War in the Pacific – February 1945 3

Buy Bonds
The war in the Pacific was raging at full force in February of 1945. The battles in the Philippines were brutal and costly for the warriors and the people who lived there. Iwo Jima was about to be invaded costing the lives of many brave American Marines and Japanese defenders. Back home, citizens were still being asked to help fund the war by the purchase of bonds. This is a great little video that captures the spirit of the Bond Drive and has some fantastic footage of the island fighting and its aftermath. The Beginning of the clip includes one of the last times President Roosevelt is seen by the general public on film. The end of the clip has a little known movie actor named Eddie Albert Jr. encouraging his fellow citizens to contribute.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL3Q-EqZTb4Prior to World War II, and before his film career, Albert had toured Mexico as a clown and high-wire artist with the Escalante Brothers Circus, but secretly worked for U.S. Army intelligence, photographing German U-boats in Mexican harbors. On September 9, 1942, Albert enlisted in the United States Navy and was discharged in 1943 to accept an appointment as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for his actions during the invasion of Tarawa in November 1943, when, as the pilot of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft, he rescued 47 Marines who were stranded offshore (and supervised the rescue of 30 others), while under heavy enemy machine-gun fire.

Eddie Albert
Bronze Star

From his biography: “Years later, Albert would recollect the heroism displayed by his brothers in arms. In one instance, he found a small group of Marines who were unharmed but lost their weapons when trying to land. Albert offered to take them back to his boat, but they refused and asked to be given something to fight with. He returned later only to discover that they had fallen under enemy fire.

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Albert returned to acting once he left the military. His fame reached greater heights than before the war, and his extensive filmography includes “Escape to Witch Mountain,” “Miracle of the White Stallions,” and “You Gotta stay Happy.” Over the course of his career he was awarded an NSFC Award and a Star on the Walk of Fame. Despite his accomplishments in acting, Albert went on record to say that the day he served as a landing craft commander at Tarawa was the accomplishment that meant the most to him. He passed away in 2005 of pneumonia at the age of 99.”

Mister Mac

 

In honor of the day… the top five posts on TLS Reply

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What worked best in the past three and a half years? Not surprisingly, submarine sea stories were the most popular.

I am grateful to the folks who have contributed as much as I am to those that have visited. So here they are as of today (January 31, 2015)

1. http://theleansubmariner.com/2013/11/24/id-like-to-be-a-submariner-how-hard-could-that-be/

2. http://theleansubmariner.com/2014/02/21/hey-you-have-the-next-watch/

3. http://theleansubmariner.com/2014/02/16/ever-a-submariner-by-jody-rurham-mm2ss-a-gang/

4. http://theleansubmariner.com/2014/12/24/did-it-matter/

5. http://theleansubmariner.com/2014/07/29/just-let-it-go/

One that did not make the top five was one of my very favorite posts and truly shows the bravery of a generation that is fast leaving us: http://theleansubmariner.com/2011/10/25/taffy-3-courage-beyond-measure/

As always, thanks for your visits.

Did your favorite make the list? Let me know what it was and why it was something you liked…

Mister Mac

Come Home to the Sea – Post Number 500 on TLS 2

 

I woke up this morning from a dream about being on the seashore looking out. Our family used to drive across Pennsylvania in the heat of summer and spend a weeks vacation in Wildwood New Jersey. Growing up along the rivers and in the hills of Western Pennsylvania, I had never experienced anything like this before so standing on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean was pretty awesome. The dream was so clear… a boy standing with his feet in the wet sand staring out at the horizon past the waves that were breaking in front of him. The potential for adventure was endless to a young boy.

I can imagine another small boy thousands of years ago doing the exact same thing. The salt spray from the ocean breeze fills his nostrils and the sound of the breakers is balanced with the sound of the seagulls flying all around. What is he thinking as he looks out over the vast sea with no end in sight? Where does his imagination take him as he thinks about the vastness of the water before him? What else is out there?

The oceans have always represented man’s greatest barriers and his greatest opportunities.

