Category Archives: Personal

U-T San Diego: Ramadi Remembered

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Ramadi remembered

Iraq battle began 10 years ago on April 6, exacting heavy Marine toll

“The Battle of Ramadi was pivotal for coalition operations in the province,” the 1st Marine Division announced. Marines and soldiers killed an estimated 250 rebels from April 6 to April 10, and “the fighting shattered the insurgent offensive.”

U-T San Diego has the story.

One hell of a price was paid by the Marines and Soldiers in that battle and in the subsequent months. Paul Kennedy’s 2nd Bn 4th Marines, the “Magnificent Bastards” were magnificent once again. 1st Bn 16th Infantry was, too. As was every other unit that contributed to the fight and to holding the line until the Awakening turned the tables a couple years later.  The bravery, skill, and determination daily displayed in Ramadi and in Fallujah that April of 2004 is difficult to put into words.

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It was the honor of a lifetime to serve under LtGen Conway, CG I MEF, and MajGen Mattis, CG 1st MarDiv.  The Division ADC was John Kelly, and the Chief of Staff was Joe Dunford.  The MEF SgtMaj was the incomparable Carlton Kent.  Marines could never ask to be led by better.  And, of course the friendships forged in such a place will last the rest of our days.

O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Semper Fidelis, Marines.

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Filed under army, history, iraq, marines, navy, Personal, Uncategorized, veterans, war

Roamy’s rant

Somewhere there was a pot of money set aside to promote “Collaborative Earth System Science Research” between NASA/Goddard and University of Maryland – College Park. Okay, no big deal, you could argue it’s in NASA’s charter to promote science education, and funding various studies at nearby universities is not uncommon. I’ve collaborated with at least eight universities and helped with at least one Ph.D. and two master’s degrees. (Which is pretty funny considering I just have a lowly bachelor’s.) This one was a little incestuous in that the professor they were steering money to was a former Goddard employee.

The fecal matter hitting the fan happened when a doomsayer who blogs at The Guardian picked up a paper that used the Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) climate model to predict the end of civilization. Yay.

Keith Kloor at Discover has a magnificent two-part takedown of both the blog entry and the paper. He talked to Joseph Tainter, a professor of anthropology at Utah State University, who seems annoyed that they repeatedly cite his work without understanding it. Best quote:

The paper has many flaws. The first is that “collapse” is not defined, and the examples given conflate different processes and outcomes. Thus the authors are not even clear what topic they are addressing.

Collapses have occurred among both hierarchical and non-hierarchical societies, and the authors even discuss the latter (although without understanding the implications for their thesis). Thus, although the authors purport to offer a universal model of collapse (involving elite consumption), their own discussion undercuts that argument.

Contrary to the authors’ unsubstantiated assertion, there is no evidence that elite consumption caused ancient societies to collapse. The authors simply have no empirical basis for this assumption, and that point alone undercuts most of the paper. (emphasis by Kloor)

In my view, this is right up there with all the global warming b.s. that Goddard folks are peddling in order to make $$$ on the speakers’ circuit. However, the fallout from this was a little different. Working for NASA, I should be used to the black eyes. From the engineering failures of Challenger and Columbia to the fiascos of Muslim outreach and “we’re not going lead a human lunar mission”, I really should be able to roll with the punches. This is GSA, not NASA.
gsa hot tub
But because I am a public servant, I get lumped in with them anyway.
I get up in the morning and go to work. I’m not this guy.

But I’m still seen as the same level of moocher, another pig sucking on the government teat. That really pisses me off, mainly because there *are* people I know that are taking up space and oxygen that are just about as useful as Surfer Dude, and I can’t do anything about that. All I can do is do my job well and help research like this (one example of many) happen:

We are flying 100 proteins to the space station on SpaceX-3, currently scheduled for March (ed note: April) 2014. Twenty-two of these are membrane proteins, 12 are protein complexes, and the rest are aqueous proteins important for the biology we will learn from their structures. The associated disease was the last thing we considered, as we were looking at the bigger picture of the biology. That being said, for the upcoming proteins flying you can almost name a disease: cystic fibrosis, diabetes; several types of cancer, including colon and prostate; many antibacterial proteins; antifungals; etc.

NASA needs to stick with aeronautics and space, just like it says in their name, and leave the doomsaying to those who don’t look up.

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Filed under Personal, space

Seeking, and Finding, at Parris Island

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This week, following my last stint ever of reserve duty at Quantico, I decided to make one final trip to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.  I wanted to revisit what was a meaningful place for me one last time before my retirement on 1 June.   The nine-hour drive was smooth enough, but still… nine hours.  I arrived about 1730 in the evening and drove around town for a bit while I still had some light.

The surrounding communities of Beaufort and Port Royal had grown appreciably since I was here last, in May of 1992, when I relinquished command of India Company, Third Recruit Training Battalion.  On that same day, I also graduated my final Recruit Company and executed PCS orders.   Driving around I noticed there are many more restaurants now, and shopping centers, recreational activities… all the things that one would come to expect from a mid-sized and modern community.   There were far more amenities than existed twenty-odd years ago.   It was, as many have experienced visiting old duty stations, a bittersweet walk back in time… seeing places where I once lived, old haunts…. scenes not taken in for more than twenty years.  My objective, however, was not to drive and walk around the community.  I came to see the Recruit Depot at Parris Island, the place where I’d spent so many thousands of hours, in a job that was both challenging and immensely rewarding.  I also wanted to have a look at what changed, what hadn’t, and to do some reflecting on my time there, and my time since.   So… fairly early this morning, I climbed into a set of Charlies and headed aboard.

What awaited me was entirely and thoroughly unexpected.  In fact, it was quite a jolt, one which set me on my heels.  The first place I wanted to see after crossing the causeway was Third Recruit Training Battalion.  It was there that I served as a Series Commander and commanded India Company.  As I approached the Battalion area, I immediately noticed something was amiss.  No recruits anywhere.  No anybody.    I drove past the old barracks, triple-decker squad bays… I passed the Battalion HQ.  NOTHING.  So, I pulled my car in and got out.  To my absolute shock and inexpressible sadness, the entire of the Battalion Area was abandoned… derelict.

The line of squad bays that comprised Kilo and India Companies, 3rd RTBn.  So strange to see them without the bustle of activity.

The line of squad bays that comprised Kilo and India Companies, 3rd RTBn. So strange to see them without the bustle of activity.

The Third Recruit Training Battalion Command Post

The Third Recruit Training Battalion Command Post

Third RTBn Logo on the old grinder.

Third RTBn Logo on the old grinder.

Here was this place that I had thought of countless times — remembered hundreds and thousands of hours on the drill deck, the PT field, and next-door, the Close Combat area.  I expected to see recruits marching, to hear Drill Instructors correcting and yelling, to hear cadence being called and platoons sounding off.  Yet, there was not a soul around.  Just… a thunderous, deafening silence.  Here was a place where so much sweat and so much emotion had been expended by many thousands of recruits since the barracks were built in the 1950s.  Here was a place where the sharp commands of the Drill Instructors echoed off the brickwork, readying Marines for three wars.   Here was a place that was profoundly formative in so many a young life.  And now it was EMPTY.

Building 423, where India Company Office was located (the windows on the left front)

Building 423, where India Company Office was located (the windows on the left front)

The Inside of the former India Company Commander's Office.  No hand sanitizer in my day, though.

The Inside of the former India Company Commander’s Office. No hand sanitizer in my day, though.

I saw my old Series and Company Offices.  The paint was peeling and bits of debris and old equipment lay scattered about.  The “grinder” had grass and weeds growing from the cracked pavement.   The Chow Hall was overgrown, with crumbling steps and windows dislodged.   I ventured around, feeling a deep sadness that here, where I expected to find continuity, I instead encountered a very stark and sad reminder of the passage of time.   I wandered into the abandoned squad bays, ignoring the signs warning me to keep out.  When I stood there, it was if I could still hear the voices of hundreds of Drill Instructors and thousands of recruits, barking commands and sounding off in the rhythm that is unmistakably Marine Boot Camp.  My mind’s eye pictured images I saw a thousand times… of recruits executing the manual of arms in front of their racks, or mountain-climbing on the quarterdeck for some boneheaded infraction.   But they were only in my imagination, my memory.  Outside, the sand “motivation pits” where recruits once did incentive PT in the South Carolina heat, were now overgrown with grass and weeds, edged by rotting logs.

