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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Officer vs Enlisted rules

I am old enough to remember the divisions between Officers and Enlisted.  For instance, there was one difference;  "The Officers and their Ladies.  The Enlisted Men and their wives!  Like Enlisted men would never marry a lady.

Then there were the Enlisted Pools and the Officer Pools and the same for beaches at Dam Neck.  I guess the Officers thought they would catch what ever they think Enlisted men have.   What would that be?  Courage, dedication, loyalty, camaraderie. Just saying.

I also remember Officers being permitted to go on Liberty in Civilian Clothes, while Enlisted personnel, below Chief, were required to wear they dress uniform.  Heck, Enlisted personnel, below Chief, were not permitted to have civilian clothes on the ship at any time.  I knew a young E-4 that made automatic E-3 for having civilian clothes on the USS Mullinnix!!

But the best one is;  When I was a young Enlisted man, many of the Ladies of the Evening carried a Sexually Transmitted Disease.  Enlisted men called it "The Clap".   The Clap, medically called gonorrhea and if you contracted that STD, you were "Restricted" to the ship until you were cured!  Officers, however, never contracted Gonorrhea.  Instead, all Officers were diagnosed with Non Specific Urethritis, and that did NOT require being restricted to the ship.

I am sure there are other sea stories in this thread, but they escape me right now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another Officer story

 I know my Lewy Body Dementia is progressing and I have said before there are some stories I wanted to tell, when I go worse.  Well, it seems I better tell these before I am unable too.

When I was on the USS Caron, we had some difficult times.  Times that it seemed, rightly so, that someone senior to us was trying to defeat us.  But, we always rose to the occasion and succeeded, some how.

During this times we also had some exceptional successes!  The time off Beirut, firing Naval Gun Fire Support to keep the U.S. Marines safe from the Druse Militia was one of those times.  And our successes off the coast of Nicaragua that were recorded in the Book; "Electronic Greyhounds" are also some of our best successes.

During those times we were lead by an exceptional Commanding Officer,  Commander James Polk.  I can say, without condition, that Captain Polk was the single, BEST. most influential, motivating, professional. Commanding Officer I ever knew or served with.  In his Ward Room were two Officers that would rise to Flag Status.  One, Then our Operations Department Head,  became a Two Star Admiral and was responsible for setting up the strategy and executing flawlessly the act that brought down the old Russian Space Station.  That operation saved millions of lives because if that piece of space junk had entered the atmosphere, it would have been devastating to the city it hit!  His name is Rear Admiral Brad Hicks.

The second Flag Officer that came from Captain Polk's leadership is now the Four Star Admiral that runs the Nations Intelligence agency.  Admiral Rodgers!!

Admirals are grown up through many levels of leadership.  They are taught, mentored, lead, and trained from Ensign to Admiral by Officers that, in may cases never themselves make Flag, but just the same deserve credit for the contributions to the future leadership of our Navy.  Yes, Admirals Rodgers and Hicks  accomplished much on they own initiative.  But, I know both of them would say they owe much of their success to the men who lead them in their careers.

Then there was our second Executive Officer.  The first XO I served on the USS Caron, during my tour as Command Master Chief was an exceptional Officer, leader, mentor and friend that went on to Command and made O-6.  The second XO could could not spell leadership, honor, courage, or dedication.  But the most telling thing about him was the fact that he did not get along with the Commanding Officer.  Furthermore, he was not loyal to the Commanding Officer.  Instead, he tried to undermine that Commanding Officers leadership.  That XO and I did not get along at all.  But, he got his kust rewards in that he never qualified for command.  A small blessing.

It is interesting that on a ship as successful as the USS Caron, there would be an Executive Officer that failed as miserably as that one.  Many Officers went on to Command on the USS Caron.  At least one of them came back to Caron for Command!  Captain Jim Miller who was Chief Engineer when I was on Caron.  Also, another Commander Miller would be the last Commanding Officer of the USS Iowa!   But that XO, stands out as the worst, most disloyal, Naval Officer I ever knew.

There I said it.  I fell better now.

The VALUE of Enlisted Men.

I have written before, many times, about my disdain for the Officer Community.  Their snooty, high society, "holier than thou" attitude, and their presumption that they are educated and know more than any Enlisted Man could, manner of dealing with people and issues.

