FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 8th through 13th 2017

US Navy Ships Delivering Food and Water to Irma Victims

Positioned off the coast of Florida, helicopters from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) are now delivering food and water to Florida as part of the Hurricane Irma relief effort.  As part of the ongoing recovery in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Navy and Coast Guard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and USS New York (LPD 21) are expected to join the relief effort Tuesday.  As part of the ongoing recovery in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Navy and Coast Guard helicopters and ships are continuing to evacuate people and shuttle food, water, and supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands and south Florida.  Near Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Military Sealift Command’s dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12) started providing supplies to the USS Wasp (LHD-1), USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), along with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Federal Emergency Management Agency staff, which started providing humanitarian aid and medical airlifts Friday. William McLean pumped 620,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 40,000 gallons of jet fuel, and delivered 40 pallets of supplies to Navy units, according to the Navy.  USNS Wright (T-AVB 3), aviation logistics support ship, is expected to leave Philadelphia Tuesday to support relief efforts in near the Virgin Islands. Wright is assigned to the Military Sealift Command Prepositioning Program and carries aviation maintenance equipment to support U.S. Marine Corps fixed and rotary wing aircraft.



Red Hot Cleveland Indians – Stone Cold LA Dodgers

As baseball’s regular season is winding down, the Cleveland Indians are making history by winning 20 games in a row.  An awesome streak.  On the other hand the LA Dodgers who started the season so strong as to be referred to as the odds on favorite to win the World Series this year can’t buy a win.

My NY Yankees are leading the wildcard race, but with their work cut out for them if they’re to beat those cheating Red Sox (refer to previous editions of FOD).  And speaking of famous Indian players, on September 13, 1936, 17-year-old Cleveland Indians pitching ace “Rapid” Robert Feller also known as “The Heater from Van Meter” and “Bullet Bob” out 17 batters in a game, setting a new American League record. Feller allowed just two hits in the game to help his team to a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia A’s. His career was interrupted by four years of military service in World War II, during which time he served as Chief Petty Officer aboard the USS Alabama. Anyway, pick your team.





Watered Down North Korean Sanctions Passed By UN Security Council

The US proposed and argued for new aggressive sanctions against North Korea before the UN Security Council.  Those new proposals included a call for an oil embargo and a partial naval blockade.  The American delegation has called for the UN Security Council to debate the draft, in an attempt to force decisive action following last Sunday’s massive nuclear test of a bomb, Pyongyang’s sixth.  As I’ve mentioned before in FOD, China does not want to totally destabilize the North Korean government as it might result in thousands of North Korean refugees flooding into China and could move closer to a re-unifed Korea, also something feared by China.  Russia sees itself as some kind of mediator and is not interested in seeing any new US proposal passed.  Additionally both China and Russia employ large numbers of Korean citizens for their own labor projects.  Russia has them building construction camps; building for example the new soccer stadium for the World Cup Soccer Match to be held in St. Petersburg next year.  Korean workers pay roughly 80% of what they earn to the North Korean government and thus this is a source of hard currency for North Korea.  In the end, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea in a watered-down resolution that eliminated a ban on all oil imports and an international asset freeze on the government and leader Kim Jong Un that the Trump administration wanted.  The resolution does ban North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates. But it caps Pyongyang’s imports of crude oil at the level of the last 12 months, and it limits the import of refined petroleum products to 2 million barrels a year.  It also bans all textile exports and prohibits countries from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers — two key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.  The textile ban is significant. Textiles are North Korea’s main source of export revenue after coal, iron, seafood and other minerals that have already been severely restricted by previous U.N. resolutions.  North Korean textile exports in 2016 totaled $752.5 million, accounting for about one-fourth of its total $3 billion in merchandise exports, according to South Korean government figures.  In an additional statement on September 12, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement that the United Nations Security Council resolution, which cuts the annual export of oil and fuel products from about 8.5 million barrels to 2 million, will be fully enforced.  But Geng added that the resolution also reiterated the need to maintain peace and stability across the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia. China said on Tuesday it will not allow war or chaos on the Korean peninsula after it endorsed the latest UN sanctions against Pyongyang following its nuclear test last week.   It’s one more step.  Follow the money!


