Wednesday, May 31, 2017

So What Was That All About?

I read, a lot. The Missus Herself often complains that if I buy any more books we'll have no place to put them. And no, piling them on the floor is not an option. Believe me, I tried. At any rate, occasionally I'll bring home a number of books (they run in packs dontcha know) and the new books will be "installed" in a pile on the floor. From time to time, that pile on the floor will migrate. Especially when The Missus Herself has grown tired of my less than stellar house keeping abilities. Books in the pile will migrate to wherever my better half has decided is more aesthetically pleasing.

Her "system," such as it is, will oft times leave me wondering if I had completed reading all of the books from that vanished pile. Many is the time when I have gone wandering through the book shelves in search of something to read and from time to time I will find a volume which I have not read yet. For it isn't unknown for the pile o' books to migrate prior to my finishing all of the books in the pile.

Battle Cry of Freedom - The Civil War Era by James McPherson is one such book. I pulled it off the shelf a week or so ago and realized, after leafing through it, that I had not read it yet. So I dug in.

First off, it's not an easy read, you really need to pay attention. While there isn't a quiz at the end of each section and chapter, each subsequent part of the book builds on what has gone before. In other words, this is a serious book. (But it's well written and the author tells the tale well, no boring academic this, droning on for page after page and never quite getting to the point.) This isn't a book you'll get through in a couple of days, nor is it a book which you keep turning the page to see what comes next. (Though there are chapters like that.)

This is a book which makes you think. So every now and then, you need to put it down and let what you just read digest a bit before moving on to the next part. If that makes any sense.

I'm currently up to the election of 1860 and, if you think the election of 2016 was contentious, you ain't seen nothing! A major portion of the book looks at what caused the war, no cannon have been fired yet, but you can see it coming.

It's all about power and who has it. Make no mistake, the South did not like the idea of being dominated by the rapidly growing population in the North. They foresaw their influence and power in the Federal government waning and they didn't like it. The North and the South were two vastly different cultures. The book makes that pretty clear.

Was the war about slavery? That's a big question. The book digs into that, a lot. While I have my own opinions on the subject, skewed no doubt by my upbringing, there are two sides to every story. While many in the North bemoaned the fate of the black slaves in the South, they, for the most part, didn't see the black man as an equal. Far from it. (Some did, however most emphatically did not.)

While the concept of freeing the slaves was seen as "a good thing," having those freed slaves move North and take the jobs of white men was not. A bit of hypocrisy amongst the Yankees? You betcha. (The way the Irish were treated up north was pretty bad as well.)

At any rate, the beginning of the book, the chapters I've read so far, point squarely to slavery as the key factor in sundering the Union. The perception by Southern politicians that new states entering the Union should be equally divided between slave and "free" states was a major cause of dissension.

Another group for whom ample blame for the war can be laid at their doorstep was the media of the day. Both North and South. The raging and calling for blood by some fat bastard of an editor, who knew full well that he'd never be called on the shoulder a musket, was appalling. At least to me.

While there was plenty of blame to go around for the bloody events of 1861 to 1865, politicians on both sides then, just like now, were too concerned with their local issues and refused to see the bigger picture.

I see far too many parallels between then and now to be comfortable with the current State of the Union. We shall see.

Enough said about that. Keep your eyes peeled and your powder dry. Who knows what sort of mess the idiot politicians will lead us into next...

Albert Bierstadt - The coming storm (Source)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Was All Ready to Rant, But...

While there are a few things that I'm all riled up about, I'm saving them for later. The weekend was just too nice and I'm just too relaxed to really get any steam up to rant and rave about current events.

The Missus Herself had me hard at work in the garden on Saturday, though I had had Friday off, the weather was wet and miserable. Saturday though, was glorious. Sunny and warm, a perfect day for doing a bit of yard work.

Now while The Missus Herself was out in California I wasn't very focused on the yard and the gardens. The chaps who cut it for me every week (for which I pay them a reasonable wage) had been keeping things looking fine. Well, they looked fine to me.

Arriving at the manse upon a Tuesday morn, after stepping off the red eye from Fresno, The Missus Herself was not entirely pleased with the weediness of the garden. Whilst to me it looked like a perfect Eden back there, to her it had the appearance of untamed jungle. So I vowed to help her right that situation as the weekend, which just passed, was still in the future and was four days long. So she accepted my offer and Saturday we fell out to work in the garden.

Soil was turned, seedlings and seeds were planted, weeds were uprooted, stuff was watered, and I found time for an adult beverage or two.

And the job was done, right smartly I might add, though truth be told The Missus Herself did the bulk of the detail work, I just lifted things up and put them down.

Yeah, like that.

Seriously though, there is much to rant about. But not today...

The weekend was nice. Calming it was...

Very relaxed.

And peaceful.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Never give up, Never Surrender!

