FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 5th through 8th, 2017

 

GO NAVY    BEAT ARMY

 

Prayers For Those In Ventura, CA

The Thomas fire has burned more than 132,000 acres (so far and the fire is only 5% contained) of sage and chaparral covered hillsides fanned by ever shifting Santa Ana winds with gusts up to 70 MPH.  I lived in the Ventura area for many years and have two friends directly impacted by the fires.  One has seen his ranch at the end of Wheeler Canyon (where I have stayed many times) completely overrun by the fires.  He lost one of his two work barns, over ten pieces of heavy equipment (bull dozers, cranes, backhoes, water truck, fuel truck, etc.).  His house was saved only because he had installed three times the required amount of stored water tanks on top of the hill.  He has also lost hundreds of oak trees that graced this beautiful hillside ranch.  Several of his neighbors have lost their homes.  (Downtown Ventura – power turned off – photo right).Another good friend sent me photos of the house they used to own burned to the ground.  I have yet to hear from a couple other people I know in the area.   The funky La Conchita area has been saved so far, but the fire has jumped US 101 in the area and threatens beach homes.  Come this winter, they’ll have to contend with mudslides.  They could use our prayers and those firefighters and all the first responders could use some good luck!

 

Some Things To Be Concerned About These Days or Fireball Rants

Taxes: It seems certain the GOP’s tax reform bill will pass.  It’s unclear as to whether or not it will actually benefit middle class tax payers.  Corporations in the US are doing very well and making lots of money as evidenced by the stock market gains over the last several years.  I’m not sure why reducing their tax rate will help all Americans benefit.   What is certain is that in permanently lowering the corporate tax rates we should see increased dividends, more stock buybacks, increased infrastructure growth and increased investment growth.  That may help with the need for additional workers and perhaps some increases in wages.  The temporary tax cuts to individuals will look nice for a couple years, but then expire.  That’s a future tax increase for individuals.  The richest Americans will see great benefits in the lowering of the estate tax and changes in pass-through income as well.    Despite the president’s repeated claims to the contrary, the biggest gains in the tax bill go to wealthy individuals, heirs and business owners, like Trump.  Most taxpayers will see modest tax cuts immediately but the bottom 20% of households would receive an average tax cut of $40 in 2019 – an amount dwarfed by the benefits for the richest households and corporations.  And this tax cut comes with huge increases in our national debt.  Few economists forcast the revenue loss from the tax cuts will be offset by revenue growth.  The Tax Policy Center estimates the tax reform framework would increase the federal debt to $2.4 trillion in the first ten years. Congress’ own Joint Committee on Taxation predicts it will add about $1 trillion to deficits over the next decade, even factoring in economic effects. That number could be understating the cost, since Republicans also say they plan to renew measures that expire under the bill, reducing its cost on paper. Whatever that huge number is, our children will be saddled with this additional debt.  Additionally I’m concerned the removal of the state and local tax deductions included to finance lower taxes will adversely affect high tax states like New York, New Jersey and California will cause huge ripples throughout these regions when it comes to spending and housing.

Geopolitics: North Korea seems to grow more unstable by the day.  President Donald Trump’s power plays and insulting rhetoric have increased the potential for war on the Korean peninsula but have done nothing to decrease the North Korean plans for its nuclear weapons program and potential sale of a nuclear weapon to another state or a non-state actor.  While China may or may not have applied some pressure to North Korea, they are certainly not taking all the steps they could take to affect the actions of North Korea.  China is a major player intent on applying their increased influence in the Asian theatre including the South China Sea and their development of the Silk Road to the Middle East. Russia continues to apply their own brand of political and economic pressure throughout the globe. Now with Putin’s announcement he will run for “reelection,” Russia will continue to fill any possible void US interests around the world.  Make no mistake – they want to defeat us at each and every turn of events.  I see nothing but the potential for new violence in the Middle East because President Trump just recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  What happened to making a deal here?  All US presidents have realized the complexity and the criticality of Jerusalem to peaceful negotiations in the region – except Trump.  The US has lost its advantage as an honest broker with the Palestinians and with other Moslem countries in the region and the US got absolutely nothing from this deal.  Our most ardent allies in Europe and in the Middle East have condemned this action and it certainly appears as if we have any influence and indeed our own self interests.  WTF?

Mueller Investigation:  The President and his team have every right and I expect them to communicate with foreign governments through both formal and informal channels.  It’s been that way since central governments were established.  In many cases the informal channels are as important as the formal channels in that they can relay personal thoughts and expectations of major world leaders.  It may be politically embarrassing when they become public knowledge and when the subject manner is trying to dig up dirt on your opponent, but it’s not against the law.  But what you can’t do is lie to the FBI or to the Mueller investigation as to the communication event or try to pretend it never happened.  The truth will come out, because too many people are involved, even when establishing private meetings.  The near impeachment of Richard Nixon and the impeachment of Bill Clinton were not about the acts of the Watergate break-in nor sex with Monica Lewinski, but were about lying to investigators and lying to a grand jury.  It’s likely to be embarrassing to the President but unless he can be found to have actively and with intent obstructed justice, he’ll be off the hook, but there’s a lot more drama to be played out.

Health Care:  The quality of health care in the US has never been the issue.  The cost of health care has been and remains the concern.  I think the average American worker is poorer than we believe without significant savings available for an unexpected event.  Health care costs are taking an ever-increasing share from workers’ paychecks.  If given the choice between health care and other family requirements, needs, or desires, many will choose the latter.  As long as Washington allows insurers to dictate how much you pay for health care and prescription drugs the more it is going to hurt all of us and it will hurt the economy as a whole.  The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is not funded in 2018 and has been defunded by the latest continuing resolution signed by President Donald Trump.  CHIP pays for health care for more than 9 million kids across the country. It’s a joint state-federal plan, part of the Medicare and Medicaid family of government health insurance.  CHIP isn’t controversial. Republicans and Democrats alike generally support the program, which makes sure children get health care if their parents are poor and even if their parents are not covered by any other insurance, including Medicaid.  What is controversial is whether to offset paying for CHIP with cuts elsewhere in government spending, and there’s also debate over whether funding should be guaranteed for a couple of years, or for longer.  CHIP’s 2017 budget was $16.6 billion. The current federal budget has slashed it to $12 billion, but Congress has to allocate that funding.

Cyber Attacks: I think we’ve just begun to see the influence of cyber warfare and cyber attacks.  When you look at the conventional order of battle for North Korea you see a bunch of aging Soviet jets and tanks and artillery pieces.  But when you look at their cyber warfare capability you see a totalitarian regime with little other technology (I’m speaking of their non-nuclear capabilities).  We have known North Korea has pursued cyber warfare since the 1980’s and has targeted banks, universities, and other organizations, mostly in South Korea.  What is surprising is they divulged their capabilities in their biggest revealed hack with the  the breach of Sony Pictures, which saw the leak of unreleased films and embarrassing emails of studio executives in 2014, because they didn’t like an satirical movie.  The Snowden leaks, which revealed the NSA had placed “covert implants” in routers and firewalls around the world, which would give the intelligence agency great insight into where an attack came from. And later comments from then Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI ) James Comey were clear:  “We could see that the IP addresses they used … were IPs that were exclusively used by the North Koreans. It was a mistake by them. It was a very clear indication of who was doing this. They would shut it off very quickly once they realized the mistake, but not before we saw them and knew where it was coming from.”  North Korea has approximately 6,000 trained hackers in its military ranks, a defector from the country told the BBC. The defector taught computer science at a Pyongyang University and said many of his former students went on to the hacking unit known as Bureau 121.  Little is known about the North Korea’s cyber warfare agency, though it does seem to employ considerable computer expertise. With its Sony Pictures breach, the hackers used a common method to gain access called spear-phishing and were able to steal credentials for a systems administrator, enabling them to burrow inside the systems for at least two months to map out their plan of attack.  “They were incredibly careful, and patient,” one person briefed on the investigation told The New York Times.  The current commander of United States Forces Korea General Vincent K. Brooks told  Senate leaders last month. (photo below left) “While I would not characterize them as the best in the world, they are among the best in the world and the best organized.”

