Christmas Memories

Christmas is my favorite time of year. It always has been. I have been everywhere on Christmas. I have been in Australia, the Persian Gulf, and parts unknown. I now have a wife and child. It is the ultimate blessing to share Christmas with them. Because I could be literally anywhere on Christmas Day, I cherish the ones I get to share with my family.

I once participated in a search and rescue on Christmas Day. On shore duty, it is not quite as hectic. We went shopping today for the last minute presents. We will enjoy Christmas dinner with the same folks from the Thanksgiving post.

The gifts are wrapped, plans are made, and fun is ready to be had. I am not in the Gulf, or in some other God-forsaken locale.

We read the Christmas story from the Book of Luke to Pocket Monkey tonight. Jesus is the reason for the season. We are training Pocket Monkey in the finer arts of Christianity.

On this Christmas, please pay homage to those who are the watchmen on the walls. They are missing all the festivities in order that we may live free. They are the sheepdogs. They dress like the wolf in order to protect the sheep. I have been there, and I have no doubt that I will be there again.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. Fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

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Day of Infamy

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. 72 years ago today we were attacked by the Japanese on a Sunday. My rate didn’t exist back then. There were Ship fitters, Molders, and Metal smiths. There was mass confusion. There were questions of whether or not it was a drill.

Many people in the chain of command lost their minds. Some got fired. Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John William Finn won what was widely considered to be the first Medal of Honor to be awarded during World War 2. His citation reads as follows:

The President of the United States in the name of the Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to

FINN, JOHN WILLIAM

Lieutenant, USN.

for service set forth in the following Citation:

For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lieutenant Finn promptly secured and manned a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine-gun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and return the enemy’s fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first-aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning airplanes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

In the Hollywood blockbuster Pearl Harbor, a character resembling him makes an appearance. He fought back with what he had. I am willing to bet he didn’t think twice. His friends were in danger and he acted. He had sailors under his command who needed a Chief’s protection. He did his best to protect them. He later became an officer in the USN. That is why his citation reads Lieutenant and not Chief. By the time his citation was approved, he was an LT.

It is a good day to take stock. If my base was attacked, what would I do? Men like AOC Finn are my heroes. They faced the enemy and did it well. He is still spoken of with reverence in training sessions about honor and valor.

Pearl Harbor Day is often swept under the rug. Not in this house. We are watching a documentary on Pearl Harbor. We talk about it with Pocket Monkey and his buddies. It is my mission to never forget.

We attended a Christmas party today. It was found amusing by some that it was held on Pearl Harbor Day. Pocket Monkey got some good swag, and we gave some to our friends.

That is all. Fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

In Memoriam

Another of my mentors died today at lunch. He was not a movie star. Most major news outlets won’t carry this news. The talking heads on TV will probably never mention it. He was an Assistant Scout Master. He was a vice principal at my junior high and later got promoted to principal at my high school. He was active in his church. He reinforced lessons my Dad was teaching me. Sometimes a simple turn of phrase made something clearer. He choked to death while eating a sandwich.

It seems like every time I turn around, another of my mentors passes. Dad was quick to remind me that at 50, 75 doesn’t seem that far away. 75 is the average lifespan of most of our friends and family. If I go before that, I hope and pray that I die in a pile of spent brass.

Today is also the three year anniversary of my paternal grandfather’s passing. He taught me more by example than any man I know.

Fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.