Last Friday, Sarge started off the Memorial day weekend with a Friday Flyby (of sorts), that featured the Wild Weasels.  During my flying days, I've flown a lot of missions with Wild Weasels to include a few as the "Killer" part of a "Hunter-Killer" package.  In that role, the Wild Weasel "Hunter" would locate, ID, and surpress a SAM site to allow us to come in and kill as much of the site as possible.  They were always fun missions, mostly because nobody was actually shooting at us.

I've also gotten to meet a lot of Wild Weasel crews, most notably, Ed Rasimus, who had without a doubt the most profound influence on my flying career even if I did meet him when it was half over.  As Sarge frequently says, "he clanked when he walked".  

Finally, save for the effort of one man, I'd have ended my flying career as a Wild Weasel.  I'm thankful for the intervention as flying the Eagle was fabulous.  But, because of that intervention, even if it had been unsuccessful, I'd have stayed in and become a Weasel.  

So, I enjoyed Friday's post and video.  If you haven't been there yet, you should go.  I'll wait right here for you.

Because it is Memorial Day, I thought I'd do another of my "old reliable" posts.  So, let me introduce you to Col Merlyn Hans Dethlefsen.
 Yes, that is the Nation's highest medal around his neck.  "Courage above and beyond the call of Duty" is required to receive it.

Col Dethlefsen joined the Air Force in 1953 through the Aviation Cadet program.  After commissioning, he was trained as a Navigator and served as such on "Old Shakey", the C-124 Globemaster.  He was eventually selected for UPT and graduated in 1960 from Bainbridge Air Force Base.

I'd considered myself pretty well versed on AFB's both present and past, but I couldn't place that one.  Which is unusual as I was stationed about 75 miles from there at Moody.  

Anyhow, our Colonel graduated from there and flew the F-100 for a few years before transitioning to the F-105.  In October of 1966, he deployed to Takli Royal Thai Air Base in Thailand where our story begins.

On March 10, 1967, then Captain Dethlefsen, is roughly 3/4 of the way through his 100 mission tour as a Wild Weasel pilot at Takli.  President Johnson has finally relented and is going to allow the US to attack the Thai Nguyen steel works just north of Hanoi.  At the time, Hanoi was the most heavily defended city on Earth and the steel works was it's most valuable asset (except for the leadership themselves at least in their minds).  

So....It was well defended.
If you look closely at the canopy rails, you'll notice this actually is Capt Dethlefsen's Thud Source

Capt Dethlefsen was flying as Lincoln 03 in a flight of 4 Wild Weasels (2 F-105Fs and 2 F-105Ds a Hunter/Killer package),  As they approach the target area, Lincoln 01 locates an active SAM site and the duel begins.  He fires a Shrike at the site as the SAM site returns fire.  Unfortunately, the Shrike misses and the SAMS shoot down Lincoln 01 (Both crewmen survived but were captured) as well as two F-4 Escorts.  Additionally, Lincoln 02 has been hit by AAA and badly damaged.  He exits the fight and RTBs.   Capt Dethlefsen and his wingman are the only two Weasels left in the target area.  With the strike package approaching, the defense systems are becoming very active, to include at least two MIG-21s.

Capt Dethlefsen continues the attack on the SAM site as the MIGs begin their attack.  He fires a shrike at the SAM site as the MIG's launch ATOLL heat seeking missiles.  Capt Dethlefsen starts a break turn which defeats the ATOLLs, but the MIGs continue their pursuit.  Figuring that they won't follow him down into the very heavy AAA fire, he dives down to low altitude.  In fact, they don't follow him down.

Once clear, Capt Dethlefsen  lights the AB and climbs back up to altitude and resumes his attack on the SAM site.  Unfortunately, the two MIGs had brothers in the vicinity and Lincoln 3 and 4 are attached by another pair of Fishbeds.  Both 105s are hit by 37mm cannon fire, but are still flyable..

This time they evade the MIG by diving down into the thick haze and while doing so, his jet is hit again by AAA.  however, relocating the target SAM site, he attacks it again and destroys it.  

The strikers and escorts are clear of the target area, the SAM site has been destroyed, Mission Completed, right?

Not in this case.

Capt Dethlefsen  realizes that the weather will be good in the target's vicinity for the next several days.  Good enough that he's certain that the target will be attacked many times over that time.  He and his wingman still have ordnance and there are still active SAM sites in the vicinity.

He sets up and attacks a second SAM site with dumb bombs and finishes with multiple strafing passes, thereby destroying it.  During the strafing attack, his aircraft is again hit by AAA.  Finally out of ordnance and heavily damaged, Capt Dethlefsen and his wingman RTB to Takli.

"First in....Last out" indeed!

There were a lot of points in that mission where it would have been smart, even honorable, to withdraw.  At any point after receiving damage that decision would have been warranted.

Once the striking force exited the area?  Absolutely.

Realizing that the "Game ain't over"  and attacking tomorrow's target today?  Good Gravy,  that man didn't clank when he walked, he veritably tolled like Big Ben!

Completing his tour, Colonel Dethlefsen returns to the States and becomes an IP at Vance .


