Jessica Lynch’s Navy: She’s a Sailor, Too©
Jessica Lynch’s ‘Teletubby’ Navy©
Gerald L. Atkinson
Copyright 1 September 2003
Pvt. Jessica Lynch, the celebrity POW of the recent Iraqi war, returned to her home town of Palestine, WV to a hero’s welcome after spending  “more than 100 days” at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She is recuperating from injuries received during (or after) the ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company near Nasiryah, Iraq and her nine days as a POW. The spunky little 20-year-old home town hero had suffered from “multiple broken bones and other injuries” when she arrived at Walter Reed. She is “ambulatory with the aid of a walker” but “still has trouble standing.” She faces many more months of rehabilitation.
Jessica Lynch’s cousin, 1st Sgt. Dan Little, in an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ show, said that “...Pfc. Lynch was in pain on the flight [from Walter Reed to Elizabeth, WV], but added that she wasn’t one to complain. ‘I looked over at [her] one time and she did grimace...she was rubbing her knees,’ Sgt. Little said. ‘But to tell you she was in pain, she never would.’” Of course, we know that Pvt. Lynch and the Army claim that she has no memory of her time as a POW and, according to the Army officials, ‘we may never know the full story of what actually caused her multiple broken limbs and fractured back.’ We do know, however, that Pvt. Lynch’s injuries at the hands of the Iraqi’s are severe enough that  she “... is expected to leave the Army soon for medical reasons, according to hospital and family sources.”
For a discussion of the vague, and often contradictory, news reports of Jessica Lynch’s injuries at the hands of the Iraqis, visit the link at Pvt. Jessica Lynch’s Army. It is clear, however, upon Jessica’s return to her home town that her injuries were and are very serious, disabling, and possibly very long-lasting.
In spite of the fact that Pvt. Lynch claims to have no memory of the events during the nine days of her captivity by the Iraqis, she was clear on one specific incident – one that received much acclaim during her rescue by U.S. Special Operations Forces from the civilian hospital in Nasiriyah. During her homecoming celebration, she told the press that “...she had read ‘thousands of stories’ recounting that when she was rescued, she told U.S. Special Forces that she was an American soldier. ‘Those stories were right. Those were my words. ‘I’m an American soldier, too,’ she said.”
Of course, that episode was widely disseminated by the U.S. military and the mass media. It was a heart-warming personal human interest touch that helped catapult the diminutive 5 ft. 4 in., 105-lb. supply clerk to national-level hero status at a time when the war was going slower and becoming problematic – at least according to media critics of the war. Read a description of this over-hyped effort by radical feminists to create their mythical female Sgt. York at the link: The Violation of Pvt. Jessica Lynch.
An interesting quote by Pvt. Lynch at her well-deserved homecoming by the proud West Virginians of Wirt County was made in the context of praise for her friend, Spc. Lori Piestewa, who died as a result of injuries received in a Humvee accident during the ambush. Jessica Lynch, during her brief press conference back home said , “She was my best friend. She fought beside me and it was an honor to have served with her.”
The phrase, ‘She fought beside me,’ may simply be a generalized figure of speech, intended to bestow respect for a friend – but it is factually inaccurate. Neither Piestewa nor Lynch ‘fought’ anyone during the ambush. Despite erroneous reports by, first, The Washington Post and then by nearly every national newspaper in the land – based on raw Iraqi field-intelligence data concerning Lynch’s ‘fight to the death’ during the ambush – the official Army report  of the ambush clearly states that Piestewa was driving the Humvee that crashed into another convoy truck and Lynch was a passenger in the back seat, seated between two males who were killed during the crash or while engaging the enemy shortly thereafter. Piestewa’s injuries during the crash may have been such that she could not possibly have been capable of firing at the enemy. And there is absolutely no evidence that Lynch ever fired her weapon at the enemy during the ambush. In fact, if the mass media’s interpretation of the Army report is true, Lynch would not have been physically able to engage the enemy in combat.
What is abundantly clear, however, is that if Pvt. Jessica Lynch sustained ALL of her serious injuries in the Humvee accident (as is now being implied by the mass media  after the public release of the Army’s preliminary report on the ambush), then it would have been physically impossible for her to have fired her weapon after the crash. A fractured vertebrate, two broken legs, a broken ankle, a broken arm and other incapacitating injuries, which were treated in U.S. Army hospitals in Germany and in Washington, D.C., belie this possibility. The story of Jessica Lynch ‘fighting to the death’ during the ambush was all made up – by those who desperately needed a heroine. The effort expended in making a hero of Pvt. Jessica Lynch is described at the link: The Mythical Modern American War Hero.
And now that the radical feminists have their mythical heroine, even she, the object of our nation’s sympathy and affection, has gone along with the patriotic fever and publicly stated – “She [Piestewa] fought beside me, and it was an honor to have served with her.” The later part of Lynch’s statement is obviously true. The first part is a complete misstatement, a falsehood, but understandable when one considers the context in which it was made – respect for a fallen comrade. It will, however, cast in concrete the Myth of the Modern American War Hero – Pvt. Jessica Lynch. She will now become the icon, the symbol of everything the radical feminists desire in completely ‘feminizing’ the U.S. military. They have their woman-in-combat heroine who will pave the way for some woman, sometime, to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – or maybe even the Commander in Chief. All for personal gain. All for the exercise of matriarchal political power in America. And all contributing to the reality of the deterioration of combat effectiveness, the loss of the ‘warrior ethos’ in our armed forces and, most importantly, a degradation of America’s ability to defend itself when faced with an opponent other than a Third-World country.
