Thursday, November 30, 2017

On The Horizon

Christmas, as I mentioned the other day, is on the horizon. In less than a month as a matter of fact. Though we've been seeing commercial signs of its approach since shortly after Halloween. Decorations for sale in many stores are usually the first sign. While a number of my friends bemoan this fact and always wish to remind us that "Thanksgiving Comes First," (and calendrically speaking it certainly does, though historically it does not, think on that for a bit), stores sell a lot more Christmas merchandise than they do Thanksgiving merchandise. During this time period a lot of stores will sell more stuff than they sell the rest of the year. Or so I'm told and I have no evidence to doubt it. (Heck, Wikipedia has an article regarding this phenomenon.)

At any rate, I have no qualms with profit, I am no soul-devouring Communist.

So what is today's post all about anyway? Well, it has to do with looking towards the immediate future (perhaps beyond) and, as is my wont, there will be reminiscences. I like to reminisce, more so as I age. Before I get into all that, let me regale you with a tale of the Naval Station Norfolk waterfront, specifically the Navy's annual "Festival of Lights." (A great name, covering both Hanukkah and Christmas. Intentional? I want to say yes, anyone who knows better can chime in down in the comments.)

This phenomenon -

(Chase the source of that photo above for more of the same.)

One year, while visiting the female progeny, both of whom were stationed in the Norfolk area, The Nuke took us on a tour of the Norfolk Botanical Garden, which was delightfully decorated for the Yuletide festivities, and then on down to the piers. There we saw the surface combatants of the Navy dressed for the holidays. It was a very moving sight, very picturesque and no doubt anathema to the souls of the bean counters. (Do bean counters even have souls?)

One of my favorites was this one -

(Oddly enough, 2008 was the year we visited, which was when that photo was taken.)

As we were driving down the road which runs besides the piers, oohing and aahing, The Missus Herself sang out, "Oh look, that one has a fairy on it!"

Rather confused, The Nuke, The WSO, and Your Humble Scribe were looking all around for the alleged "fairy" upon a warship of the United States Navy. (Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking, stop. Just stop. The Missus Herself had in mind the fairy in myth and fairy tales. Ya know, think Tinkerbell.)

Eventually my eyes fell upon the bow of the mighty USS Wasp, lead ship in the Wasp-Class, a Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious assault ship (that's also her on the horizon in the opening photo). A ship manned by 1208 sailors, carrying 1800+ Marines, and having the ability to put those Marines ashore via multiple means (think landing craft and helicopters). She also has a complement of Harriers (six I believe). When one of these comes a calling off a hostile shore, you know that a butt kicking is in the offing.

"Honey, that's not a fairy, it's a wasp. The ship is the USS Wasp."

"Well, it looks like a fairy to me."


"Dad, drop it." Was The Nuke's sound counsel.

So I did.

So what is on the horizon here at The Chant? Expect more Christmas stories for one thing. Christmas is my favorite time of year, for many reasons, some of which have to do with my childhood, some of which have to do with the childhoods of the progeny. Haven't spent a Christmas in person with the grand-progeny yet (watched The Naviguesser's kids open presents via Skype one year) but expect to someday.

Other posts will be of the standard "here's what strikes my fancy today" variety. I don't know if I'll gripe about politics between now and the end of the year, it could happen. But don't count on it. I'm in a holiday mood and politics would just spoil it.

While I'm not going to promise "no reruns," I will try to avoid it. No, really.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Spent a big chunk of Tuesday taking The WSO and her tribe up to Boston.

Got home.

Realized just how empty and quiet the house felt. Kinda like that opening landscape.

Will have to make up the time lost this weekend, not a problem though. Time with the kids and grandkids is worth whatever penance must be paid on a day off without them around.

