Category Archives: Military

Veteran’s Day …

… “Thank You For Your Service”.

For those who have served, it seems we hear these words a lot more often than in decades past. For those currently serving, recently (honorably) discharged, or recently retired, these words are more familiar, something often said since at least the first Gulf War.

There was a time, some thirty years ago, or longer, these words were not heard at all. Instead, often times if a civilian happened to notice you were in the military, you would have been greeted with words of another sort. “Baby killer”, “Imperialist”, “War Monger”, are just a few which come to mind. There were others.

The more nuanced response, perhaps from “friends”, family members, or other acquaintances, would evolve into a “discussion” centering around “Why”. “Why would someone of your character, intelligence, talents, chose to embrace (for however long a time) military service?” “Were you not aware of all the other educational opportunities available (to someone like you)?” Or (particularly if it was currently, a Republican administration in the White House), “How can you serve under such a ‘regime’?” As if the President was specifically ordering me (or your fellow military member) to commit some heinous crime in his name.

To be clear, we are not talking about those who had honest questions. (What is it like on a ship at sea? What is the training like? Can an Officer really make you do anything, if he gives you an order to do so?) There are many aspects of life in the military which those who haven’t served would not have any real idea what it was like… or perhaps would base their assumptions on what they have seen on a tv show or movie. So legitimate questions were never a concern, and not what I am trying to address here.

So, forgive this ol’ retired Sailor, if I find at least some of those who offer a “Thank you for your service”, to perhaps being a bit disingenuous. From the various media talking heads, political figures and bureaucrats, right on down to some of those folks in our respective villages, cities, and towns. Would they be saying this at all, if it wasn’t the “politically correct” thing to do?

After all, most of these folks would see the military shrunk to little or nothing, if they had any direct choice in the matter. They would have no problem with voting in individuals who have little or no respect to that which all members of the military repeatedly swear an oath of allegiance to…the Constitution of the United States. And how many are, in their heart of hearts, of a like mind to that expressed in Kipling’s little ditty?
Indeed, the current administration, even while sending troops hither and yon, has exhibited little more than contempt for the health and welfare of those currently serving, let alone for those who have honorably gone before.

I guess I am still a little gun shy when a “Thank you for your service.” is sent in my direction. Don’t know if I blush anymore when hearing it, but it still gives one pause. Hell, I was just doing my job (hopefully, to the best of my ability). Wasn’t really expecting any thanks. Just the chance, when the time came, to be allowed to assimilate back into (the civilian) society, and have that which was promised (by the government) upon honorable completion of service, delivered.

If you really want to thank a vet…donate time to any of the many charitable organizations out there. Failing that, send em a buck or two, so they can continue to do the fine work they do, for those who have served or are currently serving. (The USO, Wounded Warrior Project, Navy-Marine Corp Relief Society, just to name a few.) This is the kind of thing which really says thank you…thank you for your service.

Finally, to those I have served with, and those whose paths have crossed with mine via the internet, that have…or are serving…hope today, Veteran’s Day, was one in which you were able to spend time remembering shipmates, brothers-in-arms, fellow aircrew, along with friends and family members who have worn the uniform. And if possible, have let them know they are not forgotten.

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Filed under Military, News of the Day, PC or not PC, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

Signs of the Times

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The “commentary” bordering the picture, misses the point, probably intentionally. The fact is, and the majority of those who are, or have served, already know and understand this…the “Sign”, held by the serviceman, is absolutely correct.

Ok, you may have initially signed up, to see the world, or get a “free education”, learn a skill…or any of the other reasons one is given to join by their respective recruiters. Still, at the end of the day…especially after you’ve finished Basic Training/Boot Camp…you know the bottom line is you are serving the needs of the Navy, Army, Air Force, or Marines. You are there to SERVE your country.

One of the first things you learned (at least it was this way 30 some odd years ago, back when I was a boot) was that the constitution was no longer your “protector”…that the bill of rights was not what covered your butt. The UCMJ took the place of same. And though it mirrored it, there were (and still are) some fundamental differences. One of them being, that you could NOT besmirch your Commander in Chief. Nor could you (at the very least while in uniform…but not necessarily exclusive to that point) speak out publicly against our military actions (in their planning stages or otherwise).

