The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

If Firefly characters were in the Army

I saw this on Angry Staff Officer, yeah blame Mack for this one.  I saw Firefly when the Movie "Serenity" came out and it was really good movie, and I would draw parallels of the "Alliance" as the Nanny State and the "Browncoats" as the people that loved Freedom.

Here is a great line from the movie and it is very telling to me for people that are tired of running and plan on causing trouble because their backs are against the wall and there is no choice.  The Pics are compliments of "Google".  If you never seen the show before, it is worth a look.  There was only 1 season then the fans raised soo much hell, that they made a movie. called "Serenity"

If you’re like me, you discovered the TV show Firefly well after the time it first ran in 2003. While we were spared the original heartbreak that came when the show was not renewed for a second season – damn you, Fox – we are still reminded of our loss every time we watch the show. And we watch it again, and again, and again, because it’s incredibly addictive television. And if you haven’t seen it – well, I’m not sure what I can do for you other than to tell you to see it, because who doesn’t love a space western?
As I was watching it this past time, it dawned on me that I’ve seen all these characters before: in the military. So here are the crew members of the cargo ship Serenity, as they would appear in your military unit.

Malcolm Reynolds
We first meet Mal as an non-commissioned officers fighting in the Browncoats, a force holding out against the Alliance. The first thing out of his mouth is a request for air support as he’s getting pummeled by enemy fire. He then steals a code off a dead officer to get the radio working. So yeah, he’s your basic NCO. Equipped with a quick wit, a sharp right, and the ability to talk or shoot himself out or into any situation, he’s your standard or garden variety E-7 turned officer. His rhetoric is easily identifiable: “I guess you weren’t burdened with an over-abundance of schooling” is something that you’d hear on the range from an E-7 asking a private why they decided to point their weapon at something other than the target. “My days of taking you seriously are rapidly coming to a middle,” could be heard from a sarcastic staff officer. Although Mal wouldn’t let himself be trapped on staff – he’d find some way to escape. Possibly without clothes. Most likely either cav or engineer.
And yes, Mal is the leader that I aspire to be. Or at least to have his vocabulary.


Crazy shirts, crazy hair, plays with toy dinosaurs, mouths off to anyone in authority with impunity: yup, we’ve got ourselves a warrant officer rotary-wing pilot over here. Been flying so long that he often forgets that he’s actually piloting the craft. Manages to not care about any regulations; somehow lands the hot and tough E-6 as a wife. Confuses the hell out of all non-aviators. 

Zoe is that E-6 in the platoon who is smarter than even the company commander, but because of that intelligence, realizes that she does not want to become an officer. Often bears the workload of the company and is simultaneously liked and feared. Feared, because everyone realizes that she can engage targets out to 30 meters while firing from the hip which unnerves the dudes in the infantry unit that she’s now in. Drawn to nerdy pilots, and no one can figure out why. 

Jayne is the kind of guy that you want to keep close to you if there’s a fight but far away from unsecured supply rooms. There is at least one Jayne in every infantry platoon. Sometimes there are even whole platoons of Jaynes. Big, loud-mouthed, with an affinity for large weapons and any woman that will tolerate their presence for more than five minutes. Will wear silly hats without realizing that they are silly.

Kaylee is the kind of maintainer that you would want in your unit. Able to diagnose just about any engine problem just by the sound it makes, she’s worth her weight in gold. Not super helpful in a fight, but incredibly loyal. However, you do have to worry about her falling in love with the battalion PA, which will cause some problems if the PA’s sister is completely insane.

Shepherd Book
Totally not your normal chaplain. Definitely one of those chaplains with mysterious prior service that he won’t tell you about but who somehow has a TS/SCI clearance and knows how to handle a weapon with ease. Very passionate about their beliefs but won’t shove them down your throat. Because of that, very rare and not welcome in most conventional houses of worship, hence their being drawn into the military. Can be most often found trying to find his way into a deploying combat unit.

Simon Tam
Rich white boy with oodles of privilege joins the Army and discovers that people like the infantry exist, gets punched in the face, learns how to adapt. That’s basically the Simon Tam story. Almost always an officer. And sometimes they don’t adapt.

River Tam
Yeah, so, probably was once a CIA test case for something or other but was then moved over to the military. Decidedly crazy. Can’t not control you with her mind, but perhaps can. Either found in a psyops unit or military intelligence. Either way, usually disturbs unit briefings by screaming loudly about imaginary things in the room. On second thought, might be the most genius thing ever to get out of briefs.

Not exactly sure how to categorize a Companion in military terms…but most probably civil affairs. No one understands exactly what she does but it makes everyone vaguely uncomfortable, so yes, most definitely a civil affairs officer. So mysterious that even the infantry guys stay away from her.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Music "Love Me Tender" by Elvis Presley

I figured I would change up "Monday Music" for a real oldies...Not big band oldies but mid 50's.  I know that Elvis was popular and my Dad had all of Elvis's records, until they were stolen during a PCS move.  He was really bent out of shape about that, it was the same PCS move where the movers drove a forklift through my Moms Schrank(German wall unit)  This was when we moved to Fort McClellen Alabama.   Well this song was played a lot by a lot of people and it is a huge cultural phenomenon.  This song has a segment in my sons band performance

The 1956 song "Love Me Tender" puts new words to a new musical adaptation of the Civil War song "Aura Lee," published in 1861. "Aura Lee" had music by George R. Poulton and words by W. W. Fosdick. It later became popular with college glee clubs and barbershop quartets. It was also sung at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
The principal writer of the lyrics was Ken Darby, who also adapted Poulton's Civil War tune, which was in the public domain. The song was published by Elvis Presley Music.  and credited to Presley and Darby's wife Vera Matson. Presley received co-songwriting credit due to his Hill & Range publishing deal which demanded songwriters concede 50 percent of the credit of their song if they wanted Presley to record it; Presley had songwriting input on only a very small number of the many songs he recorded  When asked why he credited his wife as co-songwriter along with Presley, Darby responded, "Because she didn't write it either."

