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.

Philippines and Vietnam Disregard Trump Offer to Mediate South China Sea Disputes

In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt offered to mediate a treaty to end the Russo-Japanese War. The parties agreed to meet in PortsmouthNew Hampshire and they resolved the final conflict over the division of Sakhalin– Russia took the northern half, and Japan the south; Japan also dropped its demand for an indemnity.  Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts in bringing about the Treaty of PortsmouthGeorge E. Mowry concludes that Roosevelt handled the arbitration well, doing an “excellent job of balancing Russian and Japanese power in the Orient, where the supremacy of either constituted a threat to growing America”.  Apparently however this president’s offer to mediate the long-standing territorial disputes in the South China Sea I have addressed in previous editions of FOD is neither respected nor wanted.  The South China Morning Post is reporting The maritime disputes have long been a sore point in China’s relations with the United States, Vietnam and other Asia-Pacific countries, with Beijing insisting the disagreements must be resolved through negotiations with the countries directly involved, and Washington, which is not a claimant, has no role to play in the talks.  Trump’s offer in Hanoi on Sunday came just hours before Xi started his second state visit in three years to the former communist ally, which has emerged in the past year as the most vocal opponent of China’s expansive claims and militarization of artificial islands in the contested waters.  “If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know,” Trump said at a meeting in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang. “I’m a very good mediator and arbitrator.” Like his hard-line speech on Friday to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Da Nang, where he lashed out at China’s “territorial expansion”, Trump acknowledged again that China’s position on the South China Sea was a problem.  But his Vietnamese counterpart did not respond directly to Trump’s offer.  Instead, Quang said: “It is our policy to settle disputes in the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations” with “respect for diplomatic and legal process in accordance with international law.”  Beijing’s claim to the energy-rich South China Sea covers almost 90 per cent of the waters and overlaps those of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.  Beijing’s claim to the energy-rich South China Sea covers almost 90 per cent of the waters and overlaps those of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.  Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was equally wary of confrontation, saying the dispute was “better left untouched.”  “We have to be friends. The other hotheads would like us to confront China and the rest of the world on so many issues,” Duterte said, returning home from APEC to host the Asian and East Asia summits in Manila. “The South China Sea is better left untouched, nobody can afford to go to war.”  Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that while he would not speak for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Manila would continue its bilateral negotiation with Beijing.  “We thank [Trump]. It’s a very kind and generous offer because he is a good mediator. He is the master of the art of the deal,” Cayetano said. “Not one country can just give an instant reply because mediation involves all of the claimants and non-claimants.”  The South China Sea is a busy and important waterway where about 30 per cent of global maritime trade and about half of all global oil tanker shipments pass through annually.  Trump’s take on China in Vietnam was a sharp change in tone from just days earlier in Beijing where the US leader boasted of his personal bond with Xi and avoided confrontation in public on contentious issues, including the South China Sea.  Observers said that sudden shift was a reality check for US-China relations.  They said Trump’s remarks, which gave few clues as to what he planned to do next, would reinforce Beijing’s suspicion that Washington intended to meddle in South China Sea affairs and stir trouble to contain China.  Despite Beijing’s repeated protests, the Trump administration has carried out four freedom-of-navigation patrols close to Chinese-controlled islands this year, including one last month.  “China does not want the US to mediate in the South China Sea disputes because of its concerns about US meddling,” said Wu Xinbo, a US affairs specialist at Fudan University in Shanghai.  Wu said Washington had refused to heed Beijing’s concerns and cease the patrols, and Trump’s latest remarks on the maritime disputes seemed to be an attempt to stoke tensions to counter China’s expanding influence in the region.  “Vietnam has pinned its hopes on Washington to rein in China, and Trump’s latest offer shows they are colluding on the South China Sea issue,” he said.  Hanoi’s warming ties with Washington and its surging anti-China sentiment will also hamper Xi’s fence-mending visit to Vietnam. In July, China pressured Vietnam to stop drilling for oil in a disputed area, taking relations to a low. Xi’s last visit in 2015 was overshadowed by violent anti-Beijing protests over another oil stand-off in the South China Sea the previous year.


President Trump Sidesteps Questions Regarding Human Rights in Philippines

 The Washington Examiner is reporting President Trump laughed when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called members of the press “spies” after being asked about human rights as the two leaders met at the ASEAN Summit in Manila on Monday.  Media were allowed in the room for a photo opportunity after Trump and Duterte had delivered opening remarks for their a bilateral meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center.  Trump touted their “great relationship” and spoke briefly on the weather when the press attempted to ask Trump whether he had raised the issue of human rights with Duterte, whose brutal drug war crackdown has left thousands of alleged drug dealers and users dead. Duterte previously said he would tell Trump to “lay off” if asked about human rights.  Duterte quickly dismissed the question and chided the press.  “Whoa, whoa,” Duterte said. “This not a press statement. This is the bilateral meeting.”  He went on to say, “We will be discussing matters that are of interest to both the Philippines and … with you around, guys, you are the spies,” according to a press pool report in which the journalists present said was rendered with a “high level of confidence.”  “Hah, hah, hah,” Trump said while laughing, the pool report continued.  “You are,” Duterte added before the press were ushered out of the room. Duterte also hinted that there could be a press conference following their bilateral meeting.  Notably, the White House version of the leaders’ remarks to the press said the reporter’s question, which the press pool report stressed was about human rights, was “inaudible.”  Asked about the substance of their meeting, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said human rights “briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs.” She said the conversation was focused on the Islamic State, illegal drugs, and trade.  The Philippine government disagreed, saying, “the issue of human rights did not arise,” according to NBC News’ Peter Alexander.  Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said recently when asked if Trump would broach the issue of human rights during his trip, that Trump does possess a “very strong” stance on the matter.  Duterte has not been so receptive to criticism in the past, calling former President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” after he condemned Duterte for killing people without due process.  Trump “does it quietly,” McMaster said. “What does it help to yell about these problems? The president has done quite a bit and will continue to do more.”  Trump’s relationship with the press is not so quiet. He constantly calls news outlets he views as biased or unfair “fake news.”  Unmentioned in these discussions was progress on the Trump Tower Manila.  Trump Tower Manila, also known as Trump Tower at Century City, is a residential building located in MakatiMetro ManilaPhilippines. The Trump Tower Manila showroom opened in early 2012, although the company has said that unit reservations started in September 2011.  Groundbreaking of the building began in June 2012, with a scheduled opening in November 2017.  Construction was nearly finished as of November 2016. The $150 million tower will stand 57 stories high upon completion.  The building will be located at the Century City mixed-use complex in Makati Poblacion and would be one of the tallest buildings in the Philippines.  Century City Development Corp., a unit of Century Properties Group, will be developing the residential skyscraper with the brand name and mark under license from American real estate mogul and President of the United States Donald Trump, Trump Marks Philippines LLC.