Bottom line…if you feel that strongly about what the current administration is doing, or is planning to do, there are proper channels in which to address these concerns. Indeed, if the actions ARE of an unconstitutional nature/blatantly illegal, one would expect a large chunk of the military to go up the chain of command with their grievances. But you had better have your ducks in a row…cause it isn’t going to be a cake walk.

Your other options, quite frankly, are to see if you meet the requirements for some sort of Administrative discharge, or if you are eligible, submit your papers for retirement. Any of these three choices are far superior to taking the cowards way out…of hiding your face behind a piece of paper….

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Filed under Constitution, Military, News and Notes about the 'sphere, Politics, Uncategorized

Rear Admiral Facing Politically Correct Time Bomb

There have been posts here, over the years, discussing the rampant rise of “political correctness”, social engineering, and other bits of stupidity which have been rammed down the throats selectively inserted into the fabric of our military. For the most part, I look at it as it pertains to the Navy. This time, it goes beyond my favorite sea going service. Due to the fact, a number of selected individuals from all branches attend the “school” where the following took place, it has the potential to effect all branches to some degree or another.

“The school where bomb technicians from all branches of the U.S. military learn their craft has been ordered to remove the unofficial motto “Initial Success or Total Failure” from its classroom walls.
Rear Adm. Michael Tillotson told school leaders this month that the motto could be viewed as disrespectful (emphasis mine – ed) to the hundreds of Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians who have died in the line of duty.
“The motto itself holds potential insensitivities and implies that our fallen and wounded EOD Warriors have somehow failed,” Tillotson, who is based in Norfolk, Va., said in a memo to the Florida school.”

Source: AP article as posted at Military Times

Let me understand this…a senior Navy Officer, a Rear Admiral (O-6/7 depending if “lower” or “upper”) no less, is … oh how shall I put it… emotionally distraught someone might take the meaning and intent of the school’s motto, the wrong way. And heaven forbid we would not want anyones feelings hurt! Why, that would be insensitive, uncouth, unbecoming, non-compassionate, gauche even!!! And we can’t have that!

There is an upside to this, to the extent many current and former (retired, or otherwise back in the civilian world) EOD personnel, have taken exception the our overly sensitive Rear Admiral. You can visit their a href=”http://www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-Initial-Success-or-Total-Failure-in-EOD-School/268526679884116″>facebook page. Check em out.

Someone might want to remind the Rear Admiral of the old adage “The Rear Admiral’s rear, is the Vice Admirals vice!”, as this could be a major concern should someone further up the food chain decides Tillotson may have gone just a tad too far. I’m not getting my hopes up, but sometimes things do have a way of working out, and it strikes me that the EOD community, because of the nature of their work, and the well of good will and respect they have earned through out all branches of the military, may prompt this bit of pc insanity to be turned ’round in short order.

If you read the comments at the Military Times article along with those at the facebook site, along with a number of other news articles out there, you will find most, if not all, EOD personnel and or their families, who comment are against this change. And have never been offended or incensed over the motto. It appears the only one to take exception to it, would be our Admiral of the Rear…err, Rear Admiral (sometimes one does get that ass backwards, so to speak). Perhaps if he had followed the wisdom inherent in the motto, this would not have blown up in his face.

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“Livin on jacks and queens … Maverick is a legend of the west.”

Or so the song goes from the old Maverick television show. A series about a gambler, and a bit of a rogue, whose conscience, at the end of the day, usually won out over his wallet. A good man, in spite of himself. The kind of man John McCain would have you believe he patterns himself after. One outside of the political norm, a risk taker, a rogue if the occasion warrants.

It was, and is a myth.

He claims to be for the common man, the working man, the everyday American. But will be forever known as part of the Keating Five. His actions, or the allowing, on his part, of other’s actions, caused “the common man”, the “everyday American”, to lose large parts of their retirements. I know about this on a personal level, my grandfather lost over 40k thanks to the actions of these men.

This was a myth.

He has sworn to, “protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic …”, not only as a member of the United States Navy, but as a sitting United States Senator. So, how could he in good conscience (there’s that conscience thing again), co-sponsor the “McCain-Feingold Bill”? And there was his active support toward John “thank God I had my magic cap and leather jacket in Vietnam” Kerry, while he was being hammered by the Swiftboat Vets. (And rightly so, I might add.) How could he indorse the actions and antics of such an empty suited opportunist over the well founded and grounded information provided by “real Vietnam Vets”? Political opportunity/payback trumps “duty”, “honor”, and “country” I guess.