Colonel Dethlefsen received the Medal of Honor from President Johnson in 1968.  His "Bear" (backseater), Capt Kevin Gilroy received the Air Force Cross as did his wingman, Major Ken Bell.

He retired from the Air Force in 1977.

  Unfortunately,  Colonel Dethlefsen passed away from natural causes in 1987 and is buried at Arlington.

Colonel Dethlefsen's Citation:

Maj. Dethlefsen was 1 of a flight of F-105 aircraft engaged in a fire suppression mission designed to destroy a key antiaircraft defensive complex containing surface-to-air missiles (SAM), an exceptionally heavy concentration of antiaircraft artillery, and other automatic weapons. The defensive network was situated to dominate the approach and provide protection to an important North Vietnam industrial center that was scheduled to be attacked by fighter bombers immediately after the strike by Maj. Dethlefsen's flight. In the initial attack on the defensive complex the lead aircraft was crippled, and Maj. Dethlefsen's aircraft was extensively damaged by the intense enemy fire. Realizing that the success of the impending fighter bomber attack on the center now depended on his ability to effectively suppress the defensive fire, Maj. Dethlefsen ignored the enemy's overwhelming firepower and the damage to his aircraft and pressed his attack. Despite a continuing hail of antiaircraft fire, deadly surface-to-air missiles, and counterattacks by MIG interceptors, Maj. Dethlefsen flew repeated close range strikes to silence the enemy defensive positions with bombs and cannon fire. His action in rendering ineffective the defensive SAM and antiaircraft artillery sites enabled the ensuing fighter bombers to strike successfully the important industrial target without loss or damage to their aircraft, thereby appreciably reducing the enemy's ability to provide essential war material. Maj. Dethlefsen's consummate skill and selfless dedication to this significant mission were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

 Rest in Peace, Warrior!



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Earn This

Image is from a WWI Canadian propaganda poster by Frank Nicolet Lucien.
I owe a debt to those who went before me. To those who have given their lives so that we might live in freedom. It's not a debt I can ever really repay, how do you repay someone for dying so that others might live?

While the debt can't be paid in full, it can be paid in part.


Live a good life. Never take your freedoms for granted, remember those who paid the last full measure.

I hear their voices every day, echoing down through the years, from Bunker Hill to Fallujah...

There are names I say every Memorial Day, I remember them and will until the day I die...

Captain Carroll F. LeFon, Jr.
United States Navy
Lance Corporal Kurt E. Dechen
United States Marine Corps
Major Taj Sareen
United States Marine Corps
Lieutenant Nathan T. Poloski
United States Navy
Private Robert Bain
Royal Scots Fusiliers

(No photo available)
They were friends, they were relatives, they were friends of friends, but I knew them all. All of them died in service to their country. I miss them...

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal 
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres, 
There is music in the midst of desolation 
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young, 
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. 
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted; 
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; 
They sit no more at familiar tables of home; 
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; 
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound, 
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, 
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known 
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, 
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; 
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, 
To the end, to the end, they remain.

For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

Really. Earn this...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Warriors And Soldiers

The other day, whilst casting about for something to post about, I started off by considering the whole "officer" thing. If someone in the military says that they were an officer, you would probably figure that person were one of these -

You wouldn't be wrong for thinking that. But the military has two more types of officers: warrant officers (which the USAF doesn't have, but the other three services do) and non-commissioned officers. For that latter category think sergeants and petty officers. I was, of course you know, a sergeant. Technically I retired as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer or SNCO.

Anyhoo, I started poking around and recalled at some point in my service that we had been required to know the Code of Conduct, which applied to all American troops. It was issued by President Eisenhower in 1955 as Executive Order 10631, it has six articles and reads -
Article I:  I am an American, fighting in the armed forces which guard my country and our way of life.  I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

Article II:  I will never surrender of my own free will.  If in command I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

Article III:  If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available.  I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape.  I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

Article IV:  If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners.  I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades.  If I am senior, I will take command.  If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

Article V:  When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service, number, and date of birth.  I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.  I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

Article VI:  I will never forget that I am an American, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free.  I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.
I still adhere to that code. Now the Air Force used to have a bunch of creeds, which I never really paid much attention to, the Code of Conduct above seemed enough for me, but those multiple Air Force creeds were all replaced in 2007 by something called The Airman's Creed. (All members of the Air Force are airmen by definition. Not to be confused with the actual rank of Airman. And the Code of Conduct still applies.)
The Airman's Creed 
I am an American Airman.
I am a Warrior.
I have answered my Nation’s call.
I am an American Airman.
My mission is to Fly, Fight, and Win.
I am faithful to a Proud Heritage,
A Tradition of Honor,
And a Legacy of Valor.
I am an American Airman.
Guardian of Freedom and Justice,
My Nation’s Sword and Shield,
Its Sentry and Avenger.
I defend my Country with my Life.
I am an American Airman.
Wingman, Leader, Warrior.
I will never leave an Airman behind,
I will never falter,
And I will not fail.
Seems to me like something a staff pogue might dream up. In other words, I'm not a fan. Doing a little digging I discovered that...
The Airman's Creed is a creed for members of the US Air Force. It was introduced in 2007 by General T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force. In a letter introducing the creed, Moseley wrote that one of his "top priorities" was to "reinvigorate the warrior ethos in every Airman of our Total Force."Thus, the intent of the creed was to enhance the building of a warrior ethos among its Airmen and to provide Airmen a tangible statement of beliefs.