“Oh Lord your sea is so great and my boat is so small” is an ageless statement that has probably crossed the minds of sailors in all generations. I have journeyed in everything from a fishing boat in the Gulf of Thailand to the mightiest aircraft carrier in the mighty Pacific Ocean. They are all made equal in their helplessness against the forces of the waters. Even the powerful submarines that carried me around the globe are often mere subjects to the whims of King Neptune when he is raging and storming in his fury.

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Yet human kind still seeks the opportunities that the sea can provide.

Since the earth’s surface is made up of a significant amount of water, the seas provide a way to communicate and share the raw materials far beyond a single countries shores. The early explorers  challenged the “Flat Earth” theories that promised  a swift and sure death for sailors who went too far and fell off into the abyss filled with all manner of dangers and sea monsters. Those explorers were inspired and made brave by the promise of adventure and wealth. In many ways, that same promise spurs on much of the economic growth in the world we live in today.

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We have learned many new technologies over the years that have made the world closer. Air travel is routine now and satellites and the internet have drawn us together like nothing that Magellan could have imagined. Yet the sea remains. Even in this modern day and age, the sea remains as the greatest barrier and opportunity for man.

The great powers throughout history have found ways to use the oceans and seas to extend their power. From the earliest civilizations in the east and the west, nations have used the water for power projection and protection from outside forces. Just as Rome conquered the Mediterranean, other countries have used the distance and difficulty to shield themselves from the influence of others. But technology has impacted both of those abilities and despite the oceans challenges, most modern civilizations are now dependent on one thing: the freedom to freely navigate the sea lanes of the world.

This was one of the first lessons we learned in Boot Camp in 1972. In Chapter 1 of the Bluejackets Manual (18th Edition, US Naval Institute) Military, Economic and Political Importance is introduced to the new recruits.

“Ships of the Navy have always been needed to protect our country’s interests off our coasts and all over the world. Today in an age of atomic bombs, nuclear power, and guided missiles, the importance is greater than ever.”

What was written then is even more true today. Our freedom is directly related to our ability to defend ourselves from any threat to our ability to maintain freedom of the seas. Yet it is the face of this reality that the nation faces threats that come from within. For a number of reasons, our ability to build and maintain a fleet that is capable of an adequate defense is being threatened. The shipyards that once built the ships that stopped the rising tide of imperialism and savagery in the past are no longer capable of producing the next generation with any strength. The technology, experience and ability of our shipyards is being lost to global forces that make us more and more dependent on other countries. Those same countries that could easily fall prey to the influence of an emerging China or a resurging rogue Russian desire for the old days.

Look how weak the world has been in response to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Observe the silent spread of Chinese influence over her neighbors in the vast Pacific ocean. Who will provide the strong voice and power that will keep both of those ambitions in check? America still has a large force available for the foreseeable future. But one only needs to look at Pearl Harbor to see how quickly the power of an area can be shifted. The difference between then and now is that after Pearl Harbor, we had the shipyards and ability to overcome that tragic loss and build the mightiest Navy the world has ever known. With the state of our shipbuilding industry today, I am not convinced we would be able to repeat the miracle. We had the luxury of time in the 1940’s because of the ocean’s protection. With the threats today, that protection would be neutralized.

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From the BJM: “The United States is almost an island, surrounded by oceans. Over these oceans must come the raw materials needed to preserve our great industries. There are a few materials, such as manganese and chrome, which are vital in making steel. Our Navy must keep the sea lanes open for merchant ships, not only to get raw materials but to deliver food and weapons to our friends and allies.”

In a new age of threats, our merchant fleet is almost non-existent. Most of our goods are now shipped on foreign flagged ships built in other nations. This “Island” we live on would quickly become hostage to whoever controlled the seas. The Chinese in particular have spent a great deal of time and money on ship killing missiles. How long could the United States survive without the raw materials that come daily into our ports? Senator McCain, a third generation Navy man is pushing to cripple what is left of the Maritime industry.

http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2015-01-21/story/john-mccain-plan-scuttle-100-year-old-maritime-law-unleashes-anger-first

What’s ironic about McCain’s caving in to special interest that seek to bypass protections for our vital shipping industry is that his whole family and the nation he served are all indebted to that industry for their lives and their freedom.

