Posts Tagged ‘navy’

TO THOSE WHO SERVE

May 27, 2011

MEMORIAL DAY 2011

TO ALL THE MEMBERS LIVING AND DEAD WHO HAVE SERVED TO PROTECT THIS GREAT FREEDOM-LOVING COUNTRY:  THANK YOU.

Victory is a state of mind.

I Remember

I’ve always been embarrassed that I didn’t go “in-country” in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, or anywhere else that Johnson – and later Nixon – sent people to die when I served in the United States Navy 1966-72. Go figure.

As it was, I got to call myself a Vietnam Veteran, and not a Vietnam Era Veteran, because my unit directly supported troops in active combat. We did it at a distance, but we learned too much about the killing fields anyhow.

Joining the Navy was a careful decision. At the time I got my draft notice – order to appear for physical examination, I was older than the norm – largely teenage boys 17 to 19. I was 21 and college educated. I had a brand-new degree while most of my mates sufficed with high school diplomas, maybe a GED, or nothing. Because of the draft there were a lot of guys like me snatched up because they didn’t have enough college credits to avoid the call; or no wife and children; or a rich daddy like George Herbert Walker Bush to buy us into the Texas Air National Guard; or a “critical” behind-the-lines position exempted for a “vital” job; or, were not clever, credible, or courageous enough to claim conscientious objector status.

After my service, I celebrated the 7-year end of the Statute of Limitations on Felony Draft Avoidance with a friend who refused induction and worked for the World Without War Council as a draft counselor for high school students. He told the whole truth, including the right to appeal, obtaining conscientious objector status, and what to do if running was their choice, so the Military enlistment personnel hated seeing him walk into the high school auditorium on Career Counseling Day.

Another friend ran to Canada and was eventually pardoned by Jimmy Carter. The FBI used to send agents to hide in the bushes to watch his mother’s house on Thanksgiving and Christmas, just in case the homesick sentimental draft dodger came home for the holidays. I guess they had to cover all the bases in their thorough-thorough way, but the mind boggles at the expenditure of tax dollars – particularly when multiplied by all the other refusals and dodgers at the time, multiplied by all the really important serious crime that might have been investigated instead.

The ratio of will to won’t go was 6-4 in Bay Area San Francisco then. With 40% refusal, the feds only prosecuted celebrity dodgers like Joan Baez’ husband David, whom they sent to some Country Club prison in southern California. Not a bad gig, but he was Baez’ husband and thus too high profile to treat roughly? We didn’t do “Extraordinary Rendition” then; we got beat to crap the “regular” way – behind the scenes, without witnesses by professional peace officers who knew they were breaking the law and every imaginable moral imprimatur, and didn’t give a shit.

One friend received a deferment so that he could create experimental concrete products for the Navy. One creation was an equipment pad able to withstand several “thousand” fathoms pressure on the bottom of the ocean. My friend designed the perfect pad, but the Navy had no equipment advanced enough to place upon it. If they ever do, they’ve got a pad down there, waiting.

Another friend received a deferment to assist a marine biologist in placing transistorized heat sensors inside seal vaginas in order to study changes of body temperature as the animal slid from land into water, and vice versa. His job was to sneak up on sleeping  female seals from behind and…  It beat a foxhole.

Another friend went conscientious objector and was assigned to hospital cleanup for two years. He emptied bedpans and did any other job considered too lowly for higher hospital staff. The feds called it “Alternative Service,” but they looked down on it, like punishment, prison, or just like lifers in the military looked down on draftees.

Draftees bleed like everyone else, but they were only doing so (the lifers reasoned?) because they were forced to do so, and not (I reasoned) because they were boneheaded enough to make a voluntary career choice of it. With all the respect I truly have for the volunteer regular military, I never figured out how anybody could feel superior because of that.  That is the dichotomy in supporting the troops – they are killing people, yet they are heroes for doing so and we owe them our deepest support and respect. However, I voluntarily enlisted to avoid the “draftee” stigma. Being in the service was tough enough.

I also enlisted to choose my service. I chose the Navy. Army folks were up to their asses in the mud and blood; I think the survival expectation for a grunt touching down in a hot landing zone was eleven minutes. Their helicopter pilots – their only open officer program at the time – were being shot down one a week. It was a shockingly quick waste of a four-year college degree.

The Marines was a no-brainer, don’t go there. A high school chum who went off to war with them two years previously had come home whacked out. He wanted to get an M-16 and “go on up to Colored Town and clean out all the niggers. We’re gonna have to do it sooner or later. Better up there than down here.” (It’s always best to go someplace else to kill people than it is to do it in one’s own home. Think of the carpets). His eyes clearly showed how scared and hurt he was. He made me sad.

