Military Intelligence — and so much more

Astute readers have probably figured out over the years that I’m a huge fan of our American military.  I think it’s the last institution in America that trains young people to be competent adults; that gives people, young and old, meaning and purpose in a world that’s often defined by mindless materialism; that truly serves as a defender of American liberties; that manages to transcend the divisiveness of multiculturalism (although the Obama administration is working hard to undermine the unity that binds our troops); and that functions as something of an Emily Post school, since I’ve noticed in my interactions with Coast Guard, Navy and Marine personnel (thanks to the Navy League) that our men and women in the service have lovely manners.

Yes, the last item sounds fairly silly when included in a list that celebrates the way in which the military defends freedom and makes men out of boys, but it is somehow a holistic part of the whole.  The military’s respect for its country, its mission, and its comrades also manifests itself as respect for ordinary Americans, as demonstrated through good manners.  Comparing the manners young service people show to the manners (or lack thereof) that ordinary young people show is a salutary example of the maturity and polish the military gives recruits.

In keeping with my admiration for our military, I have two posts I want to share with you.  First, a post by a former Marine describing the way he politely took to task a teacher who thought she was being clever by raising the old liberal trope that “military intelligence” is an oxymoron.  (Hat tip:  American Thinker)

I was in class some time ago when a professor made a joke about the meaning of what an oxymoron is. It means a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms. She gave some like “Act Naturally” and “Aunt Jemima Light”, but then she mentioned another that struck a chord with me. The last she said was “Military Intelligence.” The class, full of college freshmen like myself laughed at that one too. The professor knew that I was a Marine and that I had served two tours, one of which ended less than six months before, so she knew this was a mistake I would not take lightly. I saw the look on her face as she saw the look on mine.

“Ma’am, are you aware of what it takes to re-calculate the trajectory of an object traveling at 3,110 ft/s for a three inch change in elevation at 5 times the length of a standard football field when factoring in for wind speed and direction as well as differences in elevation?” (Marine recruits do in week six of their basic training.)

Read the rest here.

Second, I would like to join with Michelle Malkin in reminding you that there is Marine you need to keep in your thoughts and prayers: SSgt Frank D. Wuterich.  Almost seven years after the fact, Wuterich still hasn’t had the opportunity to clear his name following the media uproar over the alleged Haditha massacre.  You remember the Haditha massacre, don’t you?  That was the one where the media, aided by John Murtha, accused Marines of brutally murdering civilians during a fight in Iraq, back in 2005.  Despite being publicly pilloried, all of the Haditha Marines but for SSgt Wuterich have been exonerated.  I know he will be too.

By the way, speaking of Murtha, and going back to my parenthetical in the first paragraph about the Obama administration’s efforts to destroy our military from the inside out, I’m sure you will be as happy as our armed forces probably are to know that the Navy named a ship after Murtha.  Do you think that if I also accuse our troops of “killing innocent civilians in cold blood,” they’d name a ship after me?

Honoring our Seafaring Services *UPDATED*

In honor of Fleet Week (which starts Saturday in San Francisco), I have three Navy/Marine related stories to relate and I want to promote a few of my favorite Navy related blogs.

Story 1:

My daughter has started a new school and is making new friends.  The other day, I met the Mom of one of these new friends.  (I’m happy to say that both mother and daughter are nice gals.)

“Is your daughter an only child?” I asked.  (Go ahead, say it:  I’m nosy.)

“No,” she said, “I have a son, too.”  Then, with the usual apologetic look one sees in Marin, she added “He’s joining the Navy next week.”

Having said that, the Mom cringed slightly, clearly expecting me to launch into a shocked lecture about the immorality of supporting our armed forces, especially with the blood of our young men.

“Wait!  Wait!  I’ve got to show you something,” I mumbled as I head to the stack of magazines on the kitchen counter.  Ruffling through papers for a minute revealed what I was looking for:  SeaPower magazine, which comes as part of my Navy League membership.  I handed it to her, along with a statement of the obvious.  “We’re big fans of the Navy in this house.”

Needless to say, she was delighted.  We talked about boys becoming men in the military.  She agreed.  Being a mom, she’s a little worried about her 21 year old son (he’ll always be her baby) going into the Navy.  Still, she realizes that her son needs a place to grow up and become a man — and our culture isn’t that place.  We currently train boys to be perpetual adolescents with feminine emotional traits, rather than encouraging the best aspects of manliness (bravery, loyalty, honor, camaraderie, etc.).

I think the push to become a manly man, in the best sense of the word, applies with special force in their case, because she’s a single Mom living in a low-income, all-black community.  Young men coming out of that community do not necessarily fare well in life.  Her son apparently realized that sad fact himself, since it was he who wanted to go into the military. After a couple of years at the local community college, he was lost and felt he needed something more meaningful.

