. . . . And May We Never Ever Forget And, They Call Islam A Religion???!!!
Most humans truly are like sheep
Wanting nothing more than peace to keep
To graze, grow fat and raise their young,
Sweet taste of clover on the tongue.
Their lives serene upon Life's farm,
They sense no threat nor fear no harm.
On verdant meadows, they forage free
With naught to fear, with naught to flee.
They pay their sheepdogs little heed
For there is no threat; there is no need.
To the flock, sheepdogs are mysteries,
Roaming watchful round the peripheries.
These fang-toothed creatures bark, they roar
With the fetid reek of the carnivore,
Too like the wolf of legends told,
To be amongst our docile fold.
Who needs sheepdogs? What good are they?
They have no use, not in this day.
Lock them away, out of our sight
We have no need of their fierce might.
But sudden in their midst a beast
Has come to kill, has come to feast
The wolves attack; they give no warning
Upon that calm September morning
They slash and kill with frenzied glee
Their passive helpless enemy
Who had no clue the wolves were there
Far roaming from their Eastern lair.
Then from the carnage, from the rout,
Comes the cry, "Turn the sheepdogs out!"
Thus is our nature but too our plight
To keep our dogs on leashes tight
And live a life of illusive bliss
Hearing not the beast, his growl, his hiss.
Until he has us by the throat,
We pay no heed; we take no note.
Not until he strikes us at our core
Will we unleash the Dogs of War
Only having felt the wolf pack's wrath
Do we loose the sheepdogs on its path.
And the wolves will learn what we've shown before;
We love our sheep, we Dogs of War.
The article was written by
Mr. Cornel Nistorescu and published under the title "C"ntarea Americii,
meaning "Ode To America") in the Romanian newspaper Evenimentulzilei
"The Daily Event" or "News of the Day".
~An Ode toAmerica~
Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if you painted them all one color! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs. Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart.
Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, and the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about.
The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a government official or the president was passing. On every occasion, they started singing their traditional song: "God Bless America!"
I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or thousands of people. How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy. What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic Power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion...Only freedom can work such miracles.
Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James of Dallas embraced Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr.
during a Veteran's Day Commemoration in Dallas. Graunke lost a hand, a leg and an eye
when he defused a bomb in Iraq last year.
Richard, (my husband), never really talked a lot about his time in Viet Nam other than he had been shot by a sniper. However, he had a rather grainy, 8 x 10 black and white photo he had taken at a USO show of Ann Margret with Bob Hope in the background that was one of his treasures.
A few years ago, Ann Margret was doing a book signing at a local bookstore. Richard wanted to see if he could get her to sign the treasured photo so he arrived at the bookstore at 12 ! o'clock for the 7:30 signing.
When I got there after work, the line went all the way around the bookstore, circled the parking lot and disappeared behind a parking garage. Before her appearance, bookstore employees announced that she would sign only her book and no memorabilia would be permitted.
Richard was disappointed, but wanted to show her the photo and let her know how much those shows meant to lonely GI's so far from home. Ann Margret came out looking as beautiful as ever and, as second in line, it was soon Richard's turn.
He presented the book for her signature and then took out the photo. When he did, there were many shouts from the employees that she would not sign it. Richard said, "I understand. I just wanted her to see it."
She took one look at the photo, tears welled up in her eyes and she said, "This is one of my gentlemen from Viet Nam and I most certainly will sign his photo. I know what these men did for their country and I always have time for 'my gentlemen.'"
With that, she pulled Richard across the table and planted a big kiss on him. She then made quite a to-do about the bravery of the young men she met over the years, how much she admired them, and how much she appreciated them There weren't too many dry eyes among those close enough to hear. She then posed for pictures and acted as if he were the only one there.
Later at dinner, Richard was very quiet. ! When I asked if he'd like to talk about it, my big strong husband broke down in tears. "That's the first time anyone ever thanked me for my time in the Army," he said.
That night was a turning point for him. He walked a little straighter and, for the first time in years, was proud to have been a Vet. I'll never forget Ann Margret for her graciousness and how much that small act of kindness meant to my husband.
I now make it a point to say "Thank you" to every person I come across who served in our Armed Forces. Freedom does not come cheap and I am grateful for all those who have served their country.
If you'd like to pass on this story, feel free to do so. Perhaps it will help others to become aware of how important it is to acknowledge the contribution our service people make.
Author - unknown
If you're wondering why we're fighting in Iraq, here is a little insight. [Click On Button To View]
DID YOU KNOW THIS?
Did you know that 47 countries have reestablished their embassies in Iraq?
Did you know that the Iraqi government employs 1.2 million Iraqi people?
Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq?
Did you know that Iraq's higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers?
Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2004 for the reestablished Fulbright program?
Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational? They have 5- 100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a navel infantry regiment.
Did you know that Iraq's Air Force consists of three operation squadrons, 9 reconnaissance and 3 US C-130 transport aircraft which operate day and night, and will soon add 16 UH-1 helicopters and 4 bell jet rangers?
Did you know that Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a Commando Battalion?
Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers?
Did you know that there are 5 Police Academies in Iraq that produce over 3500 new officers each 8 weeks?
Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical facilities.
Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?
Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October?
Did you know that there are 1,192,000 cell phone subscribers in Iraq and phone use has gone up 158%?
Did you know that Iraq has an independent media that consist of 75 radio stations, 180 newspapers and 10 television stations?
Did you know that the Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of 2004?
Did you know that 2 candidates in the Iraqi presidential election had a recent televised debate in their country recently?
OF COURSE WE DIDN'T KNOW!
WHY DIDN'T WE KNOW? OUR MEDIA WOULDN'T TELL US!
Because a Bush- hating media and Democratic Party would rather see the world blow up than lose their power.
This is verifiable on the Department of Defense website.
THE NEW BRONZE STATUE IN IRAQ
This statue currently stands outside the Iraqi palace, now home to the 4th Infantry division. It will eventually be shipped home and put in the memorial museum in Fort Hood,Texas.
The statue was created by an Iraqi artist named Kalat, who for years was forced by Saddam Hussein to make the many hundreds of bronze busts of Saddam that dotted Baghdad.
Kalat was so grateful for the Americans liberation of his country; he melted 3 of the heads of the fallen Saddam and made the statue as a memorial to the American soldiers and their fallen warriors. Kalat worked on this memorial night and day for several months.
To the left of the kneeling soldier is a small Iraqi girl giving the soldier comfort as he mourns the loss of his comrade in arms.
Do you know why we don't hear about this in the news? Because it is heart warming and praise worthy. The media avoids it because it does not have the shock effect that a flashed breast or controversy of politics does.
Zell Miller said it best, during his RNC 2004 convention speech . . . .
The Real Deal
After watching the footage of the Marine killing the guy in the Mosque,
here are a couple of points on shooting wounded guys in Fallujah: Looks like self-defense to me.
1) The guy was a terrorist.
2) He was breathing.
What’s there not to understand?
P.S. For those learning-impaired (morons/Leftists/bleeding hearts/liberals)
out there, here’s a nice little picture to make it clear:
Semper Fi!!! Good Job Marine!!!
*** UPDATE ***
The Marine Corps announced on May 4, 2005, that this Corporal will NOT face court-martial.
A review of the evidence showed the unnamed Marine's actions were "consistent with the established rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict," said Maj-gen. Richard F. Natonski, commanding general of the 1st marine Division in San Diego.
Like I said "good job Marine . . . . Semper Fi"
. . . . Webmaster
You media pansies may squeal and may squirm,
But a fightin’ man knows that the way to confirm,
That some jihadist bastard truly is dead,
Is a brain-tappin’ round fired into his head.
