Fifteen years… but it seems like a lifetime 4

It was a blue sky day

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September 11, 2001 is the date which marks the turning point in modern history for many people. On this day, America found out what it is like to be vulnerable in a very real way. My generation grew up in the shadow of an elusive nuclear threat. We were trained to accept at a very early age that everything we knew could change in a blinding flash of light and all of us had some role to play in being prepared. Civil Defense shelters were everywhere and many families even had basement bomb shelters to prepare for survival in a nuclear attack.

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But the attacks never came.

The shelters slowly just faded away and became relics of another time. The defenses we had built up were enough to give us a false sense of security. Treaties and the fall of the old Soviet Evil Empire assured us that we were indeed safe. Even rogue nations like Iraq could be bested and contained by coalitions of determined nations. This was a golden age of prosperity and growth.

All of that came to a crashing end on the morning of September 11th. An evil and determined enemy driven by an ideological fanaticism announced to the world that even the great America could be reached and dealt a blow. The planes that were used were representative of the technological and ideological advances of mankind. From the means of transportation to the systems that supported them, modern day jets are a miracle of no small magnitude. Less than a hundred years before that date, sustained air flight was still a dream and the idea that thousands of jets would be in the air that clear September morning was beyond anyone’s imagination. Not only that, but the means to communicate with and track those airborne behemoths was also a very large leap in technology during that same one hundred years. Finally, the development and distribution of the fuel needed to support an ever growing system of transportation was in itself a gigantic achievement for mankind. Think about it… prior to 1900, small vehicles would take weeks or months to travel the distance that these planes could travel in hours.

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The great city of New York was a perfect symbol for the advances in mankind’s technological growth. The World Trade Center Towers were the ultimate symbol of man’s achievements. From the materials used to construct them to the methods employed, man showed that he could overcome seemingly impossible obstacles and build these gleaming structures. They truly represented a greatness that stood head and shoulders above every other generation before in regards to technological advances. The towers contained financial industries, government functions, business of every kind and most importantly people. People of many nations and cultures. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors.

Yet with all of her security and all of her prowess, America was vulnerable in a way that was inconceivable up until the moment the first plane approached the first tower.  Films from that day show the absolute shock and horror of the people as they watched the plane crash into the upper part of the building. I can only guess at this, but it occurs to me that the events of that day were the most published public tragedy that had ever occurred. TV cameras were rolling the entire time and chronicled the events from the first to the collapse of the Towers. Other news crews focused on the attacks on the Pentagon and as the last plane crashed in Pennsylvania, more news sources rushed to inform the public of every detail.

Our innocence was lost forever that day. For a short time, we were united. Politicians who the day before were shouting at each other about the most meaningless things stood together on the steps of the capital and sang and prayed. People put up flags everywhere and talked to neighbors they had not talked to for a long time. There was no race, no creed, no color and only the slightest sense of hatred for Muslims and their religion. All of that would change within a few years. Today, we are more divided than at any time in out nation’s history since the civil war. Politicians use that anger and hated to gain power and divide us even further. But I have to always remember that we allow ourselves to be manipulated.

Worst of all, the world around us seems to be getting more dangerous. The Russians have been behaving like the old Soviet Union, the Chinese are trying to encroach on the freedom of their neighbors, North Korea and Iran routinely violate international law with impunity and places like Pakistan (which is nuclear armed) are on the brink of total collapse.

It will be interesting to see what happens to this country in the coming days and months. Our family has begun to pray more and seek understanding through the scriptures. My gut feeling is that while we were told that the end times would not be defined by an exact day and time, they are fast approaching. I hope I am wrong.

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This gate is the barrier at the end of the memorial wall in Shanksville PA Only the Park service and family members are ever allowed to go beyond this wall to the place where Flight 93 came to its final resting place.

But on the other hand, if a thousand years of progress and achievement can be laid low by a few sick twisted ideologists from a backwards culture branding box cutters, can we ever really feel safe again?

Mister Mac

I won’t be there, but my heart will Reply

News about the inactivation of the USS San Francisco (SSN 711) has finally been released. It appears that it is coming in the next few months. The ship will be refitted and used as a Moored Training Ship (MTS). It had been a goal of mine to see her one last time while she was still a warship but that seems to be out of the question.

God Bless the men who have sailed her through good times and bad for the past 36 years.

 

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I won’t be there.