Spain Warns EU Partners of Russian Meddling in Catalan Separatist Movement

Those pesky Russians are not just attempting to influence elections in the US, but are really undertaking a world-wide program to sow seeds of dissention within any western country.   Madrid stopped short of blaming the Kremlin of outright interference in Spain’s domestic affairs. But there is growing evidence that the Kremlin feels empowered by sowing divisions in Europe and the United States.  Spain warned its European partners Monday that a disinformation campaign aimed at sowing dissent in the country appears to be emanating from Russia.  Speaking about the separatist movement in Spain’s northeast region of Catalonia, Spanish Defense Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal told journalists “many of the actions come from Russian territory.”  But she stopped short of accusing the Russian government outright, saying it is not yet possible to determine the exact source.  She added that some of the misinformation is “repeated from Venezuelan territory.”  The Spanish government recently dissolved the Catalan regional government and called a snap election for December 21. The move comes after the Catalan government held an independence referendum at the start of October.  The plebiscite had been banned by the government and ruled unconstitutional by a court.  Madrid has jailed several former Catalan ministers and is seeking the extradition of others, including former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium after Madrid dissolved his government.  The former regional leaders are facing charges of sedition, rebellion and extortion, and could spend up to 30 years in jail if convicted.  De Cospedal refused to speculate about what impact the disinformation campaign may have on the upcoming election, or how large the fake news campaign might be.  The number, she said, “is changing every day. The figure cannot be specified.”  Earlier, Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis revealed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had met with a prominent Catalan independence figure. The minister said there are signs that Assange and others “are trying to interfere (in) and manipulate” the Catalan crisis.  Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past five years fearing extradition to the US or Sweden, where he potentially faces unrelated criminal charges.  WikiLeaks and Russia are under suspicion for their roles in last year’s US election. The website orchestrated a drip-drip campaign of negative email leaks against Hillary Clinton. On a daily basis the website released negative emails about the Democratic Party and its candidate in the weeks leading up to the November election.   The Spanish government has not made public any evidence that would substantiate its claim of Russian interference. But while Madrid has stopped short of accusing the Kremlin outright, the European Union’s strategic communications unit, known as East StratCom Task Force, recently revealed multiple instances of disinformation coming from Kremlin-backed news organizations.


Canadian Air Chief Wants to Fast Track Fighter Buy

Defense News is reporting The RCAF wants to procure 88 fighter jets to replace its current inventory of aging 76 F/A-18 Hornets, which are nearing the end of their lifespan.  Canada is an international participant in the F-35 joint strike fighter program and has helped pay for the development of the aircraft. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed not to procure the F-35 during his campaign, and his government has opened up the competition to industry instead of moving forward with a sole-source acquisition. The Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Boeing Super Hornet and Saab’s Gripen E are all projected to compete for the opportunity.  To bridge the gap between its Hornet fleet and a future fighter, the RCAF initially intended to procure 18 F/A-18 Super Hornets from Boeing — a move some analysts speculated could trigger a larger procurement later on. However, the Canadian government suspended the deal due to Boeing’s legal complaint against Canadian aerospace company Bombardier over its commercial business.  I talked about this in FOD in a past edition.  With a Super Hornet buy unlikely as long as Boeing and Bombardier feud, and Trudeau’s promise not to buy the F-35, U.S. defense experts worry that Canada could be driven into the arms of a European fighter manufacturer, thus eroding Canada’s long tradition of flying U.S. jets — a move that increases the militaries’ interoperability.  However, Hood stated that interoperability with the United States continues to be “the most important thing to me as command of the Royal Canadian Air Force.”  “Every step less of interoperability is one step less of effectiveness, so interoperability is right at the top of the list beside operational advantage,” he said. “I want the young men and women that are going to be flying fighters into harm’s way to have an operational advantage, and that will be key to me in the competition that’s coming.”  That need for interoperability with the U.S. Air Force does not diminish the chances of European fighters, he added.  Canada continues to investigate alternative ways to acquire an interim fleet of F/A-18s, including potentially buying used Hornets from Australia. However, a potential deal for Super Hornets with Boeing is still on the table, Hood said.  The Fireball opinion is that Boeing should endeavor to settle the claim against Bombardier.