The squad bay.   The black lines closest to the windows were where the legs of the bunk racks were to be carefully aligned.  The lines toward the center were where recruit heels would be.  That was being "on-line" before the internet!

The squad bay. The black lines closest to the windows were where the legs of the bunk-style racks were to be carefully aligned. The lines toward the center were where recruit heels would be. That was being “on-line” before the internet!

Yellow footprints outside the DI hut.  The one closest is where the recruit stood when he was called to report.  The one in front of the hatch was where he stood to knock and report, and the third set was where he stood if he was told to stand by.

Yellow footprints outside the DI hut. The one closest is where the recruit stood when he was called to report. The one in front of the hatch was where he stood to knock and report, and the third set was where he stood if he was told to stand by.

In a place such as this, where so many young lives had so many defining moments, there remains an aura of those raw emotions that is almost palpable.  Those powerful emotions of fear and anger, excitement and resolve, mixed with the rightful pride of accomplishment, seems to float in the damp air still, nearly two years after the last recruit series called these squad bays home.

Around the side of the last squad bays, I met with yet another unpleasant surprise.  The Close Combat area, which had been immediately adjacent to Third Battalion, was also gone.  The pugil stick pits, which I helped build…gone.  Our “thunderdome” area and the shed where the Close Combat Instructors fought thousands of rounds had been replaced by base housing and a fire station.  The Confidence Course was gone also.  An empty field stood in its place.

The wash racks between squad bays.  Recruits would use these wash racks to scrub dirty uniforms and 782 gear, boots, etc.

The wash racks between squad bays. Recruits would use these wash racks to scrub dirty uniforms and 782 gear, boots, etc.

The place in which I stepped into a gopher hole up to my right thigh, resulting in a crushed vertebrae.  One step I regret.

The place on the 3rd RTBn PT field where I stepped into a gopher hole up to my right thigh, resulting in a crushed vertebrae. One step I regret.

As I stood remembering and taking pictures, I had to ask myself… Why such a powerful reaction? Why was I seemingly close to tears?   My emotions were all my own, all personal.  I expected to come back and find the place eminently recognizable, something  which would perhaps make me consider that 22 years was not quite so long ago.   But it is so long ago, especially when the recruits  are just 18 or 19 years old, and some of the Drill Instructors themselves only in their mid-twenties.

I eventually got back in my car and drove around the base some more.  A good deal of the infrastructure was new, including a massive Instructional Training building.  That beat the decrepit and cramped building I had occupied for the purpose (I was the OIC of Close Combat and Academics in between having a Series and Commanding India Company).    No wooden squad bays remained, which is kind of too bad.  The last of them was at the Rifle Range, replaced by brick structures about ten years ago.

The more I drove and walked around, the more I noticed that the tenor of the place had not changed very much at all.  Parris Island is still a place that provides the mental and physical challenges to those who want to be Marines.   The Drill Instructors still have the lean, hard, tired, uncompromising countenance.  The recruits still snap to, pushed by their DIs, until they respond quickly and willingly; until they become basically-trained Marines.   So, with further consideration, I realized that I did indeed find the continuity I was looking for.

The new location of India Company, 3rd RTBn

The new location of India Company, 3rd RTBn

I also eventually found the “new” Third Battalion.  A brand-new row of triple-deck squad bays, grinder, Command Post, wash racks, and a new PT field had been built about 1,500 yards from the old Battalion Area.  They were behind the rows of Spanish Moss-bedecked trees in the area that was once the island’s working farm.  There were new “motivation pits” and the ubiquitous pull-up bars.  I actually had a chance to see the “new” India Company area, and was pleased to meet the Officers and some of the Drill Instructors who are building today’s Marines.  It was a good conversation.  The hours are still incredibly long, the Drill Instructors still thoroughly professional and dedicated, and the pride of playing a part in the making of Marines is still very much in evidence.  Semper Fidelis, Marines!  And thanks for taking the time to talk to an old man who stood where you stand now (more or less) a quarter century ago.

H/T to DB for EDIT

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Filed under history, marines, Personal

Hidden Treasure

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It can be found in the most unlikely of places.  This haul of pure naval gold came from the little book library that I found next to the gift shop aboard USS Midway in my sojourn to San Diego for the West Conference.  I saw a sign for “book sale”, which, except for “free ammo”, is most likely to make me stop every time.  I was allowed to go into the spaces that had the books for sale, and found this’n.  I decided to have a little fun with the docent who was running the sale.  When I asked “How much?”, he told me “Ten dollars.”  I worked up my most indignant expression, and said “TEN DOLLARS!  That’s highway robbery!  I won’t pay it!” at the same time I slipped a twenty to his elderly assistant, and gave him a wink.   He was a bit flummoxed, but the old fella gave me a smile.  I asked that they keep the change as a donation, which they were truly grateful for.

Anyway, inside the large, musty-smelling book that had likely not been opened in decades, there is to be found a veritable treasure of naval history.  From the advertisements at the beginning pages from famous firms such as Thornycroft, Hawker-Siddeley, Vickers-Amstrong Ship Repair and Shipbuilding, Bofors, Decca Radars, Edo Sonar, etc, to the line drawings of nearly every class of major combatant in commission in 1964, the book is simply fascinating.

What is first noticeable is that a great percentage of the world’s warships in 1964 still consisted of American and British-built vessels from the Second World War and the years immediately preceding.   Former Royal Navy aircraft carriers were the centerpieces of the navies of India, Canada, France, Holland, Australia (star-crossed Melbourne was a Colossus-class CV) and even Argentina and Brazil.   US-built ships comprise major units of almost every Western Bloc navy in 1964.  The ubiquitous Fletchers, of which nearly one hundred were transferred,  served worldwide, and remained the most powerful units of many Western navies into the 1990s.   But there were other classes, destroyer escorts, patrol frigates, minesweepers, and an untold number of LSTs, LCTs, LCIs, Liberty and Victory ships, tankers, and auxiliaries of all descriptions, under the flags of their new owners.   Half a dozen Brooklyn-class light cruisers went south in the 1950s, to the South American navies of Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.  (General Belgrano, sunk by a British torpedo in the Falklands War, was ex-USS Phoenix CL-46).  A surprising number of the pre-war Benson and Gleaves-class destroyers remained in naval inventories, including that of the United States Navy (35).   A large contingent of Balao and Gato-class diesel fleet subs also remained in service around the world, with images showing streamlined conning towers, and almost always sans the deck guns.

Nowhere is there a ship profile of a battleship.  By 1964, Britain had scrapped the King George Vs, and beautiful HMS Vanguard.   France had decommissioned Jean Bart, and though Richelieu was supposedly not decommissioned until 1967, she is not included.  The United States had disposed of the North Carolinas and the South Dakotas some years before, and only the four Iowas remained.  They are listed in the front of the US Navy section, but not as commissioned warships, and they are also not featured.   Turkey’s ancient Yavuz, the ex-German World War I battlecruiser Goeben, had not yet been scrapped (it would be in 1971), but apparently was awaiting disposal and not in commission.

The 1964-65 edition of Jane’s contains some really interesting pictures and facts. And definitely some oddities.

There is a launching photo for USS America (CV-66), and “artist’s conceptions” of the Brooke and Knox-class frigates, which were then rated as destroyer escorts.  In 1964, the largest warship in the Taiwanese Navy (Republic of China) was an ex-Japanese destroyer that had been re-armed with US 5″/38 open single mounts in the late 1950s.  The People’s Republic of China also had at least one ex-Japanese destroyer in service, along with the half-sisters to the ill-fated USS Panay, formerly USS Guam and USS Tutulia, which had been captured by the Japanese in 1941 and turned over to China at the end of the war.  The PRC also retained at least one river gunboat which had been built at the turn of the century.

Italy’s navy included two wartime-construction (1943) destroyers that had been badly damaged, repaired, and commissioned in the late 1940s.  The eye-catching feature of the photos of the San Giorgios is the Mk 38 5″/38 twin mountings of the type mounted on the US Sumners and Gearings.

