Friday, July 16, 2021

Major Bland

 So... Well... We've all become way too familiar with our current crop of very political and very loose-lipped officers that keep popping up in the eneMedia, even going so far as to write political books while active duty.

This... This isn't how officers are supposed to act.  Not at all.  They are supposed to be outside of the political spectrum as far as we know (stop it... stop sniggering... this is way things are supposed to be, not are.)

I mean, we all remember (if you're old like OAFS or juvat) or know about how political tiffs have ruined officers' lives, like good old Shogun Doug MacArthur spouting off and getting furloughed by President Truman.  

So what, pray tell, you are asking, does this have to do with anything, Beans?

I'll tell ya.  Simple.  My dad.

I mean, I knew what political bent my mom has always leaned towards, though it was somewhat hidden while dad was serving.  But dad?  

Bland.  He was always bland.  Bland about things that matter, bland about the serious things and all the really important things that happened in his career.

Politics?  With dad, even after retiring, just didn't know.  Nothing.  When questioned, blandness occurred.

I mean, this is what we are supposed to expect from our officers while serving.  "Hey, Officer Dude, what's your feeling about XYZ?"  "I have pledged to protect and defend the United States and the Constitution...."  Right?  That's the answer, no matter if the officer is a leftist or conservative or libertarian or whatever.

Dad? The worst I ever heard was him grumbling about the idiot in the White House (circa 1977-79.) And when questioned as to what he was grumbling about, blandness ensued.

When watching "The Andromeda Strain" he mumbled, when they first go into the complex, "At least they got that right."  When questioned about the supposed Wildfire (laboratory with nuclear bomb to flash fry anything inside) installation after he mumbled the above mumble, blandness ensued.  Which has bugged me since.  When did my dad go into a top secret lab and why was he there?  And, of course, the answer is always "Nunya."  I have assumed my father's blandness and can bland myself when I ask unbland questions about things that I don't need to know about.

Like, well, when talking to Dad after he retired about what he did every three months when he went for a week-long trip to Eniwetak.  "Hey, dad, what did you do there?" "Not much, just stood on the concrete and took some measurements."  Bland answer said in a bland way.  Blandness ensued.

Let's break that down.  Dad was the Air Force Liaison Officer at Kwajalein from June 1970 to June 1973, as a consolation prize for not going to the 5-sided puzzle palace known as the Pentagon, or Mordor on the Potomac if you ask juvat.  So he was responsible for all Air Force activities at the Army base responsible for being the catcher's mitt for stuff launched from Vandenberg AFB and several anti-ballistic missile programs launching from the atoll (at Meck Island.)  And various other Air Force concerns in the surrounding area, like, well, Eniwetak Atoll.  You know, Eniwetak?  Where we blew a hole buncha stuff up with nukes?

Yeah, THAT Eniwetak.  Where, after blowing the living snot out of a bunch of stuff, the military eventually collected as much of the radioactive remains and buried them under a huge concrete dome.

Not my dad.
Photo from the New York Slimes 
(https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/opinion/a-pacific-isle-radioactive-and-forgotten.html

or this one...
Dad stood on the big white spot.  He also boated over the big blue spot.
http://imgday.com/2012/10/two-atomic-bomb-craters-one-covered-with-a-concrete-dome-enewetak-atoll-marshall-islands/


Concrete.  Remember the statement my dad made?  Every 3 months he stood on the concrete and took some measurements.  HE FRIGGIN STOOD ON A NUCLEAR SARCOPHAGUS AND TOOK RADIATION MEASUREMENTS!  (Which, come to think of it, actually meant he stood with other people and supervised, but since he was a good officer and had an engineering background, him saying he took measurements probably meant he actually took the measurements.)  

How bland can you get when talking about standing on a nuclear waste dump and taking reading and doing science stuff!  Total blandness.

Other blandness from Kwaj.  "Perry Cubmarines are kind of cramped."  That would be mini subs used to locate and collect re-entry vehicles launched from Vandenberg, in other words, non-functional MIRV warheads.  Such a bland statement regarding such a weird thing to be doing.

Yeah, one of these.  Kind of cramped...
http://flickr.com/photos/zaruka/7358025864

Or when, while at Vandenberg from, what, 1965 to 1970, he went on TDY to some desert location.  And when questioned, it was always something like "I was working on a project near White Sands."

I grew up thinking White Sands was just a regular military base.  Not, you know, White Freaking Sands where they did all sorts of secret squirrel missile stuffs and other weirdness.  And, of course, 'near.'  Gee, Beans, what's 'near' White Sands?  Could it be some secret squirrel place now known as Groom Lake or other names?

"I was working in the desert."  Total blandness.  

And then there was the stuff he was working with/on Range Tracking and Instrumentation Ships in the Miami area during the post-Cuban Revolution times.  "Well, the various Cuban gangs were a little frisky."  Kind of a bland statement about leaving a certain Cuban owned eatery and the place blows up while he's walking away (from someone else who was there with him who wasn't so... bland.) 

