It was never easy 3

It was never easy

On the day I retired from the Navy, my crew presented me with a shadow box. That box sits on my desk and I look at it from time to time when I am not typing stories or checking out the latest on the Internet. It’s a nice box with beveled edges, a glass cover that has kept the dirt at bay for many years and a deep blue velvet background. The display is a chronology of my service from the time I enlisted until the day I retired. All of the achievements of my career are visible and each remind me about the one thing that all military people know and understand. It was never easy.

The Oath

I took my first oath at the age of seventeen with my proud parents standing by. Like my father before me and his father too, I chose the Navy. I wanted adventure and travel and the recruiter had promised me that and much more. The Navy would give me the chance to grow and learn many things. I would get to travel to exotic parts around the world and experience so many things that I would never find in the Monongahela Valley where I grew up. He said that many sailors found time to achieve a college degree and if they worked hard, they could someday be a leader and maybe even an officer. But he was an honest man and added this stern warning: “It won’t be easy”.

Taking the oath of enlistment at such an early age was actually very easy. I guess in retrospect, the oath was just a step you had to take on the journey to where you wanted to be. Up until the moment I took it, I will confess that I did not think about what I was doing too much. But in the moments leading up to raising my hand and repeating it, the gravity of it came over me. For the next six years, I was going to be committed to doing whatever it was the Officers and Chiefs appointed over me would tell me to do. There were no half measures in making that commitment. If I failed, I would disappoint my parents, my friends, and myself. I remember a small moment of panic as I realize that I didn’t really know what was ahead. What seemed like such a simple step became a really big thing in that moment.

They lined us up in that room in the Federal Building in Pittsburgh. Stand at attention and raise your right hand.

“I, (state your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

And just like that, I took an oath that would change my life forever.

On either side of the shadow box are little brass plaques that say when and where I was stationed. Looking at them now, they seem pretty cold and sterile. There are twelve of them that represent the twenty plus years of active and reserve service. Interestingly enough, one of my commands is missing. When I look at them, I see something more than just brass. I see the sacrifices, the endless days at sea, the loneliness and the danger that many of them represented. A number of training commands, five submarines, one drydock and one submarine tender. They all have one thing in common: none of them ended up being very easy.

The ranks and awards make up the middle section of the box. Candidly, some took longer to achieve than I would have liked. For the longest time, I was convinced that the Navy would come to its senses and do things my way. Then, after a series of faltering steps, a wise Chief let me know in no uncertain terms that the Navy had done quite well for over two hundred years and if I really learned to accept that, I might make progress a little faster.

Starting over is never easy

I am lucky that I was able to completely reboot my career but as I have probably already indicated, it wasn’t easy. I learned that the oath really meant what it said. I also learned that in addition to the oath, there needed to be a strong willingness to sacrifice. I looked at those around me and saw many people who were giving their all to the service they chose. Don’t get me wrong. There were others who bitched, moaned and whined (BMW) every field day and duty day. The difference was, I decided not to be one of them. I took ever collateral duty I could, worked more hours than ever before in my life, learned new skills and polished up the old ones. No challenge was too great and I humbled myself as much as I could to achieve them.

During all of that time and ever since, I learned something about the men and women I served with. They all took the same oath. They learned what sacrifice was and learned to work together to achieve common goals. These are my brothers and sisters who share a devotion to their country and to the promises they made. Some fell along the way and some could not live up to their pledge. But on the whole, the people who I look back on now in my life with the most respect are the ones who discovered that even though it was not easy, you lived up to your oath. Even when the storms at sea knocked you about, you stayed the course. Even when it meant a ton of self-sacrifice, you honored your promise.

It is fitting that shadow box reflects the ranks in an ascending order to show the progression of growth. The ribbons are not as plentiful as some I have seen on current sailors and officers chests. But each one is a testament to the teamwork and shared sacrifices of my many shipmates. The dolphins represent membership in a unique brotherhood (that now includes a sisterhood).

The most dominant feature is the folded flag at the base.

