!!  We were a hardy breed back then!  Hardy or pickled, I'm not real sure.  But GMG1 Harold "Suitcase Simpson later was advanced to Chief Gunner's Mate soon after that little event.  Like I told you in previous posts, "Suitcase" was a exceptional Petty Officer and Gunner's Mate!  He was one of my first mentors and I respect him to this day.

However, to this day, I have NEVER seen anyone pass out at attention again!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Someone thinks I am wrong about our national resolve!

I love to get responses to posts that I write.  I will openly admit that I am not right all the time and maybe not right most of the time.  But, I observe and learn and I have been doing that for 61 years.  Look at President Reagan, Lybia bombed a night club is Rome and killed some U.S. Servicemen.  A few days later, we bombed Lybia in numerous locations including Moamar Qaddafi's residence.  The forceful response frightened Qaddafi so much that he put on female clothes and retreated into his own borders for over 25 years!   When he did say something, it was an apology and he told us that HE was responsible for the Lockerby Bombing too!!  Oh, by the way, how do I know about the Lybis bombing?  I was the Command Master Chief of VA 55, the A-6 squadron that flew off the USS Coral Sea and bombed the air station!

There are other responses that historically illustrate my point but you get the idea.  The Arab world only understands might!  If they fear you, they treat you with respect.  If they do not fear you, they attack you and make every effort to embarrass you.  I taught Iranian students at Gun School between 1974 and 1977.  That was when we were friends with Iran and the Shah was in power.  I also lived in an apartment complex in Poway California when I was stationed in San Diego.  And, my best friend, then Senior Chief James Smith was in Bandar Palaviv, Iran, teaching Iranians at their Naval Training station.   Like I said, I observe and learn.

I will give you another example.  During the last war in Lebanon, the Islamist terrorists kidnapped a Soviet diplomat and killed him.  Quietly, the KGB tracked down the perpetrators and killed them in a very violent way, then killed all of their family members.  The Soviet diplomats were never bothered again.

If America was a militarily strong nation and had the resolve to pull the trigger when we were attacked anywhere in the world, we would have far less terrorist attacks.  Wars begin when America is not strong enough to lead and when America cowers in the corner, afraid to act.  You don't have to agree with me and I respect your opinion.  But you cannot argue with history.  History is always the best teacher and if we refuse to learn from it, we will be doomed to repeat it!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The lack of respect for America in the world!

In the last 20 years, we have seen America's Military might diminished.  When President Reagan was our President, the world knew that we would retaliate anytime someone committed an act of terrorism against us.  We did not instigate aggression, but we sure returned it!  We have a Military that was the class of the world and everyone knew it!  That strength was what the Arab world understood and that is exactly what is missing today.  Each President since President Reagan is guilty of the incremental decimation of our Military but the present occupant of the White House has completed the journey to third world status!

This weakness is what brought about the death of our Ambassador to Llybia.  And, as if his death was not enough, they drug him through the streets and, if reports that I have seen from Middle East news services is correct, he was sodomized before they killed him!  This ultimate insult is reserved for those who Islam holds in the most disdain!  Not our Ambassador was a friend of Llybia and the Arab cause, yet, because he was not a Muslim and he was an American, they treated him with total disrespect and desecrated his body.

Why did this happen, because the Islamists KNOW that America is too weak to retaliate!  Too weak militarily and too weak in national resolve!   They know, just as the Iranian Islamist terrorists knew in 1979, that America would not use Military force to rescue our citizens or avenge the brutal death of our people.  Sadly to say, we cannot defend America's honor in the world and I don't believe we can defend our country.

As I always ask, how do we fix this mess?  I know, but you need to think this one through yourself.  If you have a stake in the outcome, maybe you will be part of the solution!

Monday, September 17, 2012

NO ship Navy!

I did a little Google research today.  Right this minute, we have 11 aircraft carriers, 22 cruisers, 66 DDG's. 29 Frigates. That is ALL of the surface combatants in the United Sttes Navy!!  And you really can not count the FFG's as surface combatants since they are only armed with ONE 76mm Otto Mellaro Guinea gun, and it is mounted mid-ships and cannot fore forward or aft!!  So, that means we only have 99 Surface Combatant ships in the United States Navy!!