To hell with some wienie with his journalist degree
Safe away from the combat, tryin’ to tell me,
I should check him for breathin,’ examine his eyes.
Nope, I’m punchin’ his ticket to Muj paradise.
To hell with you wimps from your Ivy League schools,
Sittin’ far from the war tellin’ me about rules
And preachin’ to me your wrong-headed contention
That I should observe the Geneva Convention,
Which doesn’t apply to a terrorist scum
So evil and cruel their own people run from,
Cold-blooded killers who love to behead,
Shove your motherin’ Geneva, I’m leavin’ em dead.
You slick talkingheads may preach, preen and prattle,
But you’re damn well not here in the thick of the battle.
It’s chaotic, confusin’ it all comes at you fast,
So it’s Muj checkin’ out because I’m going to last.
Yeah, I’ll last through this fight and send his ass away
To his fat ugly virgins while I’m still in play.
If you journalist wienies think that’s cold, cruel and crass,
Then pucker up sweeties, kiss a fightin’ man’s ass.
Click, If You Think This Marine Acted Properly, And Sign The Petition.
Click, If You Think He Acted Improperly.
Personally, I Believe They Should Pin A Medal On Him. Hey, John Kerry Got A Silver Star For Shooting a single enemy . . . . in the back no less!
A Tidbit About The NBC War Correspondent Who "Purposely" Failed To Turn Off His Camera: NBC correspondent Kevin Sites, who reported on the Fallujah mosque shooting, has photographs displayed on "images Against War," a web site devoted to "visual statement against war". A review of the site states, "Most of the great war photographers have been against war in general, and often against the particular wars they were photographing". Was Mr. Sites acting as a unbiased journalist in the mosque, or as a "artist" against war?
Why Don't We hear About These Guys?
By Oliver North
Sgt. Rafael Peralta
"It's stuff you hear about in boot camp, about World War II and Tarawa Marines who won the Medal of Honor," Lance Cpl. Rob Rogers of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment told the Army Times. Cpl. Rogers was describing the actions of his fellow Marine, Sgt. Rafael Peralta, a Mexican immigrant who enlisted in the Marine Corps the day he received his green card.
Most readers of this column probably haven't heard about Rafael Peralta. With the exception of the Los Angeles Times, most of our mainstream media haven't bothered to write about him. The next time you log onto the Internet, do a Google search on Rafael Peralta. As of this writing, the Internet's most used search engine will provide you only 26 citations from news sources that have bothered to write about this heroic young man. Then, just for giggles, do a Google search on Pablo Paredes. Hundreds of media outlets have written about him. The wire services have blasted his story to thousands of newspapers. Television and radio debate programs gladly provide the public with talking heads that can speak eloquently on the actions of Pablo Paredes.
You see, Pablo Paredes, a Navy petty officer 3rd class, did something the liberal elites consider "heroic" and the media consider "newsworthy" - he defied an order. Last week, Petty Officer Paredes refused to board his ship bound for Iraq along with 5,000 other sailors and Marines. He showed up on the pier wearing a black T-shirt that read, "Like a Cabinet member, I resign."
We know this because Petty Officer Pablo Paredes had the courtesy and forethought to notify the local media he would commit an act of cowardice the following day. Perhaps he hoped to follow the lead of another famous war protester who went on to become a U.S. senator and his party's presidential nominee by throwing away his military medals.
Petty Officer Paredes stopped short of trashing his military I.D. in front of the cameras because he said he didn't want to be charged with destroying government property. The media, we are promised, will continue to follow this story intently.
It is a shame the media focus on such acts when they could tell stories about real-heroes like Rafael Peralta who "saved the life of my son and every Marine in that room," according to Garry Morrison the father of a Marine in Sgt. Peralta's unit - Lance Cpl. Adam Morrison.
On the morning of Nov. 15, the men of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines awoke before sunrise and continued what they had done seven days previously - cleansing the city of Fallujah of terrorists house by house.
At the fourth house they encountered that morning, the Marines kicked in the door and "cleared" the front rooms, but then noticed a locked door off to the side that required inspection. Sgt. Rafael Peralta threw open the closed door, but behind it were three terrorists with AK-47s. Peralta was hit in the head and chest with multiple shots at close range.
Peralta's fellow Marines had to step over his body to continue the shootout with the terrorists. As the firefight raged, a "yellow, foreign-made, oval-shaped grenade," as Lance Cpl. Travis Kaemmerer described it, rolled into the room where they stood and stopped near Peralta's body.
But Sgt. Rafael Peralta wasn't dead - yet. This young immigrant of 25 years, who enlisted in the Marines when he received his green card, who volunteered for front-line duty in Fallujah, had one last act of heroism in him.
Sgt. Rafael Peralta was the polar opposite of Pablo Paredes, the petty officer who turned his back on his shipmates and mocked his commander in chief. Peralta was proud to serve his adopted country. In his parent's home, on his bedroom walls hanged only three items - a copy of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and his boot camp graduation certificate. Before he set out for Fallujah, he wrote to his 14-year-old brother, "Be proud of me, bro ... and be proud of being an American."
Not only can Rafael's family be proud of him, but his fellow Marines are alive because of him. As Sgt. Rafael Peralta lay near death on the floor of a Fallujah terrorist hideout, he spotted the yellow grenade that rolled next to his near-lifeless body. Once detonated, it would take out the rest of Peralta's squad. To save his fellow Marines, Peralta reached out, grabbed the grenade, and tucked it under his abdomen where it exploded.
"Most of the Marines in the house were in the immediate area of the grenade," Cpl. Kaemmerer said. "We will never forget the second chance at life that Sgt. Peralta gave us."
Unfortunately, unlike Pablo Paredes, Sgt. Rafael Peralta will get little media coverage. He is unlikely to have books written about him or movies made about his extraordinarily selfless sacrifice. But he is likely to receive the Medal of Honor. And that Medal of Honor is likely to be displayed next to the only items that hung on his bedroom wall - the Constitution, Bill of Rights and his Boot Camp graduation certificate.
Yes, Virginia, there are still heroes in America, and Sgt. Rafael Peralta was one of them. It's just too bad the media can't recognize them.
Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith
The GIs were dirty, mosquito-bitten, fatigued, homesick. They had been on the road almost constantly for two weeks. Many had not slept in days.
At dawn on April 4, they arrived at Saddam International Airport to the sound of sporadic gunfire and the acrid smell of distant explosions. Breakfast was a mushy, prepackaged concoction the Army optimistically calls "pasta with vegetables."
Still, the mood was upbeat.
Reaching the airport meant the war was almost over. Some of the men broke out cheap cigars to celebrate.
Afterward, Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith and his combat engineers set about their mission that day, putting up a roadblock on the divided highway that connects the airport and Baghdad. Then, just before 10 a.m., a sentry spotted Iraqi troops nearby. Maybe 15 or 20. By the time Smith had a chance to look for himself, the number was closer to 100.
Smith could oppose them with just 16 men.
He ordered his soldiers to take up fighting positions and called for a Bradley, a powerful armored vehicle. It arrived quickly and opened fire. The Americans thought they were in control until, inexplicably, the Bradley backed up and left.
"Everybody was like, "What the hell?"' said Cpl. Daniel Medrano. "We felt like we got left out there alone."
The outnumbered GIs faced intense Iraqi fire. Whether they would survive the next few minutes hinged largely on Smith. He was 33 years old, a 1989 graduate of Tampa Bay Vocational-Technical High School, a husband and father of two.
To his men, Smith was like a character in the old war movies they had watched as kids, an infuriating, by-the-book taskmaster they called the "Morale Nazi."
