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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The end of the year, and other endings

Let me start this post with a few provisos.  First; this blog is mainly my recollections of my Navy career and my reflections on how the Navy used to be and how it is today.  I tell a few sea stories, try to understand "Today's" Navy and try to be entertaining.  Second;  I realize I have a responsibility to pass along those "Pearls of Wisdom" that have been passed down to me or that I have gleamed through my career.  Third;  I have never tried to embarrass, criticize, or accuse any one specific person of wrong doing.

All that being said, the end of any year is a time of reflection.  The New Year celebration itself is melancholy at best.  That is why so many "Non-Drinkers" drink on New Year's Eve.  I have always called New Year's Eve "Amateur's Night"!!

But, I am in a deeper reflective mood this year.  Let me lay a few facts on the table.  I live in a Continuing Care Retirement Community that can handle any eventuality in my life.  I am in the second half of my journey with Lewy Body Dementia.  I may in fact, not see too many more Christmases or at least, not recognize them.  I am OK with that.

But, I have a "Pearl of Wisdom" that is front and center in my mind and I must pass it on.  This "Pearl of Wisdom" will in all likelihood, cause some of you discomfort or even make you angry at me, yourself, life, or all of the above.  For that I am sorry.  And, if your are better than half way through your career, STOP READING!  Why, because what I am about to say will not help you at this point.  It will frustrate you at the least or maybe even cause some psychological scaring.

There, I warned you!!

Industry, the Military, Civil Service, are all looking for Driven individuals!!  That individual that will put the JOB first and foremost in their lives.  The JOB before girlfriend, wife, kids, parents, family, hobbies, responsibilities other than the job, anything!!  They want a person who comes in early, stays late, eats lunch at their desk, works weekends, does not put in for overtime or comp time, looses leave every year, works sick, works from home, and takes all the hardest assignments!

If you were raised by a parent or even worse, two parents like this, you know what I am saying.  You Dad was NEVER at your ball games, school recitals, birthday parties, or any other important event.  It could be you Mom who missed everything, or BOTH!  The job came first.  In the Navy we had a saying; "If the Navy had wanted you to have a wife, they would have issue you one in your Sea Bag!"

The man who raised me quit school after the sixth grade to work the family farm.  He left the farm when he was 21.  He was a truck driver or bus driver his entire life.  He never wanted to improve his station in life.  He was content with his life as it was.  Now, he was the smartest man, with the most common sense, I ever met!!  He wanted me to succeed.  I did.  But the cost of that success was high.

The Navy and I clicked!  They wanted someone who would do anything he was told, immediately, and do it to the best of his ability.  For that, the Navy promoted me faster than most anyone before me.  I made Master Chief in 14 years of service!  As the fellow on the "Walton's" said; "No brag, just fact."  But, my family paid an enormous price for that success.  Did they benefit?  Financially, yes.  Emotionally, definitely not!

I have looked at the children of highly successful men and women.  Those men and women who succeeded, regardless of the cost or the odds.  Some were Officers, some Enlisted, some never in the Military. Each one of them has a child, generally only one.  And that child is having difficulties in adulthood.  I will not go into the issues, but they are there and easy to see.  I am willing to bet, a good Psychologist could figure out in one session the root cause of each of these individuals problems.

What do I suspect that Root Cause is?  The absence of the parent due to work.   And the subjugation the family suffered because of that Driven individual or individuals.   Now, don't misunderstand me.  We must work to make a living.  But those of us who are DRIVEN to succeed at any cost, do not care about the money or making a living.  We care about succeeding.  An award, a plaque, and letter from an Admiral is worth more than money,  That is called intrinsic motivation.  Do some research on Maslow and Hertzberg.  They will teach you all you need to know about what motivates the DRIVEN individual.

So, here is my advice.   If you want to have a family, a functioning, loving, caring, family.  With well adjusted children, no divorce,  and few discipline problems, get a job, stay at your social strata, and be content.

On the other hand, if you are a DRIVEN individual, stay single, do not procreate, do not purchase a home, and work until you can no longer stand it!  Hopefully, you will save your money, invest wisely and conservatively, stay away from drugs and booze, and have a good psychologist.  Because your going to need one!  You will be the young Commanding Officer, Young Command Master Chief, young Vice President of Production, or whoever.  The Organization will love you! Or more correctly, they will love what you do.  The Organization will USE you until your wear out, break, or finally see that you are being used.  Unfortunately, many of us don't break, wear our, or see the true light.