Having two DDG's next to Lybia is REALLY a big chunk of our combatant resources.

Yes we have Amphibious landing ships like LSD's. LHA's and LHD's and a couple of San Antonio Class money pits, but they are no more combatants ships that the LCS is!  No guns, No missiles, No good!!

And yes we have 53 attack submarines, 14 fleet ballistic missile submarines, and 4 Tomahawk shooting submarines.  But again, they do not project power on the open ocean like a surface combatant bristling with guns and missiles

Now, since the Senate and House cannot make a budget and since the supper committee failed to make a budget, the Military is facing an even BIGGER budget cut!  Yet, none of the politicians talk about it or offer solutions.  Now, in Representative Paul Ryan's defense, the House DID vote on, pass, and send to the Senate a budget.  But Harry Reid would NOT let it come to a vote.  So, here we are, the world on the verge of a nuclear war, and us without a Navy!

The former Premier of the Soviet Union said the United States would collapse from inside!   He said that in the early 1960's, but it appears he was correct.

Can we change it?  Maybe, but it will take some real courage on the part of the politicians and some real sacrifice on the part of the American people.  But I fear neither will muster up enough courage to take the first step!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The attacks on our Embassies

It looks like 1979 all over again!  Many of you are too young to remember when Jimmy Carter was our very weak President and the AyAtollah Khomennei took power in Iran.  Islamist terrorists took control of the American Embassy and held Americans hostage for 444 days, until Ronald Reagan was elected President.  President Reagan said; If the hostages are not released by the time I am sworn in, I will free them with military force.  They were freed the day he was sworn in!  I had the duty at Bupers that night and ws in on the conference call with the White House over the release of the hostages!

The moral of this story is, Strength is ALWAYS the answer.  If you don't want to be picked on, you had better put forth an image of toughness that no one wants to challenge.  President Reagan had not done anything internationally, so there was no record to go from, but his message was so tough, so definitive, that the Islamist terrorists folded as soon as President Reagan had control of the Military!!  Strength or the illusion of strength caused the enemy to fold!

This tactic always works but it is especially effective with those in the middle east.  They are like sheep, they will follow the loudest barking dog!  These people have no original thoughts and no personal will.  They will do what they are told to do.  That is why they are so easy to rule, so easy to rile up, and so easy to defeat.  But, to defeat them, you must be ruthless, and slaughters them in mass!  After the first or maybe the second battle, after they see the total devastation rained down on them, they will fold!!

But, the last two Presidents have tried to fight a war with pillows instead of weapons.  They want to win the enemies minds and hearts.  Well, learn from history, that did not work in Viet Nam and it will not work here.  Look at Japan and World War II.  Japan, at the order of the Emperor, was ready to fight the Americans, house to house, to protect their God Leader.  After two Atomic Bombs which melted two cities, they could not surrender fast enough!!

And that is what needs to be done to the Islamic countries.  Sounds harsh I know, but how many of our fighting men and women and how much of our national treasure do we want to spend on these countries that want to live in the 18the century?  We have lost too many of our military personnel, maimed to many, and spent too much money on these people.  Show them, once and for all, what we mean business and that we don't care about their hearts and minds.

There was a saying among those of us who served in the Military during the war in Viet Nam;  When you have them by the balls, their minds and hearts will follow!  It is time we grab these individuals in a sensitive place and tech them humility.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Hollow Navy for a Hollow foreign policy!

With the carnage in Llybia and Egypt, the president (small "p" on purpose) moved to DDG's off the coast of Llybia.   You say; "no big deal"?  YES it is!!

Do you realize that two ships is One Percent of the Navy, and even more if you don't count the shallow water ships like the LCS and PC's and the non-combatants like the Mine Hunters.  Then we probably approach five percent or more.

That is s huge investment for this area.  Just a thought!!

Thanks for your comments!