But Smith had spent much of his adult life preparing for precisely this moment. Indeed, in a letter to his parents composed just before the war, he seems to have anticipated it:
There are two ways to come home, stepping off the plane and being carried off the plane. It doesn't matter how I come home because I am prepared to give all that I am to ensure that all my boys make it home.
What explains Smith's commitment to his men?
Few clues are to be found in the story of his early years, growing up in Tampa's Palma Ceia neighborhood. He and three siblings were raised by a single mother who worked two jobs to support the family. Smith was a so-so student, not much of an athlete, not particularly popular. His childhood was altogether unremarkable.
He studied woodworking in high school and did trim work for a contractor. After graduating in June 1989, Smith joined the Army. He was motivated not by patriotism but a desire to find a job offering more stability than the paycheck-to-paycheck life of a carpenter. As a new recruit, Smith left an impression of someone more interested in partying than, say, marksmanship.
But by the time he got to Saddam International Airport, Smith was a different man, a master of the soldier's art. On April 4, in the words of his commanding officer, Smith displayed "extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor without regard for his own life in order to save others . . . in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service. . ."
What Smith offered his men, Abraham Lincoln, in an earlier age, called "the last full measure of devotion."
Sgt. First Class Gary Schultz
The Williamson County Commissioners' Court honored a hometown hero, as they presented a medal of honor to Sgt. 1st Class Gary Schultz, currently serving with the National Guard's 124th Cavalry Division from Waco. Schultz, who was home from Iraq on a two-week leave, will return to duty in a few days.
Schultz had worked for the Precinct 1 constable's office as a deputy constable and mental health specialist for just over a year when he was called to duty with the National Guard and assigned to the 336th Military Police Battalion, a division of the 89th MP Brigade of the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Hood. He was deployed Jan. 21 to Camp Anaconda, just north of Baghdad, where his platoon was assigned escort detail for supplies and personnel to forward operating bases. His platoon of 30 men has suffered two casualties resulting from ambushes on his escort detail, and he was in a substantial fire fight in May.
Precinct 1 Constable Gary Griffin presented the award to Schultz as Schultz's wife, Annette, and parents, Gary Sr. and Glee Schultz of Mission, stood by his side. A plaque accompanying the medal of honor gave high praise to Schultz's service, stating:
"For exceptional service to the law enforcement profession and outstanding contribution to the citizens of Williamson County, State of Texas, without regard for personal welfare or safety of such magnitude as to bring honor and recognition to himself and the office of the constable."
A Letter From A Marine Leaving Iraq
Editor's Note: This is a recent letter from 1st Lt. Brian Donlon USMC to a group of friends and supporters with whom he had stayed in contact during his deployment to Iraq. It was provided to DefenseWatch by a mutual friend.
This will be my final letter from Iraq. I will be leaving the country in the next week and should be home in the United State soon after.
Spring is now here in Iraq. The weather is pleasantly warm with the occasional sunny day. On a recent trip, I flew in a helicopter north of Baghdad over miles of small farms, criss-crossed by irrigation canals, each surrounded by bright green fields. It all gave an impression of timelessness, life unchanging but for the season. In the days since the elections it has been very quiet here and all my Marines remain safe. Everyone is very ready to go home. Before I give my final impressions of Iraq, I have one final experience to relate.
Recently, I spent several days in Fallujah. As the largest battle fought in this war and the most brutal fight for the Marine Corps since Vietnam, the name, "Fallujah," tends to engender visions of smoke and fire, death in the streets. I cannot speak for the condition of the city before and during the assault, but what I witnessed was perhaps the most secure and peaceful urban area I have yet encountered in Iraq, including the Green Zone.
For four days on security patrols in and around the city, I did not even once hear the report of gunfire in anger or the echo of an explosion. Of course, when you systematically kill or capture every insurgent in a completely cordoned city and search, blast or burn every single structure, you can expect resistance to become light or nonexistent.
My hosts were the warriors of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, who fought along the regiment's right flank during the battle and back-cleared the entire northern sector of the city following the operation's conclusion. These men fought a grisly, tedious and exhausting battle street-by-street, block-by-block for almost two months. For all my imagination, until I walked the streets, listened to the stories, saw the pictures and read the after-action reports, I had no concept of what a fight it had been.
Covering enemy dead with ponchos as they went, they killed Muj (as they nicknamed the insurgents) in the streets or toppled buildings on top of them with mortars, artillery and aerial bombardment. They shot dogs and cats caught feasting on the dead, found the mutilated corpse of aid worker Margaret Hassan, discovered a torture chamber with full suits of human skin and refrigerated body parts right out of "Silence of the Lambs," opened a cellar with chained men who had starved to death and broke down doors to find rooms full of corpses, hands tied behind their backs, bullet holes in the back of their heads. These are just in the pictures I saw.
The enemy they encountered was fanatical and often fought as if pumped up on drugs. His ethnicity was varied and his tactics ranged from insurgents attempting to cross the Euphrates River on inflated beach balls to houses detonated on top of Marines as they entered the first floor.
As I listened to the stories, I had visions of Henry V's warning before the walls of Harfleur to "take pity of your town and of your people, whiles yet my soldiers are in my command; whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace o'erblows the filthy and contagious clouds of heady murder, spoil and villainy."
I thought of all the times in history where invaders had systematically destroyed a city, extinguishing the population and sowing salt in the earth.
Yet, for the battle damage on all sides, the city of Fallujah had more children and a more industrious citizenry than any other I encountered here in Iraq. Almost every house had been re-occupied following the invasion, gutters cleaned of garbage, white flags flying over newly patched garden walls, "Family Inside" written in large letters in both English and Arabic. Marines control access to the city; Marines mediate civic disputes; Marines provide food, water and are protecting those who are repairing city infrastructure; Marines patrol the streets, policing both the citizens of Fallujah and the Iraqi Army who sometimes abuse their authority.
Fallujah is a city on lockdown and ironically is probably the safest and most progressive place in Iraq right now. I now understand why the citizens in a nearby neighborhood here in Baghdad worriedly asked the Army command we are attached to, "What have we done? Why are Marines here?" when we began to patrol there.
With that experience, I more or less close my time here in Iraq. I have a few more hurdles to overcome before I am home but now all tasks are related to ensuring a safe journey there. Reflecting on what I have seen here in Iraq, the overwhelming emotion I feel is of pride, not in myself or even in my Marines, but in being an American.
Patriotic sentiments tend to gravitate between cliché and taboo in the sensibilities of popular culture, but if I was not defined before as a "patriot," I am now. I am very proud to have been a small part of this effort and to come from a nation where not only could such an effort be sustained but whose aim was the betterment of another people a world away.
A few months ago, I was walking at night through a logistics yard and as I weaved between mountainous stacks of crates stamped with the names of a dozen nations, I was struck by how fortunate I was to be an American. The perspective bordered on the sublime. Just outside the wall lived people in poverty and squalor who had been subjected to their lot by a tyrannical ethnic and political minority who shrugged off human misery with the medieval belief that it was the "will of Allah." Not much has changed in the Middle East in the last few thousands of years, except for the religion and identity of the tyrant in question. Just south of where I sit now, in the city of Babylon in the 5th Century B.C., the Persian Xerxes planned his doomed invasion of Greece, his logisticians collecting mountains of supplies, compiled from the labors of subject millions.
There is no difference between that tyrant 2500 years ago and Saddam Hussein whose palaces dot across this country like vainglorious lesions, one built just miles away from here, complete with fresh water dolphins in artificial lakes, observation towers with night clubs, and irrigated tree-lined walks, built in the midst of international sanctions levied against his country.
