Wednesday, August 24, 2016
There are 60 Medal of Honor recipients from the USAF and its antecedents. However, only 59 are included on the two displays of USAF recipients in the Museum and in the Memorial Gardens. The latest recipient, CMSgt Richard Etchberger is omitted. Chief Etchberger was posthumously awarded the Medal in 2010 for actions that occurred in 1968. As I got to thinking (always dangerous), I could see a short period of time for the displays and monuments to be planned and corrected, but 6 years? So, I wrote the director a letter which, while complementing him on the museum, asked the question why was the Chief omitted. I mailed the letter while I was in Dayton, so it's been a while and I figured I wasn't getting an answer. But, lo and behold, the answer arrived in the mail last night.
With one modification (which should be obvious), here is their answer.
OK, I've worked budgets, I know there's never enough money to get everything done and tough decisions have to be made. I get that.
(You know a .....But..... is coming right?)
When we were planning the visit, the Museum was trumpeting the grand opening of Building 4. That event happened the week prior to our visit (I'm not big on crowds). The new building showcases the Experimental Aircraft Exhibit as well as the Presidential Aircraft (the aircraft that acted as Air Force One over the years). Both wings were very interesting and enjoyable.
The new building and it's attachment to the rest of the museum were very well done and, because it housed some VERY large aircraft (XB-70), was a large structure. Read "large structure" as expensive.
So, it seems to me that the Museum could have added a line item to update the Medal of Honor exhibit inside the Museum. The building had to have been several million. I can't imagine commissioning a black and white framed drawing of the Chief costing more than, MAYBE, ten grand. The budget probably had 10 times that in contingency funding.
Mr. Stolle says they can't spend Government Funds for the Memorial Garden. OK, I'll accept that at face value. How much does it cost to carve a couple of lines of letters in a piece of granite? 50K? Put a deposit box out by the memorial and a sign asking for contributions to add the Last Recipient of the USAF Medal of Honor. Given what I observed about the audience visiting the Museum, I'd give it a week, maybe 10 days.
Tuna made a comment a while back that we may have seen the last flying related Medal of Honor as UAVs take on more and more aerial missions. He may be right.
The point is, and I made it before, the Museum does a great job of showing off famous aircraft. However, the reason those aircraft are famous is because of the actions of the People associated with those aircraft. Jimmy Doolittle, Chuck Yeager, Edward Mechenbier, William Pitsenberger, Neel Kearby to mention but a few. CMSGT Etchberger's name deserves to be included and recognized for what he did.
C'mon, Air Force, you're better than this!
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
A million views is probably going to happen on Wednesday.
It's excited I am.
Could I have done it without Tuna and Juvat?
Probably not, I may have given it up at some point without those two excellent wingmen to pick up the slack when I wasn't feeling it, when the Muse decided to be elsewhere, or when I've had holes poked in me for medical
Last, and certainly not least, there's no way we could have reached this milestone (okay, we're not there yet, but we're close) without the readers and our fellow bloggers who have thrown the occasional link our way. Those folks on the sidebar can share the credit as well.
But without the readers? Milestones would be meaningless.
This is pretty cool. (Just wish Buck was here to see it.)
|Essential Recovery Items|
For the curious amongst you, I had a ventral hernia repaired. What I had is also referred to by some as an incisional hernia, as it was at the sight of an old incision. The doc discovered during my last surgery (partial colectomy) that I had a hernia directly above my navel, possibly caused when two previous surgeries (hernia in the left groin and a cholecystectomy - gallbladder removal) had to gain access to my nether regions via my navel, or close by.
The doc tried to fix that up with sutures only as he couldn't be meshing about down there with a big chunk of colon removed, infection don't you know? Well, that didn't work. So by mid-July I was rather tired of having this softball sized protrusion in my belly. (Which is large enough by itself.) Went to my doc who referred me to the surgeon.
After a short meeting, it was agreed by all those present that repair of that thing should be done. Forthwith.