As with nearly all his early RCA recordings, Presley took control in the studio despite not being credited as producer. He would regularly change arrangements and lyrics to the point that the original song was barely recognizable. Ken Darby described Elvis Presley's role in the creation of the song: "He adjusted the music and the lyrics to his own particular presentation. Elvis has the most terrific ear of anyone I have ever met. He does not read music, but he does not need to. All I had to do was play the song for him once, and he made it his own! He has perfect judgment of what is right for him. He exercised that judgment when he chose 'Love Me Tender' as his theme song."

Elvis Presley performed "Love Me Tender" on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 9, 1956, shortly before the single's release and about a month before the movie, Love Me Tender (for which the reworded song was originally written) was released. On the following day, RCA received 1 million advance orders, making it a gold record before it was even released. The studio, 20th Century Fox, originally wanted to call the movie The Reno Brothers but instead re-titled it Love Me Tender to capitalize on the song's popularity.
Movie producer David Weisbart would not allow Presley's regular band (Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana) to play on the soundtrack. Instead, The Ken Darby Trio provided the musical backing with Red Robinson on drums, Charles Prescott on bass, Vita Mumolo on guitar, and Jon Dodson on background vocals, with Presley providing only lead vocals.

The single debuted at #2 on the "Best Sellers in Stores" pop singles chart, the first time a single made its first appearance at the #2 position.
The song hit #1 on the Billboard charts the week ending November 3, 1956, remaining in the position for 5 weeks and reached no. 11 on the charts in the UK. "Love Me Tender" also reached number three for three weeks on the R&B chart. It was also an achievement as "Love Me Tender" succeeded another Presley single, "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel" at #1. This occurrence marked two important events in Billboard history. During this time, Elvis accomplished another record; the longest consecutive stay at number one by a single artist, sixteen weeks, though this was tied by Boyz II Men in 1994 and stood for eight years until being surpassed by R&B singer Usher in 2004 who spent 19 weeks at the top of the charts.

This version was ranked #437 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
In 1968, Presley recorded a 52-second track entitled "Violet (Flower of N.Y.U.)" for the soundtrack of the film The Trouble with Girls. Unreleased until after Presley's death, the song was Presley's second adaptation of "Aura Lee".
Although Presley never re-recorded "Love Me Tender" in a studio setting, two live recordings of the song were released on the albums: NBC-TV Special (1968) and Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden (1972), with additional performances from concert and television appearances being released after Presley's death. The song was also performed in the Golden Globe-winning concert film Elvis on Tour (1972). As seen in that film, and in other filmed and recorded accounts, Presley generally performed only a portion of the song's lyrics live, instead usually using the song as a device to interact with (usually) female members of the audience.
Love Me Tender was also included in the four song Extended Play album (EP) Love Me Tender of the songs from the film. The reprise of the song was not included on the EP.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Wildcat Fighter

I figured I would do a post on a fighter that to my mind never really got it's accolades because she was overshadowed by her more powerful sibling the F6F Hellcat.  I always liked the simple lines of the Wildcat, and in the hands of a good pilot, she could hold her own against the newer fighters that the Japanese had and she went toe to toe with the most feared Japanese fighter, the legendary "Zero". 
This is a prewar/early WWII version.  The "Red" meatball in our national insignia  was removed shortly after the war started.  There was fear of target misidentification in the haze of combat since the Japanese used the "meatball" on their national insignia.

Despite its slightly odd origins, the Grumman F4F Wildcat was one of the most valuable fighter planes in the US arsenal of WWII.

 Go to the Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, they will let you "touch" the airplane...The museum is well worth the visit.
The design for the Wildcat started out as a biplane, as they were still around for many years between the world wars. It was redesigned as a monoplane in 1936, but retained many of the features of its previous design, giving the Wildcat its distinctive, slightly squat look.

Another of the Wildcat’s visually distinctive features was its entirely riveted fuselage. It gave it an industrial look that was at odds with the canvas-covered planes of WWI. Welded or flattened rivets were beginning to be used to make the planes of the 1930s and 40s more aerodynamic.

 The Arrestor hook shown lowered was to snag the Arrestor cable that was strung across the deck of the carrier to show the plane down and stop it before it crashed into the other airplanes that were in front of the carrier
The Wildcat was designed and commissioned as a carrier-borne fighter. The relatively new and distinctive use of aircraft carriers was increasingly important, as the world’s most powerful militaries started to use air power for victory at sea. The limited space available for taking off and landing and storage of planes on ships created new design challenges. It meant a different sort of fighter was needed at sea.

Although the Wildcat would become a symbol of American air power, it was first purchased by the French, who placed an order in early 1939.

Later that year, the US Navy followed suit. In August 1939, they placed their first order for F4Fs with Grumman.

XF4F-3 prototype Wildcat in flight, 21 July 1939.