I remember the first time I saw you. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but you surely weren’t it. You were disheveled, ragged and covered with dirt and dust from the rough environment you were in. You were like a new child that hadn’t even taken its first steps yet. I watched you grow. Day after day through winter storms and a summer hotter than I could remember, you took shape. Soon enough, it was time to break free and become the part of most of our lives that would change us forever. I still see you with twenty six year old eyes and I still get goose bumps when I see you where you were always meant to be. Gliding through the water on your way to the dive point. The day you hit 1000 dives must have been very special. I remember your first. I remember praying that the men and women who built you did so with all of the care in the world. When you broke free from the surface and started showing your real gifts, it was the greatest adventure of my life. Looking around at the others who were with us, I could see the looks on their faces. Screaming through the water, diving up and down, turning so fast, it pulled men to the edge of their seats. It wasn’t my first time, but it is the one that I cherish the most.

You’ve logged a lot of miles. You’ve seen so many places. You’ve had challenges that would have broken others. And now your journey is almost over.

I always felt like you were my mistress. I married my Debbie the same year we met and so many times you pulled me back. I dream about you and I dream about the brave men who kept you safe even in the worst of times. I am grateful for their service every day and I thank each and every one of them. So many are not here anymore and in our old age, the list keeps getting longer.

They tell me you will be a school. That seems appropriate. You have already taught a few generations how to be submariners. It’s something you do well.

I wanted to come and see you one last time but I won’t be there. The thirty six years since we met has been hard on me too. I always say I left my heart on the San Francisco but the truth is that my heart is wearing out faster than you did. I pray that the surgeon’s hands will be as true and steady as the hands that built and rebuilt you.

I will be there in spirit though. I’ll be carrying a clipboard as I make my rounds throughout the boat. I’ll smell the cooking in your galley and feel the boat rising beneath my feet. As I enter a darkened control room, the boat will glide to periscope depth, rocking back and forth in the open sea. Somewhere in the night, the Dive is keeping the planesmen focused and the Chief of the Watch moves his hands like a maestro across the ballast control panel making adjustments. Everything will be performed flawlessly and the mission will be completed well. This is how I will remember you old friend.

Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra

“Big Mac” SSN 711 Plankowner

 

August 6, 2016 – Remembering Hiroshima 1

A special note from the Editor of the Site:

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Today marks the remembrance of a fateful day in world history – The bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. The lives of every person on earth were changed forever by the use of such a horrendous weapon. Even today, the shadow of nuclear weapons still falls over the human race as more and more countries become armed with weapons even more powerful and destructive. As a former Cold Warrior that served on ballistic missile submarines, I can assure you that I am very aware of the potential for disaster that these weapons represent in the wrong hands.

The mayor of Hiroshima has asked all of us to remember the event and dedicate ourselves to eliminating all nuclear weapons. While I share the ideals of a world free from this darkness, I also am reminded that the weapon would never have been developed if another kind of darkness had not existed, The forces of the Axis performed atrocities upon innocent men, women and children and their leaders intentionally lied and misrepresented their positions for many decades before war became inevitable. I study the historical evidence from both sides and it is clearly evident that many choices were made that influenced the decision to use such a weapon.

We will probably never see the end of the nuclear weapon. Even now, dark forces around the globe are plotting the destruction of their fellow man in the name of religion or a misplaced ideology. Instead of holding up the destruction of Hiroshima as an example of something that should never happen again, I prefer to hold it up as a warning to all men with evil in their hearts. I want them to understand that a determined people is capable of the unthinkable in defeating an aggressor.

 

We still stand for freedom and will stand up against tyranny in any of its many forms.

While we pray for peace, we will always be on guard against those who promote war as a means to achieve their ends. The world should not be fooled by the current government’s passivity. Like the seasons, government’s change. But the American heart does not. Think long and hard before you decide to test us.

Mister Mac

Ohio on the surface

Boom Reply

One of the early posts from the Blog.

theleansubmariner

Submarines operate for extended periods of time under the ocean. This ability gives them the advantage of stealth in performing her missions. Since even the most modern submarine requires people to operate it, providing the basics of life while submerged has always been a challenge.

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Think about those World War 2 movies where the Destroyer had forced the U-boat to the bottom. The destroyer captain could be patient since all he had to do was ride around on top and wait for the air on the inside of the submarine to become so horrible it could no longer sustain life. At some point, the boat would have to come to the surface.