His honor towards his oath taking was a myth.

And now, there is this

A congressional “super committee” tasked to slow the nation’s rising debt appears to have reached consensus on dampening future cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for federal entitlement programs, including military retirement, through use of a “chain-weighted” Consumer Price Index.
Source: Tom Philpott-Military Times “dot” com, November 03, 2011

And this.

Pulling the TRICARE Prime idea from a recent Congressional Budget Office report, McCain said forcing retirees under 65 to use TRICARE Standard, the fee-for-service option, or health insurance from civilian employers, or space-available care at base clinics or hospitals, could save DoD medical accounts up to $111 billion over the next decade.

McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was once a champion for expanded TRICARE benefits to retirees. He was not available for an interview. But a staff member explained the senator feels eliminating retiree TRICARE Prime is more acceptable than alternatives to cut equipment, training or key weapon programs needed by the current force.

“Faced with the possibility of sequester and its potential for an enormously harmful impact on national security,” he said, McCain wants the super committee to consider carefully options “that would not impose drastic negative impacts on the Defense Department, or the currently serving force and their families, while sustaining the TRICARE benefit.”

As reported here two weeks ago, McCain also has embraced President Obama’s proposal to set a $200 a year enrollment fee for TRICARE for Life, the prized supplement to Medicare for military beneficiaries age 65 and older.
Source: Tom Philpott-Military “dot” com, November 03, 2011

Once again, McCain, under the guise of “fairness”, and “making the best choices in the toughest of circumstances”, seeks to work with Democrats and others of the anti-military ilk, in stabbing he fellow veterans in the back. It costs him nothing to do so. He has money enough to be “self insured” … oh wait, he also has that nifty Senatorial medical benefit package. Something his “fellow vets” could only dream about, well unless they were federal employees too.

But let’s cut out the vets from what they were, if not promised, at least strongly suggested, would be theirs… availability of free medical. Which then became, CHAMPUS, and then TRICARE. Now TRICARE, at least in its current form, may be under the knife. This along with the traditional retirement plan. All being looked at as “fat” to be trimmed from what some folks on capital hill consider to be a bloated defense budget.

And McCain is casting his lot with these bastards.

As I have said before, years ago now, this man is not to be trusted.

Maverick? Not bloody likely. Unless you consider “Maverick” to be taken in the same context as “fallen angel”. In which case, John McCain you are in the best of company with all others damned to hell. One of Satan’s gamblers … living on the souls of Jacks and Queens, indeed.

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Filed under Constitution, Military, News of the Day, Politics

Obama channels his “inner Bush”

Commented over at Cmblakes about this. Specifically about the 112 cruse missile “turkey shoot” with the UK and France also providing air support. (At least until we can get some of our assets into the theater.) The latest screech on the LSM is Obama claims this “adventure” will only last a matter of weeks, and not months or years.

Besides the launching of this misadvised, misleading, and woefully miscalculated misadventure, on the same day, eight years apart, from President Bush’s foray in Iraq, I seem to recall the last occupant of the oval office who used cruse missiles with such mad abandon, was shown the effectiveness of same, and that was minimal at best. Cruse missiles and or air support alone will not get the job done. You are going to need boots on the ground, and strong logistic support. Neither of these things are available with our current manning levels among other things.

The other thing to consider, Saddam was a despot, a dictator, and as evil as they come. Still, he may have been ego centric as all get out, but I don’t think the man was out-and-out crazy. Quddaffy (intentional) on the other hand, is all the above, and at least one sandwich shy of a full picnic. He has already vowed to bring the “battle” to those who have sponsored this bit of muscle flexing. Whither he has his own forces do so (unlikely) or finances other agents or agencies (very possible) is a very real possibility.

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Filed under Islam and other fables for our times, Military, News of the Day, Politics

The Oath

The flags along our street stand at “Parade Rest” on this overcast Veteran’s Day. A colorful, but mute, sign of respect, of acknowledgment to those who have (or are currently serving) served in the armed forces.