With the fall of France, the F4Fs destined to join the French Navy were diverted to Britain reaching Britain’s Fleet Air Arm in July 1940.

Like the Curtiss P-40, the F4F was given different nicknames by the British and Americans. Most people remember it by its more dynamic American name, the Wildcat. Initially known to the British as the Martlet, in January 1944, they too adopted the Wildcat name.

The F4F packed quite a punch due to its extensive arsenal. It carried six machine-guns in its wings and could also carry two bombs or six rockets. Its firepower made it popular with the crews flying it.

Less popular with pilots was the F4F’s handling. It was considered a tricky fighter to control both on the ground and in the air. For the pilot who could master it, the F4F was well worth the effort, as it was very maneuverable, a vital asset in the fast-moving action of dog fights.

One of the main features of the F4F-4 were the Sto-Wing-design folding wings, a Grumman patented design.

The F4F had a maximum speed of 332 miles per hour. It was not one of the fastest planes of the war, but neither was it the slowest.

The F4F could fly to around 34,700 feet, climbing at 2,000 feet per minute toward its top altitude.

The F4F was a tough plane to bring down. It had a self-sealing fuel tank and armor plating that gave it greater endurance than many of its opponents.
The self-sealing tank was particularly crucial to the survival of a plane. Without it, a bullet through the fuel tank could turn it into a fireball or force a plane to crash due to lack of fuel. Self-sealing meant that it took a cannon shot to inflict such devastation.

Wildcat of VF-6 testing out machine guns aboard USS Enterprise, 10 April 1942.

The first Martlets in British service joined No.804 Squadron in the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland. They were used to control routes from the North Sea to the Atlantic. In December 1940, two Martlets shot down a German plane, making them the first American-built, British-piloted aircraft to do so in WWII

The first F4Fs to go to sea in wartime were Martlets of No.802 Squadron. Operating from on board HMS Audacity on September 20, 1941, they shot down a German Focke-Wolf 200 which was following their convoy.

Martlet fighters on the flight deck of HMS Formidable, 1940s.

The F4F was involved in the extensive action in and around the Mediterranean. The Royal Naval Fighter Unit deployed Martlets over the Western Desert in Africa, where they fought Italian planes in the fall of 1941. They tangled with the Italians again in August the following year while escorting supply ships around Malta.
Further south, Martlets fought against Vichy French planes over Madagascar in May 1942.

By the time America joined the war in December 1941, the F4F was the most common plane on American aircraft carriers. It was also popular among US Marine Corps units based on land. Until the arrival of the Hellcat in 1943, it was the US Navy’s only carrier-borne fighter. It played a critical role in many of the Navy’s most important actions.

One of the most important land bases that Wildcats operated from was Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. The site of the first offensive operations of America’s Pacific war, it was where many Wildcat successes occurred. One eight-plane flight achieved 72 aerial victories in the space of only 16 weeks.

The leader of the group, Captain Joe Foss, was one of the most successful pilots ever to get behind the controls of a Wildcat. During the fighting at Guadalcanal, he destroyed 26 Japanese planes, five of them in one day. For his remarkable achievements, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Watercolor of U.S. Marine Captain Joe Foss shooting down a Zero over Guadalcanal in October 1942.

Despite its many successes, the Wildcat struggled against Japanese Zeros. The US Navy phased it out in favor of the F6F Hellcat in 1943.
Wildcats of Taffy 3 taking off to strafe the Japanese fleet attacking it, the Japanese fleet included the IJN Yamato, the largest battleship ever built.  According to reports, the Japanese were stunned by the resistance and the Americans throwing themselves at the enemy with such abandon, the fighting spirit of the Americans forced the Japanese to withdraw thereby saving General McAuthur's beachhead in Leyte Gulf

The last Wildcat victory of the war took place over Norway in March 1945. Wildcats of the British No.822 Squadron shot down four German Messerschmitt Bf109s

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The U.S.S Pueblo, my thoughts on the ship

I have wondered about this for a long time, I even to this day can't understand this and I will explain.  The U.S.S Pueblo is a Navy ship although an "auxiliary" I believe the term is called.   I will give some background, the Pueblo was an intel gathering ship, all nations have them.  I have heard of Soviet Trawlers that would shadow American fleet movements and gather intelligence

Soviet Navy Trawler "Fishing"
We played games with them, it was understood that there were rules to this game and the NORKS broke the rules when they seized the ship.  I don't blame the Captain having to surrender, trying to save the lives of his crew after getting attacked by overwhelming NORK forces.  They seize the ship and try the crew for "spying".  What I can't understand is why didn't we bomb the ship, I remember when an American warship was captured by the Barbary pirates, a young lieutenant named Stephen Decatur and a sloop called the "Intrepid" sailed into the harbor and boarded the U.S.S. Philadelphia and tried to sail her away but were unable to so they destroyed the ship.   I know that during the Cold war, we had submarines in the Berent sea and by the Kola Peninsula sneak into the Soviet harbors and tap the communications cables.  and a bunch of other really sneaky stuff that still is classified to this day.  What get me is why didn't we sneak into the harbor, either like the French DGSE did with the Rainbow Warrior and sink the ship rather than keep allowing it to be used as a propaganda trophy by the NORKS.    I got this information of the Tripoli raid from "Wiki"  Like I said, this is my opinion and not supported by any body else private or government.