Then, well, what's a RTIS doing near Cuba during the time period around Cuba when we weren't launching Mercury capsules?  Hmmm???  Bland...

Or what it was like to sit pad alert in Korea in the mighty F-84G?  "Well, it was hot or cold depending on the weather."  Bland comment there.  For a plane that was capable of carrying a nuke and his squadron practiced nuclear bomb tossing regularly.  So was he sitting pad alert with a nuke under his posterior or just worrying about the Norks or the ChiComs getting stroppy?  Even after he retired, he would talk about the squadron monkey and the mud and dust and snow, but not anything much about the tension or the pressure put upon the air crews post-armistice.

Why did my dad get Apollo coins and a really neat plaque?  "Hey, dad, what did you do for the Apollo program?" "I did some project management."  See what I mean?  BLAND!

His only comment about dealing with Top Secret (and above) material was "If you are responsible for destruction of secret documents, make sure they are completely destroyed."  Which, later, turns out he was involved in a potential court martial case regarding some officer who didn't manage to make sure documents were completely destroyed (apparently, a piece of paper with the page and document number were clearly legible on it was discovered lodged in a fence near the burn pit.)  So, well, he cautioned me to make sure destructions were complete. Got more of the story from, yep, another less-bland acquaintance of my father, the involved officer himself.)

I am so proud of my bland dad.  For being bland. The epitome of blandness. I am sure if he was still alive he'd still be bland. Uber-bland.  So damned bland.

May we have more bland officers doing (bland) things.

And here's to you all out there who have done (bland) things and said (bland) stuff about the (bland) things you have done.

33 comments:

  1. PAPA BEANS had USAF sub dolphins?

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    1. Not that he would have told me. Just odd comment here and there. Dammit. Me wanna know. And USAF is still holding tight to their secrets...

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  2. Some people can keep secrets, far more can't and with Social Media those people are proliferating rapidly. Too many of the "Look at Me!!!" types. When a military type suffers from this disease it's particularly disgusting. Good for your dad being bland Beans, sounds like someone I'd buy a cold one.

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    1. He was definitely one of those Cold War warriors. Funny thing is, there are still lots left in the Services, they just don't break the Lt. Col/Colonel (or equivalent, for Navy types) barrier and when they do, the upper management and politicians beat them to death.

      A lot of his mumblings and stories (when I was around) often started out really neat, and then blanded out rather quickly.

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  3. I understand. I found out more about my dad's military career after he died then while he was alive even though I was around for the last half of it. His friends, colleagues and co-workers from his 30 years in the Air Force told me more about what did and worked on than he ever really said. Though there were some stories. Reading his DD-214 and his notebooks of commendations/etc added even more to the picture but also left many even bigger questions. Yes, the men (and women) from back then could keep things in confidence.

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    1. His DD-214 is far blander than his Love Me wall and commendations show. And the Arf Force ain't telling, still. I request, about every 5 years, info on his service history. Still wondering when the 50 year time limit is going to be up on whatever he did back in the 50's to 70's. It's not very many officers who, at the end of the Vietnam era, were openly offered the jump from Reserve Officer to Commission. Which makes me proud, but there's that little itch.

      It's like, you know, sitting down with Larry Lambert (or LL from virtualmirage.) So many questions, so much... bland and "You know...(conversation on his portion trails off.)"

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  4. "...if you're old like OAFS or juvat..." Hey Now! Those two are mere striplings/whippersnappers (take your pick) compared to "esteemed fossils" like myself & Lt. Fuzz. I'M PULLIN' RANK!! Give proper dues to your elders! :)

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    1. ALL HAIL VIRGIL XENOPHON!
      BADGER PAW SALUTE!

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    2. Ah, but, see, you don't act old and crochity. Unlike OAFS and juvat, who were born old and crochity...

      You, sir, are... timeless. Since I don't really know you, reserving 'crochity' for later. :)

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    3. VX, l had the same thought. Curious. The older I get the less I fear, however, just reading the name, F-84, sent a chill down my spine. Glad I missed that treasure.
      Fun post Mr. Beans, fun post. Lots of memories.

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  5. PS: 'Cause YA'll won't have us around all that long.. (TICK TOC)

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    1. Such is the way of life, like sands in an hourglass...

      And, you know, they make digital clocks now that don't make noise, so you won't have the constant sound of future, semi-impending ending in your ears.

      Or you can do what I do, have tinnitus so bad you have to lip read for most info. I can see me now, old Death shows up and flaps his skeletal face at me and I'm going "What? What? Can you speak up? Where's the closed captioning button?"

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  6. Nice post, Beans. If only today's officers could be so bland. And politicians, too... at least they should respect their oath of office to support and defend the Constitution and really do so, rather than undermining it!

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    1. There are a lot of non-political or bland officers out there. As I said above somewheres, they tend to get pushed out around O5/O6ish level, and if they last longer than that, they are the few unfortunate ones who get stuck as scapegoats for other more political officers.

