The Greatest Generation

Sixty-nine years ago today, a group of US Marines accompanied by a Navy Corpsman raised a flag on Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima. The associated five week battle was quite bloody. Of the six men that raised the flag, only 3 survived the battle. Ira Hayes is one of the most famous thanks to Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, both of which sang a song about him. Most of the Native Americans I have served with hold Ira Hayes in a high reverence.

In the Battle of Iwo Jima, nearly 7000 US troops were killed. The Japanese lost almost 19000. The little known fact is that there were 2 flag raisings. The second is the most famous. The flag raising was intended to be a signal to the others that the mountain was secure.

Men like these are the men my generation of sailors look up to. They fought in one of the bloodiest battles of World War 2. The survivors became celebrities and were sent home to sell war bonds.

The battle itself turned out to be somewhat of a strategic blunder. The Army and Navy had no use for that particular island. The PR that came from the flag raising was extremely invaluable.

As always, we must strive to remember “those that have gone before, to defend freedom and democracy around the world”.

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

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A Very Good Friday

Today was a very good day. I made every right decision possible, a couple on accident. Chiefs and First Classes do Physical Training(PT) together once a week. Ideally, the First Classes up for Chief will lead. This doesn’t always happen. My rate is famous for our work ethic and leadership. If no one leads, we will. That is the character of every single person I know in my rate.

During PT, we got a stern talking to by a Chief. No one was stepping up. I waited a minute, and then took charge. I should mention that I suck at some parts of PT, but I will lead until I fall flat on my face. I decided to start barking orders.

“Unit! Fall in! Two abreast! Short and slow guys up front. Forward, march. Double time, march. Commence running cadence.” That was right decision number one. My current Chief was very proud. According to him, my stock went up in the eyes of the other Chiefs.

Now for my twofer. I decided to go back to the office after training. I cut my guys loose at the traditional Friday time. Something told me to hang out, so I abided. Chief called five minutes later. He had been given the wrong location for a certain meeting. It was my chance to back him up. I was way closer. I showed up in his stead for the first bit.

It is the job of a First Class to help his Chief. In the course of the meeting, Chief referred a couple of questions to me. I answered them. This particular meeting had a lot of higher ups. I subscribe to “call the baby ugly”. I will answer any question. You may not like the answer, but it will be the stone cold truth to the best of my knowledge. Afterwards, I had a sidebar with my Chief. We discussed the various aspects of the Safety Program. Considering that I am an Assistant LPO, I felt that I was quite successful. Our LPO was TAD elsewhere.

I am now comfortable in the knowledge that my Chief knows that I am competent. He knows that he can call me, and I will step up. I don’t sugarcoat answers, but I will frame them in such a manner, that the CO will get his information.

The long story short is, if you make the Chief look good; he will make you look good.

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

Veteran’s Day 2013

I am enjoying this Veteran’s Day by spending my time with my wife, son, and friends. Those who I fight for. We don’t fight because we hate what’s in front of us. We fight because we love what’s behind us. Please support us and stand by us. If that’s not your thing, by all means, try to stand in front of us. Woe betide the wolf when I stand guard at the door.

I am not yet a veteran. As I am still active duty, I am more like a veteran in training. I chose to forego any of the free stuff, so that a vet in need might be able to take my spot.

Mrs. Snipe can testify that I usually get very emotional on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. Many of the vets that shaped my life have passed on. Some relatives, some teachers, all men of honor. Just last week, my Naval Science Instructor from high school passed away. Yet another name to add to my personal honor roll. A Vietnam vet and true renaissance man. He was one of the many reasons I chose to join the Navy.

Today, we chose to enjoy the freedoms that previous generations of vets have earned for us. We went to the park. We passed a football. We hiked. We had a discussion about veterans with Pocket Monkey’s favorite accomplice, whose parents are both vets.

Always remember. Someone’s son or daughter earned the freedoms that you enjoy today. As previously stated, a large chunk of my family tree and blog roll are veterans. Some left parts and pieces behind. Some still have night terrors. Some came out OK. We owe them all an immeasurable debt.