   On October 31, 1803, Philadelphia, under the command of Commodore William Bainbridge, ran aground on an uncharted reef (known as Kaliusa reef) near Tripoli's harbor. After desperate and failed attempts to refloat the ship she was subsequently captured and her crew imprisoned by Tripolitan forces. In an elaborate plan put together by Lieutenant Decatur, Decatur sailed for Tripoli with 80 volunteers (most of them being U.S. Marines) intending to enter the harbor with Intrepid without suspicion to board and set ablaze the frigate Philadelphia, denying its use to the corsairs. USS Syren, commanded by Lieutenant Charles Stewart, accompanied Intrepid to provide supporting fire during and after the assault. Before entering the harbor eight sailors from Syren boarded Intrepid, including Thomas Macdonough who had recently served aboard Philadelphia and knew the ship's layout intimately.
On February 16, 1804, at seven o'clock in the evening under the dim light of a waxing crescent moon, Intrepid slowly sailed into Tripoli harbor. Decatur's vessel was made to look like a common merchant ship from Malta and was outfitted with British colours. To further avoid suspicion, on board were five Sicilian volunteers including the pilot Salvador Catalano, who spoke Arabic. The boarding party remained hidden below in position, prepared to board the captured Philadelphia. The men were divided into several groups, each assigned to secure given areas of the ship, with the additional explicit instruction of refraining from the use of firearms unless it proved absolutely necessary.As Decatur's ship came closer to Philadelphia, Catalano called out to the harbor personnel in Arabic that their ship had lost its anchors during a recent storm and was seeking refuge at Tripoli for repairs. By 9:30 p.m. Decatur's ship was within 200 yards of Philadelphia, whose lower yards were now resting on the deck with her foremast missing, as Bainbridge had ordered it cut away and had also jettisoned some of her guns in a futile effort to refloat the ship by lightening her load.
 Burning of the USS Philadelphia by Edward Moran (1897)
Intrepid depicted in foreground
As Decatur approached the berthed Philadelphia he encountered a light wind that made his approach tedious. He had to casually position his ship close enough to Philadelphia to allow his men to board while not creating any suspicion. When the two vessels were finally close enough, Catalano obtained permission for Decatur to tie Intrepid to the captured Philadelphia. Decatur surprised the few Tripolitans on board when he shouted the order "board!", signaling to the hidden crew below to emerge and storm the captured ship. Without losing a single man, Decatur and 60 of his men, dressed as Maltese sailors or Arab seamen and armed with swords and boarding pikes, boarded and reclaimed Philadelphia in less than 10 minutes, killing at least 20 of the Tripolitan crew, capturing one wounded crewman, and forcing the rest to flee by jumping overboard. Only one of Decatur's men was slightly wounded by a saber blade. There was hope that the small boarding crew could launch the captured ship, but the vessel was in no condition to set sail for the open sea. Decatur soon realized that the small Intrepid could not tow the larger and heavier warship out of the harbor. Commodore Preble's order to Decatur was to destroy the ship where she berthed as a last resort, if Philadelphia was unseaworthy. With the ship secure, Decatur's crew began placing combustibles about Philadelphia with orders to set her ablaze. After making sure the fire was large enough to sustain itself, Decatur ordered his men to abandon the ship and was the last man to leave Philadelphia. As the flames intensified, the guns aboard Philadelphia, all loaded and ready for battle, became heated and began discharging, some firing into the town and shore batteries, while the ropes securing the ship burned off, allowing the vessel to drift into the rocks at the western entrance of the harbor.
While Intrepid was under fire from the Tripolitans who were now gathering along the shore and in small boats, the larger Syren was nearby providing covering fire at the Tripolitan shore batteries and gunboats. Decatur and his men left the burning vessel in Tripoli's harbor and set sail for the open sea, barely escaping in the confusion. With the cover of night helping to obscure the enemy gunfire, Intrepid and Syren made their way back to Syracuse, arriving February 18. After learning of Decatur's daring capture and destruction of Philadelphia without suffering a single fatality, British Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, who at the time was blockading the French port at Toulon, claimed that it was "the most bold and daring act of the Age." Decatur's daring and successful burning of Philadelphia made him an immediate national hero in the US.Appreciation for the efforts of Preble and Decatur were not limited to their peers and countrymen. At Naples, Decatur was praised and dubbed "Terror of the Foe" by the local media. Upon hearing the news of their victory in Tripoli, Pope Pius VII publicly declared that "the United States, though in their infancy, had done more to humble and humiliate the anti-Christian barbarians on the African coast in one night than all the European states had done for a long period of time." Upon his return to Syracuse, Decatur resumed command of Enterprise.

In Pyongyang, the North Korean Government keeps a trophy from 1968. Moored on the Botong River, alongside the Pyongyang Victorious War Museum sits the USS Pueblo (AGER-2).
It’s the second oldest still-commissioned U.S. Navy ship, and the only one held captive by another country.
The incident when North Korea seized the Pueblo along with her 83 crew members, killing one of them and wounding many others, occurred on January 23rd, 1968, a week before the start of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. U.S. officials believed at the time that the North Koreans were acting upon instructions from the USSR (though this was confirmed to be untrue years later) and Cold War tensions were raised to one of the highest levels since the Cuban Missile Crisis a little more than five years earlier.
The crew was held for 11 months of negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea and were starved and tortured while in captivity. Many people reading this are probably not old enough to remember events like the Cuban Missile Crisis or even the Iran Hostage Crisis (1979-81).
For those who are too young, to give a sense of the intensity and fear in this situation, keep in mind that President Lyndon B. Johnson had officials advising him to demand the immediate return of the hostages from North Korea under threat of Nuclear Attack.