Brooks was speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee for a hearing regarding his nomination to take over all forces in South Korea. The 57-year-old general took over that post late last month.  That an Army general would warn of North Korea’s growing progress in cyberspace comes as the Pentagon ramps up its own efforts in what it calls the “cyber domain” after the release of a new cyber strategy in April 2015. In it, the military proposed 133 teams for its “cyber mission force” by 2018, 27 of which were directed to support combat missions by “generating integrated cyberspace effects in support of … operations.”  A successful act of cyber terrorism could have major technology disclosures as well as financial consequences.

 

Continuing Resolution Passes

U.S. lawmakers on Thursday averted a government shutdown this week by passing a new funding extension to keep federal operations running for two more weeks, in the hopes of reaching a broader budget consensus before Christmas.  The vote was 235 -193 in the House and 81-14 in the Senate.  Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain was a notable “no.” McCain, R-Ariz., has railed against stopgap funding, and budget instability more broadly, for wreaking havoc on the military.  “Every day we spend on a Continuing Resolution is a day that our military must try to do more with less, modernization is delayed, and readiness is degraded,” he said in a statement.  Now the question for lawmakers is whether they can reach a deal on appropriations for all of fiscal 2018 — which began on Oct. 1 — or whether they’ll have to scramble another short-term funding patch over the next 15 days.  “There’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group. “We have to reach a budget agreement, we have to pass a second CR taking us into the new year — and accidents can happen.”

 

Confessions of a C-2 Greyhound COD Pilot

Enclosed is a link to a really good article about the life of the C-2 COD pilot sent to me by Friend of FOD Mule.  Thanks Mule.  It was announced on December 8, 2017 The U.S. Navy is sending a team of deep-water salvage experts to search for the transport plane that crashed into the western Pacific Ocean in November.  The Navy said is a statement that while “the aircraft’s last position on the surface of the water is known, the depth of water in that area exceeds 16,000 feet, beyond the capabilities of salvage assets in theater.”  The salvage experts deployed from Washington will be led by the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving. The team will board a salvage vessel in Japan and then proceed to the crash site where the group will search for the aircraft’s emergency relocation pinger.  “If the search is successful, additional deep water salvage assets will deploy to survey and recover the aircraft,” the Navy said.   When I was Maintenance Officer and the Indian Ocean XO of VF-21 (because they took our XO and made him the O-in-C of the Beach Det at NAS Cubi Point, Philippines) we invited the COD pilots to use our ready room when they were aboard USS Constellation (CV-64).  Why – because they carried the mail, brought us fresh vegetables from the A&P in Oman, but mostly because they brought us t-shirts from the Philippines that we in turn sold throughout the ship.  (They had amazing control over what went on their aircraft.)  We gave them some flight boots, and some flight suits (because theirs smelled bad and we didn’t want to get hydraulic fluid on our ready room chairs) and got them free accounts for the autodog soft ice cream machine in the dirty shirt wardroom.  So we weren’t that altruistic.  At one time our Officers Mess Treasury exceeded $13,000.  You probably couldn’t get away with that these days.  On our transit back from that IO cruise, we purchased and brought back 87 cruise boxes of liquor and stored it in the ship’s empty magazines.  That was more than the rest of the ship combined.  But that’s another story.  Anyway the COD pilots were good guys, unappreciated for the most part and flying some really old airframes.  We lost a C-2 last week.  I covered it briefly in the November 20 through 22 edition of FOD.  I recalled our old COD pilot, Tom “Bean Pole” Sawyer (his real name) –because he was about 6’2” and likely weighed 125 lb.  I hope he’s doing well somewhere.  Anyway enjoy:

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/16535/confessions-of-a-c-2-greyhound-carrier-onboard-delivery-pilot

 

Blue Angel 2018 Schedule Updated

In case you’re in one of these areas and are interested, The Navy’s Blue Angels squadron has released updates to their 2018 air show schedule, as well as a full 2019 tour calendar, the Navy announced.  Modifications to the 2018 Blue Angels schedule include:

  • Cancellation of March 17-18 shows in Tuscon, Arizona
  • Addition of April 28-29 shows in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Addition of October 13-14 shows in Minden-Tahoe, Nevada.

 

Remembering the USS Flasher (SS-249)

I wrote this story for the previous edition of FOD for December 4th, but those editors chopped it, for no good reason, so here tis.  The USS Flasher (SS-249) was a Gato-class submarine which served in the Pacific during World War II. She received the Presidential Unit Citation and six battle stars, and sank 21 ships for a total of 100,231 tons of Japanese shipping.  Flasher arrived at Pearl Harbor from New London 15 December 1943 to prepare for her first war patrol, for which she sailed 6 January 1944. Bound for her patrol area off Mindoro, she sank her first target 18 January, sending a 2,900-ton former gunboat Yoshida Maru to the bottom. Adding to what would be the greatest total of enemy tonnage credited to an American submarine in World War II, she sank the freighter Taishin Maru off Manila 5 February, and sank two cargo ships of the same convoy on 14 February. Flasher arrived at Fremantle, Australia 29 February to refit. The 2 vessels sunk 14 February 1944 were the Minryo Maru and the Hokuan Maru.  These names appear later in that the names of the vessels sunk were not known to Flasher and were only assigned after the war was over.  Sometimes major combatants could be identified however.  Flasher made her third war patrol in the South China Sea, where on 28 June 1944 she contacted a heavily escorted convoy of 13 ships. She made a cautious approach, undeterred by the escort, and shortly after midnight 29 June, broke into the convoy to sink a freighter (Nippo Maru) and badly damage a large passenger cargo ship. Her next victim was a freighter (Koto Maru), sunk 7 July. Twelve days later, Flasher sighted the cruiser Ōi escorted by a destroyer. Two attacks, each followed by a heavy depth charge retaliation from the destroyer, sufficed to sink the cruiser, a fact confirmed several hours later when a periscope observation revealed only the destroyer in sight. Seven days later, she sank another important target, a merchant tanker (Otoriyama Maru), and the same day damaged another tanker (Tosan Maru) later sunk by one of her sisters. With all her torpedoes gone, Flasher put back for Fremantle, where she replenished and refitted between 7 August and 30 August.  During her fourth war patrol, in the PhilippinesFlasher headed a coordinated attack group which included two other submarines, Hawkbill and Becuna. Although she was on lifeguard station during the air attacks preliminary to the invasion of the Philippines during part of this patrol, Flasher sank three ships, a light cruiser (Saigon Maru) on 18 September, a transport (Ural Maru) on 27 September, and a cargo ship (Taibin Maru) on 4 October. She returned to Fremantle 20 October.  Heading the same attack group, Flasher now commanded by Lieutenant Commander G. W. Grider, sailed on her fifth war patrol 15 November 1944, bound for Cam Ranh Bay. On 4 December one of her companions reported a tanker convoy, and Flasher set a converging course. As she made her approach in a heavy downpour, a destroyer suddenly loomed up before her, and Flasher launched her first spread of torpedoes at this escort. The destroyer (Kishinami) was stopped by two hits, and began listing and smoking heavily. Flasher got a spread of torpedoes away at a tanker before she was forced deep by a second destroyer, which dropped 16 depth charges. Rising to periscope depthFlasher  located the tanker burning and covered by yet a third destroyer. Speedily reloading, she prepared to sink the destroyer and finish off the tanker, and though almost blinded by rainsqualls, she did so with a salvo of four torpedoes, two of which hit the destroyer (Iwanami), and two of which passed beneath her, as planned, to hit the tanker (Hakko Maru). Once more, a counter-attack forced Flasher down, and when she surfaced she found no trace of the two damaged destroyers. The tanker, blazing away, was still guarded by three escorts until abandoned at sunset, when Flasher sank her with one torpedo. The two destroyers, both found after the war to have been sunk, were Kishinami and IwanamiFlasher contacted another well-guarded tanker convoy on the morning of 21 December 1944, and she began a long chase, getting into position to attack from the unguarded shoreward side. In rapid succession, Flasher attacked and sank three of the tankers (Omurosan Maru, Otowasan Maru and Arita Maru), receiving no counter-attack since the enemy apparently believed he had stumbled into a minefield. One of these tankers was the largest Flasher sank during the war. The other two tankers had displacements similar to each other, were tied for third largest.  Refitting at Fremantle once more between 2 January and 29 January 1945, Flasher made her sixth war patrol on the coast of Indochina. Contacts were few, but on 21 February she sank a sea truck (I couldn’t find a photo of this, but I assume it’s a small shallow draft vessel used as a supply ship) by surface gunfire, and 4 days later sank a cargo ship (Koho Maru) with torpedoes. She completed her patrol upon her arrival at Pearl Harbor 3 April 1945, and sailed a few days later for a West Coast overhaul.  Bound for Guam on a seventh war patrol at the close of the war, Flasher was ordered back to New London, where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve 16 March 1946, attached to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. On 1 June 1959 the Flasher was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. She was sold for scrap on 1 June 1963. Her conning tower was removed and placed on display as a memorial at the entrance to Nautilus Park, a Navy housing area in Groton, Connecticut. It was then moved to the intersection of Thames St. and Bridge St. where it is the centerpiece of the World War II memorial that honors the 52 U.S. submarines and their valiant crews lost during the war.

