Where is the line? Destroying History Has a Hidden Threat to the Future 2

As most avid history buffs know, this coming week will mark the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

This major battle was fought from July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The Southern Army had invaded the north in an attempt to shorten the war. For three years, the forces of the opposing sides had slugged it out in bloody conflict resulting in the loss of many men. Lee felt that if he could threaten Washington, he would be able to force Lincoln into negotiating for a peaceful settlement.

Just as Lee was determined to bring about a brokered peace, the Union Army was determined to stop him and continue to bring the Union back together. The resulting battles and significant losses are still impactful in today’s history. The small town was overcome in its aftermath with the results of the carnage and the cemetery that was dedicated by President Lincoln is a place of honor and distinction that symbolizes the sacrifices and passion of the men involved.

In his famous address he said:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The country was divided and the threat to survival was real

Similar to that time, there is a growing divide within our country once again.

A president was elected that represented many things offensive to a large group of its citizens. While no states have yet succeeded, there is a large and well orchestrated movement within the country that has called for Resistance. At the fringe of this movement is a group that calls itself Antifa. This group is loosely affiliated so far but they have managed to make a name for themselves as the newest version of home grown terrorists. Typically seen wearing the cowardly garb of masked thugs, these spoiled and privileged over pampered misfits destroy people’s property, damage public places and generally make a nuisance for the police.

Some of them have decided to throw their tantrums at Gettysburg this week. Their aim: to further the leftist goal of eradicating the Confederate Battle Flag which was also the second flag of the Confederacy known as the  Stainless Banner. The stated intent is to burn Confederate flags on hallowed ground. This is in keeping with other movements in the South to destroy or hide other symbols of the war between the states. New Orleans notably has forfeited her birth rights by the removal of the proud symbols of men of courage.

Don’t misunderstand. I realize that there has been uses of certain symbols by openly racists groups. It is a sick thing to support anything the Clan or other known hate groups have projected. I am also not supporting the rebellion itself since the cost to both sides lasted for many generations. My Great Grandfather served on the Union side during that conflict, but I have many friends whose relatives served honorably in the army of the south.

The US Congress even recognized that Confederate soldiers were US Veterans.

Congressional Act of 9 March 1906 ~ We Honor Our Fallen Ancestors
(P.L. 38, 59th Congress, Chap. 631-34 Stat. 56)

This act authorized the furnishing of headstones for the graves of Confederates who died, primarily in Union prison camps and were buried in Federal cemeteries. Remarks: This act formally reaffirmed Confederate soldiers as military combatants with legal standing. It granted recognition to deceased Confederate soldiers commensurate with the status of deceased Union soldiers.

U.S. Public Law 810, Approved by 17th Congress 26 February 1929
(45 Stat 1307 – Currently on the books as 38 U.S. Code, Sec. 2306)

This law, passed by the U.S. Congress, authorized the “Secretary of War to erect headstones over the graves of soldiers who served in the Confederate Army and to direct him to preserve in the records of the War Department the names and places of burial of all soldiers for whom such headstones shall have been erected.”

Remarks: This act broadened the scope of recognition further for all Confederate soldiers to receive burial benefits equivalent to Union soldiers. It authorized the use of U.S. government (public) funds to mark Confederate graves and record their locations.

U.S. Public Law 85-425: Sec. 410 Approved 23 May 1958
Confederate Iron Cross (US Statutes at Large Volume 72, Part 1, Page 133-134)

The Administrator shall pay to each person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War a monthly pension in the same amounts and subject to the same conditions as would have been applicable to such person under the laws in effect on December 31, 1957, if his service in such forces had been service in the military or naval forces of the United States.

First they came for the Confederate Flags,

and I did nothing because it wasn’t my flag

These groups will not stop with this first attack.

At some point, the less reasonable voices will remind themselves that even the Star Spangled Banner was a racist flag (in their definition).

The very flag that most of us believe stands for freedom in a world of tyranny will eventually be attacked by the masses of ignorant people. This cleansing of American history must be stopped. People who destroy property not their own must be held accountable. The time to stop them is now. If they continue to grow unchecked, there will be a day when open warfare once again returns to this country. The real question then will be if we still have the strength to survive.