Jessica Lynch’s mother and father are justly proud of their daughter – if for no other reason than her eventual survival at the hands of the Iraqis. But other mothers and fathers of soldiers in the 507th are not as serendipitous. For example, Arlene Walters, the mother of Sgt. Donald R. Walters, who died as a result of the ambush and was buried in a shallow grave outside a hospital in Nasiriyah, is frustrated about the official Army report . “Mrs. Walters said there were big holes in the report, particularly in its account of how her son perished. What is particularly bothersome are implications in the report that her son may have been left alone on the battlefield after his truck broke down during the ambush...the report says another soldier was picked up by a passing truck, but it is not clear whether her son was. “I was told...he was never picked up,’ she said.” An autopsy report says Sgt. Walters was shot twice in the back and once in the right leg, and he was stabbed twice in the abdomen as well as having his left shoulder dislocated.”
According to the Times, “Pentagon sources said the Army’s report does not find fault with the actions of any 507th member. Nine surviving members of the unit received medals for bravery last week. Several family members [said] they were angry at the Army for telling them nobody would be disciplined for the errors leading to the attack. [Said the father of one of soldiers who was killed], ‘I don’t want a witch hunt. But yes, I think someone should be held accountable.’”
The Army claims that during the ambush members of the 507th had difficulty defending themselves because their guns jammed. Mrs. Walters claims that this excuse is “no more than an attempt by military officials to cover their tracks. ‘Don’t tell me those soldiers did not properly take care of their guns. I don’t want to hear that,’ she said, adding that her son had asked her to send sticks of uncooked spaghetti to clean his rifle and thick balloons to put on the end of the rifle to keep it clean.’”
Being dissatisfied with the Army’s official report and their briefing of it to the families of the 507th soldiers, Mrs. Walters started quizzing survivors of the ambush when they returned home. What they told her only made her more furious. According to the London Sunday Telegraph (reprinted in The Washington Times) , “As she watched Pfc. Jessica Lynch’s emotional homecoming on television last week, [she] struggled to suppress her growing anger. For millions of Americans, Pfc. Lynch’s first faltering steps in her hometown...were a moment of high emotion, a happy ending...For Mrs. Walters, however, the standing ovation and praise lavished on [her] ... served only to highlight the contrasting treatment of her dead son, who fought in the same unit.”
“It was, fellow soldiers have told her, Sgt. Donald Walters who performed many of the heroics attributed to Pfc. Lynch by early news reports, and Sgt. Walters who was killed after mounting a lone stand against the Iraqis who ambushed their convoy of maintenance vehicles near Nasiriyah. Yet, few, if any, of the Americans watching Pfc. Lynch’s homecoming last week have even heard her son’s name.”
This is the not the first time that radical feminist propaganda – promulgated and distributed by sympathizers in the media and in the U.S. military – have successfully carried out such perfidy. Back in 1994, in the aftermath of LT Kara Hulgreen’s fatal accident, the U.S. Navy went to great lengths to publicize the fiction that engine failure was the cause. They even took the extreme measure of salvaging her F-14 Tomcat fighter from the 3,000 ft. depths of the Pacific to recover her body and the aircraft. All the nation’s major newspapers followed the saga of the tragic death of the first female Navy fighter pilot. It turned out that it was all for naught. The cause of the accident was – proof positive, pure and simple – pilot error. See the essay, ‘McNamaraization of the U.S. Military,’ for a detailed discussion of this accident.
In the meantime, only a few days after Hultgreen’s accident, an F/A-18 Hornet was launched off the catapult of the same ship that Hultgreen had attempted to land on, but in this instance the aircraft plunged into the sea and the pilot – a male -- was killed. The investigation revealed that  the cause of the accident was actually a mechanical malfunction of a part that detached itself from the aircraft on the catapult stroke and jammed a key sensor that assists the flight control computer which ‘takes control of the aircraft’ on the catapult shot. Not a word about this malfunction in the nation’s mass media. A male naval aviator died as the result of a real aircraft malfunction – and no one gives a rat’s rear end. But a female naval aviator dies as a result of her own ‘rookie error’ and the Navy goes to general quarters to attempt to show that ‘a female cannot fail,’ – attempts to cover up the cause of the accident, that is, lie to the American people and the false story grabs the nation’s mass media headlines. Hultgreen’s mother even wrote a book about her heroic daughter. No, the Jessica Lynch story has been told before – in many different radical feminist propaganda episodes. And we Americans sit back, fat dumb and happy – and soak it in. We are being had by this media witchcraft.
Mrs. Walters is on to the same media/military trick. The Times continues , “‘The military tell us that everyone who was in her unit was a hero,’ Mrs. Walters told the Sunday Telegraph. ‘In fact they have singled out Jessica Lynch as the hero, and they are not giving the recognition to my son that he deserves. The fighter that they thought was Jessica Lynch was Donald. When he was found he had two stab wounds in the abdomen, and he’d been shot once in the right leg and twice in the back. And he’d emptied his rounds of ammunition. Just like they said Jessica had done at first.’”
For a detailed discussion of the role played by Susan Schmidt and Dana Priest, two feminist staff writers for The Washington Post, in the erroneous first report of Jessica Lynch’s heroism in ‘fighting to the death’ against her Iraqi ambushers, see my essay at the link, The Mythical Modern American War Hero. The Post article suggested that it was only after a prolonged battle, in which she was shot and stabbed, that Pfc. Lynch was taken prisoner. In all, 11 soldiers were killed and six captured. It subsequently emerged, however, that Pfc. Lynch’s injuries were caused by her truck colliding with another vehicle as the convoy came under attack. This, of course, is not the full story of the cause of Jessica Lynch’s injuries – although it has been reported that way in the national mass media. Amy Waters Yarsinske, an ex-Navy intelligence officer and an expert on POW treatment by the Iraqis, is quoted as saying , “Her broken bones are a sure sign of torture. It’s awfully hard to break both legs and an arm in a truck accident. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s thugs are known to use steel bars to bash their prisoners’ limbs. In the first [Gulf War], they tried breaking their [captured U.S. airmen’s] legs with steel bars...During [that war], Iraqis attached wires to one American POW’s jaw and shocked him.”