This particular flag flew on a summer’s day over my last ship, the USS Hunley. If any of my previous commands had ever given me a hope that this one would be easy, that hope was dashed immediately. But with the help of my many shipmates (Chiefs, Officers and Sailors), we overcame some very large challenges together.

The flag at the base is a constant reminder that when you take that oath, there is something much bigger at stake than the temporary loss of some of your personal freedoms. It is the flag we all sailed under, protected with our service, and still honor today. I see the world around me now and worry that many people do not understand what it means to be counted upon. I see people too easily taking oaths or promises and just walking away with little to no remorse. I watch people who don’t get their way rioting in the street and refusing to commit any form of self-sacrifice.

But there is still time. We as a country can still turn the ship around. There are still many young men and women who have already raised their hands and taken that same oath. They need our prayers and our support. If you are not already a member of one of the many organizations that veterans have open to them, time to step up and do so.

I would just offer one word of advice:

It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.

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

Failure is not an option Reply

failure is not an option

The nature of submarine warfare has always been filled with an equal mix of adventure, bravery and precision. The adventure starts the minute the boat becomes free from the pier. Gliding along on the surface of any of the rivers and bodies of waters they sail from is only the first part of the journey. In the early days, the noise of the gasoline or diesel engines coupled with the ever present smoke seemed to push the little craft towards her destiny. Later nuclear submarines were quieter but the wake of a passing sub was still enough of an indication that an adventure was about to begin.

As the submarine cleared the channel and reached the dive point, all hands felt the tension as the boat was rigged for its dive. Preliminary preparations were in place and the final actions just needed to be completed as the submarine transformed from a clumsy surface dweller to a steely eyed killer of the deep.  One thing that was the constant throughout the entire evolution though… failure is not an option. The equipment, the men, the boat itself must perform as flawlessly as possible in order for the mission to be complete. Failure in any one of these could be catastrophic for the crew.

The level of detail in planning and preparation before the boat even hits the water starts a life long journey of excellence that is the hallmark for a modern submarine. After all, this boat will be operating independently for most of its life with only the skills of the builders and the operators separating the crew from certain death. The qualification program is hard and the ongoing training is comprehensive. But it is the steel inside each and every qualified submariner that defines the toughness of the submarine service. They must train their minds to live in a confined space with others and think at least two steps ahead at all times. They anticipate the problems they hope will never come and even in their sleep they remain vigilant for the sounds that indicate a change… ventilation shifts, motors changing ion intensity, even the 400 cycle hum. All of these could indicate a problem that will need answering as quickly as possible.

Submariners of all generations share one thing in common whether they served on an old S boat, Fleet Boat, Guppy, Fast Attack or Boomer. They all understand that at any given moment, the only thing that stands between failure and success is a qualified submariner who has made the ultimate promise to themselves and their shipmates; Failure is not an option. Not on my watch.

Mister Mac

theleansubmariner

Ohio at Bangor 2

Gunfighters on the Java Sea – May 28 1945 2

Japara MapI have been chronicling the actions of the US Forces in the Pacific fleet for a number of months and in doing so have found some really great stories with a lot of detail about how the war was progressing in mid 1945. One of those stories started with a small footnote about a wolf pack operation in the Java Sea conducted by the submarines USS Blueback (SS-326) (Balao-class submarine – commissioned 1944) and USS Lamprey (SS-372) (Balao-class submarine – commissioned 1944) as they battled the Japanese submarine chaser Ch.1 in a surface gunnery action off Japara, N.E.I., 06°28’S, 110°37’E.

 

 

Sub chaser

 

What I like most about these stories is the human face they put on the war’s prosecution. The Blueback’s war patrol records and deck logs have been preserved and I was able to trace the action in the words and sometimes very interesting thoughts of her skipper M.K. Clementson Cdr. USN. one small example came in his final report where he spoke about crewmembers who were departing before the mission began. While reading the original report, I was a bit confused for a few moments about the upcoming re-assignment of Lt. James Mercer who had completed 13 war patrols.

