In the wake of the collision between the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) (below left) with the Liberian-flaggedAlnic MC off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of Malacca on August 21, 2017 and the earlier collision of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) (below right) with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal, the US Navy is adopting some new as well as some old technologies to improve their crew’s situational awareness. Well actually their both pretty old techniques. The Navy has at now instructed commanders to use their Automatic Identification System, or AIS, as discussed in the 28 through 31 August edition of FOD. It has been around for some 20 years and has long been required aboard all commercial vessels. It is used to share vital information among ships, including the type of vessel, its name, speed, location and whether it might be on a collision course with another ship. “It’s important for situational awareness,” says John Konrad, an author who has also captained commercial vessels. “AIS is certainly not the only means to avoid collisions at sea, but it’s an important tool.” And the other tool is perhaps the oldest one out there – get some more sleep for watchstanders. On ships at sea, officers and senior enlisted leaders have ignored the fact that a lack of sleep jeopardizes individual performance and unit readiness. That ‘tradition’ unmarred by progress has extended itself from the days of wooden sailing ships when crews served 4 on and 4 off for months at a time because that was what was required to service a sailing ship at sea. Earlier this month, Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, the commander of the U.S. Surface Fleet, issued an internal directive that ordered more predictable watch schedules and sleep periods for sailors. So it was welcome news when the Navy announced recently that the surface fleet would issue new sleep and watch schedule rules.
The NY Yankees beat the Twins in the AL Wild Card Game 8-4.
And congrats to the Arizona Diamondbacks who beat the Rockies 11-8.
If you recall an event you believe the group might be interested in, drop me a comment and I’ll research it and add it to the blog.
I accomplished some good work on the ’31 Chevy last week: picked up the newly powder coated frame (it’s a grey color), installed 4 bar rear suspension, resealed differential, serviced it with gear oil, installed front and rear shocks, removed transmission from engine, serviced and installed torque converter, installed flywheel, reinstalled transmission and engine and installed on frame, installed gas tank, installed all fuel lines and brake lines, bled brake system, installed drive shaft, began installation of engine electrical harness, filled transmission with fluid, filled engine with oil, installed alternator and air conditioner compression belts, visited the body at the body guy’s shop (it’s coming along), sent the new hood out for primer coating and of course spent a bunch of money on other parts I’ll need in the near future. It’s beginning to look like a car, well at least a completed chassis.
Russia Launches Operation Zapad in Belarus On Anniversary of Soviet Invasion of Poland
Russia and Belarus launched Operation Zapad, an ongoing joint strategic military exercise of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus (the Union State) that began on 14 September 2017, conducted in Belarus as well as in Russia‘s Kaliningrad Oblast and Russia′s other north-western areas. According to the information made public by the Defense Ministry of Belarus prior to the exercise, fewer than 13,000 personnel of the Union State are to take part in the military maneuvers, a number that does not trigger mandatory formal notification and invitation of observers under the OSCE‘s Vienna Document. Western analysts, however, believed in July 2017 that the total number of Russian troops, security personnel and civilian officials to be involved in the broader war-games will range from 60,000 to 100,000, which would make them Russia’s largest since the Cold War. Since 2016, concerns have been voiced in a number of NATO countries over Russia’s suspected ulterior motives and objectives in connection with the exercise. And on 17 September 2017, the mobilization for combat portion of the exercise will begin and will for the first time include participation by units of the Baltic Fleet. Generally speaking it will be an opportunity for Russia and Belarus to practice a major exercise in rapidly mobilizing and deploying a combined force close to its Western frontier. And this sword rattling will have the US and our allies in the region watching closely how and in what strengths Russia is able to move its troops. Poland, who shares a border with Belarus, is particularly concerned with observing what the Russians will do in particular. They have reason to be concerned as September 17, 1939 marks the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland. You’ll recall the German invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939. On September 3, 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany, but failed to provide any meaningful support for Polish army outnumbered, and vastly inferior to the German invading forces. German began to pressure the Soviets to invade Poland from the east, but Stalin waited several days. Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German ambassador to Moscow Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg exchanged a series of diplomatic messages on the matter but the Soviets nevertheless delayed their invasion of eastern Poland. The Soviets were distracted by crucial events relating to their ongoing border disputes with Japan.