I was sitting in one of the old canvas folding chairs in our garage, having a smoke looking out toward the street, lost in thought about the day … when an old familiar presence made itself known.

“Attention on Deck!!”

I jumped to my feet. Even after being away from life in a uniform for over thirteen years, old reflexes and old habits die slowly if at all. With a chuckle, the mental metaphysical prankster, said “At Ease sailor”. I sat down in the chair, ears a bit red, and smiled.

“Well THAT was a hell of an entrance! Hello dad, wasn’t expecting you to pop in today, what’s up?”

Dad, comfortable in his favorite chair, cigar in one hand, scotch in the other, smiled again; “I need a reason to see my sons? Thought I would drop by and see how you were doing, and today seemed like the perfect day for it.”

“Well, it’s good to “see” you too, Just sitting here reflecting on the day, and on how much things have changed since I entered in the service …”

“And on what my grandson is experiencing right now in Boot Camp up at Great Lakes?”, Dad said, finishing my thought.

“Yeah. Just got a letter from Pat, day before yesterday, trying to figure out what to write back about.”

“Well, I am sure anything you put down on paper will be well received. You must still remember what it felt like to get mail from friends and family while in Boot Camp. It didn’t really matter what was written, what really mattered was the time was taken to send something. Matter of fact, that was much the same feeling we had, back when I did my time with the Air Force. I imagine your uncles felt the same way too back durring their days as recruits in the Marines and Army.”

Dad paused, took a puff on the cigar, followed by a sip of scotch; “You know your mother and I were very proud of you, despite your mom’s concerns about service life. How do you feel about Pat joining?”

“I have told him I am proud of him. But it is more then just a parental pride, more then the pride of having a son follow in choosing the same branch of service I did. And this may take some time, because it didn’t really sink in with me, until I had done it a couple of times over and above the first enlistment … but a pride in knowing, and I can only assume Pat will develop this, if he in fact re-enlists at some point down the road, what the oath of enlistment is really demanding of you.”

“What are you driving at son?”, I could see my dads brows furled a bit

It is what separates the military member from the civilian. with the possible exception of those who are police or firemen. The oath.

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

“You are literally giving up your individual freedoms, suborning yourself to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, vice the very contract between a peoples and their government, the Constitution, in order to protect and defend it. You are placing yourself in to a group which pledges to, if it comes to it, give ‘that last full measure of devotion’ in order to honor the oath you took. The only other group of individuals who come to mind in taking any sort of oath which may come close to rivaling that are police, and firemen”

“Oh sure, Pat is probably not going to be in any direct line of fire, especially in the career path he has chosen, but the chance however remote, is there. And he has sworn an oath to do what ever needs to be done to ‘protect and defend’, should it come to that. It is this intentionally honored commitment toward something greater than self which separates Patrick, his fellow service members of all stripes, and even all the veterans out there, from the civilian population at large.”

Dad looked up from his glass. “So you’re saying you hope, if Pat hasn’t done so already, that he will understand the gravity of the oath he has taken, that it is not something in effect from “nine to five”, but an obligation, freely taken, which stays with you perhaps even past the end of an enlistment or future retirement? That the measure of pride you have in him, is as much pride of one member of the service “fraternity” toward another, as it is from a father to a son.”

“Sheesh, I take a couple of paragraphs, and you nail it in a couple of sentences! Thanks Dad.”

“Even though I was only in for a couple of years, I have that same sense of pride toward both you and my grandson. Thank you both for carrying the torch.”

“I wonder if there will be a fourth generation member in the family, who will wear the uniform someday?”

Dad got a wistful look in his eye, and considering his ectoplasmic state, a tad transparent … “Damn son, you have to warn me when you say things like that! If I get to thinking about ‘the other side’ and what the future might have in store for you or the grandkids, I tend to get sucked right back up outta the here and now. Can’t really be in two places at once, that’s waaaay beyond my paygrade. Even if I knew the answer to that, and not saying that I do, I would not be surprised at all, in seeing more uniforms on future family members. But I am not going to say anything more then that.”

My father, my mental specter, gathered himself together. His cigar, now noticeably shorter, his glass closer to empty than full, stood up from his ectoplasmic easy chair.

