Sunday, June 17, 2018

Breed's Hill 1775

Boston, 1775
(Source)
"What say you Major? Time to give the bloody colonials the bill for Concord I would think."

Major John Pitcairn simply nodded at the man, that march through the Massachusetts countryside back in April still rankled with him. Too many fine men lost, and to what purpose? Here we are again, marching to the colonists tune, what will be the butcher's bill this day?

"Sergeant Barnes!"

"SIR!"

"Prepare the men, we will advance shortly."

"SIR!"

Major Pitcairn watched the first wave falling back down the slope, gaps in the ranks, the men a bit shaken but quickly recovering themselves. Drawing his sword he walked down the ranks of his Marines, gauging their readiness for this advance. Fine lads, he thought to himself, I almost pity those men on the hill.

(Source)
As the British fell back from the galling fire the militia had poured into them, one man stood atop the breastwork...

"Huzzah lads! We've shown the lobsterbacks what for! Huzzah!"

"Get down from there Wheelock, some redcoat might shoot you for making all that racket."

"Certainly Nathaniel, but we gave them a thrashing didn't we?"

"Yes we did, Private Wheelock. Need I remind you that when we're on active service, you're to call me captain? Is that too much to ask of my darling wife's idiot brother?" Though said with a smile, young Jason Wheelock took the hint, his older sister was always chiding him for being 'too frivolous.'

"Yes sir, Captain Sir! I shall try and remember."

"Good now, get ready, I hear the drums, seems like the lobsterbacks want to try again."

(Source)
"Marines! Shoulder your FIRELOCKS!" Pitcairn barked out as he moved to his position near the drummers in front of the battalion. Turning to his son, he said...

"Mind yourself well today William, we don't want your Mother to mourn either of us, do we?"

"No Sir, I shall tread cautiously this day!"

Drawing his sword, Major Pitcairn raised it aloft and barked, "Battalion! To the front, MARCH!" As the drums began to rattle, the 2nd Marines stepped off. Looking to his right, the major could see that General Howe's troops were rallying and were starting to advance back up the hill themselves.

(Source)
Captain Nathaniel Jones looked over his men, they were nervous, he could tell by the way they fidgeted and brushed the sweat from their foreheads.

"Steady lads, steady! Wait for it, don't fire too soon. Wait for it..."

The rattle of the British drums was most unnerving, the men advancing on their position appeared to be Royal Marines, Jones had served with them in the war against the French, not lads to be trifled with. Well then, I think that is close enough.

"FIRE LADS! GIVE THEM A VOLLEY!"

The British seemed to stagger as the smoke rolled down from the freshly turned dirt, chasing the hail of lead balls which had smashed into the redcoated men advancing up the hill. They faltered, but only for a moment.

Then another volley rang out, more men went down.

Captain Jones heard the British officers and sergeants commanding their men to fall back. Perhaps we have won this day, he thought to himself. At that point his neighbor and sergeant tugged at his sleeve.

"That's it Sir, we are dry, there is no more shot, nor powder to propel it. What are your orders Nate?"

He could see that some of the men were reloading, some of them with pebbles scooped from the ground beneath their feet.

"Alright lads, if they come on again, we'll give them one more volley, that should do it. But be ready to pull back towards Cambridge if need be. Steady now, here they come."

(Source)
As the Marines approached the breastworks before them, Pitcairn saw the colonials leaning forward, ready to give fire, but the volley was weak, uncoordinated. Damn my eyes, they are out of ammunition!

"BATTALION! CHARGE BAYONETS! CHARGE! AT THEM LADS!!"

As Pitcairn stepped forward, looking back at his Marines, he saw motion in the corner of his eye, to the left. Some fellow was actually aiming at him! How quaint...

The ball hit the major hard, he was down, barely conscious as his battalion dashed past him and into the rebel works. His son William had seen him fall and was quickly at his side.

"I have lost my father!"

A few Marines faltered and came back to where William knelt by his father. A few of them dropped to their knees and wept openly. Major John Pitcairn was a popular officer.