Japan Sending Ships and Planes To Participate In Three Carrier Strike Group Exercise – Well Not So Fast

On Monday November 13, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force of JMSDF said that three of its ships and aircraft from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force or JASDF will join in the exercises to be held off the East China Sea and Sea of Japan.  The three JMSDF ships participating in the exercise are the helicopter destroyer JS Ise (DDH 182) and destroyers JS Inazuma (DD 105) and JS Makinami (DD 112). In addition two Mitsubishi F-15J Eagle interceptors from the JASDF’s  6 th Air Wing from Komatsu Airbase will also be involved.  In the last edition of FOD, I pointed out the three US Navy carrier strike groups would be conducting a joint exercise in the western Pacific as President Donald Trump wraps up a multi-country Asia visit this week.  The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) is permanently based in Japan as part of 7th Fleet, and it was joined recently in the command’s waters by the carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Nimitz (CVN-68), with their armada of warships and aircraft will be participating.  Well not so fast.  According to Japanese and South Korean diplomatic sources, the proposal to include Japan’s Self-Defense Forces was met with resistance from Seoul, possibly out of concern for relations with China.  Instead, the U.S. and South Korean navies began a four-day bilateral military exercise on Saturday.  While the proposal was welcomed in Tokyo, the South Korean government refused to accept Japanese participation, citing public sentiment among other reasons. Maybe that little issue of World War II remains.  Over 1 million Koreans were used as forced labor by Japan during that conflict,and thousands of Korean women used as sex slaves.  Seoul is seemingly ill at ease with the deployment of Japan’s SDF in waters close to the Korean Peninsula.  A spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday that no joint military drills involving all three countries had been planned.  Seoul also expressed reservations about Japan taking part in joint exercises conducted by the U.S., South Korea and Australia off the island of Jeju on Nov. 6 and 7. The drills were designed to simulate the interception of nuclear-related materials destined for North Korea.  Some experts have suggested South Korea’s reluctance over Japan’s participation is down to a desire to mend fences with China. The South Korean government has announced that military cooperation with Japan and the U.S. will not develop into an alliance.  Meanwhile, North Korea warned Monday that the unprecedented deployment of three U.S. aircraft carrier groups “taking up a strike posture” around the Korean Peninsula is making it impossible to predict when nuclear war will break out.  North Korea’s U.N. ambassador, Ja Song Nam, said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres that the joint military exercises with South Korea are creating “the worst ever situation prevailing in and around the Korean Peninsula.”  Along with the three carrier groups, he said, the U.S. has reactivated round-the-clock sorties with nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bombers “which existed during the Cold War times.”  “The large-scale nuclear war exercises and blackmails, which the U.S. staged for a whole year without a break in collaboration with its followers to stifle our republic, make one conclude that the option we have taken was the right one and we should go along the way to the last,” Ja said.  He didn’t elaborate on what “the last” might be, but North Korea has launched ballistic missiles that have the potential to strike the U.S. mainland, and it recently conducted its largest-ever underground nuclear explosion. It has also threatened to explode another nuclear bomb above the Pacific Ocean.  The four-day joint naval exercises by the U.S. and South Korea, which began Saturday in waters off the South’s eastern coast, were described by military officials as a clear warning to North Korea. They involve the carrier battle groups of the USS Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz, which include 11 U.S. Aegis ships that can track missiles, and seven South Korean naval vessels.


Captain Thomas J. Hudner Jr, USN Ret and Medal of Honor Winner Passes 

A former U.S. Navy captain and pilot who received the Medal of Honor for his heroics during the Korean War died on November 12, 2017. Thomas Hudner Jr. was 93.  Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services Secretary Francisco Urena announced Hudner’s death Monday. Hudner was the former commissioner of the department.  Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Korean War in 1950 after his plane came under enemy fire and he crash-landed in an unsuccessful effort to save the life of his wingman and friend, Ensign Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first black combat pilot.  I believe I covered this story in a previous edition of FOD.  Hudner watched this year as the USS Thomas Hudner, a destroyer, was christened at Bath Iron Works in Maine. Last year, 50 Navy petty officers serenaded Hudner outside his Concord home on his 92nd birthday.



All Honorably Discharged Vets Can Now Shop Online

As of November 11, ALL honorably-discharged veterans are now eligible to shop online at any of the four Exchange systems (NEX, MCX, AAFES, and CGX).  This is only for online shopping.  Check out: for more details.


Boeing Bullish On KC-46 Sales Abroad

This time of year there is always a considerable amount of information coming out of the Dubai Air Show.  Despite stiff competition from Airbus, Boeing is confident its KC-46 will ultimately gain a foothold in the Middle East, a company executive said Monday.  “We’ll obviously be talking to those customers out there that have refueling capability today or may have expressed an interest in air refueling capability going forward. In the Middle East, that covers a number of different countries,” Gene Cunningham, Boeing’s vice president of global sales, said during a Nov. 13 briefing at the Dubai Airshow.  However, there are reasons to believe Boeing’s success in the region may be difficult. For one, it will be going up against Airbus’ A330. Boeing’s KC-46 beat the A330 for the U.S. Air Force’s tanker program after a hard-fought, controversial battle, but Airbus’s plane has already finished development and captured customers in the region such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.  Meanwhile, the KC-46’s development has been beset by schedule delays and cost overruns, which — due to the nature of Boeing’s fixed-price contract with the Air Force — Boeing has been forced to cover. So far, Boeing has racked up $1.9 billion in post-tax charges, making international sales all the more important for eventually making the program profitable.  Cunningham acknowledged that the KC-46 has a lot to prove, but said that once the Air Force begins operating the platform, other countries will follow.  “I think what you’re going to find is that as the KC-46 comes into operation, once again you will see the unique capabilities, the advanced capabilities that are represented on the airplane,” he said.  “The airplane that will be released to the Air Force is going to make those performance and operational elements work for the operator, and I think the issues that you’ve seen in the testing process are exactly that: issues that have come up in the testing process and are being resolved as we move forward with the program. So it is a question of put the aircraft out there, show the operation and — like the other Boeing aircraft that have been out there — the performance will speak for itself.”  I’m not pleased to say this, but I’m betting there are going to be other development hurdles to overcome before the KC-46 can be delivered and made operational.


