We never used to have to lock our doors. 2

MacPhersons 1960's MacPhersons 1960's 2nd 011_9


Ah, the good old days.

I grew up in Elizabeth Township in Western Pennsylvania.  In sixty years I have lived all over the world and just recently returned to the area. You can hear the same story all over the country. No one used to lock their doors and people had respect for other people’s stuff. Honestly, I never had a key when I was growing up because we never needed one. You could walk the mile and a half to my grandmother’s place and walk right in also since even if the front door was locked, the doggie dog never was and you could quickly unlock the main door by sticking your hand right through it.

How did we get here?

As it was once famously said by a cartoon character “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Walt Kelly & Pogo Earth Day Poster-8x6

It starts in the home.

  • Kids are given everything and then are shocked when they grow up and have to actually work for things. Its not fair.
  • God is kicked out of school and all of our public places so we won’t offend anyone.
  • The police are disrespected and so is the law… ever drive above the speed limit with your kids in the car?
  • Family prayers are almost unheard of and attending any church is too much time away from the soccer fields and dance lessons.
  • Equal opportunity has been transformed into everyone has a right to be whatever they want to do or be whether they work for it or not. and if they don’t get it, its because some one is a bigoted racist.

From my observation of living in so many places I can tell you that Elizabeth Township is still slightly behind many areas that have much higher rampant criminal behavior. But you are catching up quickly. You can buy all the guns you want, but until you become part of the community and work on real solutions to the root cause, you will not be safe. It all starts in the home. Then we take back the public discussion and add responsibility to the idea of rights. Finally, we thoughtfully elect people who represent the values and ideals that can return the governing structure to what matters most.

This has always been a land where freedom comes with an understanding that it is not free at all if no one is willing to work for it.

Mister Mac


Surfacing Employee Engagement 1

Riding high

Years ago I belonged to a very bureaucratic organization that had multiple “business units” performing many of the same tasks on a global level. I was a member of five of these units and made some observations about how each performed. All had the exact same mission and vision statements. All had the exact same set of rules and guidelines. All were equally resourced. Yet, of the five, only one exceeded everyone’s expectation and had the highest level of engagement of any of them.

The USS San Francisco SSN 711 was a 688 class nuclear submarine and I still model it today when I work with organizations. Leadership was a key to preparing the framework for engagement but only as something that allowed engagement to occur. This was not an easy life by any means and the technical bureaucracy could be maddening. Deployments were frequent and often arduous and the unexpected nature of the assignments added to the complexity. What made this boat different form the other four was the steady and consistent encouragement from leadership for all hands to be as engaged as they wanted to be. That engagement led to opportunities and rewards that were both real and meaningful.

For some, NAVY was an acronym for “Never Again Volunteer Yourself”. I felt that sharply on my first two submarines and it showed in the lackluster performance and achievements of the boats and their crews. Don’t get me wrong. Both boats had storied histories and had achieved many things in their earlier years. The thing that seemed to be lacking during my tours on them was the leadership and sense of ownership. I rarely felt inspired to do much more than the minimum in many cases and while there were isolated pockets of excellence, it was not the norm.

To be fair… even on the San Francisco there were some guys on board who only engaged as much as they were required. But a larger share of the crew did more and contributed more than what seemed to have been in place on other similar units. I have kept track of that particular crew for over thirty years and most went on to have amazing careers in both the Navy and the civilian world. We had a large group go on to become commissioned officers and a significant number of us enjoyed full careers. Leadership must lay the foundations for engagement, but it is the people who are in that system that have to find the inner drive and determination to succeed.  This symbiotic relationship was a key driver to our success on the 711 boat.

If organizations really want to capture the benefits of having an engaged workforce, the leaders must be passionate about creating a culture where engagement is valued and rewarded in a meaningful way. Without that passion, mandated engagement is nothing more than mandatory fun that was often the case on many Navy submarines. Mandatory fun was always short lived, mocked by the crew, and rarely ever gained any real results.

Mister Mac

Veterans Day 2014 – Thanks to all who served 2


I posted this a few days ago on Facebook and the response has been pretty terrific. Lots of “Shares” and hundreds of “Likes” from all over the world.

The picture has been on the blog a few times but I was thinking about what a veteran really is. As I told a group of high school students today, I have never met a veteran yet who claimed to be a hero. Most of us are just content with blending back into civilian life at the end of our hitch (regardless of how long that hitch ended up being.) Its been over twenty years since I retired and I find myself more and more gravitating towards veterans groups like USSVI, American Legion and VFW. None of the groups I belong to have bars so when we meet its normally to associate with people who have something in common with us.