I encourage you to find a vet and buy them a sandwich or a coffee. It is a small gesture, but still appreciated. I never know what to say when someone thanks me for my service when I am wearing a military hat. I imagine most vets find themselves in a similar boat.

Please don’t let their sacrifice be for naught. Use and cherish your freedoms. Never be too busy to remember.

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

Pocket Monkey Weighs In

Pocket Monkey will be my ghost writer for a part of this post. Today was an awesome day. My class had a concert for the veteran’s. Dad wore his Navy Service Uniform because Mom said so. He has a lot of ribbons. He had wanted to wear his dress blues but Mom said no. My concert had four classes of second/third graders. First, we paraded the colors, using a few Cub Scouts from a different pack than mine. Then, we started singing various patriotic songs. During the Armed Forces Medley, all vets and active service members were encouraged to stand during their respective song. The Navy Commander sitting next to Dad didn’t stand up until Dad did during “Anchors Aweigh”. When I was practicing, I got the Army Song stuck in Dad’s head, ha-ha. He was not amused. Snipe comments: My retired Coastie buddy admitted to me after the concert that he didn’t recognize his service’s song. Seeing a bunch of elementary school kids singing patriotic songs was beautiful. The songs included such hits as: 50 Nifty United States, Lights of Freedom, Grand Old Flag, and the Armed Forces Medley. PM is right, the CDR sitting next to me didn’t seem like he wanted to stand up at first. There were a ton of sailors, a couple of Air Force Vets, and a couple of Marine vets. I didn’t personally notice any Army vets. It seems like I was the only active duty E-6 and junior there. I counted several officers and a couple of Chief Petty Officers. A couple of guys wore their cammies. Call me old fashioned, but I believe that for an event like that, the Navy Service Uniform should be the bare minimum. Cammies are for work and brief stops.

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

Veteran’s Affairs

No sailor stands watch alone. Whether you are a snipe or a top rider, you have support while you are on watch. A top watch to guide you and answer the random WTFs you are bound to encounter on watch. When you retire, or just plain leave, it may seem that you no longer have that support system. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I am here. It is my duty to support you. Whether you served for 10 minutes or 10 years, you are my brother in arms. You are my battle buddy. I have learned from your mistakes and triumphs. The least I can do is give you a shoulder to cry on, or a good old bitch session.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) is big news these days. Some former sailors/soldiers feel that it is weakness to seek help. I call bull. General Order Number 9 instructs us to call the Officer of the Deck in any case not covered by instructions. Calling for help is not weakness. It shows maturity and good judgment.

If you feel that the darkness is closing in, call me. Call one of the many like me. We are here for you. I have the utmost respect for any veteran, from any service. Any help I can give to you is yours to have. You have taught me many lessons. Some good and some ridiculous. A problem is 10 times worse if it is hidden.

This post is meant to bring awareness to PTSD. You don’t have to be military to help. Ask the hard questions. Provide the needed support. Know a resource or two. Don’t be afraid to get a vet the help they need. If all else fails, remember ACT. Ask, Care, Treat. It works for suicidal intentions and PTSD.

I have seen it in the war vets in my family. From WW2 to Vietnam, the problem was just under the surface. Nobody asked. It was understood that certain subjects were taboo. Would talking about it help? No one can really know. At my brother’s wedding, we had several generations of combat vets. From Vietnam to present. We all had our own nightmares. We also had our own funny stories. Whether it was grown men fighting over cans of beans and weenies, or almost using an M-16 in lieu of a pellet gun for birds on the flight deck, we had stories. Let me tell you, a Grandpa and his grandsons laughing over some ridiculous war time situations is awesome. Some things haven’t changed in 50 years.

Even if you aren’t kin to a veteran, you can still get some awesome sea stories. Just ask. Support the American Legion, FRA, and VFW. By supporting them, you support veterans of all stripes. Remember what these men did for you and yours. There but for he grace of God go you.

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

Those That Have Gone Before

http://williamlopez1984.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/the-medal-of-honor-a-handful-of-hereos/ has a post that really opened my eyes. It expounds on how few people can name a Medal of Honor winner and how many people can name all 5 Kardashians.