I love hearing from each of you.  I especially love hearing from you when we share a shipmate.  For instance, today I received and posted a comment from someone who served with then GMCS James Andrew Smith!  That was probably on the USS Hoel, or the USS Waddell, both homeported in San Diego.  It could also be on the USS New Jersey.  Jim made Master Chief either on or just after serving on the USS New Jersey.

Jim and I became friends when we were in MK 42 "C" school in 1970.  We cemented that friendship when we were staff at Gun School in 1974.  What many of you who knew Master Chief Smith did not know is that he served two tours in country, Viet Nam on the rivers.  One tour in PBR's and one as a craft commander on a "Zippo" boat!  He had two Purple Hearts!  Few knew that.  Three things kept Jim sane.  His wonderful, understanding, supportive wife, The Navy Chief's Mess, and Bourbon.

I often  write about the men who mentored me, those who I thought of as heros,  The iron men of the Navy during my career.  Yes, I know there Navy men of other times that did more, influenced more, and sacrificed more.  However, the Navy of the late 1960's to 1980's had issues to deal with that no other time in history had.  The drug culture first brought into the National culture by the "Hippie" movement. This caused more problems that any other thing in history.  We were unequipped to deal with illegal drugs!  In the 1960's we had NO testing capabilities, NO urinalysis, and little to no experience.  The second issue was the end of the draft.  An all volunteer force brought a different group of people into the Navy.  In the late 1960's Defense Secretary McNamara brought into all Armed Forces, 100,000 individuals that were not qualified due to low test scores.  They were called McNamara's 100,000.  Many of these individuals could not write or read!  I remember reading and writing courses being taught at the service school commands and in Boot Camp!  Now, don't get me wrong, many of these men took advantage of this opportunity and excelled.  All they needed was the opportunity and some basic education.  Others, were the source of problems like we had never seen.  The third issue was the job market.  In the 1970's jobs were in short supply but the 1980's brought good jobs and an economic boom.  Both of these "Jobs" events had an effect on the Navy.   Naturally, like now, recruiting in a recession is easy and you can pick the cream of the crop.  But in a "Boom" economy, no one, especially the educated, want to join the military!  While President Reagan was building the 600 ship Navy, we had a severe Petty Officer shortage which negatively impacted the manning of ships.  I commissioned the USS Leftwich, (DD 984) with only 11 Chiefs!  We rated 20!!

All of this made it difficult to be a career sailor.  The Cold War, Viet Nam, the Iran hostage crisis, Grenada, Lebanon, Lybia, El Salvador, Nicaragua,  the Persian Gulf, well you get the idea, we were under severe stress with minimal manning.  So, to find an exceptional leader in these times was like finding gold in your backyard.  In World War Two, there were many opportunities for men to rise in times of severe challenge,  The best of the best volunteered to join the Military, so good men were a plenty.  But in the 1960's to 1980's it was a constant beating  with out the benefit of the national stage of a big War.  Hell, the public held the military in disdain during and after the Viet Nam war!

So, men like Jim Smith, PTSD and all, were still inspiring to me, and many others.  So, I appreciate your comments and sharing of your remembrances of shipmates past.  Keep them coming!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where has the Military support group gone?

When I was in the Navy, we socialized.  We played cards in our off times, told sea stories, played Acey Deucey, we played on divisional soft ball teams, command sports teams, and shared our lives together underway or in port.  There was no computer games, lap top videos, email 24/7, or books on tape.  Sailors, Chiefs, communicated, discussed things, taught each other, socialized.

Today's Navy and probably the other Military organizations no longer have the social skills to support each other on an emotional level.  Hell, they don't even know their shipmate, unless they are trying to date her!  That lack of social skills in one of the reasons we have the suicide problems we have today!

I remember Command Master Chief Bobby Scott on the USS Wisconsin, he knew every sailor on the ship by name, their wife's name, most of their children's names, and their issues!    He probably did not own a personal computer, but he could tell when a sailors demeanor changed and that knowledge saves lives!