So it came to pass that in the early morning of the 19th of July I would report to dry dock to undergo repairs. Which were effected, the surgery took a couple of hours, felt like a couple of minutes to me.
I only had one roommate during my stay (as opposed to three last time). He was very quiet the nurse told me as he couldn't speak. When I first had the opportunity to see him, I could see that he was profoundly disabled. Unable to move or to speak. The nurses had to come in and reposition him every two hours. Apparently he was in the hospital not for his disability but for some other ailment.
The nurses seemed fiercely protective of the old gentleman, I gathered that this wasn't in first stay in this particular hospital. A daughter and granddaughter came to visit him on Friday, they seemed like very nice people. On Saturday his wife came to visit and to make arrangements for his discharge. She was a really nice person. Portuguese, as many folk in this region are, she told me that he had been in his current state for 17 years.
Seventeen years, unable to move, unable to speak. But he could communicate as his wife told me. I remarked about how nice it was that the two girls had come the day before and stayed for quite some time. They chatted with him as if he had no disability. She told me that he communicated quite well with his eyes. And his smile.
He had been a good husband, father, and grandfather for many years. She said that they owed him this. He had taken care of them, now it was their turn to care for him. Which, as near as I could tell, they were doing a great job of, so I told her so. Wonderful people who understand tradition and caring for their elders when they can no longer care for themselves.
There was a bit of excitement Friday around midnight. Apparently the older gentleman in the next room down the hallway had had enough of being poked and prodded. He was telling the medical staff to "leave me alone!" He couldn't remember how he'd gotten to the hospital and was convinced that they had kidnapped him.
A "Code Grey" was called (which is hospital-speak for "we need security"). Eventually four hospital security types showed up and were negotiating with the poor old guy, who wasn't feeling well and was quite obviously confused.
The lead security officer eventually got the fellow to calm down and return to his room. His family showed up not long after. He was still heavily sedated when I was discharged. Another sad story which I will never know the outcome of. A sobering experience but the hospital handled it very well I thought.
So I'm back home, in a lot of pain, though it be manageable, and it lessens with each day. I've gone from dilaudid, to oxycodone, with acetaminophen in the on deck circle for when I run out of "ox." The pain meds have given me odd dreams, so I'm looking forward to being done with them. Of course, being done with the pain is the ultimate goal here. Which seems to be in sight, though still hull down on the horizon.
The doctor has commanded me to stay home for two weeks so I have the joy of dealing with the insurance company to look forward to. Perhaps I'll send them a picture of what appears to be a six inch incision above my belly button (but is actually two 3-inch incisions) and see what they think.
Anyhoo, on a lighter note, I awoke at dawn this morning, the pain awakened me, and was convinced that the doctors had run part of the internal torpedo connection harness through my incisions. Like I said, I've been updating torpedo test software as of late and I am totally in to my job. I guess that goes deeper than I realized!
|The feline staff is always on hand to make sure I am well cared for. I mean really, how can one feel pain while petting a cat? Doctor Sasha says it's good therapy. It is, for both of us.|
I now have an 11 x 14 centimeter encasing the region above my navel. I'm guessing that while that won't make me impervious to small arms fire, it will keep the hernias at bay.
Posting may be sparse, it took me a few hours to knock this one out. Read the folks on the sidebar, if I'm not here. I expect to put up something when I can, even if it's just a few lines to say, "Yes, I still draw breath."
Monday, August 22, 2016
|Budding Yankee Air Pirates (Plus a few IPs)|
|I have a hard time remembering that at one point, I had hair!|
|Wonder, in this Politically Correct Air Force, if this is still the Squadron Patch.|
|His callsign was Fud, a play on his last name.|
BTW, Sarge is tinkering on the radar just off the left of the picture. I'm sure I wrote up the radar as "broked".
My year complete, it was off to Moody and "the one with the gun".