The Airman's Creed helps establish a coherent bond between the members of the USAF. The creed is fueled by the Air Force's heritage and, in the words of Moseley, "the warfighting-focused culture, conviction, character, ethic, mindset, spirit and soul we foster in all Airmen". Wikipedia
Considering the direction the Air Force has gone since I retired, I don't think the creed thing is working out all that well.

Warriors? In the Air Force, well sure, they're called fighter pilots, everyone else is a shoe clerk. Remember, Juvat often likes to point out that "fighter pilot" is not just a specialty, it's an attitude more than anything else. While a shoe clerk can fly fighters, no fighter pilots are ever shoe clerks. And geez, Moseley actually flew fighters, I can't tell from his record whether he was a fighter pilot or a shoe clerk. Though I lean a certain way on that, I'll hold my water, I don't know the man. (There seem to be a lot of staff jobs on his Air Force bio, a lot.)

Now in that opening painting* we see the Gallic chieftain, Vercingetorix, surrendering to Gaius Julius Caesar at the conclusion of the Siege of Alesia in 52 B.C. This period of history is one I will often refer to when I look to describe what a warrior is. (As opposed to a soldier, in my lexicon there is a definite difference though the two may, and often do, overlap.)

The Gauls were warriors in the classical sense. They weren't professionals, they fought to either defend their own tribe or clan and/or fought to take things away from other tribes or clans. One didn't campaign when it was time to sow the crops or bring them in, there was a time and a season for such a thing. I view warriors as being less organized, they don't really form armies or have formal hierarchies outside the normal ways their societies were organized. In essence, every man of a certain age was expected to work the fields and such and, when necessary, take up arms and become a warrior.

The Romans were originally that way, only taking up arms when a threat was offered. When the fighting was over, back to tilling the fields and herding they went. Until the Gauls swept down the Italian peninsula in 390 B.C. The Romans were defeated by the Gauls and Rome was sacked.

The leaders of Rome decided they'd better be a little more organized in the future. In my book that was the birth of the soldier. Let's look at a couple of definitions:

warrior - c.1300, from O.N.Fr. werreieor (O.Fr. guerreor) "a warrior, one who wages war," i.e. Being a 'warrior' implies very generally that one fights in wars/battles (as the word itself suggests).

soldier - c.1300, from O.Fr. soudier "one who serves in the army for pay," i.e. Being a 'soldier' implies being a payed member of an organised fighting force.
Overall then, you might consider a soldier to be a type of warrior, but not vice versa. The term 'warrior' is therefore often reserved for fighters in barbarian or unstructured armies, though it would not be incorrect to apply it to a member of the U.S. Army today, in fact. (Source)
Being a soldier (sailor, airman, Marine) implies being a professional, you get paid to do that. You belong to an organized unit with certain standards, raised up with standardized training as well. You didn't grow up fighting (though in some neighborhoods you did) as ancient warriors often did. (Also note, while mercenaries fight for pay, they don't serve their country, while technically they are soldiers by definition, I consider that they fall outside of that term. There is a certain lack of honor in being a mercenary. But that's just my opinion.)

The Roman legionaries were soldiers. Professionals, paid by the state, equipped and trained to a standard. Those standards and that training were what allowed them to defeat their warrior enemies.

We want soldiers in our military, people amenable to training and discipline. Being a warrior seems a bit haphazard in my view. While I like the attitude of the warrior, ya gotta have the discipline of a soldier to win.

There are a number of interesting discussions of warrior vs soldier out there, here and here for example.

Perhaps I quibble, perhaps in these modern times the difference is moot. I don't know, what say you?

Warriors versus Soldiers (Source)

* Which has a number of historical inaccuracies but I still like it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Wild Weasels

'Tis a weekend for remembering...

Remembering the Wild Weasels, and all those who went "Up North."

Thursday, May 25, 2017


One of the things which gave our species an edge back in the way back was pattern recognition, it's something we humans are very, very good at. While many animals have this ability, we are the reigning world champions. At least for now. Some computer wienies predict that eventually machines will surpass us in this ability. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. I have worked in software far too long to believe anything a computer wienie predicts. Especially if the problem is complex enough.

Imagine, if you will, a time many eons ago, Grok and Grom are out hunting when they see a species they've never encountered before. Let's say, for argument's sake, that what they see is a rather large animal with sharp teeth and claws and with an attitude. No grazer this, no, this is a meat eater, a predator. Looks kinda like the smaller species they have near their village but this one is bigger. This one attacks the two hunters. Grok barely escapes while Grom has become cat food.