Lt. Theodore G. Ellyson Makes First Cat Shot

Lieutenant Theodore G. Ellyson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1905.  He acquired the nicknamed “Spuds”, was the first United States Navy officer designated as an aviator (“Naval Aviator No. 1″). In December 1910, Ellyson was ordered to North Island, San Diego, California for instruction in aviation under Glenn Curtiss. And on November 12, 1912 he made the first successful launch of an airplane (A-3) by catapult at the Washington Navy Yard.  Ellyson served in the experimental development of aviation in the years before and after World War I. He also spent several years before the war as part of the Navy’s new submarine service. A recipient of the Navy Cross for his antisubmarine service in World War I, Ellyson died in 1928 when his aircraft crashed over the Chesapeake Bay.


Plan Dog Memorandum Submitted To SecNav

On November 12, 1040, The Plan Dog memorandum was a 1940 American government document written by Chief of Naval Operations Harold Rainsford Stark, (below right) and has been called “one of the best known documents of World War II“.  Confronting the problem of an expected two-front war against Germany and Italy in Europe and Japan in the Pacific, the memo set out the main options and suggested fighting a defensive war in the Pacific while giving strategic priority to defeating Germany and Italy. The memo laid the basis for the later American policy of Europe first.  During the Interwar period, the Joint Planning Committee (which later became the Joint Chiefs of Staff) devised a series of contingency plans for dealing with the outbreak of war with various countries. The most elaborate of these, War Plan Orange, dealt with the possibility of war with Japan.  In light of the events of the late 1930s (the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the German conquest of Poland and Western Europe) American planners realized that the United States faced the possibility of a two-front war in both Europe and the Pacific. War Plan Orange was withdrawn, and five “Rainbow” plans were put forward. Unlike the earlier colored plans which had assumed a one-on-one war, the Rainbow plans contemplated possibility of fighting multiple enemies, and the necessity of defending other western hemisphere nations and aiding Britain.  The memorandum built upon the conditions described in the Rainbow Five war plan. It described four possible scenarios for American participation in World War II, lettered A through E:

A – War with Japan in which [the United States] would have no allies

B – War with Japan in which [the United States] would have the British Empire … as [an] ally.

C – War with Japan in which she is aided by Germany and Italy, and in which [the United States] is or is not aided by allies.

D – War with Germany and Italy in which Japan would not initially be involved, and in which [the United States] would be allied with the British.

E – […] consider the alternative of now remaining out of the war, and devoting […] to exclusively building up […] defense of the Western Hemisphere.

The memorandum, which was submitted to Roosevelt on November 12, 1940, recommended option D, from which it gets its name (“Dog” was D in the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet).

“I believe that the continued existence of the British Empire, combined with building up a strong protection in our home areas, will do most to ensure the status quo in the Western Hemisphere, and to promote our principal national interests. As I have previously stated, I also believe that Great Britain requires from us very great help in the Atlantic, and possibly even on the continents of Europe or Africa, if she is to be enabled to survive. In my opinion Alternatives (A), (B), and (C) will most probably not provide the necessary degree of assistance, and, therefore, if we undertake war, that Alternative (D) is likely to be the most fruitful for the United States, particularly if we enter the war at an early date. Initially, the offensive measures adopted would, necessarily, be purely naval. Even should we intervene, final victory in Europe is not certain. I believe that the chances for success are in our favor, particularly if we insist upon full equality in the political and military direction of the war.”

The memo also suggested that until hostilities broke out, the US should adopt policy A:

Until such time as the United States should decide to engage its full forces in war, I recommend that we pursue a course that will most rapidly increase the military strength of both the Army and the Navy, that is to say, adopt Alternative (A) without hostilities.  “The strategy of Plan Dog gained the support of the army and implicitly of President Roosevelt, though he never formally endorsed it. Thus at the end of 1940 a powerful consensus for strategic focus on Germany developed at the highest levels of the American government. At a meeting on January 17, 1941, Roosevelt concluded that the primary objective must be maintenance of the supply lines to Britain and ordered the navy to prepare for the escort of convoys.”  A few weeks after the Attack on Pearl Harbor, at the Arcadia Conference, the United States adopted the recommendations of the memo in the form of the “Europe first” policy. Although the United States did not go entirely on the defensive in the Pacific as the memo recommended, throughout the war the European theater was given higher priority in resource allocation.  The memorandum was declassified in February, 1956. 


Some Other Events From November 12:

1954 Ellis Island closes

1864 The destruction of Atlanta begins

1980 Voyager I flies near Saturn


Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dedicated

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982.  The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 57,939 Americans who died in the conflict,

arranged in order of death, not rank, as was common in other memorials.  The designer of the memorial was Maya Lin, a Yale University architecture student who entered a nationwide competition to create a design for the monument. Lin, born in Ohio in 1959, was the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Many veterans’ groups were opposed to Lin’s winning design, which lacked a standard memorial’s heroic statues and stirring words. However, a remarkable shift in public opinion occurred in the months after the memorial’s dedication. Veterans and families of the dead walked the black reflective wall, seeking the names of their loved ones killed in the conflict. Once the name was located, visitors often made an etching or left a private offering, from notes and flowers to dog tags and cans of beer.  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial soon became one of the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital. A Smithsonian Institution director called it “a community of feelings, almost a sacred precinct,” and a veteran declared that “it’s the parade we never got.” “The Wall” drew together both those who fought and those who marched against the war and served to promote national healing a decade after the divisive conflict’s end.


