Tag Archives: US Navy

What if Obama had done any of this?

“We should be intellectually honest here at this table that if President Obama had missed Veterans Day or missed the Armistice ceremony in France for the 100th anniversary of World War I, my head would have exploded right here on this table in front of all of you.”

So said Meghan McCain, daughter of the late, great Republican U.S. senator, John McCain, and a co-host of the TV show “The View.”

I believe she speaks for a lot of Americans who are dismayed, disgusted and so very disappointed in recent actions and remarks by Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States.

So many on the right and the far right have been strangely silent regarding the president’s recent action — or inaction — in Europe. He declined to attend a ceremony in France honoring the Americans who fell during World War I, then skipped Veterans Day services at Arlington National Cemetery.

Now, to his credit, the president did express some regret at failing to show for the Arlington cemetery event. That doesn’t excuse what he declined to do in the moment.

Couple all of that with what he has said in recent days about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the disparaging he has leveled at the Navy admiral, William McRaven, who coordinated the May 2011 assault and you have even more reason for “heads to explode.”

They aren’t. Except for Meghan McCain, a self-described political conservative.

Yes, just try to imagine the reaction had all of this come from a liberal Democrat. It is pointless to suggest how progressives, such as yours truly, would react had any of this occurred on Barack Obama’s watch. Thankfully, I don’t recall it ever happening prior to Donald Trump becoming president.

I do believe Meghan McCain’s assertion about her own noggin “exploding” on national TV.

Going to thank World War II veterans

I have made another command decision, which I can do now that I no longer work for anyone else.

From this day forward I intend to thank every World War II veteran I see. The only way to know you’ve seen a WWII vet is when you see someone wearing a gimme cap or a t-shirt identifying a member of The Greatest Generation.

I saw a gentleman this afternoon in front of a fast-food joint in Allen, Texas. He was wearing one of those caps. I extended a hand to him and said, “Thank you for saving the world.”

If you do a bit of simple math, you learn about the ruthless march of time. In 1945, the last year of World War II, the youngest enlistees were 17 years of age, meaning they were born in 1928.

That makes ’em 90 years of age today. If they’re still among us.

During the length of World War II, the United States put roughly 16 million men and women into uniform. Many of them were thrown into harm’s way.

Their numbers are diminishing every hour of every day. They need a thank you from their descendants. I plan to offer them whenever I see a veteran from that great conflict.

I have been unable since September 1980 to thank my favorite World War II. My father — who died 38 years ago — enlisted in the Navy in February 1942; he was 20 years old at the time. He wanted to get into the fight. Oh, brother, did he ever … get into it.

The thing is, Dad enlisted and pledged to fight “for the duration” of the war, not knowing when — let alone if — he would be returning home. That, I submit, is a far more difficult concept to embrace than what those of us who served in Vietnam faced when we were called to duty. We knew when we were coming home.

The Greatest Generation’s task was to save the world from tyranny. They succeeded. They came home, returned to their former lives and for the most part didn’t talk much about the hell they endured.

These men and women have earned a heartfelt thank you from those of us who came into this world upon their return.

I intend to give it to them.

Does our president want to disband NATO?

Hey, I believe it is fair to ask: Does the president of the United States want to get rid of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?

He is yapping, yammering and yowling about NATO allies not paying their fair share for their defense. I get his concern on that one specific point.

Why, though, does he keep disparaging our allies? Why does he continue to play into Vladimir Putin’s hands with his tirades against Germany, the United Kingdom, France … indeed, the rest of the alliance.

Does this clown understand a fundamental truth about U.S. history?

Let me remind him — and you — of something we need to remember.

We had a generation of Americans go to war in Europe. They died in defense of liberty and freedom. They fought the tyrants. They won that war.

My father was one of them. He served in the U.S. Navy. He fought in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He once endured 105 consecutive days of aerial bombardment from German and Italian air forces. An Italian dive bomber sank Dad’s ship off the coast of Sicily, forcing Dad to dive into the drink, where he awaited rescue from a British warship.