“Son, time for me to head out. Give my best to everyone, and give all the grandsons a hug from me the next time you see them. I expect we will have another Petty Officer in the family with in the next couple of years, if his training goes smoothly enough?”

It was my turn to chuckle. “Yeah that is a very real possibility. Chances are he will be advancing at a much faster rate than his old man ever did. He has the smarts, and the common sense. I would be willing to bet if he stays in for a couple of enlistments, he will make Chief Petty Officer in record time as well, maybe even go “mustang”. But that will be his choices and his opportunities to make of what he will.”

Dad smiled. “I have faith in Pat, and in all the men and women who accept and wear, or have worn, the mantle of guardian/warrior. And in case I haven’t said so, thanks for your service son. And be sure to thank Patrick for me.”

Before I could respond, as quickly as he had popped in, he was gone. There was the faint but noticeable oder of cigar smoke in the garage. It had been awhile, but it was good to hear from Dad again. Though he had served a few short years, his status as a vet was every bit as honorable and legitimate as my “career”, and his grandsons first active duty steps toward same. It felt good to be reminded of that, to know there are vets out there who did not see action, but did their duty with honor and to the best of their ability.

To all who served or or still serving, for all who have “taken the oath” , especially on this day of remembrance, you are not forgotten.

Thank you“.

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Our Little Town

It is not yet mid-autumn here in our little town. The weather has, if anything, been a little warmer than the norm for this time of year, middle to upper 60’s during the day, sliding to the mid to lower 30’s at night. Still, the trees are in the process of shedding their fall attire, the summer sounds of crickets replaced with the rustling of leaves, come evening time.

Things are, despite internet access, cable television, and wi-fi “hot spots”, still pretty provincial out here in the hinterlands of Northern Illinois. For the most part it is housewives who head to the grocers during the day, while husbands make the daily commute to the nearest big city, or the megapolis three hours further down the road. Kids ride their bikes or skate boards wherever they can. The local high school is still a focal point every Friday night, during football season. Folks as often as not, are seen to wave at local police cars as they make their rounds. Conversely, the law enforcement folks know all the local “bad apples” (of all ages), if not on a first named basis, at least where they live, and what kind of mischief can be expected from same.

We take pride in having a clean little town, one where our kids are safe. Where the local fire department is well equipped, a point of community pride. The schools are clean and modern. The park district is able to provide any number of locations and opportunities to exercise your body, mind, and spirit. (Why, we even have our own observatory!) There is a new library in town, plenty of churches, and a senior center.

We are like any town here in the heartland of America. We eat, drink, work and play. We vote, go to PTA meetings, school board and city council meetings. Our kids belong to the Boy and Girl Scouts, FFA, and Junior Achievement. The adults belong to Moose, Elks, Knights of Columbus, Masons, VFW, and American Legion.

We follow the local news, on television and radio, when the big city down the road, finds us newsworthy enough. We even have a regional weekly paper covering the news of the county. And, like most everyone else, we know what is going on at the national level, and through out the world.

Though modern technology easily allows us access to the world at large, including major events shaping the world, there is a comfort zone between “the world”, and “our little town”. Sure we have crime … but not at the level and scope of what happens in “the big city”. Sure we are dealing with unemployment, but it at least appears to be some where else which has the long lines of unemployed, not here in our own little town. The local grocer may not be doing the same business he was a year or two ago, but at the same time, he is not yet closing his doors either. Life seems more insulated here in our little town.

Until today.

Today a young man returned home. He graduated from the local high school just last year. Like any number of kids from small towns, he decided to broaden his horizons, and sought employment away from the home of his youth. Like any number of kids, he answered a calling to serve, in and for, something greater than himself. (Although friends and family already knew this was a dream he held since early childhood.)

So, in June of 2009, Alec Catherwood enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He went on to begin living his dream. His travels eventually, took him to Camp Pendleton, California, where he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. From there he ultimately went to Afghanistan.

Today a young Marine returned home. Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood will be laid to rest here in our little town this weekend.

Our little town, no longer feels as insulated from the events of the world, as it was yesterday. Our little town, as have many little towns across the country, has lost someone irreplaceable. One of our Sons has given the last full measure of devotion, in the service of his country. Rest easy Marine, your memory will live on here in our little town, for you are one of our own.

Semper Fidelis.

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