Mister Mac

Rights come with Responsibilities – Or Do They? 3

Memorial Day has been a special event in my family’s life ever since Great Grandfather Mac donned his Grand Army of the Republic Uniform and marched in his first parade.

The men who returned from the War Between the States felt it was their duty and honor to remember the sacrifices of so many men who had died in that horrific war. For those who were fortunate, death came swiftly. For those less fortunate, long suffering in primitive medical conditions, agony lasted months and even years. The men who escaped injury felt that honoring the sacrifice was a continuation of their duty.

Their sons were later called to action for a larger war overseas and within another generation yet another World War. Rach of those wars and the many conflicts since have one thing in common. All of them have helped to preserve an idea called America and the freedom promised by the Constitution. The framers wanted to set up a document that would give structure to that idea. The branches of the government and the responsibilities for each branch were set up to achieve a balance of power. The country was formed in the shadow of a King and unresponsive parliament which unfairly taxed and oppressed the fledgling colonies. This document would make sure that none of the three branches could usurp the powers of the others.

What is sometimes lost in that attempt for balance is the fear that many of the founders first felt about any such document. The Constitution after all was not written to grant anyone rights. Those were judged by nearly all of the founders to be God given and inalienable. The real purpose was to limit the power of government over men’s lives. The Bill of Rights was an afterthought and to this day remains a subject of many legal battles. The men who opposed it did so not because of the “rights” included but that they presupposed that we did not have every right to live life in a way that was of our choosing.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the press.”.

Some will argue that the Constitution is a flawed document in many ways. There are some really good reasons for those arguments. I would only add this. The founders write the document with a Bill of Rights, but failed to balance it with a Bill of Responsibilities. Most of the laws written in the past several hundred years are designed to set boundaries or limits on what we can and cannot do. The original document was written with some very wide open statements such as the commerce clause. But the real third rail hidden in the law is the statement about the press. More than one national leader has discovered the power of an unhindered press along the way.

Mark Twain once wrote “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”

While this made sense to politicians in the early days, it has become magnified by a million fold with the advent of modern communications. With each advance in communication through radio, television and the internet (in addition to the growth of the old style press industry), an unfettered press has grown to be the gargantuan power in the world. Its not hard ot imagine the power all of these methods contain to influence and change people’s minds and opinions. Imagine what could happen if the same people controlled the message and the messengers with unbridled power.

I first discovered how far we are down that road nearly fifty years ago. At the age of 13, I was a news junky. It was 1967 and I was alive with a thirst to understand what was going on around the world. Vietnam occupied center stage and I wanted to see as much as I could see for what was shaping into my generations war. Using the money I had earned cutting grass, I got a set of subscriptions to Time and Newsweek magazines. We didn’t live close to a library so this seemed like a good place to start collecting all that was news. They normally arrived within a day of each other and I would go through them from front to back. It wasn’t long before I made my first major discovery. They were nearly the same in content and flavor. The articles were the same and it erally felt like I was seeing more of an opinion than a fact.

The TV at that time was not much better. The three major channels and PBS all carried the exact same stories and the same opinions as well. Sometimes they even used the same phrases and pictures. Over the course of the next year, the pubic reacted just as if they were all programmed to follow the same script. Protests that turned to violence and of course the infamous Tet offensive where Walter wearily informed us that we had lost the war. It wasn’t until many years later that we found out that we had actually won a great victory.

The unelected press brought a nation to its knees. An unelected press has done so much evil to the modern world that we may never recover. Even today, they relentlessly attack the President and his programs because of their own opposing ideology. Lazy stories filled with unnamed sources and innuendo have no place in a responsible press. Journalists who make up facts without sources just to fit their own narrative are the worst offenders of the lot. Real journalists should call them out and castigate them publicly before taking way their credentials.

They have their rights because of the men and women that gave their lives to protect their freedom to spew any garbage they want no matter how devoid that garbage is from truth. There is no one to hold them accountable except for the public which makes the ultimate choice to decide what is right and what is wrong. When good men and women of character stand up for the truth with their money and their personal commitment to truth, evil and manipulation will be put in check.

