Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Chant Is Like...

Forrest had it right.

Now some bloggers would leave it at that. "Ha ha, look what Sarge did, how clever."

Or (more likely) "What in Hell is that old coot smoking?"

But I like to mix things up, history one day, goofy stuff on another, then I'll throw you a curve and write a post about iron roosters and foo fighters. Ya never know what you're going to get here on any given day.

Heck, I never know what I'm going to post on any given day. Usually it's whatever pops into my head. Sometimes I'll read something and cogitate on that for a while then write you a post about that.

Sometimes I rant, sometimes I rave.

Hopefully, it's usually interesting enough to keep you coming back. Seems to be working so far.

So apparently Maine had a tsunami warning the other day. It was, of course, right up there with the "Everybody run for cover the NORKs have fired a missile at Hawaii" warning of a couple of weeks ago. This time it was, apparently an error (stupidity?) and not malfeasance.

Some people's kids, neh?

In other news I hear that the President wants to have a military parade in Washington D.C., similar to those that the French do in Paris on Bastille Day. Apparently he witnessed that, thought it was pretty cool, and wants to do the same.

I've watched clips of that French parade, it is pretty cool. Apparently though that's too expensive, too militaristic, too non-traditional, too warlike, blah, blah, blah. My favorite bit from the article on NPR (which that last link goes to) is this -
U.S. presidents have long shied away from such displays of military prowess — which typically include tanks, missiles and, in some cases, goose-stepping soldiers — for fear of being compared to Washington's Cold War adversaries, where such displays have traditionally been potent symbols of state power. Those countries include Russia (and, formerly, the Soviet Union), China and North Korea.
(Ya now there was a big parade in D.C. right after the Civil War, I guess that doesn't count.)

The text in bold is the bit which I chuckled at, yes, exactly the sort of thing we conservatives crave. Sure that's what Mr. Trump wants, goose-stepping soldiers. Perhaps the World War II German Luftwaffe can do a fly over, U-Boats in the Potomac. OMG, perhaps he really is Hitler!


I think he says things just to watch people's heads explodes. It definitely tweaks the progs I see around the office and in the public spaces here in the Democratic People's Republic of Little Rhody. Which isn't quite as bad as Kalifornia, but approaches that level at times.

Would I like to see a big military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, with tanks, big missiles, marching troops (of the non-goose-stepping variety of course), with flyovers of military helicopters, jets, bombers, and secret death machines?

As cool as that might be, no, not really. I've been in military parades, they're a pain in the ass for those in the parade. Which reminds me of a story. Of course...

Back in '75 I was in tech school in Denver, learning how to maintain the Weapon Control Systems on the mighty F-4D Phantom II. It was a nine month long school which hey, it was Denver, a lovely place back then. Now, I hear it smells of hemp, but that's a story for another day. Maybe.

The powers that be had declared that there would be a census throughout the Empire, er, I mean, that there would be a big parade. All the school squadrons would participate.

"So Sarge, will there be 76 trombones?"

"Shut up Bambi."

"Sir, yes sir!"

Anyhoo. As we'd all learned how to march in basic training, the powers that be figured we wouldn't need very much practice. As we marched to school, every day, the powers that be in my squadron decided that we wouldn't need any practice.

Now the powers that be in my squadron were the commander, Major Kennedy, and the First Sergeant, a jolly Master Sergeant with a very Prussian crew cut. (Whose name escapes me at the moment, sorry Top. First Sergeants were known as the First Shirt, or just Shirt, older guys might have called them Top, for the Top Sergeant in the outfit.)

Yeah, kinda like that. In fact, Paul von Hindenburg is like an older version of our first sergeant. Though the Shirt didn't have that mustache. Which would have been really cool. But I digress. He was a good guy, but of course he was a Master Sergeant, goes without saying, right?

Anyhoo, the big day arrives, we're all lined up, multiple squadrons, all en masse, and to top things off, 'twas a lovely, lovely day. Sun shining, some cloud, not too hot, kinda sorta just right. (No, Goldilocks wasn't there, she was in a different squadron.)

Our squadron had Major Kennedy a few paces in front of the Shirt, who was a few paces front and center of the first rank of the squadron. As we approached the reviewing stand, the Shirt held his arms to his sides, slightly, and began making "slow down" motions. Which we, obedient unto death, did, wondering why the Major was outpacing us.

When we passed the reviewing stand, Major Kennedy was a good ten yards in front of the rest of us. He seemed to be marching all by hisself. But he proudly barked out "eyes right" and rendered an impeccable salute. To the vast puzzlement of a number of folks in the reviewing stand. Many of whom wore these upon the breast of their Air Force blues -

U.S. Air Force Command Pilot's Wings
Yup, fighter pilots. Back in the day old fighter jocks were often sent to training bases and ROTC outfits to train us young and impressionable airmen. For many it was their swan song, they maxed out as lieutenant colonels and colonels, no hope of gaining a star (as they weren't members of the "cool kid" set), they commanded a training wing or school, then retired. (At least that's how I remember it.)