Our service as individuals is as varied as the grains of sand on Omaha Beach. Some of us carried guns around with us and some did their fighting in a mess hall or a company clerk tent. My favorite Marine is quick to tell you he only spent one day in combat in Korea. He often forgets to tell you about the months he spent in a hospital in Tokyo afterwards trying to get his life back together. Many of the boys/men were drafted (at least until 1973). But to a person they will tell you that being part of the service was a pivotal point in their lives. They came home to a world that was smaller than when they left and not quite as disciplined compared to where they had just been.

My Posts are just finishing up the written and oratorical contests for the 2014-15 year. Its absolutely amazing to read the words that these kids use for veterans and why we are so special to their world. I was humbled to read them and even more to hear some of the kids speak at the assembly in school today. It really gives you hope for America when you see that kind of thing happen.

In years past, I have said that for all they did, every day should be Veteran’s Day. I still believe that but it is kind of special to know that we get at least one day where many people take the time to say thanks.

So to all of my fellow Veterans, let me add a thank you of my own. It wouldn’t have been the same without you!

Mister Mac

The War on Veterans … Score one for the good guys 1

Headline: “Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi Just Ordered to Be Immediately Released From Mexican Jail by Judge”


Great news this morning that the only man prevented by the administration from coming across the American border is home with his Mom. Proud American’s all across the country are celebrating his release today. The White House said…. wait, I was searching and it seems the President is silent on this joyous occasion. Still. After seven months of being AWOL again on a matter related to Veterans, this administration is finally revealing its war fighting prowess. They are once again showing how much they are at war with America’s Veterans.

Looking back over the past six years, you shouldn’t be surprised that Tahmooressi’s 214 days in a Mexican jail is just one skirmish in this war. The still unresolved scandal at the Veteran’s Administration is an open sore for all of the Veterans affected as well as their families. There are still great stories coming from the lower levels of Veteran care that highlight the many professionals within the system. But the administrative leadership that sought to cheat Veterans from needed and earned care is an abomination and none of the senior people have yet been held to true account.

Look, its no secret that the Obama administration and its feckless minions have utter disdain for the military and Veterans. Their continued misuse of the active duty forces for political purposes is widely documented. Ask the people in Afghanistan and Syria about Obama’s true intents. But one after another, the scandals of this administration point to their War on Veterans. From Fast and Furious to Benghazi, you find a trail of Veteran’s bodies. Obama rarely shows up to honor Veterans and often only because he can’t escape the task for political reasons. These idiots can’t even let themselves call a stone cold killer that ruthlessly gunned down American Soldiers on our own soil a terrorist. They are more concerned with upsetting Islamists than they are about properly supporting their active duty and Veteran personnel. Madness in any other country. Reality in this administration.

There is no need to ask why they have this problem with Veterans. Many are conservative and love this country. They love it so much they were willing to give their freedom and life for it. How many of those people surround Obama’s inner circle? Even Obama’s wife once famously said that for the first time in her life she was proud to be an America. America’s Veterans spend their whole lives being faithful to this country. None of Obama’s inner circle even served a day in uniform and Valery Jarrett’s utter disdain for all things military is the worst kept secret in Washington DC.  Its easy for them to ignore us since they know we are by and large not going to vote for them anyway. We are the enemy and you know what Obama and Jarrett have both openly said about how they treat enemies.

I try to avoid political blogs these days because I know many came here to read about submarines. But the men who rode those submarines, who put their lives on the line every day for months and years are a small part of a larger community called Veterans. This administration is attacking them by attacking their legacy as Veterans, their health care, their freedom and in some cases their lives. The War on Veterans cannot be more clear.

When you vote next, please consider this.

People who support the current President and his staff support the War on Veterans.

Rather than saying that you “Support our Troops” or “I honor America’s Veterans” show your real support by opposing those who have started and continue this WAR on Veterans.


Mister Mac

Proud American, Proud Veteran, Proudly supporting those who are under attack by an administration that is ignoring the will of the American public

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The Boats of NOVEMBER Reply


An important part of Cold War submarine history

Originally posted on theleansubmariner:

The early days of nuclear submarine operation and development were fraught with opportunities for success or disaster.

The United States Navy was first to the game with the Nautilus and the Soviets were not far behind. The major difference was the technology and insistence of safety on the American side. Admiral Rickover’s insistence on training and technological safety were rock solid which prevented the US from many catastrophes.


The Soviets started the game from behind and the lessons learned were legendary for their consequences in the submarine community. From design to command structures, the Soviets had a long history of cleaning up after themselves as they learned one powerful truth after another. Most people know the story behind K19 (aka the Widow maker). The movie starring Harrison Ford is a classic example of the flaws in design, structure, engineering and command problems that plagued the Soviets.



The NOVEMBER class…

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Taffy 3 – Courage Beyond Measure Reply


One of my old favorites from a few years back. Great men do great things.

