Category Archives: US Navy
It was ten years ago that I cut the cord on my previous life and went full time into being a Talker. At the time I was certain it was the thing to do. Today? It was absolutely the best thing to do! The ways it changed my life have been amazing and a blessing.
The 2018 version of the annual “Only NCAA football game that actually matters” was fantastic. From the opening moments to the final note of the Army Alma Mater, the Army-Navy game was an awesome experience. Okay, Army won (two in a row, now), but as I have so often said, I can live with that. This game has so much more meaning than who scored more points.
One of the more interesting things about this game is the inter-service rivalry and what we used to call “Spirit” but today is known as “trolling.” The best sign – in my humble opinion – was a Navy sign that took direct aim at a former Cadet’s political views, which he stated at his graduation and upset more than a few people. But it also raises questions about the 1st Amendment, Military Service and what kind of leaders we seem to be producing these days.
The controversy over the Roy Moore Senate campaign just continues to grow. what happens this week will – without a doubt – cause even more Moore brouhaha. Theories abound as to what will happen and why. The bigger question is my mind is how we allowed ourselves to even get to this point. Roy Moore is not a sphinx, he is not a mystery wrapped in an enigma and smothered in secret sauce. His record and his beliefs are there for all of us to see.
So while it’s up to Alabama voters to decide who will – at least for the moment – represent them in the US Senate, it might be a time for the rest of us to really think a bit about what it is exactly that we stand for?
SEGMENT – BUT… BUT… RUSSIA!!!!!! (00:00)
For pretty much most of my life, certainly the first thirty years of it, the Soviets, er, Russians, were the Evil Empire. In Kindergarten I did Duck and Cover drills at Ashley Elementary School in Denver. As a boy I listened to my Dad explain to me that Barry Goldwater would have defeated the Russians. As a teenager I watched the Soviets invade Afghanistan. In Junior High I was appalled when Ford announced that the Poles did not consider themselves dominated by the Soviets. In High School I listened as Reagan declared the Soviets “The Evil Empire.” And then I went to sea, putting my own right index finger on “the button” of nuclear deterrence.
Get what I’m saying? I’m the hawk here. I hated the Soviets from the day was was born. I’m the guy who would – all over again – go back to sea to wait for the law to be signed outlawing Russia, followed by the command to bomb them back to the Stone Age in five minutes.
I don’t trust Putin or the neo-Stalinists. I don’t believe them when they say they want peace and prosperity. I’ve never trusted them. And I never will.
And for all of that, I still cannot believe the way this country is going into full 400Hz flop and twitch over $150,000 worth of idiotic Facebook ads.
Facebook ads people… Quick – don’t think about it… name five people you personally know who actually click on Facebook ads…
EEEEEERRRRNNNNTTTT. Times up!
SEGMENT – BOWE GOES FREE? (28:28)
The news that ex-Sgt Bowe Bergdahl will serve no prison time for his desertion has the nation and social media abuzz. I’m not in any way, shape or form surprised that he got no prison time. Why? Because the 6th Amendment still applies to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And the Commander in Chief still doesn’t understand that.
Now matter how many people scream and yell that “Since when does deserting your post in war time not require the firing squad?” it doesn’t change the facts. First, we don’t shoot – or at least very rarely – shoot people for desertion in the face of the enemy. Second, you can’t have the Commander in Chief out screeching about how justice for an accused but not convicted (or at that point even charged) soldier should be treated. It taints the presumption of innocence, and it makes it impossible to get a fair trial or sentence.
So you can be mad if you want. But be mad at those who ignore the Constitution, which still applies to a deserter.
SEGMENT – WHY I AM NOT A LIBERTARIAN (49:18)
For years I’ve been asked over and again why I am not a member of the Libertarian Party. For most of those years, my answer was milquetoast, mainly dealing with the LP’s position on drugs and in the Ron Paul era it’s position on isolationism. But in truth, I am not a hard-line anti-marijuana guy, although I would never use it myself. And while I am not an isolationist, I think that there is need for a national discussion and much more congressional debate about our military involvement overseas.
So imagine my surprise when I was doing my Torah Study this week, and I found the answer as to why I am not a Libertarian. Mostly, it’s because the Libertarians themselves are not able to truly define what it is that they believe, and when they do, it is not compatible with my faith…
It was a very small mistake. Just a few words, one sentence. So small that nobody caught that it was missing. That’s it. The entire problem explained in more words and sentences than actually caused the problem in the first place. That little mistake has put my entire house buying adventure on hold – at least – and has made life very stressful for the past four days.
Now, you can say – and rightfully so – that the professionals involved should have known better. Or you could say – and rightfully so – that I should have caught it. After all, caveat emptor is the rule, right? And there is absolutely nothing that I can say in reply except that three people missed it.
Life is full of little mistakes that have effects. Sometimes the mistakes have huge effects, seemingly out of proportion to their size. Sometimes they have no discernable effect at all, even if they should.