During the Viet Nam war, the sailor's who served in country suffered from the same stress disorders as the veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars but the Viet Nam veterans who stayed on active duty had a built in support group!  We talked about the mental issues, stayed up whith them when they were stressed, brought them back when they were drunk, and looked after them!  One of my best friends, Jim Smith, who is now dead, suffered from PTSD.  Sure it was undiagnosed, it was not even heard of then!  But he knew it and we all knew it, but we stuck together through the tough times and we made it.  

That bonding is what is missing in today's military.  So you see these commercials for you to donate to this military charity or that one.  I hear the Veteran's say;  I was alone, I wanted to kill myself, no one cared!  Why wasn't their shipmates there for them.  I'll tell you, they were playing their video games and getting sexually excited reading an interactive sex site!  Shipmates are killing themselves because shipmates don't care.  Why, because they don't socialize.  They don't know their shipmates, and they don't care.

Happy Birthday Jerry!!

Today is my best friends birthday.  Today Chief Gunner's Mate Jerry Hart added another click in his life's odometer.  I will not tell you how old he is, but he is definitely past the adage;  He is too young to know and too old to ask!

We had a good telephone call this morning and as I sit here and think about him, it comes to mind jut how tough sea going sailors really are!  When Jerry and I were riding ships, it was truly tough living.  Many of the "Creature Comforts" like fresh water, medical care, time off, and mechanized cargo handling, were not invented or thought about yet!  We hand carried ammo on board, and struck every powder, projectile, and small arms ammo box below through the use of an all hands working party.  The same was true for stores like food or big deliveries of repair parts.  Heck, I remember hand loading thousands of seed coconuts for delivery to a Pacific Island nation on a WESTPAC Cruise on the USS Stein, (DE 1065)!  Man power was the answer to everything.

And, there were no medical preventative measures either.  We shot thousands of rounds of small arms ammo training the crew, training our selves, without ear protection!!   And chemicals were all deemed SAFE for our used.  Of course, now most of us are suffering from medical issues caused by Asbestos, Hydraulic Fluid and Navy we served and loved.  We were not told or warned.  We just went to work and did our jobs and now we suffer from cancer, skin conditions, and dementia.  Same with lifting and carrying things that weighed hundreds of pounds.  Think about bending down with a 75 pound weight, 600 times in two hours!  That is an ammo on load for a Gunner's Mate!  Now we suffer with back issues, cancer, and dementia.  Yet, most of us never complain and don't ask for help.  We just keep on getting on!

So, talking with Jerry today, my best friend who I miss terribly, brought back to memory those things I am most proud of, the toughness of the American Bluejacket!  While today's ships have more creature comforts and "Navy Showers" and "Water Hours" are a thing of the distant past I still look at my shipmates with great respect, honor, and wonder.  You were tough, relentless warriors and I am proud to have served with you.

Quarterdeck watches.

OK, I know I am just a little weird, but I enjoyed standing Quarterdeck watches.  Back in the early 1970's, because of severe manning short falls, the Navy embarked on plan to permit watches to be manned by less senior personnel.  It was called the "Mod Squad" after a popular television show. There were even some "Commander" commands that were manned with Lieutenant Commanders as the Commanding Officer.  The USS Bronstein is one that comes to mind.

Under this Navy initiative, I qualified and stood inport Officer of the Deck on the USS Stein as a GMG2!  It was quite an honor and I took my responsibility seriously.

I remember many disagreements on the Quarterdeck with individuals who did not want to follow proper Military decorum on the Quarterdeck.  On the USS Leftwich, there was a certain Department Head that thought Officers did not need to wear covers on the Quarterdeck because, in his little mind, it would cause them to go bald.  He would come out on the Quarterdeck from the Ward Room, without a cover, and I would bark at him!!  He hated it and I loved it!  Of course he also wore Docksiders when he stood bridge watches!