The Air Force was a prime option. They appeared to do most of their fighting two miles above the ground and then went home to the officer’s club on a nice protected base hundreds of miles from any danger, but it wasn’t recruiting at the time. Everybody wanted to be in the Air Force. Even G.W. Bush had to get Dad to pull big-time strings just to get into the lowly Texas Air Guard (and then the ratty little twerp went AWOL! – What a disgusting man, good at avoiding and starting war; “Georgie Porgie ran away”. I don’t think any president should have sole power to declare war – under any circumstances – especially one who has never fought one).

Next best? The Navy rode around in great big ships some two miles off shore and occasionally threw boxcar sized shells at the North Vietnamese, or steamed around making a show of military might and presence and fathering mixed foreign bastard babies. Navy chow was also rumored to be great, even better than Air Force grub. I didn’t know enough about sea duty to worry about it, yet. And I’d never heard of Mekong Delta Patrol. Of such stuff are great personal decisions made. What was it Rummy (Donald Rumsfeld) said? “There are the known-knowns that we know, and the known-unknowns that we know we don’t know; and then there are the unknown-unknowns that we don’t know at all.” And those are the little beauties that get you every time.

[Click images for added info, comment].

End of the Tunnel

A SIDELONG VIEW OF THE VIET NAM WAR

I was stationed on Guam, during the war,

A territory of the U. S. of A.,

From which the B-52s took off,

With their burden of bombs,

For old Hanoi and Uncle Ho,

Crewed by men in cowboy and other funny hats,

With box lunches,

For they’d be home for supper,

And a drink at the air-conditioned bar,

After the fall of the bombs on Nam,

And the lunch-box debris drop,

On the Russian trawler,

Bobbing at the three-mile limit,

Listening to our radio on the island shore.

I saw the B-52 Commuter War,

From beginning to end,

Up for the 7:30 a.m. launch,

Home for the 5 o’clock p.m. whistle,

And, in between,

The men in the cowboy and other funny hats

Never heard the sound,

As they rode high,

Twenty minutes from lunch,

And, two miles above the killing ground.

LET’S CELEBRATE LIBERTY:

We are brave Amerricuns,

With big fat guts,

Suckin’ beer and wavin’ flags,

And kickin’ faggot butts!

We hate useless sentiments,

Or to be reminded of our fears,

We just like tons of cornchips

And good cold cans of beer.

We like fundamental religion,

Satellite rock-roll t.v.,

Women with tight zippers,

And the death penalty.

We like Ronald Reagan,

Nooclear devices by the score,

Death to Arab nationalists,

And oh, so much more!

So light the dollar-sized button,

Illuminate the statue bold and brass,

Bring on those tall ships sailin’,

Kill all who give us sass.

For we are brave Amerricuns,

Standin’ on freedom’ shore,

Got here in our rowboats,

Drove the red bastards from our door.

Yes, we are brave Amerricuns,

You can tell we’re that, you commy,

Because we got us guns and god,

Pickup trucks, baseball caps and Ronny!

Fill 'er Up!

One Nation Indivisible.
Graduation Parade
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POLLUTER BORN EVERY MINUTE

September 14, 2009

Coming to America -Triptych

[See also POLLUTER BORN EVERY MINUTE reprise for full post]

TOO DAMNED MANY PEOPLE

WAYS TO REDUCE CARBON FOOTPRINTS:

ACTION: (Measure: Lifetime carbon dioxide saved in Metric Tons. Data from U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s personal emissions calculator and calculations by OSU statistics professor Paul Murtaugh.  Annual totals based on lifespan of 80 – female expectancy U.S.  Source: Paul Murtaugh).

Recycle newspaper, magazines, glass, plastic, and aluminum cans – 17 tons

Replace old refrigerator with energy-efficient model – 19 tons

Replace 10 incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones – 36 tons

Replace single-glazed windows with energy-efficient windows – 21 tons

Reduce miles driven from 231 to 155 per week – 147 tons

Increase car’s fuel economy from 20 miles per gallon to 30 – 148 tons

REDUCE NUMBER OF CHILDREN BY ONE  – 9,441 tons

Under current conditions, each child in the U.S. adds about 9,4441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the parents’ carbon legacy during his lifetime.  That’s 5.7 times more than the average childless person.

A child born in China has a fifth of the impact of a child born in the U.S.

The carbon legacy and greenhouse gas impact of having a child is almost 20 times more important than other ecologically minded lifestyle choices like driving a fuel-efficient car, recycling or being energy-efficient.

The same conclusions also roughly apply to fresh water consumption. Fresh water has been and will continue to be cause for international conflict. The amount of fresh water on planet earth is finite and we’re running out.