The USS Pueblo in Pyongyang, on display as a floating museum since 2013. By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – 
Doomsday might not have been as close at it was when Russian ships drew closer and closer to the U.S. blockade around Cuba, but nervous hands wrung around fingers that were keeping that button squarely in mind.
The Pueblo wasn’t exactly taking a leisurely cruise around waters East of North Korea. It was a U.S. Auxiliary General Environmental Research (AGER) vessel under a program conducted by the Naval Security Group and the National Security Agency. Lead by Commander Lloyd M. Bucher, the Pueblo’s crew was there to gather intelligence and signal data from North Korea.

The USS Pueblo in 1967.
According to U.S. officials, the commander and crew of the Pueblo, and Navy records, the Pueblo was 15.4 nautical miles off the Korean shore on January 20th, when a North Korean submarine chaser passed nearby. Two days later, they were again passed, this time by two North Korean fishing trawlers.
Vital to understanding the tensions surrounding this incident is the failed assassination attempt on South Korean President Park Chung-hee on the 22nd, of which the crew of Pueblo was not informed. Thirty-one North Koreans slipped over the border and tried to infiltrate the “Blue House” where the president resided, but were thwarted.
The next day, the 23rd, Pueblo was approached by another North Korean submarine chaser whose officers challenged Pueblo’s nationality. When the Pueblo’s U.S. flag was raised, she was ordered to stand down or be fired upon.

North Korean charts depicting their assertions about the Pueblo’s movements.
Commander Bucher tried to maneuver the ship away, in an effort to buy time for help from other U.S. forces and to destroy sensitive information held on the ship. The ship was slow, however, and the North Korean vessel was soon joined by others and MiG-21 fighters. Help never came.
Though the Pueblo had some light weaponry, Bucher knew a firefight wasn’t an option, that time was their greatest hope. According to the Operations Officer of the Pueblo, Skip Schumacher, this was the matchup: “The PUEBLO had no armor protection whatsoever; its armaments consisted of 10 Browning semi-automatic rifles, a handful of .45 caliber pistols and two .50 caliber machine guns wrapped in frozen tarps on the starboard and aft rails. With these tools it was asked to fend off 4 torpedo boats, 2 submarine chasers and MiG jet aircraft. Not very good odds”
As the Pueblo tried to flee, she was fired upon, without so much as a warning shot. One crewman was killed and 18 injured in the attack. Bucher broke off the run and surrendered to save the rest of his crew.
Schumacher also describes a startling realization of the ship’s vulnerability and the huge game-changer that this incident was as the North Koreans broke the de-facto rules of the cat-and-mouse, push-and-pull spy game that existed at the time and opened a chapter of full-out aggressive action.

Crew of USS Pueblo upon release on 23 December 1968.
Crew of USS Pueblo upon release on 23 December 1968.
Though the Pueblo always stayed outside the 12 nautical mile border that International Law claims separates national sovereignty from international waters, the North Koreans insisted (and do to this day) that their sovereignty extends to 50 nautical miles and that Pueblo was in violation of this. Nevertheless, it was only after Bucher capitulated and the Pueblo was escorted to within that 12 miles, that she was boarded by a slew of high-ranking North Korean officials and the crew was taken into custody.
The North Korean regime, then as now, leaned heavily on their propaganda machine to instill their rule in the minds of their people and other nations. As they were forced to pose in photographs for this propaganda, the Americans, shot after shot, posed flipping their middle fingers, telling their captors at the time that it was a Hawaiian good luck gesture. When the North Koreans found out the true meaning of their mockery, the torture and starvation of the crew were increased.
Through the almost year-long imprisonment of the crew, slow, agitating negotiations were held between North Korean and U.S. officials at Panmunjom, the village where the armistice ending the full-out conflict of the Korean War was signed in 1953. Cultural and ideological differences made, what we would call in the West, decent compromise impossible.

Reported positions of USS Pueblo.
Reported positions of USS Pueblo.
There was added pressure from the South Koreans who were furious with the Americans for focusing more on their captive crew than on the blatant and brazen assassination attempt on January 22nd. They insisted on being a part of the negotiations. Anger and hostility between the North and South were approaching boiling point, with the U.S. in a very difficult position.
In the end, U.S. Army Major General Gilbert H. Woodward signed a full apology for the Pueblo spying on their nation and a promise that it wouldn’t happen again, and the North Koreans bussed the 82 remaining crew to the DMZ and handed them over. The apology and promise were hastily retracted.
In the following years, the commander and crew of the Pueblo were spared a court-marshal, with Secretary of the Navy John Chafee stating that the crew had been through enough. The North Koreans and Soviets were able to reverse-engineer the Pueblo’s communication devices, which gave them great insight into the communication of the U.S. Navy until the late 1980s.
The crew also had to wait until 1990 before their almost year-long ordeal was official recognized by the U.S. government and awards were given.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fragging?...facts and Fiction?

