Submarines: “from a boy to a giant” 4

One of my favorite pastimes is discovering unique stories about the United States Submarine force and the development through the ages.

There is no better witness to the phenomenal growth than that of one of the most profound influences on submarine operation and development: Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. The most fascinating thing about this man was that he came from such a humble beginning in Fredericksburg, Texas where he originally desired an appointment to the Military Academy. Fortunately for the world, he failed to gain entry and instead went to the Naval Academy where he graduated  with distinction in his class.

His service record is covered elsewhere but one thing was common throughout was his understanding of the potential for a submarine force even when the very idea was being kept in check by the Admirals.

The Navy published a series of submarine brochures but these quotes come from the 1969 edition. Admiral Nimitz had already gone on final patrol but his Forward was kept as a tribute to his memory.

In late 1965, Nimitz suffered a stroke, complicated by pneumonia. In January 1966, he left the U.S. Naval Hospital (Oak Knoll) in Oakland to return home to his naval quarters. He died at home at age 80 on the evening of February 20 at Quarters One on Yerba Buena Island in San Francisco Bay. His funeral on February 24 was at the chapel of adjacent Naval Station Treasure Island and Nimitz was buried with full military honors at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno. He lies alongside his wife and his long-term friends Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Admiral Richmond K. Turner, and Admiral Charles A. Lockwood and their wives, an arrangement made by all of them while living

But his words live on in eternity. So does his impact on Naval Sea Power

United States Navy Submarine Brochure

As a Midshipman at the Naval Academy, l had my first ride in the United States Navy’s first submarine – USS HOLLAND. Thus in the brief span of my life, l have seen the submarine grow “from a boy to a giant” of the Polaris submarine with strength untold for our land of freedom.

(The airplane and the submarine both began to join the Fleet early in this 20th century, as invention and engineering provided reliable internal combustion engines and other engineering wonders. Each of the strange new means of warfare promised to destroy the power of Fleets – at least in the minds of enthusiasts. Instead, they have brought incredible new power.

l early joined submarines as a young officer, engaged in experimental developments, commanded the submarine forces of the U. S. Atlantic Fleet, studied diesels in Germany and helped to introduce them into our Navy.

For years afterward l continued to serve in submarines afloat. Then, as naval duties took me away from the submarines, l followed their steady development with undiminished interest.

When l assumed Command of the Pacific Fleet, l hoisted my flag in USS GRAYLlNG (SS-209).

When detached, after V-J Day which owed so much to the valor, skill and dedicated service of submariners, l lowered my flag from the gallantly battle-tested USS MENHADEN (SS-377).

While Chief of Naval Operations, with imaginative leaders like my Deputy, Vice Admiral Forrest Sherman, Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, Naval Inspector General, who brilliantly commanded our Pacific submarine operations during much of World War ll, and Vice Admiral Earle Mills, Chief of Bureau of Ships, l was happy to initiate the development of nuclear power afloat.

The decision was based in considerable part on a major study completed by Dr. Philip Abelson of Naval Research Laboratory in early 1946. All the foregoing officers were enthusiastic about the prospects. lt struck me that if it worked we would be far in front in the ceaseless race in armed strength to keep our country strong and free. The fantastic speed and unlimited radius of action offered by atomic power gave promise of at last making possible the true submarine with indefinite endurance submerged. Its feasibility had been explored in the Navy in the early ’40’s but the development had been set aside by the war and the single goal in atomic energy of the Manhattan Project. Now was the time to get underway. What remarkable results have followed.

Thus for much of my life, l have had faith in the submarine as l have had faith in the rest of the Navy and our great land of America. Each by being true to itself—seeking efficiency and power for noble ends—has been a blessing, just as for ignoble ends, it could be a curse. l am convinced that the mighty Polaris submarine, bearing imperishable names like Washington, Lincoln and Lee, will prove a blessing to America of the future and to all men as they reach upward to the light.

Chester W. Nimitz

Fleet Admiral, U. S. Navy

Two of the boats from 41 for Freedom.