Whether you are left, right or center, a free press is important to maintaining a series of checks and balances to government that has become unresponsive. But as responsible citizens, we owe it to the memory of those who have given everything for our freedoms to hold that press responsible for the truth.

 

  1. Mister Mac

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

Denizens of the Deep – the bond between submarines and their crews 3

failure is not an option

From the very beginning of submarines, the vessels have been compared to a steel coffin or a sewer pipe closed on both ends. But to the men who have sailed on them and especially to the men (and now women) who built them and then drove them below the waves into a sea of uncertainty, they gain an almost mystical property. These underwater “denizens of the deep” become an all-encompassing force that changes a person forever. There is a bond that builds between crew and boat that lasts well beyond most other bonds.

Not all who sail on them love them. From the moment you come aboard the boat it presents a challenge to the physical and mental capabilities of the sailors who operate them. You are the newbie, the non-qual. All of the school and learning you have done to date means nothing to the boat or to the men who have been there before. You will only become part of the crew by giving up a part of you and becoming a part of the force that makes the boat operate at her best. There is nothing less than perfection expected form each sailor in the qualification and many hours of sleep will be sacrificed along the way to earning your “fish”. But it’s not even that simple. While you are learning, you must also contribute.

Endless days and nights beneath the darkness of the deep sea, you find yourself pushed and pulled at the same time. Pushed to contribute in achieving the mission and pulled in your own testing. There simply is no place for second best and you learn to hate the challenge while clinging on to every small victory. Line by line, you complete each level of achievement only to be given a newer and harder task. Respect is rare for a newbie and privileges even rarer. The pressure can be relentless but that pressure ensures that you will be ready to respond when called upon.

Each person must be stretched to the limit because in the end, the sea and the enemy beyond the edge of the horizon are unforgiving of mistakes. A missed valve could cause a catastrophe just as easily as an unseen mountain. Everything inside the hull has a risk of one kind or another and everything outside the hull presents a danger to the unprepared. No detail is too small and no amount of preparation is too much. There are no second chances when you are driving relatively blind in an ocean filled with the great unknowns.

The mission can be great or small but it is always faced with the same consequences if you fail. Unlike a normal job where missing a goal or schedule might mean an admonishment or a chance to do it over, the submarine only allows you the chance to get it right the first time,

One day, you reach the end of your checklist. You sit across the table from other men who have been tested and you reach down inside to remember every detail of every system and schematic you learned. You rattle off details about tank capacities, frequencies, weapons characteristics and hundreds of other details. After a long time they send you out into the passageway so that they can discuss your fate. Sometimes there will be a look up for some small detail that you missed. Sometimes you are judged not ready at all with a list of things to relearn. But on one special day, the leader of the board sys, “Congratulations. You have earned your dolphins.”

From that day you belong to a unique group of people. You become the teacher for the next person in line. You grow a unique bond with the boat that tested you and allowed you to meet the challenge. The boat becomes a part of your life in a way that will last as long as you live.

Now the test really begins. Will you be able to use that knowledge and skill under any circumstances? Will you discover that while you have learned much, there is still much more to learn? The sea learns too and so does your enemy. Both continue to probe for weaknesses every single day. This is a mighty warship after all and the war is never fully defined. You can talk about what you will do in a storm but until you ride the storm, you cannot predict how you and the boat will respond. You can practice countering an enemy but he has the ability and the skills to do the unexpected. Your survival is based on all of the crew responding with everything they have and the boat with all that is has. There is no second place in this undersea war.

A million miles and a thousand dives later, it’s time for the boat to come home. Like the grey haired old men who built her so long ago, she is tired and deserves a rest. The smooth lines of many years ago are slightly puckered with age. Driving to test depth and back again will do that to the old girl. She creaks a bit more when she dives but she still manages to put on a head of steam when she needs it for that last big run. But up ahead, she sees the pier waiting. There are men there with ropes ready to tie her down for the last time. Other people are waiting with wrenches and torches standing by to cut her apart and prepare her for the end. The bunks will all be stripped, the galley will close down forever and the power will come from long black lines attached to the shore that gave her birth. The periscope will soon be taken out and the memory of all the things she has seen will disappear into the mists of time. The phones and communications circuits will growl nor more. Slowly, the watch standers will rotate off, never to be replaced

On the saddest day ever, a band will play and her remaining crew will gather for a ceremony that all knew would come someday. There is no more somber a day than the day when the flag of the country she defended so well for all of those decades comes down for the last time. She has flown that flag at sea and in foreign ports all over the world reminding them of her mighty power and the power of the nation whose symbol she represents. She has lent that flag to the family members of shipmates who have gone before. Now it is her turn.