Death of John Pitcairn
(Source)
Somewhere over the crest of the hill, men were cheering. But to the men around John Pitcairn, it was a bitter day, a day many would remember to the day they died. The day their officer fell leading his Marines against their fellow Englishmen.

(Source)
The Battle of Bunker Hill, as we call it, though in truth it was fought on Breed's Hill was a British victory, but a very costly victory. One thousand and fifty four British soldiers fell taking a hill from colonial militia. The breakdown of the casualties:
  • 19 officers killed
  • 62 officers wounded
  • 207 soldiers killed
  • 766 soldiers wounded
Nearly 49% of the force. With victories like that, British hopes of quelling the rebellion were slim. Though they persisted in trying for eight more years. Sir William Howe, who was to replace Thomas Gage as commander in the colonies, was forevermore shy of assaulting American positions head on. Henry Clinton, also on the field, would succeed Howe and have even less success, content to sit in New York and let the rebels come to him.

So in the long run, it was a British victory that sowed the seeds of eventual British defeat.

But for William Pitcairn, it was the day he lost his father.

Major John Pitcairn, of His Majesty's Royal Marines, born in Scotland, died in Massachusetts within sight of Boston, where he lies interred in Christ Church Cemetery to this very day.

Perhaps 'tis fitting to remember the son, and the father, on this Fathers Day, which is also the 243rd anniversary of the a Battle of Bunker Hill.

(Source)
It is well to remember, that history is made by people, that the casualties suffered in battle are not just numbers.



Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Last Victory

On the 6th of April, 1814, the Emperor Napoléon abdicated his throne as Emperor of the French and went into exile on Elba, a small island off the coast of Italy. Less than a year later, Napoléon returned to France, within days he had reclaimed his throne. While he stated that his intentions were peaceful, the Allies had him declared an outlaw at the Congress of Vienna.

So the Emperor prepared for a renewal of the wars which had plagued Europe, nearly without cease, since the French Revolution of 1789.

(Source)
I have always been fascinated by apocalyptic tales, in history and in science fiction. The Hundred Days of Napoléon have always held a special fascination for me. From ruling a major portion of Europe, sitting on the ancient throne of France, to ruling a small island, the Emperor had returned for one last roll of the dice.

Victory for the French may indeed have allowed the Emperor to keep his throne. Though nearly all of Europe was marching on France, only two of Napoléon's enemies were close at hand, the British (with their Dutch-Belgian-German allies) and the Prussians, both quartered in Belgium, just to the north of the French border, scattered in cantonments across the countryside.

If the French could move fast enough, and stay concentrated, they could separate and then deal fatal blows to both the Anglo-Allied army and the Prussians before they could concentrate and long before the distant armies of Austria and Russia could close with the French border and march on Paris. Shattering the British and the Prussians could well dissuade the Austrians from continuing the war, after all was Napoléon not the son-in-law of the Austrian Emperor?

Who knows what the Russians might have done, but with long supply lines and no friends willing to continue the fight, they may well have drawn back into the Motherland.

It all came down to the campaign which is now known as the Waterloo campaign, from roughly the 14th to the 18th of June in the year 1815. Four battles, most people only remember the last one from which the campaign takes it name - Waterloo.

But on the 16th of June, the army of Napoléon engaged the Prussians in those fields shown in the opening photo. Near the Belgian town of Ligny, the battle of the same name was fought. It was the Emperor's last victory.

On the same day, the Anglo-Allies fought a detachment of the French army to a draw at the small Belgian crossroads village of Quatre-Bras. I have written of this campaign every year since I started the blog, I've covered the events in any number of ways, here are those posts from 2012 to last year.

In 2012 I told the tale of our trip to see the reenactment of the battle. Much mud in that story.

In 2013 some paintings and a few videos (some of them sadly no longer available) is how I commemorated the 198th anniversary of the campaign.

In 2014, Prelude, a number of paintings interspersed with some text to put the days leading up to Waterloo in perspective

In 2014, Le 18 Juin 1815, again a number of paintings, some miniatures, and enough text to give the reader a feel for the ebb and flow of the Battle of Waterloo.