They needed time to mobilize the Red Army and they saw a diplomatic advantage in waiting until Poland had disintegrated before making their move. The undeclared war between the Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan at the Battles of Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan) in the Far East ended with the Molotov–Tojo agreement between the USSR and Japan which was signed on 15 September 1939, with a ceasefire taking effect on 16 September 1939. (Why yes that’s the same Molotov as the Molotov cocktail). On 17 September 1939, Molotov delivered the following declaration of war to Wacław Grzybowski, the Polish Ambassador in Moscow: On that morning, 16 days after Germanyinvaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. The Red Army entered the eastern regions of Poland with seven field armies, containing between 450,000 and 1,000,000 troops. The invasion and the battle lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by both Germany and the Soviet Union. The photo above shows the German and Russian commanders shaking hands after the defeat of Poland. The joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly agreed to in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed on 23 August 1939. The Red Army, which vastly outnumbered the Polish defenders, achieved its targets by using strategic and tactical deception. Some 230,000 Polish prisoners of war were captured. The campaign of mass persecution in the newly acquired areas began immediately. In November 1939 the Soviet government ostensibly annexed the entire Polish territory under its control. Some 13.5 million Polish citizens who fell under the military occupation were made into new Soviet subjects following mock elections conducted by the NKVD secret police in the atmosphere of terror, the results of which were used to legitimize the use of force. The Soviet campaign of ethnic cleansing began with the wave of arrests and summary executions of officers, policemen and priests. Over the next year and a half, the Soviet NKVD sent hundreds of thousands of people from eastern Poland to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union in four major waves of deportation between 1939 and 1941. Soviet forces occupied eastern Poland until the summer of 1941, when they were driven out by the invading German army in the course of Operation Barbarossa. The timing I don’t believe is coincidence.
Strategic & Policy Forum and Manufacturing Council Disbanded
“You CEOs on my Strategic & Policy Forum and my Manufacturing Council who think you can quit; you can’t quit; you’re fired.” “And you’re all a bunch of grandstanders.” CEOs began announcing their resignations after Trump’s first comments about the violence last Saturday in Charlottesville between white supremacists and counter-protesters. The resignations accelerated after he re-emphasized his earlier remarks and on Tuesday blamed “both sides” for the series of events that led to the death of a 32-year-old Charlottesville woman. These CEOs are not grandstanding, they simply no longer want to be associated with this President who has now revealed what his true values are. Traditionally corporate leaders have been willing to join these apolitical forums so as to ensure their corporations at least have a seat at the table where policy decisions are formulated that effect corporate taxes, employment and trade policies. There were comments that the President went rogue on Wednesday – How can we believe in a President of United States who goes rogue? Your comments appreciated. Someone must have an opinion they’d be willing to express out there in FOD-land.
Steve Bannon – You’re Fired Too
What’s the half life of a White House advisor these days? White House Chief of Staff John Kelly announced today 18 August 2017, Steve Bannon has agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a brief statement to reporters. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” Bannon’s departure caps a rocky tenure in the West Wing in which he was a central figure in a power struggle to influence the often unpredictable president. He clashed with many of Trump’s other top aides including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, and rumors of his waning influence and imminent departure had been circulating Washington for months. He will walk away from the White House as a key force behind Trump’s impulses to make racially divisive remarks and fan nationalist and ethnic tensions, most recently Trump’s comments on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. As recently as this week, Bannon gave interviews seeming to embrace the racial turmoil Trump encouraged by comparing white nationalists and the protesters opposing them in Charlottesville. Don’t worry about how Bannon will make his next two dimes. Just hours after his exit became official, the newsroom where he first rose to prominence in far-right political circles, Breitbart News, announced he’d be returning as its executive chairman.
I got a little behind in getting out the last edition, so now it’s all combined into one edition. Enjoy, comment, write your Congressmen!