When the idea of using nuclear submarines as launching platforms became a reality, something different needed to be done. So the Treadwell corporation proposed building a new type of “Oxygen Generator” that would ensure a high rate of…

View original post 1,465 more words

You have more of a right than you have been taught in schools 3

The right to bear arms. There is a lot of talk about your rights as a citizen. Most people do not know that there was a great debate duing the drafting of the constitution about whether or not to enumerate certain “rights” In the end, the Bill of Rights was included. The Bill of Rights, which is recognized as the first ten amendments to the Constitution, lists many rights of individuals. It is important to note here why the a bill of rights was not originally included in the Constitution. Most of the Framers felt that any power to infringe upon individual rights would not be legal under the Constitution, since the power to infringe was not granted to the United States by the Constitution. But the arguments of the people who supported a bill of rights eventually prevailed, and guarantees were added to the Constitution within a few years. It is also important to note that the Bill of Rights does not grant people the listed rights. The Bill of Rights simply guarantees that the government will not infringe upon those rights. It is assumed that the rights pre-exist. It is an important distinction.
Read the last four lines again very slowly. You do not have to justify ownership or reasons for posession to anyone when it comes to your personal property. The Constitution promises that those rights are inalienable and shall not be infringed.

If you willingly give those rights up, you will have surrendered them forever.

By the way, remember that the terrorist already don’t care about your rights.

Molon Labe

Mister Mac

Your rights

Memorial Day – Planting a New Seed 5

Planting a new Seed

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This was a different kind of Memorial Day for our family. Our recorded history of participation in services goes back to right after the Civil War when communities all across the nation were still trying to adjust to the shocking death toll brought on by the late war. Unlike the wars that followed, there were no instant reports of most individual casualties, only telegraphed reports about large groups of dead, wounded and missing. For four years, in places with strange sounding names, men on both sides of the conflict fell victim to mechanized war on a scale never before seen on this continent.

When the guns fell silent, the grieving process began. Graves were decorated in loving memory in both the North and the South as families adjusted to their new realities. The conflict wasn’t the end of war, it was just a brutal reminder of what wars cost.

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The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was the veteran’s organization that carried the banner of remembrance in the northern states. While they were no longer on active duty, the posts were ruled by General Orders and had men of rank and responsibility. My Great Grandfather John Culbert McPherson was such a man. A private in the Union Army, he carried the traditions of the proudly all the way up until his death (and apparently a little beyond). He is listed in the Memorial Day 1927 Bulletin as the Acting Adjutant (even though he had passed away five months earlier in January 1927).

Great Grandfather was a first generation American. His family had come from Northern Ireland and he was the first of the children born in America. His love for this country were probably the inspiration for both of his sons serving in the Army and Navy during World War 1, a grandson in the Navy during World War 2, two more great grandsons serving as sailors from the Vietnam Conflict to the end of the Cold War and most recently a great great grandson serving as a submariner during the Global War on Terror.

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Memorial Day is in our blood. From the time you are old enough to put on a Cub Scout or Brownie uniform, you are taught the lessons of this important day. I can’t tell you when my first one was but I can tell you where it was. Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Elizabeth Township near McKeesport Pennsylvania. This is the place where John Culbert McPherson’s remains are interred just a few hundred feet from the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial. Many of my other deceased relatives are there as well and I can remember as a kid rushing with my bundle of flags trying to be the first one to their graves.

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The services in Mt. Vernon go back to at least 1925.

I am sure they were there earlier but that is the first of a series of bulletins I have from the many services that occurred over the last 91 years. My brothers and sister played roles many times as kids along with the Boy Scouts of Mt. Vernon and the Girl Scouts too. There was always music, speeches (that always seemed too long) and prayers. In the early years, we also liked the firing squad. If you were a quick and clever boy or girl, you would be able to gather up the brass after each volley. I still have a few empties from those days.

Somehow along the way, the service changed and eventually moved. My Dad was the Commander of the American Legion nonstop for over twenty five years and he saw the dwindling crowds. The Vietnam conflict created so much hostility to all things military and some years the service was just barely kept alive. But Dad persevered and saw his best chance to revitalize it in nearby Elizabeth. He was relentless and enlisted the help of any and all who he could convince or cajole. He boldly approached Admirals and Generals about coming to our small town knowing that in those days they would bring resources. Resources like staff, troops and sailors, equipment and boats.

In another time, I will publish the stories of the longest running Memorial Day in the Mon Valley. But not this year. This year was a bit different. This year was actually pretty painful. But it has a happy ending at least.

When I returned home to the area a few years ago, I dove head first into the VFW and Legion activities. Because of my military and civilian careers, we have lived many places around the world. Coming home was a chance to pay back the community that I had grown up in many years before. I love helping vets and children and I saw a great big hole. Both the VFW and American Legion posts are collocated (have been for years) and it seemed like there was some room for growth. While the Memorial Day program that my Dad created was going along as before, no new things were happening. Like many posts, without new members, they die. So I helped to bring back a number of programs including Speech and Writing Contests at both the VFW and Legion. These contests awarded scholarships and have been around for years but no one was doing anything to work with the local schools. So we raised funds, held the contests and got the schools back on board.