1969 Submarine Brochure Introduction

Fleet Admiral Nimitz’s foreword, written for an earlier edition of the Submarine Brochure some 3 years before his death, points up the vast and growing influence of the sea to our destiny. ln this growth, the submarine fleet in particular has made such strides that we have found it necessary to issue a new edition of this compact account every few years.

The first submarine brochure came out under the skilled direction of Commander D. V. Hickey, USN, now retired, and Lieutenant Henry Vadnais, USNR, of the Curator section. This latest edition has been ably modified by Commander V. J. Robison, USNR, now directing the Curator section, Commander C. F. Johnson, USN, Commander H. Vadnais, USNR, and the diligent application of Mr. Robert L. Scheina. We also owe special appreciation for assistance to the following commanders and their staffs: Admiral lgnatius J. Galantin, Chief of Naval Material; Vice Admiral J. B. Colwell, Commander Fleet Operations and Readiness; Vice Admiral Arnold F. Schade, Commander Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet; Rear Admiral Walter L Small, Commander Submarine Force, Pacific; and Captain Leon H. Rathbun, Commander Submarine School.

The swift growth of the under sea part of the trident Navy reflects the broad growth of sea power as a whole and of its effect upon the fate of nations in our time. Throughout history the sea has stood for freedom— free horizons, free transit without frontiers or barriers, free opportunity for him who ventures boldly and skillfully. Fortunate indeed then is it that this increase in power at sea has come when the United States has received responsibility for the leadership of civilization. May she meet this charge wisely, courageously, and well

M. Eller

“He goes a great voyage that goes to the bottom of the sea.”

George Herbert, 1651

Mister Mac

The New “Star” in Star Spangled Banner Reply

This morning, I was honored to join a few members of the Pittsburgh Sea Cadet Battalion in helping to kick off the Bike Ride for Operation Troop Appreciation in Pittsburgh. This even helps to raise funds to build and sustain the morale and wellbeing of the military community, past and present, with the assurance that the American public supports and appreciates their selfless service and daily sacrifices.

This 100 mile run will travel the hills and valleys of Western Pennsylvania in support of our troops still deployed and those who return to our country after serving.

It is very humbling to see all of the volunteers and meet the bikers who came out to support. God bless all of you for your efforts.

Thanks to the Sea Cadets and a special thanks to the guest singer Antolena who performed one of the most amazing renditions of the National Anthem many of us have ever heard.

http://operationtroopappreciation.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Antolena-2042019952781129/?__tn__=HHH-R

https://www.facebook.com/pittsburghseacadets/

The New “Star” in Star Spangled Banner

When I came home, I posted the pictures and related a few of the stories on Facebook I learned while I was at Operation Troop Appreciation’s Pittsburgh facility this morning. I posted a picture of the young lady (Antolena) and wrote the following comment to go with it:

“Sometimes we take for granted that the National Anthem will be sung nicely. It happens so often that a beautiful young lady or handsome young man stands before a group of total strangers and gives a very pleasant version of a very difficult song. Then, every once in a great while, or in this case, for the very first time, you are standing less then ten feet from someone who owns the song from the moment they open their mouth. No fear. No quivering of the voice. No searching for notes. Without the flourishes and fanfare of an orchestra, you hear something that represents what the song stands for. Courage. Skill. Spirit. When Francis Scott Key wrote the words, he did so with a determination that was meant to convey the emotions he felt at seeing that flag still standing. When I heard you sing this morning, I felt what he felt. So many people had tears in their eyes when you were done. I know that God was with you. I pray that no matter what journey life takes you on, He is always there with you. God Bless you.”

While I was writing my tribute and without any warning, her Mom was writing the following note to me. Both notes appeared simultaneously:

” Bob; I will never forget the day Antolena discovered she was born the same day as Francis Scott Key. She said she had chills and how ironic. The day she first sang at PNC park for the Pirates was her birthday Aug. 1. She said I want to make him proud performing his star spangled banner on “our” birthday!! Funny how God always places people in each other paths…blessed for certain”

To all of my readers: I hope the day comes that you get a chance to hear this young lady sing. I have a suspicion that you probably will!!!