 

 

Some Events From December 5:

1945 Aircraft squadron lost in the Bermuda Triangle

1933 Prohibition ends

1964 Army Captain awarded first Medal of Honor for action in Vietnam

1941 American carrier Lexington heads to Midway

 

First Deliverable KC-46 Takes Flight

While there are a bunch of KC-46’s of one form or another flying as part of the test program, the first Boeing KC-46A tanker plane, expected to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force next year, completed its first flight, the company has announced. Boeing announced Tuesday that it will miss its deadline to deliver the first plane to the U.S. Air Force by Dec. 31.   The contract calls for 18 KC-46A planes to be delivered by October 2018, a deadline 14 months later than originally planned. The most serious of three recent flaws seen in the plane is multiple incidents of its retractable boom scraping the aircraft receiving fuel during aerial refueling, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday.

 

And On December 6:

1884 Washington Monument completed

1976 Deaf stuntwoman Kitty O’Neil sets women’s land-speed record

1865 13th Amendment ratified

1992 Jerry Rice scores record-breaking touchdown

 

Pearl Harbor

The attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor was the state sponsored terrorism event of the twentieth century.  The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl HarborHawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. Japan intended the attack as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions they planned in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. The attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time (18:18 GMT).  The base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft (including fighterslevel and dive bombers, and torpedo bombers) in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four sunk. All but the USS Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. One hundred eighty-eight U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded.  Important base installations such as the power station, dry dock, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section), were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 64 servicemen killed. One Japanese sailor, Kazuo Sakamaki, was captured.  The surprise attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan, and several days later, on December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. The U.S. responded with a declaration of war against Germany and Italy. Domestic support for non-interventionism, which had been fading since the Fall of France in 1940, disappeared.  There were numerous historical precedents for unannounced military action by Japan, but the lack of any formal warning, particularly while negotiations were still apparently ongoing, led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy“. Because the attack happened without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, the attack on Pearl Harbor was later judged in the Tokyo Trials to be a war crime.  I thought I’d mention some actions taken by individuals on that day in 1941:

As the Japanese attacked Midway Island, 1st Lt. George H. Cannon USMC remains at his post until all of his wounded men are evacuated, though severely wounded himself. Because of his dedication to his men, Cannon dies due loss of blood from his wounds. For his “distinguished conduct in the line of his profession”, Cannon is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

 

Captain Mervyn Sharp Bennion (USNA ’10), commanding officer of USS West Virginia (BB 48), evidenced apparent concern only in fighting and saving his ship, and strongly protested against being carried from the bridge. For devotion to duty and courage during the Pearl Harbor attack, Bennion is awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

 

 

Ensign Francis C. Flaherty remains in his turret, holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see the escape, onboard the sinking  USS Oklahoma (BB-37) thereby sacrificing his own life. For devotion to duty and courage during the Pearl Harbor attack, Flaherty is awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

LCDR Samuel Glenn Fuqua (USNA ’23) rushes to the quarterdeck of USS Arizona, where a large bomb hits and penetrates several decks, and the explosion starts a severe fire and also stuns and knocks him down. Upon coming to, he begins to direct the firefighting and rescue efforts. A tremendous explosion forward appears to make the ship rise out of the water, shudder and settle down by the bow. Flames envelope the forward part of the ship and spread, as wounded men pour out of the ship to the quarterdeck. Despite the mayhem, Fuqua keeps calm under pressure and continues to direct the firefighting efforts so that the wounded could be taken from the ship, and in so doing inspires everyone who sees him. Realizing that the ship cannot be saved and that he was the senior surviving officer aboard, he orders the crew to abandon ship. Fuqua remains on the quarterdeck until satisfied that all personnel that could be had been saved, after which he leaves the ship with the last boatload.  He is awarded the Medal of Honor — for his actions in World War II during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Chief Boatswain Edwin Joseph Hill leads his men of the line-handling details of USS Nevada (BB-36)  to the quays, casts off the lines and swims back to this ship. Later, while on the forecastle attempting to let go the anchors, he is blown overboard and killed by the explosion of several bombs. Chief Hill earned Medal of Honor that day for his distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage, and disregard of his own safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor.

 

 

Ensign Herbert C. Jones organizes and leads a party in supplying ammunition to the antiaircraft battery of the USS California (BB-44) after the mechanical hoists were put out of action. Jones is then fatally wounded by a nearby bomb explosion and when two men attempt to take him from the area which was on fire, he refuses to let them, saying, in words to the effect, Leave me alone! I am done for. Get out of here before the magazines go off.  He was  posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

Rear Admiral  Isaac C. Kidd (USNA ’06) immediately goes to the bridge and as the commander of battleship division one, he courageously performs his duties as Senior Officer Present Afloat until his flagship, USS Arizona  blows up from magazine explosions and he is killed by a direct bomb hit on the bridge.  He was a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor.  I lived briefly in the room dedicated to his honor in Bancroft Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy during some summer program.

As the mechanized ammunition hoists are put of action in USS California (BB-44), Chief Radioman Thomas James Reeves, on his own initiative, in a burning passageway, assists in the maintenance of an ammunition supply by hand to the antiaircraft guns until he is overcome by smoke and fire, resulting in his death.  He posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

 

 

As his station in the forward dynamo room aboard the USS Nevada (BB-36) becomes almost untenable due to smoke, steam, and heat, LCDR Donald Kirby Ross forces his men to leave the station and performs all the duties himself until blinded and unconscious. Upon being rescued and resuscitates, he returns and secures the forward dynamo room and proceeds to the aft dynamo room where he is again rendered unconscious by exhaustion. Again recovering consciousness, he returns to his station where he remained until directed to abandon it.  He received the first Medal of Honor of World War II.

Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John William Finn mans a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in an exposed section of the parking ramp, under heavy enemy machine-gun strafing fire. While painfully wounded, he continued to man the gun and return the enemy’s fire with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks. He was at last persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention after being specifically ordered to do so. After receiving first-aid, the chief returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. Chief (later Lieutenant) Finn earned the Medal of Honor that day for his extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor.  At the time of his death, Finn was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, the last living recipient from the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the last United States Navy recipient of World War II.

On the morning of December 7, 1941, very few American fighter pilots were able to get airborne to fight the Japanese attackers. Ken Taylor and George Schwartz were two of them.  Second Lieutenants Kenneth Marlar Taylor and George S. Welch took two Curtiss-Wright P-40B Warhawk fighters from a remote airfield at Haleiwa, on the northwestern side of the island of Oahu, and against overwhelming odds, each shot down four enemy airplanes: Welch shot down three Aichi D3A Type 99 “Val” dive bombers and one Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 (“Zero”) fighter. Taylor also shot down four Japanese airplanes.  Although both officers were nominated for the Medal of Honor by General Henry H. (“Hap”) Arnold, they were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.  Why were they denied the MOH?  Because they didn’t have permission to take-off.

 

Some Other Events From December 7:

1787 Delaware ratifies the Constitution

1987 Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in United States for summit with Ronald Reagan

1805 Lewis and Clark temporarily settle in Fort Clatsop

1989 Sugar Ray Leonard fights Roberto Duran for the third and final time

 

And On December 8:

1980 John Lennon is assassinated in New York City

1941 Roosevelt asks Congress to declare war on Japan

1940 Bears beat Redskins 73-0 in NFL Championship game

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 27 through December 4, 2017

Maybe I Need To Write This Blog More Often

I got busy!

 

President Trump and Former Security Advisor Michael Flynn

There is ever increasing evidence against President Donald Trump supporting a case of obstruction of justice.  It includes a tweet that he fired his former security adviser Michael Flynn because he knew Flynn had lied to both the Vice President and the FBI.  If he knew Flynn had committed a felony; that of lying to the FBI, then one could draw a conclusion Mr. Trump obstructed justice when he told then-FBI director James Comey to go easy on Flynn the day after the firing of Flynn.  On December 1, 2017, Flynn appeared in federal court to formalize a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to a single felony count of “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI.  As part of his plea bargain agreement to avoid additional charges Michael Flynn is talking to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation team regarding Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election in order to avoid a prison sentence.  Should we believe a retired United States Army Lieutenant General,  a member of Trump’s inter-circle during the Trump presidential campaign, a member of the transition team and the National Security Advisor during the first days of the Trump presidency acted on his own in contacting the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak?  And if he received guidance to contact the Russian government then its more than likely that guidance could only have come from Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, or President Trump.  Tic, tic, tic, tic.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 27 through December 4, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 24th through 26th, 2017

Some Events From November 23:

1936 First issue of Life is published

1981 Reagan gives CIA authority to establish the Contras

1984 BC wins on Hail Mary

 

 

DB Cooper Hijacking

  1. D.B. Cooper in popular culture still holds a great deal of interest as a case that has not been solved nor explained. On the afternoon of Thanksgivingeve, November 24, 1971, a man carrying a black attaché case approached the flight counter of Northwest Orient Airlines at Portland International Airport. He identified himself as “Dan Cooper” and purchased a one-way ticket on Flight 305, a 30-minute trip to Seattle. Flight 305, approximately one-third full, departed on schedule at 2:50 pm, PST. Shortly after takeoff, Cooper handed a note to Florence Schaffner, the flight attendant situated nearest to him in a jump seat attached to the aft stair door.  Schaffner, assuming the note contained a lonely businessman’s phone number, dropped it unopened into her purse.  Cooper leaned toward her and whispered, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.  The note was printed in neat, all-capital letters with a felt-tip pen.  Its exact wording is unknown, because Cooper later reclaimed it, but Schaffner recalled that it indicated he had a bomb in his briefcase, and directed her to sit beside him.  Schaffner did as requested, then quietly asked to see the bomb. Cooper cracked open his briefcase long enough for her to glimpse eight red cylinders (“four on top of four”) attached to wires coated with red insulation, and a large cylindrical battery.  After closing the briefcase, he dictated his demands: $200,000 in “negotiable American currency,” four parachutes (two primary and two reserve); and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the aircraft upon arrival.  Schaffner conveyed Cooper’s instructions to the pilots in the cockpit: when she returned, he was wearing dark sunglasses.
    24 Nov 1971, Seattle, Washington, USA — Seattle: Northwest Airlines 727, hijacked on a flight from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, sits on the ground here 11/24. before being refueled and continuing on to Reno, Nevada. The hijacker received $200,000 here before allowing the 35 passengers and 2 stewardesses off the plane. He also demanded and received parachutes. When the plane landed in Reno, the hijacker was gone. This photo was made by photographer Bruce McKim with a 500 mm lens and a 4 minute exposure. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