But the best Quarterdeck story happened when I was the Force Master Chief at SURFLANT.  It was a Friday and Admiral McCauley decided to take make an unannounced  visit to a ship!  He directed the driver to take him to NAB Little Creek and he selected an LSD to visit.  The driver parked at the foot of the brow, and the Admiral and the Flag Lieutenant boarder the ship.  There was one individual on the Quarterdeck and he was leaning on the desk, talking on the telephone, with his back to the brow.  So, the Admiral and the Flag Lt. walked aboard the ship, unseen and unannounced!  They toured the ship on their own, going into the engineering spaces, berthing spaces, and in general all over the ship for 45 minutes.  No one seemed to pay attention to the visitors and no one ever told the Commanding Officer or the CDO!  At the end of the tour, the Admiral and Flag Lt. went back to the Quarterdeck to find the Petty Officer of the Watch STILL on the telephone with his back to the brow and no one else there.  The Flag Lieutenant tapped the individual on the shoulder to get his attention and told him; "I just thought you would like to know that your Force Commander has been touring your ship for the last 45 minutes!"  The Petty Officer of the Watch replied;."Naw".  The Flag Lt. said;  "Yes he was". Again the Petty Officer of the Watch denied it and the Flag LT said; "Do you know what these gold loops on my shoulder mean?"  The Petty Officer of the Watch replied; "our a Recruit Company Commander, Right?!"

When Admiral McCauley returned to his office he called me and demanded my presence in his office.  Before I went in to his office, the Flag Lieutenant briefed me on the visit.  I walked into the Admiral's office and he asked me;  "Master Chief, who stands Officer of the Deck inport?  I replied;  "Well, we need to rename that position to Petty Officer of the Deck since NO officers stand that watch with the exception of the junior Supply Officer or the new Ensign."  He asked me;  "OK, what watches do officers stand?"  I replied CDO and assistant CDO."  He then asked;  "What does the Assistant CDO do?"  My reply was; "The CDO's job!"  The Admiral asked me; "What does the CDO do?"  My quick reply was; "Watch football!"

He immediately put out an order that put Officers BACK on the Quarterdeck and put ALL personnel back on the inport watch bill with the exception of the Commanding Officer, the Executive Officer, the Command Master Chief and the Corpsman.  I agreed with him and I believe that is the way it should be today.  Standing a Quarterdeck watch or a Ship's Security watch is important to the security of the ship and the well being of the crew.  The American people entrust us with the ship we serve on and it is our duty and responsibility is to take care of that ship, OUR ship.  Standing watch is an honor in my estimation.  I believe in protecting MY ship from intrusion, attack, fire, flooding, and severe weather.  I believe in protecting the lives of my shipmates.  That's what in port watches do.  So, I believe firmly that everyone should be on the watch bill in a position that is commensurate with their skill level.  I believe the inport watches, security team, and fire party, should be strenuously exercised and tested every duty day.  If we sweat in training we will not bleed in war!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gunner's Mates need the DCAP program again!

I was sitting here watching the NASCAR Race at Richmond, in a rain delay, and my mind started to drift back to my Navy days.  I remembered a very successful program called DCAP.

A long time ago, before many of you were born, the Naval Ordnance Station, Louisville, operated a program for gun mounts, missile launchers, and fire control systems, called DCAP.  Discrepancy Corrective Action Program.  Now this was way before personal computers well enough email, blogs, or any type of instant communications.  Every Quarter a printed document was sent out from Louisville to Gunner's Mates and Fire Control Technicians that was system specific.  I would look forward to the newest edition because all the MK 42 Mod 9 and 10 Gunner's Mates would sent problems they were having into DCAP and wait for the super techs at the ISEA to provide answers.  Now, I am not talking about CASREP issues but those little annoying problems and maintenance issues.  Also, fleet Gunner's Mates could provide feed back to listed problems if you had a solution.  These issues and solutions were submitted without Chain of Command approval.  That is what made the program a success.  Gunner's Mates talking to Gunner's Mates!!

The DCAP program was well publicized and a source of pride for me and my peers.  Our ship's name and or name were listed with our problem or the solution we provided.  DCAP made us better technicians on our specific system and the ISEA gained insight into some very difficult problems.

Now, with the explosion of instant communications fleet wide and world wide. I wonder why we cannot have a version of DCAP in the electronic media?  It certainly would be cheaper than printing hundreds of DCAP news letters.  But, it would bring issues to the forefront and would inspire fleet technicians to share their technical discoveries.  So, here is my offer.  One of you smart young hard chargers, submit a Beneficial Suggestion to establish this program!  I am sure the Navy will buy your proposal and you will be the author of a program that has a past proven success but in a modernized, real time, functional manner.

