Tuesday, October 20, 2015

All Over the Map


I had a decent plan for my post this week.  I was going to share a bunch of pictures, a few stories, and even a video or two about my time on board the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70), some of which might even be a little entertaining.   That was the plan until I read a lengthy bit of commentary on Facebook this past weekend regarding a picture and the originator's motivation for posting it.



So you'll get a little of both- some Vinson stories and some discussion regarding that post. I picked the Vinson part of my career for a few different reasons-  first is that I have a ton of pictures, videos and stories from that tour.  The Chuckie V, like all carriers has it's own media and marketing department- Public Affairs, staffed with photographers and videographers- all who are MCs (Mass Communications Specialists) whose sole job seems to be taking pictures and making cool videos.  In a squadron it's a collateral duty for some nugget, if at all- usually just one of the JOs skilled enough to put together a decent video or slide-show for the next Fo'c's'le Follies.


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The Hornet at 3:15 is the first jet of the first strike package that launched after 9-11

Speaking of which, did you happen to watch the Hornet Ball video Sarge posted on Sunday?  I shared it on my Facebook page as well since it just blew me away- the production quality today makes the videos I used to make in the squadron look like something your sixth grader did for a class project.

But anyhoo...

I was stationed on the Vinson from Feb 2000 to Feb 2002- and we were scheduled to reach the Strait of Hormuz and enter the Arabian Gulf on September 12th 2001.  That plan was overcome by events though:




So when a Carrier goes to war, there's no shortage of great footage- from crews prepping the jets, to the massive resupply of precision weapons, to well-produced videos set to music showing the team all together working towards a common goal.  The Vinson media team put out an end of deployment CD with much of that footage.  I've used it here today and in the past.


                                 

Another reason I wanted to talk about my time on-board is that the Vinson tour was the most rewarding part of my career.  And since I wasn't in a flying status (Disassociated Sea Tour), that's saying something.  Most aviators would probably think their DST, or SWO appreciation tour, or any non-flying job for that matter, was their worst tour ever, but I enjoyed it.  Sure, watching other people go fly while a person is stuck below decks can make any aviator a little jealous, but I actually got a lot out of it.   First off, I think it made me a better officer.   Working in the ship's Combat Direction Center (CDC) as a Tactical Actions Officer (TAO), I had more responsibility than I had ever had up to that point in my career.  I had sailors and junior officers working for me, relying on me for training, guidance, and leadership, and I relied on them to do their job and help me keep the ship safe.  Second,  was also exciting and fun- firing NATO Sea Sparrow Missiles (for training), shooting our CIWS mounts BRRRRRRRRTT! (more training), and watching our strike packages launch and head into Afghanistan made for a professionally rewarding tour.  As the senior TAO on that deployment, I got to write the watch-bill, so that and the fact that the CO liked me didn't hurt either. 


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The Missilex while I was TAO



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Vinson raising the Battle Flag before the first strikes launched.

I'm diverging from my original plan however due to that post last Sunday, which got me a little riled up and distracted.  It was in a private group that deals with all things military in general, Naval Aviation in specific, and a little bit of politics at times.  

We're all a fairly close group, mostly like minded, but not completely.  Differences of opinion are welcomed and encouraged, but in this particular room, you better come armed with facts and be willing to debate your position.  It's actually quite rare that people will post something that diverges extensively from the norm, that norm being conservative viewpoints, but it happens.  Nobody gets attacked for it, but those positions are quickly countered with other beliefs and facts, and you are asked and expected to explain your position.

Political stuff can get a little touchy.  It seems that ever since Clinton was elected and with the rise of conservative talk shows/networks, both sides of an opinion are louder, a little more vehement, and vitriol tends to happen more than not.  Not there, at least not personally I should say.  Views might be attacked, but people usually aren't.  Unless...

                                


A Carrier at sea is an interesting place.  You've got mostly Aviators on board, but there are plenty of SWOs, most of them Nukes, some Intel folks, weather guessers, supply guys, I.T. types, lots of maintenance folks of all types, cooks, the PAOs and MCs of course, and even one or two Bubbleheads.  Their ages are just as diverse- plenty of 18 year olds to a few guys and gals in their 50s.  So with people from all walks of (Navy) life on-board, you're definitely going to have differences of opinion, faith, political leanings and just about anything else.  

During one of my NROTC courses, we were taught that you don't talk about politics or religion in the Wardroom, although I don't think our instructors said anything about the Ready Room.  But despite their omission, I don't think those topics normally crept into squadron conversation, unless they involved Rules of Engagement, or praying your nugget Pilot didn't kill you.  In combat, there just wasn't time for anything so serious, with the next flight, meal or possibly a movie dominating the conversation.  Before 9-11, pretty much the same thing, just fewer missions, more movies, and a port visit or two thrown in there for good measure.  