    The pilot, William Scott, contacted Seattle-Tacoma Airport air traffic control, which in turn informed local and federal authorities. The 36 other passengers were told that their arrival in Seattle would be delayed because of a “minor mechanical difficulty”.  Northwest Orient’s president, Donald Nyrop, authorized payment of the ransom and ordered all employees to cooperate fully with the hijacker.  The aircraft circled Puget Sound for approximately two hours to allow Seattle police and the FBI time to assemble Cooper’s parachutes and ransom money, and to mobilize emergency personnel.  Just think how the hijacking plan of action has changed over the years.  Schaffner recalled that Cooper appeared familiar with the local terrain; at one point he remarked, “Looks like Tacoma down there,” as the aircraft flew above it. He also correctly mentioned that McChord Air Force Base was only a 20-minute drive (at that time) from Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Schaffner described him as calm, polite, and well-spoken, not at all consistent with the stereotypes (enraged, hardened criminals or “take-me-to-Cuba” political dissidents) popularly associated with air piracy at the time. Tina Mucklow, another flight attendant, agreed. “He wasn’t nervous,” she told investigators. “He seemed rather nice. He was never cruel or nasty. He was thoughtful and calm all the time.”  He ordered a second bourbon and water, paid his drink tab (and attempted to give Schaffner the change), and offered to request meals for the flight crew during the stop in Seattle.  FBI agents assembled the ransom money from several Seattle-area banks—10,000 unmarked 20-dollar bills, most with serial numbers beginning with the letter “L” indicating issuance by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and most from the 1963A or 1969 series —and made a microfilm photograph of each of them.  Cooper rejected the military-issue parachutes offered by McChord AFB personnel, demanding instead civilian parachutes with manually operated ripcords. Seattle police obtained them from a local skydiving school.  At 5:24 pm Cooper was informed that his demands had been met, and at 5:39 pm the aircraft landed at Seattle-Tacoma Airport.  Cooper instructed Scott to taxi the jet to an isolated, brightly lit section of the tarmac and close each window shad in the cabin to deter police snipers. Northwest Orient’s Seattle operations manager, Al Lee, approached the aircraft in street clothes (to avoid the possibility that Cooper might mistake his airline uniform for that of a police officer) and delivered the cash-filled knapsack and parachutes to Mucklow via the aft stairs. Once the delivery was completed, Cooper permitted all passengers, Schaffner, and senior flight attendant Alice Hancock to leave the plane.  During refueling Cooper outlined his flight plan to the cockpit crew: a southeast course toward Mexico City at the minimum airspeed possible without stalling the aircraft—approximately 100 knots at a maximum 10,000 foot altitude. He further specified that the landing gear remain deployed in the takeoff/landing position, the wing flaps be lowered 15 degrees, and the cabin remain unpressurized.  Copilot William Rataczak informed Cooper that the aircraft’s range was limited to approximately 1,000 miles under the specified flight configuration, which meant that a second refueling would be necessary before entering Mexico. Cooper and the crew discussed options and agreed on Reno, Nevada, as the refueling stop.  Finally, Cooper directed that the plane take off with the rear exit door open and its staircase extended. Northwest’s home office objected, on grounds that it was unsafe to take off with the aft staircase deployed. Cooper countered that it was indeed safe, but he would not argue the point; he would lower it himself once they were airborne.  After takeoff, Cooper told Mucklow to join the rest of the crew in the cockpit and remain there with the door closed. As she complied, Mucklow observed Cooper tying something around his waist. At approximately 8:00 pm, a warning light flashed in the cockpit, indicating that the aft airstair apparatus had been activated. The crew’s offer of assistance via the aircraft’s intercom system was curtly refused. The crew soon noticed a subjective change of air pressure, indicating that the aft door was open.  At approximately 8:13 pm, the aircraft’s tail section sustained a sudden upward movement, significant enough to require trimming to bring the plane back to level flight.  At approximately 10:15 pm, Scott and Rataczak landed the 727, with the aft airstair still deployed, at Reno Airport. FBI agents, state troopers, sheriff’s deputies, and Reno police surrounded the jet, as it had not yet been determined with certainty that Cooper was no longer aboard; but an armed search quickly confirmed that he was gone.  Initial extrapolations placed Cooper’s landing zone within an area on the southernmost outreach of Mount St. Helens, a few miles southeast of Ariel, Washington, near Lake Merwin, an artificial lake formed by a dam on the Lewis River.  Search efforts focused on Clark and Cowlitz Counties, encompassing the terrain immediately south and north, respectively, of the Lewis River in southwest Washington.  FBI agents and Sheriff’s deputies from those counties searched large areas of the mountainous wilderness on foot and by helicopter. Door-to-door searches of local farmhouses were also carried out. Other search parties ran patrol boats along Lake Merwin and Yale Lake, the reservoir immediately to its east.  No trace of Cooper, nor any of the equipment presumed to have left the aircraft with him, was ever found.  The FBI also coordinated an aerial search, using fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters from the Oregon Army National Guard, along the entire flight path (known as Victor 23 in standard aviation terminology but “Vector 23” in most Cooper literature.  From Seattle to Reno. While numerous broken treetops and several pieces of plastic and other objects resembling parachute canopies were sighted and investigated, nothing relevant to the hijacking was found.  Shortly after the spring thaw in early 1972, teams of FBI agents aided by some 200 Army soldiers from Fort Lewis, along with Air Force personnel, National Guardsmen, and civilian volunteers, conducted another thorough ground search of Clark and Cowlitz Counties for 18 days in March, and then an additional 18 days in April.  Electronic Explorations Company, a marine salvage firm, used a submarine to search the 200-foot depths of Lake Merwin.  Two local women stumbled upon a skeleton in an abandoned structure in Clark County; it was later identified as the remains of a female teenager who had been abducted and murdered several weeks before.  Ultimately, the search operation—arguably the most extensive, and intensive, in U.S. history—uncovered no significant material evidence related to the hijacking.  In 1978, a placard printed with instructions for lowering the aft stairs of a 727 was found by a deer hunter near a logging road about 13 miles east of Castle Rock, Washington, well north of Lake Merwin, but within Flight 305’s basic flight path.  In February 1980, eight-year-old Brian Ingram, vacationing with his family on the Columbia River at a beach front known as Tina (or Tena) Bar, about 9 miles downstream from Vancouver, Washington and 20 miles southwest of Ariel, uncovered three packets of the ransom cash as he raked the sandy riverbank to build a campfire. The bills were significantly disintegrated, but still bundled in rubber bands. FBI technicians confirmed that the money was indeed a portion of the ransom—two packets of 100 twenty-dollar bills each, and a third packet of 90, all arranged in the same order as when given to Cooper.  In 1986, after protracted negotiations, the recovered bills were divided equally between Ingram and Northwest Orient’s insurer; the FBI retained 14 examples as evidence.  Ingram sold fifteen of his bills at auction in 2008 for about $37,000.  To date, none of the 9,710 remaining bills have turned up anywhere in the world. Their serial numbers remain available online for public search.  Speculation as to how Cooper could have survived, if he survived, motive, etc. continue to frustrate investigators.    The Cooper hijacking marked the beginning of the end for unfettered and unscrutinized airline travel. Despite the initiation of the federal sky marshal program the previous year, 31 hijackings were committed in U.S. airspace in 1972; 19 of them were for the specific purpose of extorting money and most of the rest were attempts to reach Cuba.  In 15 of the extortion cases the hijackers also demanded parachutes.  In early 1973 the FAA began requiring airlines to search all passengers and their bags. Amid multiple lawsuits charging that such searches violated Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, federal courts ruled that they were acceptable when applied universally, and when limited to searches for weapons and explosives.  In contrast to the 31 hijackings in 1972, only two were attempted in 1973.  In the wake of multiple “copycat” hijackings in 1972, the FAA required that all Boeing 727 aircraft be fitted with a device, later dubbed the “Cooper vane,” that prevents lowering of the aft airstair during flight.  Also the electrical components were rewired to include their deactivation once the WOW (weight on wheels) switch opens after take-off. Also mandated as a direct result of the hijacking was the installation of peepholes in all cockpit doors, making it possible for the cockpit crew to observe events in the passenger cabin with the cockpit door closed.

 

And Also On November 24:

1859 Origin of Species is published

1960 Wilt Chamberlain sets NBA rebounds record

 