These men, including my father, set the stage for the creation of NATO immediately after the end of World War II.

Dad wasn’t a particularly political man. He and I didn’t discuss the issues of the day too often. However, I knew instinctively that he didn’t trust the Russians. He wanted NATO to stand watch as a deterrent against potential communist aggression.

Dad’s been gone for nearly 38 years. I believe in the deepest recesses of my gut that he would be aghast at the rhetoric we are hearing from the president of the United States.

Donald Trump, you’re no Harry Truman.

Eric Greitens: latest casualty in ‘family values’ war

Don’t sit down, Gov. Eric Greitens. I’m going to talk about you for a moment.

This fellow is a Republican governor from Missouri. He’s been in office for only about a year. He also is making quite a name for himself.

He ran for office as a “family values” candidate. He once proclaimed his love for his wife and children and the happiness he feels at being a married man and father.

The former Navy SEAL — who was a Democrat until he switched parties in 2015 — was even discussed as a possible presidential candidate in 2020 or 2024.

Then came this: He fooled around with a woman other than his wife before he was elected governor. What’s even more troubling is that he allegedly threatened her if she blabbed about it.

The woman, who was married at the time, is now divorced from her husband. Greitens remains married to his wife. He admits to the affair, but denies threatening the woman with whom he took the tumble.

Family values …

Wow. What are we to make of political candidates who make such a big show of their marriage? How are we supposed to react when they get caught in the big lie? I take this kind of thing quite badly. It doesn’t go down well. Why? Because of the show politicians such as Greitens make when they actually boast about their marital fidelity on the campaign stump — as if someone keeping a vow he makes before God is worth a boast.

This clown reminds me of so many politicians who’ve proclaimed their love for the spouse only to be revealed to be philanderers.

Does the name John Edwards ring a bell? Edwards was the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee who campaigned across the land declaring his devotion to his late wife, Elizabeth — while he was messing around with a woman who later gave birth to a baby, courtesy of that relationship with Edwards.

This kind of revelation sickens me in the extreme. Gov. Greitens makes me sick, too, given that he made such a phony show of his marital devotion.

Politicians who lie about their faithfulness then deserve all the scorn they receive.

Now … you may sit down, Gov. Greitens. And may you disappear from the national political scene.

Honoring a new ‘Greatest Generation’

I am re-reading a book I’ve owned for a couple of decades.

The great broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw penned “The Greatest Generation” to pay tribute to the men and women who saved the world from tyranny during World War II.

Brokaw’s thesis is one that I still accept, that those 16 million Americans who answered the call to fight a global war on two fronts — in Europe and the Pacific — exhibited unparalleled devotion. They served “for the duration” of the war. They finished the job and came home to start their lives.

I’m reading the book, though, with a slightly different take than I had when I picked it up the first time.

The current generation of fighting men and women is rising to the level of devotion and dedication that my father’s generation did more than 70 years ago.

Under vastly different circumstances, to be sure.

They are fighting an enemy that is every bit as cunning and resourceful as the Nazis were in Europe and the Japanese were in the Pacific. These terrorists against whom we keep sending these young Americans to fight are ruthless and dedicated to the perverted principles they are following.

Today’s generation of young American warriors is facing multiple deployments onto the battlefield in Afghanistan and other places — some of which are undisclosed. Four Army Special Forces troops died recently in Niger, bringing into the open a deployment few Americans knew was under way.

I long have saluted my father for his contribution to fighting tyranny during World War II. I am proud of what he did as a sailor who saw more than his share of combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.

I also want to salute other members of my family who’ve thrust themselves into harm’s way during the current war against international terror. My cousin served multiple Army tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have a nephew who drove an Army tank into Iraq when that war broke out in March 2003; he would return to Iraq for a second tour.

The war on terror just might be a conflict that has no end. There might not be any way for the United States to declare total victory as this country was able to do in 1945. The enemy surrendered unconditionally, giving The Greatest Generation of Americans its ticket home.