When the Mom left, she thanked me profusely. “I feel so much happier now about his decision.”

Story 2:

At the local dojo a few months ago, I asked one of my Mom friends (a second degree blackbelt, incidentally), what her son (also a second degree blackbelt) was going to do with himself during the summer. Her face got that familiar Marin grimace.  She ducked her head and spoke softly.  “You hadn’t heard? He’s enlisted in the Marines.” Then came the inevitable pause, as she readied herself to be berated (or to get a saccharine and insincere, “Well, that’s nice.”).

“Oh, my gosh! That’s so cool. Wait I minute, I’ve got something to show you.” I dug frantically through my purse and — yes, there it was! — dragged out my Navy League coin. She blinked, startled. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

“Wow!  That’s wonderful.” she said. “I have to admit that this was a surprise to us. He came home one day and said ‘I’ve spent two years at community college, and I don’t know what to do with myself there.’ So he joined the Marines.”

My friend, who I assume is the usual Marine liberal then added something interesting:  “You know, I’ve been thinking about this. We should have our best and brightest defending us.  I think this will be a good thing.”

That was at the beginning of the summer.  A little while ago, the young man graduated from Marine Boot Camp, down at Camp Pendleton.  His mom sent me a photo of a young man absolutely radiating pride in himself and his uniform.  Mom was also deeply impressed by the graduation ceremony, which she said everyone should see.

Story 3:

My life is carpools.  Yesterday, I had in my car a darling 13 year old whom I’ve known since he was a little boy.  I stand very high in his estimation.  It’s not my charm, beauty or intelligence.  It’s the fact that he learned, last year, that I have friends in the Navy, including an admiral.  (Actually, I can boast about several admirals, since some of them might actually recognize me at a party if they ran into me.)  I am now persona grata, since this young man has as his life’s ambition entry into the Naval academy, followed by a career as a SEAL.

This boy has been thinking about BIG ISSUES.  “This is a really good time to get into the military, because I believe that we’re going to be in a very big war soon.”

“What makes you say that?” I asked.

“The way I see it,” he answered, “a few years ago, the news was filled with stories about the war.  Now, though, there are no stories.  I think they’re hiding something big.”

He was unimpressed with my suggestion that the media might have been trying to embarrass George Bush, whom they didn’t like, while trying to spare Barack Obama, whom they do like, the same embarrassment.  “No, I think there’s something big.”  He’s not quite sure who the enemy will be, but he knows there’s one out there.

Wrap-up to the above stories:

I think I should start a support group in Marin for those moms whose sons are entering the military.  The message would be, we don’t all hate you and we think your sons are doing a good thing!

And now the links

There are, as you all know, myriad mil blogs out there, all of which are a testament to the high caliber of men and women who serve in our military.  Since this is Navy/Marine Day at Bookworm Room, I’m just going to list my four favorite Seafaring military (and, perhaps, retired military) blogs:

The Mellow Jihadi
CDR Salamander
Neptunus Lex
Castra Praetoria

If you know of Navy/Marine/Coast Guard/Merchant Marine blogs that deserve recognition, let me know.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  I’ll start adding reader suggestions here as they come in.

Information Dissemination

My condolences to the Coast Guard

Thanks to the kind auspices of the Navy League, for two years running now I’ve enjoyed hospitality from the local Coast Guard, as they’ve taken us out on the Bay to enjoy the Blue Angel fly overs. Without exception, the crew members we’ve met have been lovely — generous with their time, and very gracious hosts.

I was so sorry to learn that the Coast Guard lost three of its own today in a helicopter crash off the coast of Washington.  My thoughts are with the family and friends they left behind.  One crew member survived and is still in the hospital.  I hope that he (or she) recovers quickly and completely.

A lovely day on the Bay

Courtesy of the Navy League, we spent several hours yesterday enjoying the hospitality of the crew of the USCG Cutter Pike, an 87′ Marine Protector Class Coastal Patrol Boat.  In other words, we spent the afternoon on an active duty patrol boat.  Rather than a chronogical recitation of a day that was basically very relaxed (although soooo cold), I’ll just give my impression of a few things:

The men and women in our Navy and Coast Guard are hardy people.  Did I mention that it’s cold out there?  Really cold.  I was bundled up, which was a good thing, because my tendency to sea sickness kept me on the deck the whole time (and this was despite having taken pills to help out).  Did I mention I was bundled up?  I was.  Heavily.  And I was still cold.  And meanwhile, members of the crew hung out on the deck in their shirt sleeves.  Only when I’d veered into freezing territory did some of them put on jackets.  I felt old and wuss-ish next to these vigorous young people.