Why haven't I written this "Pearl of Wisdom" before?  Because I just found it here in my power recliner, as I look back at my life and the lives of others like me.  Again, some corporate and Civil Service power brokers, some Military Officers, and some fast rising Senior Enlisted personnel that I personally know have all had families, wives, that suffered from their DRIVEN mentality.  Being Driven to success and being a family man are mutually exclusive!  Yes, I can hear you now.  You are saying I am full of shit!  I would have said the same thing.  But, standing where I am in my lives journey, I have better than 20/20 vision!!  I can see my failures very clearly and without distortion or filter!!  As they say, I know from whence I speak!  Yo cannot be DRIVEN and have children or even a successful marriage.  You see, love required two people!  And if one of you is married to their job, you are not returning love to your spouse.  There is a Bible verse about loving two things.  It says sooner or later you will come to hate one of them!!  See where diverse comes from in the life of a DRIVEN  individual?!  I have seen this played out too many times.

In keeping with my belief that I Must pass on wisdom, I pass this revelation on to anyone who will learn from it.  Now, I can go to sleep.  If what I wrote helps you or someone yo know and care about.  I am happy.  If I upset you or hurt you, I am truly sorry.  The truth often does hurt!  But, at least you will know why you are having the problems you are having.

To those I love, I am sorry I did not learn this sooner.  But, at least I did learn it soon enough to pass it on.  And I have.  Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Spec Ops teams will not win the next war!

First of all, let me say UP FRONT, that I respect and am in awe of the men who are SEALS.  They go through a qualifying and training process that most of us could only dream or fantasize about.  They do things in small teams or even on independent operations that make a BIG difference in any war effort.  I represented the East Coast SEALS as the SURFLANT Force Master Chief (1986-89).  They lifted the curtain of secrecy just a little and let me glance at their awesome capabilities.

That being said, if a war breaks out between any nation you can think of; i.e. Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, or even a consolidates ISIS or ISIL, it will take a large Navy to cut supply lines to deny support to the enemy, isolate that enemy nation, protect our own supply lines, launch large weapons and air strikes, transport troops and large equipment, supply those troops and equipment, and provide on station Command and Control.

The Air Force cannot do this from the air for any sustained period of time.  Neither can the Marines or the Army.  Only the Navy can bring our base of operations wit us and move it at a minutes notice as the war front moves.  We don't need to pack up to "Bug Out" we are always on the move!  And, while those who have to pack up to "Bug Out" cannot fight while they move, the Navy can!!

But our fleet has been decimated by politicians that have never fought a war and have nervier served in uniform.  These politicians see the Navy as an unnecessary expense and believe giving the so called enemy a bloody nose will make him stop being our enemy.  Did I also tell you these politicians have never been punched in the nose and have never been in a real fight in their silk lined, sweet smelling, pampered lives?!

The do not understand how a determined, dedicated, enemy acts or reacts.  For instance, the Islamic world sees capitulation, compromise, and negotiation, as a BIG sign of weakness!!  That is why we are doing so bad in the Middle East.  ISIS and their ilk just wait until we get tire of being there and then they take over as we leave.  The people of the reign know this!  Don't believe me?  Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.  

We require a large, capable, Navy to win any war.  With our potential enemies building large, capable, blue water Navies, we need to rebuild ours quickly, before the war starts and we are overrun by those who have a large, capable, blue water, Navy.

Those who refuse to LEARN from history are CONDEMNED to repeat it!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Clothes make the man!

You may remember reading a story book in First Grade with the title of; "Clothes make the man".  The premise of the story was a gang of animal characters were going to rob a bank!  The Bear, who was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, was cast as a Police Man.  His job was to arrest the others and then they would escape under the ruse of being in custody of the authorities.  The fly in the ointment was, the Bear, in Police clothing, takes the gnu to jail!  When asked why he did that, he replies, I am a Policeman!  He thought if he was dressed as a Policemen, he had to act like a Policeman!

I saw this play out many time in my Navy career.  When sailors could wear civilian clothes on liberty, the number of Liberty Incidents escalated!  One Med Cruise, Sixth Fleet mandated that the first night in port, all ships had to go on Liberty in dress uniform.  The result was, the first night, Liberty Incidents were much lower than the nights the crew could wear civilian clothes.  Based on what I learned in First Grade, it made sense.

Then, as a Government Service Civilian Employee, I saw this work in reverse, sort of.  An Engineer and a Machinist Technician from the Gun Branch at NAVSEACENLANT were working on a gun mount on a Cruiser.  The Captain of the ship, an O-6, wanted an update and summoned the NAVSEAACENLANT representatives to his in port cabin.  Both were dirty, sweaty, and covered in grease and oil.  The Engineer wiped off his hands and was ready to go.  The old Machinist, took off his coveralls, cleaned up, put on his shirt and tie.  They both went to the Captains in port cabin.  They entered and began their briefing.  The Captain told the old Machinist;  Send your worker back to work and you and I will have a cup of coffee and discuss progress.  Naturally, the Engineer was livid!  But, he learned that; "Clothes make the man!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The First Lay was asked to help someone in a Target store!