Mister Mac

Aloha to my Facebook Ohana 12

I did three shortened tours in the Navy in Hawaii and had some of my greatest and worst life experiences while I was there. One word that comes to mind when I think of Hawaii and the subject of this post is Ohana.

From Wikipedia: “Part of Hawaiian culture, ʻ ohana means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional).The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.”

This is for my Facebook Ohana.

Some things are harder to do than others. I quit smoking many years ago when I finally got past the excuse of “I just like the way it feels to smoke” and realized it was cutting my life short. At my age, I also know that I no longer have the ability to eat and drink anything I want since there are obvious negative consequences. For some unfair reason, my body no longer metabolizes all of the things I wish to consume and my physical appearance and health reflect that.

One of the addictions I have been struggling with for some time now is Facebook.

It all started so innocently. I wasn’t going to spend much time on it but it was an easy way to connect with old friends from the Navy and High School. (My college friends were almost all navy since it was a program that was run through Navy Campuses). In the years since I have been a member of Facebook, I have seen three Presidents, more changes in Congress than I can count, and uncounted upheavals to society caused by movements and tragedies. The daily barrage from Facebook from friends and people who I do not know has probably helped shape my opinions and certainly stoked my emotions more than a few hundred times.

Facebook has been like a family in many ways.

We love, we fight, we remember each other’s birthdays, we share our sadness at the loss of a loved one (including our beloved animals). We argue, we agree, we find common ground, we are divided. We share our inmost personal beliefs and concerns with perfect strangers (sometimes at the expense of our actual families). In all that time and all of the thousands of postings, I am absolutely convinced that no ones mind’s were really changed no matter how witty, how sincere, how passionate, or how mean a post was.

I have (as of March 28th, 2018) over 970 friends. I used to have over a thousand but some have left my “family” in silence. To be fair, I have also banished some along the way.  Perhaps it was something I said? Or maybe something they posted? Probably a bit of both.

Facebook has been convenient for me to achieve some personal goals.

I administer a number of pages about submarines, reunions, cats, World War 2 History (which is a passion) and I used it for my business. Truth be told, I have never actually gotten one sale from FB but that may be just as much about my service as it is about the ability to sell my service. To be fair, I have had some satisfaction also. My submarine and lean blog has had many of its nearly 370,000 readers come from postings on Facebook. Maybe that’s why you came today.

You have shared parts of your lives and your travels and I have done the same. I am glad for those who made my life richer from their stories. The part I have really loved about Facebook has been my ability to listen as much as I want to and when it becomes to long winded, I can click off and go to another story. That beats the hell out of the Thanksgiving Day table after dinner where the only escape you have from a long winded or too often repeated old story is to feign sleep or the need to get up and stretch at the earliest possible break in the action.

Darkness fell

In the last couple of weeks (or has it been months), I have noticed that FB has become a very dark place. I’m not just talking about Mr. Zuckerburg comparing his site to the new Church or the nefarious dealings of people who have harvested and misused our personal data. I honestly believe both of those things happen with such regularity now that they are commonplace in many arenas.

The darkness comes from within me. I am angry about things that I can’t control most of the time and I am failing to do the positive things that I believe that are required of us as humans and certainly of someone who claims to follow Christ.

So I am going to take some time off. On April 1st, all of my FB pages that I have created will go dark. I will clean up my computer and I Phone and delete any links to the site. I am sure that the world will not come to a stop.

April 1st this year is the day we celebrate Easter. The Resurrection of the Living God. A time of redemption for all who wish to follow Him. It seems like as good a day to get a restart as any.

See the source image

I will miss many people that truly have become family (some for the second time). You will all be in my prayers. If you need to get in touch with me, you can still email me at bobmac711@live.com or you can visit the leansubmariner web site at www.theleansubmariner.com

There are over 600 stories on the page now and I intend to continue to write as long as I have another story left in me.