Japan and South Korea Debating How To Deal With North Korea

Debate is continuing internally as to what or how Japan needs to position itself relative to a nuclear North Korea.  For years North Korea has had the capability to launch missiles toward Japan, but ones with nuclear capability add another dimension to the debate.  Most see a nuclear North Korea as an eventual outcome; they generally believe Japan has nothing to offer with regard to how to influence North Korea except to support efforts by the US and the UN.  The debate according to the Japan Times includes the possibility of supporting the storage and possible deployment of nuclear weapons by the US on Japanese soil.  A North Korean commitment to going nuclear-free is a prerequisite for starting talks with the country, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told The Nikkei and the Nikkei Asian Review on 12 September. South Korea is also debating whether to allow the US to deploy those so called “tactical” nuclear weapons in South Korea as a hedge against a North Korean invasion of the south according to the Straits Times.  While these are early discussions, in brings into play what I mentioned in the last edition of FOD in that future discussions in the halls of Asian governments might include the development of their own nuclear arsenals.  There are some other developments going on in South Korea.  The New York Times is reporting South Korea is developing a “decapitation unit”  would be established by the end of the year.  I don’t think their intending on literally decapitating Kim Jong-un, and I’m not sure such a discloser would “scare” the North Korean leader, but the intent of the unit would be to destabilize the North Korean government.


Remembering The Flight Crews From 9/11

September 11th is one of those days most of us recall vividly and are reminded of the details of our individual lives on that day.  I was in Minneapolis, MN preparing to brief corporate executives from Northwest, Delta and Southwest Airlines on ADS-B developments and how these concepts and equipement might change their operations in the future.  It is interesting to note the men and women who are now joining the US military to preserve freedom and to end the king of global terrorism personified on September 11th can barely remember that day.  I thought it appropriate to remember those first victims of that day – the aircrews who died defending the hijacking policy at that time, which was to cooperate with hijackers in order to save the aircraft and the other passengers aboard the aircraft.  American Airlines Flight 11:  BOS to LAX – flew into World Trade Center One – North Tower:  Captain John Ogonowski, served in the USAF as a pilot and was killed by terrorists in the cockpit, managed to turn the radio to transmit so that cockpit communication was broadcast to the FAA.  F/O Thomas McGuinness, former Navy F-14 pilot NKX, VF-21, VF-302.  I knew him briefly as he served in my F-14 squadron as I was detaching and he was reporting to VF-21 before he left active duty.  He continued to fly F-14s with the US Navy Reserves.  Tom was a good guy and a great guy to have in the squadron.  United Airlines Flight 175:  BOS to LAX – was flown into World Trade Center Two – South Tower:  Captain Victor Saracini former USN pilot, and F/O Michael Horrocks, USMC pilot.  I didn’t know either of these pilots personally but they both wore the wings of gold.  American Airlines Flight 77:  IAD to LAX – was flown into the Pentagon:   Capt. Chuck Burlingame  USNA grad ’71 and F-4 Pilot, VF-103, rose to the rank of Captain, Topgun grad, USS Saratoga; F/O David Charlebois, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, corporate pilot, US Air and then 10 years with AA.  I knew Chuck from when we were both at the Naval Academy.  I had some glasses with some upper classmen and Chuck was one of those. We later knew each other when we were both stationed at NAS Oceana and were both in F-4 squadrons.   United Airlines Flight 93:  EGR to Shanksville, PA  Captain Jason Dahl civilian pilot, corporate pilot flight standards pilot UA, F/O LeRoy Homer Jr  USAF ’87 flew cargo aircraft 8 years with the USAF.



We Choose To Go To The Moon

When John F. Kennedy became president during January 1961, many Americans perceived that the United States was losing the Space Race with the USSR, which had successfully launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, almost four years earlier. The perception increased when during April 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space before the U.S. could launch its first Project Mercury astronaut. Convinced of the political need to make an achievement which would decisively demonstrate America’s space superiority, and after consulting with NASA to identify such an achievement, Kennedy stood before Congress on May 25, 1961, and proposed that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”  But the speech many of us of a certain vintage recall is the one he gave at Rice University on September 12, 1962.Kennedy’s goal gave a specific mission to National Aeronautics and Space Administration‘s Apollo program. This required the expansion of NASA’s Space Task Group into a Manned Spacecraft CenterHouston, Texas was chosen as the site, and the Humble Oil and Refining Company donated the land during 1961, with Rice University as an intermediary. Kennedy took advantage of the 1962 construction of the facility to deliver a speech on the nation’s space effort.    President Kennedy delivered his speech before a crowd of 35,000 people in the Rice University football stadium. The most memorable and quoted portion of the speech is in the middle:  We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.  There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?  We choose to go to the Moon! … We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win ..He made going to the Moon a matter of national security.  And we accepted the challenge as one we as Americans had to win.  And 2500 days later, we launched Apollo 11, bound for the Moon.