The President and the First Lady are saying racism still exists because they were asked to help someone or the President, at one time, was mistaken for a parking lot attendant.

So What!!  It happens to everyone.  I was flying back from the Med, we were in baggage claim at Kennedy, I was in Dress Blues, a Master Chief Gunner's Mate, Gold Hash marks and Crow, Cover on, and a Orthodox Jew, sack cloth suit, beard, yam aka, and wide brimmed black hat, handed me $5 and asked me to carry his bags to the car!!

Better yet, Master Chief of the Navy Bob Walker, in Dinner Dress Blues, at a formal Military event in Norfolk, Virginia, was handed the keys to a car and told not to scratch it when he retrieved their car!!

People are unconscious and ignorant most of the time.  They do not know who they are talking too.  They are too observed in their own importance!!  

In the First Lady's instance, she was dressed in a way she would NOT be noticed!  She was undercover, so she could go shopping.  A lady asked her to reach a bottle of detergent because the lady was too short to reach it.  The First Lady is tall!  I get asked to reach things on the top shelf all the time.  People in electric chairs, short people, older people, even kids.  I am not offended and I do not say people are discriminating against me because I am Slovenian, have dark skin, and a big nose!

Again, people don't even know who their neighbors are.  How can we expect them to recognize a military uniform or a public figure dressed to conceal their identity.   It has nothing to do with racial prejudice.  It has everything to do with selfishness and stupidity!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Navy Times reports the Russians are targeting the U.S. Navy!!

How many times have I written about this very topic!  What about the DDG that was incapacitated by the Russian bombers?  Or the Russian submarines in the Gulf of Mexico?   The Russians are gathering intelligence and testing our resolve and readiness for future reference! Now the question is, future reference for what?!

You can draw your own conclusions, but I believe the Russians think the U.S. Navy is their biggest threat for a retaliatory strike in the case of a Russian preemptive attack on the U.S.  I believe Russia is suffering so badly from economic misdealing that Premier Putin is attempting to stir the nationalistic furor of the Russian people in order to have them suffer even greater economic depression.  To accomplish this shell game, Putin needs a fight with an easily hated opponent.  Guess who that is?!

Premier Putin believes America is weak and without political resolve. He believes we will NOT fight back!  And he may very well be correct!  But the fact that he is testing the U.S. Navy tells me we are the only portion of the U.S. Military he is concerned with.  That is good and bad.

Good, because we are causing him to pause and test us.  Bad, because we will be the first ones to engage the Russian forces!  Remember, they have been building up their submarine forces for 20 years.  And we quit doing ASW after the end of the Cold War!!  I suspect we could not prosecute a submarine if the submarine was playing "Dixie" on the ships entertainment system at 1000 decibels!!

So, Navy, we are on the spot.  How do I justify that statement.  The semi-official newspaper "Navy Times" did a front page article on it!  Maybe it is time to brush up on Russian Navy tactics!  Keep your powder dry!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Old sayings on the 1MC

I have received some comments recently about an older post I wrote relating to the things we heard on the 1MC on our ships.  While many of those sayings were humorous on their own, some could be even funnier if you added some ad-libs.

For instance, someone sent me the announcement for divers of]ver the side.  Of course, divers over the side is a safety concern.  moving the screws or rudders could hurt or kill a diver.  Taking suction form the main induction could trap or kill a diver also.  But think about combining the standard diver's announcement with what they tell us about retransmission of a baseball game!

"There are divers over the side.  Do not throw anything over the side, cycle rudders, rotate screws, take suction from or discharge to the sea; Without the express written permission from the commissioner of baseball!

Then, there was always the announcement of the laundry and dry cleaner's trucks on the pier.

Liberty Cleaners is on the pier for pick up and delivery!!  No kidding!  I thought they just came down to look at Navy ships!

And you always knew which Junior Officer was in trouble with the Executive Officer.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Smith, LAY to the Executive Officer's stateroom!!   In stead of;  Lieutenant Smith, your presence is requested in the Executive Officer's stateroom.

Standing Quarterdeck watches was always a challenge.  Rendering Honors to Commanding Officers, maintaining the Plan of the Day, and security of the ship kept you hopping!  But, there was always a chance to find humor in the daily events and that is what makes the Navy a great organization!