This series of four posts from 2015 are some of my favorite posts on the campaign (some of my favorite posts out of many here at The Chant, not just the Waterloo ones) -
In 2016, books about the battle and the Napoleonic era were the topic.

Last year, I began experimenting with writing some historical fiction. These posts were fun to write, and hopefully gave the readers a feel for what, perhaps, it felt like to actually be there. I really enjoyed writing these -
A very good account of the Battle of Ligny, "The Last Victory," is here, you should read that, it's pretty accurate and entertaining as well.

The campaign of 1815 is very popular with wargamers, particularly those recreating wars using miniatures. I wish I had the time to create the terrain they fight their "little wars" upon and collect and paint the many figures needed to recreate these battles on the wargaming table. If you travel here, there is a series of ten posts (which you can page through, see near the top right of the text, Page 1 of 10, etc.) depicting one man's recreation of the Battle of Ligny in miniatures. For me, it's simply breathtaking to behold, the chap did a superb job. (And I'm not saying that just because we share the same first name...)

I can almost hear the thump of cannon, the rattling of musketry. and the chink of horse furniture as I look at those photos. Brilliant, simply brilliant.

A sample photo from the aforementioned series of posts.
While your interest in those days may not be as intense as mine, ask The Missus Herself, she knows this campaign is an obsession of mine, I visited the field of Waterloo many times whilst stationed in Germany, far too many she will tell you, it's a fascinating period of history. Often the future of nations was decided in just a few short days.

Waterloo ushered in a fairly peaceful period in European history. No major wars would be fought in Europe for almost a hundred years after Waterloo. Not until 1914.

When once again the Prussians (now called Germans) marched on Paris. This time the British fought with the French.

History, I am fascinated by it.



Friday, June 15, 2018

Bond of Brothers

As I read Sarge's post last week about the D-Day Landing, and the video from the most excellent TV series Band of Brothers, it inspired me to write about a similar connection I had while serving in Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5 or CAG-5) in Japan.   Not to take anything away from our own little "Band of Bloggers" here at the Chant, but we don't have the same opportunity for acquiring interesting sea stories as actually serving at sea. 

CAG-5 flew off the USS Independence (CV-62), and I was with VS-21, flying in the right and right rear seat of the S-3B Viking, conducting Anti-Submarine Warfare for the Battlegroup.  While I was  very close to my squadron-mates, and still am today, CAG-5 was also a very close-knit unit; we Brothers-in-Arms, who lived, ate, slept, flew, and played together for three years.  I lived about three kilometers from Atsugi Naval Air Facility, which was about a 30 minute drive, but at sea, my commute was less than 1000 feet, so they were close neighbors as well.



Indy had an all male crew, which allowed for some different experiences than what sailors are getting today.  And it led to some interesting incidents.  Men could be men, which is a very subjective statement on my part I realize, but there was familiarity without the need to keep behaviors and speech in check.  This is something  which we rightly do when in mixed company, but there, our language was probably a little more crude and direct, we told dirty jokes without the desire or need to be politically correct, and it wasn't uncommon to have a small stack of Playboys or other reading material in a stateroom.   Some Chanters may bristle at these facts, but they didn't make us any less effective as war-fighters.  Nor did it turn us into men who objectify women or develop unrealistic expectations of them in society. 


During that tour, I tallied up two years and 11 days of sea duty, which is a lot of time away from home.  While that meant a lot of flight time, it also meant for us married guys, a lot of separation from our wives.  Some of those marriages didn't survive.  There was CB, whose wife not only left him during one underway period, but she sold every belonging, even his clothes.  And when I say every belonging, that even included his car which was parked on base, leaving him unable to get back to their apartment.  However, it turned out that she had also terminated their lease so he didn't really have a place to go anyway.  Of course she also raided their bank accounts, leaving him broke as can be.  However, the most egregious offense, one for which forgiveness is difficult, if not impossible, is the fact that she put down their three dogs before moving back to the states.