A couple other oddities that I never would have known but for this book.  In the 1950s, West Germany salvaged one Type XXI and two Type XXIII U-boats, sunk in the Baltic in 1945, reconditioned them, and commissioned them.  While the Type XXI was an experimentation platform, apparently the two Type XXIII boats (ex-U-2365 and U-2367) became operational boats.    The Israeli frigate Haifa had been a British wartime Hunt-class frigate, sold to the Egyptian Navy, and captured by Israeli forces in Haifa in the 1956 war.

The Indian Navy was made up largely of ex-Royal Navy warships, understandably enough.  But one in 1964 was particularly significant.  The Indian light cruiser Delhi had been HMS Achilles, famous for its role as a unit of Commodore Harwood’s squadron in chasing the German panzerschiff KMS Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate in December, 1939.

There is much more contained in the pages of this old and forgotten edition.  This book is an absolute treasure trove of naval history.   And was a most unexpected find.    I have unleashed my inner geek!

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Filed under armor, Artillery, China, Defense, guns, history, Iran, israel, logistics, navy, Personal, Splodey, veterans, war

“When democracy turns to tyranny, the armed citizen still gets a vote”

Those wishing to disarm the law-abiding by passing laws infringing on the right to keep and bear arms have been warned.   From over at Sipsey Street:

An Open Letter to the Men and Women of the Connecticut State Police: You are NOT the enemy (UNLESS YOU CHOOSE TO BE.)

The following letter was sent via email to members of the Connecticut State Police, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. There are 1,212 email addresses on the list. There were 62 bounce-backs.

15 February 2014

To the men and women of the Connecticut State Police and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection:

My name is Mike Vanderboegh. Few of you will know who I am, or even will have heard of the Three Percent movement that I founded, though we have been denounced on the national stage by that paragon of moral virtue, Bill Clinton. Three Percenters are uncompromising firearm owners who have stated very plainly for years that we will obey no further encroachments on our Second Amendment rights. Some of you, if you read this carelessly, may feel that it is a threat. It is not. Three Percenters also believe that to take the first shot in a conflict over principle is to surrender the moral high ground to the enemy. We condemn so-called collateral damage and terrorism such as that represented by the Oklahoma City Bombing and the Waco massacre. We are very aware that if you seek to defeat evil it is vital not to become the evil you claim to oppose. Thus, though this letter is certainly intended to deal with an uncomfortable subject, it is not a threat to anyone. However, it is important for everyone to understand that while we promise not to take the first shot over principle, we make no such promise if attacked, whether by common criminals or by the designated representatives of a criminal government grown arrogant and tyrannical and acting out an unconstitutional agenda under color of law. If we have any model, it is that of the Founding generation. The threat to public order and safety, unfortunately, comes from the current leaders of your state government who unthinkingly determined to victimize hitherto law-abiding citizens with a tyrannical law. They are the ones who first promised violence on the part of the state if your citizens did not comply with their unconstitutional diktat. Now, having made the threat (and placed the bet that you folks of the Connecticut State Police will meekly and obediently carry it out) they can hardly complain that others take them seriously and try by every means, including this letter, to avoid conflict.

Some of you are already working a major case on me, trying to figure out how I may be arrested for violating Conn. P.A. 13-3, which bears the wildly dishonest title of “An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.” (What part of “protecting children” is accomplished by sparking a civil war?) Not only have I personally violated this unconstitutional and tyrannical act by smuggling and by the encouragement of smuggling, defiance and non-compliance on the part of your state’s citizens, but I have further irritated your wannabe tyrant bosses by sending them standard capacity magazines in my “Toys for Totalitarians” program. I further have annoyed them by pointing out — and seeking more evidence of — the existence of Mike Lawlor’s KGB file (as well as his FBI and CIA counter-intelligence files). In short, I have made myself a nuisance to your bosses in just about every way I could think of. However, their discomfiture reminds me of the wisdom of that great American philosopher of the late 20th Century, Frank Zappa, who said, “Do you love it? Do you hate it? There it is, the way you made it.” Whether you will be able to make a case on me that sticks is, of course, problematic for a number of reasons which I will detail to you in the letter below. I have already done so to your bosses and include the links in this email so that you may easily access them.

But even if you are not working on my case you will want to pay attention to this letter, because tyrannical politicians in your state have been writing checks with their mouths that they expect you to cash with your blood. We have moved, thanks to them, into a very dangerous undiscovered country. Connecticut is now in a state of cold civil war, one that can flash to bloody conflict in an instant if someone, anyone, does something stupid. So please pay attention, for Malloy and Co. have put all your asses on the line and are counting on your supine obedience to the enforcement of their unconstitutional diktat.

I apparently first came to your attention with this speech on the steps of your state capitol on 20 April 2013. It was very well received by the audience but virtually ignored by the lapdog press of your state. If I may, I’d like to quote some of the more salient points of it that involve you.

“An unconstitutional law is void.” It has no effect. So says American Jurisprudence, the standard legal text. And that’s been upheld by centuries of American law. An unconstitutional law is VOID. Now that is certainly true. But the tricky part is how do we make that point when the local, state and federal executive and legislative branches as well as the courts are in the hands of the domestic enemies of the Constitution. Everyone who is currently trying to take away your right to arms starts out by saying “I support the 2nd Amendment.” Let me tell you a home truth that we know down in Alabama — Barack Obama supports the 2nd Amendment just about as much as Adolf Hitler appreciated Jewish culture, or Joseph Stalin believed in individual liberty. Believe what politicians do, not what they say. Because the lie is the attendant of every evil. . .

Before this year no one thought that other firearms and related items would ever be banned — but they were, they have been. No one thought that the authorities of your state would pass laws making criminals out of the previously law-abiding — but they did. If they catch you violating their unconstitutional laws, they will — when they please — send armed men to work their will upon you. And people — innocent of any crime save the one these tyrants created — will die resisting them.

You begin to see, perhaps, how you fit into this. YOU are the “armed men” that Malloy and Company will send “to work their will” upon the previously law-abiding. In other words, this law takes men and women who are your natural allies in support of legitimate law enforcement and makes enemies of the state of them, and bully boy political police of you. So you all have a very real stake in what happens next. But let me continue:

The Founders knew how to answer such tyranny. When Captain John Parker — one of the three percent of American colonists who actively took the field against the King during the Revolution — mustered his Minutemen on Lexington Green, it was in a demonstration of ARMED civil disobedience. . . The colonists knew what to do and they did it, regardless of the risk — regardless of all the King’s ministers and the King’s soldiery. They defied the King. They resisted his edicts. They evaded his laws and they smuggled. Lord above, did they smuggle.

Now we find ourselves in a similar situation. The new King Barack and his minions have determined to disarm us. We must determine to resist them. No one wants a new civil war (except, apparently, the anti-constitutional tyrants who passed these laws and the media toadies who cheer them on) but one is staring us in the face. Let me repeat that, a civil war is staring us in the face. To think otherwise is to whistle past the graveyard of our own history. We must, if we wish to avoid armed conflict, get this message across to the collectivists who have declared their appetites for our liberty, our property and our lives — WHEN DEMOCRACY TURNS TO TYRANNY, THE ARMED CITIZEN STILL GETS TO VOTE.

Just like King George, such people will not care, nor modify their behavior, by what you say, no matter how loudly or in what numbers you say it. They will only pay attention to what you DO. So defy them. Resist their laws. Evade them. Smuggle in what they command you not to have. Only by our ACTS will they be impressed. Then, if they mean to have a civil war, they will at least have been informed of the unintended consequences of their tyrannical actions. Again I say — Defy. Resist. Evade. Smuggle. If you wish to stay free and to pass down that freedom to your children’s children you can do no less than to become the lawbreakers that they have unconstitutionally made of you. Accept that fact. Embrace it. And resolve to be the very best, most successful lawbreakers you can be.

Well, I guess at least some of my audience that day took my message to heart. As Connecticut newspapers have finally begun reporting — “Untold Thousands Flout Gun Registration Law” — and national commentators are at last noticing, my advice to defy, resist and evade this intolerable act is well on the way. The smuggling, as modest as it is, I can assure is also happening. This law is not only dangerous it is unenforceable by just about any standard you care to judge it by. Let’s just look at the numbers mentioned in the Courant story.

By the end of 2013, state police had received 47,916 applications for assault weapons certificates, Lt. Paul Vance said. An additional 2,100 that were incomplete could still come in.

