FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 04 through 06, 2017

News Friends of FOD:

I had dinner with some old friends and new Friends of FOD Jennifer and Charlie when I was down in CA last week.  They put me in contact with a new Friend of FOD Judy Ann, who has agreed to lend her professional help to make the comments and the subscription pieces work.

Assad – You’re Fired

After initially calling the Assad regime a reality of life, the Trump administration has come out to say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons attack on his own people in Syria.  Tonight, 06 April, 59 cruise missiles from the USS Porter (DDG-78) (photo left) and the USS Ross (DDG-71) targeted the Shayrat Airfield’s aircraft and infrastructure.  That airfield is said to have been the site from which Assad’s forces launched the nerve gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.   This is said to be a measured response, and likely signals a change in the strategy toward the complex civil war in Syria.


Secretary of State Would Include Taliban In Afghanistan Settlement

I was more than just a bit surprised when I read Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments to our NATO allies in Brussels on Friday.  He said, “The ongoing commitment of NATO allies and partners to peace in Afghanistan, including to an eventual settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban, protects this alliance’s interests, and, when successful, ensures that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.”  While I believe it important to assure our friends and foes alike of our long term commitment to Afghanistan, we’re no longer in a stalemate, we’re losing.  In the words of DoD Secretary Mattis, Russia has become a “strategic competitor” and has established links with the Taliban and is providing weapons to the Taliban.  Wake up people!  And wouldn’t it be nice if the Trump administration actually nominated individuals for Secretary of the Navy as well as Secretary of the Army.


President Trump’s Political Naiveté Shows

A news story is out today, April 4th discussing a meeting arranged by the United Arab Emirates between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin.  The meeting was held January 11th, nine days prior to Trump’s inauguration in the Seychelles(Map right and really cool looking clock in Seychelles below).  It sounds as if the general purpose of the meeting was to establish a back-channel line of communication between Trump and Putin.  Prince had no official position in Government or in the Trump transition team. He was just one of those $250,000 contributors to the Trump campaign and thus has ties with Trump’s inner circle of mega-buck-no-political-experience-wannabes.  This meeting will no doubt be sucked in to the greater FBI and Congressional investigations into Russian involvement in the general election.   And an OBTW, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said Thursday, 06 April, he will temporarily step aside from the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election after coming under harsh criticism.  Prince, with his past ties to his own security firm’s clandestine work (well known for its abuses in Iraq and criminal conviction of killing Iraqi civilians in a crowded Iraqi square) should have been able to carry out this mission, but alas you can’t be seen entering and leaving Trump Tower and then believe your travel itinerary is not going to be discovered and your movements followed.  Back channel lines of communication can be valuable and are an accepted foreign relations vehicle these days.  However your naiveté shows when you attempt to establish one, knowing every Government agency and every US news agency is searching for evidence of a Russian connection to the US election.  Too soon boys.  What were you thinking?  Yes, politics and foreign policy, like health care is a lot more complicated than some/most in the administration thought it might be.


Navy Instructor Pilots Refusing To Fly Due To Safety Concerns

In the most recent edition of FOD I mentioned pilots strongly desire to see better aircraft maintainability.    More than 100 US Navy instructor pilots are refusing to fly the T-45 because of continued and persistent physiological events involving the OBOGS (On-Board Oxygen Generating System) according to a Fox News report Tuesday.   OBOGS has been around since the 1980’s.  The OBOGS takes filtered engine bleed air and passes it through a molecular sieve which traps the nitrogen allowing the highly enriched oxygen gas (product gas) to flow to the aircrew.  The breathing mixture is usually around 95% O2 and 5% argon.  Most systems use a “two bed” system using Zeolites, as a nitrogen absorbing material.  The beds operate in a serial fashion.  Overtime the operating bed becomes saturated with N2 and the system switches to the other bed.  The bed not being used is then purged using excess product gas that is vented overboard. A controller is supposed to monitor the PPO2 level in the product gas and adjust the cycling of the beds to produce the desired O2 concentration.  However levels of contaminants or partial pressures of other gasses within the product gas are not detected/measured and/or displayed.  Cobham and Honeywell both manufacture OBOGS systems.  An OBOGS system malfunction can lead to histotoxic hypoxia, disorientation and/or loss of consciousness, resulting in loss of the crew and/or the aircraft.

160423-YB023-N-023 ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 23, 2016) – A T-45C Goshawk from Training Air Wing 2, prepares to perform a touch-and-go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). Washington, homeported in Norfolk, is underway conducting carrier qualifications in the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Clemente A. Lynch/Released)

In addition to the T-45, several other military platforms have experienced OBOGS issues in recent years including the F/A-18, F-22 and F-35.  Recently the T-45 oxygen systems issues have escalated significantly.  Reportedly last week a student in VT-86 had to “dragged out” of his aircraft after he became “incapacitated.”  Last August a flight instructor and student ejected near Kingsville, TX after both suffered hypoxia symptoms.  NAVAIRSYSCOM (Naval Air Systems Command) seems to be downplaying the severity of the issue.  The pilots are using their best judgment, not flying and speaking out.  An update – The Navy has decided to conduct a two-day safety stand-down to engage pilots and hear their concerns while simultaneously evaluating the engineering aspects of the OBOGS issue.  While it’s very important to address the former it’s imperative to address the latter.  NAVAIRSYSCOM fix this!