Trump Budget Rant
Yesterday, May 22, the White House officially unveiled its 2018 budget. The Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that the president is making good on his vow to save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, among other things, and said that they are not kicking anyone off who needs the programs. Yet deep cuts to programs would indicate otherwise. Trump’s budget would cut Medicaid by a lot, despite the president telling the Daily Signal days before launching his White House bid, “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” The administration proposes reducing spending on Medicaid programs by more than $600 billion over the next decade, a massive cut that appears to go on top of $839 billion in Medicaid cuts included in the House health care bill Trump is supporting. Trump’s budget proposes slashing the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a $31.4 billion change to the program that pays monthly benefits to over 10 million disabled individuals under the retirement age. Barring the kind of hyperbolic growth Trump has promised and economists have disputed, Trump’s budget would do little to combat the national debt. Rather, it would potentially increase it. For us veterans, the proposed budget decreases cost-of-living adjustments for veterans benefits payouts and eliminating those adjustments for some federal civilian retirees altogether. The White House plan would extend the practice of rounding down veterans payouts to the nearest whole dollar, trimming a few cents off our checks. Trump’s plan calls for eliminating annual cost-of-living increases Federal Employee Retirement System enrollees completely, and lowering the adjustments for Civil Service Retirement System enrollees by 0.5 percent. And while those Navy “Crabs” (Side Moving Beach Creatures) or Civil Servants are not always held in the best of regards, this would be represent substantial reductions in payouts for the estimated 70,000 federal retirees each year, along with the hundreds of thousands more already collecting their pensions. CSRS beneficiaries are not eligible for Social Security payments. FERS employees are, but those government pensions still make up a significant portion of their retirement income. Trump’s budget was declared dead on arrival. But then again I can think of a Presidential budget that wasn’t considered dead on arrival.
You should see some improvements to FOD. You should be able to add a comment at the bottom and upon my approval, it will appear. There are a couple under the Recent Comments box. And you should be able to sign up to subscribe, but I’m still working to figure out how to push it to all those who have signed up. Thanks for your patience. There’s a lot to do during retirement!
On January 29, 1944 the last battleship to enter US Navy service was christened – the USS Missouri (BB-63). Her keel was laid on January 6, 1941 at the New York Navy Yard. Missouri was the third Iowa-class “fast battleship” designs planned in 1938 by the Preliminary Design Branch at the Bureau of Construction and Repair. After her christening and launching she was rapidly completed and commissioned on June 11, 1944 and rushed to the Pacific Theater of World War II,
arriving in West Caroline Islands on January 13, 1945. She put to sea on 27 January, to serve in the screen of the Lexington carrier task group of Mitscher’s TF 58, and on 16 February the task force’s aircraft carriers launched the first naval air strikes against Japan since the famed Doolittle raid, which had been launched from the carrier Hornet in April 1942. Missouri then steamed with the carriers to Iwo Jima where her main guns provided direct and continuous support to the invasion landings begun on 19 February. After TF 58 returned to Ulithi on 5 March, Missouri was assigned to the Yorktown carrier task group. On 14 March, Missouri departed Ulithi in the screen of the fast carriers and steamed to the Japanese mainland. During strikes against targets along the coast of the Inland Sea of Japan beginning on 18 March, Missouri shot down four Japanese aircraft. She provided shore bombardment for the battle of Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands.
This photo (right) shows her being hit by a kamikaze on her starboard side April 11, 1945. The Japanese pilot’s body was recovered and Captain Callaghan decided that the young Japanese pilot had done his job to the best of his ability, and with honor, so he should be given a military funeral. Missouri’s crew hand stitched a Japanese flag for the occasion and the following day he was buried at sea with military honors. Less than a month later, the USS Missouri serves as the location for the surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945 during which Japan formally and unconditionally surrendered to the Allies ending the Second World War (photos below). During the surrender ceremony, the deck of Missouri was decorated with a 31-star American flag that had been taken ashore by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 after his squadron of “Black Ships” sailed into Tokyo Bay to force the opening of Japan’s ports to foreign trade. This flag was actually displayed with the reverse side showing, i.e., stars in the upper right corner: the historic flag was so fragile that the conservator at the Naval Academy Museum had sewn a protective linen backing to one side to help secure the fabric from deteriorating, leaving its “wrong side” visible. The flag was displayed in a wood-framed case secured to the bulkhead overlooking the surrender ceremony. Another U.S. flag was raised and flown during the occasion, a flag that some sources have indicated was in fact that flag which had flown over the U.S. Capitol on 7 December 1941. This is not true; it was a flag taken from the ship’s stock, according to Missouri’s Commanding Officer, Captain Stuart “Sunshine” Murray, and it was “…just a plain ordinary GI-issue flag.” For the surrender ceremony, General MacArthur ensured the assembled officers and sailors were the tallest available. Missouri fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 and this photo (right) shows her firing her 16 inch guns on enemy positions during the Korean War.