That 50,000 figure could be as little as 15 percent of the rifles classified as assault weapons owned by Connecticut residents, according to estimates by people in the industry, including the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation. No one has anything close to definitive figures, but the most conservative estimates place the number of unregistered assault weapons well above 50,000, and perhaps as high as 350,000.

And that means as of Jan. 1, Connecticut has very likely created tens of thousands of newly minted criminals — perhaps 100,000 people, almost certainly at least 20,000 — who have broken no other laws. By owning unregistered guns defined as assault weapons, all of them are committing Class D felonies.

“I honestly thought from my own standpoint that the vast majority would register,” said Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, the ranking GOP senator on the legislature’s public safety committee. “If you pass laws that people have no respect for and they don’t follow them, then you have a real problem.”

This blithering idiot of a state senator is, as I warned Mike Lawlor the other day, extrapolating. It is a very dangerous thing, extrapolation, especially when you are trying to predict the actions of an enemy you made yourself whom you barely recognize let alone understand. I told Lawlor:

You, you silly sod, are extrapolating from your own cowardice. Just because you wouldn’t risk death for your principles, doesn’t mean there aren’t folks who most certainly will. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but folks who are willing to die for their principles are most often willing to kill in righteous self-defense of them as well. You may be ignorant of such people and their ways. You may think that they are insane. But surely even you cannot be so clueless that, insane or not from your point-of-view, such people DO exist and in numbers unknown. This is the undiscovered country that you and your tyrannical ilk have blundered into, like clueless kindergarteners gaily (no pun intended) tap-dancing in a well-marked mine field. The Founders marked the mine field. Is it our fault or yours that you have blithely ignored the warnings? If I were a Connecticut state policeman I would be wondering if the orders of a possible KGB mole throwback were worth the terminal inability to collect my pension. Of course, you may be thinking that you can hide behind that “thin blue line.” Bill Clinton’s rules of engagement say otherwise.

The odds are, and it gives me no particular satisfaction to say it, is that someone is going to get killed over your unconstitutional misadventures in Connecticut. And if not Connecticut, then New York, or Maryland, or California or Colorado. And once the civil war you all apparently seek is kicked off, it would not be — it could not be — confined to one state.

This is not a threat, of course. Not the personal, actionable threat that you may claim. It ranks right along with — no, that’s wrong, IT IS EXACTLY LIKE — an ex-con meeting me in the street and pointing to my neighbor’s house saying, “Tonight I am going to break in there, kill that man, rape his wife and daughters and steal everything that he is, has, or may become.” I warn him, “If you try to do that, he will kill you first. He may not look like much, but I know him to be vigilant and perfectly capable of blowing your head off.” That is not a threat from me. It is simply good manners. Consider this letter in the same vein. I am trying to save you from yourself.

For, like that common criminal, you have announced by your unconstitutional law and your public statements in favor of its rigorous enforcement that you have a tyrannical appetite for your neighbors’ liberty, property and lives. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that this policy, if carried to your announced conclusion, will not end well for anybody, but especially for you.

Now let’s examine those numbers in the Courant story. You know the size of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. Wikipedia tells us that “CSP currently has approximately 1,248 troopers, and is headquartered in Middletown, Connecticut. It is responsible for protecting the Governor of Connecticut, Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, and their families.” There are but 1,212 email addresses listed on the state website to which this email is going, which presumably includes everyone including secretaries, receptionists, file clerks, technicians, etc. Now, how many shooters for raid parties you may find among that one thousand, two hundred and forty eight that Wikipedia cites, or whatever number will be on the payroll when something stupid happens, only you know for sure. I’ll let you do the counting. They are daunting odds in any case, and as you will see, they get more daunting as we go down this road that Malloy and Company have arranged for you. (By the way, don’t forget to subtract those on the Green Zone protective details, for your political masters will certainly see their survival as your mission number one.) So, how many folks would your superiors be interested in seeing you work their will upon? And of these, how many will fight regardless of cost?

Let’s assume that there are 100,000 non-compliant owners of military pattern semi-automatic rifles in your state. I think it is a larger number but 100,000 has a nice round ring to it. Let us then apply the rule of three percent to that number — not to the entire population of your state, not even to the number of firearm owners, but just to that much smaller demonstrated number of resistors. That leaves you with at least 3,000 men and women who will shoot you if you try to enforce this intolerable act upon them. Of course you will have to come prepared to shoot them. That’s a given. They know this. So please understand: THEY. WILL. SHOOT. YOU. (In what they believe is righteous self defense.) Now, if any of them follow Bill Clinton’s rules of engagement and utilize the principles of 4th Generation Warfare, after the first shots are fired by your raid parties, they will not be home when you come to call. These people will be targeting, according to the 4GW that many of them learned while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war makers who sent you. This gets back to that “when democracy turns to tyranny, the armed citizenry still gets to vote.” One ballot, or bullet, at a time.

This is all hypothetical, of course, based upon the tyrants’ appetites for these hitherto law-abiding citizens’ liberty, property and lives as well as upon your own willingness to enforce their unconstitutional diktat. And here’s where you can do something about it. The first thing you have to realize is that the people you will be targeting do not view you as the enemy. Indeed, you are NOT their enemy, unless you choose to be one.

Again, an unconstitutional law is null and void. Of course you may if you like cling to the slim fact that a single black-robed bandit has ruled the Intolerable Act as constitutional in Shew vs. Malloy, but that will not matter to those three percent of the resistors — your fellow citizens — whom you target. They no longer expect a fair trial in your state in any case, which leaves them, if they wish to defend their liberty, property and lives, only the recourse of an unfair firefight. So to cite Shew vs. Malloy at the point of a state-issued firearm to such people is, well, betting your life on a very slender reed.

Thus, my kindly advice to you, just as it was to Lawlor, is to not go down that road. You are not the enemy of the people of Connecticut, not yet. The politicians who jammed this law down the peoples’ throats are plainly flummoxed by the resistance it has engendered. In the absence of a definitive U.S. Supreme Court decision do you really want to risk not being able to draw your pension over some politician’s insatiable appetite for power?

There are many ways you can refuse to get caught up in this. Passive resistance, looking the other way, up to and including outright refusal to execute what is a tyrannical law that a higher court may yet find unconstitutional and therefore null and void. Do you really want to have to kill someone enforcing THAT? Just because you were ordered to do so? After Nuremberg, that defense no longer obtains. (You may say, “Well, I’m just a secretary, a clerk, you can’t blame me for anything.” Kindly recall from Nuremberg one other lesson: raid parties cannot break down doors unless someone like you prepares the list in advance. In fact, you have at your keyboard and in your databases more raw, naked power than any kick-in-the-door trooper. And with that power comes moral responsibility. Adolf Eichmann didn’t personally kill anyone. But he darn sure made up the lists and saw to it that trains ran on time. When the first Connecticut citizen (or, God forbid, his family) is killed as a result of your list-making, do you think that because you didn’t pull the trigger that gives you a moral pass?)

So I call on you all, in your own best interest and that of your state, to refuse to enforce this unconstitutional law. There are a number of Three Percenters within the Connecticut state government, especially its law enforcement arms. I know that there have been many discussions around water-coolers and off state premises about the dangers that this puts CT law enforcement officers in and what officers should do if ordered to execute raids on the previously law-abiding.

You have it within your power to refuse to initiate hostilities in an American civil war that would, by its very nature, be ghastly beyond belief and would unleash hatreds and passions that would take generations to get over, if then.

Please, I beg you to understand, you are not the enemy, you are not an occupying force — unless you choose to violate the oath that each of you swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic. For their part, the men and women who will be targeted by your raids took an identical oath. Can you think of anything more tragic than brother killing brother over some politician’s tyrannical appetite?

I can’t. The future — yours, mine, our children’s, that of the citizens of Connecticut and indeed of the entire country — is in YOUR hands.

At the very least, by your refusal you can give the courts time to work before proceeding into an unnecessary civil war against your own friends and neighbors on the orders of a self-anointed elite who frankly don’t give a shit about you, your life, your future or that of your family. They wouldn’t pass these laws if they thought that they would have to risk the potential bullet that their actions have put you in the path of. They count on you to take that bullet, in service of their power and their lies. Fool them. Just say no to tyranny. You are not the enemy. Don’t act like one.