There was also the guy in my squadron whose wife wasn't at the hangar with all the other wives, after a 5 month deployment to the Arabian Gulf for Operation Southern Watch.  She too had pulled up stakes and moved back to Florida.  This wasn't a huge shock at first because during our underway periods, she would return to Florida to work as a pharmacist.  When he called her shortly after the fly-in, she not only asked for a divorce, she wanted to get it done ASAP because in 30 days or so, she was marrying another pilot IN THE SAME AIR WING. And a squadron-mate of Lex.  Turns out she had been carrying on at least an emotional affair with him since she and my friend had been dating while he was in flight school in Kingsville Texas.  It continued while the two guys were both going through their respective Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) training at Cecil Field near Jacksonville FL.  Unfortunately for my friend, both happened to also get sent out to Japan.  One might say those two new lovebirds were destined to be together, but I later saw the offender at Lex's funeral and they were now divorced.  So much for wedded bliss and destiny.

Being a ship built long before aviation equality was considered, Indy actually had a urinal on the back side of the island.  Aviators and flight deck crew could quickly relieve themselves without needing to return below decks.  Air crew wear a lot of survival equipment, including a harness for strapping into the ejection seat, a survival vest, and for the Fighter and Attack guys, a G-Suit.  It's all rather heavy and tight, which can reduce how well you feel stuff down there.  That led to one humorous incident after one guy in the air wing forgot to zip up.  He was walking down the flight deck towards his jet with a certain appendage hanging out, leading to his new call-sign, Silver.  As in Long-John(son) Silver.

CVW-5, sans VA-115 and VF-21

For my first year out there, CAG-5 had F-14 Tomcats, A-6 Intruders, and SH-3 Sea King helos, (among other birds) which were later replaced by more F-18s, and SH-60F helos.  Our air wing was so close that a loss of an aircraft, or more specifically, the loss of the aircrew, was felt by all.  It hit home, and it hit hard.  During my time there we had two Class-A Mishaps.  A Class-A is a loss of or damage to an aircraft totaling over $1M, or the loss of life.

VA-115 Eagles, loaded for Bear.

We had both during this mishap where we lost Hambone and Chowda out of VA-115.  They were on a low-level flight, jinking back and forth along a winding river, but they didn't jink back.  We also had a helo doing planeguard fly into the water one night, ejecting both pilots through the windscreen.  Both lived, but the senior one turned in his wings.  The two rescue swimmers in the back, probably, or at least hopefully, died  on impact.  I later worked with the co-pilot when he commanded the helicopter wing, so he had recovered well.


We also had a minor mishap when an SH-3 landed hard and pranged the tail wheel.  While it could have been fixed, we were losing those aircraft anyway, and none of them were going to be flown back to the states.  So leadership decided to just push the old bird overboard. 



It wasn't just the time working and flying at sea, but the port visits and detachments as well.  My squadron conducted some of our annual ASW training from Barbers Point, which meant a couple weeks in Hawaii, with an annual luau to cap it off.  Hong Kong was visited a couple times a year, Pattaya Beach Thailand was visited twice during my tour, as was Manila, all of which meant time together in town and in the Admin*.  More opportunity to enforce friendships.  In Singapore (2 visits), most of the air wing reserved them in the same hotel, which made for an an entire tower of camaraderie.  One opportunistic JO made up flyers which he gave to the ladies in a few bars, insuring that we were the envy of the air wing. 

CBW-5** Hangar on Iwo
Our detachments were yet another opportunity for CAG-5 to bond.  For noise abatement around Atsugi, we conducted all our FCLPs (Field Carrier Landing Practice) on Iwo Jima.  I though it was a strange, but nice gesture on the part of the Japanese Government to build us an exact replica of each squadron hangar back in Atsugi.  I guess nobody told them that an air wing detachment doesn't need all that space, but I digress.  Iwo was a really interesting place with plenty of WWII era caves to explore, and a particular mountain (Suribachi) to scale.  From the 60s through the 90s, the US Coast Guard maintained a LORAN navigation transmitter on the island.  While it had been closed just prior to my arrival in Japan, the Coasties had left a huge trove of VHS tapes which helped us pass the time after flight ops had secured.  There was also great food and drink.  Either due to available supply or temperance reasons, each person on det was "limited" to a 6-pack of beer per day.  With all the folks who couldn't or wouldn't drink their daily ration, there was never really a limitation.  If you had completed your FCLP requirements early or weren't on the next day's flight schedule, movies and beer were the night's entertainment.  That detachment was twice a year and always something we looked forward to.