Lt. James Mercer departing

By this time in the war, many of the submarine skippers were modifying their deck guns to suit the missions they would be conducting. During his refit in Perth AU prior to commencing the third war patrol, Clementson and his crew rearranged the location and firing support devices for much of his topside weaponry. The hope was that with an increased capacity to conduct surface operations, they would be able to have more flexibility in attacking the dwindling enemy surface fleet and merchant fleet. During the third war patrol, Blueback would get credit for sinking one patrol boat using surface tactics.

Night Action – Java Sea

This story occurs on May 28th in the Java Sea. While the world and most of the military was still focused on the continuing battle of Okinawa, patrols by the US Submarine force continued all across the pacific. The boats that had been rushed into service during the previous few years had finally started overcoming the torpedo problems of the early years. Success after success had started piling up and even though submarine losses also took their toll, new fleet boats were adding to the overall efforts in ways never before imagined. At 0355 on the morning of the 28th, Blueback had just completed a secret mission and was beginning her patrol. She sighted what she thought was a Jap destroyer at 0510 and sent a report to the Wolf Pack she was operating with.

From that moment on, she would join with the Lamprey in a running torpedo and gun battle in the Java Sea.

The Balao  submarine classs was made up of 120 boats and those were typically armed with the following weapons:

10 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
(six forward, four aft)
24 torpedoes
1 × 5-inch (127 mm) / 25 caliber deck gun (which replaced the 4-inch 102mm gun installed at the beginning of their service)
Bofors 40 mm and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon

5_inch_25_caliber_gun_USS_Bowfin 640px-Boffin_40mm_bofors_cfb_borden_1 c7c38083acef7a46e63e1cf387b73eae

During her overhaul prior to WP 3, the guns on the Blueback were modified as follows: the twin 20 MM was moved from the cigarette deck to the main deck forward and a second 40mm was installed on the cigarette deck. They also installed specially braced mountings for twin 50 caliber machine guns and twin 30 caliber machine guns on the bridge. In short, the Blueback was loaded for bear and was ready to take on any targets she would encounter on the surface.

Wolf Pack – American Style

German submarines are well known for Wolf Pack tactics that resulted in horrific losses. Not as well known are the Wolf Packs that the US Forces operated in during the Pacific campaign. Starting with the coordinated attacks of the USS Cero, many combined operations were mounted. At first, there was a reluctance among the individual skippers to advocate for this type of operation. But some, including Captain Swede Momsen saw the need for new tactics in this war . USS Cero cleared New London 17 August 1943 for Pacific waters, and on 26 September sailed from Pearl Harbor, bound for the East China and Yellow Seas on her first war patrol. This patrol was also the first American wolfpack, comprising Cero, Shad (SS-235), and Grayback (SS-208), commanded from Cero by Captain Swede” Momsen.

Torpedo Attack

At 0843, the Blueback submerged and began a day long track and search pattern looking for the contact the had sighted at 0520 and at 1910 sighted a submarine that was identified as the USS Lamprey. At 1954, she surfaced and  communicated with Lamprey using blinker lights. At that time Blueback was informed about the three targets in the Japara anchorage. Plans were then exchanged for the hunt. At 2010, there was a radar contact which the skipper verified was not a submarine. The contact was at approximately 12,000 yards and zig zagging.

From the action report:

“Can just barely get in a night tracking surface approach before the just rising full moon gets too high. Tracking 10 knots, base course 090 true. Am convinced this is our OOD. Will have enough moon before shooting to make certain it is not a submarine.”

One of the greatest fears of submarine commanders concerning the Wolf Pack approach was in not shooting a fellow American submariner in the heat of the battle. Our technology in weapons firing and ship identification was pretty basic during that war so this was a real concern.

At 2033, confident of his target, Blueback headed in at flank speed.