The San Francisco Bay must be one of the most beautiful waterways in the world.  The Pike’s mandate yesterday was to keep ships and boats out of the “forbidden zone” — namely, the corridor into which ships are not allowed to travel when there are air shows going on over the Bay.  Up and down the Pike went, politely moving boats aside if they crossed that line.  I stayed on the port side of the ship.  When it went up, I admired the beautiful San Francisco skyline.  When it went down, I gazed at the wonders of Alcatraz Island.  All around us were bobbing sail boats.  There was an almost dream-like quality to the scenary around us, as if someone had written it for a book, and then summoned it into being.

People in the American military like their jobs.  Yes, I know that not all of them do, but I keep meeting people, active and retired, who think the military is a wonderful life.  In this they contrast strongly with the lawyers I meet, few of whom claim to like what they do.  (And yes, that could be a sophisticated, self-denigrating pose for some, but I happen to know from a lot of them that it’s not.)  The crew members approached their work with good cheer, an attitude that may have been boosted by the presence of a USCG RADM on board.  I got the feeling, though, that they feel as if their job is interesting and worthwhile.  I also spoke to two retired Navy people (one male, one female) and a retired Marine gal, and all three waxed lyrical about the pleasures of their time in the service.  The Navy people were career; the Marine gal was a short haul.  Each felt their time was worthwhile.

It’s disappointing when the Blues don’t fly.  Yup, you heard right.  After all that cake, we managed to miss the icing.  The fog was sufficiently think that it wasn’t safe for them to perform.  They made the right decision, of course, since safety must always come first when recreational flying is at issue, but I was still sorry to miss the soaring excitement of the show — especially when we were positioned to be right under them as they flew by.  C’est la vie.  We’ll catch them next year and, after all, this year we got to meet them face to face, which was its own pleasure.

And my last thought is that, when you get that cold, you stay cold.  It took me hours to feel as if I’d warmed up to my core again.  Did I mention that America’s seafaring troops are harding people?

A good time was had by all *UPDATED*

I did something great today — I relaxed.  Okay, that’s not really all I did.  I relaxed in a very special place.  Along with my family, I spent time aboard the USCGC George Cobb (WLM 564), a Coast Guard Buoy Tender, which usually calls San Pedro, California its home.  Fortunately for us, it came up to the San Francisco Bay Area for Fleet Week.  As members of the Navy League, we got invited to spend the day aboard the Cobb so that we could watch the Blue Angels show.

From start to finish, the experience was delightful.  The Coast Guard made sure parking and check-in were easy, with delicious pre-packed lunches available for purchase too.  Once on board the Cobb, we were invited to explore the whole ship, barring sleeping quarters and the engineering room.  Inside or outside, we went everywhere and looked at everything.  The crew was consistently friendly and helpful, and it was a pleasure to see this immaculate ship.

My family and I ended up spending a lot of time in the bridge.  Not only was it comfortable (no cold wind blowing there), with good visuals (a 180 view of the surrouding bay), but it was also fascinating.  The bridge’s crew showed us all the equipment and let us hang out in their chairs to boot.  Although I got a little queasy and ended up back on the deck, my son refused to leave, and the crew cheerfully assured me that they would keep an eye on him — and they did.

Watching the Blue Angels from the Bay is an amazing experience.  We were “parked” (I forget the official sea term) near Alcatraz, and it’s pretty clear that the Angels use Alcatraz as one of their markers.  They therefore flew so near us that you could practically see the pilot’s faces.  As always, it was a spectacular and completely enjoyable air show.  It’s so obvious that the pilots love what they do.  There is a joie de vivre to the performance that just sweeps one along.  As for the precision, if I didn’t know there were real people in the cock pits, I swear I’d think they were computer programmed — it’s that good.

At the end of the day, I asked my son to rate the experience on a 1 through 10 scale (with ten being the best).  He gave the day an 8 3/4, since it would have been perfect only if there had been guns and the guns had been fired!  I’m not sure about the gun bit but otherwise I have to agree with my son, since the day was about as good as it can get.

UPDATE:  There’s one other thing I wanted to add, and although it’s a silly thing, it seems important.  After we returned frpm the ship, we pulled into our local market to get some supplies.  As I know I’ve mentioned before, I live in a very nice community.  Nevertheless, the young people, who are only a few years younger than many of the Cobb’s crew, hew to the latest fashions.  We were therefore met with the sight of several shaggy haired kids in collapsing baggy pants, or overly tight peg legs, with the young men sporting rather random facial hair.  That reminded me of something else I liked about the ship:  the crew looked so . . . clean.  The buzz cuts on the men, the neat pony tails on the women, the simple blue uniform:  it all added up to a fresh, polished look that I greatly admired.