But the truth is, very, very few Officers could fix any system on a ship, handle lines, run a replenishment rig, or even get a group of men to function as a cohesive team.  And I have witness this over my 40 years with the Navy.  Now, I am not including the Officers of the Special Warfare Community in this so, please, do no think I am down grading these Professionals in any way.  They do everything their Enlisted Counterparts do!  No exceptions!  And they accomplish the same missions, side by side with their Enlisted Counterparts, everyday.

But, Surface Line and Aviation Officers are a different issue.  You will notice I do not address Submarine Qualified personnel here.  Why, because I do not know enough about their community to comment!  Hey, the truth is the truth!

Back to my argument.  I newer had a Division Officer, Department Head, Executive Officer, or Commanding Officer that even began to understand the functions, workings, or capabilities of any Gun Mount or Missile Launcher I worked on.  Yes, they knew the range when to fire the weapon, and even the interference caused when firing a gun and a missile at the came time.  But, that was it.   When the gun broke, they could only ask stupid questions that required answers immediately!  Of course, this slowed down the repair process.  I can't tell you home many times I have been asked;  What is wrong with the gun mount?  My reply, I am troubleshooting now and I do not know the exact problem.   The Officer reply was;  How long to repair it?!  Heck, I don't even know what is wrong, I just told you that.  So How Can I tell you the time to repair!?!.  Dumb ass!

I used to get a rapid fire myriad of these insane questions when we has a stoppage of fire with a Hot Gun!!  They never realized I was the one in danger!!  They just wanted their stupid questions answered.  Once, I actually turned off the Sound Powered Phone amp and threw the head set in the corner so I could think!  Other Chiefs from other Ratings related similar stories to me.  Officer issuing incorrect and dangerous orders in dangerous situations in Fire rooms, Engine rooms, and in actual fires aboard ship.

I remember on the USS Leftwich, we had a suspected fire in the Number three Waste Heat Boiler Room.  There was lots of smoke coming from that space.  The Chief HT and I were the only two Damage Control Qualified personnel in the Commissioning Crew, so the Executive Officer told us, any thing happens, you two must be there.  The HT Chief and I put on our OBA's and went into the space to investigate.  The CDO, an O-3, mustered the crew on the fan tail, in the vicinity of the supposed fire instead of on the forecastle like I told the Quarterdeck to do.  He was trying to put a 10 for fog applicator on a Fire Nozzle without removing the spud.  Not that a 10 foot applicator would be any use in an Engineering Space!  Then, the CDO, that O-3 chewed me out for passing a "Fire Drill" without his permission!  See what I mean.

I remember again on the Leftwich, a time when we pulled in late in the evening, after a week of training off the San Diego coast.  we were all tired.  The Ship moored "Chinese Style" to another Spruance Destroyer.  "Chinese Style" means side by side, bow to stern.  It is a stupid, unsafe way to moor two ships together, especially with high bows and low fantails.  As the tugs pulled away, the Captain ordered Engineering to shut down the Gas Turbines without locking the shafts first.  Doing this would cause the shafts to continue to turn as the turbines wound down, without control of the pitch on the variable pitch propellers, cause inbox the ship to move, which ever way the pitch drifted!!  The Chief GS politely and professionally told the Captain this on the "Bitch Box"and he got flame sprayed.  So, the shut down the Gas Turbines, and the shafts continued to turn and the pitch drifted off in reverse.  And the ship started to move aft, away from the ship we were moored too.  The mooring likes were doubled up and we were about to PART all six lines.  The Boatswains Mate Chief had the Forecastle and I ran the Fantail,  Without orders, we both had our men remove the doubled up lines to keep from killing people on our ship and the other.  Oh, we had our dependents watching from eh deck of the other ship!  There would have been alone of wives and children cut in half if Ross and I had not been quick.  We ended up with Line one, paired to line two, on the causation forward and me holding Line sides bitter end, up by the Nato Sea Sparrow control room.  Ross slowly used the capstan to pull us forward, and then I got line six to the captain aft and pulled us in to the ship.  We then coordinated our progress on the sound powered phones and got the lines doubled up.  The Bridge was vacant during this mess and no officers were on deck!!  Just BMC Ross and Me.  Hone the dust had cleared, I was looking for someone to chew out.  I noticed the Captain, standing on the 01 Deck above the Fantail.  I yelled at him and he told me we would talk about this in the morning.  I said, very loudly; "Now we will not,  We will discuss this right now!"  And we did.  He admitted his mistake and I informed him he almost killed many people.  He did not care.  He was only worried about his reputation.  I have never forgot that event.  It is as fresh in my mind as it was over 30 years ago.  That self centered captain, almost killed me and many others because he did not understand how the Engineering Plant functioned and would not listen to someone who did because HE was the Captain!  No wonder I have disdain for the Surface Officers community.