According to The Washington Times, “Last week, with no fanfare, the Army released a detailed report of the incident, which made it clear that a lone American fighter did, indeed, hold out against the Iraqis – but that the soldier was not Pfc. Lynch. It said that, following the ambush, Sgt. Walters might have been left behind, hiding beside a disabled tractor-trailer, as Iraqi troops closed in. The report confirmed that he died of wounds identical to those first attributed to Pfc. Lynch. ‘There is some information to suggest that a U.S. soldier, that could have been Walters, fought his way south of Highway 16 towards a canal and was killed in action. Sgt. Walters was in fact killed at some point during this portion of the attack. The circumstances of his death cannot be determined,’ the report says.”
The Times continues. “Fellow soldiers who witnessed the ambush have been less guarded. ‘One told me that if I read reports about a brave female soldier fighting, those reports were actually about Don,’ said Mrs. Walters. The Information about what had happened had been taken by the military from intercepted Iraqi signals, and the gender had gotten mixed up. He was certain that the early reports had mixed up Jessica and Don.” Whose best interests would have been served by purposely mixing up the gender of the hero in this story? Susan Schmidt’s? Dana Priest’s? The Washington Post’s? The radical feminists in both the military (women are prominent in battlefield intelligence operations in today’s Army and at the Pentagon)? We will most likely never know. The Times reports that “The Army says the investigation into the incident is now closed.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Walters and her husband are “...now struggling to persuade the U.S. military to acknowledge fully their son’s bravery. Sgt. Walters has been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal (the same medal awarded to Jessica Lynch), but his relatives argue that higher honors are deserved...‘I just can’t imagine him being left out there in the desert alone,’ said Mrs. Walters, who is still haunted by images of her son’s lone stand. ‘I’m not trying to take anything away from Jessica. We just want Don to get the credit he is entitled to for his bravery.’ She has her own theories about the Army’s reluctance to give him due credit. ‘Perhaps the Army don’t (sic) want to admit to the fact that he was left behind in the desert to fight alone,’ she said. ‘It isn’t a good news story.’”
Of course there is much more to the Jessica Lynch myth – much, much more – that needs to be explained by both the Army and those politicians who are responsible for placing Jessica and her female friends (two of whom were single mothers with toddlers at home) in a combat situation, and especially placing them at risk without the proper training to survive a combat event such as an ambush by a lightly armed Iraqi militia. Other parents of the dead are asking the relevant questions on this matter.
The New York Times reports that  “Although Pfc. Jessica Lynch has returned home to a huge and warm welcome, some families of those killed in the attack on her unit are frustrated with Army leaders for failing to better prepare and protect the group of maintenance and supply specialists attacked on the deadliest day of the war in Iraq. The brewing dissatisfaction follows the release of findings from an Army inquiry into the attack...The report cited fatigue, faulty routing and shoddy communications as contributing factors in the attack...The unit, primarily mechanics, cooks, and supply clerks, drove into the hostile area after a commander made a wrong turn, the Army’s report concluded. The soldiers were further caught off guard, the inquiry found, by dead radios and jammed rifles that left them vulnerable under fire.” Of course, this sounds like (and is) a cover-your-rear explanation of how mixed-sex basic and advanced training in the U.S. military produces a ‘support tail’ that is not trained to fight, therefore, can’t fight and won’t fight. This is the Clintons’ legacy for the U.S. military.
The NYT quotes one of the fathers, the Rev. Tandy Sloan, whose son, Pvt. Brandon Sloan, age 19, was among those killed. “Gross mistakes were made and there doesn’t seem to be accountability. I want reprimands handed out in multiplicity.” Rev. Sloan is, of course, referring to the Company Commander who ‘cut and ran’ when the ambush began – and to the Army’s combat training for its ‘support tail,’ which is ‘turn around and drive away from the attack as fast as you can.’ See my essay at the link Jessica Lynch’s Army to learn how far the Company Commander drove his Humvee to safety, leaving his company behind to fend for themselves – and to learn how a Marine ‘support unit’ was ambushed in the vicinity of Nasiriyah, established a fighting perimeter, and ‘fought’ their way to safety. The difference? The Marines train their support units in all-male basic and combat training regimens, which maintain the high physical and mental standards as their tradition demands. The Marines train ‘warriors.’ The Army trains their men and women together in a reduced-standard physical and mental regimen that allows for women’s physical and mental weaknesses and, consequently, fails to challenge the men. Marines train cooks, clerks and bottle-washers to fight. The Army trains them for a job – to cook, to clerk, not to fight. And it shows!
The New York Times reports that the parents of those killed in the 507th know the details of the weak training regimen given to their sons and daughters. “This was a maintenance group, not a fighting group,” said one parent. Rev. Sloan said, “He became so enraged upon hearing the [Army] report that he walked out at one point during his nearly three-hour briefing...the details – especially those outlining the rapid advance of the unit in physically difficult conditions – suggested hubris on the part of military planners and insensitivity to soldiers like his son...who had less combat training.” This parent is implying that the combat units should fight at the pace of the lowest common denominator – the weak ‘support tail.’ This, of course, is a recipe for disaster – a fighting force that cannot fight!