Damn. Didn't think I'd take it this hard.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Holiday Snapshots

Christkindlmarkt, Heidelberg, Germany
As Thanksgiving recedes in the wake, as the progeny return to their own lives, things are kind of quiet. After a week of five adults (though one of the adults is a fighter pilot), two kids, two dogs, and two cats all "peacefully" co-existing at Chez Sarge, it's going to be rather dull for a while.


After all, this all started with Your Humble Scribe manning the ramparts solo (well, the cats were around, but they refuse to stand watch, go figure) for nigh on to four weeks. I was gradually turning feral then suddenly The Nuke, The Missus Herself, and The Nuke's canine pack showed up late on a Saturday night and I found myself having to "behave" once more.

But now the lull sets in. Four weeks until Christmas (give or take), which is far less insane without young kids around. (Far less fun as well, truth be told.)

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had the "opportunity" to drive up to Boston (and back) to collect The WSO and her clan. Traffic was, amazingly enough, rather uneventful on that trip. For which I was very grateful indeed.

The junior granddaughter, L'il Sweetie, is developing quite a personality. Whilst in the process of saying Grace at Thanksgiving dinner, I was in full "and we thank thee for..." when she began to expound, "blah, blah, blah."

No, seriously. "Blah, blah, blah." As if she was mocking Yours Truly but in truth she was just chiming in as if to complement my efforts at thanking the Almighty for our many blessings.

A lesser man would, no doubt, have taken her comments as criticism.

The turkey was deep-fried this year. Which involved a number of things, all most strange to me.

Big Time was in charge of actually ensuring the bird was cooked. But before that could happen The Nuke and I had to go to Lowe's to pick up the fryer which The WSO had ordered and had shipped to our AO. That being done, all I had to do was put the box containing the thing in the basement. The Missus Herself having personally advised me to not touch anything.

The next day I went outside (that day being Monday) and nearly broke my neck tripping over a rather large box, leaking some oily substance, which was lodged upon my deck, fast by the door.

"Hhmm," I pondered, "what could this be?"

Turned out to be six gallons of peanut oil. Again I was instructed to move the stuff to the basement and not touch anything. Do you know how much six gallons of peanut oil weighs? (Around 46 pounds.)

Who knew peanuts needed lubricating?

Once that was done it was off to pick up a rental van to carry The WSO and her clan from Logan (in Boston) to Chez Sarge, in Little Rhody. Two kids requiring car seats and enough luggage to support those two grandkids and their parental units. Traveling with kids is quite an exercise. These days parents will actually bring some of the kids' toys along, to keep 'em entertained when the adults want to do adult things, like drink adult beverages.

I don't understand it because grandmothers will, apparently, always buy the grandkids a lot of toys when they come to visit. At least my grandkids get that treatment. It is fun watching their mom, my daughter, try to pack all of the toys she brought with them plus the new toys. Somehow she manages.

Harrumph, in my day you played with a stick. Which you harvested yourself from the nearby forest, careful, of course, not to wander too far from the cave entrance. And, of course, we walked to school, uphill, both ways, in driving snow, while fighting off bears...

The only thing missing is the attacking bears.

Anyhoo, traffic to and from Logan wasn't too bad. Only once did I wish to "end someone," and that's while we were still in Rhode Island. But everyone made it safely to Chez Sarge.

So yeah, we fried the turkey. (Before or after the digression, Sarge?) Well, Big Time fried the turkey, I supervised watched. It wasn't that cold Thanksgiving day, though there was a bit o' wind which made it a tad nippy. So we drank Bloody Marys to stay warm.

No, really.

Also the football boycott is over. Not that I was actually boycotting anything, I just didn't feel like watching. Until now.

So I got to see all new ( to me anyway) commercials. Yes, for the most part they still suck. Some are clever, once, but not 85 times. But it is fun to watch football with the family, while imbibing adult beverages, of course.

I also learned over the week that the Senior Granddaughter, Little Bit, has gained quite the vocabulary in her education so far. It amazes me how she correctly used "sarcasm" in a sentence. In a humorous way. At my expense.

No slack in this family, I can tell you.