Battle of St. George Remembered

As mentioned in the previous edition of FOD, the Battle of Tarawa during World War II was fought on 20–23 November 1943.  Just a bit north of the site of that battle, The Battle of Cape St. George was fought on 25 November 1943, between Cape St. GeorgeNew Ireland, and Buka Island (now part of the North Solomons Province in Papua New Guinea). It was the last engagement of surface ships in the Solomon Islands campaign. During the engagement, a force of five US Navy destroyers led by Captain Arleigh Burke interdicted a similar sized Japanese force that was withdrawing from Buka towards Rabaul, having landed reinforcements on the island. In the ensuing fight, three Japanese destroyers were sunk and one was damaged, with no losses amongst the US force.  Americans had landed troops on Bougainville on 1 November 1943, landing troops from the 3rd Marine Division around Torokina. This posed a threat to the Japanese base on Buka Island to the north, and 920 Japanese Army troops were embarked on the destroyers AmagiriYūgiri and Uzuki under the command of Captain Katsumori Yamashiro and were sent to reinforce the garrison, escorted by the destroyers Ōnami and Makinami under the command of Captain Kiyoto Kagawa. The United States Navy learned of the convoy, (likely through a combination of good reconnaissance operations combined with decoding of Japanese messages).  Once spotted by reconnaissance aircraft, observations were sent Captain Arleigh Burke‘s Destroyer Squadron 23 composed of Destroyer Division 45 (Charles Ausburne, (below left), Claxton, and Dyson) under Burke’s direct command and Destroyer Division 46 (Converse and Spence) under the command of Commander Bernard Austin to intercept it. Meanwhile, nine PT boats under Commander Henry Farrow moved into the Buka Passage to engage the Japanese if Burke’s force was unable to make contact.  The Japanese battle plan divided their force into two columns,[7] with the three transport destroyers trailing the two escort destroyers. The American battle plan also divided their force into two columns using tactics devised by Burke and first employed successfully by Commander Frederick Moosbrugger at the Battle of Vella Gulf the previous August. One column would make a torpedo attack while the other took up a supporting position ready to open gunfire as soon as the first column’s torpedo attack struck home.  The Japanese destroyers landed the 920  troops and supplies and embarked 700 Navy aviation personnel being withdrawn as Allied bombing had rendered the airfield at Buka non operational.  The Japanese force was returning to Rabaul when Farrow’s PT boats spotted four of the Japanese ships on their radar just after midnight; however, the PT boats mistook the Japanese vessels for friendly forces and hove to further ashore. Two of the Japanese ships subsequently attacked the PT boats, firing on them and attempting to ram PT-318. They were unsuccessful in scoring any hits, though, while one of the PT boats, PT-64, fired a torpedo which missed its target.  Afterwards, the Japanese destroyers steamed west towards Cape St. George.  Around 01:41, Kagawa’s two screening destroyers were picked up by radar by Burke’s destroyers, which had moved into position between Cape St. George and Buka with Dyson making contact first.  Poor visibility prevented the Japanese from spotting the American ships in turn. Burke elected to use his own division for the torpedo attack. Superior radar allowed the American ships to approach within 5,500 yards and launch their torpedoes at about 01:55 before the Japanese sighted them. Onami was hit by several torpedoes and sank immediately with all hands, including Kagawa. Makinami was hit by one torpedo and disabled.  Burke’s force gained radar contact with the rest of the Japanese force at 13,000 yards soon after launching their torpedoes and turned to pursue; Yamashiro’s three transport destroyers fled north under pursuit by Burke’s division while Converse and Spence from Austin’s division finished off the disabled Makinami with torpedoes and gunfire. Burke’s three destroyers steadily gained on the three heavily laden Japanese destroyers, opening fire upon them with their guns around 02:22, scoring several hits. Uzuki was hit by one dud shell and escaped without significant damage. Amagiri escaped untouched. Around 02:25, the Japanese ships split up and fled in different directions. Burke chose to pursue Yugiri with his entire force and sank her at about 03:28 after a fierce engagement.  By 03:45, the Burke and Austin’s divisions linked up, continuing to push north to pursue the withdrawing Japanese ships.  Burke subsequently called off the attempt at 04:04, low on fuel and ammunition, and needing to withdraw before daylight, when Japanese aircraft would likely begin operations to search for them. In the event, the only aircraft the US ships spotted once daylight came were friendly AirSols P-38 Lightnings.  The battle was represented a significant victory for the Americans and was later described as an “almost perfect action” and Burke was awarded a Navy Cross.  It was the final surface engagement of the Solomon Islands campaign.  Although the Japanese were able to land their troops, and withdraw their supporting personnel, they lost three destroyers sunk and one damaged, without inflicting any losses on the American force.  Amongst the Japanese crews, a total of 647 were killed.  A total of 278 survivors were rescued from Yugiri by the submarine I-177.

 

CNO Admiral Stark Warns COMPACFLT Admiral Kimmel of Potential Japanese Attack

In August 1939, Admiral Harold R. Stark became Chief of Naval Operations. In that position, he oversaw the expansion of the Navy during 1940 and 1941, and its involvement in the Neutrality Patrols against German submarines in the Atlantic during the latter part of 1941.  It was at this time that he authored the Plan Dog memo, which laid the basis for America’s Europe first policy and which I covered in an earlier edition of FOD. He also orchestrated the Navy’s change to adopting unrestricted submarine warfare in case of war with Japan; Stark expressly ordered it at 17:52 Washington time on 7 December 1941, not quite four hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It appears the decision was taken without the knowledge or prior consent of the Government. It violated the London Naval Treaty, to which the U.S. was signatory.  His most controversial service involved the growing menace of Japanese forces in the period before America was bombed into the war by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The controversy centers on whether he and his Director of War Plans, Admiral Richmond K. Turner provided sufficient information to Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, about Japanese moves in the fall of 1941 to enable Kimmel to anticipate an attack and to take steps to counter it. That warning came in the form of a vague message to Admiral Kimmel on November 25, 1941.  Captain (later Rear Admiral) Edwin T. Layton was Kimmel’s chief intelligence officer (later also Adm. Chester W. Nimitz‘s intelligence officer) at the time of the attack. In his book, And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets (1985), Layton maintained that Stark offered meaningless advice throughout this period, withheld vital information at the insistence of his Director of War Plans, Admiral Turner, showed timidity in dealing with the Japanese, and utterly failed to provide anything of use to Kimmel.  John Costello (Layton’s co-author), in Days of Infamy (Pocket, 1994), points out that MacArthur had complete access to both PURPLE and JN-25, plus over eight hours warning, and was still caught by surprise. Moreover, as SCAP official historian Gordon Prange and his colleagues note in December 7, 1941 (McGraw-Hill, 1988), defense of the fleet was General Short‘s responsibility, not Kimmel’s. Turner’s insistence on having intelligence go through War Plans led Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) to a wrong belief that ONI was only to collect intelligence; Turner did not correct this view, nor aid Stark in understanding the problem.  Among others, Morison and Layton agree that Turner was most responsible for the debacle, as does Ned Beach in Scapegoats (Annapolis, 1995). In addition, there was considerable confusion over where Japan might strike, whether against the USA, the Soviet Union, or British colonies in Asia. I’ve read a couple of the accounts above.  Hindsight is always 20 -20.  One conclusion is evident however; senior leadership did not know how to adapt the new technology of code-breaking into practical planning.  Certainly part of the fault lies with extremely tight compartmentalization the code-breaking program was handled, in that so few individuals were allowed to know of capability.  However I believe the failure to properly evaluate Japanese plans lies in how intelligence assets and political figures failed to link the myriad facets of the political and military climate in Japan.  That’s tough to do with certainty.  Contributing to the problem is the fact that the code-breaking was a new and developing science, in its infancy without the highest degrees of reliability or predictability.

 

Some Other Notable Events From November 25:

1783 Last British soldiers leave New York

1990 Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge sinks to the bottom of Lake Washington

1986 Iran-Contra connection revealed

 

Last Flight of the Last Concorde

26 November 2003: Concorde 216, G-BOAF, made the final flight of the Concorde fleet when it flew from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Bristol Filton Airport (FZO) with 100 British Airways employees on board. The aircraft was under the command of Captain Les Brodie, with Chief Pilot Captain Mike Bannister and Captain Paul Douglas, with Senior Flight Engineers Warren Hazleby and Trevor Norcott. The duration of the flight was just over 1 hour, 30 minutes, and included both supersonic and low-altitude segments.  Concorde 216 was the last of twenty Concordes to be built. It was originally registered G-BFKX and made its first flight at Bristol Filton Airport, 20 April 1979. The new airliner was delivered to British Airways 9 June 1980 and was re-registered G-BOAF. “Alpha-Foxtrot” had flown a total of 18,257 hours by the time it completed its final flight. It had made 6,045 takeoffs and landings, and had gone supersonic 5,639 times.  G-BOAF was placed in storage at Filton. It is intended as the centerpiece of Bristol Aerospace Centre, scheduled to open in 2017.