NAVY Buys More P-8A Poseidon Aircraft

The US Navy has signed up for the next installment of P-8A purchases, according to a Boeing news releaseThe $2.2 billion contract is for seventeen aircraft and includes eleven aircraft for the US Navy, four additional Australian aircraft and the first two UK aircraft.  Good job guys!  Hey, that’s me in the P-8A and Friend of FOD Bart in the P-3 over NAS Patuxent River.


NATO Treaty Signed

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) treaty was signed in Washington DC on 04 April, 1949.  Representatives from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal joined the United States in signing the NATO agreement.  Today there are 28 independent member countries.  Three NATO members (the United StatesFrance and the United Kingdom) are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and are officially nuclear-weapon statesFor the most part NATO has worked fairly well blunting efforts by the former Soviet Union and members of the Warsaw Pact to spread totalitarian governments.  Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty, requiring member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, was invoked for the first and only time after the September 11 attacks.  At the 2014 Wales summit, the leaders of NATO’s member states reaffirmed their pledge to spend the equivalent of at least 2% of their gross domestic products on defense.  In 2015, five of its 28 members met that goal.




Charles Darwin Sends Origin of Species to Publishers

Well aware of the many downsides related to the publication of heretofore radical ideas caused Charles Darwin to delay publishing his theory of natural selection for many years.  But on 05 April 1859 he forwarded his first three chapters of his On the Origin of Species, to his publishers.  In it he describes the struggle for existence as one similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.
Much of his research was developed over two decades following his five-year voyage on HMS Beagle.  His journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.  Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history, and he was honored by burial in Westminster AbbeyWhile reading the Patrick O’Brian 20-novel Aubrey-Maturin series, from which the film  Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is based, I’m always imagining the Stephen Maturin character, a destitute physician and naturalist whom Aubrey appoints as his naval surgeon is developing and/or contributing to Darwin’s natural selection theory.  There is scant evidence to support the theory that indeed Charles Darwin may or may not have been developed much of his theory at Darwin’s Theory, 426 G Street in Anchorage, AK.  When the next Friend of FOD is there, please check the scrapbook again to see if his photo appears.  I keep looking, but haven’t found it.  And of course this place needs to be on every Friend of FOD’s bucket list.






Presidential Veto Makes News 

On 05 April 1792, President George Washington  vetoed the first Apportionment Bill, establishing the number of members of the House of Representatives that would have increased the number of seats for northern states.  It was the first use of the veto by a US president.  His Vice President, Thomas Jefferson, urged that Washington veto it because “it was unconstitutional and introduced principles that were liable to be abused in the future.” A few days later, on April 14, 1792, Washington signs the Apportionment Act of 1792, setting  the number of members of the United States House of Representatives at 105, effective with the 3rd Congress on March 4, 1793, and established that a number of representatives would be allotted to each state based upon the population enumeration provided by the 1790 Census.  Washington only used his veto power one additional time during his presidency.


Athens Hosts Olympics 

On April 6, 1896, the modern Olympic Games open in Athens, Greece some 1500 years after they were banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I . Their creation was inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD.

Jesse Owens on the Olympic platform for the long jump, Berlin, 1936

Baron Pierre de Coubertin (below) founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, leading to the first modern Games in Athens in 1896. Those first modern games brought together 14 nations and 241 athletes competing in 43 events. 


Today nearly every nation in the world in represented and he games have expanded to include the Winter Games, Paralympics and Youth Games.




Shiloh, Bloody Shiloh 

Prior to the April 6-7, 1862 the Battle of Shiloh, the Army of the Tennessee under Major General Ulysses S. Grant (below left) had moved via the Tennessee River deep into Tennessee and was encamped principally at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee on the west bank of that river.  The Confederate Army of Mississippi, under General Albert Sidney Johnston and second-in-command Pierre G. T. Beauregard, (below right) launched a surprise attack on Grant’s army from its base in Corinth, Mississippi. Johnston was killed in action during the fighting; Beauregard, who thus succeeded to command of the army.   On April 6, the Confederates attempted to drive the Union forces away from the river and into Owl Creek to the west, their right flank in the hope they could defeat Grant’s forces before he could be reinforced by General Don Carlos Buell‘s (below left) Army of the OhioHowever the battle lines became confused and the Union forces during fierce fighting fell back to the northeast, toward Pittsburg Landing.  A Union position on a slightly sunken road, nicknamed the “Hornet’s Nest,” defended by the men of Brig. Gens. Benjamin Prentiss‘s and William H. L. Wallace‘s divisions, provided critical time for the remainder of the Union line to stabilize under the protection of numerous artillery batteries. Wallace was mortally wounded when the position collapsed, while several regiments from the two divisions were eventually surrounded and surrendered. General Johnston was shot in the leg and bled to death while personally leading an attack. Beauregard, his second in command, acknowledged how tired the army was from the day’s exertions and decided against assaulting the final Union position that night.  Tired but un-fought and well organized men from Buell’s army and a division of Grant’s army arrived in the evening of April 6 and helped turn the tide the next morning, when the Union commanders launched a counterattack along the entire line. Confederate forces were forced to retreat from the area, ending their hopes of blocking the Union advance into northern Mississippi. The Battle of Shiloh was the bloodiest battle in American history up to that time, although it was superseded the next year by the Battle of Chancellorsville and, soon after, the three-day Battle of Gettysburg, which would prove to be the bloodiest of the war.