As I stood dwarfed by piles of water bottles and phone cable, I realized two distinctions. The first is this: as countless millions of dollars are spent, what American citizen can truly point to the cost that this war has had on his quality of living? What a magnificent nation we live in where we can wage so massive an effort without bankrupting our citizenry in the process.
The second contrast is our motive: for all the insinuations of imperialism, corporate benefit and hawkish war-mongering, the most dramatic moments I witnessed here revolved around an election, not an exploitation. What other nation would spend such sums to give a people so far away self-determination?
I am not advocating war. Being so far from home for so long, smelling and seeing the dead and placing Marines in harm's way are not truly enjoyable experiences. Yet I agree wholeheartedly with the much-criticized statement by [Lt.] General [James N.] Mattis, it is fun to wage war against a foe who seeks only his own self-gratification, who tortures, murders and abuses the weak. You can opine all day long about Wilsonian self-determination, but without the will to do what is necessary to make such visions reality, they remain mere words.
In short, as I give my farewell to this country in the next week, I leave with overwhelming pride in being an American and an unshakable belief, based in what I have seen here, that this effort will not fail. Whatever comes in Iraq, the impact of this invasion will not be as that of every other conqueror, relegated to a wind-worn mound of stones in the desert.
I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read these often-verbose letters. Just being able to write to this audience has been a great stress relief. I especially want to express my gratitude to those who have written to me both electronic and snail mail, sent care packages and kept me in their thoughts and prayers. This was without a doubt the best experience of my life thus far and would have not been so without the support and generosity you have shown my Marines and me.
Marine Sergeant Herbert Hancock - USMC Sniper
"This time we were killing terrorism from more than 1,000 yards." - Marine Corporal Geoffrey Flowers, spotter for Sergeant Hancock
Sergeant Herbert Hancock was credited with the longest kill shot in Iraq - over a thousand yards. And he and his spotter (Corporal Flowers) made that shot after fighting for hours in Fallujah.
Sergeant Hancock is a Bryan, Texas, police officer when not protecting his fellow Marines. Corporal Flowers is a college student from Pearland, Texas.
You gotta love them and their humor!!
FYI, The flags are France, Germany, & Russia
USS San Francisco SSN-711 Collision With Sea Mount
An Email From A Chief Electronics Technician
On Board The USS San Francisco SSN-711
I thought that I would put out a note since a lot of you have been calling and writing to find out how things are and if I'm OK and what happened. If you hadn't heard, my boat hit a uncharted submerged sea mount at the highest speed we can go at about 500ft below the surface. There were about 30 of us that were seriously hurt and unfortunately one of my shipmates didn't make it.
First off I am OK. I am pretty beat up with my entire left side and butt as one big bruise. My shoulder is separated and may require surgery. They will evaluate later this week. I am very fortunate that I hit the wall and didn't go down a ladderwell that was right next to where I hit. If I had gone down that, I would have got really messed up. I took a tremendous shot to my left thigh from something. If it had been slightly lower in the knee area it would have been really ugly. But all in all I am in good shape.
We hit it at about noon right after field day (where all of us clean the boat for several hours). Thank God we didn't hit while we were doing this or it would have been much worse. We would have had flying deck plates through the air and such. Not good. As it was, it happened while chow was going on and most people were either sitting and eating or on watch.
I don't remember much of the collision. People describe it as like in the movie the Matrix where everything slowed down and levitated and then went flying forward faster that the brain can process. My mind has blanked it out exactly what happened. Adrenaline kicked in and I have no real memory of how I got down to middle level or what I did immediately following. I helped carry several shipmates to the crew mess deck (adrenaline is a wonderful thing - my shoulder was wrecked and I had no idea until about 4 hours later). I sat with several of my junior guys that had bad head wounds and talked with them to keep them conscious until doc could see them. It seemed like an eternity but I'm sure wasn't that long. For those Navy folks that ever wondered why Chief's stomp around and preach "Stow for Sea" This was a perfect example. It definately saved lives.
I am extremely proud of the crew to do damage control, help the wounded and get the boat safely to the surface (for the boat guys we blew the tanks dry on the emergency blow but unbeknownst to us we were missing some ballast tanks/some didn’t have integrity). The ship's control party did every thing exactly right even though they were hurt as well. The Diving Officer of the Watch had just unbuckled his belt to update a status board and hit the Ship's Control Panel hard enough to break some of the gauges. To add insult to injury his chair came up right behind him. Several people were injured in the Engine Room Lower Level area. Lots of metal and sharp edges in the area as well as that's were the boat's smoking area is at. Several crew members are reevaluating that habit now.
Once again we got lucky in the fact that we had an extra corpsman onboard.
One of our officer's was a prior enlisted corpsman that was a Fleet Marine Force medic so he was a Godsend for us. Our Corpsman did an outstanding job getting everyone stabilized and did the best he could for our fallen shipmate. I am surprised that he got him to hold on as long as he did. Our corpsman is definitely a hero in my book. He didn't sleep for 2 or 3 days.
We finally put him down when the SEAL docs helicoptered in to help. Like I said, I am extremely proud of my crew and how they handled themselves. My Chief of the Boat was an inspiration of what a leader should be and my Captain was as well. My XO took out an EAB manifold with his back but still managed to help coordinate things. No matter what happens later, these men did a superior job under difficult circumstances. I am humbled by the entire crew's performance from the CO down to the Seaman that I was checking in two days before.
For those of you wondering, I am sure there will be an investigation into what happened and no I was not part of the navigation preps for this voyage.
I work on the inertial/electronic navigation and interior communications part of my rate and didn't have anything to do with the conventional navigation part of it. I will be lending support to my comrades who were to help them prepare for the pending investigation.
I thank you all for you concern and appreciate your prayers not only for myself, but for my shipmates. We are doing well, we band of brothers and will pull through just fine.
Chief Electronics Technician Submarines
USS San Francisco SSN-711
An Email Written By The DOOW
Subject: Fw: San Francisco Update - DIVING OFFICER
To say that I've had a bad year so far would be a little short on the tooth I think. Last year was a good one for the boat. After spending 5 months away from home in drydock (Sandy Eggo) we got our second BA on ORSE (bad juju), received the highest score in PacFlt for a submarine TRE inspection, aced our mine readiness inspection with 4 out of 4 hits, completed 2 outstanding missions (will have to shoot you), and completed a early ORSE just before Christmas with an EXCELLENT. It was also the first year that Auxiliary Division had a Christmas standown since coming out of the yards in 2002. A-division also took the CSS-15 Red DC award for the second year in a row. My retention has been 100% since I checked onboard in Oct 2002 amongst 1st/2nd and third termers.
We were going to our first true liberty port 2 weeks ago, heading for Brisbane and fun in the sun. As this WOG knows, we were getting ready for our crossing the line ceremony and the crew was really upbeat, and hard charging, we had just completed a great year for the San Fran. To say the world went to shyte in a hand basket would be an understatement. I would put it closer to a nightmare that becomes reality. The seamount that is a large part of the discussion the last 2 weeks is un-named. The charts we carried onboard were up to date as far as we can tell. No modern geographic data for this area was available to us onboard as it is a remote area not often travelled by the Navy. We have one of the BEST ANav's in the fleet onboard, a true quartergasket that takes pride in his job. We have RLGN's onboard, when they are running, are accurate as hell for our position, they also drive Tomahawks. We knew where we were. All of my depth gauges and digital read the same depths as we changed depth to our SOE depth for flank. I can't discuss alot, because I'm still a participent of at least 2 investigations....LOL.
I was the Diving Officer of the Watch when we grounded. If you read the emails from ComSubPac, you will get some of the details, from flank speed to less than 4 knots in less than 4 seconds. We have it recorded on the RLGN's-those cranky bastages actually stayed up and recorded everything. For you guys that don't understand that, take a Winnebego full of people milling around and eating, slam it into a concrete wall at about 40mph, and then try to drive the damn thing home and pick up the pieces of the passengers.