 

LCDR “Butch” O’Hare Killed in Action

26 November 1943: At sunset, Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare,, United States Navy, Commander Air Group 6, took of from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) as part of an experimental three-plane night fighter team. The U.S. Navy task force was operating in the waters northeast of Tarawa, supporting Operation Galvanic (again discussed in the previous edition of FOD). Two Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat fighters of Fighting Squadron TWO (VF-2), piloted by O’Hara and Ensign Warren Andrew Skon, flew formation with a radar-equipped Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bomber, call sign “Tare 97,” flown by Lieutenant Commander John C. (“Phil”) Phillips, commander, Torpedo Squadron 6 (VT-6).  Butch O’Hara was flying his personal airplane, Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat, Bu. No. 66168. The Hellcat was marked with “00” in white on both sides of its fuselage, the traditional identification of an air group commander’s (“CAG”) airplane.  The Avenger’s radar operator would guide the two fighters to intercept the groups of Japanese Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” torpedo bombers that had been making nightly attacks against the ships of Task Force 50.2.  The night fighter team engaged several enemy bombers, with the TBF’s pilot, Phillips, credited with shooting down two G4Ms with his Avenger’s two forward-firing .50-caliber machine guns. O’Hare and Skon both fired on other enemy bombers with their Hellcats’ six machine guns.  At about 7:30 p.m., the TBF was flying at about 1,200 feet (365 meters), staying below the cloud bases, while the two F6Fs rejoined the formation. The TBF’s gunner, Al Kernan, saw both Hellcats approaching to join on the the Avenger’s right wing. When O’Hara was about 400 feet away, the gunner saw a third airplane appear above and behind the two fighters.  A Japanese G4M opened fire on O’Hara’s fighter with its 7.7 mm (.303-caliber) nose-mounted machine gun. Kernan returned fire with the TBF’s turret-mounted .50-caliber machine gun. The G4M quickly disappeared into the darkness.  Butch O’Hara’s F6F was seen to turn out of the formation, passing to the left underneath Skon’s fighter. Skon called O’Hara by radio but there was no response. The CAG’s Hellcat went into a dive then disappeared in the darkness. Skon tried to follow O’Hara, but had to pull out at about 300 feet (90 meters) to avoid crashing into the ocean.  Neither O’Hara or his airplane were ever seen again. He is believed to have gone into the water at 7:34 p.m., 26 miles north-northwest of the carrier Enterprise.  O’Hare graduated from  the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland and appointed an Ensign on June 3, 1937, he served two years on board the battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40). In 1939, he started flight training at NAS Pensacola in Florida, learning the basics on Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-1 “Yellow Peril” and Stearman NS-1 biplane trainers, and later on the advanced SNJ trainer.  O’Hare’s most famous flight occurred during the Pacific War on February 20, 1942. LT O’Hare and his wingman were the only U.S. Navy fighters available in the air when a second wave of Japanese bombers were enroute to attack his aircraft carrier Lexington.  Butch O’Hare was on board the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, (below right) which had been assigned the task of penetrating enemy-held waters north of New Ireland. While still 450 miles from the harbor at Rabaul, at 10:15, the Lexington picked up an unknown aircraft on radar 35 miles from the ship. A six-plane combat patrol was launched, two fighters being directed to investigate the contact. These two planes, under command of Lieutenant Commander John Thach shot down a four-engined Kawanishi H6K4 Type 97 (“Mavis“) flying boat about 43 miles out at 11:12.  At 16:49, the Lexington’s radar picked up a second formation of Bettys from 1st Chutai of 4th Kōkūtai only 12 miles out, on the disengaged side of the task force, completely unopposed. The carrier had only two Wildcats left to confront the intruders: Butch and his wingman “Duff” Dufilho. As the Lexington’s only protection, they raced eastward and arrived 1,500 feet above eight attacking Bettys nine miles out at 17:00. Dufilho’s guns were jammed and wouldn’t fire, leaving only O’Hare to protect the carrier. The enemy formation was a V of Vs flying very close together and using their rear-facing guns for mutual protection. O’Hare’s Wildcat, armed with four 50-caliber guns, with 450 rounds per gun, had enough ammunition for about 34 seconds of firing.  In fact, O’Hare destroyed only three BettysNitō Hikō Heisō Tokiharu Baba’s from 3rd Shotai, Ittō Hikō Heisō Susumu Uchiyama’s (flying at left wing of the leading V, 1st Shotai) and the leader of the formation, Shōsa Takuzo Ito’s. This last (flying on the head of leading V) Betty’s left engine was hit at the time it dropped its ordnance. Its pilot Hikō Heisōchō Chuzo Watanab tried to hit Lexington with his damaged plane. He missed and flew into the water near Lexington at 1712. Another two Bettys were damaged by O’Hare’s attacks. Ittō Hikō HeisōKodji Maeda (2nd Shotai, left wing of V) safely landed at Vunakanau airdrome and Ittō Hikō Heisō Bin Mori was later shot down by LT Noel Gayler (“White F-1”, VF-3) when trying to escape 40 miles from Lexington.  With his ammunition expended, O’Hare returned to his carrier, and was fired on accidentally but with no effect by a .50-caliber machine gun from the Lexington. O’Hare’s fighter had, in fact, been hit by only one bullet during his flight, the single bullet hole in F-15’s port wing disabling the airspeed indicator. According to Thach, Butch then approached the gun platform to calmly say to the embarrassed anti-aircraft gunner who had fired at him, “Son, if you don’t stop shooting at me when I’ve got my wheels down, I’m going to have to report you to the gunnery officer.”  By shooting down five bombers O’Hare became a flying ace, was selected for promotion to lieutenant commander, and became the first naval aviator to receive the Medal of Honor. With President Franklin D. Roosevelt looking on, O’Hare’s wife Rita placed the Medal around his neck. After receiving the Medal of Honor, then-Lieutenant O’Hare was described as “modest, inarticulate, humorous, terribly nice and more than a little embarrassed by the whole thing.”  O’Hare received further decorations later in 1943 for actions in battles near Marcus Island in August and subsequent missions near Wake Island in October.  As a tribute to Butch O’Hare, on September 19, 1949, the Chicago-area Orchard Depot Airport was renamed O’Hare International Airport. A training F4F Wildcat similar to the one flown by Butch O’Hare was restored after recovery from Lake Michigan. It is currently on display in Terminal 2 of the O’Hare International Airport.  I always make a point of visiting this display when I’m at O’Hare running from plane to plane.

 

 

Kidō Butai Combined Japanese Armada Leaves Japan For Operation AI

Not so coincidentally and referencing Admiral Stark’s warning to Admiral Kimmel discussed above on November 26, 1941, a Japanese task force (the Striking Force) of six aircraft carriers—AkagiKagaSōryūHiryūShōkaku, and Zuikaku—departed Hittokapu Bay on Kasatka (now Iterup) Island in the Kurile Islands, under the greatest of secrecy, enroute to a position northwest of Hawaii, intending to launch its 408 aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941: 360 for the two attack waves and 48 on defensive combat air patrol (CAP), including nine fighters from the first wave.  The commander-in-chief of the First Air Fleet, the IJN′s main aircraft carrier force, is Admiral Chūichi Nagumo largely due to his seniority. Many contemporaries and historians have doubted his suitability for this command, given his lack of familiarity with naval aviation.  The first wave was to be the primary attack, while the second wave was to attack carriers as its first objective and cruisers as its second, with battleships as the third target.  The first wave carried most of the weapons to attack capital ships, mainly specially adapted Type 91 aerial torpedoes which were designed with an anti-roll mechanism and a rudder extension that let them operate in shallow water.  The aircrews were ordered to select the highest value targets (battleships and aircraft carriers) or, if these were not present, any other high value ships (cruisers and destroyers). First wave dive bombers were to attack ground targets. Fighters were ordered to strafe and destroy as many parked aircraft as possible to ensure they did not get into the air to intercept the bombers, especially in the first wave. When the fighters’ fuel got low they were to refuel at the aircraft carriers and return to combat. Fighters were to serve CAP duties where needed, especially over U.S. airfields.