Many children are born to people who are not ready or willing to raise them.

Many parents are less ecologically responsible out of convenience, e.g. using disposable instead of cloth diapers; buying an SUV instead of a compact (“The family is so much safer.”  Not in the long run, Mom; bad choice for the grand children too, if any).

Abstracted: “Not So Carbon Friendly” Jennifer Anderson, Portland Tribune.  Sound Off – Comment: www.portlandtribune.com

TIME IS SHORT

According to the best science, we’ve got ten years left to take this issue on seriously and save our butts.  It may well be less, no one can accurately predict the rate of decay.  It will take most of us to accomplish any earthly salvation, but if we don’t confront and dispose of our garbage, which includes, but is not limited to: religion; overpopulation; short-term economic self-interest; and our ostrich-like tendency to duck and cover in order to avoid seeing our approaching doom, we’re screwed.

We must stop over consumption, kick capitalism into a servant’s status in our democratic life, and curb the excesses of individual and tribal (read also national) self-interest.  Impossible, you say?  That’s my point: good luck and the spin of prayer is about all we seem willing to invest in our own survival.

Homo sapiens, Man the “wise,” we called ourselves; Homo sapiens sapiens, man the “doubly wise” some scientists call us now.  Yeah, right.  First step: pick up the shovel and find a place to pitch in; there’s a lot of work to do quickly, and it must be done well.  No me-first crap, one for all and all for one.  Meet you in the trenches.

A GOOD Place to Start: Center for Biological Diversity

Slaughtered Dolphins - Japan

Japanese fishermen riding a boat loaded with slaughtered dolphins at a blood-covered water cove in Taiji harbor, Japan’s Wakayama prefecture. US environmentalist Ric O’Barry has filmed dolphin hunting at the town of Taiji as an eco-documentary called “The Cove” which has started screening in the US.(AFP/HO/File)

Published on Friday, September 11, 2009 by Agence France Presse

Japanese Town Starts Dolphin Hunt Under global Spotlight by Kyoko Hasegawa.

TAIJI, Japan – To animal rights activists it’s a cruel and bloody slaughter; for Japanese it’s a long tradition: this week fishermen in a picturesque coastal town embarked on their annual dolphin hunt.  Every year, crews in motorboats here have rounded up about 2,000 of the sea mammals, banged metal poles to herd them into a small, rocky cove and killed them with harpoons, sparing a few dozen for sale to marine aquariums.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/11-4

ONE NIGHT

July 30, 2009

Old Glory

Here is a tale from “Sidelong Glances:

One night while I was a Third Class Petty Officer in the Naval Security Group, stationed on Guam at Anderson Air Base, doing courier duty during the Vietnamese War, we briefed the usual officer – a lieutenant jg (junior grade, USN) to carry the manifest for the security messages in their canvas bag; and chose a First Class Petty Officer (USN) who was 8 hours out of the Mekong Delta to carry the .45-caliber Army Colt automatic to guard the materials.  It all went bing-bang-boom.  Routine stuff.

It was the mid-watch: midnight to 8 a.m., my least favorite.  I was on duty with Lieutenant J.G. Hardman, a Rear Admiral’s son in a concrete cinderblock building with a great big, massive steel vault to hold the security material, when suddenly, there came a banging on our door.

I looked through the peephole to see a Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Air Force and six APs (Air Force Police) armed with M-16’s.  The Lt. Colonel looked pissed and the APs looked grim.  I told Hardman what was out there.

“For God’s sake, open up!” he said.

I did so.  The Lt. Colonel glanced at me and said to Hardman,

“I’m the Duty Officer tonight.  I have nine aircraft to get in and out.  You people have a man on an aircraft with a .45.  He’s threatening to kill anyone who comes close to the plane.  If you people don’t take him out, I will.”

Hardman gulped and said,

“Legry, handle that.”

I gulped.  My mind was going a mile a minute.  We had just been issued .38 “Police Special” Smith & Wesson revolvers – the enlisted got long barrels, because we were supposed to hit something, and the officers got Jack Webb Dragnet stubbies because – I figure – they were just supposed to look cool.  But stubbies now had an advantage over the long barrel.

“Mr. Hardman, can I borrow your .38 stubby?” I asked.

“Of course,” he said, “Sure.”  He practically shoved the piece at me.  I had the hit he wanted me to go do the job as fast as possible so the Lt. Colonel wouldn’t yell at him anymore – echoes of Admiral Daddy?

I stuffed the stubby into the right pocket of my work jacket, my finger an instant away from the trigger, and (I hope to tell you) the cylinder fully loaded, and went down to the flight line.