As for the actual grounding, I can tell you that it was fortunate that myself and the Chief of the Watch were blessed by somebody. I was standing up, changing the expected soundings for a new depth on the chart (yes, we had just moved into deeper water) leaning against the ship's control panel with a hand grip, and the COW was leaning down to call the COB on the MJ. The next thing to cross my mind was why am I pushing myself off of the SCP and where the hell the air rupture in the control room come from? I didn't know it, but I did a greater than 3g spiderman against the panel, punched a palm through the only plexiglass guage on the SCP and had my leg crushed by the DOOW chair that I had just unbuckled from. The DOOW chair was broken loose by the QMOW flying more than 15 feet into it and smashing my leg against a hydraulic valve and the SCP. I don't remember freeing myself from it. If I had been buckled in, I don't think I would be writing this. The COW was slammed against the base of the Ballast Control Panel, and only injured his right arm. He could of destroyed the BCP, he was a big boy. Everybody else in control, with the exception of the helm, was severely thrown to the deck or other items that were in their way, and at least partially dazed. Within about 5 seconds of the deceleration, we blew to the surface, it took that 5 seconds for the COW to climb up the BCP and actuate the EMBT blow. We prepared to surface right away and got the blower running asap, I didn't know how much damage we had forward but knew it was not good, I wanted that blower running. I would say that about 80% of the crew was injured in some way, but do not know the number. We grounded in the middle of a meal hour, just after field day, so most of the crew was up. Once we got the boat on the surface and semi-stable with the blower running the rest of the ship conditions started sinking in to our minds. We were receiving 4MC's for injured men all over the boat. I was worried that those reports were over whelming any equipment/boat casualties that could make our life worse. I had teams form up of able bodied men to inspect all of the forward elliptical bulkhead, lower level, and tanks below those spaces. I couldn't believe that we did not have flooding, it just didn't fit in. At one point I looked around in the control room, and saw the disaster. The entire control room deck was covered in paper from destroyed binders, and blood. It looked like a slaughterhouse, we had to clean it up. I knew that Ash was severly injured and brought to the messdecks, he was one of my best men, and one of our best sailors onboard, he was like a son to me. After surfacing I was the control room supervisor, I had a boat to keep on the surface and fight and knew that if I went below to see how he was doing, it would teeter me on the brink of something that the ship did not need, the ship needed somebody who knew her. I have to say that the design engineers at Electric Boat, NavSea and others have designed a submarine that can withstand incredible amounts of damage and survive. We lost no systems, equipment, or anything broke loose during the impact. The damage to our sailors was almost all from them impacting into the equipment.
The crew is a testament to training and watch team backup. When a casualty occurs, you fight like you train, and train like you fight. It kept us alive during that 2+day period. I've just returned from the honor of escorting my sailor home to his family. God bless them, they are truly good people and patriotic. The Navy is doing everything they can for them and they are learning how submariner's take care of each other. During the memorial and viewing on Saturday, CSS-15 provided a video from the coast guard of us on the surface and the SEAL/Dr. medical team being helo'd in, the family had this video played on 2 screens in the background. It was a sobering reminder of what a hard woman the ocean can be. We had to call off the helo because of the sea state, it was becoming too dangerous for the aircraft, we almost hit it with the sail a couple of times. The sea would not allow us to medivac in our condition and that sea state. I was one of the 23 sent to the hospital that Monday. I was fortunate, my leg was not broken, just trashed/bruised. I walked on that leg for almost 24 hours before it gave out on me and they had it splinted. The SEAL made me promise not to walk on it, how do you refuse a SEAL? LOL. So I hopped around on a single leg for awhile, the other chief's were calling me Tiny Tim, LOL. "God bless each and every one! Except you, and you, that guy behind you!". The COB threatened to beat my @ss if I walk onboard before my leg is okay, he's about the only man onboard that I'd take that from, hehe. The crew is doing better, we've lost a few due to the shock of the incident. We will make sure they are taken care of. The investigation goes on, and I have a new CO. I will only say that the San Fran was the best damn sub in the Navy under CDR Mooneys leadership. We proved that. God bless him and his family no matter what happens in the future, he is truly a good man.
I just need to get my leg healed and get back to fighting my favorite steel bitch.
According to various sources the accident was caused by this "seamount" - suddenly appearing out of "nowhere". The sub was allegedly at flank speed over 30kts (appr. 35mph) at a reported depth of 500 feet below the surface, although no official confirmation due to "classified"). The submarine was on its way to Brisbane, Australia (for a routine port visit) and ran into something which stopped the vessel almost to zero speed - reportedly back to 4kts. This was about 350 miles south of Guam in the area of the Carolines East of the Yap Trench, which connects to the Marianna-Trench. Due to info of various sources of the Marine-command and emails of the crew, there where two impacts - the first was very hard and the second was a smaller bump.
Photographs of the USS San Francisco returning to Apra Harbor in Guam last Monday showed the submarine's sonar sphere and forward ballast tanks heavily damaged. The sonar dome, which is always flooded, probably absorbed enough of the impact to keep the pressure hull from cracking, allowing the crew to save the ship. The reactor, located amidships, and the rest of the propulsion plant in the rear of the ship were undamaged, the Navy said.
One man was killed in the collision, and 60 others from the crew of 137, suffered a range of injuries, including broken bones, lacerations and a back injury, making the incident one of the most serious undersea accidents in memory.
Submariners say the area where the sub was traveling is notorious for no-warning sea mounts. The water depth can change 1,000 fathoms in seconds.
“We know more about the backside of the moon than we do about the bottom of the ocean,” said retired Navy Capt. James Patton, president of Submarine Tactics and Technology in North Stonington.
The area in which the San Francisco was traveling, through the Caroline Islands chain, is one of the worst, with dozens of islands rising out of the water and many more uncharted seamounts between them.
“It's just bad water,” Patton said.
Another retired Navy Capt., a previous commander of the Undersea Surveillance Program in the Pacific. - Raymond D. Woolrich of Waterford, stated: “One of the things I found running the undersea surveillance system is that earthquakes happen all the time in the Pacific, and that's how the earth changes. Could there have been an unknown, uncharted seamount? Sure there could have been.”
The submarine managed to make its way - using its own power - back into Apra Harbor/Guam and was moored at Sierra Pier, where dozens of family members of crewmembers waited. This itself was a great undertaking of the CO and the crew - managing to keep the heavily damaged boat afloat - and manouverable.
When asked how could a high-tech submarine hit something underwater, Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, spokesman for the U.S. Navy Pacific Submarine Force said, "I wouldn't want to speculate on the cause. We are going to have a complete investigation. We are going to look at this very, very carefully, make sure that we have all the answers, and try to prevent anything like this from happening again."
No action has been taken against any crewmembers, pending an investigation.
An investigating officer will likely be appointed to look into the cause of the accident, Davis said. One of the things they will look into is whether the San Francisco or any other submarine has taken that route before.
He said the Navy could not release what speed the submarine was going or what depth it was in during the accident.
"There will be classified and unclassified components of it. Things like depth, we guard pretty closely," Davis said.
There have been a lot of quakes in the area, starting with the Tsunami-quake on 26th Dec. and shown by the eruption of the Anatahan on Marianas (see my related posting) on the 7th Jan., around the time of the accident of the Sub, indicating lots of possible geological activity...