Naval Battle of Guadalcanal

Friends of FOD: I know this story is a bit long, but I thought it provides some details as to what veterans of a past generation accomplished and the sacrifices they made to ensure we have the freedoms we enjoy today.  The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal sometimes referred to as the Third and Fourth Battles of Savo Island, the Battle of the Solomons took place from 12–15 November 1942, and was the decisive engagement in a series of naval battles between Allied (primarily American) and Imperial Japanese forces during the months-long Guadalcanal Campaign in the Solomon Islands during World War II. The action consisted of combined air and sea engagements over four days, most near Guadalcanal and all related to a Japanese effort to reinforce land forces on the island. The only two U.S. Navy admirals to be killed in a surface engagement in the war were lost in this battle.  Allied forces landed on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942 and seized an airfield, later called Henderson Field, that was under construction by the Japanese military. There were several subsequent attempts by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy, using reinforcements delivered to Guadalcanal by ship, to recapture the airfield, which ultimately failed. In early November 1942, the Japanese organized a transport convoy to take 7,000 infantry troops and their equipment to Guadalcanal to attempt once again to retake the airfield. Several Japanese warship forces were assigned to bombard Henderson Field with the goal of destroying Allied aircraft that posed a threat to the convoy. Learning of the Japanese reinforcement effort, U.S. forces launched aircraft and warship attacks to defend Henderson Field and prevent the Japanese ground troops from reaching Guadalcanal.  The IJN warship force was commanded from Hiei by recently promoted Vice Admiral Hiroaki Abe.  In early November 1942, Allied intelligence learned that the Japanese were preparing again to try to retake Henderson Field in another attempt.  Therefore, the U.S. sent Task Force 67 (TF 67)—a large reinforcement and re-supply convoy, split into two groups and commanded by Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner—to Guadalcanal on 11 November. The supply ships were protected by two task groups—commanded by Rear Admirals Daniel J. Callaghan and Norman Scott—and aircraft from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.  The transport ships were attacked several times on 11 and 12 November near Guadalcanal by Japanese aircraft based at Buin, Bougainville, in the Solomons, but most were unloaded without serious damage. Twelve Japanese aircraft were shot down by anti-aircraft fire from the U.S. ships or by fighter aircraft flying from Henderson Field.  Abe’s warship force assembled 70 nmi north of Indispensable Strait and proceeded towards Guadalcanal on 12 November with an estimated arrival time for the warships of early morning of 13 November. The convoy of slower transport ships and 12 escorting destroyers, under the command of Raizo Tanaka, began its run down “The Slot” (New Georgia Sound) from the Shortlands with an estimated arrival time at Guadalcanal during the night of 13 November.  In addition to the battleships Hiei (Abe’s flagship) and Kirishima, Abe’s force included the light cruiser Nagara and 11 destroyers (SamidareMurasameAsagumoTeruzukiAmatsukazeYukikazeIkazuchiInazumaAkatsukiHarusame, and Yūdachi).  Three more destroyers (ShigureShiratsuyu, and Yūgure) would provide a rear guard in the Russell Islands during Abe’s foray into the waters of “Savo Sound” around and near Savo Island off the north coast of Guadalcanal that would soon be nicknamed “Ironbottom Sound” as a result of this succession of battles and skirmishes.  U.S. reconnaissance aircraft spotted the approach of the Japanese ships and passed a warning to the Allied command.  Thus warned, Turner detached all usable combat ships to protect the troops ashore from the expected Japanese naval attack and troop landing and ordered the supply ships at Guadalcanal to depart by the early evening of 12 November. Callaghan was a few days senior to the more experienced Scott, and therefore was placed in overall command.   Callaghan prepared his force to meet the Japanese that night in the sound. His force consisted of two heavy cruisers (San Francisco and Portland), three light cruisers (HelenaJuneau, and Atlanta), and eight destroyersCushingLaffeySterettO’BannonAaron WardBartonMonssen, and Fletcher. Admiral Callaghan commanded from San Francisco.  At about 01:25 on 13 November, in near-complete darkness due to the bad weather and dark moon, the ships of the Imperial Japanese force entered the sound between Savo Island and Guadalcanal and prepared to bombard Henderson Field with the special ammunition loaded for the purpose.  The ships arrived from an unexpected direction, coming not down the slot but from the west side of Savo Island, thus entering the sound from the northwest rather than the north.  Unlike their American counterparts, the Japanese sailors had drilled and practiced night fighting extensively, conducting frequent live-fire night gunnery drills and exercises. This experience would be telling in not only the pending encounter, but in several other fleet actions off Guadalcanal in the months to come.  Several of the U.S. ships detected the approaching Japanese on radar, beginning at about 01:24, but had trouble communicating the information to Callaghan due to problems with radio equipment, lack of discipline regarding communications procedures, and general inexperience in operating as a cohesive naval unit.  Messages were sent and received but did not reach the commander in time to be processed and used. With his limited understanding of the new technology, Admiral Callaghan wasted further time trying to reconcile the range and bearing information reported by radar with his limited sight picture, to no avail. Lacking a modern Combat Information Center (CIC), where incoming information could be quickly processed and co-ordinated, the radar operator was reporting on vessels that were not in sight, while Callaghan was trying to coordinate the battle visually, from the bridge.  (Post battle analysis of this and other early surface actions would lead directly to the introduction of modern CICs early in 1943.)  Several minutes after initial radar contact the two forces sighted each other, at about the same time, but both Abe and Callaghan hesitated ordering their ships into action. Abe was apparently surprised by the proximity of the U.S. ships, and with decks stacked with high explosive (rather than armor penetrating) munitions, was momentarily uncertain if he should withdraw to give his battleships time to rearm, or continue onward. He decided to continue onward.  