Sincerely,

Mike Vanderboegh

The alleged leader of a merry band of Three Percenters

PO Box 926

Pinson AL 35126

As the author states, the above is hardly a threat.  Unless, of course, those men and women of the CT State Police choose to serve their political masters rather than the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.    Law Enforcement officials everywhere, at all levels of government, would do well to read and heed.  In many areas, they are dancing dangerously close to a line they cross at their own peril.    The Second Amendment is the citizens’ last redress against the tyranny of government.

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Ten Years Ago Today

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We flew in to Habbaniyah on a C-130 out of Kuwait, and the pilot juked on the way in, just in case.   Once on the deck, we were dispatched into an Army-Marine Corps convoy headed to Ramadi.  On the way out the gate of the laager, a VBIED detonated next to one of the lead security vehicles, killing two soldiers.  It would be an interesting eight months in Iraq.   The First Marine Division, led by MajGen James N. Mattis, whose ADC was John Kelly and Chief of Staff Colonel Joe Dunford, was one hell of a team (that included the Army’s excellent 1-16th Infantry).

The 1st Marine Division (not including Army casualties) suffered 118 killed and more than 1,400 wounded in those eight months in places like Fallujah and Ramadi, Haditah, and a lot of other dusty villages and towns nobody could find on a map except the men who fought there.   A high price was paid to hold the line in Anbar, to hold elections, and cultivate conditions for the Awakening.   For the Marines and soldiers who did so, recent events with AQ flying flags in Anbar’s cities and towns are particularly maddening.  It was clear that the “cut and run” philosophy of the White House was an exceedingly poor one, and subsequent events show that the so-called “zero option” is as descriptive of the President’s credibility as force levels in Iraq.  And we are set, with the same litany of excuses, to do it again in Afghanistan.

I wondered then what all this would be like, ten years on, should I be fortunate enough to survive.  Some things remain very vivid, the sights and smells, and the faces of comrades.  Others I am sure I would have to be reminded of.  And a few memories, thankfully few, are seared into the memory for the rest of my time on this earth.

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“You Have No Rights!”

It seems that Towson, Maryland police officers verbalized what many in Law Enforcement have shown with their behavior nationwide for the last several years.  A man filming police officers at a disturbance is threatened and assaulted by a police officer who declares at one point that the private citizen he is responsible for protecting and serving has no rights.   The local CBS affiliate has the story.

It is well past time to view these cases in isolation.  I don’t want to hear that.  Nor do I want to hear about how the police “fear for their safety”.  Or how they were somehow justified in threatening jail or declaring which freedoms are permitted.   That, in large dose or small, is tyranny, plain and simple.  Trying to explain it away is to stretch plausibility to the breaking point and beyond in order to find excuses for such behavior.

Of course, police officials are always “concerned” and vow to investigate the “possibility” of wrongdoing.  The assertions that additional training and possible disciplinary action is a solution is entirely in error.  This is not a matter of training but of attitude and sense of unbridled authority and entitlement.  Borne of not being accountable.  David Rocah of the ACLU is quite right.  It is very problematic, and it does reflect a great and growing sense of impunity.

No, the solution to this, eventually and unfortunately, is for police officers like this jackass to face the wrath of an armed populace willing to assert their liberties forcefully.  And if he survives the encounter, he should consider himself lucky.   Of course, it is no coincidence that the Governor of Maryland has all but disarmed the law-abiding.  He, and his police forces, get to decide which of your Constitutional liberties they would like you to have and when.  Which, it should be noted, this Administration desires to make the national model.

Tyranny around every corner, indeed.

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Best Marine Corps Recruiting Commercial Ever

Almost thirty years old now, but still my favorite.  And we have had some damned good ones.

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Barack Obama and the End of the First Amendment

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Those 45 words are at the very root of what some call American “exceptionalism”, the right to speak one’s mind and to hear the truth reported in the press without intimidation or interference from the Government, its agencies, or its officials.   While First Amendment rights have never been absolute, government infringement upon those rights has almost never been countenanced as Constitutional by the US Supreme Court, and not too much more frequently by lower courts at any level.    Those words are the verbal expression of the beacon held aloft by the Statue of Liberty, and have drawn the oppressed and the freedom-loving the world over to our great land.

Which is what makes this Administration so dangerous to our liberties.  Barack Obama, whose philosophy of government embraces the monolithic statism of Iron Curtain Europe mixed with Hugo Chavez-esque populist progressive communism, finds such liberties distinctly inconvenient and dangerous to his ambitions.  So, the Obama Administration, while mouthing the platitudes of reverence for our freedoms, has actively gone about shredding those liberties, demonizing political opposition as national enemies. The use of tax collection (the IRS) powers to persecute political opponents.  The subpoena of media phone records by the Justice Department without cause.  The senior Military Officer on the active list calling to demand a private citizen desist from lawful free expression.  All are disturbing but well-stifled examples of the such malfeasance.

In each instance, the President of the United States, when he deigned to address such egregious violations of Constitutional liberties and dangerous government overreach, did what he always does.  He lied.  He didn’t “spin” or “omit”.  He lied.  Said publicly things he knew not to be true.  As did his minions involved in the incident; Lois Lerner of the IRS (now seeking immunity since she perjured herself), Eric Holder, and General Martin Dempsey, all political sycophants who willingly lied publicly, not once but several times, in relation to the misconduct in which they were involved.

One of the reasons such misdeeds and lack of honesty has received such little attention has been the decidedly muted response by an overwhelmingly liberal news media.  They have given the Obama Administration little scrutiny, for its deeds or its words, and have played an active hand in attacking those who dared question the veracity of Obama’s words and actions.   But, apparently, that is not good enough for Barack Obama.  Now, it seems, he is interjecting government monitors into what is left of America’s “free” press.  The American Center for Justice and Law tells the story.  Which is interesting in and of itself.  For had a Republican Administration official at ANY level even whispered that such a thing was being discussed, the Washington Post and the New York Times would have it as front page news for weeks.  Complete with the outrage against the assault on the sanctity of that same free press.

Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

The results, predictably, will be a quasi-state-controlled media akin to TASS or state media in China and the DPRK.  Of course, there will be those whom, as they do with every dangerous precedent this Administration has set, will say that this is much ado about nothing.  They will assert that government “monitors” don’t actually threaten freedom of the press, and that “there is no evidence” that such is intended to intimidate news organizations into crafting only the news this Leftist Administration wants reported, and reporting it in an “authorized” manner.   They are increasingly assuming the role of the “useful idiots” of Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution.  And, not surprisingly, they include major media personalities and executive ownership, men and women seemingly bent on self-immolation in their unswerving support for someone who has little use for a free press and is actively seeking to dispense with it.

The reality is grim.  Precedent is a very dangerous thing in government exercise of authority.  What we are seeing is the destruction of the free press that Jefferson believed so fervently was necessary for the flourishing of liberty.  Other infringement on our free speech will follow, and in fact has already been bandied about. Expect “hate speech” to be targeted for criminalization, which will include certain criticism of politically-favored demographics and government policies. There will already be precedent for dispensing with our liberties under the First Amendment.

When 2016 arrives, just remember that Hillary Clinton’s political philosophy is indistinguishable from that of Barack Obama.

Oh, and both wish to do away with our right to keep and bear arms as our last redress against the tyranny of government.   For our own good, of course.

That, when any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it…

H/T DB!

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Filed under Around the web, China, guns, history, obama, Personal, Politics, Uncategorized, war

Snow in Alabama

Y’all can laugh at us, but we’re just not prepared for snow and ice. When it snows in the South, you might as well hunker down, watch an old movie, and make some soup while you’re waiting for it to melt. Still, it’s pretty. This was Tuesday.
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It melted, then we got a fresh coat last night.
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Saw this one on Twitter.
snow rocket
And if my friend Bill is reading this, you and your lovely wife are very thoughtful and had excellent timing in giving us the balaclavas! Thanks!

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One of the True Greats is Gone: Sid Caesar dies at 91

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Comedic great Sid Caesar passed away yesterday at the age of 91.  If you have never seen his comedy, you missed out on a brilliance that was truly dazzling.  A talented musician and gifted performer, Caesar mixed highly intellectual comedy with an incredible ability to pantomime, act, and draw laughter on virtually every subject he expounded upon.  He worked with the all-time comedic giants, including close friends Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Nannette Fabray, Steve Allen, Howie Morris, and just about anyone you can name from the early and classic days of live comedy television.  His Your Show of Shows was a 90 minute sketch comedy show that is as funny sixty years after its broadcast as it was when first aired.  His award-winning comedy sketch, which is a close-up of his face (and in which he does not utter a single word) as his wife (the beautiful Nannette Fabray) comes home from a shopping trip and explains the great bargains she has gotten on her dresses and minks, ends with a tear running down his cheek.  He was admired and emulated by virtually every comedic actor of note that followed him.