It’s hard to escape death. You can delay it, but in the end, the life that she represented is finally ended. The memories will last as long as there is a crewman alive who sailed her. But she will never again feel the salt air blowing waves across her bow. The angles and dangles she once performed will be nothing but a fading sea story. The rushing speed that you feel below your feet as the hull pierces the dark depths of the ocean will only live in the imaginations of those who have felt it. Her best stories will never be told out of respect for the boats and crews that take her place. But the grey old men know. They look at each other with faded eyesight and see a group of twenty something year olds who once mastered the ocean in a highly unconventional way.

As the USS San Francisco transitions to her new role preparing another generation for the challenges to come, I will always stand with pride when her name is called. I hope that any man or woman who has ever been a submariner can say the same about the boats they rode. It was my greatest honor to sail on board her and it was an even greater honor to sail with you all.

Mister Mac

USS San Francisco SSN 711 Alumni Association

alumni-association-1

 

America as a leader – Truman’s April 16 1945 Address to the Nation Reply

On April 16, 1945, Harry S. Truman, newly appointed President of the United States gave an address to a Joint session of Congress and to the American people via a radio address at 1PM.

The speech was designed to let the people of this country and the world know that the legacy of leadership that evolved during the years of the second World War were not to be interrupted with the recent passing of President Roosevelt.

I would predict with no hesitation that this speech would never be given by the existing leader of the American people. In its simplicity, the speech reminds America and the world that this country is not only an exceptional country but one that has a destiny to lead others around the world that seek freedom. Rather than shunning our responsibility, he embraces it. Rather than attacking his country for the mistakes it had made in the past, he emphasizes what good we can bring to leading the world in the future.

I have never read the speech before today. I am glad it came onto my radar screen as I was writing my daily story for    https://www.facebook.com/WarInThePacific19411946

It will give me a lot to think about as I ponder what direction this country must go in to restore some of that leadership role once 2017 arrives.

Here is a small part of the speech that I feel best captures what we were about in Harry’s eyes:

Today, America has become one of the most powerful forces for good on earth. We must keep it so. We have achieved a world leadership which does not depend solely upon our military and naval might.

We have learned to fight with other nations in common defense of our freedom. We must now learn to live with other nations for our mutual good. We must learn to trade more with other nations so that there may be-for our mutual advantage-increased product ion, increased employment and better standards of living throughout the world.

May we Americans all live up to our glorious heritage.

In that way, America may well lead the world to peace and prosperity.

At this moment, I have in my heart a prayer. As I have assumed my heavy duties, I humbly pray Almighty God, in the words of King Solomon:

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad; for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”

I ask only to be a good and faithful servant of my Lord and my people.

http://www.trumanlibrary.org/ww2/stofunio.htm

I hope and pray we will regain a leadership role and truly lead as we once did.

Mister Mac

DSC00926.jpg

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

Remembering those who waited at home – Gold Star Mothers Reply

 

The joy of giving birth to a brand new life has been described as one of the most significant moments in a woman’s life. For the following months and years, she feeds and clothes and nurtures that child until one day comes and the child becomes a man or a woman and goes off on her own.

WW-1-poster.jpg

Throughout our countries history, challenges to our freedom and liberty have forced some of those children to take up arms in its defense. Often times in the last few centuries, those challenges have come on foreign shores and the threats to freedom came to others that were unable to protect themselves. During those times, brave men and women stepped forward or were called to do the unthinkable and pay an ominous price. We humbly try and pay a small homage to them on Memorial Day to try and remember their sacrifices and gift of freedom to people who they had never known.

But there is one other group who pay homage to their memories every day. The mothers who gave them their life.

The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. was formed in the United States shortly after World War I to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the United States Armed Forces. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star. Membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States.