Hughes H-1 Special Sets Record on Inaugural Flight

13 September 1935: Flying his Hughes H-1 Special, NR258Y, Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over a 3 Kilometer Course near Santa Ana, California. Making four passes over the measured course, two in each direction, his average speed was 567.12 kilometers per hour (352.39 miles per hour).  This was 38.07 miles per hour faster than the previous record.  Mission planning or at the minimal fuel planning was not at the forefront of Hughes’ planning this day as Hughes ran the aircraft out of fuel and managed to crash-land without serious damage to either himself or the H-1. As soon as Hughes exited the H-1 when he crashed it in a beet field south of Santa Ana, California, his only comment was: “We can fix her; she’ll go faster.” At the time, the world seaplane speed record was 440.7 mph (709.2 km/h), set by a Macchi M.C.72 in October 1934. The H-1 Racer was the last aircraft built by a private individual to set the world speed record; most aircraft to hold the honor since have been military designs.  Streamlining was a paramount design criterion resulting in “one of the cleanest and most elegant aircraft designs ever built.” Many groundbreaking technologies were developed during the construction process, including individually machined flush rivets that left the aluminium skin of the aircraft completely smooth. The H-1 also had retractable landing gear to further increase the speed of the aircraft, including a fully retractable hydraulically actuated tail skid.  It was fitted with a Pratt & Whitney R-1535 twin-row 14-cylinder radial engine of 1,535 cubic inches (25.15 l), which although originally rated at 700 horsepower, was tuned to put out over 1,000 horsepower.  The original H-1 Racer was donated to the Smithsonian in 1975 and is on display at the National Air and Space Museum.





Battle of Chapultepec

On September 8, 1847, during the Mexican-American War in the costly Battle of Molino del Rey, U.S. forces had managed to drive the Mexicans from their positions near the base of Chapultepec Castle guarding Mexico City from the west. However, Army engineers were still interested in the southern causeways to the city.  General Winfield Scott held a council of war with his generals and engineers on September 11.  Scott was in favor of attacking Chapultepec and only General David E. Twiggs agreed.  Most of Scott’s officers favored the attack through the southern gates, including Captain Robert E. Lee.  A young lieutenant, P. G. T. Beauregard, gave a textbook speech that persuaded General Franklin Pierce to change his vote in favor of the western attack.  The Battle of Chapultepec took place on 12/13 September 1847, where a force of Marines stormed Chapultepec Castle.  The efforts of the U.S. Marines in this battle and subsequent occupation of Mexico City are memorialized by the opening lines of the Marines’ Hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma…”  Among the lower-ranking officers present, many became generals in the upcoming American Civil War including Daniel H. HillUlysess GrantGeorge PickettJames LongstreetThomas Jackson (Stonewall Jackson), and Robert E. LeeMarine tradition maintains that the red stripe is worn on the trousers of the Blue Dress uniform, commonly known as the blood stripe, because all of the Marine NCOs and officers of the detachment died while storming the castle of Chapultepec in 1847, though iterations of the stripe predate the war. In 1849, the stripes were changed to a solid red from dark blue stripes edged in red, which dated from 1839.  The “Marines’ Hymn” is the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps, introduced by the first Director of USMC Band, Francesco Maria Scala. It is the oldest official song in the United States Armed Forces.  The “Marines’ Hymn” is typically sung at the position of attention as a gesture of respect. However, the third verse is also used as a toast during formal events, such as the birthday ball and other ceremonies. Western Illinois University uses the hymn prior to all football games. They are the only non-military academy allowed to use the hymn. The university has had permission to use the official nickname, mascot, and hymn of the Corps since 1927.  I have had the honor and pleasure of attending and surviving two Marine Corps Birthday Balls. If you are ever invited to attend one, I highly recommend it.  Semper fi my brothers.