Originally posted on theleansubmariner:

In the annals of US Naval history, there are a number of instances that demonstrate the courage and determination of a committed group of dedicated officers and men.

The one that stands out most in many people’s opinions is the battle which occurred on October 25th 1994. On this day, a small group of scrappy warriors took on a force many times its size and contributed to one of the greatest naval victories of all time.


By October of 1944, the Japanese were becoming more and more desperate to slow down or stop the advancing juggernaut that the US Navy had become in the Pacific. From the ashes of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, a resurgent United States used its massive industrial capability to produce a fleet second to none in the world. The men of Pennsylvania, Kansas, California, and the other forty eight states were indoctrinated into a life…

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Five Best Submarine Classes in the World – one author’s view Reply




This is an interesting read about some of the best submarines of all time. Some would argue that the Ohio Class is actually on top of the list but all had their place in submarine history

Mister Mac

Riding high 2

Something completely different for me 1

MMFN MacPherson

I recently did an interview on Bill Nowicki’s Blog (episode 29)

Pretty interesting stuff… if you have a few minutes, check it out


Thanks Bill

Mister Mac

With all this new stuff, why is everybody so unhappy? 5

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the state of the Navy and the other seagoing forces. To be sure, there have been a lot of technological advances in the past twenty years since I hung up my sword (literally). Submarines have reached new levels of sophistication that make them more efficient than ever before. Without going into any detail, I would have to admit that what I know from my reading indicates that these boats can literally outperform any previous class in nearly every category. Frankly, I would give them six months of retirement pay for one month underway on one of the newest fast attacks. I promise I wouldn’t eat much and I could try and remember my many skills as a mess cook if I were allowed a few hours on the helm. I wonder if they are still even using helmsmen and planesmen?


The surface ships look pretty exotic too. I went to the commissioning of the USS Minnesota last year and tied up next to her was a San Antonio class LPD like the USS Somerset that had some of the oddest hull and superstructure dimensions imaginable. I’m told by friends that know these things that the design has unique purposes that will help her survive a number of threats during combat. I can imagine they would based on her looks.



The other surface fleet advances as well although I still have my doubts that the Littoral combat design will ever prove that it was worth the money spent to design, develop and deploy it. But again, I am really old school at this point. My number one hobby besides writing is being a self-certified nautical history tourist. That means that no battleship, submarine or surface ship that survived the breakers yards is safe from my camera. This year’s quest took us to Massachusetts to “capture” the battleship Massachusetts, USS Joseph Kennedy and of course the Lionfish (a restored Balao class submarine that is still in pretty good shape).

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What worries me though is the endless drive to shrink the military at precisely the same time that threats continue to spiral upward. This translates into longer deployments with fewer ships under more extreme conditions. The reemergence of a soviet style dictator like Putin ensures that we may be in for another round of the Cold War. I know very few people that believe that he will be satisfied with scraps of paper when he can manipulate entire countries with his newly energized forces and treachery. Aircraft incursions along both coasts are becoming more and more routine and he is probing allies and non-allies as well across the entire region. How long will it be before some contrived crisis causes events to completely spin out of control?

The Chinese are also reading the tea leaves of the future at sea. As American continues to swim in debt, the Chinese are choosing to see how their long range naval plans can expand. Submarines, surface technology, long range missiles and electronic intelligence activities all continue to grow at an alarming rate. While we are closely tied economically, how long will that last if we have a collapse caused by our out of control generosity with our children’s monetary future?

And what about our Navy? Recent reports indicate that US Navy morale is at a very low place. From everything I have observed, I can’t say as I blame them. Political correctness has replaced military readiness. Commanders and leaders are routinely shit-canned for offences that would not have gotten previous generations a stern talking to. I have said it before but I am infinitely glad that cell phones and their internal cameras did not exist in my day. A vengeful shipmate could have altered the course of many a sailors career with one well taken candid shot. Don’t get me wrong, I do not support the worst of the worst offenders. I just think that our “leaders” are so terrified of their own careers being torpedoed that they have fallen into the PC honey trap of all time.

Longer deployments coupled with limits in funding for training resulted in tragic accidents in the Navy’s past. Misguided political policies add to those woes. I read recently in the Naval League’s Seapower magazine that one of the Admirals in charge of policy deployment said that climate change was the number one threat to the Navy and the country. Really? Climate change? I would have thought missiles and submarines and nuclear weapons were on top of that list. Maybe even the resurgence of the USSR and Red China as a threat.

Seeing the leadership failures and poor decisions being made makes me very worried for our country. I can understand why the average sailor who can’t speak his or her mind probably feels the same. I can only hope that it is not too late to reverse this course. Sailors have always done the impossible with varying support in the past. But I would at least like to give them a fighting chance. Wouldn’t you?

Mister Mac