Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Old Battlefields

(Source)
A few of the comments in Juvat's Monday post really resonated with me, let me reproduce them here -

Yeah, I had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Okinawa Battle. It started offshore in a landing craft and came ashore on the beach. It was an interesting experience to be standing there, with your nose at the ramp and hear the bottom hit the beach. The realization that, if this were real, your life expectancy was probably measured in seconds was "educational" to say the least.

I always wondered how I'd react, hence the prayer.

Living on an island that was wrenched, inch by bloody scary inch, from the hands of the Japanese, changed my view of war forever (and this was at 7 years of age.) Being able to daily walk the island and see bomb and shell craters, find bits and pieces of exploded stuff (and one time finding a case of Jap grenades while snorkeling, yikes, more scared of them than the sharks) and all the other little reminders that three days of extreme combat occurred under my feet, well, was sobering. That was at Kwajalein, and it was considered a 'cake-walk.'
 
I can imagine. Or, maybe, I can't imagine.

About every two years I read the official US Army documentation on the invasion. And I can, in my mind, walk in their steps, remembering where I was, what was there at the time I was. Sobering. At the end of the island-island before you got to the 'we added extra room on the island-island' there is/was 'Bunker Hill' which was a Jap concrete command post where the US forces had to do unthinkable things in order to secure it. So strongly built they just covered it up and left it in place. No ghosts there. We played on it during the day, but come dusk the general feeling was decidedly creepy.

Visited Cape Canaveral one year on a tour, which included the Apollo 1 launch pad. Their ghosts haunt that place, too.

I don't think I can handle going to someplace like Iwo or Okinawa or the trenches in France. Cold, windy places, no matter the time of the year.
 
Visited Ypres while visiting NATO HQ on a trip to Sarajevo in 97. There was a Museum set up with intact trenches that you could travel down. Couldn't do it. Could walk along and look in, but walk in as if I were there, no way.

When I was less than 3, my Dad and Mom were stationed at Naha AB Okinawa. There quarters were on Suri Ridge. Mom, later, said she wouldn't let me play outside unless she was there. Heck, EOD was still active when I was there 35 years later. Mom also said she didn't like being outside after dark. Said it was just too eerie. So, yeah, I understand where you're coming from.

Andrew and Juvat were talking of places where combat took place, where men (and often women and children, especially on Okinawa) died, in horrible ways. Places they had been and experienced long after the day of battle.

I have walked the ground of a few old battlefields -
  • Fort Ticonderoga
  • The Hürtgenwald
  • Bastogne
  • Elsenborn Ridge
  • Stoumont
  • La Gleize
  • Krinkelt-Rocherath
  • Quatre Bras
  • Waterloo
They haunt me. Sometimes they haunt my dreams, perhaps I read too much military history. I have studied warfare for as long as I can remember. The great battles and campaigns, the generals, the admirals, and (especially) the common folk who actually go forth into battle. The ones who spill their blood (and more, for battle is a very messy experience), the ones you seldom read about unless they are decorated for bravery.

Most Americans of my generation are familiar with Fort Ticonderoga from our Revolution, seized by a small band of men led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold. The latter fellow was a pretty fine leader until he let his ego and lust for position override his common sense. The Battle of Saratoga would no doubt have turned out differently had General Arnold not been there. We won due to his bravery on that field. I won't judge him, I wasn't there when he turned his coat and betrayed the fledgling United States.

Unless you've "been there, done that" it's hard to understand what motivates a human being in times of high stress and the nastiness of battle.

But Ticonderoga (then held by the French and known to them as Fort Carillon) was the scene of a vicious fight during the French and Indian War. George Howe, brother to Admiral Richard Howe and General William Howe (both of whom you should know from the American Revolution) was killed in action there in July of 1758. When the Green Mountain Boys, commanded by Allen and Arnold, got there in 1775 it was undermanned, though still an important post. It was taken without a fight.

I've stood on the reconstructed ramparts of that fort, walked the forests surrounding it, I swear I could hear the echoes of ancient days in those rugged hills south of Lake Champlain and north of Lake George. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up even now.