But now Christmas is on the horizon, still hull down, but I can see its mast tops. (When was that Sarge? Around Halloween. Sarcasm. I can do it too, Little Bit.)

I have been informed that the Christmas holidays will find me on the banks of the Potomac.

Should be fun.

I so enjoy the holidays.

Even when fighting off bears.


Monday, November 27, 2017

So, how did YOU get into IT?

A month or so ago, another "Friend I haven't met yet" posted about an art professor she'd had in college who she believes was the catalyst that made her the artist she is.  Then she'd questioned whether her readers also had a mentor that had coaxed results out of them that they hadn't believed themselves capable of producing.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, an "Old Friend I recently met", OldNFO asked me "How on earth did you get into IT?".

Finally earlier this week, still another "Friend I haven't met yet", PrairieAdventure posted about "Night Peoples".

Three apparently unrelated topics, but, always dangerous, they got me to thinking...

The answer to Mentors is "Yes, I have".  In fact, more than a few.  One, in particular, was Ed Rasimus whom I've posted stories on a few times.  He made me the fighter pilot I became, and fortunately, I got to thank him for that before he passed.

There were a few others I had in the Military, and perhaps I'll post on them also.  What is that acronym you use Sarge? POCIR?

However, I also had one when I was in college and he was completely unrelated to the military.

His name was Dr. Dale Flowers.  While he's evidently at Case Western now, at the time, he taught in the Business Department at Texas Technical Cow College in Lubbock.  He had started a new curriculum which would grant a BBA in Management Information Systems.
Dr Flowers

One of the early requirements (this was in '73), for a BBA was to take a computer programming course.  This was in the days of IBM 370s, Punch Cards and Fortran or Cobol.  

If you don't recognize those terms, "Get off my Lawn, Youngster".
Punch Card-No backspace key.  Typo? Throw it away and start over. (But, on the plus side, no autocorrect either.)

I found that within certain frustrations, I enjoyed the course and was reasonably proficient.  So I changed the focus of my BBA to MIS.  (With the approval of the AFROTC Detachment of course).  I don't exactly recall how many folks did the same, but since this was the first year it was offered, it could probably have been counted on one hand, certainly on two.

That change meant that,in addition to the usual Finance, Accounting, Marketing and Management Theory classes required for a BBA in Management, I took Job Control Language, COBOL, Fortran, Statistics, and more than a few Computer Simulation Language courses.  The only language I had an issue with was Assembler.  Programming in 0's and 1's was a bit beyond my ken. (Still is.)

It's now around spring break of my Senior Year.  Graduation and Commissioning are so close I can smell them.  I've got my orders to Lovely Laughlin AFB by the sea, but will not report until March of the following year.
Laughlin AFB

So, shortly after getting my orders, I'm visiting with Dr. Flowers, a usual occurrence as he was my degree advisor.  He asks me about my plans for the interim.  He had created an Intern program with Texas Instruments who had a large assembly plant just outside of town.  I told him I thought I'd apply for that.  

He shot that down quite quickly.  First, it didn't pay anything.  Second, I would have an 8 year commitment after pilot training, so anything I learned or anybody I'd met would be of little use in getting a job if I got out.  

Somewhat deflated, I asked him what he thought I should do.  

"You should get a Masters Degree in Management Information Systems."

"Do we have one of those?"

"We will if you sign up."

"Why should I do that?"

"Right now, you're used to studying.  If you go work as an intern, you'll party and work and get out of the study habit.  If you stay in school, you'll be ready for the academic portion of pilot training."

"I've only got 10 months before I go to pilot training, how can I complete a Master's in that time"

"I didn't say it would be easy."

So...May of '77, I'm commissioned.  My report date to Laughlin was 3 Mar '78.  The summer of '77, I took and completed 12 hours of Grad work.  That Fall, I took 18 hours. January and February I took the remaining 6 hours of course work, completed my thesis project and took my oral and written comprehensives.