I got the idea after reading this article from this Website.  I will add my personal opinions and what has happened since then.   I remembered being a little kid during the Vietnam War, My dad did 2 tours, in 1968 and 1972 and I remembered the hippies and other leftist spitting on my Dad when he came back in 72.  I also remember the societal pressure about wearing uniforms, like it was something to be scorned.  I grew up on Military posts and even we were not immune to the culture war that the left had waged on the GI's.   I remembered the TV shows and they always showed the military as corrupt, inept and one step above the Keystone Cops.  As I got older, I remembered my dad watching the TV as South Vietnam fell and I didn't understand the funk he was in for quite a long time.   I also remembered shortly after that in kid years the Axe Murders in Korea.   I also started hearing the term "Hollow Army".  I didn't ask my dad about it because anytime I asked him about the Army, I got a lot of static and I didn't bother him and so I never really asked.   I found out later what it was.  The late 70's was a bad time to be in the service, the institution wasn't respected by the country that it was tasked to defend.   I remembered the humiliation that we felt when the Iranians seized our embassy and we couldn't do anything about it and the resulting debacle at Desert One and the shame we felt as a nation.  It felt like we were going nowhere as a country except more humiliation as the Soviet Union became more aggressive.

 In 1980 Ronald Reagan was elected and he expressed open pride in the United States and he immediately pushed through several large budget increases to bring the services back up to bar after years of neglect after the Vietnam war.  We had gone to a volunteer service, not drafted and the pay was increased after several public embarrassments of servicemen having to be on food stamps to support their families because the pay and benefits were so bad.  By the mid 1980's the service were flush with funds for training, equipment and confidence.  Grenada was a positive boost to our morale despite all the problems that were uncovered.  I joined in 1985 and went to basic in Fort Lost in the Woods in Misery.(Fort Leonard Woods in Missouri).  I remembered hearing about the "fragging" and other disciplinary issues the Army was having at the tail end of Vietnam and the aftermath.  My dad was an MP his first tour in Vietnam and was "El CID" the tour in 1972  He did talk about that kind of stuff with his fellow Soldiers, I was a little kid but I did hang around and listen.  While I was in basic, they covered in great detail what would happen if we disobeyed the UCMJ and we would be in Leavenworth making gravel for the Colonels driveway.   I remembered wondering when I went in would I see the same kind of stuff in the service that I remembered reading about and remembering what my dad talked about.   It was a totally different environment than I expected, total professionalism, we trained hard and had excellent morale.  This was reinforced when I got sent to Germany to the Stuttgart area.  We expected the Soviets to run through the Fulda gap like cockroaches in New York Apartment.
 I spent a lot of time inside the 1KM zone during my first tour and the Officers and NCO's were top notch, we trained really hard and we were implementing the new "Airland" battle that the Army was rolling out to disrupt the Soviet echelons if they attacked.
We trained hard for an attack that never came, the Soviet Union collapsed due to economic problems.  We tested our tactics and procedures on the Iraqi's as we evicted them out of Kuwait and punished them.  Iraq had the distinction of having rotten timing, if they had waited a couple of years then grabbed Kuwait, we may not have been able to do "Desert Storm".  After the Soviet Union basically collapsed, the Military was under a lot of pressure to cut back the force for the "Peace dividend" that the politicians were expected to spend on social projects.   I and many of my fellow soldiers got sent to the Gulf and we completed the mission.  After I got out, I went from job to job, my Military Occupational Specialty had no civilian counterpart.  In finally settled down and got married and got hired by Ford Motor Company, and   I was in a store looking at books and ran across this one and bought it.
     You can buy your own copy off Amazon, it is very good.


 I bought this book and read it, and it totally engrossed me, it explained how the Officers that won in the desert what their experiences were, how their peers transformed a shattered military with non existent morale and worn out equipment changed the culture, mindset and ultimately changed how we fight.  The book talked about how America changed and this reflected in the quality of men and women that were enlisting and decided to serve.
    This were a couple of the reviews of the book.    
  Freelance journalist Kitfield relies heavily on personal accounts in this story of the officers who reshaped the U.S. Army and Air Force after the experience of Vietnam and then led our troops in Operation Desert Storm. In the 1970s the U.S. began to adjust to a professional military after depending on the Selective Service system. In the 1980s, increased defense budgets enabled the modernization of arsenals and the stockpiling of supplies and equipment, while cumbersome higher command systems were simplified. By the time of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, America's military leaders were eager to demonstrate what 20 years of reform had wrought. This is a highly favorable account of that effort.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The transformation of the American armed forces from the dispirited shell-shocked military at the close of the Vietnam era to the superbly trained, highly motivated, and universally respected victors in the Persian Gulf War is as dramatic a tale as any in American military history. Kitfield, an award-winning journalist on defense issues, follows the careers of dozens of army, navy, air force, and marine officers from their early service years in Vietnam to their success as commanders in the defeat of the Iraqis. While organizational and technical issues play a role, the book concentrates on the human aspect of this startling redirection of the U.S. military. A useful supplement to Michael Gordon's The Generals' War (LJ 12/94) and Al Santoli's overlooked Leading the Way (LJ 9/15/93), this is an essential addition to Vietnam and Persian Gulf War collections. Strongly recommended for academic and public libraries.

     As we draw down after the Wars in Iraq and still fighting the war in Afghanistan, we have had no incidence of "fragging" that I am aware of.  I do know that a muslim soldier shot up a tent full of officers right before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, other than that I am not aware of any.   I get into arguments that state that we need to "bring back the Draft".  I say "NO", You get a far better quality of recruit when people volunteer  vs getting drafted.  This helps a lot with mindset and discipline, you get far less resentment and hostility from someone that enlisted vs getting told to "Report or else".
     I ran across this article and I really liked it so I snagged it.  