The Dick van Dyke Show, a situation comedy from the 1960s which starred Carl Reiner as the acerbic star of the fictitious Alan Brady Show, was based on Caesar’s talented group of comedy writers from Your Show of Shows, with Alan Brady loosely parodying Caesar’s own personality.

Caesar starred on Broadway and had dozens of movies to his credit, none more memorable than his starring role in Stanley Kramer’s 1963 comedy epic It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad. Mad World.   He was a Coast Guard Veteran of World War II, and the son of Jewish (Polish and Russian) immigrants, who got his performing start as a saxophonist in the Catskills.

He and his brand of intellectual humor will be missed.   So long, Melville Crump, DDS.

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Gun Owners are the Enemy to Ohio National Guard

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Seems that the 2nd Civil Support Team of the Ohio National Guard is participating in an exercise where the perpetrators of a chemical attack are posited to be “Second Amendment supporters”.    Media Trackers tells us the story.

Buckeye Firearms Association spokesman Chad Baus told Media Trackers that “it is a scary day indeed when law enforcement are being trained that Second Amendment advocates are the enemy,”

“The revelation of this information is appalling to me, and to all citizens of Ohio who are true conservatives and patriots, who don’t have guns for any other reason than that the Second Amendment gives them that right,” Portage County TEA Party Executive Director Tom Zawistowski said in a separate Media Trackers interview.

Not a new paradigm, of course.  Law-abiding citizens who are political opponents of the Obama-Holder secular-progressive statist left have been considered enemies all along.   Aside from the preposterous scenario, this is yet another of the Federal Government/Law Enforcement/Military leadership’s conditioning the American people to think of gun owners (and advocates of free speech, limited government, and due process) to be violent and unreasonable criminals, comprising threats that need to be dealt with in the harsh totalitarian measures so often favored by those far-left ideologues who despise our liberties so.  Of note is that, when similar training involved positing an environmental advocacy group committing an act of terror or violence, the apologies were profuse, and immediate.

Before I get the same hackneyed arguments that “this is just a training exercise”, the same weak reasoning was used to explain away the following:

  • The FBI report that white Veterans who believed in God, the Second Amendment, and limited government were a terrorist threat
  • The change in language from “Islamic extremists” to “violent extremists” was mere semantics and not for the purpose of labeling political opposition in the same language as America’s enemies
  • Increased militarization of police, including having them acquire heavy armored vehicles for use on American streets
  • When Barack Obama referred to political opposition when he talked of  “punishing our enemies”
  • The Joint Staff College posited a training scenario with the enemy being Tea Party activists

There have been myriad other instances where elements of the government have acted against law-abiding citizens as if they were criminals and threats to security, while often ignoring those who are sworn enemies of this country.

“You want to have it as realistic as possible, but you don’t want to single out an issue as emotional as that,” Eliason said.

Of course, the quote above would never be uttered by any official regarding demonizing of gun owners and advocates of our Second Amendment liberties.   Everyone knows that gun owners are evil.   That is to say, gun owners that didn’t vote for you.  Which is almost all of them.

It is telling that the spokesman for the Ohio National Guard was unwilling to talk.   Law-abiding citizens who choose to exercise their Constitutional liberties and see themselves portrayed as violent terrorists are due an explanation for such an outrage.

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Harden my heart?

There was the Space Shuttle, and it flew, and it was beautiful. But on a cold January day in 1986, it fell from the sky and killed seven astronauts. We got it flying again, but then we started looking at heavy-lift unmanned launch vehicles.

First there was Shuttle-C, C for cargo. Same boosters and engines as the Shuttle, but with an expendable module. There was even talk of recycling the External Tanks into Space Station parts. It seemed doable, and we wanted to make it work. But we saved weight with the aluminum-lithium External Tank to launch more cargo on the regular Shuttle, and Shuttle-C was cancelled.

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Then there was Advanced Launch System, or ALS. We heard a lot about it, but it never seemed to get far off the drawing board. It was cancelled. We sighed and moved on to the National Launch System. This was going to have a simpler version of the Space Shuttle Main Engine, which actually did lead to the Rocketdyne RS-68 engine. We struggled and argued with one particular manager who was perfectly fine with the status quo despite a glaring problem with weight and balance – we’d just solve that “later”. Later never came. We changed Presidents and then administrators, and NLS soon followed ALS into File #13.

Then there was the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle. Over budget and nowhere near off the drawing board, cancelled. The Magnum Launch System. I don’t think it got out of the Advanced Concepts office before it, too, was canned.

Then there was Single Stage to Orbit, or X-33. The neat-o keen composite tank blew up during testing, and that was that.

Ares. I never had a warm fuzzy feeling about Ares. Why would I? Look at the wreckage of blown budgets, drawings that never made it to the machine shop, study after bleepin’ study through the years. But we put our heads down and tried to color inside the lines and do our parts, and we hoped that it would all work out. I think that was what concerned me the most – the managers had many a glib speech (loved the one by the manager who then retired two weeks later), but we never really saw it coming together.

And now SLS. Derided as the Senator Launch System for the politicians who keep it funded.

But then I see this.

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That’s the adapter that will go between the Orion capsule and a Delta IV rocket, having just finished structural load testing.

I want to believe it will fly, and there will be more to follow. On the negative side, I see budget battles and n00b engineers and moving launch dates. On the positive side, I touched flight hardware. I did a science on this. We need a replacement for the Shuttle so we can have heavy lift capability and stop hitching rides with the Russians. (Oh, and didn’t all those stories about the Sochi Olympics make you feel good about sending our astronauts over there.)

I want to believe. I really do.

Dammit, don’t break my heart again.

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The Jackstaff

I’m caring for my sister, who is recovering from an operation. So, it’s not that I don’t have stuff to write. I actually don’t have time to write.

Over/under on how long before I smother her will a pillow?

——————-

From the comments in the post on SWOGUN.

E:  I believe our humble host was on a certain ship one day when said certain ship hit a certain building, and it was definitely not in simulations. My only question is: was he on the bridge or in the engine room????

—–

X:I was on the hatch cover on the main deck. If you recall, I was struck in the foot when the jackstaff snapped off and flew back toward us.

—–

URR:Okay humble host. Out with it. Tell the story!!!

—–

You may recall this post where we discussed the 65’ Army T-Boat, and my adventures aboard her as part of the Sea Explorers.

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When Naval Air Station Whidbey Island was established in 1942, in addition to a conventional airfield with runways, a short distance south an air station for seaplanes was also established. Known colloquially as The Seaplane Base, it now serves mostly for base housing and the base exchange and commissary. But it originally had a huge tarmac, boat ramps for seaplanes to enter and exist the waters of Crescent Harbor, and hangars for maintenance.

In addition to strictly aviation facilities, a large number of small craft were required to support the seaplanes. And accordingly, a marina was build on the Seaplane Base to house and support them. After the Navy ceased seaplane operations, the marina was opened to use by rental small boats available from Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), and slips leased to various private boats of service members and retirees in the area. In addition, spaces were made available for the Sea Scouts, and a slip in which to moor our ship.

NASWI SPB 1990

On the far right hand side of the marina, there was a very small slip, awkward and barely large enough for our vessel.

With only a single screw, and with significant sail area forward, the SES Whidby required a deft hand at the throttle and wheel to maneuver in tight spaces. And normally, our Skipper, Roger, had just that hand.

I’m a little fuzzy on the specifics of just when the incident occurred. Mushdogs or Esli may be able to recall.  If memory serves, we were returning from a long weekend competition with other Sea Scout boats, a regatta. Not an actual regatta in terms of racing, but with various nautical tasks and events, such as marlinspike seamanship, close order drill, signaling, navigation skills, and such.

And so it was upon our return, we were faced with poor weather, and unusually high tide, and a wind setting us toward the slip (and the overhanging office attached thereto). Ordinarily, the technique would be to get the bow fairly close to the floating dock and put a man over. A spring line would then be tied off to allow the ship to leverage herself in under power.