My thesis was a simulation that tested scheduling rules for a machining shop.  The program was so big, I had to split it into two parts and run the first part, then hand feed the results to the second part to complete the simulation.  It was too big for Tech's computer. 

I'm pretty sure, it would have run on my FitBit today.

 I trimmed and optimized but couldn't get it to run on the computer.  February 28,1977 1978 (oops), I take the results to that professor and show him the work and explain the problem.  

He pronounces it complete.

March 1, I take my Orals.  March 2nd, I take my writtens.  Each of these is graded by 4 professors and graded as Unsatisfactory, Pass or High Pass.  Of the 8 grades, I received 7 High Pass and 1 Pass.

That evening I depart for Del Rio.


Where does the tie to PrairieAdventure's "Night People" post lie?

I had to pay for the Masters, so I had to have a job.  I worked the 11PM to 7AM shift at AvTech Aviation at the airport.  There wasn't usually much traffic that late, but Management wanted us to be open to handle any that might drop in.  It was quiet, I could study.  (I learned that the most effective computer programming tool is a #2 pencil, eraser and paper).  

We did have one regular customer, he flew in every night for fuel around 3 AM as he ferried checks between Banks in an Aerostar.  Once I fueled him and got him on his way, I could usually nap for a couple of hours. Get off at 7, nap again and then head to school.


So, Shaun, I feel your pain about the transition to "Night People".  

After that 10 months, UPT was comparatively easy for me.  I mean, I actually was expected to sleep  8 hours per night!

Oh, by the way, the sole "Pass" in the passel of "High Pass's"? Dr Flowers with a note "You can't BS an old BS'er".

But THAT was how I came to be in IT.  In fact, YouTube recently did a documentary on what I do in IT for the school district.  

I'm the guy in the Red Tie.

Just because, here's the sequel

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Until the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead...

The sea is a harsh mistress. For over a week I have been following the story of the ARA San Juan, the Argentine submarine which failed to report in on the 15th of November. As the clock ticked, various nations offered assistance in the search for the 44 souls aboard that ill-fated boat. Numerous reports came out in the media, most of which have been proven false, or incomplete, most of which left me wondering, just where were these bits of information coming from?

Insider leaks to the press? Speculation put forth as hard fact and then expanded upon by journalists with no background or experience in the things they were writing about? Rumors spread for malicious reasons?

Who knows?

The only people who know exactly what happened aboard San Juan, were aboard San Juan. In all likelihood those same people now lie dead in their submarine at the bottom of the South Atlantic. A cruel reminder, once again, that even in peacetime, naval operations carry a certain risk which the average civilian will never understand.

Only they who go down to the sea in ships, only those who have business in great waters will understand.

Prayers are offered for the lost. Prayers are offered for those left behind.

Forty-four families left to mourn for the dead.

Then word came of the C-2 Greyhound lost on approach to USS Ronald Reagan, a ship I have been to sea on, a ship which both daughters have served on. Eleven aboard, eight rescued, three lost, one of whom was a pilot, two of whom were young sailors probably heading out to their first assignment at sea.

Three more families who now know that their sailors won't be coming home from the sea.

Again much speculation about what happened, much of it ill-informed. But in this case, some of the crew survived to tell the tale. We will eventually learn what went wrong.

But again, all we can do is offer prayers for the lost, prayers to ease the suffering of those left behind.

Meanwhile, the sea rolls ever onward, mysterious and uncaring.

O MOST powerful and glorious Lord God, at whose command the winds blow, and lift up the waves of the sea, and who stillest the rage thereof; We, thy creatures, but miserable sinners, do in this our great distress cry unto thee for help; Save, Lord, or else we perish. We confess, when we have been safe, and seen all things quiet about us, we have forgotten thee our God, and refused to hearken to the still voice of thy word, and to obey thy commandments: But now we see how terrible thou art in all thy works of wonder; the great God to be feared above all: And therefore we adore thy Divine Majesty, acknowledging thy power, and imploring thy goodness. Help, Lord, and save us for thy mercy's sake, in Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

It Was Good

Hey! Where's LUSH?
Yes, Thanksgiving was mighty fine.