The Elizabeth Boro PA Memorial Day Committee honors local Gold Star Mothers

each year at our Riverfront Ceremony

Gold Star Mother Banner 150px-Gold_Star_Service_Banner_svg thGYWFLLNB

Sometimes I weep for my country… then I vow to fight on 2

Elizabeth PA Memorial Day through the years 019

Like many others, I spend a lot of personal time and resources preparing for the Memorial Day observance in my home town. It is not a celebration since the day was designed to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers and sailors of the Civil War. It is not a party because the honorees made the ultimate sacrifice to defend their brothers and sisters in arms and ensure freedom could survive in the face of evil.

Ever since I was a kid, I have seen the crowds grow smaller and the number of children diminish. I grew up during the Vietnam war so this is not too surprising. The anti-war crowd used the tool of Anti-Americanism as one of their tools. Their work was done well.

This video is a clear demonstration of how far we have gone:

 

But I am not deterred. Seeing it makes me weep and laugh at the same time. Then I get more determined than ever.

What are you doing Memorial Day? If you live under the banner of freedom, you have a debt to those who paid the price to keep that banner flying. Teach the children. The schools probably no longer do. Take them to a service and teach them about reverence. You will have the whole summer to picnic and party. Do something remarkable this year:

Make Memorial Day a Priority

Mister Mac

MEB38B~1 Memorial Day Elizabeth PA 1988 005

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

 

41 for Freedom; Answering a Threat Reply

On October 4, 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite.

This launch was a double blow to the fledgling American rocket program. It proved that the Soviets were able to accomplish something that the Americans had yet to do. It also proved that the Soviets had the ability to launch a ballistic missile capable of hitting anywhere in the United States. President Eisenhower and the congress reacted to the Sputnik crisis with vast amounts of money and programs designed to close the gap. One of those programs was the Polaris Program. But for this new solid stage rocket to be effective, it needed a platform.

The USS George Washington (SSBN 598) was the world’s first Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine. It was built by the Electric Boat (EB) Division of the General Dynamic Corporation’s Groton shipyard. The hull of an attack boat currently on the ways at EB was cut in two and a missile compartment capable of carrying 16 nuclear missiles was inserted.

282844_10150847193748344_1040517039_n

A new ship design and a new weapons system

The Polaris A-1 missile was developed to complement the limited number of medium-range systems deployed throughout Europe. As those systems lacked the range to attack major Soviet targets, Polaris was developed to increase the level of nuclear deterrence. At this time there was little threat of counterforce strikes, as few systems had the accuracy to destroy missile systems. The primary advantages of ballistic missile submarines was their ability to launch submerged, which offered improved survivability for the submarine while also (like their Regulus predecessors) keeping shorter ranged systems within range.

The USN had forward-basing arrangements for its Atlantic-based Polaris fleet with both the United Kingdom and Spain permitting the use of bases at the Holy Loch in Scotland (established in 1961) and at Naval Station Rota (Polaris base established 1964) in the Bay of Cadiz. The forward deployment bases were much closer to patrol areas than U.S. East Coast bases, avoiding the necessity for lengthy transit times. In the Pacific, a Polaris base was also established at Guam in 1964. This forward-basing arrangement was continued when Poseidon replaced Polaris, starting in 1972, in what by then were the 31 Atlantic Fleet SSBNs. The 10 older SSBNs that could not use Poseidon were assigned to the Pacific Fleet in the 1970s. Polaris was not accurate enough to destroy hardened targets but would have been effective against dispersed surface targets, such as airfields, radar and SAM sites, as well as military and industrial centers of strategic importance. The military authorities, however, regarded Polaris as but one part of a nuclear triad including ICBMs and bombers, each with its own function. The task allotted to Polaris of ‘taking out’ peripheral defenses was well-suited to its characteristics and limitations.

The forward deployment strategy required some infrastructure. To allow quick establishment of bases and to minimize the impact on the host country, each base was centered around a submarine tender and a floating drydock, with minimal facilities on shore, mostly family support for the tender’s crew. The first Polaris submarine tender was the USS Proteus (AS-19), a World War II tender that was refitted in 1959-60 with the insertion of a midships missile storage compartment and handling crane. Proteus established each of the three forward deployment bases. Four additional Polaris tenders (USS Hunley (AS-31), USS Holland (AS-32), USS Simon Lake (AS-33), and USS Canopus (AS-34)) were commissioned 1962-65. In Scotland, the USS Los Alamos AFDB7 was erected in a body of water called Holy Loch where she served faithfully until 1991 when the base was deactivated.