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Port visits on a Carrier haven't been all that great since 9-11 in my opinion.  Cutbacks and extended deployments have eliminated any port more than a days travel off a direct line to and from the Gulf (Australia, Hong Kong, Japan). Big boats are too much of a target and the force protection requirements are pretty stringent (SW Asia or anywhere in the Middle East).  Politics often gets in the way (Hong Kong).  And morality/behavioral concerns probably keep us out of others (Thailand, Philippines, Japan).




     
Fortunately, I hit every one of those during my first tour on INDEPENDENCE in Japan.  My last deployment on PELELIEU had a longer leash, and since the CVN couldn't spread the wealth through "Theater Security Cooperation,"  the supposedly less threatening Amphib visited Hawaii, Singapore, Bahrain x5, Jordan x3, Dubai x2, Perth and Sydney Australia, and Hawaii once again.




So my original plan was to give you some highly entertaining stuff from my Vinson days, but so far today I'm all over the map- politics, ship demographics, port calls, some videos, social media, and proper Ready Room discussion topics, but apparently I'm suffering from ADD and BDD- Blog Directional Disorder.  So...

On Vinson, I saw how everyone pulled together to help launch the strikes into Afghanistan- a diverse group of people working towards a common goal.  Differences of opinion are irrelevant.  The group I referred to earlier- the one in which we aren't all that different, but differences in opinion are ok, for the most part.  But social media isn't a Ready Room.  

One of the folks with a similar interest- Naval Aviation, but with a different viewpoint - liberal for the most part, refused to engage.  He posted a meme- one of those pictures with words at the top and bottom- one that completely oversimplified the issue and expressed a view point that wasn't held by the majority of folks in the group.  First off, it was from a Facebook page titled "Americans Against the Tea Party" and it made the claim that we see health care as a privilege, but gun ownership is a right.   

You know I'm not one to shy away from politics here on Chez Sarge, its kind of my thing- Sarge is the gracious host, and I get to be the pithy political guy that he lets off the leash every once in a while.  I was late to that party however, and I didn't feel that what I had to say would add anything since much of how I feel was already stated by others.  One of the best comments I read was that the Constitution doesn't give you rights, God does, and it only protects you from the Government infringing upon those rights.  The Government can't give you something and call it a right.  The fact that the ACA was built on a horrible foundation- our already out of control medical insurance industry, just weakens the resulting structure.

Several folks tried to get him to discuss his point, but he wouldn't bite.  I've seen this kind of behavior before.  I'm openly Catholic on here and on Facebook, and all that goes with that, but a "friend" commented on one of my posts that was obviously meant to upset me.  He posted a meme regarding Planned Parenthood with a laughing Obama and Hillary and something to the effect of "in your face bitches!"  I wasn't offended, but when I offered the reasons for my viewpoint, and asked him for the same, there was silence on the net.  That's called trolling and its often a characteristic of someone with limited capability to engage in intelligent conversation, a closed mind, cowardice, or all of the above.  

That's what the troll did in that group- post and run, with a farewell to the group calling us idiots.  I'm not sorry to see him go.



I guess I can get back to the center of the map with a few closing comments, and I fully admit that I'm oversimplifying the issues.  This country might not be on the course we want, but it's not going to get anywhere if we keep seeing every problem as black or white, the two sides as enemies, and refuse to openly discuss each side of the issue, as well as the underlying problems with each problem.  For example:

1. We can't have a large portion of the country highly dependent on government assistance.  Work is required by everyone capable in order to sustain our culture.  People with a job are far better off than those without one.
2. There's no way we can outlaw guns or confiscate them, nor should we.  However, it's far too easy for mentally disturbed people to get and keep guns, and if someone who owns a gun lives with someone mentally disturbed, it's their duty and responsibility to keep them secured.
3. Countries have borders and we should be able to secure them; there's no way we'll ever deport the millions of undocumented in this country, and it takes too long and costs too much to become a citizen- all exacerbating the immigration issue.  
4. The idea of medical care for all is a lofty and very Christian ideal, but it can't be done adequately or sustained without correcting the original problems within the medical system.  It was too expensive for everyone to get it, but we did nothing to fix why it was so expensive in the first place.
5.  If we keep voting for the incumbents, they'll just keep building their fiefdoms and doing what's best for themselves vice us. 

I enjoyed my tour on Vinson because I learned a lot about myself, I was part of something larger than myself, and we all worked together to accomplish a goal.  We're not doing that very well in the US.  If we don't listen to each other and discuss the issues honestly, if we don't look at what's best for the country vice ourselves and our individual states (I'm talking to you Congress), we're never going to learn what might be wrong or incomplete with our own views, find some common ground, and keep this country on the right track.



