FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 12th through 15th 2018

Saying of the Day

You matter… Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light … then you’re energy.

 

China Thinks US Is Insecure Regarding China

One of the missions of the US Navy is to keep lines of communication and transportation open throughout the world for all the world’s nations and economies.  It’s much easier to break or interfere with those lines of communication and transportation than it is to maintain them.  I saw this in Asia TimesThe United States has a sense of insecurity that is “beyond comprehension”, according to China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. He made that remark on Wednesday while refuting claims by the US National Intelligence director that the US faces multiple threats from China.  “I don’t know why the United States has such a strong sense of insecurity,” Geng said at a press conference. He said there was “no such thing as absolute security” and one country’s security could not be achieved at the expense of others.  Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday February 13 that the US is confronted with multiple threats by countries like Russia and China – cyber-threats, espionage, and weaponization of outer space.  He said Russia, China, Iran and North Korea posed the greatest global cyber-threats.  “Frankly, the United States is under attack,” said Coats (below left).  Coats noted that US adversaries and “malign actors”, including Russia and China, would use several tactics, including cyber and information warfare to challenge US influence around the world. But Coats devoted most of his remarks at the hearing to Moscow’s meddling in US elections.  The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, in response, urged the US to discard its confrontational, zero-sum-game mindset and make concerted efforts with China, Russia and other members of the international community to “correspond with the trend of the times.”  Global conflict was higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War.  “The US is the No.1 major power in the world with unparalleled military might. If it constantly thinks that it’s threatened hither and thither, what would other countries feel? How could they even survive in that case?” Geng retorted.  Concerns about China in regard to security, however, have gained steam. FBI Director Christopher Wray also told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Beijing has been aggressively planting spies on US campuses.  And last week, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida wrote to five Florida institutions and asked them to shut down joint programs with China’s Confucius Institute, a Beijing-funded exchange scheme to set up centers overseas to promote Mandarin and Chinese culture. The centers have come into a media glare in recent years amid suspicions of espionage and an erosion of academic freedom in host countries in the West.  So do we need to be concerned regarding threats from China.  You’re damn right we do!

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 12th through 15th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 14th through 18th 2018

Saying of the Day

Id est quod id est.   It is what it is, but it sounds a lot smarter in Latin.

 

Five Officers Referred To An Article 32 Hearing

In an extremely rare event, the Navy has decided to charge five officers with negligent homicide for their roles in the two fatal ship collisions, the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) (being moved aboard MV Treasure below left) and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62).  In the early morning hours of 17 June 2017, the USS Fitzgerald (also being moved below right) was involved in a collision with the container ship MV ACX Crystal, seriously damaging the destroyer. Seven of Fitzgerald‘s crew were killed. Several others were injured, including her commanding officer, Commander Bryce Benson. The John S. McCain was involved in a collision with the merchant ship Alnic MC on 21 August 2017 off the coast of Singapore, which resulted in the deaths of ten of her crew, and left another five injured. I don’t recall a case in recent Navy history where accident at sea has triggered such criminal charges.  Navy Times is reporting The Navy on Tuesday laid out the charges that would be presented at what is called an Article 32 hearing, which will determine whether the accused will go to trial in a court-martial. No doubt paving the way for the severe charges was the significant loss of life in the two collisions.  “What’s different here is the loss of life,” said Eugene Fidell, an expert in military law who teaches at Yale Law School. “The victims’ families are obviously devastated by this, the Navy obviously feels it has an obligation to them as well to its own standards.”  The Fireball guess would be the cases will end with plea bargains and the officers are more likely to be dismissed from the service, lose their retirement or receive other administrative punishments.  Again according to Navy Times, in one of the few relatively recent similar cases, two Marine officers were tried on charges of negligent homicide and manslaughter for piloting a small twin-engine military plane into a cable holding a gondola in Italy in 1998. The wing of the twin-engine Prowler was flying too low when it sliced through the cable, sending 20 civilians in the cable car plummeting to their deaths. The two officers were found not guilty of those charges, but were later found guilty of obstruction of justice for destroying a video taken during the flight.  (There were a number of issues in this case which certainly warranted dismissal of the charges).  Commanders involved in other ship collisions have largely avoided any type of homicide or manslaughter charges.  In the case of the Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision on 9 February 2001, Greenville (SSN-772) conducting an emergency main ballast tank blow off the coast of Oahu while hosting several civilian “distinguished visitors”, mainly donors to the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the Greeneville struck the 191-foot (58 m) Japanese fishery high school training ship Ehime Maru (えひめ丸), causing the fishing boat to sink in less than ten minutes with the death of nine crew members, including four high school students.  The commander of the Greeneville, Commander Scott Waddle, accepted full responsibility for the incident. However, after he faced a court of inquiry, it was decided a full court-martial would be unnecessary and Commander Waddle’s request to retire was approved for 1 October 2001 with an honorable discharge.  The Navy said Wednesday that preliminary hearings for the five officers charged in the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions will likely be held in the coming weeks in the Washington, D.C., region, but exact locations and dates are not set yet. The hearing officer will decide whether there is enough evidence for the cases will go to a trial by court-martial and what specific charges will be brought against the officers, based on that evidence.  The maximum punishment for negligent homicide is three years in prison and dismissal from the Navy. For a conviction on that charge, Fidell said, prosecutors must prove the officer was guilty of “simple negligence” that resulted in the deaths.  In addition to the negligent homicide charge, several officers are also facing charges of dereliction of duty and endangering a ship. The maximum punishment for the dereliction of duty charge is three months in jail, and the maximum punishment for endangering a vessel is two years in jail.  The Navy conducted a series of investigations and reviews into the two collisions, concluding that the accidents were the result of poor judgment, bad decision-making and widespread training and leadership failures by the commanders and crew who didn’t quickly recognize and respond to unfolding emergencies.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 14th through 18th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 28th through 31st 2017