Another parent of a soldier killed during the ambush said that he “...is not among those calling for punishment [of superiors]. Instead, he is advocating increased training of non-combat soldiers.” He said that his son, “a computer repair technician, who, like most other members of the 507th had only eight weeks of basic training [and, of course, that was watered-down mixed-sex basic training] before he entered computer school.” This father urged that “Flogging and quartering [the Company Commander] or anyone else, what would that accomplish? Nothing. What is important is that we, as a superpower, learn to train our forces properly, to ready them for combat.” What does this grieving father understand that our military and political leaders do not?
Even if our military leaders will not acknowledge this situation, reporters uncovered it during the war with Iraq. Within a month of Pvt. Jessica Lynch’s rescue, a documentary entitled, ‘Saving POW Lynch,’ was shown on national cable television. During the film, Peter Baker, an embedded reporter from the Washington Post is portrayed as  “...one of the few reporters to talk with the POWs themselves about what happened...” during the ambush of the 507th. Baker intones, “It was all new. The 507th was heading into the area, trailing well behind the combat troops they were due to re-supply. The unit of cooks, maintenance clerks, and mechanics were not equipped or trained to handle what they were about to encounter.” Indeed, they had not been trained in even the rudimentary fundamentals of combat – not even those necessary to ward off an ambush by lightly armed Iraqi militia.
The officer in charge cut and ran away from his troops, leaving them ‘leaderless’ in the face of the ambush. After all, the training of the men in the 507th had been gender-normed such that the men had to meet only the reduced physical and mental standards of the women in their mixed-sex basic and ‘combat’ training. Their combat training had consisted of a tactic of ‘cut and run,’ only firing indiscriminately toward the enemy – not to organize any coordinated tactical maneuver. The NYT describes this scene. “An Army captain in the Humvee – the commander of the convoy – drove the vehicle through the gunfire, and some of those aboard were wounded. According to one account, the officer drove nearly four miles before being forced to stop because his front tires had been shot out.” Presumably, he would have driven all the way back to Kuwait if not for the damaged front tires on his vehicle.
For a more detailed description of the ‘combat’ training received by the 507th Maintenance Company and a comparison of that training with that given to a Marine support unit which fought its way out of an ambush near Nasiriyah at about the same time and by the same Iraqi militia that attacked the 507th, see the essay at the link: ‘Pvt. Jessica Lynch’s Army.’
The Connection of Jessica Lynch’s Army to the U.S. Navy
Jessica Lynch’s ‘heroism’ in ‘combat’ is only one small part of the radical feminist agenda of creating Mythical Modern American War Heroes. There have been countless attempts to elevate the ordinary and mundane in naval aviation to heroic proportions by radical feminists, along with their political and military sympathizers. The creation of these myths has been conscious and systematic. In addition to the account of LT Kara Hultgreen and LT Carey Dunai Lohrenz in the mid-1990s as described above, there were precedents before that in the 1980s – with the cohort of female aviators who were ‘winged’ as a result of the move to ‘feminize’ the service academies in 1976 and women were allowed to fly combat aircraft in ‘land-based, non-combat’ squadrons. Some of these females became the vanguard of those to come. They were proud ‘icons’ of having broken the ‘glass ceiling’ of naval aviation.
One such example is that of a female naval aviator who stayed with it long enough to be promoted to command a non-combat development squadron, which flew combat aircraft. She, along with the Navy brass at the time, thought it would be a grand idea to have her, as commanding officer, qualify aboard ship in a type of combat aircraft that she flew in the development squadron. This would require her to complete a few touch-and-go landings on an aircraft carrier and then ‘qualify’ with ten ‘traps,’ carrier arrested landings, followed by ten catapult shots off the bow – all during daytime and perfect weather conditions. Her story, suitably anonymous,  follows. It is told by the Officer in Charge (OinC) of a detachment qualifying pilots of Navy aircraft onboard one of the Navy’s largest aircraft carriers off the coast of San Diego in the W-291 warning area for AirPac Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRSs). His squadron was one of several such units out there qualifying new pilots for fleet carrier duty. He points out that to understand this story one must know that a Naval Aviator has to show basic competence at the field during both day and night. He then has to come out to the boat and make, at a minimum, ten day and six night traps, as well as two day touch and goes. Only then, is he a qualified, fleet aviator in type. The year was 1989.
Among the squadrons conducting CQ that trip was VA-122, the west coast A-7E Corsair II FRS. The OinC states that, “We weren’t onboard long before we heard that Commander Moneypenny was going to come out and CQ in type. CDR Moneypenny had been selected to be the first female Commanding Officer of a tactical jet squadron, which was a land-based electronic warfare outfit operating out of a naval air station in California. There was no need for her to CQ -- her command never saw the boat and didn’t deploy overseas, but she was given the opportunity to CQ. No big deal -- good for her. Any Naval Aviator worth his salt would jump at the chance to do the same. It was certainly understandable and her presence at the carrier was undoubtedly going to generate a good deal of curiosity.”
“From what we were told (by the VA-122 OinC), CDR Moneypenny had carrier-qualified in C-1 Traders before, while a member of ship’s company of Lexington. Nobody seemed to know if she’d ever qualified solo in a jet before, which is the normal practice in the Training Command. Now, of course, the C-1 is a twin-piloted reciprocating piston (prop) transport and is nothing at all like a jet, particularly one like the A-7. As I understand it from friends who flew this type aircraft around the boat, the Corsair has adequate power at higher thrust settings but the problem is engine spool up time, which is considered slow for a carrier aircraft. It’s not the easiest thing to fly around the boat. None the less, thousands of Naval Aviators have successfully qualified in the type and gone into the fleet with it.”