At 2102, Blueback slowed to 2/3 speed. He received a message from the HMS THOROUGH giving his position and stating that a patrol craft has been patrolling in the area all day. Target was not THOROUGH. Target definitely not submarine. (Note: HMS Thorough was a British T class submarine that served in the Far East for much of her wartime career, where she sank twenty seven Japanese sailing vessels, seven coasters, a small Japanese vessel, a Japanese barge, a small Japanese gunboat, a Japanese trawler, and the Malaysian sailing vessel Palange)

At 2107, with confidence that the vessel was not a submarine, Blueback fired five MK 18-2 torpedoes forward. Torpedo run was 3000 yards.  At 2109, the skipper turned the boat and fired 2 MK-14-3A torpedoes aft, torpedo run 2200 yards. All missed and as a good close broadside view of the target was obtained, it was discovered that this was not a destroyer but a patrol boat.  Blueback headed away at 19 knots. The patrol boat headed away from a torpedo that broached just ahead of him.

Blueback’s skipper made a note in the log:

“Made mental note to always use binocular formula hereafter in an attempt to avoid such costly errors in the future. Even with grim visions of my income tax soaring to the stratosphere. Won’t be able to look a taxpayer in the eye.”

At this point he slows the ship and manned the 5″ and two 40mm gins and informed Lamprey who was 9-10,000 yards to the northwest.

Open Fire

At 2135, Blueback opened fire and immediately got some hits. These hits resulted in a small fire being started on the patrol ship’s forward action station. He commenced returning fire , too accurately according to reports with 25mm explosive shells.

at 2140, Blueback laid a smoke screen and opened range. The moon was brilliant by that time and very low. Blueback was heading into the moon and was weaving to each side trying to distribute the smoke in any direction but true west. The target’s gunfire was on them every time they emerges from either side of the narrow screen.

At 2143, Lamprey opened fire with her 5′ gun but in the words of the Blueback CO “The silly target didn’t know enough to shoot at him.” Then Blueback opened range to 6500 yards and headed to join the Lamprey. The target was making radical maneuvers and returning fire on both Lamprey and Blueback by this time with four guns. The Lamprey skipper reported that “his aim was not very good”. Lamprey expended 40 rounds of 5″ ammunition and recorded two sure hits.

At 2200, Blueback fired a few more rounds of 5″ at his gun flashes but when he ceased firing, there was no more point of aim. Blueback decided to call it a draw (except that Blueback was not hit thanks to the smoke screen.) Lamprey made the same decision at 2209 and the engagement was completed. Blueback’s skipper records in his log that better night sights and star shells would have helped considerable to eliminate “this boil on the heel”.

Lessons learned from the action that night:

1. Get and keep the TARGET up moon,

2. Concentrate forces on initial attack.

At 2207, Blueback set course for new area, 3 engines… At 2339, Lamprey departed for her new patrol area in the Karimata Strait.

The CH-1 would survive the rest of the war but had one more brush with the American submarine fleet.  On the 16th of July 1945: West of Surabaya, Java, she was escorting gunboat NANKAI (ex-Dutch minelayer REGULUS) when they were attacked by LCDR William H. Hazzard’s  USS BLENNY (SS-324). Hazzard fires a total of 12 torpedoes in a night surface radar attack and claims four hits that sink NANKAI at 05-26S, 110-33E. At about 0700, Hazzard finds and shells CH-1 with his 5-inch deck gun. BLENNY gets two hits that set CH-1 on fire at 05-16S, 110-17E.

http://www.combinedfleet.com/CH-1_t.htm

Despite two attacks, CH-1 survives the war and is finally scuttled by the Royal Navy in Singapore in 1946.

Both Blueback and Lamprey also survive the war. Guns would be removed from the decks of post war submarines for a host of reasons. Submarines evolved through technology to be more effective under the water during all modes of warfare and a deck gun was no longer needed or practical. One of the many enemies a submarine fought was the airplane and post war development of antisubmarine air forces increased the danger of being on the surface for any period of time. But having those guns on board WW2 boats was a critical factor during the early months and years where the unreliable torpedo corrupted the ultimate mission of a submarine. The other factor of not wasting a torpedo on smaller craft played a key role as well

Seventy years has passed since that night action on the Java Sea. The bravery of those men on both sides under some very difficult conditions is a testament to the strength found in men who are committed to a cause.