During its long withdrawal from South Vietnam, the U.S. military experienced a serious crisis in morale. Chronic indiscipline, illegal drug use, and racial militancy all contributed to trouble within the ranks. But most chilling of all was the advent of a new phenomenon: large numbers of young enlisted men turning their weapons on their superiors.
The Vietnam War was one of the least popular in American history. It was also the least “popular” with the GI’s who were sent to fight it. By the late 1960’s, news of GI unrest was being carried on TV and in newspapers around the country and Vietnam vets were speaking at anti-war demonstrations.
But word of the GI resistance in Vietnam itself trickled back more slowly – the soldiers flashing peace signs and Black Power salutes, the group refusals to fight, anti-war petitions and demonstrations, and even the fragging of officers. What we’ve read in the newspapers, however, has just been bits and pieces. Seldom have we had a chance to hear the whole story from the GI’s themselves.

These battle weary troops from the 1st Air Cav. had just staged a “combat refusal” at Firebase Pace.
The dictionary defines “fragging” as the term used to describe the deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier, usually a superior officer or non-commissioned officer (NCO).  Fragging often consisted of throwing a grenade into a tent where the target was sleeping or in the shitters.  The word was coined by U.S. military personnel during the Vietnam War when such killings were most often attempted with a fragmentation grenade, sometimes making it appear as though the killing was accidental or during combat with the enemy.

The high number of fragging incidents in the latter years of the Vietnam War was symptomatic of the unpopularity of the war with the American public and the breakdown of discipline in the U.S. Armed Forces. Documented and suspected fragging incidents totaled nearly eight hundred from 1969 to 1972; resulting in 86 deaths and 714 injuries.  In 1971, army testimony before Congress cited the following: 126 incidents in 1969, 271 in 1970, and 333 in 1971. I couldn’t find a count for 1972, but it’s unlikely fragging suddenly ceased.
So why purposely try to kill a soldier with a higher rank?
Most fragging was perpetrated by enlisted men against leaders. Enlisted men, in the words of one company commander, “feared they would get stuck with a lieutenant or platoon sergeant who would want to carry out all kinds of crazy ‘John Wayne’ tactics, who would use their lives in an effort to win the war single-handedly, win the big medal, and get his picture in the hometown paper.” Harassment of subordinates by a superior was another frequent motive. The stereotypical fragging incident was of “an aggressive career officer being assaulted by disillusioned subordinates.” Several fragging incidents resulted from alleged racism between African American and white soldiers. Attempts by officers to control drug use caused others. Most known fragging incidents were carried out by soldiers in support units rather than soldiers in combat units.

Soldiers sometimes used non-lethal smoke and tear-gas grenades to warn superiors that they were in danger of being fragged if they did not change their behavior. A few instances occurred—and many more were rumored—in which enlisted men collected “bounties” on particular officers or non-commissioned officers to reward soldiers for fragging them.
In short, for all the tales of soldiers assaulting gung-ho officers they feared would get them killed, a more likely explanation is that fragging was the work of rear-echelon misfits with anger management and substance issues who sulked after getting chewed out and decided to have their revenge. The nature of the war as such likely contributed only indirectly — its unpopularity discouraged enlistment and compelled the military to accept more trouble-prone recruits. The prevalence of drugs couldn’t have helped either — one study of soldiers returning from Vietnam found one-fifth had been addicted to narcotics.

Contrary to Hollywood’s take on Vietnam, most of the drug and discipline problems were in rear echelon bases – not in the bush. The combat units largely remained cohesive. Boredom, poor morale and lack of discipline were a combustible mix. For fear of being fragged some leaders turned a blind eye to drug use and other indiscipline among the men in their charge.
After the Tet Offensive in January and February 1968, the Vietnam War became increasingly unpopular in the United States and among American soldiers in Vietnam, many of them conscripts. Secondly, racial tensions between white and African-American soldiers and marines increased after the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968. With soldiers reluctant to risk their lives in what was perceived as a lost war, fragging was seen by some enlisted men “as the most effective way to discourage their superiors from showing enthusiasm for combat.”
  • On the evening of October 22, 1970, Company L of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment was engaged in anti-infiltration operations in the “Rocket Belt,” an area of more than 500 square kilometers ringing the Da Nang Airbase. The company was set up in bunkers at an outpost on Hill 190, to the west of Da Nang. Assigned to guard duty that night, Private Gary A. Hendricks settled into his position on the perimeter and made himself comfortable. Too comfortable, it turned out. A bit later, when Sergeant Richard L. Tate, the sergeant of the guard, discovered Hendricks sleeping on post, he gave the private a tongue lashing but took no further action. Shortly after midnight the next day, Hendricks tossed a fragmentation grenade into the air vent of Sergeant Tate’s bunker. The grenade landed on Tate’s stomach and the subsequent blast blew his legs off, killing the father of three from Asheville, North Carolina, who had only three  weeks left on his tour of duty. The explosion injured two other sergeants who were also in the bunker.
  • Journalist Eugene Linden, in a 1972 Saturday Review article, described the practice of “bounty hunting” whereby enlisted men pooled their money to be paid out to a soldier who killed an officer or sergeant they considered dangerous. One well-known example of bounty hunting came out of the infamous Battle of Dong Ap Bai, aka Hamburger Hill, in May 1969. After suffering more than 400 casualties over 10 merciless days of attacks to take the hill, the 101st Airborne Division soldiers were ordered to withdraw about a week later. Shortly thereafter, the army underground newspaper in Vietnam, GI Says, reportedly offered a $10,000 bounty on the very aggressive officer who led the attacks, Lt. Col. Weldon Honeycutt. Several unsuccessful attempts were reported to have been made on the colonel’s life.
  • In April 1971, Democratic leader Mike Mansfield of Montana emotionally spoke to the issue on the floor of the Senate. Mansfield related details of the death of 1st Lt. Thomas A. Dellwo, of Choteau, Mont. “He was not a victim of combat. He was not a casualty of a helicopter crash or a jeep accident. In the early morning hours of March 15, the first lieutenant from Montana was ‘fragged’ as he lay sleeping in his billet at Bien Hoa. Lt. Richard Harlan was also killed in the incident.  He was murdered by a fellow serviceman, an American GI. Private E-2 Billy Dean Smith was charged with killing the officers but was acquitted in November 1972.
  • On 21 April 1969, a grenade was thrown into the company office of K Company, 9th Marines, at Quảng Trị Combat Base, RVN; First Lieutenant Robert T. Rohweller died of wounds he received in the explosion. Private Reginald F. Smith pleaded guilty to the premeditated murder of Rohweller and was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment; he died in custody on 25 June 1982.
Why use a grenade?