Due to a (even small) tilt of the Earth axis (the Tsunami and the 26 Dec-quake indeed caused a "irregular" wobble, that's confirmed...) the Equator shifts a bit and as well the depths in ocean – as the oceans don't flow and behave exactly the same way as the crust. Did you once try to serve a plate full with soup?? And imagine this plate itself made of rubber (the crust) ;-) So the crust reacts - but the water has more inertia and all at sudden the relations of depht, location, etc. could have changed...
Assuming that the Submariners are no "gamblers", the question arises WHY they want at flank speed KNOWING of imminent quakes and possible connected topographical changes in the area as reported in comments of highranking officials and former retired captains.
- Did they try to escape a "shadow", another rogue Submarine?
- Where they moving away from elsewhere than the reported "Guam", perhaps they came from the Indian Ocean?
- Why were they reported to make a "routine-visit" to Brisbane, when the whole Pacific fleet is on alert and two battle groups are at "humanitarian assistance" in the Indian Ocean? No "better use" for this Sub? The battle Groups CVN-72 Abraham Lincoln and LHD-6 Bonhomme Richard are conducting the Operation Unified Assistance at this time, bringing aid to the victims of the Tsunami - but also 'securing' the whole area by immense military power...
Questions, questions, questions . . . .
CO Of The USS San Francisco Relieved
The commanding officer of the USS San Francisco SSN-711 was formally relieved of his command recently and issued a career-damaging letter of reprimand at an administrative hearing, the Navy Times reported. Cmdr. Kevin Mooney learned his fate at a nonjudicial "admiral's mast" hearing before 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Jonathan Greenert. Mooney had earlier been temporarily removed from command of the nuclear submarine: USS San Francisco pending a formal review of the incident, which left one sailor dead and 23 injured. The Navy has not released details of its investigation into the incident. The mishap took place as the San Francisco was making a submerged transit from Guam to Brisbane, Australia. The 362-foot sub and its 137-man crew were moving at nearly 35 mph when the sub struck what experts believe was an uncharted mountain topped by a coral reef about 350 miles southeast of Guam. Greenert concluded that "several critical navigational and voyage planning procedures were not being implemented aboard USS San Francisco. By not ensuring these standard procedures were followed, Mooney hazarded his vessel."
Cmdr Kevin Mooney
Six Members Of Sub Crew Punished For Pacific Crash
Navy Takes Action Following Grounding Of USS San Francisco SSN711
By ROBERT A. HAMILTON
Day Staff Writer, Navy/Defense/Electric Boat
Published on 3/23/2005
Six submariners assigned to the submarine USS San Francisco have been punished for dereliction of duty or putting a vessel in danger in connection with a Jan. 8 incident in which the submarine slammed into a seamount in the Pacific, killing one sailor and injuring 98 others.
The San Francisco was making a trip to Australia when it came to periscope depth to fix its position accurately a little more than 400 miles southwest of Guam. Minutes after diving, and while traveling at a high rate of speed, the submarine hit a seamount in an area where official Navy charts list 6,000 feet of water.
The executive officer, a lieutenant commander, and the navigator, a lieutenant, received permanent punitive letters of censure, Navy sources said Tuesday.
The assistant navigator, a senior chief electronics technician, received a similar letter and was stripped of his Navy enlisted classification, which ousts him from the submarine force.
Three other enlisted men, all members of the San Francisco navigation team, were demoted one rank, one of them from electronics technician 1st class to electronics technician 2nd class, and two others from 2nd class to 3rd class.
Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the Pacific submarine force, said Capt. Bradley Gehrke, commodore of Submarine Squadron 15 in Guam, conducted hearings on the charges Tuesday.
“Six crew members received punishment for actions that led to the grounding,” Davis said. “Because this was a non-judicial proceeding, we're not going to release names.”
Davis also declined to identify by job any of the submariners punished, and would only confirm that punishment included demotions and letters of reprimand. He said the investigation into the accident “is ongoing.”
“My understanding is that the investigation is being reviewed and is very close to complete, but I don't have a time when it will be released,” Davis said. He also could not comment on whether there has been a decision on whether the San Francisco will be repaired or scrapped.
Machinist Mate 3rd Class Joseph Ashley was killed in the Jan. 8 collision when he was thrown more than 20 feet and struck his head on a large pump. Almost two dozen others were injured so badly they could not perform their duties.
Despite the injuries and extensive damage, the crew got the ship back to its homeport of Apra Harbor, Guam.
Navy sources have said, however, that the damage to the ship, particularly the alignment of some of the propulsion equipment, is worse than initially believed and that the submarine may have to be scrapped.
The grounding destroyed three of the four ballast tanks in the bow, shattered the sonar dome and smashed the sonar sphere. In addition, a bulkhead at the front end of the ship was buckled.
Sources said the sailors were all punished as a result of an administrative proceeding known as a commodore's mast, which lasted 10 minutes or less for each of the men and focused on two areas of inquiry: whether the crew had obtained the most recent charts on board and whether it exercised sufficient caution when there was evidence that the charts being used might be faulty.
The punishments, and the lines of questioning, seem to support claims by Navy sources last month that the submarine had not updated its charts with notices to mariners, some dating back to the 1960s and some made as recently as last year, that would indicate a seamount in an area where the water was supposed to be several thousand feet deep.
In addition, the same sources said, the navigation crew had taken a sounding that showed the water to be thousands of feet shallower than on the charts. Though still showing ample water under the keel for safe operation, the discrepancy should have prompted more caution, the sources said.
Cmdr. Kevin Mooney, the captain of the San Francisco, was permanently relieved as skipper early last month after an administrative proceeding known as an admiral's mast. Mooney was found guilty of failing to follow “several critical navigational and voyage planning” standards, a Navy spokesman said without elaboration.
Sources said Mooney is being reassigned to the Trident Training Facility in Bangor, Wash. He is expected to retire from the Navy from that job, the sources said.
The punishments are likely to be controversial, particularly among submariners, active duty and retired, who contend that the crew should not have been held responsible when the official Navy charts showed thousands of feet of water below the keel.
But other submariners have said navigation teams are expected to take extraordinary measures concerning any area in which they will be operating, and when there is a mistake, particularly one involving a fatality, the captain, executive officer and navigation team are always held responsible.
Why We Almost Lost the Submarine
By Raymond Perry April 13, 2005
Specific details of the investigation into the collision of the USS San Francisco with a seamount in the Pacific Ocean are beginning to emerge and they reveal the incident was far more serious than we originally were led to believe.
The New London Day newspaper published a synopsis of the investigation on Apr. 9, 2005 (“Navy Faults Navigational Procedures In Crash Of Sub”), that paints a grim picture of what happened to the nuclear attack submarine on Jan. 8, 2005.
First, the damage done by the collision was nearly fatal. The article by reporter Robert Hamilton revealed that the forward bulkhead of the San Francisco buckled upon impact with the submerged seamount. Some of the photos of the submarine in drydock show that the deck immediately aft of the damaged ballast tank area has “bubbled up,” indicating significant bending of the hull itself. The buckling of the forward bulkhead noted by the investigation indicates that the ship was on the brink of catastrophic flooding.
The Navy investigation determined that the routine of laying out the navigation plan for the transit to Australia was seriously deficient. Charts in use were not updated to indicate a possible hazard just 6,000 yards from the collision location, and the ship chose to pass within 12 miles of charted pinnacles.
The probe also concluded that the organizational decision-making making onboard the San Francisco was unacceptably “slack” by Pacific Submarine Force standards. Specific examples include:
With the ship’s fathometer showing that water was shoaling over a period of time, key crewmembers took no action to verify the safety of continuing on the planned track.
No attempt was made to verify and resolve the discrepancy in measured versus charted water depth, despite the fact that some key crewmen thought that the soundings taken were incorrect since they were taken at high speed.