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The oceans of the world will always provide the resources, the opportunities and the challenges that every generation must embrace. The one thing the ocean’s provide more than anything else is the opportunity for freedom or slavery. Time will tell if the United States is wise enough to determine how to maintain the former and stave off the latter.

By the way, this link will take you to one of the most amazing tributes to the sea I have ever heard. “Come Home to the Sea” comes from Mannheim Steamrollers Fresh Aire VI album and is a remarkable representation of what I feel every time I think of the sea. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN3ACbKknhw

Thanks for stopping by.

Mister Mac

Polaris to Poseidon – 1966 United States Navy Submarine & Missile Documentary 2

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As theleansubmariner approaches 500 posts, I thought it fitting to post another great video of the boats that made up much of my career as well as others in the early days of nuclear Cold War submarines.

The 41 for Freedom boats represented a large part of a concerted effort to offer a countermeasure to Soviet intentions.

God Bless all of the men who served in this historic endeavor. You truly made a difference!

Mister Mac

Silouette of 598

An interesting week Reply

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Thanks for stopping by. I have been out of town for a week doing a training mission for my current employer so blogging was put on hold. It was a pretty good session overall but had one life defining moment.

The training was at a hotel outside of Saint Louis and my team had decided to check out a day early at 0530 in order to make it to the plant we were supposed to visit later in the day. I was pretty zoned out from teaching for two straight days so passed on the meal that everyone else went to. I went to my room and started my nightly exercise ritual of turning from one side to the other in the vain hope of getting a good night’s sleep.

I have gotten to the point where I don’t sleep so well in hotels anymore. Maybe its the nearly twenty years of civilian hotel hopping to support my life and work styles. At about 0200 (2:00 AM for you civilians), I was so awake I contemplated going down to the lobby to scrounge for food.

As it turns out, its just as well I didn’t.

http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2015/01/18/suspect-charged-with-murder-in-drury-inn-shooting/

 

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I’m glad they caught the guy. I am very sad about a fifty year old man who lost his life that night. When we left the hotel in the morning it was a surreal experience. Most of us talked about it for days. Coming back to work today didn’t make the thoughts go away either. The last thing I remember seeing at the front desk that night was seeing a pretty young lady with the most beautiful eyes and smile who set my wake up call. Thinking it was her who died made my heart sick. Maybe its just as well I didn’t see her relief in person since it made it only a bit less personal.

I guess philosophically you could ask the question about what a life was worth? In this case, I understand the killer got $200.00. I am really glad I decided I didn’t need that snack after all. I hope they don’t have snacks in the jail cell he occupies tonight.

RIP Scott Knopfel.

I’m sorry you missed Martin Luther King day this year.

I hear the parades were nice.

Mister Mac

Continuous Learning – It’s a Navy Thing 1

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When I am not writing about submarines, I am normally busy with my day job which is helping the companies I work with to better understand continuous improvement or “lean thinking”. While one is solely vocational in nature and the other is purely avocational both share the same basic roots: Continuous Learning.

As a young boy, I was always curious about the world and spent many hours pouring through the Encyclopedias my parents had bought for the children. I especially found myself drawn to technology and had a great fascination with the technology of war. I can’t think of a single popular book about World War 2 that I didn’t check out from the school library and my personal favorites were written by Samuel Elliot Morrison. Samuel was a close friend of President Roosevelt and convinced him that he would be a great asset in recording the war by being a part of it. The resulting works even with their flaws still remain a rich picture of the many campaigns that the US Navy fought during the war.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_United_States_Naval_Operations_in_World_War_II_(series)

Despite my love of reading however, I was not a very good student in High School. Somewhere around 14, I discovered that the opposite sex held certain attractions that became infinitely more interesting than spending time with algebra and social studies. This new found obsession replaced much of my previous attractions and unfortunately was also reflected in the grades I achieved. I believe that I was still using continuous learning of a sort but it was not of any use in gaining entry to a college.

In fact, I think I had  convinced myself that I was no longer able to spend time in school and decided that the quick solution to my concerns was to join the Navy. The Navy would provide this 17 year old boy with an income, a great adventure, and a way to marry the girl who occupied all of my day and night dreams.So I convinced Mom and Dad that it was the best path forward and in April 1972 they signed the permission slip for me to join the Navy in its delayed entry program. The immediate rewards are still somewhat personal but at the time, I was a very happy young man.