The Battle of The Hürtgenwald was a nasty fight fought in miserable weather starting in September of 1944 and running right up to the start of the Battle of the Bulge. My great uncle John was an infantryman in the 4th Infantry Division there. His war ended during that battle, wounded by a bullet which pierced his helmet and grazed his scalp. Rattled him badly, probably concussed, he was evacuated. By the time he recovered, the war was over.

In the same battle the father of a NATO colleague of mine was captured. His war was over as well. Good thing, my colleague's Dad was an infantryman of the German Wehrmacht.

I still have Uncle John's helmet, the hole in it is a constant reminder of how close we stand to eternity.

I have walked the area, taking pictures so that my uncle could see what it looked like now. Not the same on a pleasant sunny day in summer. I should have gone in the fall, in the rain. But no one in their right mind would visit those ravines in a wet German autumn. Yet men were expected to fight there in 1944.

Now Bastogne, Elsenborn Ridge, Stoumont, La Gleize, and Krinkelt-Rocherath are all battles fought within the larger Battle of the Bulge. One must be careful walking the woods in that area. They still find unexploded ordnance and human remains 74 years later.

As they do in many places in the world where hubris and greed have led our species to wage war upon each other.

Quatre Bras and Waterloo are, of course, two of the battles fought in Napoléon Bonaparte's last military campaign. I have walked both areas, though I concentrated on Waterloo due to the field being relatively well-preserved as opposed to the other. Quatre Bras, Ligny, and Wavre were the other three battles of that campaign. Waterloo gets all the press, it was where Napoléon's imperial ambitions were finally crushed. The other three battles are often forgotten.

Waterloo haunts me like no other place on this earth. Upwards of 40,000 men (and perhaps a lady or two disguised as soldiers, it happened more often than many historians acknowledge) fought and died there, or later of their wounds. At least 10,000 horses perished as well. All in an area no greater than five square miles. That's more than one dead or wounded soldier for every square yard! In reality the areas upon the field where the fighting was heaviest were very small. Afterwards one visitor from Brussels said that one could walk across the field without stepping on the ground, the corpses were so thick.

A horrifying place.

The area surrounding the battlefield has changed since I was last there in 1998, two new parking lots (at least) have been added to accommodate the tourists. While one of these new "car parks" was being dug up in 2012, a nearly complete skeleton was unearthed. The ball which killed him still embedded in his rib cage.

Historians believe the man was a German soldier, named Friedrich Brandt. A Hanoverian serving in what was known as the King's German Legion. You can read about Soldat Brandt here, here, and here.

But who was this soldier? Apparently he left no relatives behind, no wife to claim a widow's pension, no grieving parents to mourn him. He had a pronounced curvature of the spine, which would disqualify someone from service in a modern army. But in those days if you could shoulder a musket and your pack, and stay in ranks, then that was good enough.

Perhaps he was a farm laborer, perhaps he had no trade, no family, no prospects other than to join the army (it still happens today). But whoever he was, whatever his history, he marched to Waterloo in the army of the Duke of Wellington. A member of du Plat's brigade stationed on the Allies right flank.

When his battalion was ordered forward, he marched with his comrades into the smoke and fiery hell of battle. At some point he was hit, he may have staggered forward another pace or two, he may have dropped to his knees instantly. Gasping for breath perhaps, unsure of what had just happened.

If he noticed at all, he would have seen his mates continuing on without him, vanishing into the smoke.

We do know that his brigade commander, Colonel Georg Carl August du Plat was also hit that day. The colonel lingered on only to die of his wounds some three days after the battle.

Undoubtedly Soldat Brandt laid there on the field until he died. After the battle he was no doubt stripped of his possessions, probably his uniform as well, and dumped naked into a mass grave with the multitude of other dead men in the immediate area. Remember, there were thousands of them.

There his body lay for 197 years.

It is the duty of the living to remember the dead. At least that's how I see it.

So, rest in peace Friedrich Brandt, rest in peace soldier, your duty is done, you are not forgotten.

The King's German Legion returns to Hanover in 1816.
Friedrich Brandt was not among them.

(Source)

Monday, January 22, 2018

God, my men will think I'm chicken! *

It's been a while since I pulled out this photo and looked through the list of names.  This project has been satisfying for me.  I now recognize virtually all the names and can describe most of the justification for their being so honored.  

But there are still a few, and in researching this post's legend, I learned quite a few things that I hadn't known.