“It was on the second day of A-7 CQ, as I recall it that CDR Moneypenny came out. She was brought out on the wing of an attack squadron Landing Signal Officer (LSO) along with two students, who were, of course, nuggets (novice Navy carrier pilots on their first four of sea duty) males. Her flight lead checked in and told his CATCC rep (where I was at the time) that “Moneypenny won’t be coming out at night”, which meant she’d failed to field qualify at night, and would be coming out to the boat to ‘qualify’ day only.”
CDR Moneypenny was brought into the break by the LSO and she proceeded downwind as he pulled out of the pattern. Her first pass was supposed to be a touch and go, but she must’ve been much too close abeam, as she proceeded to massively overshoot on the first pass  and it was quickly obvious she would never make it. The Air Boss told her to take it down the starboard side of the ship while also warning the planeguard helo to avoid the A-7. Both of the nuggets -- probably LTJGs -- followed the Commander on her downwind run and also went down the starboard side with her. The VA-122 CATCC rep was only slightly embarrassed by this display of carrier pattern buffoonery.
Second pass -- and CDR Moneypenny must’ve flown the same pattern as before. Once again, she ended up overshooting and going down the starboard side of the ship. The nugget males, meanwhile, had figured things out and corrected their patterns -- they both got touch-and-goes on their passes.
Third pass -- after being talked to by the LSO, CDR Moneypenny lined up correctly but was way overpowered at the ramp and was waved off for poor technique. It went on from there -- as the A-7 continued to make ugly pass after ugly pass. Waveoffs and long bolters  seemed to be the trend.
I don’t recall how many passes CDR Moneypenny made the first day, but it seemed like a bunch and she finally was told to drop her hook at some point, and caught a long four wire on what must have been close to her “trick or treat” pass. It was at this point that I recall the CATCC officer taking a call from the ship’s Commanding Officer -- after a very short discussion; he hung up and turned to the group of reps to tell us “Skipper says to shoot CDR Moneypenny to the beach before she kills herself.”
The boat parked her, fueled her and shot her to the beach for the night.
On the next day she came out again, and made multiple passes again, with the same results, wave offs and long bolters. Once again, she finally made one trap, whereupon she was parked and shut down. After what I assume was a debrief by the LSOs she had dinner in the dirty shirt, “manned” her bird and was shot to the beach again.
That was it. Two days, Lord knows how many passes, two traps and a flight home. The points I’d like to bring up:
· This was, without doubt, the worst performance I’d ever seen at the carrier by any Naval Aviator. I have almost 500 traps over 16 years in the Navy and had two tours as an instructor at the EA-6B FRS, with four separate trips to the carrier as the Officer in Charge of CQ detachments. After what I saw on day one, I would not have allowed this pilot to come back to the carrier without a lot of additional training. This pilot’s performance was UNSAFE and not up the standards we say we hold our aviators to. If a male nugget had flown like this you could probably bet that he would’ve received a Board of some level (either Human Factors, or perhaps a FNAEB), particularly if he was not considered safe for night work in the first place . While it’s true that CDR Moneypenny did not need to CQ to command her squadron, I cannot see any circumstance where a man would’ve been allowed to take command of anything after a similar performance at the boat. Indeed, from what I remember, the nugget males  at the same boat all qualified DAY AND NIGHT, and went onto the fleet. Nothing less would’ve been acceptable, or expected, for them. CDR Moneypenny went on to take command of a squadron in 1991 and, later, a naval aviation training base, one that, ironically, trains young carrier Naval Aviators.
· Final note: The ship’s Strike Ops office thought so much of CDR Moneypenny’s performance that she was featured in the daily Air Plan cartoon -- with a drawing of an A-7 going down the starboard side with two following and the bubble caption “Follow Me Boys!”
“Postscript: 12 years after Tailhook, I don’t believe a single female has yet commanded a carrier based jet squadron (CDR Moneypenny doesn’t count, of course, her squadron was land based). The ones I’ve been able to follow in the EA-6B community seem to make it to LCDR and then resign to raise a family. As one female told me “the mommy bell goes off and having kids becomes really important.” I will point out that two of the first three females in EA-6Bs had babies without the formality of a husband, but hey, one of the former SECNAVs stated a few years ago that motherhood and Naval Service were compatible. According to Prowler legend, at least one of the female officers in VAQ-35 asked if the Ready Room could throw a Baby Shower for their pregnant LCDR because ‘it probably wouldn’t be proper to ask the wives to do it.’ The request was denied.”
Another example of the radical feminist agenda at work in naval aviation occurred during the first weeks of the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists. Newsweek magazine published a propaganda piece written by Susan H. Greenberg, a resident radical feminist , “Stationed aboard the USS Carl Vinson, LT Ashley [says], ‘What you see on television is what I see for real.’ Once her F-14 Tomcat [fighter aircraft] takes off, concentration edges out fear. On her first combat mission this month, she flew over northern Afghanistan at 15,000 feet, looking for her assigned targets.” The article depicts her dropping bombs on enemy targets and returning to land on the aircraft carrier. It is not clear whether she is a pilot (the naval aviator in command) or a backseater (passenger with computer ‘Gameboy’ and communication skills).