7 comments:

  1. All over the map indeed, but you managed to cover a number of things and covered them well.

    That incident over at Facebook that you mention, I was going to write about that but now I need a new topic. You covered it far better than I could have.

    Too many fanatics running around (on both sides of the aisle), too many are convinced that their point of view is the only point of view and far, far too many have forgotten that the true art of politics is the ability (and willingness) to compromise to get things done.

    Now we have gridlock, no budget and no leadership at any level.

    That whirring noise we hear? The Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.

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  2. Thanks. That troll has bothered me before, and I engaged, but he refused to return fire then too. He just likes to rile people up and that's just BS so good riddance. It's sort of characteristic of our political divide- no one wants to listen to the other side and they refuse to think for a moment that their viewpoint isn't perfect.

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  3. Back in the early days of the Eagle, there was a saying, "The AIM-9L makes even 2Lts Lethal." The modern day equivalent is "Facebook makes every idiot a Political Commentator". I follow a lot of blogs and read the comments frequently, but I've found that after the first few comments on some politics blogs, the comments devolve quickly to "Oh Yeah? Well your mother...." level. I stop reading at that point.
    Fortunately, that hasn't happened too regularly around here.
    I agree with your point #5. Fits right in with the Juvat Voting Rubric (JVR)
    1. No Communists or Democrats (but I repeat myself)
    2. No Incumbents
    3. No Unopposed.

    Good post.

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  4. A very large map this AM, but good navigation through muddy waters of the political side of things here in these United States. The hit and run tactic is well taught to those whose world view is of the socialist/democrat kind. The facts are irrelevant in their mind most times and a civil discussion is mostly impossible (the "comments" remark above). Saul Alinsky continues to teach that one should never work within the rules, but make the other side obey them and always revert to an ad hominem attack when possible. These things in mind, one can have patience with the folks who would destroy our Country - sometimes completely ignorant of the consequences of their mindset and actions. Watch them follow their scenario, then we need to tell folks about what's happening. I am not overly optimistic that our Country can return to its former status in the world. The media, both print and electronic, are controlled by a VERY FEW PTBs. They are in it for the money and the power. Follow those two things and the dots begin to connect. Here's the fun part. It's all pretty much Biblical!

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  5. Great post Tuna. I too have ADD and BDD but in your post still covered everything and made great points. I have known that charactsticic about trolls - some are more "in your face" than others (this guy wasn't as bad as some) but all of them refuse to engage in discussion.

    I like what one poster said on chicagoboyz.net - that having a blog that attracts commenters will get some inevitable trolls - like seagulls at the beach.

    And it is a shame.

    One of the best times I had engaging someone with a very different view was in the 80s - a co-worker was from Belgium - pretty "Green" and in the traffic we engaged in some good discussions - I could see some of her points and she could see mine.

    All comes down for respect and simple manners. And it is pretty rare these days in these high-charged political times.

    On the Vinson, I knew someone who was an armorer there - and it surprised me (well it really didn't) that on leave so many would just head for the nearest bar and make no effort to see something in the world. And he'd been around the world 4-5 times.

    It was the same during my Army days some 40 years ago - all these GIs in Germany and all but a handful would sit in their barracks and "piss and moan" or hang out in a GI bar.

    And the Army through its Special Services even had some day trips you could take, or wonderful hotels in Bavaria that were taken over from the Nazis and dirt cheap (cost me $3/night as a Spec/4). I'll bet 90% never tried to even travel.

    Well, off for my walk - good post.

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  6. Exceptionally fine post Tuna.

    I love that picture of Old Salt. I wonder how many of her present crew had been born yet when I last trod her decks in 1986. Back when the CIWS was still new and shiny and the NATO Sea Sparrow was still in the wings, waiting to replace the always exciting and seldom predictable BPDMS.

    As far as the politics goes, I don't think many of my fellow citizens are doing it correctly. Most are perfectly fine with their balkanized lives, having thoughtfully or thoughtlessly joined a side which believes the other side to be populated by not-really-humans. Them. Other. Enemy. The antithesis of created equal. I might be living in an isolated pocket of retardonium (I may in fact be an isolated pocket of retardonium), so it's possible that my experiences and observations don't really jibe with most of America, but in this corner of the world it's rare to encounter a human who is not utterly self absorbed, absolutely certain, and incredibly shallow. With that kind of lineup, there's no way a Republic founded on sovereignty and liberty can endure.

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  7. Thanks everyone. I just get so tired of half-assed lies and incomplete truths from (usually) the left. They refuse to see the damage they are doing, that pandering to the people who just want free stuff doesn't help solve any of the real problems we have. Did you hear any of the Dem Debate? It's all - free college, evil rich white people, more free college, Republicans are at fault, climate change, etc. Nothing about our debt/deficit, nothing about ISIS, nothing about the middle class who are struggling to pay their ACA premiums or deductibles, etc.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)