But this time, the combined wind and high tide meant Roger gooned it. The jackstaff, a small flag pole on the very stem of the ship, was normally low enough to clear under the overhand. But the high tide today meant the jackstaff actually struck the overhang, bent back as far as its tensile strength would allow, and then snapped.

If memory serves, I was serving as the ship’s Bo’sun at the time, and was supervising the linehandlers. As such, I was standing on the hatchcover just forward of the bridge. And said jackstaff came aft at a goodly velocity. And struck me in my foot. Fortunately, while painful, no real harm was done, to me at least. Some clapboard  siding of the building was cracked. And of course, the jackstaff would need to be repaired.

In fact, if you look very closely at the picture above, just forward of the anchor davit, you’ll spot the repaired jackstaff. And you’ll note it is still very slightly bent aft.

Eventually the old marina was torn down, and replaced with a modern marina for private craft.

NASWI SPB 2011

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Paella

So, this week’s food thread at Ace’s place features the tasty Spanish mainstay paella.

Many, many moons ago, my Dear Sainted Mother made a wonderful dish of paella for a small dinner party. And it was wonderful. It tasted like pure joy. It was a very, very memorable evening.

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And because that evening was so memorable, just about every time I managed to come home on leave from the Army, Dear Sainted Mother would carefully, and lovingly recreate that dish with the rice so richly infused with that most expensive of spices, saffron. And as a Loving Son, I would dutifully eat every bit served to me.

See, there’s a reason that first service of paella was so memorable. It turns out of all the multitudes of foods in the world, the only thing I’m apparently allergic to is saffron. Within an hour of eating paella that first time, I was laid low by the most horrific pains and gastrointestinal unpleasantness.

Dear Sainted Mother’s memory somehow managed to remember that paella was significant, but failed to recall that “significant” does not always mean “good.”

And so, being the dutiful Loving Son, I would eat what was served, and again find myself tormented by that golden spice, saffron.

Eventually, I took to writing home to remind DSM that paella, lovely and tasty as it was, would eventually overcome my considerable constitution, and kill me dead. And that if she wanted to achieve that, there were less painful, less expensive alternatives.

Too bad. As it really does taste great.

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Filed under Humor, Personal

Enlisted

So, Fox has a new comedy debuting on January 10 titled “Enlisted.” And boy howdy, when the trailer first hit the internet, did vets let Fox know they weren’t impressed.

So the production team behind the show decided to seek constructive criticism.

Blackfive also has a portion of an interview that the producers did with Doctrine Man.

What’s my take? Glad you asked.

This isn’t a show about the Army. It’s a show about people, one that just happens to be set in the framework of people in the Army. The Army setting is simply the vehicle used to tell stories about people. And while the veterans community is large enough to be heard when complaining about the show, it isn’t large enough to carry a show on a major network. The writers have to make the show accessible to the general public, who have little or know knowledge of what the Army is like. Further, the need to tell human stories means that sometimes, creative license will have to override accuracy in depicting Army life. And I’m pretty OK with that.

Do you recall the reams of people up in arms over The Office’s faulty depiction of the reality of the paper products industry?

Was Scrubs (where the producer worked before) a true to life depiction of the lives of health care professionals?

Sometimes, the best stories take a kernel of truth and stretch it to the absurd conclusion.

As long as the majority of the cast is shown as decent people, dedicated, if not always squared away, that’s fine. It’s one thing to mock or hold up for ridicule “that guy” from time to time (and every unit has “that guy”). But if the show makes a sweeping generalization that everyone in the Army is a dolt, that would be unpardonable.

I don’t really know if the show will be good or bad, successful or cancellation bait.

But I’m not going to call for heads on pikes just because the cast isn’t fully versed on AR 670-1.

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A bit more on Swamp Heathen 1

If you don’t mind indulging me.  His daughters had printed out my post and displayed it at the funeral service.  Also on display was this shadowbox Don had put together years ago (as well as one with his NASA pins for various missions).

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I had not recognized the award between Don’s Silver Star and Bronze Star. When I told XBrad it looked like a Legion of Merit, he said that was usually for generals and colonels as a farewell gesture, that it was unusual for an enlisted man to get one. See for yourself, and believe me, no Stolen Valor here. The part I messed up was thinking he was E-8 and not E-7, and that was entirely my presumption that anyone who made sergeant at 19 would have been promoted more than twice in 18 years.

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Filed under army, Personal, space

RIP, Swamp Heathen 1

There are so many stories from the last 23 years that I hardly know where to begin. Don joined the Army when he was 17. He lost a brother in Vietnam and ended up serving two tours there himself. He was in Signal Corps, Airborne, Special Forces, recruiting, and Hawk missile maintenance. He earned two Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts, and turned down a third Purple Heart because that would have sent him home. (Yes, he despised John Kerry.) He was a Master Parachute Rigger, was part of a jump demo team that went all over Europe (not the Golden Knights), and made a special parachute system for a Kermit the Frog doll. After he retired from the Army, he worked for a couple of contractors before being hired by NASA. A co-worker didn’t think he should be drawing Army retirement while working for NASA, and Don let him know right quick that he could go down to the recruiting office and get in on the action, with the comment that even as an E-7, his family qualified for food stamps and reduced price school lunches.
Continue reading

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Filed under army, Personal, SIR!, space, veterans

Also on sick call

XBradTC reader and my good friend Swamp Heathen #1 landed in the intensive care unit today with pneumonia and low blood pressure. Definitely not faking it to get out of PT. Your good thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated.

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Filed under army, Personal, space

Dinner Last Evening

I flatter myself in thinking my recent absence here is notable, but perhaps not.  In case it is, I have a litany of excuses all prepared.  A good deal of work at client locations, and USMC duty, each necessitating more than a little windshield time.  Deadlines on projects requiring crazy workloads.  And, there is my inherent laziness.  The news, also, chock full o’ one diplomatic and economic disaster after another on the part of this malignant Administation, is hardly inspiring of anything other than typing in ALL CAPS every expletive I can think of.  All of the above.  Or a combination thereof.

Anyway, my travels took me to Brattleboro for Tuesday and today.   I stayed over last night to work into the evening and avoid 140-odd miles of driving, rather than drive home Tuesday and back in the early-early today.  So, come 1800 yesterday, me belly be growlin’, and I was looking for a place to eat.  Found it!

Kipling's Pub

Ayep!  The first name of the proprietor is actually Kipling, to boot.  A really nice little English Pub-type place, with a great selection of beers and a great bar selection.  Being in such a place, I hoisted a Guiness (for strength), and partook of the fish n’ chips.  No ketchup for me, here.  Vinegar on the “chips”.   The lovely bartender was friendly and welcoming, and it was obvious this place was a neighborhood bar with a legion of loyal elbow-benders.   I informed her I was quite a Kipling fan, but her reaction was sort of a “that’s nice”.  (I refrained from reciting “Copybook Headings” or “Mandalay”.)    The food was superb, by the way, and reasonable.   And how can I not go back to Kipling’s next time I am in town?   Because, well, a man can raise a thirst.   If’n you find yourself in the little town of Brattleboro, Vermont and looking for a good drink and a good meal,  I recommend Kipling’s Pub.  Tell them Peachy Carnahan sent you.

I should get ahold of the owner and tell him that I have the perfect slogan for his Kipling bar.  “You may talk o’ gin an’ beer…”

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Filed under Afghanistan, army, girls, guns, history, Personal, Uncategorized, veterans, war

She Looks So Good in the Sunshine

4 Nov image

4 Nov image 2

…she should have her own Load HEAT!  Still oh-so lovely at 49!

Just sayin’.

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Filed under girls, history, Load Heat, marines, Personal, Uncategorized

World Champion Boston Red Sox

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You didn’t think I was gonna let that pass without comment, did you?   The phrase “World Champion Boston Red Sox” still carries a slight flavor of an alternate history of some kind.  After all the disappointment, nay, true heartbreak, over the previous several decades, it still gives a long-time Sox fan pause.  It isn’t that Boston doesn’t have at least its share of champions.  Since I began following sports in the early 70s, the Celtics have won six Championships, including 2008.  The Bruins, three.  The Patriots, three Super Bowls, and are contenders every year.  But the Red Sox?  It is a strange realization that there are young adults who have no concept of the Curse.  Youngsters with three World Series wins already in memory, who probably think the oft-told tales of long-suffered angst and anguish and fatalism has more to do with their parents than with the team.  For them, the crushing disappointment of 2003 with the loss in extra innings of Game 7 of the ALCS, once again to the hated Yankees, is a mere blip.  After all, we came close, didn’t we?  And we won it the next year, anyhow!  No big deal.