For instance, which mission that the Air Force (yes and its antecedents) flew resulted in the most Medals of Honor being awarded?

I knew that one.

Ploesti. 5 Medal's of Honor, 3 posthumously.

Second question.  What was the first target in Europe bombed by the US Army Air Forces?

Ploesti.  June 11, 1942, 13 B-24s  launched to attack the city.  1 aborted after takeoff with fuel issues, the other 12 attacked.  Minimal damage was achieved, 6 aircraft recovered as planned in Iraq, two in Syria and the other 4 were interned in neutral Turkey.  I did not know that one.

So, I scored a 50 on that pop quiz.  Bummer!

I arrived at the subject of today's post, based mostly on a recent comment from Andrew, our classically trained rantconteur (yes, I know that is not an actual word, Google, but it better fits the man than raconteur), In which he asks (paraphrased) how we could have such a large fleet in WWII and still have had a lesser number of feckless and ill-trained captains than we do now?

My mind pondered about my service and agreed that the situation is very similar.

The example that popped into my cranial vault was Ploesti.  Intricately planned, but plagued by bad luck.  Checkpoints missed, weather, mechanical problems all contributed to the chaos of the mission, and that was all before they encountered enemy opposition.  However, perseverance and leadership salvaged what success could be had from the situation.  

I'll be discussing one of the Medal of Honor Recipients who survived the attack and indeed the war, Colonel John R. Kane.


There's something to be said for this picture.  I knew as soon as I saw it, he was not a "perfumed princess".
Source
Col Kane was born in 1907 and joined the AAF in 1932. He arrived in Africa in July of 1942 and over the next year received 3 of the top 4 Military awards for Valor.  He received a Distinguished Flying Cross for actions taken in an Attack on the Harbor at Naples that sunk a cruiser and battleship and a Silver Star for out flying a ME-110, denying him a successful shot until the ME-110 had run out of ammunition and returned to base. 

Being a Fighter Pilot has little to do with flying a fighter. However....

On August 1, 1943, 178 B-24s launched from Libya on the attack most people think of when Ploesti is named.  As mentioned earlier, bad luck was plentiful, with aborts enroute as well as a couple of actual crashes.  Weather and a difference in procedures, caused the attack to unintentionally be split into two waves.  Col Kane's flight approached their target area approximately 60 miles behind the lead elements.  The element of surprise was lost.  In addition, their route followed a railroad line into the city.  Unbeknownst to them, the German commander had positioned a AAA railroad train on it.

Col Kane had modified his bomber with 3 .50 cal machine guns in the nose that could be fired from the cockpit.  He shot all 2500 available rounds on ingress.  Unfortunately, the target area had been attacked by an earlier flight that had missed their target.  The gunners were alerted, but also, smoke and flames from burning petroleum added to the confusion and danger.
Tail End Charlie from Col Kane's Group
Source

Col Kane continued his attack and eventually dropped his bombs on their target and began their egress.  During the attack, Col Kane's B-24 had been hit 20 times by AAA as well as countless small arms rounds.  He'd also lost an engine.  Fuel was too low to allow a return to Libya, the nearest reachable recovery base was 900nm away on Cyprus.  Col Kane decided to violate Turkish Airspace and fly direct to Cyprus.

On landing, he hit an unreported wall, and the aircraft was badly damaged, however the crew egressed successfully.  The bomber was scrapped.
The source says this is the picture of Col Kane's bomber, although reports from the mission said he was flying "Hail Columbia".  Update: This source says, at the time of the picture, it had been transferred to a different squadron which used Snow White names as a naming protocol, later it was transferred back to the original squadron, and when it flew the Ploesti mission, it was renamed "Hail Columbia".
A final bit of knowledge about this attack of which I was unaware.  I had never heard about any reattacks of the target after  this one.  Evidently, it was frequently attacked up until Romania surrendered in late August 1944.

You might recognize the Narrator's voice.

I found this picture of Col Kane and immediately recognized the man.  
Source
A strange resemblance to the man in the masthead above, bottom row, third from the left, no?

Col Kane resigned from the Air Force in 1954 and passed away May 29, 1996.

In one of his last public statements, he said
"I still recall the smoke, fire and B-24s going down, like it was yesterday... Even now, I get a lump in my throat when I think about what we went through ... I didn't get the Medal of Honor. The 98th did."
Nope, not a perfumed princess.  Warrior!