To be sure, there are other issues that caused the need for the sentence in the first place and had those conditions not existed, the sentence would not have been needed. But… everything works together and nothing happens in a vacuum. So now I sit and wait, hoping that the remedy works and that our house purchase goes forward.
The metaphor is, as they say, applicable across many applications.
Yesterday, the Navy held a Memorial Service for seven sailors who lost their lives in the Fitzgerald collision. These men went to their bunks after a long and hard day – sailing day always is – and expected to get a few hours rest before reveille brought the ship back awake and the mission went forward. Now they are gone. A ship is shattered and a crew is wondering why?
Worse, this all has taken place on the world stage, where every Facebook expert on the Navy and all things nautical has explained that this simply must be terrorism because there is absolutely no way, no how, not even possible, that the Fitzgerald made a mistake. None.
“You know, Dave,” the eMails and texts all start, “With all that technology and training there is no way that the Destroyer could not have seen the freighter coming. It had to be an attack that killed seven of our Sailors.”
There is nothing I love more than people who have never stood a deck watch, let alone gone to sea on a warship, telling me how safe it is.
I don’t recall the date, but it had to be my 5th Patrol. We sailed late in the afternoon, which was a little unusual for us. In fact, the ships Supply Officer and cook had time that morning to go to Pike’s Place Market and get some special treats for dinner on sailing night. For a short time we had a pet live lobster in the Missile Control Center. Dinner was wonderful.
By the time we reached our dive point, the night was pitch black. As usual for the area there were heavy clouds, and as I recall no moon. We rigged for dive, made all the correct preparations and then then alarm sounded and down we went.
For whatever reason, I was in Machinery 2 Upper Level, near the escape hatch. The truth is I was probably fucking with the ventilation heaters for my bunk room which were always set way to high to be comfortable… to me. As the ship dove there was that odd feeling of being in an elevator that moves randomly in three dimensions. The swishing of water over the hull was always a comforting sound. It meant we were going deep, away from the surface with its dangerous surface craft.
As the ship cleared the surface, maybe thirty seconds down, a loud, obviously big ship passed directly over us. The thump-thump-thump of her screw was easily – and terrifyingly – loud. Like everybody else, I froze in place and stared at the overhead, counting the blade turns and wondering how big she was and how much draft she had. What about her suction? Was it enough to pull us up?
In an instant, she was gone. I started breathing again.
I made my way to Control, where the Diving Officer, a beloved Senior Chief, was shaking like a leaf and puffing on a cigarette. Everyone looked a bit shaken and the Captain was talking, let’s just say pointedly, to the Officer of the Deck. “We never saw her,” said the Dive.
I was baffled. What do mean you “never saw her?” We have periscopes, radar, sonar and even Mark 1 Mod 0 Eyeballs.
We never saw her.
Had we dived thirty seconds later, I wouldn’t be here writing this today.
People who have never been to sea, never stood a lookout watch or been in the Control Room or Bridge of a warship have no clue what goes on. Everything is designed and operated to protect the ship at all times. Procedures are followed because they are honed from years of lessons learned from previous mistakes and failures.
Yet with horrifying regularity, new ways of making old mistakes are found. Or, lessons aren’t learned. Or… sometimes, something small gets missed.
I guarantee you that somewhere, some junior sailor was all but screaming as he or she tried to communicate what they saw coming. Somehow, it got missed. I know that for two reasons.
First, once upon a time I was that low ranked sailor trying to convince my senior that he was wrong. I (and even another 3rd Class) failed to make myself understood, and a few thousand dollars worth of equipment got spilled into the Puget Sound.
Second, most Bridge’s nowadays have tape machines running. You always hear the frustration and fear as someone is trying to get information in to to the OOD, but is not succeeding for any number of reasons. There are some things that always must be.
When everything is said and done, we will find that is most likely what happened on the Fitzgerald. Information was passed, but not processed. A small sentence of great importance was missed. And seven sailors died as a result.
As for the idea that this was an attack by the freighter, well… it wasn’t. Merchant ships are big and dumb and they – like trains – don’t really care about why you are in their way. They cannot stop and they most likely won’t try. Now that many of them are operating on Auto-Pilot anyway, there isn’t anybody to even notice you in the first place should you blunder across their path. Every Navy sailor knows to avoid them like the plague.
Something got missed. And two ships that should have passed in the night went bump instead.
My little sentence error could cost me about $1500.
The Fitzgerald’s little error cost seven lives. The idea that the freighter attacked her is an attempt to deny her crew the honor they deserve, by making it about someone else.
I learned a lesson about house buying. The Navy has learned another lesson about Command and Control and Communications. The good news is that those lessons will be learned and applied. The bad news is that new ways of making old mistakes will be found in the future.
Because going to sea in ships is dangerous.