Returning to his village the other villagers are somewhat concerned that Grom isn't with him.

"What happened to Grom?" the village headman inquired, looking rather sternly at Grok.

"We were attacked by a really big version of that little animal that eats mice." Grok manages to gasp out.

"What, you were attacked by a cat?" asked the village shaman.

"Way bigger than that and a lot more aggressive. And when did we start calling the little furry mouse hunter a 'cat'?" Grok wanted to know, his curiosity overcoming his shock at his recent near death experience.

"Shaman stuff, you don't need to know." said the shaman.

So yes, we humans like to name things, label them if you will. When we recognize new things, we give them new names. While a tiger is similar in pattern to a cat, one learns that while you probably won't die from a cat attacking you, odds are the outcome of a similar encounter with a tiger will be far different. So referring to both as "cats," while technically accurate, is not all that useful in the wild.

"Watch out for the cat!" doesn't have the same urgency as "Watch out for the tiger!"

Similar patterns, but different enough to require a different label.

One drawback to this pattern recognition ability is that we tend to see what we expect to see. Our brains will often leap to a conclusion of what we're seeing before we've really seen it. Does that make sense? For instance, if I walk into an area where I'm not supposed to be, where there are no distinguishing marks to indicate who should and shouldn't be there, well, if I act like I belong there, the locals, so to speak, will pay no attention to me.

Camouflage works because of that. Cover a tank with branches and place it amongst a bunch of trees, bingo, you won't really notice the tank. Unless it moves, while trees will move with the wind, the base of the tree tends to stay in the same spot. A patch of forest isn't going to move across a field, unless driven by a major wind storm.

Another way to use our pattern recognition skills against us is to confuse the brain. Dazzle camouflage was used for that reason.

Really, it's the same ship in both pictures. Ah, but that's a painting you say, a photograph would look so different as would viewing it with the naked eye. You think? What does the following photo depict?

Okay, it's a ship. But which is the bow and which is the stern? (Front and back for you lubbers.) Interesting stuff, Neh? You can read more about dazzle camouflage here. (I'm rather off topic but I wanted to show you dazzle camouflage, a subject I find fascinating.)

So patterns and the labels we attach to them and other things.

Modern society seems to have a big problem with patterns and labels. If young men from certain areas of the world and practicing a certain religion have a disturbing predilection for blowing themselves up in public places in order to kill and maim as many innocents as possible, are we wrong to look for that pattern of individual? Well, many in these idiotic modern times call that "profiling." Well, duh. Yes, of course it's profiling. When there is a certain pattern, or profile, to be aware of, even wary of, it's stupid, nay, criminal to ignore it. It goes against our survival instinct, it flies in the face of evolution.

We also need to be very careful in how we label, or name things. Referring to Islamic terrorism is a big no-no in certain circles. Because then they'll get mad and want to kill us? Calling incidents of terrorism "work place violence" will make it go away? I guess you could say that technically the events which took place on a string of beaches in Normandy on the 6th of June 1944 was workplace violence.

I mean for the Germans defending the beach, that was their workplace. They were paid to be there and, well, defend the beach. Against the Allies who were also paid to be there. While it wasn't their workplace at dawn, it certainly was by evening. Nah, wasn't a war, wasn't a battle, that's too pat, too obvious. Had to be something else, right?

Modern times. Where we can't call things what they really are. Where mental confusion, if not outright mental illness, is treated as normal and must be accommodated at all costs. Where a violent attack on innocent kids attending a music concert causes worry among the pointy head set that it will cause Islamophobia. Well duh, of course it will.

We're not allowed to be wary and on our guard any more, it's offensive and hurts the precious special snowflakes. Can't have that now can we?

Labels, I have one for the modern day so-called social justice warriors, gender benders, snowflakes, and left-leaning socialists of every stripe...


Then again, if we let them have their way, then we're the morons.

Bunch of jerks.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cool Toys

I'm a big toy guy, love 'em. My idea of a good time is hanging out in Toys "R" Us, especially in the Lego department. When The Naviguesser was a wee lad, we introduced him to Legos, he loved them, probably still does. All the grandkids love their Legos.

As does The Nuke's significant other, who has a nom de blog, but I haven't revealed it yet as The Nuke does not find it all that amusing. He and I though giggle like school girls about it. When I have sufficient notice that The Nuke is visiting Japan, or the United Kingdom, or some other place a long ways away I might reveal it, it's an excellent callsign.


Last time I visited The Nuke I saw that item pictured above in her living room. Of course, I immediately started right in with noting how cool it was and oh-my-gosh I want one. I'm that way with cool toys.

Then I ran across this video, might have been on koobecaF. I don't think I'd spend all that time assembling that cool model and then do this.