Can we achieve a similar end to the current war? I am trying to imagine how that gets done.

Meantime, the current generation keeps fighting. These young Americans have earned their status as the newest Greatest Generation.

I am proud of them beyond measure.

Tragedy reveals tale of heroism

The word “hero” arguably is one of the most abused words in the English language. We hang that description on athletes and actors.

Word has come out about the truest form of heroism. It came in the actions of U.S. Navy Fire Controlman First Class Leo Rehm Jr., who saved the lives of 20 of his shipmates before drowning in a tragic collision in the Sea of Japan.

Rehm was one of seven sailors who died when their ship, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald, rammed a merchant ship near the Japanese coast.

The Fitzgerald was struck below the water line. It took on water rapidly. Rehm managed to get 20 of his mates out of danger, and then went back down — only to have the hatch closed behind him as the crew sought to prevent the ship from sinking.

That’s when Rehm died along with the six other sailors.

Rehm was slated to retire soon from the Navy. He would return to his home state of Ohio.

This information is heartbreaking in the extreme.

The Daily Beast wrote extensively about Rehm and his actions aboard the stricken warship. Read the full piece at The Daily Beast.

Heroes are among us. They serve in many capacities. They are first responders. They are Good Samaritans who run to aid others in need. They wear our nation’s military uniforms.

They are men like Leo Rehm Jr.

Enter the USS Carl Vinson

I heard the news of a Navy carrier battle group heading toward the Korean Peninsula and took special note of the aircraft carrier leading the group.

It’s the USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered beast with which I have some limited familiarity.

I don’t know, of course, what all this means overall. North Korean madman/dictator Kim Jong Un is rattling his sabre yet again. He’s launching missiles into the Sea of Japan and threatening war against South Korea, Japan and maybe even the United States.

So the Carl Vinson battle group is heading toward the peninsula in a show of strength.

I received a marvelous assignment in 1993 at the invitation of the late U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson, an East Texas Democrat who was a huge supporter of military affairs. I was editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise at the time and our paper circulated deeply into Wilson’s 2nd Congressional District.

He invited me to join him on a tour of the Carl Vinson, which at the time was home-ported at San Diego, Calif. The ship was at sea at the time of Wilson’s invitation. I asked my editor if I could go; he said “yes.” The paper purchased my plane ticket and I flew to San Diego to meet with Wilson and his congressional party.

We landed on the Carl Vinson and spent three days and nights aboard ship. Rep. Wilson spent time talking to pilots, deck crew members, machinists, cooks. He told all of them how much he appreciated the work they did and the service they performed in defense of the nation.

By the way, you have not lived until you’ve been through a tailhook landing and a catapult launch off the deck of an aircraft carrier. Believe me, there is nothing in this entire world quite like either experience.

During a tour of the flight deck, the skipper of the ship at the time, Capt. John Payne, told us of the immense firepower contained on the ships comprising the battle group.

He then said something quite astonishing. He said the group — which comprised several warships, including cruisers, destroyers and frigates as well as support craft along with this monstrous carrier — contained more explosive firepower than all the ordnance dropped during World War II.

Of course, that prompted the question from yours truly: “Skipper, does that mean this ship is carrying nukes?” Capt. Payne looked me in the eye and said, “Now you know I can’t answer that question.”

OK. Got it.

Twenty-four years later, the USS Carl Vinson is still on active duty. It’s now heading for a potentially very dangerous zone. I do believe the ship and its massive crew will be ready for whatever occurs.

‘Unpresidented’ isn’t a word, Mr. President-elect

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Donald “I’m, Like, a Smart Person” Trump has done it again.

Or maybe someone on the president-elect’s staff has done it.

A tweet went out with Trump’s name that contained a curious non-word. It stated: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters — rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act.”

Unpresidented? Hmmm.

Trump’s tweet referred to the hijacking of a U.S. drone craft by the Chinese navy.