- The chart used for daily navigation was a large-scale map with less detail. This was convenient for a long and fast voyage but conveyed a false sense of security when the ship was in fact passing through broken waters.
- It appears that the ship was not using a management tool, such as conducting daily briefs of the next 24 hours of operations, to ensure that all key crewmembers had considered and discussed future hazards.
- An apparently mitigating circumstance was offered in that higher authority failed to send an operational order (called a “Subnote”) to the submarine until the night before its departure from Guam. However, this does not tell the full story. It is rare that a ship is sent out to sea with a subnote “out of the blue.” Were the San Francisco’s captain and crew truly ignorant of this pending voyage?
In a normal sequence of events, the ship itself would initiate the voyage planning process by submitting a request with a proposed track. Higher authority would either approve it or propose changes. The submarine would have the opportunity to negotiate changes in most cases. In any event, such a Subnote only certifies that the proposed track enjoys freedom from interference with other submarines or submerged towed bodies.
It is unlikely that there was much mitigating basis in the late receipt of the final track. In fact, this point seems to have had little sway in affecting 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert’s decision on Feb. 12 to relieve San Francisco Commanding Officer Cmdr. Kevin Mooney during Article 15 Admiral’s Mast proceedings against him for the collision.
So why would a submarine with the fine reputation that this skipper had gained succumb to such unprofessional performance? The easy answer is to simply pass this off as “personnel error”, but I feel there is more to the story.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Congress passed legislation requiring officers to be trained for “Joint Duty” assignments. Such training requires specific education and time spent in joint duty billets – that is, years spent away from an officer’s chosen specialty. My own naval experience has confirmed that this significantly reduces an officer’s available time for professional development in his critical specialty during the period from the 7th to 15th years of an officer’s overall service.
After the joint duty policies went into effect, it was the initial position of the Submarine Force that such training would seriously reduce the performance of Nuclear Trained Submarine Officers. Submarine Force commanders sought an exemption from the new requirement on grounds that the professions of both submarining and nuclear engineering were so demanding that they would not be able to do them justice with the added burden of joint duty. In a previous article (“Why Are Navy COs getting the Ax?” DefenseWatch, March 2, 2004), I discussed the demands of joint training and its impact on the professional development of Commanding Officers in the Navy.
Senior Submarine Force leaders frequently remarked at that time that if they could not obtain such an exemption then submariners would withdraw from joint duty altogether. The long-term implications were clear: Ultimately, there would be few submarine qualified admirals since the law required flag officers to have been trained for and to have served in qualifying joint billets.
But Congress rebuffed the submariners’ objections and directed “no exemption”. After a recent spate of submarine mishaps in recent years, the question arises that the Submarine Force leaders might have erred in not standing their ground.
As a retired career submariner, I believe that the collision and near loss of the San Francisco is an example of why they should have stood their ground. To fully understand the impact of joint duty assignments on career submariners, one must consider Cmdr. Mooney’s career in particular and ask whether he had had sufficient “time on the pond” to have mastered the difficult craft of commanding a submarine. The conservatism and skepticism required for an otherwise good leader to stand back from the day-to-day stresses of running a nuclear submarine and make tough decisions takes a lot of time at sea – not just completion of a PCO course.
Only experience gained from years of on-the-job work provides an officer with the sufficient background, depth of experience and seasoned knowledge to recognize in advance professional errors that seem small at the time but ultimately can have a major effect on the ship’s safety.
In command of a submarine, an officer faces a unique experience: for the first time in his career there is no one to ask if he has a question. The phone lines just aren’t long enough. The CO must solve problems himself – alone. No joint duty assignment can prepare an officer for this.
There is a second potential contributing element to the San Francisco collision. The Navy several years ago merged the Quartermaster rating with the Electronics Technician rating as a means of saving money during a period of personnel cutbacks. What did the Submarine Force lose in eliminating this professional set of sailors, and was it worth it?
Another key element of the San Francisco investigation appears to be that five key Notices to Mariners were not applied to the specific chart which the submarine was using to ensure safe passage at the time of the collision.
Updating charts to ensure all applicable Notices to Mariners have been entered is a mundane and never ending but truly vital task. To a Quartermaster, it is a key element of his professional performance. To an Electronics Technician, it might be, at best, another administrative task.
The chart makers have come in for their round of criticism for not updating the particular chart used by the submarine. In the world of cartography, there is never enough money to map the world and recent combat posed many critical and immediate demands on that community of specialists.
This chart had been updated five times in recent years, but the Navy probe found that Mooney’s subordinates did not ensure these updates made it onto the chart, and thus to the navigation team.
A third factor revealed in the probe is the common and expected practice of employing dead-reckoning to show if a ship is standing into danger. The practice is to lay out the ship’s present course and speed for the next few position fix intervals or four hours in the open ocean (See Chapter 7 of “The American Practical Navigator”). This practice presents a visual display of potential danger immediately available to those navigating the ship, if its course and speed are not changed.
Quartermasters do this in their sleep as second nature and a core element of their profession. To an Electronics Technician this too would be another administrative task among many.
Quartermasters know charts and the potential inaccuracies inherent in a chart based on information predating satellite mapping of the world (see “The Navigator’s Paradox,” DefenseWatch, Feb. 1, 2005). When a Quartermaster sees a series of soundings indicating a shoaling bottom not shown on the chart, it should, and does, set off loud warning bells.
Electronics Technicians are professionals too. They work hard in their chosen field. But each professional field within the Navy operates to different sets of priorities. When the Submarine Force did away with its Quartermaster rating and rolled its responsibilities into another rating, some things that were done instinctively disappeared
I believe that the performance of key people in the chain of command within the San Francisco was deficient. Each of these individuals on board has paid a price for his performance.
But the Submarine Force leadership must also recognize and take responsibility for larger issues. When the core ethos of a professional organization is challenged as in the case of the joint duty requirement, leaders must not only recognize the proposal for what it really does to the organization, but also stand their ground.
Congress’ goal of creating a more perfect officer corps has its down sides. The most well-trained Joint Qualified Officer is of no value if he cannot get his ship to the fight, ready to fight on arrival.
Neither does a budget process that is incapable of recognizing when it has become pennywise and pound-foolish. Whatever savings were taken in doing away with the Submarine Quartermaster rate have been overrun many times by the cost of this accident.
The emerging full picture of the San Francisco accident is even more disturbing than we initially knew: Reduced “time on the pond” for a commanding officer and the loss of a set of core skills came together to set the stage for the near-loss of a submarine and its crew.
In fact, the underwater collision on Jan. 8 will probably result in the premature retirement of the submarine due to the high estimated costs of repairing it. As a forward deployed submarine, USS San Francisco was truly valuable in being permanently stationed within the vast Western Pacific operating area.
USS San Francisco’s loss to the Submarine Force, the Navy and the nation will be felt for years.
To See A Destroyer Hit With A MK 48m Torpedo
The Damage Is Quite Impressive!
RUMMY - ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE
Secretary Rumsfelds visit to Iraq.....not newsworthy, just one 1SG's opinion
To All, this is a shotgun blast response to the media reports on Secretary Rumsfeld's visit to our Camp. I was fortunate enough to be there and even shake the man's hand. When the media reports were released concerning the event, I could not believe what I saw and heard. There are over 12,000 troops on our base. Only 2,000 or so had the opportunity to attend the gathering and I can tell you, those were hotly contested seats. Not as the media would have you believe, so we could voice our displeasure, but rather to have the opportunity to see and hear the man we admire.
Mr. Secretary spoke for 10 minutes or so on the war in Iraq and what freedom meant to the people of Afghanistan. He was there for the recent elections and shared his wonderful insight. After his prepared remarks he opened up the floor for questions and made it very clear that nothing was off limits.
