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.

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.

60 Minutes of Play

Pocket Monkey likes playing with his friend outside. I fall into the “60 minutes of play” camp. In my world, 60 minutes of playing outside is invaluable. Mrs. Snipe mentioned that it felt like neglect. My response, “He is playing outside. With friends. I love it!” In my world, if you use the buddy system, and play outside, you are ahead of the curve! I strictly enforce the buddy system. If your friends go in, you come in. PM is learning about football from his friend. I love it! I come from an era where parents only got involved if you did something stupid. We check on the kids randomly, because that is what responsible parents do.

In our apartment block, all the parents know each other. “Don’t make me tell your Mom” still carries weight. PM and friends play football and manufacture adventures.

Speaking of adventures, we had a decent snowfall Saturday night. We went outside and commenced snow related shenanigans. A fellow parent teamed up with me to chase kids with snowballs. I was hesitant to throw a snow ball at someone else’s kids until I was given the “A-OK”.

“Just throw it They need to learn!”

I love parents that are as mischievous as me. We teamed up in a proper pincer and got the kids with snowballs from both sides.

That is all. Fall out, and carry out the Plan of the Day!

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.

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.

Thanksgiving With Kith and Kin

Many people from my family use the phrase kith and kin. As explained to a young me, kin is the family God saw fit to bless you with. Kith is the family you would have picked if given a choice in the matter.

This year was a lot more kith than kin. It was still fun. We choose ham instead of turkey due to some picky eaters in the thundering herd of young ‘uns. All the sides were the standard bit. We had stuffing, taters, veggies, candied sweet potatoes, and pies.

We were at a friend’s house. We provided a couple of sweet potato pies courtesy of great grandma’s recipe. I helped them get the their papa down here from an old folk’s home near The Major Metropolis. That made me fell warm and fuzzy inside.

We all laughed because despite our collective efforts to not make too much food, it seemed we had enough left over to feed a small battalion. We split everything down the middle and each of the two families got sufficient leftovers for a couple of weeks.

After supper, we played with the kids and watched a movie. Our friends don’t get cable, so we didn’t watch football. Most of the kids are small, so playing football in the backyard seemed rather ambitious. After being in some real remote locations in the world for Thanksgiving over the years, having no football was not an issue. Being with family and friends was far more fulfilling.

I shall go to bed tonight with the echoes of children’s laughter in my head and an overstuffed belly. We reflected as a family on what we are thankful for. Pocket Monkey stated that he is thankful for sleepovers with friends and a cozy house. I was proud. Keeping him warm and safe is one of my major goals and priorities.

That is all. Think before you drink. Fall out and carry out the plan of the day,