I have no desire for fame or credit.  And since this was a Navy program, there probably is little to go around.  But those of you in the ordnance community could really prosper through the use of DCAP.  So, get off your tails and get this program online!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

More on uniforms

I have received a number of comments on this topic and I really appreciate it!   Your comments have brought back memories, good and bad, for me.

One interesting memory comes regarding the Navy's CNT uniforms.  Dress whites and Dress Khaki.  I was the GMG Detailer when this poorly thought our uniform came out.  I called my USS Stein (FF 1065) shipmate, BTCM James Knowlton who was the Fleet Master Chief at NAVSEA.  Yes, I know that job went away and that Knowlton was the last one to have it.  In any case, I called Jim and broiled him over this uniform about the fire safety of this new knit nylon fire ball.  Jim told me it had been extensively tested and it passed the fire safety issues.  I believed Jim, because he believed what he was told.  Well, we know Jim was lied too! A few years later, I was the Force Master Chief at SURFLANT and I got in a heated argument with the then MCPON, Bill Placket.  We argued at length about being the Petty Officer of the watch inport with a inport fire party assignment as the number one hose nozzle man.  I said, if there was a fire, the Petty Officer of the watch would be relieved by the emergency Petty Officer of the watch and I would have to go to my locker, change into my working uniform, and then go to the repair locker, put on my gear and proceed to the fire.  Hell, it will be out of control by then!!  Bill Placket did not agree with me!  I never won that argument, sorry to say.

Corfam shoes are the same issue.  They must be banned from all Navy, shore and sea!  It is unimaginable to me that we would have foot wear that is approved for shore duty personnel but not for sea duty personnel!!!  But we have exactly that with the Blue camo uniform.  There are blue suede boots for shore duty and leather boots for sea duty!  I believe we need to make decisions about uniforms that are conducive to sea duty sailors ONLY!  If it works at sea it will work on shore.  But the Navy is ships at sea.  Yes, I know we have SEABEES, SEALS, and EOD personnel, but they have specific clothing designed to their specific mission.  They always have and should always have.  But the dress uniforms should be the ones compatible with Sea Duty for ALL NAVY!

Another comment came from someone who became a Warrant Officer and pulled a trick on his buddy over a salute owed on a dark, rainy night.  It brought back to memory my short tour of duty as the Command Master Chief with an A-6 Squardon at Oceana.  VA 55 flew off the USS Coral Sea (CV- 43)   When home, we worked at Oceana and I used to enjoy making Aviators return my salute.  Now Naval Aviators are harder to get in an authorized uniform that a deck seaman on the mid-watch!  They liked to grow their hair long, wear flight suits everywhere, and keep their flight jackets open.  Hats, piss cutters, were carried but seldom worn.  Now, I know the Navy has given up on trying to get these "Special" people in an authorized uniform so they changed the rules to let them wear their flight suits everywhere they go!  In any case, if I saw an officer approaching me, from the other side of the street, I would cross the street and salute him just to make him return my salute.  They did not like it, but I did.

When I was the GMG Detailer, in my office cubicle area, the OT Detailer sat.  The OT rating was a predominately shore duty rating.  They monitored the SOSIS buoys and other stealthy undersea things.   The OT Master Chief really did not like the Navy's grooming standards.  His hair did not meet the grooming standards for female sailors at the time! I was a Senior Chief at the time and I gave him HELL about his Military Appearance every time he walked by my desk.  He complained to the Branch Commander to no avail.  Actually, the Commander thought it was funny but he never made the Master Chief meet the requirements.  Instead of ever confronting me, he had another entrance made through the modular furniture so he would not have to walk past my desk!  I really don't like shore duty sailors.  Sailors belong on ships and ships belong at sea.

I have a few other memories that I cannot recall at this time so there may be more later.  Again, thanks for your comments, they are an encouragement to me!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Navy work uniform, AGAIN!!