Mount Suribachi                                                                      Pinterest
For me, working, flying, and drinking together, and doing so much of it, really made that time in my life memorable, and gave me a bunch of life long friends.  I can't really compare it to the guys who actually fought and died together in Easy Company, but the bond is no less meaningful.

* Admin: When a carrier pulls into a foreign port, the crew gets liberty.  If the boat will be in port for more than a couple of days, the squadrons officers plunk down cash for a crash pad/party spot. A J.O. or two is given the responsibility to reserve that place and keep it well stocked.  an apartment or hotel room for the in-port period. A most useful custom.
**CBW-5 is what the sign on the hangar stated.  Trying saying it with a Japanese accent.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Online...

I spend a lot of time online*. Writing posts for the blog. Checking Facebook for pictures of my grandkids. Watching (and ordering stuff) on Amazon, watching a bit of Netflix (though far less than I used to), and playing computer wargames via Steam.

Now as far as work goes, even though I'm on a computer all day, I'm not really online as I'm mostly doing work stuff on the company's intranet. Though we can get out past the dreaded firewall, and while it isn't forbidden, nor frowned upon, we are allowed "reasonable" usage, for certain, and variable, meanings of that word. No, I don't spend a lot of time on the company's dime surfing the web.

We have Internet Explorer and Windows 7. When I go to work I feel as if I've gone back in time. That cartoon above really does seem to describe IE to a fair-thee-well. It's slow, it's cumbersome, but oh-my-gosh it is super secure. (So the company IT wonks claim. Or are told to tell us, I'm not sure. The real IT guys don't like it but the besuited IT people like it. As they pay the bills, they get to make that call.)

I most assuredly don't care for it. We used to be able to use Chrome, still possible but you have to know the right magical incantations and Google shoots themselves in the foot by insisting on attempting to install Chrome directly from their website. Our security software always says, "Whoa, not so fast buddy! What is it you want to do? I don't think so..."

Mozilla is a little more clever, you can download the "install package" and then load from that. The problem is is that our IT folks have circumvented that with two new tactics:
  1. Uh-oh, you don't have the latest version of Firefox, click here to get it. If you click where they tell you, you get the exact same message again. You have to know to press the link, not the button.
  2. Now that it's downloaded, 90% of the sites you want to hit give you a "404 - Not found." But if you use the exact same URL in IE, bingo! Works fine. IT is playing me, like a cheap fiddle.
So I'm sorta stuck with IE, don't care for it but it's what I have to live with.

As for Windows 7? I have never liked it, had Vista (which is sort of 7-Lite) at home and it was "okay." For a long time I had to use Windows XP, which was more "okay" than Vista. What do I use at home now? Windows 10. Is it the best OS I've ever used? No, of course not, but it's better than Windows 7 and it's better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Oh yeah, at work I get to use Windows XP as well but only on this one network which has no connection to the outside world. There are days I find myself asking, "What is it about XP that I liked?" Argh.

Don't speak to me of Unix or Linux (which I call Unix-Lite), that's an OS I use for real work, both now and back in the Air Force. Not at home, no, no thank you.

So work is often a trial. Monday I had to reboot my computer twice, for software "updates." (I think it's just more spyware the company dumps on us, the suits don't seem to realize that it's the engineers bringing in the profits, not the spreadsheet cowboys.)

But hey, it's a paycheck and the work itself is interesting. Yes, there are times that I feel like we're using flint knives and bear skins but hey, it pays the bills and keeps the Guinness flowing.



Yup, I've got that going for me.



* Technically speaking my computer is online, I'm just driving. When it lets me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

In My Humble Opinion...

I posed the question on Sunday, the readers responded. I promised you my two cents, here it is.


On April 12, 1861, Southern artillery opened fire upon Fort Sumter, a Federal installation in Charleston harbor, South Carolina. Nearly four years later, on April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. While some fighting continued past that date (CSS Shenandoah was still taking prizes in June of that year), the war was effectively over.