Folks, this is extremely unusual for a dignitary to do. Also, we as leaders, were instructed to not screen our soldiers' questions. They were to be honest and from the heart. Mr. Rumsfeld fielded a number of questions, took down notes for the ones he did not have answers to and genuinely enjoyed talking to the soldiers. Afterward, he spent over an hour with the enthusiastic troops who literally mobbed him and would not let him leave. He smiled for all, shook hands and had pictures taken.
It ended only when his security forced us away. He was applauded, he was given a standing ovation and he was loved. He stood there like a professional, like a man, and he took the heat because that's what leaders do. And yet somehow, the American media turned that wonderful event into a "disgruntled troops meet with Secretary Rumsfeld" headline. Incredible.
The morale is high, the equipment is good and improving daily. Disregard what you read and hear from the media and trust in the American fighting men and women to do the right thing. We have excellent leadership and are doing what we signed up to do.
1SG Timmy Rikard
I'm sure this is not true, but it should be!
A person wrote a letter to the White House complaining about the treatment of a captive insurgent (terrorist) being held in Guantanamo. Attached is a copy of a letter they received back:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. ,20016
Dear Concerned Citizen:
Thank you for your recent letter roundly criticizing our treatment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Our administration takes these matters seriously, and your opinion was heard loud and clear here in Washington. You'll be pleased to learn that, thanks to the concerns of citizens like you, we are creating a new division of the Terrorist Retraining Program, to be called the "Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers" program, or LARK for short. In accordance with the uidelines of this new program, we have decided to place one terrorist under your personal care.
Your personal detainee has been selected and scheduled for transportation under heavily armed guard to your residence next Monday. Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud (you can just call him Ahmed) is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of admonishment. It will likely be necessary for you to hire some assistant caretakers. We will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are commensurate with those you so strongly recommended in your letter.
Although Ahmed is a sociopath and extremely violent, we hope that your sensitivity to what you described as his "attitudinal problem" will help him overcome these character flaws.
Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere cultural differences. He will bite you, given the chance. We understand that you plan to offer counseling and home schooling. Your adopted terrorist is extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat and can extinguish human life with such simple items as a pencil or nail clippers. We do not suggest that you ask him to demonstrate these skills at your next yoga group.
He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may wish to keep those items locked up, unless (in your opinion) this might offend him.
Ahmed will not wish to interact with your wife or daughters (except sexually) since he views females as a subhuman form of property. This is a particularly sensitive subject for him, and he has been known to show violent tendencies around women who fail to comply with the new dress code that Ahmed will recommend as more appropriate attire. I'm sure they will come to enjoy the anonymity offered by the burka -- over time. Just remind them that it is all part of "respecting his culture and his religious beliefs" -- wasn't that how you put it?
Thanks again for your letter. We truly appreciate it when folks like you, who know so much, keep us informed of the proper way to do our job.
You take good care of Ahmed - and remember...we'll be watching. Good luck!
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I don't usually gloat. . . . but, I do like my new svelte look,
after losing 15 Lbs doing cartwheels across the room!
Above is a picture of Mike McNaughton of Denham Springs, LA. He stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan Christmas 2002. President Bush came to visit the wounded in the hospital. He told Mike that when he could run a mile that they would go on a run together. True to his word, he called Mike every month or so to see how he was doing. Well, just recently they went on the run, 1 mile with the president. Not something you'll see in the news, but seeing the president taking the time to say thank you to the wounded and to give hope to one of my best friends was one of the greatest/best things I have seen in my life. God bless him.
CPT Justin P. Dodge, MD
Flight Surgeon, 1-2 AVN RGT
Medical Corps, U.S. Army
A Marine saluting at President Bush's Inauguration.
"I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes."
~ President George W. Bush, September 2, 2004
Check out my version
"My Heros Have Always Been Cowboys?"
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Finally, we have a true leader at the helm as Commander-In-Chief, after enduring eight miserable years of the immoral, draft dodging, skirt chasing, impeached liar, and yellow bellied coward Bill "Cut & Run" Clinton, masquerading as a C-in-C!
THANK GOD, the tree hugging environmental wacko Al "Idiot-in-Chief" Gore didn't become President or C-in-C!!
And yes, THERE MUST BE A GOD because the Ultra Left-Wing Liberal, Rich Elitist, and Traitor John "Flip-Flop" Kerry, AKA "Hanoi" John, didn't become President or C-in-C!!!
ForThe Swift Boat Vets And All Vietnam Vets,Justice Is Sweet.
Bold John sailed forth in his faux scow,
Till the Swiftees fired across his bow;
And legions of irate attorneys,
Could not defend Cambodian journeys,
Nor stories of his fabled hat,
So voters sensed they smelled a rat.
And while the networks denied them prime,
The Swiftees surely got their time.
While John screamed it was all a smear,
O’Neill came across sincere,
And forced Big John to duck the press,
To run, to hide from his specious mess.
But relentless those old Swiftee guys,
They bit, hung on, exposed his lies.
These brave old warriors once again
Stood for their country, for their kin.
They made us all look one more time
At the traitor who’d charged them with crime,
And gave false witness to their deeds
For nothing more than political needs.
It’s a smear proclaimed the New York Times
Those liars all committed crimes.
Chris Matthews raged, foamed at the mouth,
Still the turncoat’s campaign headed south.
So the Swiftboat Veterans’ charges stuck
And made poor John a sitting duck.
He had no answers, no glib replies,
To cover up his treasonous lies;
That made us think, our minds aware,
The Swiftees had some truth in there;
What if he’d faked his combat valor,
Were all those medals tinged with pallor?
Dan Rather would not pay them heed,
But still the Swiftees made John bleed.
The mainstream pundits called them liars;
But no lefty slant could staunch these fires.
The blazes that these Swiftees set
Were burning John Boy’s ass you bet;
And those Swiftboat fires just burned away
Till they fried John’s ass on election day.
Now all you heroes on that Wall
Take solace seeing Kerry fall.
This scheming pol who stained your name
Has been denied his claim to fame.
The Swiftees stood and did their best,
Denied the traitor his life’s quest.
You can rest in peace our honored kin
Your honor restored by honorable men.
The Last Battle
It never occurred to me, ever before,
That our Navy would win the Vietnam War.
When they took to their boats in this year of elections,
With the mission of making some major corrections
I shared their belief, John should not be elected,
And their view overdue, truth should be resurrected.
Yet I questioned the course they’d set themselves for,
Knowing how John was loved by the media whore.
Ignored and dismissed by the media queens
Being shrewd, savvy sailors they still found the means
To reach out to the people, to open their eyes
To a phony John Kerry and his war story lies.
With their very first ad, they torpedoed his boat,
A Cambodian Christmas would no longer float.
His heroics unraveled, his stories fell flat,
Especially that one ‘bout his magical hat.
John called on his lawyers and media whores,
And threatened the Swiftees with vile legal wars.
But these warriors kept charging back into the fire,
And made the folks wonder, “Is Kerry a Liar?”
Till the question of whether he’s telling the truth
Was still in their minds in the election day booth.
So the brave Swiftees gave us what we’d not had before,
They gave us our victory in the Vietnam War.
Those brave, stalwart sailors, falsely labeled as liars,
Stood firm and stood tall, kept directing their fires,
Steadfast, unrelenting, they served once again,
And defeated John Kerry, these honorable men.
All Vets can take pride, yes all, not just some,
That we won the last battle of Vietnam.
It took far too long to bring an end to our war
But we did, November Second, Two Thousand Four.
To our Brothers, forever on that long black Wall,
You’ve been vindicated now, one and all.