Francis Scott Key Pens the Star Spangled Banner

On September 14, 1814, a 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key drafts a poem entitled, “Defense of Fort M’Henry” after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the large American flag, the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the fort during the American victory.  On September 3, 1814, following the Burning of Washington and the Raid on Alexandria, Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner set sail from Baltimore aboard the ship HMS Minden, flying a flag of truce on a mission approved by President James Madison. Their objective was to secure an exchange of prisoners, one of whom was Dr. William Beanes, the elderly and popular town physician of Upper Marlboro and a friend of Key’s who had been captured in his home. Beanes was accused of aiding the arrest of British soldiers. Key and Skinner boarded the British flagship HMS Tonnant on September 7 and spoke with Major General Robert Ross and Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane over dinner while the two officers discussed war plans. At first, Ross and Cochrane refused to release Beanes, but relented after Key and Skinner showed them letters written by wounded British prisoners praising Beanes and other Americans for their kind treatment.  Because Key and Skinner had heard details of the plans for the attack on Baltimore, they were held captive until after the battle, first aboard HMS Surprise and later back on HMS Minden. After the bombardment, certain British gunboats attempted to slip past the fort and effect a landing in a cove to the west of it, but they were turned away by fire from nearby Fort Covington, the city’s last line of defense.  During the rainy night, Key had witnessed the bombardment and observed that the fort‘s smaller “storm flag” continued to fly, but once the shell and Congreve rocket barrage had stopped, he would not know how the battle had turned out until dawn. On the morning of September 14, the storm flag had been lowered and the larger flag had been raised.  During the bombardment, HMS Terror and HMS Meteor provided some of the “bombs bursting in air”.  Key was inspired by the American victory and the sight of the large American flag flying triumphantly above the fort. This flag, with fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, had been made by Mary Young Pickersgill together with other workers in her home on Baltimore’s Pratt Street. The flag later came to be known as the Star-Spangled Banner and is today on display in the National Museum of American History, a treasure of the Smithsonian Institution. It was restored in 1914 by Amelia Fowler, and again in 1998 as part of an ongoing conservation program. Aboard the ship the next day, Key wrote a poem on the back of a letter he had kept in his pocket. At twilight on September 16, he and Skinner were released in Baltimore. He completed the poem at the Indian Queen Hotel, where he was staying, and titled it “Defense of Fort M’Henry.”  Much of the idea of the poem, including the flag imagery and some of the wording, is derived from an earlier song by Key, also set to the tune of “The Anacreontic Song“. The song, known as “When the Warrior Returns,” was written in honor of Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart on their return from the First Barbary War. Key gave the poem to his brother-in-law Judge Joseph H. Nicholson who saw that the words fit the popular melody “The Anacreontic Song“, by English composer John Stafford Smith. This was the official song of the Anacreontic Society, an 18th-century gentlemen’s club of amateur musicians in London. Nicholson took the poem to a printer in Baltimore, who anonymously made the first known broadside printing on September 17; of these, two known copies survive. The song gained popularity throughout the 19th century and bands played it during public events, such as July 4th celebrations. On July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy signed General Order #374, making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag.  In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that “The Star-Spangled Banner” be played at military and other appropriate occasions. The playing of the song two years later during the seventh-inning stretch of Game One of the 1918 World Series, and thereafter during each game of the series is often cited as the first instance that the anthem was played at a baseball game, though evidence shows that the “Star-Spangled Banner” was performed as early as 1897 at opening day ceremonies in Philadelphia and then more regularly at the Polo Grounds in New York City beginning in 1898. In any case, the tradition of performing the national anthem before every baseball game began in World War II.  On April 10, 1918, John Charles Linthicum, U.S. Congressman from Maryland, introduced a bill to officially recognize “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem. The bill did not pass.  On April 15, 1929, Linthicum introduced the bill again, his sixth time doing so.  On November 3, 1929, Robert Ripley drew a panel in his syndicated cartoon, Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, saying “Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem.”  In 1930, Veterans of Foreign Wars started a petition for the United States to officially recognize “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem.  Five million people signed the petition.  The petition was presented to the United States House Committee on the Judiciary on January 31, 1930. On the same day, Elsie Jorss-Reilley and Grace Evelyn Boudlin sang the song to the Committee to refute the perception that it was too high pitched for a typical person to sing.  The Committee voted in favor of sending the bill to the House floor for a vote.  The House of Representatives passed the bill later that year.  The Senate passed the bill on March 3, 1931.  President Herbert Hoover signed the bill on March 4, 1931, officially adopting “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States of America.  As currently codified, the United States Code states that “[t]he composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.”

1 thought on “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 8th through 13th 2017”

  1. Remember the night launch of Apollo 17 sitting in the VIP stands at Cape Canaveral?
    Then off to the newly opened Disneyworld. Flew into McCoy AFB.

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