Winning the War by Rail

In this third installment of key individuals from the Civil War, Herman Haupt deserves a nod.  He was born in poverty in Pennsylvania, worked part-time to pay for school tuition at age 12, and secured an appointment to  the United States Military Academy at the age of 14 by President Andrew Jackson. He graduated in 1835 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Infantry that July.  He served only two months before resigning his commission to take a position as Assistant Engineer for surveys for a Pennsylvania railroad.  I guess at that time that other trade school didn’t have minimum age requirements for appointment or for service after graduation.  In 1839 he designed and patented a novel  bridge construction technique known as the Haupt Truss.  Two of his Haupt truss bridges still stand in Altoona and Ardmore, Pennsylvania, both from 1854.  Haupt was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on September 5, 1862, but he officially refused the appointment, explaining that he would be happy to serve without official rank or pay, but he did not want to limit his freedom to work in private business (and he privately bridled at the protocols and discipline of Army service).  But during his tenure with the U.S. War Department he organized a new bureau responsible for constructing and operating military railroads in the United States, the US Military Railroad.  (Photo right shows him on the hill supervising work outside Richmond).  The Civil War was one of the first wars in which large-scale railroad transportation was used to move and supply armies rapidly over long distances. He assisted the Union Army of Virginia and Army of the Potomac in the Northern Virginia Campaign, the Maryland Campaign, and was particularly effective in supporting the Gettysburg Campaign, conducted in an area he knew well from his youth. His hastily organized trains kept the Union Army well supplied, and he organized the returning trains to carry thousands of Union wounded to hospitals. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Haupt boarded one of his trains and arrived at the White House on July 6, 1863, being the first to inform President Lincoln that General Robert E. Lee‘s defeated Confederate army was not being pursued vigorously by Union Major General George G. Meade.  By war’s end, the US Military Railroad was the largest rail network in the world.


Baseball Is Here 

At long last baseball season has begun.  Annie Savoy, in Bull Durham, at the end of the movie speaks to the audience, saying, “Walt Whitman once said, ‘I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.’ You could look it up.”  (photo Whitman right).  Well I did look it up.  First let me express my opinion that Bull Durham is greatest baseball movie ever made.
And I’m not alone in that opinion.  Sports Illustrated ranked it the #1 Greatest Sports Movie of all time. The Moving Arts Film Journal ranked it #3 on its list of the 25 Greatest Sports Movies of All-Time. In addition, the film is ranked #55 on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies.”  (Mickey Mantle below, just because).  However, DID Walt Whitman really say that?  According to  WikiQuote, it is written:

This has been widely attributed to Whitman, and no one else, but without definite source. It has sometimes been cited as being from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (sometimes with a date of 23 July 1846), where Whitman had been an editor, but its presence on that date is not apparent in the online historical archives of that publication.”  So did Ron Shelton, writer/director of Bull Durham make it up?  The quote doesn’t appear in Whitman’s writings, but he did work as a reporter and as an editor at newspapers in Brooklyn in the 1840’s and 50’s where baseball was becoming a professional sport and was at the same time when he was crafting his Leaves of Grass.  Horace L. Traubel was a devoted follower of Whitman’s work and began regular visits with him in the 1880’s up through his death in 1892.  Notes of those visits were published in 3 volumes prior to Traubel’s death in 1919.  From his work With Walt Whitman in Camden, vol. 2 (stated by Whitman in September 1888) there is this:  “I like your interest in sports ball, chiefest of all base-ball particularly: base-ball is our game: the American game: I connect it with our national character. Sports take people out of doors, get them filled with oxygen generate some of the brutal customs (so-called brutal customs) which, after all, tend to habituate people to a necessary physical stoicism. We are some ways a dyspeptic, nervous set: anything which will repair such losses may be regarded as a blessing to the race.”  And in a later conversation reported by Traubel, he quotes Whitman as saying, “Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic! That’s beautiful: the hurrah game! well—it’s our game: that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game: has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere—belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”  So it’s a paraphrase of a relayed quote.  I think its good enough to be called a strike.


1 thought on “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 04 through 06, 2017”

Comments are closed.