|Um, um, you might want to rephrase that... (Source)|
The Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps (1907–1914) was the first heavier-than-air military aviation organization in history and the progenitor of the United States Air Force. A component of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, the Aeronautical Division procured the first powered military aircraft in 1909, created schools to train its aviators, and initiated a rating system for pilot qualifications. It organized and deployed the first permanent American aviation unit, the 1st Aero Squadron, in 1913. The Aeronautical Division trained 51 officers and 2 enlisted men as pilots, and incurred 13 fatalities in air crashes. During this period, the Aeronautical Division had 29 factory-built aircraft in its inventory, built a 30th from spare parts, and leased a civilian airplane for a short period in 1911. WBut as an amateur historian I understand, and appreciate, tradition. For the most part, but just because you've been doing something for a long, long time doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way to do something.
As that clip might tell you, some ancient traditions are based in religion, some were derived from some long ago event that nobody remembers anymore. But hey, tradition! Right?
Based on one old tradition, neither of my daughters would have the jobs they have in the Navy. The eldest a black shoe, er, professional Surface Warfare Officer. The youngest a brown shoe, ahem, that is, a Naval Flight Officer.
If you go back far enough, neither would have been allowed to join. Not all that far back, the jobs they could do in the Navy didn't include what they do now. Both have performed as well as, sometimes better then, most men.
But the opening photo may have given you a clue as to what this post is really about. Truth be told, this topic has been simmering on the back burner for a while now, my first reaction was "You have got to be sh1tting me!" Then the rage against the following fellow gradually grew.
|Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (Source)|
So a buddy of mine asked me not too long ago why I hadn't written of the Navy deciding to dump 241 years of hoary and hallowed tradition by having sailors referred to by their rank, not their rating. Like they were mere soldiers, Marines, or airmen (airpersons?).
I told him that I had decided to wait until I had calmed down a bit.
I'm calm now, so here we are. But (you guessed it) I digress...
Some of you are no doubt wondering what I'm on about, what's a rank versus a rating? Well, as Fire Marshal Bill might say...
Under the "Rainbow's" latest scheme they will now be called Petty Officer 1st Class and Petty Officer 2nd Class. The referral to the rating is now verboten, 禁止の, not allowed, and bad form, dontcha know? (No more rates or ratings.)
Not all the troops are pleased with that. No, not at all. As you can read here.
Two of the money quotes from that article are...
An internet petition posted to whitehouse.gov on Thursday asking that the rating system be restored had garnered nearly 41,000 signatures by Sunday.
“One only has to visit Navy social media pages to see the disgust and outrage of current and former personnel,” the petition reads. “One by one current leadership continues to erode the very things that set the Navy apart from the other services. Mr. President, I and the others signing this petition request you use your authority to restore to our Sailors what they have earned.”
and (the official line)...
The Navy believes the traditional ratings system unnecessarily constrained enlisted career paths and the Navy’s ability to make the most of talent in the workforce, Schofield said. The intent of the change is to maximize career flexibility and give sailors opportunities for training and certification that aligns with the civilian workforce.
Apparently civilians aren't smart enough to listen when a former sailor tells them what he or she did in the Navy and what his or her rate was. Okay, I get that. Many are not cognizant of the military to begin with and Navy ratings are rather arcane. Even I don't know all of them.
Yeah, I know. Surprised me too.
Okay, I don't like the idea. I think the reasoning behind it is stupid, if not actually yet another criminal attempt to destroy the morale and traditions of our nation's Armed Forces. Will the Navy live on to fight another day?
Have we lost yet another piece of our history?
January cannot come soon enough.
A couple of parting shots. First off, the buddy who asked me why I hadn't
ranted written about this topic yet is a retired HMC, Chief Hospital Corpsman. Did his whole career with the Marines and when I called him Chief Petty Officer on Sunday, rather than "Doc," (which good corpsmen always get called), he just grinned and said, "I'm retired, I will always be an HMC. The new kids can play the new game by the new rules."
Secondly, I was going to go with a different title. I was going to use something a bit rude, allegedly said by Sir Winston Churchill, rather than Tradition. But imagine my chagrin and dismay to discover that Sir Winston actually never said this phrase, which I will now explain. (Up front, pardon my French, that is Language Alert! So if you are prone to getting your "knickers in a twist," veer off, run away, stop reading.)
Well, I warned you.
The traditions of the Royal Navy are Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. (The bold faced bit would have been the original title of this post had sanity, good taste, and fear of The Missus Herself not convinced me to go with Tradition.
Which this source had to say about that pithy phrase...
CHURCHILL'S description of the Royal Navy is included in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as having appeared in the book, Former Navy Person, by Sir Peter Gretton. The Oxford Dictionary suggests that Churchill's phrase should be compared with naval phrases dating from the 19th century - 'Rum, bum and bacca' and 'Ashore, it's wine, women and song, aboard it's rum, bum and concertina'.
It looks as though here, as elsewhere, Churchill took an earlier quotation and improved upon it. In The Irrepressible Churchill, compiled by Kay Halle (Robson Books, 1985), Churchill is said to have used the phrase in 1913, when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. According to 'an ear-witness', he was having trouble with some of his admirals at a strategy meeting. One of them accused him of having impugned the traditions of the Royal Navy, provoking the reply: 'And what are they? They are rum, sodomy and the lash'.-----
However, this source had this to say about that...
According to a post on the website of the Churchill Centre and Museum in London, Churchill told his personal assistant Anthony Montague-Browne that he never uttered such words.That last sentence? Now that is pure Churchill.
Montague-Browne confirmed this to Richard Langworth, one of the most respected Churchill biographers.
In his great book about Churchill quotations and misquotes, Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations, Langworth says that Montague-Browne personally told him that he had asked Churchill about the quote.
According to Montague-Browne, Churchill responded: “I never said it. I wish I had.”