It has been amazing over the years to share so much with so many people on Facebook. I am grateful for the prayers you have sent our way through many of those years. I hope to meet you again someday. Until then, I leave you with one of my favorite words; Aloha.

Aloha, I have been told, has three meanings.

Hello, Goodbye and I love you.

Seems like the most fitting word for this day.

Bob

Aka Mister Mac

 

A Prophesy From Nearly a Hundred Years Ago is Just as True Today 8

Everywhere you look these days, people are reacting to the senseless deaths of innocent people and wondering how we can stop the killing.

I think its a fair question. But I think we are not examining the root causes of what seems to be an increase in evil actions. Society has become very sophisticated since the days when the Europeans and others came to the shores of America. The vast country that lay before them was already inhabited, albeit with people who were not as organized and ready to repel the invaders. The resulting turmoil between natives and invaders was exacerbated by the conflict between the “Old Countries” that sought to take advantage of the new lands for their own purposes.

At one point, the invaders became the nation we are today.

The old ways of kings and queens were rejected and a representative form of government emerged. Laws were struck and revised and slowly the nation evolved as a new entity with a purpose and a culture of its own. Along the way, a man or a woman no longer had the day to day fear of attack from the forces of nature, other warring parties, or just people with bad purposes. Communities sprung up and men no longer had to carry their weapons openly to provide for individual liberties and security. Gunfights in the street diminished and new laws were created to govern behavior. The police would be the new protectors and ordinary people could just go about their business building the new country.

See the source image

But all of those circumstances were surrounded by one constant. We had moral codes. We had religion as a backbone to society and a family structure that held people and particularly children accountable. Schools had structure, business had rules, the police were respected if not feared, and the government was something that was there to help manage it all.

Well, that is the illusion anyway. Things always seem to look better in the rear view mirror.

I have been researching the early 1900’s for a book I am writing. Some of the articles I have been finding come from the Library of Congress’s Project called Chronicling America. The project entails digitally recording newspapers in their entirety from all over the country. This storehouse of information is free (so far) and shines a light on what the world was really like back in the day. Some of the stories about what really did happen back in the day. Killings by shooting, stabbing, poisoning and so on fill many of the pages. Violence all over the world is recorded in nearly every decade. Bank robbing’s, stickups, home invasions, and on and on. Frankly, the idea that violence is a new thing is as ludicrous as thinking that man has ever really had a peaceful period.

The main difference now is the way we are all connected electronically through the internet and cable.

Unless you live in a cave and have no connection (which means you aren’t able to read this) you are being influenced by someone’s opinion or interpretation of the facts as they occur. Somewhere today, large groups of young people who were disturbed enough to put down their video games, are gathering to protest something. Some believe that taking away everyone’s guns will make it a safer world. The less idealized may think that just regulating the guns is a good solution. Mind you, none of them is old enough to own a gun, but they somehow have the wisdom to know how to fix what has been an almost non stop problem since the day Cain picked up the first rock.

See the source image

The question of guns and weapons is not a new one.

In 1919, the first World War had just ended and the countries were still counting the cost of the carnage. New and powerful weapons had reached an industrial strength that no one could have imagined. Mass bombardments, gas, machine guns, airplane and even the deadly creature from the sea called a submarine. In the months and years that followed Armistice Day, nations began the struggle to contain the beasts they had unleashed. The British had been particularly hard hit by the submarine menace and determined to eradicate the foul little beast no matter the cost. Other nations who saw the boats as a great equalizer fought hard to prevent the Brits from having their way. The American’s saw the fledgling weapon as a tool of the future. Its a good thing they did. When the Japanese left the battleship fleet lying on the bottom of Pearl Harbor, it was American Submarines that helped to carry the war back to the enemy almost immediately. Imagine if the Brits had been successful in their quest.

This is an article from the time that was pretty prophetic

From “The Washington times. (Washington [D.C.]), 17 Jan. 1919”

I would suggest that we pay heed to those words of nearly a hundred years ago.

