Tag Archives: US Navy

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


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.


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’


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.


Why all this fuss over Gitmo?

Detainees in orange jumpsuits sit in a holding area under the watchful eyes of military police during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray of Naval Base Guantanamo Bay in this January 11, 2002 file photograph. A cache of classified U.S. military documents provides intelligence assessments on nearly all of the 779 people who been detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The secret documents, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, reveal that most of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a "high risk" of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision, the newspaper said in its report late on April 24, 2011.  REUTERS/Stringer/Files (CUBA - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS) - RTXL0IH

I’ll admit that I’m very late in this discussion, but here goes anyway.

Guantanamo Bay — aka Gitmo — has been the subject of a lot of political discussion since it began housing terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.

I’ve listened to the back-and-forth on all these years and am left to ponder: Why has this effort been so contentious?

President Obama said today he’s going to “change course” and move to close the detention center on the U.S. Navy base in Cuba before he leaves office. He wants to relocate the detainees to the United States.

It’s not that I fear bringing them here. They are being kept under serious lockdown at Gitmo. It’s safe to presume that whatever federal lockup gets them that they will be treated with the same seriousness.

Again, why the consternation over their detention at the military site?

The 9/11 attacks provoked a ferocious initial response from the U.S. military. It embarked on a mission to kill and/or capture as many terrorists as it could. Those who were captured were brought to Gitmo, which existed long before the terrorist attacks on D.C. and New York City.

There reportedly were abuses of prisoners at Gitmo. However, does the location of the alleged abuses matter? What if they had occurred at, say, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where the military operates another hard-time lockup for military prisoners?

The suggestions by some foes of closing Gitmo that bringing them to the United States somehow puts Americans at increased risk doesn’t wash.

Still, the suggestions that we must close Gitmo because it somehow doesn’t comport with “American values” is equally nonsensical.

The individuals housed at Gitmo are seriously dangerous criminals who’ve been accused of committing acts of war against the United States of America. Whether they’re locked up at the island detention center or somewhere on U.S. soil doesn’t seem to matter one little bit.

Our Navy base is as secure as any of our installations.

Therefore, now that I’m awakened — finally — to this critical issue, someone will have to explain to me why it became so critical in the first place.


Do we need to ID remains from Pearl Harbor?

I’ve been struggling with this story since I first heard about a couple of days ago.

The Pentagon is going to exhume the unidentified remains of more than 400 sailors and Marines who died on Dec. 7, 1941 aboard the USS Oklahoma, one of several warships sunk in the sneak attack that brought the United States into World War II.


Why the struggle?

I cannot decide if it’s totally necessary to use DNA technology that’s now available to identify the remains that have been resting in peace in “unknown” graves since “the date which will live in infamy.”

Their remains were reburied in a Honolulu national cemetery in 1950. Some of the remains reportedly were “co-mingled” with others’ remains. So it’s not clear who’s buried in each of the graves.

I understand that the technology now available will allow — through painstaking work — forensics experts to identify the remains. It will take time, perhaps years, to finish the job. Indeed, the family members deserve some closure and identifying the remains will give it to them.

However, the family members of the 429 sailors and Marines who were lost have known they were lost aboard the Oklahoma when it capsized at its mooring after being hit by enemy bombs and torpedoes.

Does it do any good now to exhume those remains and subject them to meticulous DNA research?

Why not simply let those heroes rest in peace?

I’m open to comments on this one. Your thoughts? Please?


One final trip to Arizona Memorial

Four men ventured to Hawaii this week to pay tribute to more than 1,000 of their shipmates.

They went to the USS Arizona Memorial, which sits proudly in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

They are the last survivors of the crew that was hit on Dec. 7, 1941 by Japanese warplanes. The men who perished on the Arizona are still entombed in the water below the memorial. These four comrades say they won’t go back for future services marking, in President Roosevelt’s words, “the date, which will live in infamy.”


But they came this weekend to honor those who died on the terrible day 73 years ago.

They’re old men now. In their 90s. They’re frail, but as an article noted about their return, it’s as if in their minds that time has stood still since that horrific Sunday morning. Of course, time hasn’t stood still for anyone.


The coverage of today’s event reminds me of a story told to me by a good friend here in Amarillo about a visit he made recently to the memorial. The shortened version is as follows.

My friend, Roy, watched an elderly gentleman struggle to get off the water taxi that ferries visitors from the island to the Arizona memorial. The gentleman finally got off the craft and shuffled toward the exhibit inside the memorial.

It was then that he noticed the gentleman was of Asian descent. A Coast Guardsman on duty at the time told my friend that the fellow was one of the Japanese pilots who inflicted such grievous damage on the U.S. Pacific Fleet that day, and he was coming back to Hawaii to pray for the souls who died that day and to seek forgiveness.

It’s instructive to hear these stories, if only to remind us that the “enemy” comprised young men who were doing their duty, just as our young men — and women — were doing theirs.

Those pilots are now old men. Their ranks are dwindling. Soon they’ll all be gone.

Let us not forget that emotional pain is universal. It follows no ideology. It’s as real to those who fought on the other side as it to our side.


SEALs breaking the code

A truly disgusting development has been brewing since a group of commandos killed Osama bin Laden.

The once-inviolate code that Navy SEALs followed to protect their secrecy and to foster unit cohesion apparently is being broken by publicity-seeking members of that elite fighting force.


They’re blabbing to the media about who fired the shots that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist. Fox News is planning to air a documentary that reveals — supposedly — the shooter who took out bin Laden.

Another former member of the SEAL team has written a book and, yes, there have been disputes over who did what to whom.

This is utterly ridiculous and is an inexcusable breach of faith with the country they serve.

SEAL commander Rear Admiral Brian Losey has issued a strong rebuke of the blabbermouths among his corps of warriors. He issued a letter to the troops in his command.

“‘A critical tenet of our Ethos is ‘I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions,'” Losey and the top enlisted sailor, Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci, wrote in the letter, obtained by AFP on Monday,” according to MSN. com.

MSN.com also reported: “The commander warned in the letter that ‘we will actively seek judicial consequence for members who wilfully violate the law’ by revealing classified information.”

The loose lips that have been flapping since the May 2011 mission that captivated the nation have brought dishonor to those who are revealing what the world really does not need to know.

Bin Laden is still dead. End of story.