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But that is truly a short perspective.  For my Dad, there was Enos Slaughter and the mad dash.  And Denny Galehouse.  1967 is special, an exception. even being a 7-game loss to the same St Louis Cardinals, because of the rank improbability of it all for a young and underdog Red Sox Impossible Dream team.  While not a disappointment, it is, nonetheless, a defeat when they had been so close.   For me, it is 1972, and 1974, when seemingly dominant Red Sox teams unraveled in the late summer heat.  In ’74, the Sox led by 3 games with 4 to play, only needing to win one.  They lost all four, including a double-header in which they looked absolutely frightened, and lost the division by half a game.   And then there is 1975, and the World Series against the Reds.  Jim Burton giving up Joe Morgan’s bloop single to score two in the late innings of game 7, and Yaz flying out to Geronimo to end it.  Maggie crying against her fridge somewhere in Charlestown…  And 1978, the Yankees again, who come from 14 games back to win a playoff game.  Bucky f-ing Dent, and Yaz, again, ending it with a pop-up to Nettles, after homering off Guidry earlier in the game.  And then there is 1986.  I couldn’t even watch a show about that series until after the Sox won in ’04.   A 5-2 lead, bases empty, with two outs and two strikes in the 9th inning.  And they lose. (Calculate the chances of THAT, sabermetricians!) Calvin Schiraldi coming in from the bullpen looking like he was being led to the executioner’s post.  Stanley’s pitch in the dirt.  Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner.  They had NO chance in Game 7.  My TBS classmates tried to console me, but I told them I knew the Sox would lose.  And even when the Sox had a 3-0 lead in Game 7 with Clemens on the mound, I was firm.  Nope.  No way.  They have NO chance.  As one of my Basic School platoon mates said after, when the Sox indeed lost the game 8-5, (and the World Series) to the Mets, “Man, THAT’S fatalism”.

This was a fun team to watch.  Much more enjoyable than even the 2004 and 2007 teams, for the entire year.  Both of those teams had a couple of jerks whose poor attitude and lack of effort were aggravating to see.  (Manny Ramirez, great hitter that he was, played left field like he was blindfolded on roller skates.  And for being paid $150,000 a GAME, you’d think he could run out a ground ball, for Christ’s sake.)   But this team was hard-working, and overachieving.  Fast on the bases and in the field, with excellent pitching more often than not.  And they were clutch.  I never got the feeling they were going to find a way to lose.  On the contrary, they had the tools and the speed and the hitting to find ways to win.  Even when St Louis loaded the bases, good pitches and good glove work ended the threat.

Maybe it was karma, but a couple days before the deciding Game 6, ESPN played the classic Four Days in October, the story of the Sox coming from 3-0 down to beat the Yankees in 2004.   Local comedian Lenny Clarke has a great line in that.  He was looking at the faces of Yankees fans as the Red Sox were thumping the Yanks in Yankee Stadium in Game 7 of the ALCS, cameras showing the disbelief and disappointment, the occasional tears.  He said “I recognize those faces!  That’s US!”  And until 2004, so it was.  Oh, so many times.  But no more.  And that is a nice feeling.

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Filed under Personal, Sox

Red Sox in the World Series Again

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Last night the Boston Red Sox defeated the Detroit Tigers 5-2 in last night’s Game 6 of the ALCS, winning the series four games to two.   Boston will face the storied St Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic, a rematch of the 2004 World Series when the Sox swept the Cards and broke 86 years of heartbreak to win their first title since 1918.  Last night Victorino hit a grand slam in the seventh off Jose Veras, on a hanging curveball down the middle on an 0-2 count.

That 2004 Series was a surreal event, to be sure.  I had just returned from Iraq, where, as the Sox made a charge to the AL East title (and traded their star shortstop in the middle of the season), then-Colonel Joe Dunford and I would prognosticate, half jokingly, that “this was the year”.  Colonel Dunford, a Boston native, had as a kid delivered newspapers to Jerry Adair of the storied 1967 Sox team.  Also with us at Blue Diamond was Major McNamara, the son of the Red Sox manager (John McNamara) of the 1986 team that lost to the Mets.  Mike was less a Sox fan than we, as his old man was all but run out of town the next season.  (Boston is a tough place to manage baseball!)   After the crushing disappointment of 1986 (I couldn’t watch anything to do with that series until after the Sox won in 2004, for fear I would kick my television set in), and 1978, and 1975, and 1974, grasping that they finally had won a World Series in 2004 took a while.  “What now?” was the overwhelming thought once the euphoria faded.  And more than a few of us started looking around for other signs of the Apocalypse.

Boston had also matched up against St Louis in 1967, when the “Impossible Dream” Sox won the AL Pennant as 100:1 long shots, and in 1946, which was Ted Williams’ only Series appearance.  In 1967 and in 1946, the Cardinals won in seven games.  In 2004, Boston won 4-0.  Now they are facing off again with St Louis.  I love that.  The Cards have a rich tradition of excellence.  The Gas House Gang.  Dean.  Musial.  Gibson.  Brock.  The Sox, of course, do, too.  Ruth, Williams.  Doerr.  Pesky.  Joe Wood.  Yaz and Rice.  Fisk.  Yes, Clemens.  And now Ortiz and Pedroia and Ellsbury.    Should be a good and exciting series.

A couple of things I do lament about how the game is played today…  This infatuation with “pitch counts” and “match-ups” is a very new thing.  Time was a good pitcher could go nine innings more than half the time, and had pitches he could throw the third and fourth time through the line-up.   Now, these pitchers are treated as fragile things, limited to 100 or 110 pitches while in their prime.  Throw 200 innings, and you are a “work-horse”.  Pitch into the seventh inning and it is a good start.  Not long ago, pitchers threw 250-300 innings a year routinely.  Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver and Don Sutton routinely exceeded 300 innings a year, with no effect on their arms or longevity.  Even Roger Clemens, and Pedro Martinez threw 280-plus most years, and they retired only a few years ago.  I remember watching Louis Tiant, at age 37 (supposedly), throw 168 pitches in a single game in the 1975 series.   Managers should tell pitchers to be in shape for nine innings every time out, and the ones that can’t, don’t stay.  And pitchers should be able to get out right-handed and left-handed hitters.  This idea of “specialists” taking up a roster spot would have caused Earl Weaver’s head to explode.  Either you can pitch in the majors or you can’t.

While I am bitching, I have just one more thing.  Can someone invent a Tim McCarver mute button?

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Filed under history, iraq, Personal, Sox, Uncategorized

Off to Mystic, Connecticut this weekend.

I’ll be winging my way to the great New England area and Mystic, Connecticut.

I’ll be leaving the Chi tomorrow morning and arriving in the early afternoon.

I may be going to the New England Air Museum and later to the Quonset Air Museum with pictures to follow in a future post.

Sunday at noon will be the Lexican meetup at the Harp and Hound located at 4 Pearl Street in Mystic CT 06355.

If you’re going to be in the area I look forward to seeing you.

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Filed under Personal

I couldn’t believe it! A 1964 Buick Wildcat on the Side of the Road!!!

64 wildcat MA

Was on my way to my Alma Mater, and saw this just south of Gardner, MA.  I all but slammed on my brakes to stop and have a look.  The lovely lady pictured was very friendly and helpful.  The car was in pretty good shape, with some work needing to be done.  But all original, as far as I could tell, and the body was rock-solid.

64 wildcat MA(2)Same body style, mostly, as my ol’ 1964 LeSabre.  But this’n has that big 425 ci 7.0 litre V8, which put out an impressive 360 horsepower (my 300 ci 4.9 litre V8 puts out about 250hp) and has quite a rumble.   A rare sight, to be sure.

I know I don’t have any place to put it, and I can’t drive two cars at once.  But I am gonna ask what the owner wants for it anyhow.

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Filed under history, Personal