Mister Mac

By the way, come to Pittsburgh this September 7-13 and celebrate the heroes of the US Navy submarine forces.

USSVU National Convention web site:     http://www.ussviconventionsteelcity2015.org/

1 USSVI-Pittsburgh Convention-Large

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Stealth Submarine Reply

With shrinking budgets and caps on military spending, its important to remember that submarines represent one of the most survivable elements in modern sea warfare. The increasing flexibility to meet emerging threats as well as long established threats adds value to this resource.

Make no mistake: the threats from external forces will not go away anytime soon. In many cases, it is increasing. Desiring peace without the will to preserve it ensures that there will be no peace at all. These platforms provide us with the way to preserve that peace and ensure our freedoms for a long time to come.

virginia_class_l2

 

 

USS_Virginia_SSN_774_by_lukeroberts

th54C9GBG3

Enjoy!

Mister Mac

 

The Submariner’s Lament; When you understand 12

When you understand

This was a post that I put up on Facebook in 2014. It has been shared over 8500 times in the time it has been on Facebook

I am grateful for the feedback already sent

On February 16, 2017, it came to my attention that the story has been cut and pasted with unauthorized alterations and no attribution. I never copyrighted the post or the material but rest assured that it is still my intellectual property. I have shared this freely with the submarine community. All I ask in return is that it not be altered and credit be given where possible.

Mister Mac

When you understand 2

Rules of Engagement on TLS 2

Riding high

 

Rules of Engagement

First and foremost, I want to thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog. It has been a work of love for the three years I have been publishing and has resulted in over174,000 views around the globe. In all, there are over 450 posts from either myself or one of three other writers which have attracted 1,250 comments here and thousands on the various other media I am linked to.

In the history of the blog, I have only deleted (unpublished) two comments. Both had some things in common so I thought it might be a good idea to briefly discuss what I call “The Rules of Engagement” if you want to participate in a conversation or give feedback. They are relatively simple but will be enforced with an extreme prejudice. I have readers of all ages and I assume all of the various gender descriptions currently in vogue. I am also confident that many different types of religions and belief structures are in play since I have been seen in every corner of the world. This is based on my analysis of the global visitors I see in the background statistics of the web publishing site I use as well as the cute little map of the world on this page.

Rules of Engagement:

1. Decorum. I often enjoy a good debate. That debate however should be conducted in a civil manner. There are about 7.251 billion people on the planet and chances of us all agreeing on everything are pretty small. I would even bet that the odds are something like 7.251 billion to one against that ever happening. Using a lot of caps in your note is another way to single you out as “special” but maybe not the kind of special you want to be remembered for. SPRINKLING them in between your OTHER words makes you EVEN MORE SPECIAL but not the kind of debater that I feel will have any ability to actually read my responses.

2. Language. Obviously English (or the American equivalent) will give you the most chance of a thoughtful response or in some cases seeing your own comment in print. My spam gadget removes about a thousand non-recognizable spam attempts a week but occasionally it does let through some cleverly worded spam about Chuck Norris being a spokesman for a Chinese underwear manufacturer that wants me to promote their product. I normally decline their offer.

3. Really specifically offensive language. The decline of our civilization has made the use of F-bombs more and more acceptable in places like Hollywood and the House of Representatives. How nice for them. A sure fire way not to make it to the published comments on this blog is to think you are a movie star, politician or rap star. That includes inviting me to conduct asexual activities using words that describe an activity I am quite sure is physically impossible. On a purely editorial note, telling me to F… off is baffling and somewhat confusing. In sixty years, I have never quite figured out exactly what people mean when they say that and keep repeating it louder as if that will make me understand any better.