I have much to be thankful for.

Ah, there she is!
Note that L'il Sweetie has decided to dive in, enough pictures already!

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Refugee Thanksgiving by Norman Rockwell                                        Source 
I always think of Norman Rockwell around the holidays.  His paintings of American life, while mainly set in early to mid-last century, are timeless to me.  And the Thanksgiving and Christmas ones just put me in the holiday spirit and the resultant good mood.  I was going to post the quintessential Rockwell Thanksgiving picture, "Freedom From Want," but discovered this one instead which makes  a far better cover picture for my musings today.

Quite a few of my relatives live right here in San Diego County.  My mom was from a big Catholic family and three sisters and their many offspring all live in the area.  Each year someone is goaded into volunteers to host the clan for the traditional meal, which is probably the first thing I can be thankful for.   The deal is that the host doesn't have to do anything- no cooking, no cleaning, no nothin'.  We've hosted several times and have to say that doesn't mean the day is effortless, far from it, but I still love it.  It's a big potluck, semi-coordinated by me or one of the other more organized brethren.  We had 2 dozen pies one year, but had to ration the turkey, had no ice, and cranberries were nowhere to be found.  Still, there was plenty of food, family, and as always, plenty to be thankful for.

I'm not exactly sure why, but I'm always tapped to give the blessing before dinner.  During it I always ask our Lord to bless those not as fortunate as us.  That's a universal request of course, not reserved for just those in my immediate community, city, or even this country for that matter.  I know we live in the greatest nation that has ever been, and that comes with many blessings.  It's important to keep those in mind, especially this time of year.

I'm grateful for a home, and that all my friends and family have homes as well.  On the other side of the coin, there's a huge homeless population here in San Diego and it keeps growing.  Maybe it's because of the leniency with which the local government treats them, or the amazing services we have here with the Alpha Project and Fr. Joe, whose outreach is wonderful and saintly.  It's almost surely because of the great weather here as well.  Why be homeless and freezing in Baltimore or Philly when you can be homeless in sunny San Diego?  Is there gratitude I can glean from that?  It's tougher to find for sure, but it's good that we treat these people with respect and that we have such local institutions that help.  It's not necessarily solving the problem- mental health care and addiction treatment is needed in spades, but I'm grateful that I have enough food and money to help a little when I can.    The reason I backed away from more regular posting here on The Chant is because I've gotten heavily involved in The Knights of Columbus.  My Council works diligently on our "Food For Families" program, donating food and funds to help others in need.  Are we making a dent in the problem?  I don't know, but what I do know is that some folks aren't hungry after getting the help we provide.  I'm thankful for that organization which helps me to be a little more charitable than I probably would otherwise.  And I'm grateful to live in a country where this need isn't the norm.

For the most part, we live in a country where food is plentiful.  Sure, plenty of folks suffer from "Food Insecurity"- they don't know where their next meal is coming from, but we have compassionate people, food banks, soup kitchens, and programs that help stem the tide.  We don't have significant malnutrition here and hunger isn't something that affects entire populations.  I'm thankful that I can be a little part of that.

Comparing notes?

You've probably noticed how the country is currently obsessed with bad behavior from those who previously claimed to have the moral high ground.  These are the same same folks who accuse the GOP of waging a war on women.  The left and the Hollywood elite have both been dirty nasty people, since probably forever, but it's now out front for all the world to see.*  From pedophilia to rape, to sexual assault, and harassment, all of it wrong and all of it disgusting, the voices of the victims are finally rising above the fray, above the ability of the perpetrators and the political protectors to stifle them.  While I'm somewhat reveling in it all, to see both the scumbags getting their comeuppance and the victims getting their say, there is something to keep in perspective.  With all the accusations, the media outrage, the faux-media outrage, and the faux-media faux-outrage, we can be thankful that we live in a country with a media industry, however flawed it may be, to tell the story of the victims and hold the corrupt accountable.   It's a great country that cares about the victims, that allows women to have a voice and equal footing, even if there are some folks who refuse to see that.  I can't allow those who would rather play the victim, affect my happiness.  Gratitude can make the world a better place.