It turns out that Ashley is an English-schooled U.S. citizen who had opted to join the U.S. Navy and become a naval aviator. “The former Home Counties schoolgirl, flying bombing missions over Afghanistan, is being feted by publishers and agents lining up to tell her life story and secure rights to the Hollywood film of her exploits. Ashley, a 26-year-old U.S. Navy pilot, has captured the imagination of the world after her exclusive interview in the Sunday Telegraph last week. As she rested between missions, Ashley, who flies the F-14 Tomcats featured in the film ‘Top Gun,’ revealed a childhood spent in the pony clubs and private schools of Kent and Surrey.”
“Almost immediately, publishers were vying to secure the rights to her life story. Some literary agents were hinting at advances running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, and others were suggesting Hollywood films starring the likes of Meg Ryan...They are always saying they are looking for strong female roles. I don’t think you could get much stronger. She’s a bit of a superwoman...She is now one of only 10 front-line female pilots in the U.S. Navy.” Question: Is this the same front line that the Bush administration said was out of bounds to America’s women – our sisters, our daughters, our mothers?
“Ashley’s mother, Carolyn, has e-mailed her daughter to tell her of the offers. Ashley was due to get the message when she returned from her latest bombing mission on Saturday.”
Ashley is obviously a radical feminist’s dream come true. The superwoman. The Amazon warrior incarnate. The icon of radical egalitarianism in New Age America. The backbone of U.S. military might. Yes, the fantasy world of radical feminism is alive and well even after the terrorist wake-up call on 9-11. You see, even before Pvt. Jessica Lynch’s ‘heroism’ during the ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company, the radical feminist myth-makers were busy creating a Navy heroine out of the ordinary, day-to-day practice range bombing of Afghanistan from 15,000 feet altitude – absent a single enemy threat to Ashley’s F-14 Tomcat.
It turns out that the myth-makers in this case were a passel of females (including Ashley’s mother) in the media and Linda Grant dePauw. And just who is Linda Grant dePauw? She just happens to be a self-described sorceress. That’s right – a witch. See my essay at the link, ‘W-I-C After 9-11,’ for a complete description of these radical feminists.
Another example. Contrast the mostly unreported heroic deeds accomplished by our Special Forces soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan (e.g. CAPTAIN Amerine and his A-Team, Johnny Spann, the former Marine killed in the Mazar-e-Sharif prison uprising, and numerous other unreported A-Team engagements with the enemy) with the national press front-page reporting of a military accident – the crash of a KC-130 tanker aircraft in the mountains while making a landing approach at night to an airbase in Pakistan. The aircraft was carrying cargo into Shamsi airport [in Pakistan] and was on its final approach when it crashed in clear weather. It was a routine supply mission. It was reported that the plane crashed due to technical reasons – not enemy fire – because the debris was not spread to a wide area.
Why was this routine, non-combat aircraft accident, resulting in 7 lost lives, reported on the front pages of both The Washington Post  and The New York Times ? Because one of the crew members was a female. She was a Marine Sergeant radio operator. The Post article highlighted this fact in a bold-face sub-heading, ‘Female Radio Operator Among 7 Marines Killed.’ In the first paragraph, it came as close as possible to falsely implying that the crew was on a combat mission. “It was the deadliest incident yet, for U.S. forces in the war against terrorism being fought in neighboring Afghanistan, and it brought the first death of a female service member in the conflict.” The incident was presumably ‘deadly’ because 7 U.S. military personnel were killed – more than in any other such ‘incident’ in the war in Afghanistan. Can we assume that the incident would not have been reported on the front page – with a blazing headline – if it had been less ‘deadly,’ e.g. had 6 or less male Marines not have died? Not on your life. It took the lives of 6 male Marines to elevate the breathlessly ‘near-combat mission’ to the level of the ‘deadliest incident yet’ in the war on terrorism. Nevertheless, it would still have been reported had the male Marines not died. Why? Because it was a way for radical feminists to raise a female – doing a routine non-combat job – to ‘heroine’ status. We found out nearly a year later that the cause of the accident was pilot error. Nevertheless, the mythical female heroine’s story was never retracted nor adjusted to the truth. See the essay at the link, ‘War As Radical Feminist Propaganda,’ for the details of this story.
For an example of military complicity in this propaganda movement, take the case of LT Melony Lynch. LT Lynch is being touted as another heroine of the Afghanistan war. The U.S. Navy has set up a ‘chat room’ in which one can converse with her. In an e-mail dated 29 January 2002, the Navy announced “Imagine taking off from the flight deck of a U.S. super carrier in your F/A-18 Hornet at speeds of 165 mph and experiencing two ‘Gs.’ Then imagine flying a six-hour mission in which you must locate your target and launch weapons with total precision. It sounds like an action/adventure story. But it's real life for naval aviator, Lieutenant Melony Lynch. She recently returned from Afghanistan where she served as a fighter pilot on the USS Enterprise. Tomorrow evening, Tuesday, January 29, 2002 at 9:00 PM EST, during our live Webcast, you'll have thirty minutes to ask Melony questions and get live answers while she reveals her story about life as an aviator in the Navy.” This radical feminist propaganda is not only condoned by the U.S. Navy, it is promoted by it.
Former Lieutenant Mary Louise ‘Missy’ Cummings, a 1988 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and ‘winged’ naval aviator, was ‘washed out’ of the FRS for the F/A-18 Hornet seven months after an evaluation board recommended she be grounded . The book, ‘Bogeys and Bandits,’ is a modern ‘true story’-novel that describes her problems in the air and on the ground (under the character name, Sally ‘Shrike’ Hopkins). In the book, she is described as  “Shrike was brandishing her minority status like a loaded shotgun. Shrike Hopkins seemed to be looking for a fight, and she didn’t care with whom.” Shrike had major difficulties flying the combat air-to-air training missions. She had three unsatisfactory training flights during her FRS training – when only about two-thirds through the curriculum. She never got to the more demanding carrier qualification stage before she was grounded.”