4. Family Ties. My Mom and Dad were married. I have the copy of the signed certificate and a lovely picture album of the day. It was a wonderful ceremony based on everything I can see and that sort of destroys the use of the word used about my legitimacy as a person. Also, my Mom is an angel and has been a loving Christian woman her entire adult life. She is a regular contributor to many spiritual and community organizations and has been a volunteer in many of those same organizations for years. She is also fond of small animals and helping helpless people. So calling me a son of a (insert derogatively incorrect label here) is just factually inaccurate.

5. Syntax and spelling. I try to make it a general rule to never send emails and letters when I am mad. Mrs. Mac typically catches both and then it forces me to do an update which is not very lean and filled with waste. You making those mistakes also makes your argument much weaker since it means you didn’t even take the time to do spell check (or don’t know what spell check is). Using big words where little ones will do is always fun but make sure you actually know what they mean. My favorite scene from a movie called The Princess Bride made a few years back is a great reminder:

6. Attacking the United States Military and those who served honorably. The enemy attacks the US Military. Their “tools” and useful idiots attack both them and veterans. There are probably a buzzilion web sites run by Commies, Fascists, Pinkos, Loonies, Haters, people on anti=depressants and people with questionable character where your hate speech is not only welcomed but encouraged. Military people have done some bad things as individuals in our short history. They have also saved whole populations from evil people. Please feel free to spew your anger and hatred anywhere else. It is not welcomed, encouraged or acceptable here. With so many place to go on the internet, this should not put your fragile ego in danger of collapsing.

7. My God. I am unabashedly Christian and make no apologies for that belief. That does not mean I am perfect, only forgiven. Its in our handbook and in my heart. I do not attack others for their well grounded beliefs even if that includes dancing around the big stones in England completely naked. But another sure way to get placed in permanent “Blog Jail” is to take the name of my God in vain or as any part of a curse which is commonly used among those of lower intelligence when they can’t come up with an actual adjective. Or verb. Or pseudo noun. You will join the legions of spam that are crushed like little tiny grapes on the path to eternity.

8. This IS my high horse. If you don’t like me riding up on Old Boaz, please feel free to turn around and head back into the pasture you came from. No harm will come to you (unless you tread where Old Boaz did his business which I have little control over.) Cursing at Boaz or me for our “self-righteousness” is silly and a bit pretentious on your part. Telling anyone that you have done everything they have done which seems to give you special powers is also a bit of a stretch. Every single person I have ever met has done some pretty interesting and unique things. Maybe even you. We are alike in some ways and different in others. I have never walked across the Mohave desert. But I bet most of you have never been shot off of number two catapult on the USS Nimitz in a C2A on a very clear day off the coast of San Diego after completing a very successful mission. (for the record there were six of us not counting the flight crew so that one was not really unique…)

9. Assumptions. We all have them. They tend to be too overgeneralized and frankly are not very accurate. Calling an entire generation of men who wore a uniform too stupid or lazy to think of anything else to do is definitely an assumption. I could list many others but one of us may be too stupid or lazy to actually take the time to understand.

10. Respect. I always try to start with respect. Doing any or all of the things listed in 1-9 will diminish that respect exponentially. I pay for the electricity that powers the computer and the wireless modem. I also bought this nice little computer and the house it sits in. I worry over the blog like a mother hen worries about her chicks. If you want to disagree with me, that is cool. If you really get mad, follow Howard’s lead: (you’ll like his language… he violates almost every one of the ten rules)

At the end of the day, its just a blog. I’m just a guy growing older by the moment. I want to spend all of those moments sharing memories with shipmates and friends. I have learned a lot doing this for the past three years and Lord willing and the crick don’t rise, I will keep on doing it.

God Bless

Mister Mac

Post script: Careful readers may notice that I violated Rule number one in the construction of Rule number eight. Good catch if you did… however, I would encourage you to re-read Rule number eight again slowly. Old Boaz appreciates your attention to detail. Giddy up

Remembering the Missing … Until they all come home Reply

How we remember our fallen says a lot about us.

The same can be said about how we never forget those left behind.

No matter where you are this Memorial Day, at 3:00 PM, stop what you are doing and pray for those who never made it home.