But it is kinda cool. I think that's what those German fellas are on about near the end. Of course, being German, they're also probably discussing ways to over-engineer the thing. It's what Germans do. Which is something they did with this beast as well. (And yes, I want one, of course I want one.) In the video, those action figures (they're not dolls damn it) are 12 inches tall. That's a remote controlled Tiger I from the Second World War. I was seriously looking into one of these about ten years ago. At $2000, The Missus Herself figured that money could be used more wisely elsewhere. Yes, she was right. Smart lady that.

But still, isn't it awesome?

For those of you who might have a spare wheelbarrow of cash lying around, you can get that Tiger and other tanks here. I could drop some serious coin over there. (I envision a fleet of RC tanks wandering the neighborhood, with me laughing maniacally in the background.)

Someday, someday.

Did ya know that Porsche also designed tanks?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Minnow Turns 21

Gotta hijack the blog for a minute.  This story has been already told, but it happened 21 years ago today- when my life got scary, exciting, and full of meaning, all at the same time.  Happy Birthday to my son Tristan, AKA "The Minnow." 

New Job, New Stories, Maybe*

(Sept. 15, 2009) Capt. Ross Myers, right, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, explains the F/A-18 simulator to U. S. Ambassador to Japan the Honorable John Roos inside Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi's simulator building. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Steven Khor)
* Just to be clear, this would be The WSO with a new job. Not Your Humble Scribe. I envision my next job as being a man about town, a man of leisure, in short - retired.

Back in '13 I had the opportunity to fly the F/A-18 simulator out at NAS Lemoore, current home of The WSO and her branch of the tribe. Okay, technically it's where The WSO and her husband Big Time both work. He as a uniformed Naval Aviator in the naval service, she as a newly minted contractor working in, of all places, the F/A-18 simulator.

I wrote about my inability to land on a simulated aircraft carrier while flying a simulated aircraft here. Not only was I unable to trap, my attempts to do so got progressively worse. Which I fessed up to in that post I linked to. I think. If not, I do so now. I suck at carrier landings. I wouldn't even make the greenie board, let alone ever score the coveted "OK 3."

Now before LUSH, as she demands the students call her (as opposed to Ma'am, which pisses her off), got out of the Navy (oh yeah, The WSO and LUSH are the same person, in case I confused you there, that person being my youngest child and second daughter) she had heard tell of this rather lucrative position in the flight simulator building. As she was getting out, she thought about being a stay at home mom for a while, then decided that losing her salary as a lieutenant might be painful, I mean who can live on the salary of a Hinge, er, lieutenant commander anyway? (Well, I could, but I'm used to enlisted pay. Then again, we never lived in California, which, in case you didn't know, is pretty deuced expensive.)

So she interviewed with the head guy, a former Naval Aviator yclept Dude. As that moniker is in italics you may rest assured that that was (and still is) his callsign. How did he get that, you might wonder. Has something to do with this, well, dude -

I can't wait to meet this guy. A most laid back, well, dude. Anyhoo...

You might wonder exactly what it is The WSO does in the simulator. Well, she flies it.

Uh, wasn't she a backseater, hence the nom de blog of The WSO? She didn't fly the bloody thing just gave directions, twiddled with the knobs on the radar and the bombing computer (yes, twiddled is a technical term). Yes, yes she was a Naval Flight Officer, aka NFO, aka WSO, aka backseater. But no more. She has been civilianized (as opposed to civilized) and now has the enviable task of driving the simulated jet so that brand new WSOs can learn their trade. They taught her to do that without doing the whole controlled flight into terrain thing. (Heck, even I can do that in the sim, well until I run out of go juice as I can't land it.)

Mind you, she's not actually training the new kids to be WSOs, she just drives the bus while they do their WSO things in the back seat (ya know, twiddling). Essentially, she does what any nose gunner, er, pilot does and that is do what the backseater says. So that the backseater can learn their trade and develop unreasonable expectations that someday their GIF (guy/gal in front, aka pilot, aka stick actuator, aka stick monkey) might, in real life actually listen to them. (HA!)

So okay, the GIF and the GIB (guy/gal in back) are a team, they fight the jet together, etc., etc. I get that, I am not biased against pilots, not at all, the aircraft will not, no matter how much the backseater wishes, fly itself. Someone has to point the bird in all the right directions so that the honed and professional GIF/GIB team can deliver ordnance onto the misbegotten hoards of anti-freedom, anti-social bastards who mean to cause the collapse of Western Civilization.

What's that? No, I didn't mean Democrats. I meant foreign bad guys. And yes, some are bad gals, just to be all inclusive here at The Chant, and I'm sure some of those bad people might identify as being non-gender specific or something so here on out let's just call them assholes. While this is a kind of family friendly place, they actually use that term on TV and the radio, so...

If they ain't heard it by now they will soon. (And I'm pretty sure no Amish read the blog, they can't have computers right?)

I see I have digressed. Apologies, where were we?