A two-crew concept was established for SSBNs, combined with forward deployment maximize the time each submarine would spend on patrol. The crews were named Blue and Gold after the US Naval Academy colors. The crews were deployed for 105 days and at their home bases for 95 days, with a 3-day turnover period on each end of the deployed period. Crews were flown from their home bases to and from the forward deployment bases. After taking over the boat, the crew would perform a 30-day refit assisted by the tender, followed by a 70-day deterrent patrol. Sometimes a port visit would be arranged in the middle of the patrol. The home bases for Atlantic Fleet crews were Groton, Connecticut and Charleston, South Carolina. Pacific Fleet crews were based at Naval Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Two Polaris missile depots were established in the United States, Polaris Missile Facility Atlantic (POMFLANT) at Charleston, South Carolina in 1960 and later Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) at Bangor, Washington. To transport missiles and other supplies from the missile depots to the forward deployment bases, several cargo ships were converted to carry missiles and were designated as T-AKs, operated by the Military Sealift Command with a mostly-civilian crew.

41freedom

This is a list of the five Nuclear Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines classes that made up the “41 for Freedom:”

George Washington class

  • USS George Washington (SSBN-598)
  • USS Patrick Henry (SSBN-599)
  • USS Theodore Roosevelt (SSBN-600)
  • USS Robert E. Lee (SSBN-601)
  • USS Abraham Lincoln (SSBN-602)

Ethan Allen class

  • USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608)
  • USS Sam Houston (SSBN-609)
  • USS Thomas A. Edison (SSBN-610)
  • USS John Marshall (SSBN-611)
  • USS Thomas Jefferson (SSBN-618)

Lafayette class

  • USS Lafayette (SSBN-616)
  • USS Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617)
  • USS Andrew Jackson (SSBN-619)
  • USS John Adams (SSBN-620)
  • USS James Monroe (SSBN-622)
  • USS Nathan Hale (SSBN-623)
  • USS Woodrow Wilson (SSBN-624)
  • USS Henry Clay (SSBN-625)
  • USS Daniel Webster (SSBN-626)

James Madison class

  • USS James Madison (SSBN-627)
  • USS Tecumseh (SSBN-628)
  • USS Daniel Boone (SSBN-629)
  • USS John C. Calhoun (SSBN-630)
  • USS Ulysses S. Grant (SSBN-631)
  • USS Von Steuben (SSBN-632)
  • USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633)
  • USS Stonewall Jackson (SSBN-634)
  • USS Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635)
  • USS Nathanael Greene (SSBN-636)

Benjamin Franklin class

  • USS Benjamin Franklin (SSBN-640) converted to carry the Trident C-4 ballistic missile
  • USS Simon Bolivar (SSBN-641) converted to carry the Trident C-4 ballistic missile
  • USS Kamehameha (SSBN-642)
  • USS George Bancroft (SSBN-643) converted to carry the Trident C-4 ballistic missile
  • USS Lewis and Clark (SSBN-644)
  • USS James K. Polk (SSBN-645)
  • USS George C. Marshall (SSBN-654)
  • USS Henry L. Stimson (SSBN-655) converted to carry the Trident C-4 ballistic missile
  • USS George Washington Carver (SSBN-656)
  • USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657) converted to carry the Trident C-4 ballistic missile
  • USS Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN-658) converted to carry the Trident C-4 ballistic missile
  • USS Will Rogers (SSBN-659)

015_22A

George Washington’s keel was laid down at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, Connecticut on 1 November 1957. The first of her class, she was launched on 9 June 1959 sponsored by Mrs. Robert B. Anderson, and commissioned on 30 December 1959 as SSBN-598 with Commander James B. Osborn in command of the Blue crew and Commander John L. From, Jr. in command of the Gold crew.