For all those willing to surrender the second amendment, how do you propose protecting the remaining amendments?

Or are you just going to rely on the good will of others?

#notme

Mister Mac

Why do you need an AR 15? 18

Warning: If you are easily triggered, this may not be a good article for you to read.

See the source image

Why do you need an AR 15?

In the wake of the latest horrific shooting, the topic for many people seems to focus on why someone would need an AR 15. Depending on the political and philosophical background of the people speaking about this, the first thing you have to do is separate fact from emotion.

Fact: The AR 15 is not an assault rifle. It stands for “ArmaLite Rifle” after the firm that designed the weapon in the 1950s. The AR15 is a lightweight, intermediate cartridge magazine-fed, air-cooled Armalite Rifle with a rotating lock bolt, actuated by a piston within the bolt carrier or by conventional long/short stroke piston operation. It has been produced in many different versions, including numerous semi-automatic and select fire variants. or the most part, semi-automatic is the only version readily available to the public and no mass killing of civilians has ever occurred with one that was designed as fully automatic. (Bump stocks are not part of the gun as designed)

Fact: The AR-15 is not a “high powered” rifle. Yes, it has more power than a handgun – all rifles do. But when you’re talking about rifles, the AR-15’s .223 / 5.56mm ammunition is considered so low powered that it is banned from hunting large game like deer and elk because it cannot humanely take them down in one shot like most other rifle calibers can.

Fact: the typical owner has never committed a crime (there are laws about who can purchase one)

Fact: The AR 15 available for sale is a semi-automatic weapon. Despite its scary appearance, it is only one of many kinds of semi automatic weapons, many with high capacity magazine capability

Emotion.

If you come from a liberal or progressive point of view, not only do you not need an AR 15, you really don’t need any guns at all. We live in a modern age where the police and military have the only reasons to have firearms in the eyes of that group and the world would be safer and nicer if all the guns were gone. Most of them won’t say it out loud of course since they know it would reveal their bias but at the heart of most of them, guns represent a long ago day when we lived in a primitive society that no longer exists. Plus they don’t want to lose elections. That’s the reason they couch all of their criticism in softer terms like “sensible gun laws” and join groups like “Moms demand Action” and “The Coalition to stop gun violence”.

On the frontier, people needed guns as much as they needed an axe or a shovel. The frontier was full of dangerous things and your family’s protection was dependent on what you could provide. There were also no supermarkets back then so hunting played a key role in feeding that same family. As we evolved, guns also protected the livestock from dangerous predators and yes, we even needed protection against hostile Indians who saw our incursion as a violation of their lands.

But that was a long time ago. The world has evolved. We are more educated now and more sophisticated. From a liberal/progressive point of view, those were the only justifications for those weapons.

To the untrained and uninitiated, modern guns are symbols of war and are scary. I still laugh when I think about the east coast liberal reporter who wrote an article about the time he had to fire one for his article.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/reporter-who-got-ptsd-from-firing-a-rifle-responds-to-critics/article/2594020

Most anti-gun people will tell you about the capacity of fire for these weapons despite never actually seeing one or picking one up. They repeat stories from supportive publications that detail how destructive each weapon is. The truth is normally the first casualty in such stories but it doesn’t matter anymore what the truth is. AR 15s are bad and nobody needs to own one.

Then there is the other side.

People who typically identify as Republican or conservative are the ones who hold the brakes on the gun grabbers. Many are former military but all hold one belief as a core value. The Second Amendment is a sacred trust built into the Constitution for the express purpose of keeping the government from denying individual citizens the right to keep and bear arms.

The gun rights crowd have a healthy skepticism of the government. While many have served in the military and work in the government, they see the one truth that is rarely spoken of and universally known. In a Republic that often has an identity crisis, it is only one election cycle away from “democracy” taking hold of the seat of power and changing the rules. A shift in public opinion and a change in the weight of liberals to conservatives is the greatest threat to individual liberty and freedom that exists. It is greater than a foreign invasion, Russian meddling in an election, or a natural catastrophe of biblical equations.