Callaghan apparently intended to attempt to cross the T of the Japanese, as Scott had done at Cape Esperance, but—confused by the incomplete information he was receiving, plus the fact that the Japanese formation consisted of several scattered groups—he gave several confusing orders on ship movements, and delayed too long in acting.  The U.S. ship formation began to fall apart, apparently further delaying Callaghan’s order to commence firing as he first tried to ascertain and align his ships’ positions.  Meanwhile, the two forces’ formations began to overlap as individual ship commanders on both sides anxiously awaited permission to open fire.  At 01:48, Akatsuki and Hiei turned on large searchlights and illuminated Atlanta only 3,000 yd away—almost point-blank range for the battleship’s main guns. Several ships on both sides spontaneously began firing, and the formations of the two adversaries quickly disintegrated.  Realizing that his force was almost surrounded by Japanese ships, Callaghan issued the confusing order, “Odd ships fire to starboard, even ships fire to port,” though no pre-battle planning had assigned any such identity numbers to reference, and the ships were no longer in coherent formation.  Most of the remaining U.S. ships then opened fire, although several had to quickly change their targets to attempt to comply with Callaghan’s order.  As the ships from the two sides intermingled, they battled each other in an utterly confused and chaotic short-range mêlée in which superior Japanese optic sights and well-practiced night battle drill proved deadly effective. Afterward, an officer on Monssen likened it to “a barroom brawl after the lights had been shot out.”  At least six of the U.S. ships—including LaffeyO’BannonAtlantaSan FranciscoPortland, and Helena—fired at Akatsuki, which drew attention to herself with her illuminated searchlight. The Japanese destroyer was hit repeatedly and blew up and sank within a few minutes.  Perhaps because it was the lead cruiser in the U.S. formation, Atlanta was the target of fire and torpedoes from several Japanese ships—probably including NagaraInazuma, and Ikazuchi—in addition to Akatsuki. The gunfire caused heavy damage to Atlanta, and a type 93 torpedo strike cut all of her engineering power.  The disabled cruiser drifted into the line of fire of San Francisco, which accidentally fired on her, causing even greater damage. Admiral Scott and many of the bridge crew were killed.  Without power and unable to fire her guns, Atlanta drifted out of control and out of the battle as the Japanese ships passed her by. The lead U.S. destroyer, Cushing, was also caught in a crossfire between several Japanese destroyers and perhaps Nagara. She too was hit heavily and stopped dead in the water.  At 0148, in almost pitch darkness, San Francisco opened fire on an enemy cruiser 3,700 yd off her starboard beam. At 0151, she trained her guns on a small cruiser or large destroyer 3,300 yd off her starboard bow. Then in an attempt to locate other targets, San Francisco accidentally targeted AtlantaSan Francisco‘s gunfire caused extensive damage to Atlanta, killing Admiral Scott and most of Atlanta‘s bridge crew. Belatedly, San Francisco realized she was firing on a “friendly” ship and ceased fire. The green dye that San Francisco used to distinguish her shells from those of other ships, was later found stained on Atlanta‘s superstructure before she sank. Shortly thereafter, Hiei was sighted and taken under fire, at an initial range of only 2,200 yd.  At about 0200, San Francisco trained her guns on Kirishima. At the same time, she became the target of Nagara off her starboard bow and of a destroyer which had crossed her bow and was passing down her port side. The enemy battleship joined the cruiser and the destroyer in firing on San Francisco whose port 5 in (130 mm) battery engaged the destroyer but was put out of action except for one mount. The battleship put the starboard 5 in (130 mm) battery out of commission. San Francisco swung left while her main battery continued to fire on the battleships which, with the cruiser and the destroyer, continued to pound San Francisco. (photo right shows San Francisco being hit).  A direct hit on the navigation bridge killed or badly wounded all officers, except for the communications officer, Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless.  Command fell to the damage control officer, Lieutenant Commander Herbert E. Schonland, but he thought his own efforts were needed to keep the ship “afloat and right-side up”, so he ordered McCandless to stay at the conn. Steering and engine control were lost and shifted to Battle Two. Battle Two was out of commission by a direct hit from the port side. Control was again lost.  Control was reestablished in the conning tower, which soon received a hit from the starboard side. Steering and engine control were temporarily lost, then regained. All communications were now dead.  Soon thereafter, the enemy ceased firing. San Francisco followed suit and withdrew eastward along the north coast of Guadalcanal.  77 sailors, including Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan and Captain Cassin Young, had been killed. 105 had been wounded. Of seven missing, three were subsequently rescued. The ship had taken 45 hits. Structural damage was extensive, but not fatal. No hits had been received below the waterline. Twenty-two fires had been started and extinguished.  At about 0400, San Francisco, all her compasses out of commission, joined Helena and Juneau and followed them through Sealark Channel to sail to Espiritu Santo for initial repairs.  At about 1000, the cruiser Juneau‘s medical personnel transferred to San Francisco to assist in treating the numerous wounded. An hour later, Juneau took a torpedo on her port side from I-26, striking in the vicinity of the bridge. “The entire ship seemed to explode in one mighty column of brown and white smoke and flame which rose easily a thousand feet in the air. The Juneau literally disintegrated.” San Francisco was hit by several large fragments from Juneau. One man was hit, both his legs were broken. Nothing was seen in the water after the smoke lifted. The surviving ships were ordered to keep going without stopping to look for survivors. Unfortunately, the survivors of Juneau were forced to wait eight days for rescue while floating in the ocean, undergoing intense shark attacks. Only ten survived.  As you may recall the USS Juneau’s causalities included the five Sullivan brothers, who were killed in action as a result of its sinking.  Analyzing the impact of this engagement, historian Richard B. Frank states:

“This action stands without peer for furious, close-range, and confused fighting during the war. But the result was not decisive. The self-sacrifice of Callaghan and his task force had purchased one night’s respite for Henderson Field. It had postponed, not stopped, the landing of major Japanese reinforcements, nor had the greater portion of the (Japanese) Combined Fleet yet been heard from.”

Although the reinforcement effort to Guadalcanal was delayed, the Japanese did not give up trying to complete the original mission, albeit a day later than originally planned. On the afternoon of 13 November, Tanaka and the 11 transports resumed their journey toward Guadalcanal.  The 8th Fleet cruiser force, under the command of Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, included the heavy cruisers ChōkaiKinugasaMaya, and Suzuya, the light cruisers Isuzu and Tenryū, and six destroyers. Mikawa’s force was able to slip into the Guadalcanal area uncontested, the battered U.S. naval force having withdrawn. Yamamoto ordered Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondō, commanding the Second Fleet at Truk, to form a new bombardment unit around Kirishima and attack Henderson Field on the night of 14–15 November.  Kondo’s force approached Guadalcanal via Indispensable Strait around midnight on 14 November, and a quarter moon provided moderate visibility of about 3.8 nm.  The force included Kirishima, heavy cruisers Atago and Takao, light cruisers Nagara and Sendai, and nine destroyers, some of the destroyers being survivors (along with Kirishima and Nagara) of the first night engagement two days prior. Kondo flew his flag in the cruiser Atago.  Low on undamaged ships, Admiral William Halsey, Jr., detached the new battleships Washington and South Dakota, of Enterprise‘s support group, together with four destroyers, as TF 64 under Admiral Willis A. Lee to defend Guadalcanal and Henderson Field. It was a scratch force; the battleships had operated together for only a few days, and their four escorts were from four different divisions—chosen simply because, of the available destroyers, they had the most fuel.  The U.S. force arrived in Ironbottom Sound in the evening of 14 November and began patrolling around Savo Island. The U.S. warships were in column formation with the four destroyers in the lead, followed by Washington, with South Dakota bringing up the rear. At 22:55 on 14 November, radar on South Dakota and Washington began picking up Kondo’s approaching ships near Savo Island, at a distance of around 20,000 yd.  Kondo split his forces and had his destroyers engage the US ships while keeping his larger ships beyond the radar horizon.  After the US battleships engaged with their long range guns, the Japanese destroyers ducked back beyond the radar horizon but in doing so passed targeting information to Kondo’s fleet of larger ships.  Admiral Lee ordered a cease fire about five minutes later after the northern group disappeared from his ship’s radar. However, SendaiUranami, and Shikinami were undamaged and circled out of the danger area.  The destroyers Walke and Preston were hit and sunk within 10 minutes with heavy loss of life. The destroyer Benham had part of her bow blown off by a torpedo and had to retreat (she sank the next day), and destroyer Gwin was hit in her engine room and put out of the fight.  However, the U.S. destroyers had completed their mission as screens for the battleships, absorbing the initial impact of contact with the enemy, although at great cost.  Lee ordered the retirement of Benham and Gwin at 23:48.  Washington passed through the area still occupied by the damaged and sinking U.S. destroyers and fired on Ayanami with her secondary batteries, setting her afire. Following close behind, South Dakota suddenly suffered a series of electrical failures, reportedly during repairs when her chief engineer locked down a circuit breaker in violation of safety procedures, causing her circuits repeatedly to go into series, making her radar, radios, and most of her gun batteries inoperable. However, she continued to follow Washington towards the western side of Savo Island until 23:35, when Washington changed course left to pass to the southward behind the burning destroyers. South Dakota tried to follow but had to turn to right to avoid Benham, which resulted in the ship’s being silhouetted by the fires of the burning destroyers and made her a closer and easier target for the Japanese.  Almost blind and unable to effectively fire her main and secondary armament, South Dakota was illuminated by searchlights and targeted by gunfire and torpedoes by most of the ships of the Japanese force, including Kirishima, beginning around midnight on 15 November. Although able to score a few hits on KirishimaSouth Dakota took 26 hits—some of which did not explode—that completely knocked out her communications and remaining gunfire control operations, set portions of her upper decks on fire, and forced her to try to steer away from the engagement. All of the Japanese torpedoes missed.  Admiral Lee later described the cumulative effect of the gunfire damage to South Dakota as to, “render one of our new battleships deaf, dumb, blind, and impotent.”  South Dakota‘s crew casualties were 39 killed and 59 wounded, and she turned away from the battle at 00:17 without informing Admiral Lee, though observed by Kondo’s lookouts.  The Japanese ships continued to concentrate their fire on South Dakota and none detected Washington approaching to within 9,000 yd.  Washington was tracking a large target (Kirishima) for some time but refrained from firing since there was a chance it could be South DakotaWashington had not been able to track South Dakota‘s movements because she was in a blind spot in Washington‘s radar and Lee could not raise her on the radio to confirm her position. When the Japanese illuminated and fired on South Dakota, all doubts were removed as to which ships were friend or foe. From this close range, Washington opened fire and quickly hit Kirishima with at least nine (and possibly up to 20) main battery shells and at least seventeen secondary ones, disabling all of Kirishima‘s main gun turrets, causing major flooding, and setting her aflame.  Kirishima was hit below the waterline and suffered a jammed rudder, causing her to circle uncontrollably to port.  At 00:25, Kondo ordered all of his ships that were able to converge and destroy any remaining U.S. ships. However, the Japanese ships still did not know where Washington was located, and the other surviving U.S. ships had already departed the battle area. Washington steered a northwesterly course toward the Russell Islands to draw the Japanese force away from Guadalcanal and the presumably damaged South Dakota. The Imperial ships finally sighted Washington and launched several torpedo attacks, but by the skilled seamanship of her captain she avoided all of them and also avoided running aground in shallow waters. At length, believing that the way was clear for the transport convoy to proceed to Guadalcanal (but apparently disregarding the threat of air attack in the morning), Kondo ordered his remaining ships to break contact and retire from the area about 01:04, which most of the Japanese warships complied with by 01:30.  Ayanami was scuttled by Uranami at 2:00, while Kirishima capsized and sank by 03:25 on 15 November.  Uranami rescued survivors from Ayanami and destroyers AsagumoTeruzuki, and Samidare rescued the remaining crew from Kirishima.  In the engagement, 242 U.S. and 249 Japanese sailors died.  The engagement was one of only two battleship-against-battleship surface battles in the entire Pacific campaign of World War II, the other being at the Surigao Strait during the Battle of Leyte Gulf covered in a recent edition of FOD.  The four Japanese transports beached themselves at Tassafaronga on Guadalcanal by 04:00 on 15 November, and Tanaka and the escort destroyers departed and raced back up the Slot toward safer waters. The transports were attacked, beginning at 05:55, by U.S. aircraft from Henderson Field and elsewhere, and by field artillery from U.S. ground forces on Guadalcanal. Later, destroyer Meade approached and opened fire on the beached transports and surrounding area. These attacks set the transports afire and destroyed any equipment on them that the Japanese had not yet managed to unload. Only 2,000 to 3,000 of the embarked troops made it to Guadalcanal, and most of their ammunition and food were lost.  Bruce McCandless received the Medal of Honor during World War II for his heroism on board the USS San Francisco (CA-38), during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13, 1942.  (photo left).  He retired with the rank of Rear Admiral. McCandless was the father of NASA astronaut, CAPT Bruce McCandless II, USN (Ret). Additionally, Admiral McCandless was the great-grandson of David Colbert McCanles of the Rock Creek Station, Nebraska shoot-out with Wild Bill Hickok. After that, the McCanles family changed its name to McCandless and moved to Florence, Colorado.  Both sides lost numerous warships in two extremely destructive surface engagements at night. Nevertheless, the U.S. succeeded in turning back attempts by the Japanese to bombard Henderson Field with battleships. Allied aircraft also sank most of the Japanese troop transports and prevented the majority of the Japanese troops and equipment from reaching Guadalcanal. Thus, the battle turned back Japan’s last major attempt to dislodge Allied forces from Guadalcanal and nearby Tulagi, resulting in a strategic victory for the U.S. and its allies and deciding the ultimate outcome of the Guadalcanal campaign in their favor.