I was the center of interest as the Lt. Colonel, APs, and Hardman watched with bemused excitement (maybe somebody would get shot!), but I wasn’t interested.  I was focused on not getting shot.

You have to make an effort to see this scene.

It’s dead black on a warm tropical Pacific night – the heart of the graveyard watch, maybe three in the morning.  The only illumination is electric spots on the airfield.  Inside a circle of light is the aircraft with the First Class poised in front of the cargo hatch, alert as a spooked cat, the .45 held in ready position.  Outside the circle of light are the baggage carts (there are a lot of fellows going home on this flight, lots of baggage), half-circled like a wagon train awaiting Indian attack, and behind all of those vehicles are crouching, cringing Guamanian baggage handlers, praying to god that they are not tall enough to be the outstanding target for the first round.

What to do?  I sauntered – yes, literally sauntered – out into the circle of light to reveal myself.  Inside, I’m ready to hit the deck.

“Do you remember me?” I asked the First Class.  “I’m one of the guys who just briefed you.”

“Yeah,” he says, and I can tell he’s relieved.  I think, he thinks, the Guamanians are VietnameseAsians, yellow-brown men are all suspect.  This guy just came out of the hottest zone in the Delta nine hours ago; he’s still in combat.  These baggage guys could be Cong.

“Can I come over and talk?” I ask like a friend.  All this time, and all throughout, I’ve got my finger on the trigger of that stubby .38 in my right coat pocket.  It’s pointed straight at his heart.  I’m thinking if I get close enough, I will put this guy’s lights out, if he makes a fraction of a hostile move.

“Please!” he says, and I can tell he’s truly scared.  My sympathy for him charges.  I walk straight toward him –slow and measured – I don’t want to spook him.  I get close.  I say,

“Hey, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I guess they forgot to tell you something when they briefed you.”

“Oh?” he asks.

“Yeah,” I say.  “I’m supposed to come down here and relieve you and you’re supposed to go back to the shack and do whatever.”

“Oh?” he says.

“Yeah,” I say.  “I’ll take the piece and stand the guard until you get back.”  He looks incredibly relieved.  He surrenders the piece gratefully and I resist a heartfelt sigh.  That damned big-barrel .45 has been in the middle of my chest since I started this walk.

He walks away to get whatever he “missed” at the briefing.  I watch the APs close around him like bears around raw meat.

I signal to the baggage handlers.  Come do your thing and they come, relieved, happy.

It nags me.  I think, the poor SOB.  He just got out of hell, he’s trying to do his duty, he’s scared out of his mind, and now his countrymen are arresting him.

I feel sorry for him to this day.  I hope he got in and out of the bear’s mouth fast and clean, but I will never know.  I hope he got home okay.  I did give my own back to Hardman later, but that’s another story.

So, many years later, waiting in Coos Bay for a snowbound bus to arrive from Bend, Oregon, I struck up conversation with a young veteran who was working in a Veteran’s Hospital.  He was an Iraq War vet – a mortar man with two tours behind him and a discharge for medical reasons.  His nerves were shot.  He was helping other vets struggling to recover some semblance of normalcy after shocking physical injuries.  He told me that he did not go to therapy.  He’d gone through a tough time and he had nightmares and that was just the way of it, wasn’t it?  So, I told him about that night on the airfield so many years ago.  Told him about my own trauma.  Told him about the genuine relief it was to share those things with others who had endured similar or worse – definitely worse, for those people knew things that made my own experience dim in comparison.  I told him about wondering if that young sailor had ever made it home from the Mekong.  It touched this young Iraq War vet in ways I could not feel.  I saw it in his eyes, and later, when I stood in line waiting to board my bus, I saw him looking at me, and our eyes met, and he smiled, and I saw the same relief that had been in that First Class Petty Officer’s eyes so many years before when I took the .45 from his hands, and sent him to his fate.

I guess that’s what inspires me to recall this today: my own responsibility, my own need to lay down the spear and come home.

It really is time to end the war.  All war.  Jl: 7-09

ONE LINK:

Sen. Russ Feingold: White House Is Whistling Past Afghan Graveyard By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation. Posted July 30, 2009.  In 2001, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., famously and courageously stood up as the lone senator to vote against the Patriot Act.  On July 21, 2009, he did it again, casting the lone vote opposing Sen. Joe Lieberman’s, I-Conn., amendment to the 2010 Defense Authorization bill that immediately authorizes an expansion of the military by 30,000 troops. In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Feingold says he “did not believe it was in the best interest of our troops or our national security.” The measure passed 93-1.

http://www.alternet.org/world/141606/sen._russ_feingold%3A_white_house_is_whistling_past_afghan_graveyard_/

Never Again!