Having two operational tours in a row, and recently married, it was time to "pay my dues".
|Yes, I've flown THIS airplane.|
|The Official Patches|
|The TDY patches (the ones I can show on a family friendly blog anyhow)|
|Introduced me to Afterburners and cost me half a mustache!|
Had an deployment to Nyutabaru AB for a little exercise.
I don't remember the deployment, but I do remember the last night before RTB, or at least some of it.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Anyhoo....On with the show.
A few weeks ago, someone commented on one of Sarge's posts about the 18TFW's crest and the "history" behind it. As with most Urban Legends, there's a lot of twists and turns to the story, but here's the bare bones about it.
According to the story, in the early days of the Korean War, some flying unit, somewhere in Korea, (although Kunsan and Osan are frequently mentioned), was forced to abandon their base because of the rapid advances of the North Koreans. As such, in their haste to save their sorry pink butts, the pilots, who flew fighters, (there is a difference), took off and left their maintenance crews to fend for themselves against the godless commies. Said crews were said to have been captured and then hung from the rafters of the bases hangar. Headquarters was said to be so incensed by the actions of the pilots that they decreed that the unit would not be allowed to return to the United States until they had recovered their honor in combat. Further their unit patch would be colored yellow and would have a chicken on it with its arms in the air as if surrendering.
Furthermore, the wires, the poor crew chiefs lost their lives on, would remain intact in the rafters "as a reminder...." Dun, dun, DUNNNN!!!
When I got to Kunsan, in the final year of the second worst president in history, the base had a very large hangar near the runway. Early on in my tour, we had a change of command for the Wing Commander and, because it was winter, prudence dictated we use the hangar for the ceremony.
|If I recall correctly, the hangar was approximately where the oval is|
Being the second youngest officer in the Squadron (my date of rank was 1 day older than my classmate from RTU and now squadron mate which kept me from being the snacko, wahoo!), I was the gofer for the ceremony. That didn't require a lot of effort or brainpower so I had some time on my hands. I wandered around the hangar looking at equipment and stuff. I happened to glance up and saw some wires hanging from the ceiling... Dun, dun, DUNNNN!!!
I asked an old, crusty MSGT (is there any other kind?) what they were for. He related his version of the story. I was impressed, because he told it impressively. However, I had my doubts that the pilots would have run off like that because, well, I was young and impressionable.
So, at least to this version of the story, the base in question was Kunsan.
Now, what Paul Harvey would call, "the rest of the story.",
There are only two fighter units, in the north Pacific, that fit the mold of "never return to the US", the 8TFW and the 18TFW. (Strangely enough, both Sarge and I are alumni of both, even with some overlap in the 8th. As small a base as that was, I'm sure we ran into each other, although neither can remember it happening. Heck, I'm having a harder and harder time remembering breakfast, much less events from nearly 40 years ago.)
Now, where was I...
Right. 8TFW and 18TFW, still in the Pacific, never to return, cowardly heiniousity of leaving crew chiefs to the godless commies, stuck with a yellow patch with a surrendering chicken until they recover their honor in battle.
Let's set a timeline. The godless commies invaded on June 25th, 1950. The Inchon landing occurred on Sep 15th 1950, on the 25th Seoul was recaptured and the North Korean army essentially disintegrated. So, the yellow chicken debacle had to occur sometime in the summer of 1950.
According to the source of all verifiable knowledge, the 8th was flying out of Itazuke AB Japan during that period, (moving to Pyongyang Air Base in December 1950 interestingly). In fact, they didn't permanently move to Kunsan until 1974.
Strike one, they were not at the Kun at the time.
Strike two, the patch is wrong.
And, here comes strike three....
|If you have to ask who this is, well....|
|With wings and talons.|
|Yep, the surrendering chicken|
“It isn't so much that liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so many things that aren't so.”