Notice the effect on the seawater under the guns.
She was decommissioned in 1955 into the United States Navy reserve fleets (the “Mothball Fleet”), but reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan, and provided fire support during Operation Desert Storm in January/February 1991. The photo (left) shows her “unrepping” with the USS Kitty Hawk (no airwing is
aboard) from the USNS Kawishiwi. In 1998, “Mighty Mo” was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor. From here you can see the USS Arizona memorial. The next time you’re in Hawaii, I recommend you visit her and see the location of this plaque where the Japanese surrender documents were signed.
January 29th commemorated two national days: Thomas Paine Day and Freethinkers Day. Thomas Paine was a courageous freethinker, whose life and works inspired political and social advancements throughout the world, but particularly during the time of the American Revolution. FOD should have noted that on January 10, 1776, he published Common Sense, a remarkable and powerful republican pamphlet which had an immediate success. Later, you’ll recall from an earlier FOD, (19 December 2016), General George Washington read from Paine’s’ later published pamphlet The American Crisisto his troops at Valley Forge.
Between March 1791 and February 1792 he published numerous editions of his Rights of Man, in which he defended the French Revolution. The words of Thomas Paine inspired many to strive for political, economic and social advancement. He was among the first to call for an end to slavery and the establishment of human rights around the world. In the 1990s, the Truthseeker magazine began celebrating Freethinkers Day on Thomas Paine’s birthday in order to educate the public on the importance of Thomas Paine in the history of freedom. Also in the 1990s, the Thomas Paine Foundation began celebrating the birthday of Thomas Paine on January 29th, a Thomas Paine Day proclamation on June 8 and other Paine theme events during the year. And the question is – where would he stand on the issues of today?
And in preparation for unabashed snack food gormandizing this coming Super Bowl Weekend, 29 January is National Corn Chip Day. Well it’s not officially recognized by Congress, but then again, who cares? Corn chips – another method of ingesting: whole corn, vegetable oil (corn, soybean, and/or sunflower oil), salt, cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), maltodextrin, wheat flour, whey, monosodium glutamate, buttermilk solids, romano cheese whey protein concentrate, onion powder, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil, corn flour, disodium phosphate, lactose, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, spices, lactic acid, artificial color (including Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40), citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, red and green bell pepper powder, sodium caseinate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, nonfat milk solids, whey protein isolate, and corn syrup solids (whatever they are). But they taste good! You had better thoroughly enjoy your guacamole as the price of avocados may be going up quickly if President Trump goes ahead with a 20% tariff on goods imported from Mexico, to pay for a wall, we know will never work. The decision to build a wall has so far kept out one Mexican – Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, leader of America’s third largest trading partner, a close ally and our neighbor in North America. All because of a misguided campaign promise? Holy guacamole! Besides produce, automakers and appliance manufacturers have established supply chain strategies utilizing parts manufactured in Mexico, in concert with the 1994 NAFTA agreement. A tariff could see car sticker prices rise 10%, and your next refrigerator could go up 20%. Holy guacamole!
In the last FOD, I mentioned there were some baseball stories out there. On January 29, 1936, the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members in Cooperstown, New York: (left to right):
Ty CobbBabe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson. The Hall of Fame actually had its beginnings in 1935, when plans were made to build a museum devoted to baseball and its 100-year history. A private organization based in Cooperstown, N.Y., called the Clark Foundation thought that establishing the Baseball Hall of Fame in their city would help to reinvigorate the area’s Depression-ravaged economy by attracting tourists. To help sell the idea, the foundation advanced the idea that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown. The story proved to be phony, but baseball officials, eager to capitalize on the marketing and publicity potential of a museum to honor the game’s greats, gave their support to the project anyway. In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame in 1939–thought by many to be the centennial of baseball–the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted: Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history; Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game; Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion; Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history; and Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers to ever have taken the mound. Collectively they are known as the “Five Immortals.”
Today, with approximately 350,000 visitors per year, the Hall of Fame continues to be the hub of all things baseball. It has elected 278 individuals, in all, including 225 players, 17 managers, 8 umpires and 28 executives and pioneers. There is also a library specifically for baseball history and information. Add the Baseball Hall of Fame to your bucket list of places to visit. It’s worth the trip.