Could the South have won that war? Not really, no. However, if Robert E. Lee had accepted the post offered to him, command of the United States Army, it's quite possible that the first battles would have gone in the North's favor, Lee was that good of a general.

On the other hand, that would have required Lee to take up arms against his home state of Virginia, which was not going to happen.

Another possibility for Southern victory would have been Lee taking James Longstreet's advice upon the second Southern invasion of the North. Take up a strong position and make the Army of the Potomac attack. Something which they had yet to prove they were any good at.

In reality, the South's only hope for victory was probably a short, sharp early victory and the seizure of Washington, DC. Many thought that should have been the outcome of First Bull Run, (First Manassas) but in reality both of the armies engaged that day were rank amateurs. None of the generals on either side had ever commanded large bodies of troops in the field, so effectively they were rookies at that level of command. Many folks don't know just how close that battle was to being a Northern victory.

But it was not to be. Could the South have hoped to tire the North of the fighting? Maybe, there were defeatist elements in the North, peace at any price, etc., etc. There are those factions in any war. Could Lincoln have been defeated in 1864? By whom I ask? McClellan, who had proven himself to be a great organizer but a completely ineffective leader in the field? No, most folks had seen through "Little Mac" by then.

The North wanted the war over, but by 1864 the South was on their last legs. Gettysburg and Vicksburg had realistically dashed all hopes of a Southern victory in July 1863. July 4th was the death knell of the Confederacy.

But what really killed the South's hopes was the individual states. Who were supposedly fighting for "states' rights" against the centralized Federal government. Does any one believe that they could have subordinated themselves to a different centralized government, only in Richmond, not Washington? One of the very reasons for their secession doomed their chances for success.


Would slavery have eventually ended in the South (and in those states kept in the Union where slavery was allowed) with a Southern victory, or no war at all?

Yes, it probably would have. The South would have seen the same agricultural advances as other nations, they would have had to industrialize further in order to compete with the rest of the industrialized world. While Europe was forced to turn to Egyptian cotton by the war, who's to say that would not have happened eventually anyway? A completely agrarian economy with very little industry wasn't a recipe for success by 1861. Furthermore, had the South become a separate nation and stayed that way past 1865 for whatever reason, the North had an interest in seeing them fail. For purely economic reasons, not to mention spite.

Would the black population of the South been better off? I doubt it. Southern society was built upon the alleged superiority of the white race, it is unreasonable to assume that just because folks of any degree of African descent could no longer be bought and sold at market, doesn't mean they would've been accepted as equals. That didn't even happen after the South had lost the war. That required more strife and bloodshed some one hundred years later.

While some argue that slavery was anathema in Europe, therefore the South would have to give it up carries no water with me. Slavery still exists in this world and I don't mean people having to work at crappy jobs for crappy wages. Human trafficking is still practiced and is a stain on humanity's conscience. It will not end until its practitioners, both providers and customers, are eradicated from the planet.


What do I really think about the causes of the Civil War?

The fear on the part of Southern politicians losing power in Congress as more free states were added to the Union. Compromises, adding a slave state for each free state, would eventually prove to be unworkable.

It was all about power, the South feared being dominated by the North, when Lincoln ran for President, the South indicated that if he was elected, they would not stand for such an outcome.

When Lincoln was elected, seven states almost immediately seceded from the union, to be followed by four more. In those days when people said they would leave the country rather than have "that man" as their President, they meant it.

I might start referring to the Civil War as The LDS War. LDS standing for, and you had to see this coming, Lincoln Derangement Syndrome. Same party, same nonsense. At least in 1861 they had the courage of their convictions. Not so much these days.

Anyhoo, that's my two cents. Your mileage may indeed (and probably does) vary.

Ball's back in your court readers, I breathlessly await your thoughts. (And Beans, I'll try and keep up this time.)



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Contrary to Popular Belief...