Friday, August 19, 2016
So I'm out of surgery, shipped down to recovery. As I slowly regain consciousness, I'm having this weird delusion. Rather than being in a hospital bed, I am convinced that I'm in my test lab, running test procedures on a torpedo component. The nurse asks me how I'm doing, I point out that the power inputs are out of tolerance.
"I'm tolerable," I say, "just sore."
Other than giving me a funny look, she moved on with her tasks. Vitals okay, I'm good to go to my room. They wheeled me to the elevator, in, up, out, down another corridor and I'm docked. IV drip doing its thing and...
"So where is the magic button?"
"Yes, for the pain meds."
"Um no. If you need pain meds, buzz your nurse."
No self-medicating this time around. Bummer dude.
Now those two things in the photo. The one on the right is the "Coach". As deep breathing helps in the healing process, the Coach is used. There's a piston and a float, the idea is to get the float in the "happy zone," denoted by a smiley face, driving the piston up to the desired mark.
Now I used one of these last year, still have it as a matter of fact, still use it from time to time. So I'm lying there, blowing into the tube. Nothing was happening, so I remark upon this to one of the CNAs. He fiddles with it, has me blow into it and he agrees, it's busted. At which point my nurse, Amanda, turns around, makes one of those faces (guys, you know what i mean) and points out, you suck on the tube, not blow, it's not a breathalyzer.
At which point I ask for the pen the surgeon used to mark where he needed to cut.
"What do you need that for?" queried Nurse Amanda.
"Well, I reckon I would just write 'idiot' on my forehead so y'all would know right away. Ya know, instead of having to guess."
Okay, Amanda grinned. So my ability to amuse the fairer sex remains intact.
Now that item on the left is a urinal. No, really that's what they call it.
Anyhoo, rather than bore you with the gruesome details of its use, let's just say that later in the day, I discovered that the sumbitch leaked.
Well, the CNA didn't believe me at first. Took me for a sloppy old barsteward she did. Chagrined, I watched her depart to empty the device. When she returned she indicated that she would have to get me a new one.
"This one leaks."
Why yes, yes it does.
Important note - never confuse the two.
Even the atmosphere felt oppressed by the coming invasion, lowering skies, blustery winds, there was something, something in the air which foretold of a coming disaster. As night fell, the soldiers fell back to their camps, leaving only a few sentries, though it was unlikely that the enemy would come ashore at night, one never knew. This enemy was clever and ruthless. Best to be ready.
Those who stood watch noticed it first, a rumble of thunder, the wind rising, not shifting about but rising from the south, increasing. Off in the distance, the flashes of lightning revealed towering storm clouds, some wondered if perhaps a great storm from the vast Eastern Sea was in the offing.
As the wind increased the rain began, driving down in sheets, saturating the ground it ran in rivers down the hillsides. The wind began to howl, then shriek as the atmosphere became a solid thing, threatening to destroy all before it. The sentries retreated to what little shelter they could find, they could see the rising waters pounding the beach. Nothing could land tonight in such a maelstrom. Each man wondered, could he himself survive this massive storm, the wind was a live thing, threatening to pull one from the earth and fling one skywards.
Each man prayed that he might perhaps see the sun come to this land once more. Many would never see another sunset as the storm shrieked and pounded the sea and the land.
Eventually though the wind subsided, an eerie calm settled. Those who could rose to their feet, shaky and wary. Most had never seen such a storm, they wondered if it was truly over.
It was not.
The winds rose again, the lightning flashed, the thunder roared, the rains came again to drown the land, to wash away the unwary. Many of the men despaired, would the storm kill them before the vast enemy "out there" could land and kill them? All hope was gone. Most wanted it over, no matter what, live or die, just please be over.
The storm passed. Those who survived the wild night mustered and marched back to their positions overlooking the shore. Those who had been on sentry duty (those who still lived) reported to their leaders. Of course, nothing had landed in the night, nothing alive that is.