Also on November 13:

1775 Patriots take Montreal

1974 Karen Silkwood dies in mysterious one-car crash

1941 Congress revises the Neutrality Act


And on November 14:

1851 Moby-Dick published

2006 Last day for Texas’ celebrated drive-in Pig Stands

1982 Walesa released from jail


Major Michael J. Adams USAF Killed in X-15 Crash

On November 15, 1967, Major Mike Adams flew on flight 191 of the X-15 program; his seventh flight in the rocketplane and the 65th flight for 56-6672.  The flight plan called for 79 seconds of engine burn, accelerating the X-15 to Mach 5.1 and an altitude of 250,000 feet.  Adams wife and mother were in the NASA control room for this flight.  A delay in the positioning of rescue C-130 aircraft required Adams to reset the Honeywell MH-96 Automatic Fight Control System to compensate for the changing position of the sun in the sky.  Within 1 second of launch the XLR99-M-1 rocket motor fired and within another half second developed its full 57,000 pounds of thrust.  As mentioned in previous editions of FOD, the engine’s burn time and thrust could not be reliably predicted and on this flight the engine burned for 82.3 seconds, causing the X-15 to exceed Mach 5.2 (3617 mph) and an altitude of 266,000 feet.  As the rocketplane climbed through 140,000 feet the Inertial Flight Data System computer malfunctioned, illuminating the associated warning lights.  The flight plan called for a wing-rocking maneuver at peak altitude so that a camera on board could scan from horizon to horizon.  However during this maneuver the Reaction Control System thrusters (on the nose) failed to respond correctly to Adams’ inputs and the aircraft developed right yaw.  At the peak altitude the X-15 developed a 15° left yaw.  Going over the top, the nose yawed back, but then went left again.  By the time the X-15 descended to 230,000 feet it had pitched 40° nose high and yawed 90° to the right and was rolling at 20° per second.  It entered a spin at Mach 5.  Adams fought to recover from the spin and came out of the spin at 118,000 feet, inverted 45° nose down and Mach 4.7.  The X-15’s MH-96 Automatic Flight Control System caused a series of diverging oscillations in the pitch and roll axes, with accelerations ± 15 g, with dynamic pressures on the airframe rapidly increasing from 200 pounds per square foot to 1300 pounds per square foot.  At 62,000 feet and at Mach 3.93, the aircraft structure failed and broke up.  Mike Adams was killed.  His was the only pilot fatality during the 199 flight X-15 program.    An investigation by NASA’s Engineering and Safety Center determined that, “. . . the root cause of the accident was an electrical disturbance originating from an experiment package using a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) component that had not been properly qualified for the X-15 environment. . .” and that there is “. . . no conclusive evidence to support the hypothesis that SD [spatial disorientation] was a causal factor. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that poor design of the pilot-aircraft interface and ineffective operational procedures prevented the pilot and ground control from recognizing and isolating the numerous failures before the aircraft’s departure from controlled flight was inevitable.”


Also on November 15:

1867 First stock ticker debuts

1777 Articles of Confederation adopted

1965 Craig Breedlove sets new land-speed record

1864 The March to the Sea begins

1943 Leonard Bernstein’s Philharmonic debut makes front-page news


Now these are a series of tattoos.  Some need captions.  Some beg more questions than answers



Interesting facts


And some interesting photos that need captions.  Come on you Friends of FOD – captions