Col Kane's Citation:
For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 1 August 1943.On this date he led the third element of heavy bombardment aircraft in a mass low-level bombing attack against the vitally important enemy target of the Ploesti oil refineries.
En route to the target, which necessitated a round-trip flight of over 2,400 miles, Col. Kane's element became separated from the leading portion of the massed formation in avoiding dense and dangerous cumulus cloud conditions over mountainous terrain. Rather than turn back from such a vital mission he elected to proceed to his target.
Upon arrival at the target area it was discovered that another group had apparently missed its target and had previously attacked and damaged the target assigned to Col. Kane's element. Despite the thoroughly warned defenses, the intensive antiaircraft fire, enemy fighter airplanes, extreme hazards on a low-level attack of exploding delayed action bombs from the previous element, of oil fires and explosions and dense smoke over the target area, Col. Kane elected to lead his formation into the attack.
By his gallant courage, brilliant leadership, and superior flying skill, he and the formation under his command successfully attacked this vast refinery so essential to our enemies' war effort. 
Through his conspicuous gallantry in this most hazardous action against the enemy, and by his intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, Col. Kane personally contributed vitally to the success of this daring mission and thereby rendered most distinguished service in the furtherance of the defeat of our enemies.

* Attributed to Col Ted Timberlake, Chief Operations Officer for the Attack, on being told he could NOT go on the mission as he knew too much about Allied Plans to be risked.  I understand the sentiment. 

Sources:  My Primary Source is, once again, Home of Heroes.  Always a good read there.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_R._Kane
http://www.nytimes.com/1996/06/12/us/john-kane-89-who-led-raid-that-bombed-nazi-s-oil-depot.html
http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/2813/kane-john-r.php
http://www.homeofheroes.com/wings/part2/09_ploesti.html
https://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=126906
http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/jrkane.htm

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Huh?

(Source)
So let me get this straight.

Congress cannot do their jobs, one of which is providing money to operate essential government services in the form of a budget.

Some in Congress want to shut things down so that people in this country under a special program can stay. Now wasn't that an Executive Order from the Obummer then rescinded by the Donald? I'm confused, what the Hell does Congress have to do with that?

When was the last time the Congress of this here United States did their job and passed a budget. A budget, not some continuing resolution thing to keep things running while the politicians play politics.

April of 2009. That's when. Almost nine years ago.

And the Congress-critters are blaming the President? Seriously?

I had an email from one of my senators (lower case is intentional) explaining that. Seems that in a Democrat controlled state, which Little Rhody is, there is no truth to be had. The media continues to toe the party line, the elites lie to us, and no one here has a bloody clue.

Odd that.

Hey Congress, pass a budget, send it to the President so he can sign it or veto it. Until you do that, why are you blaming the guy in the White House?

Isn't it that simple?

I dunno, I just dunno. Some people's kids...

Meanwhile...





Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tha mi nam Gàidheal

River Dee, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
(Source)
Or if you prefer, Tá mé Gael in Irish. In English - I am a Gael. Many of my ancestors spoke Gaelic, some in Ireland, some in Scotland. My immediate ancestors were mainly Scots with a hefty side order of French, seasoned with a bit o' English. According to the DNA test The Olde Vermonter had, we've a lot of Irish in us if'n you go back far enough. Apparently the Vikings came a calling as well. My ancestors must have been a fun bunch, when they weren't sacking and pillaging that is.

Anyhoo.

I have always had a fascination for the Gaelic side of things. My paternal grandmother came from Aberdeenshire in Scotland, she was born not too far from that river depicted above. She was a wee sma' thing, under five feet tall, with a heart the size of all Scotland. I miss her, a lot, she passed back in the winter of '72. I was in my first year of college, all the brightness in the world seemed to dim when she left this vale of tears.

But as the years went by I began to embrace my Gaelic heritage because of her, she taught me that much and I am grateful for that.

I was rather excited to discover that the Irish numbered amongst my ancestors back in October. Of course, I have always enjoyed the music, the food, the folktales of both the Scots and the Irish. Must be in the blood.