When they reached the shore, debris was scattered upon the bay for as far as the eye could see. The bodies of dead men and horses floated upon the waters and were washed up upon the shore in all directions. That was when the men realized, the enemy had come ashore, driven by the storm, the mighty winds had destroyed the enemy ships and had drowned the mighty army poised to invade their fair land. The dead had invaded, the threat had passed.
Thus ended the first attempt at the invasion of Japan by the army and fleet of Kublai Khan in 1274. At sea after attacking and seizing the islands of Tsushima and Iki, poised to land at Hakata Bay on the island of Kyushu, the Khan's fleet was destroyed by a mighty typhoon roaring north, smashing all in its path. (This was assumed to have been a legend as the "experts" pointed out that typhoons in the Tsushima Straight "don't occur." Recent research indicates that they did occur in the late 1200s, twice. So much for "experts." Read this.)
In 1281, the Great Khan was poised to invade Japan again. After the events of 1274 the Japanese, realizing that perhaps divine intervention would not occur again, had built 6 foot walls along the shoreline wherever an invader might find purchase. So the Khan's fleet sailed north, looking for a place where they might put ashore. To no avail, the Japanese had covered all of the possible invasion sites along the Inland Sea. So the fleet stayed at sea. And again, the great winds came out of the Pacific to destroy the Great Khan's goal of expanding his empire into the Land of the Rising Sun.
Those two storms, which saved Japan, became legend, known as the 神風, the Divine Wind, the kamikaze.
Fast forward to 1944. The Empire of Japan, waging a war to the death against the western allies, again faces destruction. This time, there is no great wind to destroy the invaders. There is only flesh and blood.
|Lt Yoshinori Yamaguchi's Yokosuka D4Y3 (Type 33 Suisei) "Judy" in a suicide dive against USS Essex. The attack left 15 killed and 44 wounded.(25 November 1944). The dive brakes are extended and the non-self-sealing port wing tank trails fuel vapor and/or smoke. (Source)|
|An A6M Zero (A6M2 Model 21) towards the end of its run at the escort carrier USS White Plains on 25 October 1944. The aircraft exploded in mid-air, moments after the picture was taken, scattering debris across the deck. (Source)|
|USS Bunker Hill was hit by kamikazes piloted by Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa and Lieutenant Junior Grade Seizō Yasunori on 11 May 1945. 389 personnel were killed or missing and 264 wounded from a crew of 2,600. (Source)|
|Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa. (Source)|
|Starboard horizontal stabilizer from the tail of a "Judy" on the deck of USS Kitkun Bay. The "Judy" made a run on the ship approaching from dead astern; it was met by effective fire and the plane passed over the island and exploded. Parts of the plane and the pilot were scattered over the flight deck and the forecastle. (Source)|
|26 May 1945. Corporal Yukio Araki, holding a puppy, with four other pilots of the 72nd Shinbu Squadron at Bansei, Kagoshima. Araki died the following day, at the age of 17, in a suicide attack on ships near Okinawa. (Source)|
Sometimes we forget that the enemy is a human being, much like us though often from a different culture. I recently had the chance to watch a program on Netflix about the Special Attack Units (kamikaze) employed by Japan near the end of World War Two. They weren't all volunteers, some were "voluntold" (as Juvat likes to put it). All were, to some extent, extremely brave men, willing to die for their country.
There have been comparisons made between the suicide bombers of modern times to the kamikaze of Japan. In my view, there is no comparison. Today's suicide bombers predominantly seek defenseless, civilian targets. The kamikaze exclusively sought military, often heavily defended, targets. Most were shot down and killed before they reached their destinations. They were warriors. Their culture made them what they were. Honor was all, Japan was all, the Emperor was all.
As I learn more about the Pacific War, I realize just how little I knew before. Well, I'm rectifying that. Bit by bit. If you have Netflix, watch Day of the Kamikaze, you might learn something. I did. (The following is an excerpt.)
The cost, to both sides, was high.
|The remains of US sailors killed during a kamikaze attack on aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) are awaiting their burial at sea. (Source)|