So, it was Saturday night and I was heavily engaged in infiltrating the Germans' highly classified Magazzeno Facility. After I had fought my way through a crap load of Deutsche Fallschirmjäger, all proclaiming that they were going to track me down and annihilate me, I realized that the hour was quite late. Hhmm, hold that thought boys, we must continue this dance at another time. I need to make haste to the blog and write something.

Otherwise, all of the Chanters who rely upon Your Humble Scribe and his faithful minions for summat to entertain them over morning coffee will be sore disappointed.

Grumbling (sotto voce) about this blogging activity cutting into my computer gaming time, it struck me that I had volunteered for this gig, hadn't I? So I should quit bitching and start writing. But it was just a tad short of the midnight hour, attendance at Holy Services the next morning was expected and I needed something.

Fast.

I contemplated a re-run, something I am wont to do now and again of a Sunday, but decided that I didn't have anything in mind. I mean, I've been on a bit of a history kick as of late, with more in the offing, and didn't want to, ya know, break the streak. So...

I offered up this, an exercise for the readers, so to speak. It's a topic I have been meaning to address for some time now, having numerous readers from the Southland and no inconsequential number of "damned Yankees" on the roles as well. (I count myself both by birth and inclination to be one of the latter. Though in truth I root for the Red Sox. Dad was a Yankee fan, Mom loves her Red Sox, I grew up in a divided household. Bitter it was during the season of America's pastime. Ah, things could get heated. And yes, I digress. Badly.)

Anyhoo.

A couple of propositions, things I've been meaning to blog about though have been somewhat reluctant to do so. Southerners have long memories, so I've been told, and the great bloodletting of 1861 to 1865 is a topic often near the surface of my own thoughts. So I threw those propositions regarding the WBtS, ACS, WoNA, what-have-you, out to you, the readers, to solicit your thoughts and opinions on the topic.

Then in the comments, I see that dear Beans had tossed a salvo in my general direction.

As can be seen, I tossed out a witty (read lame) comeback and was relieved that our Suz had dashed in to rescue Yours Truly. Good lady that Suz.

Anyhoo.

Beans didn't hit too far from the mark with his bon mot but it was more of a "holy crap it's almost midnight and I haven't written a post yet" than it was a, "heh, let's just toss this out there and let the readers thrash away at it without my input."

Ya see, Beans has noticed that I respond to comments. Each and every one (usually) though as of late it's getting hard to keep up with y'all. I mean, you folks like to comment, a lot. There are days when I'm answering one comment, publish it and "DAMN, there's another one" coming up right after the screen refreshes. Deuced prolific thou art.

I mean, I like it. A lot. But Sunday's post I wanted to put out there, let you folks beat up on it for a day or so before I chimed in with my own two cents. Well, you've done so and given me much to think on. I have my own opinions and thoughts on those two propositions but I'm not ready to share those just yet. Not to mention, y'all made some very good points, I may need to rethink my position on a thing or two regarding that conflict between the blue and the gray (or butternut if you will).

Good stuff, but damn it, it makes my head hurt to think so much. Especially on a Monday.

So expect more reverberations from Sunday's post. But it's going to take a while. I mean there is grass to watch grow, ponds to look at, and, most importantly, adult beverages made with hops and barley standing by which are not going to consume themselves. Know what I mean?

I need to think, cogitate, ruminate, and contemplate, so...

Contrary to popular belief I was not:
  • wool gathering
  • goofing off
  • taking my ease
  • lounging about
  • wasting time
  • slacking
..this past Sunday instant.

Well, maybe I was.

A little.



Monday, June 11, 2018

Ruminations

Well, as some of you are aware, things are a tad hectic around Rancho Juvat (Rawncho Juvat, if you're a former President, pronounced like Paw-kiss-tawn), what with a large amount of technology to install over a shortened summer and a rapidly approaching wedding.

So, workdays are technology, weekends are weddings, nights are for rearranging priority lists in my head, and sleeping is for the weak.

Or so it seems.

This past weekend was my second trip to Dallas in the past months, which, truth be told, is more trips to Dallas than I'd had in the prior 20 years.  The Big D is not high on my favorite cities list.  Don't feel bad, tho' D, neither is Houston, Austin, San Antonio or El Paso.  Don't get cocky, Fort Worth, I lump you into the phrase "Big D".