No, without Enlisted men, things would be much different in the Navy and I suspect in the Military as a whole.  But I still get angry over the manner we were treated.  Some what like house servants or field hands to be worked to death and given none of the credit for the crop.

Maybe I am just too sensitive.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Keep her steaming, Keep her shooting!!

I remember my years at sea and how each Rating on the ship went to the ends of the earth to keep their systems up and running.  It did not matter if it was a Gun Mount, the Main Engines, a Galley Copper, or a commode.  Our pride was wrapped up in pour equipment operating when needed.  Having your name on the Eight O'clock Report was tantamount to being called incompetent and lazy!!

I saw gaskets for lune oil pumps made out of chart paper, ammo hoist chain links made from scratch out of Cress Steel by the Machinery Repairman (MR), and many more "on the spot" repairs.  Each time, the Chief of that equipment, used his experience to elect a repair without proper repair parts, to keep their systems available for the mission.

As far as I know, a lower hoist chain link, for the MK 45 Gun Mount, Mount 51, on the USS Caron that our MR made, was still in that gun when it was decommissioned and sunk!    Was it the correct part?  No. Did it work?  Yes.  Did we submit a Departure from Spec request from the Type Commander?  No comment.   The Gun Mount HAD to be operational.  We did not have a Chain Link.  We did the best we could with what we had and it worked, perfectly.

On every ship, I always made friends with the MR and the Hull Technicians.   They were the people with the training, knowledge, experience, and ability to make the mechanical parts I needed to keep almost anything working.  The HT's and MR's never let me down.

I know. those of you who read this blog have your own experiences of keeping your equipment up and running.  The VAST Majority of Americans will never know what you did to meet the mission.  The sacrifices of sleep, sweat, blood, time at home with your family, and not to mention the sacrifice of your long term health!!   Working in 150 degree Engine Rooms on pumps, pipes, and Boiler Casings so hot they burned your skin off.  Or breathing toxic fumes.  Or being exposed to fluids that we were told were safe then, but now are killing us.  No one ever said thanks, or even good job.  It was just what was expected from us.

I wish America knew the sacrifices we made and the efforts we offered to keep America safe.  Thanks Shipmates!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

When you leave the Military, who has YOUR back?!

When you are being processed for a discharge or for retirement, there are three enemies you must confront to ensure that you get an impartial, fair medical evaluation.  And truthfully, there is no one in your corner!

The first enemy is yourself!!  That's right, yourself and your dedication, professionalism, machismo, and your ego.  When we are in uniform, we are taught to fight through the pain, work sick, patch your own wounds, and don't be a sissy!!  Then, you go for your retirement or discharge physical and you; "There is nothing wrong with me!!"

Then, there is the Military themselves.  The Military's goal is to document that there IS nothing wrong with you.  Why, because the government does not want to fix what they broke!  Think I am wrong? How long did it take for the Government to agree Agent Orange was an issue?   How many Veterans died, lost limbs, or had children with disabilities, before the Government finally fessed up?

Then there is the Veterans Administration.  Again, as the Governments agent, they are in the business of denying any and all claims.  And, if you told the Doc you were fine, and the Military at your discharge physical you were fine, who is the VA to disagree with you?!  Then, when something goes wrong that you think might have been caused by your Military service, they use your own statements against you.

Some diseases, joint failures, and other body failures occur years after the cause impacted your body.  For instance, working in a radar cabinet, to do alignments, with the radar radiating exposes the technician to lots of radiation.  Many times, that radiation leads to cancer, that occurs after the technician was discharged from the Military.  You never reported the exposure because it was part of your job!  And you don't want anyone to think you were a wimp!  So, the Government gets away without paying for breaking you!

The truth is, with the exception of the Disabled Veterans Association (DAV) we have none in our corner.  And the DAV is not a government agency, so they are fighting with both arms tied behind their backs.