Here in Seattle where it also was, “Once upon a midnight dreary,” Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven,” was published on January 29, 1845 in the New York Evening Mirror. Perhaps he was reflecting on the time he spent as a cadet at West Point (that is one of the most dreary places in the Winter) where he was expelled for gambling.
And 28 January was the anniversary of the birth of Colonel Francis Stanley (Gabby) Gabreski, USAF. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Corps Reserve on 14 March 1941 and was as a fighter pilot with the 45th Pursuit Squadron of the 15th Pursuit Group at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. 2nd Lt. Gabreski trained on both the Curtiss P-36 Hawk and the newer Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. He closely followed reports on the Battle of Britain and the role played in it by Polish RAF squadrons, especially by the legendary No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron. He became concerned that the US did not have many experienced fighter pilots. This gave him an idea: since Polish squadrons had proved to be capable within the RAF and since he himself was of Polish origin and spoke Polish, he offered to serve as a liaison officer to the Polish squadrons to learn from their experience. The idea was approved. Serving with another Polish squadron, the No. 315 (Deblin) Squadron at RAF Northolt, he flew 20 missions but only saw combat once. With lessons learned however, Gabreski became part of the 56th Fighter Group, flying the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron, and quickly became a flight leader in January 1943. By March 27, he had 18 victory credits and had six multiple-kill missions to rank third in the “ace race” that had developed within VIII Fighter Command. He downed only one more aircraft in the next two months, during which time the two pilots ahead of him (Majors Robert S. Johnson and Walker M. Mahurin, also of the 56th FG) minimally increased their number of kills. On May 22, Gabreski shot down three Fw 190s over a Luftwaffe airfield in northwest Germany. He tied Johnson as the leading ace in the European Theater of Operations on June 27 (passing Eddie Rickenbacker‘s record from World War I in the process), and on July 5, 1944, became America’s leading ace in the ETO, with his score of 28 destroyed matching the total at the time of confirmed victories of the Pacific Theater’s top American ace, Richard Bong. This total was never surpassed by any U.S. pilot fighting the Luftwaffe. On July 20, 1944, he decided to fly just one more flight before returning home after his 300 combat hour limit. On a strafing run at Bassenheim, Germany, he dropped his nose just a bit too much and the propeller blades of his Thunderbolt clipped the runway. The difference between low and too low. The damage caused his engine to vibrate violently and he was forced to crash land. Gabreski ran into nearby woods and eluded capture for five days. He used that SERE School Training. Eventually he was captured and after being interrogated by ObergefreiterHanns Scharff, he was sent to Stalag Luft I. He was liberated when Soviet forces seized the camp in April 1945. He was recalled to active duty with the new USAF after WW II and he participated in aerial combat again during the Korean War. In June 1951, he and a group of selected pilots of the 56th FIW accompanied the delivery of North American F-86 Sabres of the 62d FIS to Korea aboard the escort carrierUSS Cape Esperance. The planes and pilots joined the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group at K-14 (Kimpo) Air Base, where most engaged in combat. On July 8, 1951, flying his fifth mission in an F-86, Gabreski shot down a MiG 15, followed by MiG kills on September 2 and October 2.
In total he added 6 ½ MIG kills to his 28 victories in WW II and become the all-time American Fighter Ace. He was known as a great and very aggressive fighter pilot, but who lacked flight discipline, particularly toward his wingmen. Additionally he created an international incident by turning off his IFF and engaged MiGs over China including over two Chinese bases. Hey, it’s war folks – oh I forgot, it was a limited conflict police action. Colonel Gabreski retired from the Air Force 1 November 1967 after 27 years of service and 37.5 enemy aircraft destroyed. At the time of his retirement, he had flown more combat missions than any other U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and is the only pilot ace in two wars.
And at that moment every other ship in Navy’s worldwide became obsolete.
The unique design of the ship, distinguished by its revolving turret which was designed by American inventor Theodore Timby, was quickly duplicated and established the monitor type of warship. In the photo right note the dents in the turret. Monitor foundered while under tow in December 1862 during a storm off Cape Hatteras. Monitor‘s wreck was discovered in 1973 and has been partially salvaged (below).
Her guns, gun turret, engine and other relics are on display at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia. I’m putting this on my list of places to go and things to see on my next east coast trip.
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