But, with a few soon to be told excitements, it was a fun trip.  Purpose of said trip was to participate in the "I Do! BBQ.  The event was a "Couples Shower" for the soon to be Bride and Groom (let's use FSIL e.g. future Son In Law) thrown by the groom's extended family.

As I am well known for my Social Graces (RIIIIGHHHT, juvat, Social Graces!), I approached the occasion with a bit of trepidation.  One wouldn't want to step in a large pile of....offal and offend the soon to be "new side of the family."  Or, much, much worse, My Beautiful Daughter (MBD) and, by extraordinarily short extension, Mrs J.

So, I was on my best behavior.

Other than the FSIL's Parents, his Aunt, both Uncles and his Grandmother were there, with assorted Cousins and their spouses and children.  A fairly large crowd gathered in Mesquite (the town, not the tree).

Turns out one of his Uncle's spent time in the Air Force as a WSO on F-111s and was an air spare on the Libya Raid.  Fortunately/Unfortunately, he was not needed, so RTB'd,

Yes....There was quite a lot of shooting of hands and trash talk after that.  Turns out his son is also Air Force and is deployed to the SandBox. 

The FSIL's Aunt and her husband were hosting the shindig in their home which abuts a large park which was hosting a festival to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Which......

I was told, they didn't want their Fourth of July show to be lost in a bevy of other shows, so they went first.

Hey!...America is large enough, good enough and important enough to have an extended celebration of her Independence.

And they had fireworks!

I like fireworks.


A good time was had by all.  RTB Sunday Morning was uneventful and we avoided unnecessary delay at TX220 and US67, so a little less than 4.5 driving time and we're back at the Rancho.
This.....
...is better than this

As Aaron is wont to describe, the trip was 9.1 hours, three interim stops (2 potty stops and 1 Lunch if you must know), and one terrifying minute in the log book

So....There I was* On ingress, driving east on I-20 about 4 miles from the intersection for I-635 and approaching an overpass.  I'm behind a sedan who's behind an 18 wheeler.  Traffic is moderate, and moving at about 75.  I'm starting to look for an opportunity to move into the lanes for I-635 when I see something that looks like a crumpled paper bag flying over the roof of the car in front.  I can't swerve due to traffic, but I think it's paper.

Suddenly there's a large bang.  This being Dallas (one of the reasons I dislike the town), my initial thought is somebody's shooting.  I glance around, don't see any holes, but Mrs J has got her arms thrown up in front of her head.  I ask her if she's ok.

She says she's fine, but the windshield's cracked.  I look, such as I can in traffic at 75, and sure enough, there's a crack all the way across the screen about an inch from the bottom.  I ask her what happened and she says a broken brick hit us. 

Now, I'm peeved.

We're only minutes from the hotel, so we press on.  Get to the parking lot and take a look, sure enough there's a circular impact right where the windshield meets the frame and no other damage.  However, it was centered up, left and right on Mrs. J's seat.

Which gave me a moment of reflection. Before we left, I had briefly considered taking her car, since it gets better gas mileage and is smaller and more maneuverable. However, it sits considerably lower to the ground.  If we had taken it and arrived at that exact same point in time, that brick would have hit center of the windshield, a much weaker portion and thus more prone to penetration. 
My truck is in the foreground,  Her car is in the back, you can see the impact and where it would have hit her car.

I had rejected taking her car because I just "felt" I needed the protection of the bigger vehicle.

Thank You, Lord!

BTW, Sarge gave me a little grief over my "assignment" to Okinawa at 18 months.  I was wrong.  I arrived on Okinawa the first time at 10 months old.
My mom received this certificate of arrival on Okinawa from the Captain of the Troop Ship aboard which we crossed the Pacific .
Ahhh, the finest in Air Force Housing.


In retelling the stories of this picture, my folks told me that the fence was to keep people from exploring Shuri Ridge, in the background.  1956.  Okinawa was a heckuva battle.
So...Given no choice (which is the definition of Assigned), my second assignment, but first in the Pacific was Okinawa, in 1956.