I'm not blindly believing every one of those victims of course.  Some accusations are so old and seem too politically expedient that they have to be taken with a grain of salt and both eyes open.  But the schadenfreude is pretty satisfying.  Can we fire every one of the politicians?  No, not immediately, but we have a great institution in our electoral process.  Something a hundred other countries don't have.  We aren't stuck with our leaders, we just have to vote them out.

What about Hollywood? Should we boycott the entire industry?  Possible, but not likely.  The TV and movie industry is all too pervasive and to be honest, pretty darn entertaining.  And dropping Hollywood isn't all that necessary, nor is it fair to all those there that are just hard working folks.  Hollywood is fronted by the glitz of celebrity, but it's built by a hundred thousand set designers, carpenters, computer technicians, lighting technicians, audio engineers, writers, caterers, etc.  Few of those people are likely in a position that would allow them to function as an unchecked predator.  It's the producers, directors, and some A-list actors that wield that power, but not any longer.  What we need to do is not get caught up in the cult of celebrity that is Hollywood, nor listen to ignorant actors who are given a soapbox because of it.

Is there something to be grateful for there?  I suppose it goes back to the earlier point about a free press- an institution which we can air our grievances, backed by the first amendment, which gives us the right to petition the government (and sue to pants off the predators).

Unfortunately, just today I learned that Congress has a secret multi-million dollar slush fund to pay off those who are sexually abused by members of Congress under a seal of silence.  When are we going to wake up and hold these pompous frauds accountable?  Soon I hope.  If not, then in November of 2018, 2020, 2022, etc.   I'm thankful for voters that help do that, that help us keep this country great.  And I'm hopeful that the current attention being paid to all the true deplorables in government, media, and Hollywood will help turn the minds of some other voters.

 But, even if they don't, I'm still full of gratitude, for our country which has problems such as this.  These are first world problems that so many other countries couldn't even comprehend.  Capitalism and bill of rights allow us to have lifestyles where we can take the time to bitch about our government, and a strong military that defends those rights.  Our standard of living allows us to have an entertainment industry which is so entertaining.  Our society also enables (most of) us to provide our families with food and shelter and so many other things that we take for granted.  Things that other countries don't have that make our country a beacon of hope for not only those living here, but refugees and downtrodden from elsewhere.  Is it perfect?  Far from it, but I have gratitude for what it is and what I have.  Which is far more than most.

Happy Thanksgiving to Sarge, Juvat, Lush, and all the Chanters out there!

*I'm fully aware that sexual harassment isn't just from the left, but the juxtaposition surrounding them is staggering.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Big Time, L'il Sweetie, Little Bit, The WSO
Safe and (mostly) sound after the long haul from California
L'il Sweetie and Your Humble Scribe doing the selfie thing.
Your Humble Scribe playing the fool.
LUSH, "Playing?"
Kodi is convinced the kids dropped something to eat.
Bear wants to know if the kids ever sleep.
As to the post title...

Yes, yes, we are!

I am thankful, I pray you are as well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Etc.

The Nuke and the grand-dogs are in town, The Missus Herself as well.

The WSO and her tribe are also in place.

We have five adult humans, two little humans, two felines, and two canines onboard.

Yes, things might be hectic.

Posting, as the picture indicates, might be light.

I'm off all week, so I've got that going for me.

Ride might be bumpy, but it's gonna be fun.

I'll be here, hopefully, before Thanksgiving, but if not...