Ah yes, The WSO in her new job is a simulated naval aviator. Simulated as in she can't actually crash the sim bad enough to break things and hurt people. I discovered in the sim that one can actually tie the low altitude record and walk away to fly again another day. (Provided the sim operator actually resets everything properly.) Oh, and did you know that the engines on the F/A-18 simulator will actually run on seawater, I know, I tried. I guess it might depend on the "realism" settings being employed but my sole time in the cockpit did see me flying at sea level, or slightly below, scaring the crap out of the wildlife. Not to mention myself. Big Time had a chuckle over it, I'm just glad he didn't refer to me as "the U-Boot captain."

So that's The WSO's new job in a nutshell. She's basically a chauffeur for WSOs in training. One thing about the job though is that she has to do what the WSO tells her, that and no more (and no less). So if the GIB gets target fixated or perhaps has a helmet fire (so task overloaded that confusion sets in) she simply maintains course, speed, and pitch setting. So if she's got the bird in a dive, like when simulating dropping ordnance, she stays there. No matter how close the simulated flying machine gets to the simulated ground.

Can't do that in a real jet, well you can, but only once.

So it seems the other day she had a student in the back and she was merrily toodling along (another technical term), pointing the simulated bird wherever her WSO told her and said WSO got a little distracted. As our own LUSH (said tag I will use when she is in the simulated cockpit) watched the altimeter wind down, and watched as the pretty simulated terrain got closer and closer, she was sore tempted to point out to the student that perhaps the ground was getting a might close and was there anything in the way of "stick back, throttles forward" that she could do to perhaps keep them in the simulated sky a while longer? At least until said student finished the day's lesson.

She sat there, wondering what the protocol was, this was her first time chauffeuring an actual student. Should she yell at him? Should she just pull up? Or should she obey her training and let the poor student fly them into the ground, learning (perhaps) a valuable lesson?

She adhered to her training and just about the time she resigned herself to ending the day's mission on a low note, the student in the back came out of whatever reverie he was engaged in and gave her instructions to pull up, rather abruptly I gather. Seems he'd got hung up on some task in the back cockpit and lost situational awareness momentarily. Of such things obituaries are made in real life.

But in the sim, it's lesson learned, move on and oh yeah, don't do that in the real jet, your real pilot will obey your instructions but he/she will (if they're smart) preserve themselves to fly and fight another day.

I trust and hope that LUSH will share stories of the simulator in the future, bearing in mind the needs of the service and the need to preserve operational security and all that. Uncle Sam, and my current employer, often stress the need to keep a secret. I'm pretty good, check that, damned good at keeping a secret.

So I've got that going for me.

And, perhaps, a new source for stories of the naval service.

We shall see.

Monday, May 22, 2017


On Saturday, Sarge posted an article that, in his own inimitable style, discussed a lot of worthwhile issues.  One of those topics is the existential crisis in Air Force Leadership, both officer and enlisted, but primarily Officer and lead by and caused by General Officers general officers.(The offenders not being worthy of honorifics).  Another was the absolute stupidity in the design of Air Force uniforms over the past 70 years of its existence.  Merrill McPeak (he goes by Tony, his real name, Merrill is more fitting) was the absolute winner in commander designed uniform awfulness.  Some time I'll post on his visit to Kadena and meeting the wing's Flight Commanders.  Yes, it involved a uniform inspection.  I'm pretty sure when translating "McPeak" from the original tongue means "Buffoon".

However (yes, folks, a different verbal pause!), the crux of Sarge's post was on the difference in military life when assigned to the Pacific than Stateside and even Europe.   To summarize, PACAF had much more of a Shaka Brah mentality than elsewhere.  While we took training and flying our mission VERY seriously, the day to day tediousity of military life was minimized as much as possible.

So (yep, back to the usual verbal pause.), as usual, an excellent post, much like the lyrics in refrain of this song. 
 Yeah, I'm a Jimmy Buffett fan.

However, even the Master makes a mistake every once in a long while.  And that once was Saturday.

He published this photo
Sarge's issue was Flounder's issue in Animal House, the ending of which is " trusted us".  The file name on the picture says "35th_Tactical_Fighter_Squadron_-_McDonnell_F-4D-32-MC_Phantom_-_66-8709.jpg", so Sarge said the same.

When I glanced at the picture, the first thing I noticed was the WP on the tail, properly topped with the fin flash of the 80th TFS, AKA "The Juvats" not the blue fin flash of the (PTUI!) 35TFS Pantons.  

I gently corrected him, and then I started looking at the rest of the jet.  I noticed the ECM pod in the front left Sparrow well and then noticed the Laundry rack on the spine.

"I wonder....."  and went back and found my flying records.  Yes, I have flown this jet, and was part of the first crew that used that laundry rack since the Vietnam War.  Course this was 1980, so 7 years,  not that big a deal.

But, when you're on a remote to Kunsan, and the golf course is not a whole lot better than a putt-putt course, it's easy to get excited about even the littlest things.

You see, the Laundry rack is an antenna and was used by the LORAN system mounted in some F-4s.  LORAN is one of those military acronyms and stands for LOng RAnge Navigation.  The antenna would capture radio beacons from various sources and plot their intersection.  That intersection would be the location of the receiver.