Sound crazy? Well, what is a democracy?

Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία dēmokratía, literally “rule of the people”), in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament. Democracy is sometimes referred to as “rule of the majority”. Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes.

The uncertainty of outcomes is inherent in democracy, which makes all forces struggle repeatedly for the realization of their interests, being the devolution of power from a group of people to a set of rules.

A better word for democracy is mob rule. If you found enough people to take your side, you can force everyone else to abide by your rules and their rights no longer matter. In the twentieth century, there were many examples of the mob being manipulated to do things that were exactly why you do not want a pure democracy. The Communist Revolutions, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Laos and Cambodia. All were meant to be worker’s paradises and yet all ended in brutal destruction and widespread death.

The debate about gun control is much more than a debate about who can own a firearm. It is a debate about whether we can trust our future to the goodwill of our fellow man. To be honest, mankind has a really shitty track record. The government envisioned by the leftists proposes that all of our needs, including security, should be provided by the state. Given the chance in this utopian world, everyone would be the same (except of course the insanely rich leaders) and no one would have any reason to have fear.

That sounds wonderful until you get out of the concrete caverns of New York and the Ivy covered halls of Boston. When you are surrounded by armed guards and well-disciplined security, it is incredibly easy to say that no one needs a gun for protection. But it’s a big country. There are a lot of people in flyover country who woke up this morning to a completely different reality. The drug epidemic is out of control, gangs of every kind are running rampant in cities and even small towns. Crime is more violent and unpredictable as people lose their moral compass.

Think about this. The same group of liberal progressives that long for the day that you will lose your firearms are the same people who want us to have open borders. The same open borders that allow MS 13 to come in and out like they were actual citizens. Those leftists want all of the illegal invaders to have your constitutional rights despite the fact that they are not citizens and make no attempt to become them. That group of people even incentivize cheating by creating sanctuary cities and states. At the same time they are doing this, they constantly scheme and plan to disarm the rest of the actual citizens.

Do you trust the government to uphold your rights? Look at a place like Pennsylvania. Our democrat Governor and a democrat Supreme Court have just overturned the established voting districts because they didn’t like the balance of power. Just like that. No voice of the voters will mean anything because this governor has elected to lead a takeover of our state. The shift in power will result in higher taxes, more companies moving out of Pennsylvania and a public more dependent on government than ever before. Your rights will not mean a thing.

This government cannot provide the security for its citizens now. Many areas no longer have police forces and the state police can’t fill in all of the gaps. Wait times for a policeman to show up can be hours in rural areas. These same rural areas are already reeling from drug related crimes and to make it a complete disaster, the idiots in Harrisburg want this entire state to join others as a haven for illegals. With an increase in illegal invaders, MS 13 will surely see the opportunities. Entire communities can be held hostage and the pitifully weak state under progressive leadership will be powerless to do a thing. Most people are not aware of how large MS 13 has become but it corresponds to the number of leftists controlled states providing them with sanctuary.

And you want to take our guns away? What do you want after that’s done?

I am in the later part of my life. God will take me home at some point and I will no longer have to be concerned about the insanity sweeping across this once great nation. I remind myself every election that we are only one cycle away from losing all of our rights. While neither party is perfect by any means, I keep hoping that enough sane people will show up to do the right thing. Until then, I will keep the words of Patrick Henry close to my Bible…

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided,” he said, “and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House?”

Henry then turned his attention to the British troops mobilizing across the colonies. “Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation?” he asked. “Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? …Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other.”

“Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty”—Henry burst from his imaginary chains and grasped an ivory letter opener—“or give me death!” As he uttered these final words, he plunged the letter opener toward his chest, mimicking a knife blow to the heart.

As to the original question, do I need my AR 15 or any of my personal defense weapons?

Yes I do.

If you have read this far and still don’t understand why, you probably never will. I would advise against you coming to take them away however.

Mister Mac

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 4

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

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