Monday, November 20, 2017

Old 666

Well...I'm anticipating, but not betting on, a quiet week this week.  Faculty and Students are off, so shouldn't be jamming printers or forgetting passwords or other actions of similar "demise of all life in the universe" nature as usually occurs when they're around.  

The members of my team will be working on issues affecting our production databases and involve taking those off line for (hopefully) short periods of time.  Our boss has taken pity on us and updated our equipment.  He expects this will enhance our productivity.

We shall see if his expectations are met.

Meanwhile on the home front, Thanksgiving dinner is still being procurred
No Sarge, those are not Buzzards.  A large flock of turkey hens ran in front of the truck on the way to Church this Morn.
As Mrs Juvat is out at Trade Days, peddling women's wear, I had the opportunity to watch a little bit of Dogfights, and stumbled across this episode.

.I had originally selected it because Col Thorsness' Medal of Honor flight was included, but watched the other two segments first.  I'll leave the first segment for the members of the Staff with Navy attachments to discuss.

The second segment, however....

Piqued my interest.  It begins at 18:50.

And I realized I hadn't written one of these posts in a while, so here's the story of two more Recipients of the Medal of Honor from the Air Force or it's antecedents.

Their names are Joseph Sarnoski and Jay Zeamer.
Lt Sarnoski
Major Zeamer

This was kind of interesting to me for a variety of reasons.  First, when I hear about B-17s, like most people I immediately think of 8th Air Force, Great Britain and Nazi Germany.  The Flying Fortress flew in every theater of war in WWII, and while I knew that, I didn't appreciate some of the aspects of that fact.

Second, there were multiple incidents of two Medal of Honor recipients on a single crew.  One is described here. Lt Sarnoski and Major Zeamer are unique in that, although they were in the same aircraft when the action occurred, they received them for different reasons.

This site, as usual, has quite a bit of detailed information about the mission, providing some of those bon mots that bring the incident to life.  

Apparently, Major Zeamer was a natural leader, who had  had a problem checking out as a pilot in the B-26.  In fact, at the time of this mission, was NOT a qualified B-17 pilot. He had only passed the qualifications to be a co-pilot.

My interpretation of this was not that he lacked the flying ability, but that he lacked the ability to comply with what would later become the SAC way of flying.  Based on this, or perhaps because of this, he was sent to 5th Air Force in the South Pacific, in the B-26.  He raised the ire of his mates there by, apparently falling asleep, during the bomb run on missions evidently due to boredom.  He was transferred to a B-17 unit, where he was assigned to some one who "got" him, and trained him.  
Major Zeamer is 2nd from left back row, Lt Sarnowski is last on the right back row.

Major Zeamer eventually put together a crew of misfits like himself, found a shot up B-17 that was being cannibalized and restored it to flying status, added additional armament to it and began flying missions no one else wanted to fly.  
Believed to be the only picture of their aircraft

Such was the state of the war in that theater, that no one really asked to see his "papers" authorizing him to fly as pilot in command.  My kinda guy!  

Fighter Pilot is an Attitude, not an AFSC!

In any case, in June of 1943, Major Zeamer takes a mission to map Bougainville, in preparation for invasion.  Somebody, flying a chair, had also asked them to take pictures of the airfield at Buka.  Major Zeamer declined as that would have alerted the Japanese to his approach.

As he's approaching the target, he realizes he's 30 minutes ahead of schedule, so decides to fly over Buka and take the pictures.  He does and now back on time, but with the Japanese alerted, flies on to perform his mapping mission.

Lt Sarnoski had received orders sending him stateside in 3 days as he's been in theater for 18 months and more than exceeded his required missions.  Everything I read about him said he was an outstanding bombardier as well as an excellent shot with the machine gun.  He volunteered to go on the mission as his replacement had come down with malaria and was grounded.

The mission is going to be dangerous for a couple of reasons, as they are taking pictures to be used as maps, the aircraft cannot deviate from the flight path at all.  Straight and level.  Also, in order for the mission to be successful, the film must make it back to base.  Getting shot down is mission failure, as well as the usual bad stuff involved with getting shot down.