Then pray for peace for the families that still wait for their return.

POW Snip

Armed Forces Day 2014 Honoring America’s Real Heroes 1

Armed Forces Day

Too often, the press focuses on sports stars and entertainers for their contributions. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good touchdown just as much as any man (assuming its my team and not the other guy’s team) and I am glad certain entertainers have made enough money to adopt underprivileged kids from third world countries. In neither case however is there anything really heroic about what they have done.

Heroism to me is waking up at 3 AM and putting on a uniform so you can stand a watch. You don’t know if this is the watch where an enemy will come sneaking up to your post and try to put a bullet in you. Or maybe a terrorist will drive up to your checkpoint with a truckload of explosives designed to kill you and al of your comrades. You might be in a plane flying over hostile territory on a mission to deter another country from robbing freedom from innocent people. Your ship might be fighting its way through a typhoon as it patrols to keep the sea lanes open. Or your cutter may be approaching yet another unflagged vessel that is filled with drugs and men who will shoot to protect them.

As long as man has been around, there have been other men who have tried to take freedom and liberty away from someone else. Our country, the United States of America was founded on the idea that men and women should have individual liberty and freedom. It is the unbroken line of men and women who have put their hands in the air to swear the oath to protect her that have ensured that freedom lives. It is the members of the Armed Services that stand between you and the despots who hate you for the very freedom you enjoy.

We owe them everything for that service.

On this day, and every day, I salute the heroes of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

Let Freedom Ring

Mister Mac

Let Freedom Ring

 

WE ARE SUBMARINERS – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow 5

6sboats1

 

Throughout the generation where men have gone to sea on submarines, a bond has formed that crosses all of those generations. This anonymous quote comes from one of the web sites I frequent. I can’t identify the author so I have taken it directly from the posting but will gladly give credit if the author can show authenticity.

This is military appreciation month. In honor of my brothers (and now sisters) still serving, I dedicated this post to you.

Mister Mac

S-36 Officers and Crew close up

“WE ARE SUBMARINERS

“We are not the first of them and we will not be the last. Our heritage runs back to the first submarine. This heritage line continues forward into an unseen future. The one before trains each generation. This will remain so until there is no more use for submarines, which will never be….
If one of us goes aboard a new or old submarine, we are comfortable with the men there. They are we, and we are they. Stand us in a line in all our dress uniforms or naked in our coffins, we are the same. We are and forever will be submarine sailors. WE ARE ONE.

488101_417741151652089_799546593_n


We can have everything taken from us, uniforms, medals, our sanity and our lives, but we will always be recognised by others and ourselves as a submariner. This status cannot be removed from us. Our ‘Dolphins’ worn on our chests then, hung on our walls now, or later pinned on mouldering uniforms in our graves mark us forever. We are first, last, and always men that stepped forward and worked long and hard to become what we are. We are unique among sailors for we sail down deep into dark and always dangerous waters. We do this not with foolhardy go-to-hell bravery, but with cool calculation and care. We challenge the dangers with training and practice. We know that the time for bravery will come when two shipmates shut themselves in a flooding compartment, knowing that the whole boat and crew depends on them to control the flooding.

web_960717-N-2381V-002


We believe in each other, because we must. Alone at sea, the crew and a pressure hull are all we have to reach the surface again. Men with confidence in each other dive and surface submarines countless times. Each man trained by others holds the lives of those shipmates in his hands.
‘Dolphins’ are the symbol of this tradition. Submarine hulls have numbers and men have hearts and souls. We carry those numbers in our hearts in life, and they mark our souls in death. GOLD DOLPHINS are a symbol of this.
To us ‘Dolphins’ are it, no other symbol matters or means anything as important as they do.”

WE ARE SUBMARINERS

History of how Dolphins came to be: http://ussnautilus.org/blog/dolphin-history/

 

Let the celebrations begin: http://theday.com/article/20140504/NWS09/305049950#.U2bR6gueH1k.facebook

Dolphins