The Doolittle Raid

I wrote here https://freshairsnipe.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/those-who-have-gone-before-2/ about the Doolittle raid. Today is its anniversary. That raid was a textbook example of interoperability and joint service cooperation.

The Naval History blog has an article about it today.

http://www.navalhistory.org/2014/04/18/doolittle-raid-lesson-in-joint-innovation-resilience

My first link sums up my opinion quite well. I couldn’t say it better again if I tried.

Five to six men got promoted or earned awards based on that action. We showed what we could do.

Success here set up our success in the Battle of Midway. I encourage you to read the links.

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

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.

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.

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.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Call me old fashioned, but I believe that to pursue happiness one must get off their two-pack and actually, you know, pursue it.

Mrs. Snipe asked me about American politics one day. In true Snipe fashion, I summarized using my unique word view.

“You have two parties of thieves. One believes you should be allowed to pursue happiness, based on the Declaration of Independence, with little or no government interference. The other believes that happiness should be captured by the government, wrapped up, and delivered to their doorstep with taxpayer funds. A third party that is in the offing, believes both sides are nuts with power, and want a smaller government.”

Mrs. Snipe proceeded to ask me about the pursuit of happiness. I see the pursuit of happiness as being able to do things that make you smile. I like fishing, camping, shooting, and hunting. She likes cooking for us. Both constitute the pursuit of happiness in my world.

I see the pursuit of happiness much like I see a person’s religious preference. Yours might not work for me, but if it fits you and meets your needs, good on you. Follow it and do your utmost. I may try to sway you to my way, but I will think no less of you if you stay your own course.

As an afterthought, if one more Democrat says, “What difference does it make?” I will flood their office with so many letters that they won’t need to buy toilet paper for a long time.

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