Now back in the early days of The Chant I would post the occasional bagpipe tune, much to Buck's annoyance, he often said that I should post a warning when I did that. So I did, once or twice. There's another person I miss, a lot. Blogging was more fun when Buck was around. Och weel...

Anyhoo.

Gaelic music isn't all bagpipes and drums ya know. There is rich tradition with harps, and flutes, and fiddles. The human voice is also a most magnificent instrument and yesterday I was introduced to the music and singing of a lovely lady born and raised on the isle of North Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland in the wild Atlantic. She grew up speaking Gaelic (which is the language of today's post title).

Now, I wasn't introduced in person, more's the pity, as she is a sweet and lovely lass. No, I was introduced via a post from David Warren, "Pineapples or elephants?" So I had to go exploring to hear what her music sounded like, and I am glad I did.

Here is Julie Fowlis, enjoy -



The song, Hùg Air A' Bhonaid Mhòir, sounds all serious and such doesn't it? Well the title, in English, is "Celebrate the Great Bonnet." Yes, bonnets, hats if you will. (Covers, lids, chapeaux, caps, etc.) The song is rather whimsical in actuality. Here are the lyrics (in Gaelic and English -

Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                    Celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile                More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                     Celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile                More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
             
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn       Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                    Higher than the corn-stack frame
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn       Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                     Higher than the corn-stack frame
             
Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                     Celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile                More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                     Celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile                More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
             
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn       Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                    Higher than the corn-stack frame
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn       Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                    Higher than the corn-stack frame
             
Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                    Celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile               More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                     Celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile                More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
             
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn       Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                    Higher than the corn-stack frame
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn       Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                     Higher than the corn-stack frame
             
Da thàbh air an fharaidh                     Two spoon-nets in the loft
Tha rud shìos anns a charaidh           There's something in the fish-trap
Da thàbh air an fharaidh                      Two spoon-nets in the loft
Tha rud aig an fhaoileig                       The seagull has a catch
Da thàbh air an fharaidh                      Two spoon-nets in the loft
Tha rud shìos anns a charaidh           There's something in the fish-trap
Da thàbh air an fharaidh                      Two spoon-nets in the loft
Tha rud aig an fhaoileig                       The seagull has a catch
             
Ged tha mi gun rud agam                    Although I'm empty-handed
Tha rud shìos anns a' charaidh          There's something in the fish-trap
Ged tha mi gun rud agam                    Although I'm empty-handed
Tha rud aig an fhaoileig                       The seagull has a catch
Ged tha mi gun rud agam                    Although I'm empty-handed
Tha rud shìos anns a' charaidh          There's something in the fish-trap
Ged tha mi gun rud agam                    Although I'm empty-handed
Tha rud aig an fhaoileig                       The seagull has a catch
             
Da thàbh air an fharaidh                     Two spoon-nets in the loft
Tha rud shìos anns a charaidh           There's something in the fish-trap
Da thàbh air an fharaidh                      Two spoon-nets in the loft
Tha rud aig an fhaoileig                       The seagull has a catch
Da thàbh air an fharaidh                      Two spoon-nets in the loft
Tha rud shìos anns a charaidh           There's something in the fish-trap
Da thàbh air an fharaidh                      Two spoon-nets in the loft
Tha rud aig an fhaoileig                       The seagull has a catch
             
Ged tha mi gun rud agam                    Although I'm empty-handed
Tha rud shìos anns a' charaidh          There's something in the fish-trap
Ged tha mi gun rud agam                    Although I'm empty-handed
Tha rud aig an fhaoileig                       The seagull has a catch
Ged tha mi gun rud agam                    Although I'm empty-handed
Tha rud shìos anns a' charaidh          There's something in the fish-trap
Ged tha mi gun rud agam                    Although I'm empty-handed
Tha rud aig an fhaoileig                       The seagull has a catch

O hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                 Oh celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile                More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                     Celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile                More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
             
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn        Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                    Higher than the corn-stack frame
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn       Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                     Higher than the corn-stack frame
             
Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                    Celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile                More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir                     Celebrate the great bonnet
Cuiribh oirre 's leigibh leatha             Add to it, leave it alone
Tuilleadh air a' bhonaid eile                More on the other bonnet
Chan eil leth gu leòr oirre                     There's not half enough on it
             
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn       Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                    Higher than the corn-stack frame
Bhonaid a bh' aig Dòmhnall Bàn       Donald Ban's bonnet
Ann an Bothalam na tàmh                   Is to be found in Bothalam
Bha i uiread ris an spàrr                      It was as high as the roof joist
B' àird' i na lòban                                   Higher than the corn-stack frame
             
B' àird' i na lòban                                   Higher than the corn-stack frame


Catchy tune, innit? I trust you did the sing along thing, right? (Believe me, I tried.)