If you shoot someone, there’s a lot of more forensic evidence. And the Army is pretty fanatical about keeping track of ammunition. A bullet can be traced to a particular lot number or a particular gun. You can’t associate a grenade firing pin with a particular grenade.
With a grenade, it splinters into thousands of tiny fragments. Trying to piece that together, there’s no way you’re going to get evidence off of that. Avoiding getting fingerprints on the spoon [the lever on a grenade that is held down to prevent it from going off] is pretty easy — just don’t touch the spoon with the tip of your finger.
Also, with a gun, you have to be there to shoot it. Whereas with a grenade, you have a certain amount of lead time. You could set it up as a booby trap if you wanted to, with a trip wire, or set it against a piece of furniture. There are many more ways you can make a grenade deadly that you can’t make a gun.
In Vietnam, it was really not that hard to get your hands on grenades. There were lax standards, which meant that there were crates of grenades available. You’d make your stop by the ammunition bunker, and platoon members could grab a couple or as many as they thought they needed.
  • Here’s an example of a shooting in a base camp:  Sp4 Enoch ‘Doc’ Hampton, an African American soldier, was respected and well-liked by his fellow soldiers, he was top notch and knew how to take care of them in the field. The First Sergeant, Clarence Lowder, whom they called “Top did everything by the book. When on stand down at the basecamp, Top continuously harassed Doc for the length of his ‘picked out’ hair, threatening Article 15’s if he didn’t immediately get his hair cut. That night at chow, Doc Hampton said he was going to the orderly room to see the First Sgt. “Either I’ll come out alone,” he said, “or neither of us is coming out.”
    Hanusey, the clerk, was working in the orderly room when Doc came through the doorway. “His face was cold, stone cold,” Hanusey said. “He looked like a man in the movies who was about to kill.” The barrel of Doc’s M-16 was pointed downward, his feet planted firmly apart. Slowly he raised the barrel and fired a full clip into Top. The sergeant’s back exploded as pieces of flesh and blood spattered all over the orderly room. Then Doc walked out and headed to the company latrine where he barricaded himself for a possible shoot-out with arriving MP’s.  Surprisingly, his fellow soldiers also armed themselves and quickly formed a perimeter around the latrine to protect their brother in arms and preventing the MP’s from reaching Doc. The siege was short-lived when a single shot sounded from the latrine…Enoch ‘Doc’ Hampton took his own life.
How many soldiers were arrested for fragging?
Only a few ‘fraggers’ were identified and prosecuted. It was often difficult to distinguish between fragging and enemy action. A grenade thrown into a foxhole or tent could be a fragging, or the action of an enemy infiltrator or saboteur. Enlisted men were often close-mouthed in fragging investigations, refusing to inform on their colleagues out of fear or solidarity. Only about 10 percent of all fragging incidents actually ended up being adjudicated.  Although the sentences prescribed for fragging were severe, the few men convicted often served fairly brief prison sentences.

For every actual fragging incident, there was an untold number of threats of fragging. These threats were made in various forms, such as the surreptitious placement of a grenade or grenade pin, or perhaps the detonation of a nonlethal gas or smoke grenade, in the potential victim’s quarters or work areas. Officers who survived fragging attempts often did not discover the identity of their attackers, and as a consequence they lived in constant fear the attacks would be repeated. According to Captain Barry Steinberg, an Army judge who presided over a number of fragging courts-martial, once an officer had been threatened with fragging, he was intimidated to the point of being “useless to the military because he can no longer carry out orders essential to the functioning of the Army.”
Twenty-eight soldiers were arrested in Vietnam and tried for fragging a superior officer. Ten were convicted of murder and served sentences ranging from ten months to thirty years with a mean prison time of about nine years.
In summary, eighty percent of the murders happened at base camps, not in the field; (b) 90 percent of the assaults took place within three days after an argument with the victim; (c) offenders typically felt they had been unfairly treated; (d) 88 percent of attackers were drunk or high when they did it; (e) on average they had been in Vietnam for six months; (f) 26 of the 28 were volunteers, not draftees; (g) only five had graduated from high school; and (h) many were loners or had psychological problems.
But since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has charged only one Soldier with killing his commanding officer, a dramatic turnabout that most experts attribute to the all-volunteer military.