New Year’s Resolutions

Resolutions don’t work because they imply that you’re not ALREADY trying to accomplish them. A healthy, well-balanced, successful life should be the standard every day of every year of your entire life. It should never appear out of the blue as a random resolution on some special day. It has to be a lifestyle.  They also don’t work because they’re focused on outer superficial things that you have no control over. Losing weight is superficial. Being a healthy person is foundational. Values are much more powerful than goals. Goals are superficial. Values are fundamental. Goals are directional. Values are the drivers. If you have a goal to lose weight but don’t value health and vanity, I promise you failure. Did I say vanity? I meant just health. People dieting and “trying to lose weight” aren’t skinny—at least they don’t stay that way for long. Healthy people dedicated to respecting their bodies are skinny.  What does all the mean?  I’ll have a beer and think about it!

Good resolutions are:

Lose weight, exercise more, eat better

Make more money, save more money, spend less money

Find meaningful work, work less, take more vacations.  Don’t use the same excuses for not working you used this past year

Stay the course or change course

Read more books, listen to your favorite music, and attend live performances

Volunteer, get involved, contact your elected officials and express your views

Take up a new hobby.  Consider procrastination. OK maybe later.

Realize that God loves me, and that beer is the proof of that love.

Start buying lottery tickets at a luckier store.

Pick up FOD whenever it comes out, send you comments in. Forward it to two friends and ask them if they like it to subscribe – it’s free!

Stay close to your friends and to those you love.  Always kiss goodnight.

Happy New Year!

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 28th through 31st 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 22 through 27, 2017

Friends of FOD

Christmas vacation came along and I had to give my entire staff time off.  How unfair was that?

 

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out”

I trust every Friend of FOD had a great Christmas and enjoyed repeated watching of the classic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story.  It’s a 1983 movie set in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s in which the adult story teller is reminiscing on one particular Christmas when he was nine years old. Ralphie Parker wanted only one thing for that Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Ralphie’s desire is rejected by his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and even a Santa Claus at Higbee’s department store, all giving him the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”  While we all remember the Old Man wins a “major award” in a contest.  The major award turns out to be a lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg wearing a fishnet stocking.  It was derived from the logo for Nehi (pronounced “knee-high”) pop, a popular soft drink of the period.  The Old Man is overjoyed by the lamp, but Mrs. Parker does not like it and a feud over it — referred to by adult Ralphie as “The Battle of the Lamp” — develops and results in the lamp’s “accidental” destruction.  I have the working replica of that major award lamp and the Red Ryder Carbine 200 shot Range Model air rifle because you never know when Black Bart may show up in your backyard.  Early in the movie, Ralphie, tells us, “Some men are Baptist, others Catholic; my father was an Oldsmobile man.” Although the Olds, a 1937 four-door sedan, was seen throughout the movie, usually covered in snow, its biggest role was during the family outing to pick up a Christmas tree. After the Old Man skillfully negotiated the price of the tree, and it was tied to the top of the car, the family began their trek back home, singing Christmas Carols along the way. However, the merriment was interrupted when the Oldsmobile blew a tire. The Old Man’s prediction, that he would change the tire in record time (four minutes), unfortunately this wasn’t realized, when the lug nuts, held by Ralphie, were knocked into the air. Without thinking, Ralphie said, “Oooh fuuudge!” He, of course, didn’t really say the word fudge.  He said the big one; the queen mother of dirty words, the f _ _ _ word.  OK, here’s some car trivia:  What engine was in that ’37 Olds?  Answer:  Why the straight six of course as distinguished by the front horizontal bar grill.  The eight cylinder model had a mesh grill design.  In a stretch of events, times and places, Air Force Times is reporting One of the Silver State’s most unusual and exclusive hunts is now under way at the Nevada Test and Training Range, where 15 hunting tags have been issued in three mountain ranges normally off-limits to the public.  For most big-game hunts in Nevada, all you need to do is buy a hunting license and get drawn for a tag.  For the trophy ram hunt on the test and training range, hunters and their helpers must pass a criminal background check, submit a full inventory of their firearms, vehicles and optical equipment, and take part in a mandatory safety briefing so they don’t accidentally blow themselves up or shoot their eye out!  This year’s safety briefing took place at the Clark County Shooting Complex. The hunt began at sunrise Saturday, Dec. 16 and lasts through sunset Jan. 1.  As part of those preparations, military personnel swept the roads and designated campsites for unexploded ordnance, put up signs and blocked some side roads to keep hunters out of target areas where explosive material and other hazards are likeliest to be found.  Each hunting party is provided with a detailed map showing where it can and cannot go — distinctions that have more to do with safety than national security.  And everyone who goes on the range has to pass the same background check and only the tag holder is allowed to shoot. How did all my Cast & Blast hunters miss out on this one?

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 22 through 27, 2017”

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