When the Shirt and the rest of the squadron hit the reviewing stand, Top bellowed out "eyes right" and snapped a salute that would impress God himself and all the angels in Heaven. We did the eyes right thing, we felt like the Grenadier Guards, Top looked like Patton incarnate (only lower ranking and in the Air Force), and we dazzled the reviewers. (Who were probably just then connecting Major Kennedy's solo performance and the fact that we had no officer with our squadron.)

Eyes Right!
USAF Photo
Well, from my position in the front rank I could see the reviewers, a couple were chuckling, a couple had baffled looks on their faces, but the colonel just drew himself erect like a martial statue and snapped a very passable salute (for a fighter pilot) back at the Shirt. Then proceeded to slightly grin and wink at the Shirt. (Seems they'd served together in Thailand, back during the Vietnam War.)

I also saw Major Kennedy check his six and only then saw that his position relative to his command was rather non-standard. (Now he was a good fifteen yards in front of the rest of us.) I swear I heard him question the ancestry, upbringing, and marital status of the First Sergeant's parents. But, he too was grinning and shaking his head.

That was a great parade, those two guys were what ya call leaders.

We would have marched through Hell with those two at the front.

And that's one of my parade stories.


  1. My "box of chocolates" depends on what folders of collected flavors are the fullest...
    ...the art of plagiarism at work.

    I love the parades!!

  2. We musta spent half our time in boot camp “learning” to march and we did it everywhere except the ‘A’ range.
    School was a little less martial but we paraded after the monthly personnel inspection.
    Beyond that there was little time or space for drill.
    That said, it seems most shore commands had a drum and stumble (some guys just never got enough of that stuff) corps to throw out there for the public.

  3. Yes...Well....Thanks for providing Monday's subject. Parades from a Fighter Pilot's perspective.

  4. Yes, we marched to a fare-thee-well in boot camp ... and then never marched again. It's not about the marching, of course: it's about learning to follow orders and work together. But then the Navy in its wisdom issued orders to all those sailors, scattering us to the four corners and the seven seas. Whereupon we worked together still, but more in the manner of cats, loosely herded.

    1. Ah yes, the scattering. The Air Force does that too. We were told in Basic that folding our underwear just so and putting everything in our locker according to The Rules would help us learn the complexities of maintaining complex equipment. In addition to the whole learning to march thing, of course.

      Yeah, sort of. As I told the fellows in my squad, "If you're too lazy/stupid/blind to fold your underwear the way the Air Force wants it, then you're probably too lazy/stupid/blind to work on complex equipment."

      Even some of those who could fold their dainties properly couldn't work complex equipment. The USAF found them other jobs. (I'd say they became personnel/admin wienies but then I'd be in trouble with Mrs. Juvat, and we don't want that...)

  5. I don't think the parade is one of Trump's best ideas. If Obama called for one it would have been lauded by the press, but it also would have been a dumb idea.

    1. Agreed. That money is better spent elsewhere and that parade would be expensive.

  6. President Trump keeps pumping up the economy with his tweets. All those press people, sending out for food and drinks, while sweating out marathon meetings plotting their attacks, must keep food service and baristas in work. What a guy!

    1. I think it's his version of harassing fire, though he uses words, not artillery, to do it.

      It keeps the media and the progs (okay the media are mostly progs but not all progs are in the media) on the hop and unable to focus. I love it.

  7. Marching and parades. Left most of that behind in college, where we marched to a fare-thee-well, to meals, football games, parades before football games in various cities of the Republic, etc, etc. Was dumb-stuck while at Ft Bragg in a school, where they took the Army types out of a class I was in (as in, everybody buddy but me) so they fill out some parade. Navy doesn't waste TAD/PCS training time like that (got other ways to.....)

    Was talking with my son about the Trump thing, and reminded him that the military participates all over the country in local 4th of July, Veterans Day, and Memorial Day parades and events. Which I think is the way to do it. We just don't pull out all the heavy hardware.


    1. You're right on the participation around the country. I'm hoping the parade-thing was just to spin the progs up.

    2. I remember a parade in Anchorage, AK when I was 5 or 6 years old with troops marching, and at least one tank that stopped periodically and spun it's turret round. I think it must've been an M-48. There was snow and ice present, and it was cold. I'm guessing that it must have been the start of the Fur Rendezvous. I was even in a couple of parades when I was a student at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, MS. Wasn't too bad, but awfully glad it wasn't later in the year. The Gulf Coast isn't fit for humanity between May and October, at least if you're actually doing something.

    3. I know what you mean about Biloxi, I was there from May to August for a school one year.

  8. I really would like to see a grand military parade. Get some Re-Enactors, from Revolutionary War (with fife and drum) to War of 1812, to Mexican-American War, to the Grand Unpleasantness, to the Western Wars (both sides, US Army and 'Injuns') to Spanish-American War (love me some Krags,) WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Grenada/Iraq I, GOT. (Okay, the last one has real troops in it.) And have surviving veterans ride after their appropriate units. Color guards from all the active units parading in one massive Colors unit.