 

And On November 26:

1941 FDR establishes modern Thanksgiving holiday

1922 Archaeologists enter tomb of King Tut

1942 Casablanca premieres in NYC

 

Your Christmas List

Now I know all of you have been hitting the stores, looking for those Black Friday bargains and checking on line to see if you can find the very best of everything.  I found a couple of items you’re going to need to include on your list to Santa.

First this is the way to impress all your fishing buddies:

PowerVision PowerRay underwater drone

This underwater drone can submerge up to 98 feet (30 meters) and records 4K video streamed to your phone, which you use to navigate. Not impressed? OK, with its add-on Fishfinder sonar it can detect fish up to 131 feet (40 meters) away and lures them with a blue light. Still not wowed? PowerVision will be offering VR goggles that allow you to robot around by tilting your head.

In Stock.

Want it Wednesday, Nov. 29? Order within 8 hrs 21 mins and choose Two-Day Shipping at checkout. Details

Ships from and sold by eDigitalUSA.

  • The Best Underwater Drone! Great for Fishing, Exploring, Mapping, Treasure Hunting, Studying Marine Life or Recording for Film Projects.
  • 4K UHD Video, 1080p Real-Time Streaming- 98′ Depth Rating, 210′ Tether
  • See & Record in 4K UHD the Underwater World from Boat
  • PowerSeeker Fishfinder & Bait Drop Line
  • 12MP Photos, 5-fps Burst Mode

 

AND

 

New Hot Sexy Shampoo And Shower Gel Breast Soap Dispenser Gadgets Shower Breasts

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Price: $15.91 & FREE Shipping

Get it as soon as Dec. 1 – 6 when you choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.

Ships from and sold by Brother Momo.

  • Type: Liquid Soap Dispensers
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  • Quantity: 1 piece

New (16) from $15.90 & FREE shipping.

 

AND

 

RainBowl Motion Sensor Toilet Night Light – Funny Unique Gift Idea for Him, Her, Men, Women & Birthday Kid – Cool New Fun Gadget, Best Gag Christmas Present

 

Price: $16.95 Free Shipping for Prime Members
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Sold by RainBowl and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

  • FUN AND SAFETY GO HAND IN HAND. You must know that feeling when, woken up by nature’s call you’re lying there in bed, planning out your bathroom trip. Whether you’re stressed about turning on the blinding lights, bumping into stuff (FYI, there are yearly over 30.000 toilet related injuries in the US alone) or worried about waking up your better half, RainBowl is the BEST SOLUTION.
  • FLAWLESS SENSORS set off the motion activated nightlight only during nighttime, when you and your family need it most and in order to SAVE ENERGY RainBowl will stay on for just 2 minutes after last detected movement. THE STURDY ADJUSTABLE ARM allows a hassle-free installation on ANY TOILET BOWL. Forming a firm grip around the toilet rim, it makes sure the lighting accessory STAYS SNUG, without dropping whenever you raise or lower the toilet seat. So easy.
  • THE MULTI COLOR CAROUSEL will entertain your child while POTTY TRAINING. Simply by pressing a single button your toddler can choose to freeze his / her favorite rainbow shade and, if he / she gets bored, press again to switch back to the SMOOTH COLOR TRANSITIONING mode. The LED lamp at the end of the rod is encased in FULL ABS PLASTIC preventing water damage from casual splashes. However, please be gentle.
  • DON’T KEEP ALL THE AWESOMENESS TO YOURSELF! Hands down, have you ever seen a more versatile and unusual GIFT IDEA? Random mugs and other boring presents are ancient history! Whether it’s your mom & dad’s anniversary, a co-worker’s retirement or you’re attending a Secret Santa exchange party, this novelty item brings a smile to everybody’s face and unlike other gag gifts, this smart device will also prove USEFUL. How’s that for a stocking stuffer?
  • BUY WITH CONFIDENCE. Last but not least, we’d like to assure you that our product is of TOP-NOTCH QUALITY and SUPERIOR DURABILITY. To support our claims we offer LIFETIME WARRANTY to our customers. If anything goes wrong with the device, we GUARANTEE its replacement. Simply write us and we’ll take care of the rest! Or get in touch anyway, we won’t bite.

 

From the land of strange tattoos here are a couple that need captions

 

And some unusual facts

And I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

 

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 20th through 22nd, 2017

Friends of FOD – Happy Thanksgiving

 

COD Aircraft Crashes in Philippine Sea

A U.S. Navy C-2 Greyhound engaged in Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft carrying 11 people crashed in the Philippine Sea south of Japan on Wednesday as it flew to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and three people were missing.  “Search and rescue efforts for three personnel continue with U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships and aircraft on scene,” the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a news release.  The C-2 has had a good safety record and has not been involved in a fatal accident since 1973 and has been in service for more than fifty years.

 

 

 

North Korea Back On The List As A State Sponsor of Terrorism

I was a bit surprised North Korea was not already on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.  President Trump announced on 21 November his administration would redesignate North Korea to this category which carries with it additional sanctions (how many more can there be?).  So, practically speaking this redesignation is more symbolic than practical, as the most serious sanctions have already been put in place, and to date those sanctions have not had the desired effect of persuading North Korea to either abandon or negotiate regarding their nuclear weapons program.  The North spent 20 years on that list before being removed in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration for meeting nuclear inspection requirements. Pyongyang later violated the agreement.  In a speech to the South Korean national assembly two weeks ago, Trump cited atrocities carried out by the Kim regime and called the North “a hell that no person deserves.” Among other acts, Kim’s regime stands accused of carrying out the assassination of his half brother, Kim Jong Nam, with a chemical nerve agent at a Malaysian airport in February.  “Importantly, this is just continuing to point out North Korea’s illicit, unlawful behaviors internationally,” United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the White House daily briefing Monday. “And we felt it was important to reimpose the designation for that reason.”  Tillerson cited other recent sanctions from the United States and the United Nations on the North and added that the redesignation “continues to tighten the pressure on the Kim regime, all with an intention to have him to understand, ‘This is just going to get worse until you’re ready to come and talk.'”  Iran, Sudan and Syria also are on the list, which is administered by the U.S. Department of State. According to that agency, sanctions for those nations on the list include “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.”

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 20th through 22nd, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 12th through 15th 2017

Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger Win Rookie of the Year Awards

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge and Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger won the Rookie of the Year Awards unanimously in their respective leagues, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 30: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees follows through on a second inning infield single against the Cleveland Indians in the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on August 30, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Judge, 25, hit .284/.422/.627 with 52 home runs, 114 RBI, and 128 runs scored in 678 plate appearances. He led the American League in home runs, runs scored, and walks (127). Judge made the AL All-Star team during the summer and just took home a Silver Slugger Award. He’s a major contender for the AL MVP Award as well.  Judge is the first Yankee to win the Rookie of the Year Award since Derek Jeter in 1996.

 

Robert Mueller Can Now Close Down Russian Investigation

In May 2017,  Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel to oversee the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, one of several investigations looking into the matter.  Mueller can now close down that investigation because after chatting with former KGB agent and now President of Russia Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit President Trump is contradicting the overwhelming consensus among current and former U.S. officials that the Russian leader tried to manipulate the 2016 election.  In a 26-minute question-and-answer session with reporters aboard Air Force One, the president managed to dismiss probes into whether his campaign colluded with Russia as an “artificial Democratic hit job,” said he believed Putin was being sincere when he insisted that Russia did not attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, and warned that the continued focus on Russian election meddling risks lives.  I was worried there for a while that perhaps Russia didn’t respect us or value our way of life.  So now I guess we can close down Mueller’s Russian investigation and get on with the real work of the Administration, that of giving a tax break to corporations as well as the wealthiest tax payers.  And let’s create more ciaos in the health care system that will result in people paying more for health care no matter who they are.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 12th through 15th 2017”