I am now addicted to Ms. Fowlis' music.

Though as always, YMMV.

But as Buck might have noted - At least I didn't make you listen to the bagpipes, now did I?


Friday, January 19, 2018

Oh, Hear Us When We Cry to Thee...

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62)
US Navy Photo
USS John S. McCain (DDG 56)
US Navy Photo

The United States Navy announced on the 16th of January that -
USS Fitzgerald: Courts-martial proceedings/Article 32 hearings are being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against Fitzgerald members. The members' ranks include one Commander (the Commanding Officer), two Lieutenants, and one Lieutenant Junior Grade. The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide.

USS John S. McCain: Additionally, for John S. McCain, one court- martial proceeding/Article 32 hearing is being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against one Commander (the Commanding Officer). The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide. Also, one charge of dereliction of duty was preferred and is pending referral to a forum for a Chief Petty Officer. (Source)
In addition -
Additional administrative actions are being conducted for members of both crews including non-judicial punishment for four Fitzgerald and four John S. McCain crewmembers. (Source)
Serious charges, absolutely warranted in these two cases. Seventeen Americans lost their lives in these two incidents, seven aboard USS Fitzgerald, ten aboard USS John S. McCain. Seventeen Americans dead in mishaps which could have been avoided.

The full accident report for both ships is available here (see the links near the bottom of the article). I highly recommend you read through that. It isn't easy reading. Sailors exhibited considerable heroism during those moments after the collisions, when the ships went dark and the cold sea began to pour in. Mistakes were made. We cannot fully judge those people who are being held accountable, that is for a jury of their peers.

USS Fitzgerald:
  • GM3* Kyle Rigsby of Palmyra, Virginia, 19 years old.
  • PSC* Xavier Alec Martin of Halethorpe, Maryland, 24 years old.
  • YN2* Shingo Alexander Douglass, of San Diego, California, 25 years old.
  • STG2* Ngoc Truong Huynh of Oakville, Connecticut, 25 years old.
  • GM1* Noe Hernandez of Weslaco, Texas, 26 years old.
  • FC1* Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan of Chula Vista, California, 23 years old.
  • FCC* Gary Rehm, Jr., of Elyria, Ohio, 37 years old.
(Source)
USS John S. McCain:
  • ETC* Charles Nathan Findley of Amazonian, Missouri, 31 years old.
  • ET2* Kenneth Aaron Smith of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, 22 years old.
  • ET1* Jacob Daniel Drake of Cable, Ohio, 21 years old.
  • IC2* Logan Stephen Palmer of Harristown, Illinois, 23 years old.
  • ET2* Dustin Louis Doyon of Suffield, Connecticut, 26 years old.
  • ICC* Abraham Lopez of El Paso, Texas, 39 years old.
  • ET1* Kevin Sayer Bushell of Gaithersburg, Maryland, 26 years old.
  • IT1* Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr. of Baltimore, Maryland, 23 years old.
  • ET2* John Henry Hoagland III of Killeen, Texas, 20 years old.
  • IT1* Corey George Ingram of Poughkeepsie, New York, 28 years old.
(Source)


We send our young men and women forth to defend freedom. Those men and women often don't get to pick and choose where they go or who leads them. They deserve the very best training and equipment we can provide them.

They also deserve the best leadership.

Careers will end and lives will be destroyed by these impending legal proceedings. Will all of those ultimately responsible be punished?

No. Of course not.

Not unless we reach into the halls of government and punish those who would over commit our forces, who would stint on training and equipment. Those who believe we can make war "on the cheap." Those who would promote leaders based on anything other than the ability to lead. We must hold the nation's leaders accountable, regardless of party affiliation.


To those who died - may your memories be a blessing and may you never be forgotten.

God speed, may you have fair winds and following seas...

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!



*Posthumous promotion