    Tanks, Planes, have a grand Fleet Week.

    Seriously. What's one of the most popular 'entries' in the Rose Bowl Parade? The Combined Marine Band. Followed by the US Army Cavalry and the Buffalo Soldier re-enactors.

    Any serving member who wants to volunteer to march gets a chance. From the lowliest recruit (after graduating) to the biggest stars.

    Maybe on Armed Forces Day.

    I think it would be cool. As a reminder of our past, it would definitely be cool.

    1. It would be very cool if done that way. As to expense, have a Go Fund Me campaign or something.

    2. I could definitely support something like that!

  9. I'm with Andrew here, all active duty and reserve are volunteers. I wonder how many they would get?

    I managed to dodge all parades during my time in uniform ( USAF, CalARNG, and USAF Reserve ) except for one. And that one wasn't really a parade, just a retirement for some general. Class A uniform, and of course no overcoats. Even in California, the winter time can be cold, especially on an overcast day. Standing at attention or parade rest while the speakers droned on and on, etc., while we slowly froze to death. Well, if felt like that at the time.

    So, yes, a parade such as Andrew sets forth would be great, as long as all the marchers had volunteered to do it.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. I like the all volunteer aspect. But one of the first things every new recruit learns is "never volunteer," a rule I broke several times, sometimes to my chagrin, once or twice it was a cool thing.

      The expense of such an affair concerns me though.

  10. I bet you the re-enactors will do it for free.

    As to the expense of the active duty members, well, may sound stupid but take donations. I bet lots of people would volunteer some cash to give the Korean War, Vietnam War and all the Forgotten Wars veterans the parade they deserved. I would.

    After all, that is the reason I would like a parade. For all the forgotten veterans who have been cast off by 'the people'(those low-brow socialists and communists who seem to ruin our daily lives) and left forgotten. I want our people to be able to see the full panoply of American Fighting History, from early settlers (hell, English Civil War survivors, many of them) to our modern volunteer heroes. Remind our people that it's not all Bradley Mannings out there.

    1. All great points Andrew, heck I'd pony up a few bucks for that as well.

  11. I would enjoy a parade of volunteers and re-enactors. It would be fun. Do it on Veteran's Day, or maybe better, on Memorial Day. The weather would be warmer. But get it self funded...go fund me page, donations, whatever. Because you need to pay the police to manage security, and for the publicity. It would be nice to see a large gathering that wasn't screaming/throwing rocks, etc at each other and the spectators.
    Do they do a parade in DC on Memorial Day? I know they do in most "small" towns and cities. Have had to march in a couple. But I don't ever remember seeing the news mention a parade in DC. Chicago, New York City, Boston...yes. Fleet Week is always all over the media when that happens. If not, maybe DC could use a parade...

    1. I don't recall hearing about a parade in DC anytime. There was a big WWII aircraft flyover on VE Day back in 2015. It was pretty cool, a lot of people turned out for it. I was one of them.

  12. My favorite parade story was after my Vietnam tour at MCAS El Toro 1972-3 time frame. Our MAG mustered at 0800 Sat for a 0900 inspection/parade. The exalted General who was to observe this military-ness was 4 hours late. So Cal in the summer is not benign to the troops, nevertheless all of us maintained formation in various poses of parade rest and at ease until his arrival. A few regrettably passed out, but our obvious failure to maintain spit polished shoes in the 90+ deg weather with dust blowing from the Santa Ana winds clearly showed our obvious lack of inner resolve, and we were confined to barracks for the weekend (even the married folks). Thankfully, we were able to repeat the process a few weeks later, and were given liberty for the rest of the weekend. As the youngsters say, embrace the suck!

    1. Ah yes, waiting for the big shots to show up, wilting in the heat, then being punished for not being all cool, calm and collected. Gotta love flags that are so "damned important" that they can't be on time.

      Yup, embrace the suck. Or, from the old days, "F**k it, don't mean shit. Drive on."

    2. Reminds me of a change of command ceremony at Clark AB. It was the dry season (as opposed to monsoon) and 105 degrees in the shade. Everyone in the 1961st Communications Group that was unlucky not to get to be part of the minimum manning o one of the 24/7/365 sites, nearly 900 people were drawn up in formation. The high mucky-mucks were under a large canopy, cooled by very large Hollywood-style fans. They saw it as a competition to see who could give the longest speech. Finally, after nearly an hour-and-a-half, they cut it short after the 5th airman toppled forwards. Not much love gained amongst the troops that day. Nor on the following week when the new commander decided the snack machine at our site was in the wrong location and that all the walls needed to be repainted a different color. 4 months after the previous new commander had pissed on everything to make it his own. That's when I realized that many people really are nothing but glorified baboons, as if high school shouldn't have taught me that. 13th Bone Force, PACAF, in action.

    3. Glorified baboons is being charitable.

      Speechifying when the troops are sweltering should be a capital offense.

  13. Call me being charitable. Pay for the parade by confiscating Obamaphohes. Peace be upon him>


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