A few days after graduation, I began the next phase of my life which as it turns out was the foundation for the rest of my life in continuous learning. I entered Boot Camp and immediately discovered that not only had I not escaped the classroom, I had entered one which was 24/7. Every single part of that experience was about learning new things that would help me to become an American Bluejacket. From the importance of how you stow your gear to the criticality of understanding the regulations that governed us all, Boot Camp was an intense learning experience that was meant to prepare civilians for a new way of life.

I can still remember the lessons to this day nearly forty three years later. Navy traditions, leadership, teamwork, damage control, seamanship, physical conditioning, health care, first aid, a place for everything and everything in its place, and on and on. All of these are the roots of “lean” and continuous improvement since they demand the sailor be ready for his role in defending the nation and the sailors around him or her. By the end of Boot Camp,  we were ready to join our fellow “shipmates” in a number of areas including Vietnam, aircraft carriers, supply ships, even battleships. Except that a number of us were not quite ready yet. We would receive orders to Class “A” schools where our skills would be enhanced and new knowledge would be learned.

MM rate training manual

My designated school was Machinist Mate A school in Great Lakes Illinois. Right across the street from where I had just spent the last two months. Here we learned about steam and propulsion, valves and pumps, air conditioning basics and refrigeration. All of these skills were supposed to help us become more prepared for the technology that powered the ships that defend the country and its sea lanes. This school included both classroom and practical training including operating a landlocked steam plant. I was happy for the school to come to an end but my plans of becoming a nuclear trained petty officer were not to be met. About a third of us did not pass the final screening and were about to enter a completely different path.

Submarines

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I have a copy of the paperwork where I volunteered for submarines and it is my signature. I don’t remember signing it. But it was among a number of pieces of paper that the classifying Petty Officer put in front of me that cold day in December 1972 after we had been out shoveling snow. When I got the orders to submarine school a few weeks later, I was shown the copy that I had signed and was reminded that it was now my duty to follow orders. My first thought was “Great… more school.” I was a bit disappointed that my addition to the fleet was being delayed once more by schools but you do what you have to do.

Submarine school was awesome. For the first time since boot camp, I really felt like something great was happening. We did classroom stuff but also a lot of interesting things like the dive trainer ( a simulated  submarine dive and drive setup), the dive tower and pressure chamber testing. Now I was getting someplace. Four weeks later, I was ready to go to my first boat and the orders came in.

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Dear MMFN MacPherson… on your way to the USS George Washington SSBN 598 Blue Crew, would you mind very much stopping off in Charleston SC and attend another three months worth of school at the Fleet Ballistic Training Center at our Auxiliary Package course for Auxiliary men? Thanks so much, NavPers. (or something like that, I can’t seem to find the letter they sent).

Off to school again. Consider the irony of all this education for a young man that was tired of school. I finally did get to the boat and found out that in between patrols, it was more school and more training. By the time I finished my career in 1994, I had been to over 62 Naval technical and leadership courses. Along the way, I also picked up enough classes which would lead to a Bachelor of Science Degree from Southern Illinois University (Magna Cum Laude) which probably shocked the heck out of some of my high school teachers.

The learning has never stopped. Since graduating from the Navy, I have been blessed to be able to attend dozens of courses in project management, six sigma, lean manufacturing with eight different companies (including Toyota as a supplier), communications, leadership and others.

The Navy taught me how to learn and the importance of continuing to improve. The best lesson of all was that while you may not be able to remember everything you have been taught, if you remember where to find the answers and how to use them that is the best learning of all.

Thanks for stopping by. Learn something new this week.

Mister Mac

2014 in review 1

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

New Years Day 2015 3

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Thanks for dropping by.

We got up a little late this morning since we tried to see the New Year in last night. Then we had a short meal, a few quiet moments writing in the new “Journal”, and some very sincere praying. The journal was a gift from a family member and asks you to respond to new a question each day. The two of us then write in our thoughts. I believe it will help us to grow our foundation a little stronger. Today’s question was “Love is …?”