The Washington Times reported that  “In 1995, a naval board recommended her flight status be terminated. But the commander of naval air forces Atlantic overruled the panel and Lt. Cummings resumed qualifications.” That is, in spite of ‘Missy’ Cummings flawed flying performance in the F/A-18 FRS, VADM Richard ‘Sweet Pea’ Allen kept her on flight status and in Hornet training under the same administrative command. She left the Navy for medical reasons shortly thereafter. It is duly noted that the admiral’s reward for this blatant bow to radical feminism was a coveted leadership position in the Association of Naval Aviation upon retirement.
‘Missy’ Cummings sued  the publisher of the book and published her own book  on the subject of her ‘victimization’ by male flight instructors in the FRS. It is noted that the U.S. Naval Institute Press hyped her book for sale with a huge advertising spread in it’s prestigious journal, ‘Proceedings.’
The final example of the making of the Navy’s Mythical Modern American War Hero is the case of Kirstin, a female Tomcat RIO (backseater) on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Tomcat is a Navy carrier-based F-14 fighter aircraft which can be configured to drop bombs in a tactical mission. Kirstin is a female Naval Academy graduate (USNA Class '92). In her E-mail circulated on the Internet on 6 December 2001, she described the ecstasy of watching smart bombs fall on targets 15,000 feet below and proudly exclaimed, ‘Chicks Rule,’ in braggadocio for her all-female crew. For a detailed discussion of this feat, see the essay at the link: ‘War as Entertainment.’
So just who, outside of radical feminist activists in uniform, is responsible for perpetrating this hoax of our Mythical Modern American War Hero? The answer is: the same Minerva Network (organized by Linda Grant dePauw) of radical feminists and their supporters in the mass media and in the military services themselves (in this case Navy and Marine Corps). This group is joined by LTC Joan I. Biddle, a U.S. Army Reservist (Retired) with a PhD in Sociology. Her specialty – Symbolic Interactionism -- is representative of the approach taken by the radical feminist activists in creating the Mythical Modern American War Heroine. A Symbolic Interactionist is a modern activist (change agent) who specializes in  “...collective action based on rumor, gossip, riots, and social movements.” In short, these people believe that social movements (e.g. women-in-combat) can be based on old-fashioned story-telling and myth-making based on the fantasy of their own enlightened imaginations.
It is becoming abundantly clear that the mass media as well as the elites of the political and military classes in America are riddled with such Symbolic Interactionists. It is they who have created Pvt. Jessica Lynch as the Modern American War Hero. It is they who would promote CDR Moneypenny (the ‘glass ceiling’ breaker), LT Kara Hultgreen (the first female Navy fighter pilot to die in a fighter squadron), LT Ashley (the English-school-girl, would be movie heroine), Kirstin (the ‘chicks rule’ you-go-girl), LT Melony Lynch (the female naval aviation recruiting poster-girl), LT ‘Missy’ Cummings (the failed F/A-18 FRS student pilot and self-described ‘victim’ of male chauvinism) and a female Marine crewmember of a C-130 transport to heroine status based on hype, misrepresentation of the truth, falsehood, and creative imagination – in fact, on myth.
Today’s ‘Teletubby’ Navy
All of this radical feminist mythmaking is housed within a revolutionary movement which attempts to ‘democratize’ the U.S. Navy’s traditional hierarchical command structure. Indeed, a slow-but-sure process of ‘democratization’ has crept into the traditional hierarchical command structure of the U.S. Navy. This process was started by civilian activists (on a broader scale) in the aftermath of the Korean War (as a result of the alleged poor performance of many GIs as POWs under North Korean/Chinese captors). It reached its zenith during SecNav Richard Danzig’s reign in the late 1990s. He boasted of ships, including the USS Cole (whose commanding officer was a favorite of the Secretary), leaving port under an all-enlisted bridge watch crew. Books were written by naval officers, touting civilian-inspired management practices employed by mid-level ship commanders . Under the guise of Total Situational Awareness in combat training, dual-crewed aircraft are said to be ‘flown’ by backseaters. It is now common for these non-pilots to brag of ‘flying’ the F-14 Tomcat fighter and building up their number of ‘traps’ (arrested carrier landings) when, in fact, they have never ever been at the controls of the aircraft either in flight or while landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. We have now heard female naval flight crew members publicly exclaim, “Chicks rule,” as their F-14 Tomcat drops bombs (from 15,000 feet altitude) in the enemy-threat-free skies over Afghanistan. Indeed, a civilianized ‘fantasy land’ has been created within the U.S. Naval Academy, naval aviation, and the Navy at large.
It is of interest to note the response to this ‘democratization’ statement by a Boomer generation member of the Hollow Force Debaters with whom I have carried on a conversation for the past two years or so. He observes that  “...it appears to me that you think something insidious is permeating not only the culture of the U.S. but that it invades our cherished Navy...well, I welcome the changes that are coming.”
“ Let's look at the legacy left to us by the those who shaped times without ethics classes or without women (the list could be rather extensive, but I will limit it [to] just a few things that the good old boys left us). I would like to meet the genius who decided that we didn't need both a day check and a night check to man the cats or a-gear...oh the same old excuse of limited bunking space etc. is convenient, but the real truth is those great warriors thought only of themselves and not of the enlisted worker...piss on him (at the time there were no hers on the boat).”