      The desecration of the non-political officer corps by #42, #44 and #46 is just saddening. Now I know how the Soviet armed forces felt when Stalin was doing his purge.

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  7. Bland is good!!! No high ranking officer, when asked about sensitive material---political or otherwise--should ever miss an opportunity to keep his mouth shut.

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    1. No high ranking officer or any other officer should be more concerned about 'muh diversity' than about the actual running and functioning of his/her portion of the military.

      It's bad when the NAVY comes out and is proud that all their top people are 100% qualified diversity and political-wise, while the ship handling and personnel management skills have been tossed to the side.

      Even worse was that all of the political officer class lied openly to a sitting president as to what they were up to.

      Some serious reckoning is coming, better it be from the people than from some foreign power.

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    2. Agree completely. Under the current "Administration" though, it will continue getting worse.

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  8. Replies
    1. Looking forward to your bland tales of redacted activity from the next few weeks. :)

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  9. I raised my right hand, said "I do", went where I was sent and did what I was told. (turned 18 in boot camp) Old Guns

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    1. Yep. So many have done so, so many still do so. It's the mouthy, political, spineless cretins and cretinettes that spoil everything for everyone. And the fact that all the political officers (and enlisted like Bradley Manning) who have played the political game and committed outright treason or sedition or just illegal stuffs and not been punished, well, grrrrrrrrrr.

      I am so glad that so many of all y'all out there, Chanters and not-yet-Chanters, did and do know when to keep one's mouth closed.

      It is a trait that I keep coming back and talking, because I am watching on a daily basis people not doing that. From random people in the street sharing too much information while I'm walking the dog to actual military types openly while in uniform play politics.

      Just want the 'strong and silent' men to return.

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  10. Late son was a medic stationed at Dugway Proving Grounds southwest of SLC. The residents referred to it as Area 52 (sign above the commissary doors). All he would say was there was no alien stuff there, but there were things no one would believe.

    When I visited he had to give 24 hour notice to security and I was vetted at the entrance before being allowed on the mere 15 acres that wasn't off limits.

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    1. Yep. Weird, isn't it?

      Soooo curious, but none of my business.

      Still...

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  11. This reminds me of times such as when I overheard dad and buddies talking about skin wrinkles gotten from wearing dry suits at depth in icy waters. 'What, you dived in the Arctic?' [silence/change of subject]
    I knew he did TDY as Navy salvage. And I was on first name basis with some of his long time buddies. But they'd all look away - or literally walk away - when I dared to ask about dry suits.

    Or, early in my life he told me to never ask about Korea. Okay, even I understand that one. But why did you go to Spain direct from Korea then return to Japan in the space of one tour? Mom told me about that but even she didn't know the details.

    And Argentina...and Ecuador...Grenada? (all in the 1960s)

    There are other tales, such as a couple hours tops to pack, then fly down to launch from Key West for a something-something that had to be done right quick.

    Dad's DD-214 didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. Reading that file, you'd think dad was just another mud Marine. But we know.... I just haven't been able to get the details. And now they're all gone. Very proud of that man.

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    1. My dad would wear his t-shirts on inside out. And he supposedly stopped flying in 57/58. The only other guy I knew who wore his t-shirts inside out was the Major who flew SR-71s, as the seams on a t-shirt worn normally will give the wearer pressure-bruises, thus inside-out.

      Admittedly, the F-86G was a pretty fast plane, but no need for wearing high-altitude pressure suits that can bruise one via the underwear.

      So... what the heck was my dad doing when he was supposedly removed from flying and only did it in a reasonably mid-altitude non-supersonic plane?

      So, yes, weirdness. Unanswered weirdness. I know how you feel. Lots of eternally unanswerable questions....

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    2. Well, not "eternally". At some point you might be able to ask him. One hopes.

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    3. Hopefully. Got some dark things from the past.

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  12. Somewhere along the way, Beans, we lost that model of service oriented personnel at high levels. Our military leaders became, in a very real way, the very reflection of the Cold War Enemies they were fighting.

    It is sad. By choosing to be non-bland, they create the situation where they are no longer seen as neutral. They have taken sides. The side, of course will always be that of which way the wind is blowing - that is the only sort of opinion that survives at that level.

    The Commissars are here. The question is not if military readiness and ability will suffer, just to what extent.

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    1. Yep. Makes me wonder who is pushing this all. Not that I don't have some serious suspects.

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  13. Seems like everyone is political and polarized these days, in or out of uniform. Found out the other day that my mil boss, a supposed died in the wool republican that she voted dem because she couldn't stand listening to Trump. Her right of course, but the admission and polarization surprised me a lot.

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  14. My dad did bland. 40 years later, 'you had business to oversee on the roof of the whitehouse?' bland blandity bland.
    Me? I worked in the open TS world my entire 30 years. Talk about bland.

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  15. "If you are responsible for destruction of secret documents, make sure they are completely destroyed." Been there. Done that.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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