Last year was pretty full with work and projects. The picture at the top of the page was from a recent visit to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh. I found my Great Grandfather’s name on his Regimental Plaque – the Fifth Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery during the Civil War. We also found a picture of one of their reunions that I had never seen before. He was still alive when this was taken but I do not know if he was in the picture.

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2015

This will be a very busy year I think.

The work situation is a giant question mark as always. Hoping for a stable year but not so sure that will be in the cards. I asked God this morning to give us the guidance we need, the patience to wait for His work to unfold, and the vision to see the path as it opens up before us.

My submarine veteran’s world will be very busy with a San Francisco Homecoming and USSVI Convention in Pittsburgh PA in September.

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http://www.ussviconventionsteelcity2015.org/

There seems to be enough interest to launch a new organization for USS San Francisco SSN 711 Veterans so more will be coming this year as we achieve our NPO status. The San Francisco itself is scheduled to become a permanent training facility in Charleston so we will be looking for partnerships with them.

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I am in line to be elected as Vice President of Education for the Pittsburgh Navy League and I am very excited about seeing ways to help the organization grow. We have been supporting the USS Pittsburgh crews and one of the long term goals is to prepare for the sad day when she is retired from the fleet. If the fates allow and we do our homework, the plan is to someday have a permanent exhibit to honor the boat by the placement of her sail in an appropriate place.

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The VFW and Legion Children and Youth programs last year were very successful. Our work with the Middle School and High School in four different contests resulted in some very competitive entries. Our Patriot’s Pen entry placed Second in the District and our posts learned a lot to help us in the coming contests for 2015-16.

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Memorial Day is always a big part of our life. Both Debbie and I are on the committee for our small community and we will begin having meetings very soon. The Remembrance Ceremony in Elizabeth Pennsylvania is one of the longest continuing programs in the Mon Valley and has had many dignitaries from both the military and government over the years (including a Vice President). I have been a part of the program for over fifty years in one way or another and it is something worth seeing.

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It wasn’t all about the Navy and Veterans this year. I have been called to help support the ministry at the Church we have been attending. I had already been preaching there on occasion but now will fill the pulpit once a month on a regular basis. It is a small Church but I can feel God’s presence working there. It is a good place to achieve a meaningful balance in the complexities of our lives.

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Thanks again for stopping by.

The blog has over 199,000 hits as of this morning. There was a part of me that had hoped for a New Year’s miracle of 200,000 but all in all, 199K is still pretty cool. For the year, we hit about 107K for this year alone which is more than all of the previous years combined. I am working on a long term project on pre-WW2 submarines that is very time consuming (for the little time I have left after work and other commitments). But I am convinced it is a great story and has never been done exactly like the way I am working on this one. Stay tuned.

I hope your New Year is filled with joy and adventure.

Mister Mac

 

 

Take ‘Er Down – Submarine Video from the 50’s Reply

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Some great shots of older submarine life.  Some awesome shots of a Regulus Missile shot from the Tunney.

From Wikipedia: Communist aggression in Korea placed new demands on the resources of the Navy and led to Tunny’s being placed in commission, in reserve, on 28 February 1952. She saw no service at this time, however, and was decommissioned in April 1952. On 6 March 1953, she was placed in commission for the third time. Converted to carry guided missiles, she was reclassified as SSG-282 and was armed with the Regulus I nuclear cruise missile for nearly 12 years. In this role, Tunny was equipped with a hangar housing two missiles and a launcher on the after deck. One of the limitations of Regulus was that the firing submarine had to surface, the missile then being rolled out onto the launcher and fired. Regulus I also required guidance from submarines or other platforms after firing. In 1955, a second World War II submarine, USS Barbero, was also converted to fire Regulus I.
For the first four of those years, she operated out of Port Hueneme, contributing to the development of the Regulus missile system. Except for a short period of type training, Tunny engaged entirely in the launching and guidance of Regulus missiles for purposes of missile evaluation in the development of the system. In 1957, she shifted her base of operations to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, bringing Regulus to initial operational capability, where she conducted the first submarine deterrent patrols and fired exercise missiles.

 

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Mister Mac