So, I recommend you document everything that happens to you in the Military.  And that documentation must be in your health record.  This includes Mental issues.  Especially, mental issues!!  Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, anything out of the ordinary for you.  Documenting now will help you later when you have real issues that your Military service caused or made worse.

The truth is, we need to take care of ourselves on the battle field and after.  Someone once told me; An Auditor is someone that goes on the battlefield, after the battle is won, and bayonets the survivors!!  The VA and the Military are AUDITORS we it comes to paying for what they broke in humans.

Do not be your own enemy, document everything, as soon as it happens, and as often as it occurs.  The, when you are going through your discharge physical, tell the truth.  Let the Doc know where your hurt, what your broke, that your ears ring all the time, that you read lips because you cannot hear, that your back hurts when you bend over, and all the other things you have been covering up for all the time you were in uniform!  It will help you when this big issues become crippling issues!!

Learn from my experience!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Were you stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987?

This from the FRA News that I received today on my email:

Final Ruling Issued on Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
After years of review, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued a final ruling that certain diseases incurred by people with past service at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be presumed to be service-caused.
The ruling is based on a study of medical conditions that could have been related to drinking water at Lejeune. The VA concluded contaminated drinking water at the base directly affected health conditions of roughly a million people—service members, family members, and civilians stationed there during specific dates from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987.
Specifically, the following diseases have been found to be linked to contaminated drinking water at Lejeune: kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, scleroderma, Parkinson's disease, and aplastic anemia. As a result, the VA will now presume that any of those conditions experienced by people who served there were caused by that service.
The new announcement doesn't mean all claims for the affected diseases will be approved immediately or that there will be any retroactive approvals. The VA first has to issue an updated regulation, after which the new rule will be applied to new disability claims. The VA will put any pending Lejeune-related claims on hold until the new regulation is issued.

This decision places those who have the named diseases and were stationed at Camp Lejeune in the same status as those impacted with Agent Orange.  Please take the time to apply for what is due to you, if you have one of these diseases!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The CNO's message on a Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority?

I read the CNO's message today.  It should've been titled; A design to REGAIN or Establish maritime superiority for America!  We do not have Superiority at sea and have not since 2000.  The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and in some areas the Iranians, have established superior Blue Water Navies.

In the CNO's message, he addresses the fact that the CHineese and Russian Navies are showing power in parts of the World the have not been in recently.  That is true.  Russian and Chinese Attack Submarines are operating in the Gulf of Mexico!!  And Iranian Was Ships fired Nuke Capable missiles 1500 yards from the USS Harry Truman in the Persian Gulf!   Trust me, we are a third rate, Coast Guard, not a Blue Water Navy!!  We have two classes of Surface Combatants!  The DDG 51 Class and the remainder of the GG 47 Class.  That's it folks!!!

Look, we need to build proven, Blue Water ships with Underway Replenishment capabilities and station keeping capabilities comparable to our ships of World War Two.

We also need to stop making the Navy a social experiment.  We need to get our Senior Enlisted Leadership back on the deck plates, in Wash Khaki's, doing equipment patience, mentoring Junior Enlisted personnel, Mentoring Junior Officers, and improving Combat readiness through hands on training and enhances maintenance procedures.

We need to stop using the Chief's Community as a Junior Officer Corps!  Chiefs, Senior Chiefs, and Master Chiefs belong in the Gun Mounts, Engine Rooms, CIC, Galley, on Deck, in the spaces, checking every nook and cranny to make sure EVERYTHING is ready to fight!!

Damn It!!  I am too old and broken to fix these issues.  My fear is the Chief's Community is also!!   I am also scared shitless that when the shooting starts, we are going to loose a lot of ships and way too many men!

As my mentor and friend, Master Chief James Andrew Smith, used to say; "Fight, F%#* or go for your guns!"  Let's stop being nice and start being ready!!

P.S.  Programs, policies, management plans, and directives do nothing to improve Combat Readiness.  Leadership is the only way to improve the odds against the enemy!!  Well trained, well lead, inspired, Americans will win every time!  The best equipped, poorly led, demoralized, fighting men will loose every time!

We win, we dominate, we excel, we overcome against all odds when we are lead by inspired, dedicated, competent, confident, LEADERS!!  If you want to win the war against the Islamic Hoards, LEAD from the front!!  Set the EXAMPLE!  And except nothing MORE from the folks you lead than you give everyday!!