The “unpresidented” reference has drawn plenty of scorn around the social media universe.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/unpresidented-trump-tweet-on-china-sets-off-deluge-of-mockery/ar-AAlGn8g?li=BBnb7Kz

Of course, it’s a non-existent word, and that forces me to wonder …

Either the president-elect is decidedly less literate than most of us have believed him to be, or someone on his staff — one of the “best people” he has pledged to hire — fits that description.

Someone has to yank the Twitter gun out of this guy’s hand.

Whoever it is — Trump or someone on his staff — these idiotic messages are not acceptable.

They fought for ‘the duration’

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Seventy-five years ago today, Japanese navy pilots swooped in over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and — perhaps without knowing it at the moment — changed the world forever.

That act dragged the United States of America into the greatest global conflict the world has ever witnessed.

The young men who answered the call from that day forward did so under terms that no longer apply in this day.

Many of them volunteered to get into the fight; others of them were drafted by the government. They all took an oath to defend the nation. Then they signed a paper that committed them to fighting for their nation for as long as it took to finish the fight.

They signed up for “the duration” of the conflict. The war would end in August 1945, but no one who signed up for that battle had a clue as to how long it would last.

Think about that for a moment. As the smoke billowed from the wreckage in Hawaii, did anyone know how long this war would last? It could last for a year, two, three. It could go on for decades.

The young Americans who donned their country’s uniform did so without knowing how long they would be ordered to sacrifice.

My father was one of those young men. He was 20 years and seven months old when we entered World War II. He waited just a few weeks before deciding one day to go to the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, Ore., and enlist in the armed services. His first choice was the Marine Corps. The office was closed. He then walked across the hall and enlisted in the Navy.

He didn’t know when he’d be finished. He didn’t know if he’d ever come home. Dad wanted to fight the enemy.

And he did.

We don’t ask such things of our young men and women these days. We send them off to war for a length of time. They serve and return. Of late — since 9/11 to be exact — we’ve been sending them back into harm’s way repeatedly. That, too, is creating tremendous emotional stress on our young warriors and I wouldn’t for a moment wish to be wearing their boots.

Many of us today, though, will recall the sacrifice made by the young Americans who answered their nation’s call to arms against tyranny.

When we do, think of how they might have felt knowing they might be going into a battle with no end.

That’s what I call “sacrifice.”

Mayor stands for principle in commissioning of ship

USS Portland

This story caught my eye initially because it involved a vessel named after the city of my birth.

Then I learned more about the real story. It’s about principle.

The USS Portland is going to commissioned late next year in Portland, Ore., rather than in Pascagoula, Miss., where it was scheduled to be commissioned.

Why the change? Portland’s lame-duck mayor, Charlie Hales, said he wouldn’t go to Pascagoula to take part in the commissioning because of a Mississippi law he and others say discriminates against gay and transgender people.

You go, Mr. Mayor!

Hales is standing on the principle of non-discrimination and for that he should be applauded.

The USS Portland is an amphibious transport ship that the U.S. Navy has just built. It’s a gleaming vessel of the San Antonio class.

It’s going to be christened in Pascagoula. Hales was going to attend the christening, but backed out because of the discriminatory law.

Portland has some world-class freshwater maritime facilities, as it straddles the Willamette River near where it empties into the mighty Columbia River. According to a report in the Portland Tribune, the commissioning will occur late next year at Terminal 2.

As the Tribune reported: “’The commissioning ceremony of a Navy ship is steeped in a time-honored tradition that places a ship in active service,’ says Mike Hewlett, chair of the Portland Council of he Navy League, an international organization of civilians that supports the maritime services, including the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine.”

That “tradition” should not be done in an environment where some Americans face a state-sanctioned discrimination.

Accordingly, Mayor Hales should be applauded for standing firm on his belief that such laws mustn’t be tolerated.

I don’t know Charlie Hales, who has made me proud of my hometown.