George Washington was originally laid down as the attack submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589). During construction, she was lengthened by the insertion of a 130 ft (40 m)-long ballistic missile section and renamed George Washington. Another submarine under construction at the time received the original name and hull number. Inside George Washington’s forward escape hatch, a plaque remained bearing her original name. Because the ballistic missile compartment design of George Washington would be reused in later ship classes, the section inserted into George Washington was designed with a deeper test depth rating than the rest of the submarine.

Initial operations

George Washington left Groton on 28 June 1960 for Cape Canaveral, Florida, where she loaded two Polaris missiles. Standing out into the Atlantic Missile Test Range with Rear Admiral William Raborn, head of the Polaris submarine development program, on board as an observer, she successfully conducted the first Polaris missile launch from a submerged submarine on 20 July 1960. At 12:39, George Washington’s commanding officer sent President Dwight Eisenhower the message: POLARIS – FROM OUT OF THE DEEP TO TARGET. PERFECT. Less than two hours later a second missile from the submarine also struck the impact area 1,100 nmi (1,300 mi; 2,000 km) downrange.

George Washington then embarked her Gold crew, and on 30 July 1960 she launched two more missiles while submerged. Shakedown for the Gold crew ended at Groton on 30 August and the boat got underway from that port on 28 October for Naval Weapons Station Charleston, to load her full complement of 16 Polaris missiles. There she was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, after which her Blue crew took over and embarked on her first deterrent patrol.

The submarine completed her first patrol after 66 days of submerged running on 21 January 1961, and put in at Naval Submarine Base New London at New London, Connecticut. The Gold crew took over and departed on her next patrol on 14 February 1961. After the patrol, she entered Holy Loch, Scotland, on 25 April 1961.

In 1964, four years after her initial departure from Groton, George Washington put in to refuel, having cruised some 100,000 nmi (120,000 mi; 190,000 km). Following refit, George Washington shifted to the United States Pacific Fleet and a new home port at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

598 1973 Pearl Harbor

Final patrol as ballistic missile submarine
In 1982, George Washington returned to Pearl Harbor from her last missile patrol. In 1983, her missiles were unloaded at Bangor, Washington to comply with the SALT I treaty.

George Washington made 55 deterrent patrols in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in her 25-year career.

Service as an attack submarine
George Washington continued service as an attack submarine (SSN), returning briefly to Pearl Harbor. In 1983, she departed Pearl Harbor for the last time and transited the Panama Canal back to the Atlantic and to New London.

Decommissioning
George Washington was decommissioned on 24 January 1985, stricken from the Naval Vessel Registry on 30 April 1986, and scheduled for disposal through the Ship-Submarine Recycling Program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Recycling of the ship was completed on 30 September 1998.

2834741985_ea1e240daf_o

Commemoration
George Washington’s sail was removed prior to disposal and now resides at the Submarine Force Library and Museum at New London, Connecticut.

Career (US):
Name: USS George Washington
Namesake: President George Washington (1732-1799)
Owner: United States Navy
Ordered: 31 December 1957
Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat
Laid down: 1 November 1958
Launched: 9 June 1959
Sponsored by: Mrs. Robert B. Anderson
Commissioned: 30 December 1959
Decommissioned: 24 January 1985
Struck: 30 April 1986
Homeport: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Nickname: “The Georgefish”
Fate: Recycling via the Ship-Submarine Recycling Program completed 30 September 1998

Badge:

598georgewashingtonbadge


643_large_image
General characteristics:
Class and type: George Washington-class submarine
Type: SSBN (hull design SCB-180A)
Displacement: 5400 tons light

5959-6019 tons surfaced

6709-6888 Approx. tons submerged

Length: 381 ft 7.2 in (116.312 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draft: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Propulsion: 1 x S5W Pressure, Water Reactor (PWR)

2 x geared turbines rated at 15,000 shp (11,000 kW)

1 x 7-bladed screw

Speed: 20 kn (37 km/h) surfaced; +25 kn (46 km/h) submerged
Range: unlimited except by food supplies
Test depth: 700 ft (210 m); (maximum over 900 ft (270 m))
Capacity: 120
Complement: Two crews (Blue/Gold) each consisting of 12 officers and 100 enlisted men.
Armament: 16 Polaris A1/A3 missiles; 6
X 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes (Mark 16, Mark 37, or Mark 48 torpedoes)