After rising in the “ranks” of the VFW for three years, I helped on a number of other programs and even obtained a grant from a large company to help modernize the post building. This is when I found out about small group politics. One of the older members began to lobby to use the grant money in ways it was not designed to be used for. Since I was the person who signed for the grant and was responsible for the audit to come, I knew that there could be a problem in the future.

So I pushed back hard. At the end of the mess, I was forced out by people who in retrospect must have been pretending to be old family friends. At one point in the conversation, I pointed out my forty years of membership in veterans’ organizations and was told that I hadn’t done it here so it didn’t count. I was also told very bluntly that I just didn’t know how things were done here so I should resign.

I think they were surprised that the “new kid” turned the grant money back into the big corporation. I will not be forced or coerced to do anything unethical. I have higher powers to answer to than small town political hacks. A little disclaimer: There are many great men and women in the Posts who have served well and faithfully over the years. The decisions of the leadership should not be a reflection on them and I wish them all well in the future.

Back to Memorial Day. What do you do when the place where your father worked so hard to grow suddenly rejects you?

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First, you remember that there was a first Memorial Day. Then you remember the struggles during the years when the public just didn’t want to be involved. Then you remember that it is about honoring those who gave everything so that we could live in freedom. So my family joined me graveside this morning of one of the best men I ever knew. We erected one of his old “trophy flags” and held a small quiet service that meant more to me than any in recent history. We walked from grave to grave where our family lays and we honored the tragic loss of so many others.

It felt clean and good. I think a new seed was planted today. All things considered, it might have been just about the right time for that. A very special thank you to my family for helping to honor the sacrifices of those brave men and women. I think it was one of the best services we ever had.

Mister Mac

There are no routine days at sea on a submarine 4

Thresher

 

It was just another day at sea. Routine in many ways but in others it became an eternal reminder of the dangers associated with operating a submarine. The sea is unforgiving and the impact of any small failure becomes magnified beyond control within moments. I have sat in a chair, strapped in holding the yoke that controls the planes. I have stared at the numbers on the darkened panel a few feet in front of me as the numbers clicked off the change of depth. You can feel the pull of gravity as the boat descends deeper and faster with each passing moment. On another day on another boat, we were too heavy and the surface had just released it’s grip on us. Bow heavy, we were going deeper and deeper when we lost propulsion. The fairwater planes were jammed in a rise position and I pulled back as hard as I could on the stern planes to try and slow the dive. Test depth came and went. The boat creaked and men quietly prayed. “Conn, maneuvering, propulsion has been restored”. We slowly climbed back to a safer place between the ocean’s floor and the typhoon that still raged above us. I still have waking nightmares about that night. I clutch my pillow to my chest like it was the outboard yoke, straining with all of my might to will the boat back from the deep.

I often imagine what it was like on the 10th of April 1963 for the planesmen as Thresher made that last dive.
I salute my brothers still on eternal patrol.

Mister Mac

In memory of those we have lost

USS Pittsburgh SSN 720 Crew Visit to Pittsburgh April 6th 2016 Reply

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Greetings to all of my Pittsburgh PA area shipmates and friends.
The Captain and part of the crew of the USS Pittsburgh are arriving this Sunday evening for a official and non official visit to the city.
Wednesday afternoon and evening, there is a great way to honor the crew by attending a Meet and Greet Cash Bar Pre-game Party at the Atria in the PNC Complex at 4:30 P.M. followed by a Pirates Game at PNC Park.
Cost is $25.00 for the pre-game and $25.00 for the game.
This is a great opportunity to show support for our submarine and crew. Tickets are on a first come basis so please respond to John Caspero (Captain of the Pittsburgh Relief Crew) as soon as possible.
RSVP to John Caspero
email: jfcaspero@verizon.net
or email me at bobmac711@live.com for more details
Note: You do not need to be a Navy veteran or former submariner. This is just a great way to pay a small tribute to real American heroes and spend a few hours with them watching a great American sport and team.
I hope to see you there
Bob MacPherson
aka theleansubmariner

Cold War 2 – Russia Rising Reply

Headline:

Russian military plans buildup from West to Pacific

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia is to beef up its military forces all the way from its western border to the Pacific islands amid ongoing strains with the West, the military said Friday.

Perhaps Putin and his Comrades should remember the last time they tried to use coercive measures to blackmail the world into submission.

Here’s a little reminder:

#blackhullsmatter

 

Stand by for action, its going to heat up all over again.

Mister Mac