In the F-4, the LORAN was hooked into the Bombing Computer, which would allow you to automatically drop a bomb when the Bombing Computer determined that point the LORAN said the aircraft was currently matched the point the Bombing Computer determined was the Release Point for the weapons on board.

Think electronic version of the Norden Bomb Sight, and you wouldn't be far off.

As I said, the Juvats was my first assignment.  As is usually the case for first assignments, I wasn't very well qualified to do much of anything.  An additional factor was the looming arrival of an ORI, and the Wing and Squadron Commander didn't want a brand new 1LT, not well qualified, Aircraft Commander to have much impact on the results of the ORI.  Hence, I was relegated to the night schedule.


Because the F-4 was a two seat aircraft, and I was a new guy, I had to have someone experienced crewed with me.  But that meant one of their experienced WSOs would not be available for the visible portion of the ORI.  (No one on the IG team wanted to look at nighttime operations at Kunsan Korea in February, hence a lot of "sins" were hidden by the night schedule.)

A conundrum.

Seems a fairly experienced back seater was scheduled to arrive about 3 weeks prior to the ORI.  The Squadron Commander put out the edict that he would be Mission Ready before the ORI as he was to be my WSO.  Lucky guy!

Lucky me also, since he's got to get a mission qual check ride and I'm his front seater, I get to get another one.  Yay!  And this one will be at night.

We pass.  But we're relegated to night sorties which except for occasional moments of excitement (read terror), were generally boring.  Brief at sunset, takeoff around 9, drive to Koon-Ni Range, drop the two simulated nukes, pop up for 30o dive bomb, then 20o, then RTB to a couple of instrument low approaches then full stop.  Hit the rack around 0200, get up and do it again.  

We've been doing this for a few weeks, and one day, we're flying the jet in the picture above.  My WSO is looking at this new, old, stuff in his cockpit and trying switches.  He turns the Russian Switch (the OnOff switch pronounced Own' ov, you get it right?) to the On position and needles start to move in the back seat, but he's not sure what it is or what it does.

Since we've got a lot of daylight between sorties, he breaks into the flight manuals to see what that system is and what it does.  Yes....It was the LORAN system.  

He then decides that he's going to make a name for himself by learning how to and using the system.  Fortunately, 709 is a reliable airplane and on the night schedule, so getting  to fly it isn't hard.  Soon, we're able, with the help of some initially unwilling maintainers, to get the system working.  

He then decides we're going to get the system in such a state that we can attempt to drop a practice bomb with it.

That requires approval from the powers that be.

Batman approves the idea with a few safety caveats.  We will practice with the Combat SkySpot folks until we get correlation that anything that comes off our aircraft should hit planet Earth somewhere.  

This system would give you steering to a release point and then provide timing to release with 3 bongs, 2 ticks and then a Beep.  You would pickle when you heard the Beep.  

It was used in Vietnam quite extensively when the weather was bad.  Evidently, it was quite effective in turning trees into toothpicks.  VX and Dave may have better info than I.

In any case, we've tweaked the system and gone through a few dry missions where the Skyspot would run the delivery and we'd check their release point with LORAN's and vice versa.  We were fairly confident that we could deliver a BDU-33 25 pound practice bomb to somewhere near the Rock on Koon-Ni Range.  Certainly in the bay....Surely.....

It's time for an actual release.

First run will be Skyspot controlled.  Bong, Bong, Bong, Tick, Tick, BEEEEEEEEP!

I don't remember what the actual score was, but it didn't hit the rock, short.  (Not that I ever missed the rock entirely, Nope, Never, Ever!)

Now it's our turn.  We come in for a dry run, telling the Skyspot crowd when we would have pickled.  their prediction was that we'd be a little long.

Ok, their actual bomb was short, they said we'd be long, maybe.

We come back around for an actual delivery.  


The Ranger calls 500' at 12.  Not a bad bomb (well for a bomb dropped from 18K in level flight without visual aiming or guidance anyway).  Come back around and drop another.  A little short, about 400' at 6, but not bad.  This could work.

Get back on the ground and talk to Batman.  We're pretty excited, as best we could tell, those were the first LORAN bombs dropped since Vietnam and they were certainly acceptable.  We're on to something.

The Squadron Weapons Officer cools us down pretty quickly though.  He asks us what the delivery parameters were.  I told him straight and level, 400K, 18,000'.  He asks me what the TOF of a 57mm AAA round was to 18000'?   Or a SA-2?  Or a SA-3? All of which the North Korean's had in droves.


My Backseater got his Callsign that evening, hence the title to this post.

Conehead PCS'd from the Kun to Moody and was my crewed backseater there also.  He went to the F-4 Fighter Weapons school while at Moody. We had a lot of excellent adventures and dropped a bunch of neat munitions from exciting deliveries but we never spoke much about LORAN again, except on cross countries to the PI when it came in pretty handy.