Waiting in the Commissary check out line, I read the front page of Navy Times and discovered we are about to change the Navy working uniform, again.  That comes as no surprise to me, since the present working uniform is not conducive to shipboard use.  The blouse of the trouser will catch on everything that sticks out, and you know ships have plenty of obstructions to get caught on.  Second, it is hot and I can picture sailors walking around in their blue skivvie shirts with not rate or rank identification.  A past MCPON had a change to the Dress Blue uniform so the white shirt has shoulder boards enabling Chief's and Officer's to walk around with out their blouse on!  I guess he got chewed out by an Officer he did not recognize.  Maybe not.

In any case, I hope we go back to the dungaree uniform for E-1 through E-6 and wash khaki for Officers and Chiefs.  It was a comfortable uniform made specifically for shipboard life.  Now there is a precedence for this because we have moved away and back again to the dungaree uniform twice in my career.

But the real crime of the uniform changes is that the Sailors have to bear the cost of these bureaucratic wars.  I remember there was an unwritten rule that the CNO could only make ONE uniform change in his tour.  That was a good idea that should be institutionalized!  Sailors do get a small clothing allowance, but it does not even begin to cover the cost of these whole sale changes.  If the Navy wants to mandate a new uniform, the Navy should purchase that uniform for every active and reserve Navy member.  That would limit the uniform changes!

The bottom line is the Navy IS the Navy.  For the most part, we work on ships, we don't go into the field or fight on shore.  The units of the Navy that do have always had appropriate uniforms life SEALS, UDT, and the SEABEEs.  We do not need to try to look like everyone else.  We are sea going fighting men and women and we should look like it!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I never thought our country would fall this far!

I remember reading a Facebook post that said; "In dog beers, I only had two beers!"  Well, I am 61 years old but in Navy years, I am probably 183 years old!  If you served in the Navy or any other combat Military unit you may agree with me.   That being said, I never thought that I would see America fall to this low place.

I never thought I would see our national debt at $16 trillion and most of that owed to a nation that wants to destroy us! I never thought I would see our President bow to foreign leaders!  I never thought I would see our Navy dip it's colors to a foreign nations ships!  I never thought our Military would be so anemic that we would have to rent soldiers from "Blackwater" to meet our missions world wide.  I never thought I would see our Military leaders be yes men to a politician with a personal desire to reduce America to a third world nation.  I have told you before, and I will continue to tell you, we have the smallest Navy since 1915, the smallest Army since the end of World War II, and the smallest Air Force in it's history!!  Now, look at the world we live in.  I having a small military a good idea when Russia, China, Iran, and others want to destroy us?  And by the way, all of these countries are building a Navy and Army much larger and more capable than ours!!

Just in case you may have forgot, America is a unique and special country.  A nation of immigrants who decided to come here because THIS was a better country to live in, work in flourish in, than the country they came from.  America has been the Nation that other countries emulate.  We have helped other Nations gain their freedom, rebuilt the nations that we defeated in wars, and fed hungry peoples all over the world.  We never charged them for these efforts, never brought them under our subjugation, and never held them captive.  America is the greatest nation in the history of the world and I love America!!

But some people, including those in the White House today hate America and want her reduced to a third world nation.  The present resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hates America because of he sees us as a world conqueror and not the world's helper.  I disagree with Him.

The bottom line is, I see our Nation at a turning point, a cross roads, and maybe at the point of no return.  For instance, where in the Constitution does our Federal government have the authority to require us to purchase health insurance?  We are a free people, the people in the government work for us!  The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution reserved everything not precisely written in the Constitution as the Federal Governments responsibility, to the individual or the individual States!!!  But, our individual freedoms are quickly disappearing.  Someone said, if we want to trade freedom for security, we will have neither.  We are almost at that point!

So, what do we do?  There is an election coming, so I recommend you do your research with an open mind, but keeping in mind the Constitution and the actual responsibilities of the federal government.  The, I recommend you vote in November.

It is my prayer that America will take this opportunity in history to change the direction of our Nation and turn back to individual freedoms, individual rights, and a decentralized form of government.  The government that governs least governs best!!