They are in the final phases of the mission when they notice Japanese Zero's  taking off and pursuing them.  Modifications to their B-17 were such that instead of the usual 10 x .50 Cal machine guns, they had 19.  The first Zero's that attacked from the tail were shot down.  

Other Zero's maneuvered around to the front for a head on attack.  One is shot down by Lt Sarnoski, but another one attacks and shatters the front end of the bomber severely injuring him, throwing him back under the flight deck.  Damage is such that Major Zeamer can see him through the holes.

Declining first aid, Lt Sarnoski manages to pull himself back to his position and resume firing, destroying a Japanese Dinah twin engine fighter.

Major Zeamer has not escaped injury from the head on attacks either.  He's severely injured in the legs and arms, and is flying the aircraft with his fingers.  

Sources I've found say this aerial battle went on from 40 minutes to an hour as the B-17 makes it's exit from the target area. As they prepare to make a final attack, Major Zeamer pulls the B-17 into a steep dive into some clouds. The Japanese being low on fuel and ammunition, assume that was a death dive and RTB.

Major Zeamer pulls the aircraft out of the dive and continues to command the aircraft between periods of unconciousness due to blood loss.  The Co-pilot is performing first aid on Lt Sarnoski and the aircraft is being flown by one of the Gunners.

RTB takes about 4 hours and Lt Sarnoski succumbs to his injuries enroute.  Major Zeamer revives in time to make the actual landing and passes out again on shutdown hearing the medics say to "leave the pilot for last, he's dead."

Fortunately, that wasn't true, although the Doctors eventually pulled 150 pieces of metal out of him, most parts of the B-17.

He passed away in 2017.

One of the sources I found for Lt Sarnoski was entitled, "From a common man, uncommon Valor".  I think that has been a frequent summation for the folks on that monument at Lackland.

Major Zeamer's Citation:

On 16 June 1943, Maj. Zeamer (then Capt.) volunteered as pilot of a bomber on an important photographic mapping mission covering the formidably defended area in the vicinity of Buka, Solomon Islands. While photographing the Buka airdrome. his crew observed about 20 enemy fighters on the field, many of them taking off.  
Despite the certainty of a dangerous attack by this strong force, Maj. Zeamer proceeded with his mapping run, even after the enemy attack began. In the ensuing engagement, Maj. Zeamer sustained gunshot wounds in both arms and legs, 1 leg being broken. Despite his injuries, he maneuvered the damaged plane so skillfully that his gunners were able to fight off the enemy during a running fight which lasted 40 minutes. The crew destroyed at least 5 hostile planes, of which Maj. Zeamer himself shot down 1.
 Although weak from loss of blood, he refused medical aid until the enemy had broken combat. He then turned over the controls, but continued to exercise command despite lapses into unconsciousness, and directed the flight to a base 580 miles away. In this voluntary action, Maj. Zeamer, with superb skill, resolution, and courage, accomplished a mission of great value. 

Lt. Sarnoski's Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. On 16 June 1943, 2d Lt. Sarnoski volunteered as bombardier of a crew on an important photographic mapping mission covering the heavily defended Buka area, Solomon Islands. 
When the mission was nearly completed, about 20 enemy fighters intercepted. At the nose guns, 2d Lt. Sarnoski fought off the first attackers, making it possible for the pilot to finish the plotted course. When a coordinated frontal attack by the enemy extensively damaged his bomber, and seriously injured 5 of the crew, 2d Lt. Sarnoski, though wounded, continued firing and shot down 2 enemy planes.
A 20-millimeter shell which burst in the nose of the bomber knocked him into the catwalk under the cockpit. With indomitable fighting spirit, he crawled back to his post and kept on firing until he collapsed on his guns. 2d Lt. Sarnoski by resolute defense of his aircraft at the price of his life, made possible the completion of a vitally important mission.