The Medal of Honor(not the Congressional Medal of Honor) is this nation’s highest award for military valor. It calls for service above and beyond the call of duty. For men whose call of duty includes rescuing comrades from burning rooms, and surrendering only as a last resort, above and beyond is some next level valor. Like Mr. T, Duke Nukem, and GI Joe rolled into one awesome fighting man.

I have met a few Medal of Honor winners and heard others of them speak. They are some of the most humble farm boys I have ever met. I couldn’t quite picture them charging machine gun nests with flamethrowers, or organizing desperate last stands. The historical record shows that they did just that. They took lives and saved lives. It was their call, and they answered.

There are two Navy Seals who recently earned that medal that now have ships named after them. One jumped on a grenade, which is a movie cliché, but a real life choice. The other exposed himself intentionally to enemy fire while calling in reinforcements.

On a whim, I gave Mrs. Snipe a quiz. I asked her how many Kardashians she could name, and she named one. I asked how many American Idol winners she could name, and she named five. I asked her how many Medal of Honor winners she could name, and I got a blank stare in return. I can name three. It would have been four, but I forgot Woody’s last name. He is from my home state, and spoke at my church once. He is the basis for my flamethrower example above.

I posted earlier about what constitutes courage. These men, and their brothers, had it in spades. Even if they were scared to death, they manned up, and did what was required of them. These men are real heroes. The ones I have met or heard speak, downplay their actions. They will say they hid in a foxhole like a good LT. They almost always skip the part where they stood up, guns blazing, in the face of a numerically superior enemy, to give their men time to reorganize and counterattack.

That is what Americans should be honoring. Not some tart who is famous because she is famous. Audie Murphy and Sergeant York were two of my heroes growing up. Not a ballplayer or celebrity. Two men, who in their respective wars, earned an amazing amount of awards for valor. To further prove my point, it is worth noting that Alvin York was a pacifist, who entered the war only reluctantly. When he realized that his squad was in grave danger, he hunted humans like he hunted ducks. He didn’t find it proper to let men die because he didn’t want to kill. It seems to me that most men of that caliber find themselves in similar circumstances.

If you can name more celebrities than Medal of Honor winners, please reevaluate your priorities. I, for one, proudly represent the fighting spirit of those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world. It is my mission to learn about them, and to tell their stories.

Always remember, fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

Live blogging the shutdown from my corner of the country

As far as I know, my pay is now safe from the shut down. I am still proceeding with caution in the event of further shenanigans. I was once a Republican. I am now a small government conservative with a libertarian lean. I will be watching the congressional proceedings with interest. I am considering registering to vote locally instead. Either state I choose(military may vote absentee in their home of record, or in person in their state of duty station), I will not vote for any representative that votes for Obama care.

I am a backslidden Christian. Whether or not I go to church, I know and attempt to follow my chosen religion’s teachings. One of the most widely accepted among almost all Christian faiths is the idea that children are the Kingdom of Heaven. When Harry Reid made clear he wouldn’t be interested in helping even one child with cancer, I almost hit the roof. “That which you do to the least of these…you do to me”. Jesus said that and I believe it.

There is a movement going on to amend the Constitution in such a way that the representatives have to take their own medicine. I agree wholeheartedly.

There is a popular economic theory called trickle down economics. It is closely correlated to the law of unintended consequences. Let us proceed down this rabbit hole for a few moments. Due to the government shutdown, commissaries are closed. There will now be around 40 employees per store that are on leave without pay. As a consequence, they will buy less stuff. The state and the fed will get less taxes. Military families in high cost areas such as San Diego will have to buy groceries on the local economy. That will leave them less money to buy other stuff. The less they buy, the less sales tax.

The law of unintended consequences slapped the Seattle liberals in the 2 pack when more people started riding bikes. Fewer people were riding cars therefore, fewer people were buying gas. That meant the state and the fed were getting less income from their obscene gasoline taxes. The state tried to pass a bicycle tax to make up the revenue shortfall. They were roundly mocked on the one conservative radio station in western Washington.

There but for the grace of God go I. At some point the lefties and a-holes in the Senate may deem national defense unnecessary because us big mean military guys scare them. Fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.