“I guess that is why you were so perturbed that there was an all enlisted crew on the bridge...if they could do it, maybe it wasn't that hard all along...kind of threatening isn't it? When a sailor goes to sea we take away his/her COMRATS...this must have come from one of those great pre-ethics warriors...take a man away from his family...make him live in conditions that are more crowded than most correctional facilities, work him like a dog, and then charge him for the luxury...good thinking.”
“Oh, by the way, I had a friend who was a great naval aviator...he died in an F-14 explosion...one of those pre-ethics warriors you so highly cherish decided that instead of fixing a problem we might as well just inspect it...too much time and money to do it right...just do it.”
“Remember, they were great warriors, but I think most of them would rather risk their lives and overwork their sailors than actually fix the hard problems (how many years did we kill ourselves in duty sections before someone came up with a better idea?).”
“Now, it appears that (whether you want to give the nod to technology or not) this latest group of warriors is doing just fine when it comes to fighting. So what if the threat is perceived as a lame one? That is your perception...take a look at some of the battle damage to come from the latest foray into Iraq. Maybe the air threat has lessened (but only due to our ability to evolve in total) but it still is dangerous to fly over someone else's country and bomb it. Maybe you would prefer we just went ‘guns only’ and made it a close battle so you and the other dinosaurs could revel in your manliness.”
“What is currently happening in the armed forces is significant...one that is difficult to understand for someone locked into an antiquated mindset...this is total war with minimal focus on actual brute force...why not kill your enemy before they get to the battlefield or completely discourage them from fighting? I guess this isn't just manly enough.”
“Lies, deceit, and poor leadership are not limited to today's leaders...I kind of like a few of the new trends...we ask questions, tap resources previously not valued (enlisted person), and we have decimated almost every enemy we have come up against.”
“Of course we are going to take a few hits...in any conflict the enemy gets a vote, and after all, isn't death a by-product of war? A warrior should know that. Bottom line -- the mission is getting accomplished. Even by those limp-wristed, yogurt eating, wall street reading, computer toting, sensitivity training attending, long distance running, teetotalling Naval officers of the new millennium.”
Signed/ Sledge Davis
“Oh by the way, I may not have ever controlled an airplane but I do give a big thanks out to all the sticks who let me ride aboard 3 feet behind them.”
It is simply amazing at what one finds by probing the inner thoughts of some of today’s Boomer elite naval officers. As with the case of Bill ‘Sledge’ Davis, it reveals just how far the Clinton radicals have come in changing the entire fabric of the U.S. Navy. He personifies the New Age Modern Navy ‘Warrior,’ one groomed by the flawed Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Michael J. Boorda, who loved his ‘sailors’ so much that he forgot (if he ever knew) what it takes to groom ‘warriors.’ He was the perfect Clinton foil for carrying out the de-warrioring of naval aviation and ‘feminizing’ the surface and airborne combat units.
While ‘Sledge’ Davis dwells on the minutia of COMRATS (commuted rations while deployed in lieu of a meal allowance when ashore) and a revealed ignorance of how those before his time handled ‘day and night check on the catapults and arresting gear’ (they did it by splitting the flight deck crew into teams which handled around-the-clock flight operations), he shows his complete ignorance of those ‘pioneers’ who preceded his generation.
For example, those ‘good old boys’ (some New Agers have called them ‘dinosaurs’) whom he disparages so blatantly and directly are the very Navy leaders who, during the 1950s and 1960s, stiff-armed the political leadership and military opponents of the F-14 Tomcat fighter which ‘Sledge’ and some of his cohort ‘flew’ in the Iraq wars. It was VADM Tom Connolly, OP-05 (Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air), and ADM Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations at the time and, later, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for whom the Tomcat was named . It was through the courageous leadership of those stalwart leaders – the ‘good old boys’ in Sledge’s vernacular – that his Tomcat made it to the fleet.
It is difficult to imagine that ‘Sledge’ Davis does not know this history – it was his airplane that he was so proud to have ‘flown’ just ‘three feet’ from the stick who let him ride in it. If ‘Sledge’ were not an Academy graduate, it might be understandable for this ignorance. Even so, he should have been apprised of these facts by Naval Academy graduates with whom he must have served. This would definitely have been the case in my day in naval aviation. If he is a Naval Academy graduate, it would simply show how far the education and training of our core naval combat leadership has been degraded over the years.
It defies description how a naval aviator can be so lacking in understanding of naval history and arrogantly self-centered to fail to realize that those who led naval aviation before his day encouraged and took advantage of every aspect of the technology available to them in their era to promote dominion over, under and on the seas – from ADM Arleigh Burke right on through to ADM Tom Moorer. But on reflection, maybe this is not so difficult to understand. ADM Burke was responsible for setting up a civilian think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in the early 1960s. This institute would be staffed by the best strategic and technological thinkers that could be found. The idea was to provide the kind of technology innovation, coupled with strategic thinking, that we now see in our modern armed forces. The importance of this kind of technological strategic thinking (a brain child of one of ‘Sledge’ Davis’s ‘good old boys’) is validated even today by one of the foremost such thinkers, Norm Augustine, who points out that  “It was advanced technology, coupled with superb troops that gave us an edge in the Gulf War in 1991, again in [Afghanistan and Iraq a decade later]...It is easily forgotten that technology does not spring up magically, on demand...[Such technology research has] lost 20 percent of its budget, in real purchasing power, over the past decade.” Indeed, the vision and legacy of ADM Arleigh Burke has been neglected to point of dissolution by the very people who, in the 1990s, would have us ‘democratize’ our military command structure.
Over time, and especially during the 1990s, the CSIS has become a haven for social activists, using phony social science techniques to cover up the fact-of the ‘feminization’ of our armed forces . ‘Sledge’ Davis is an example of how the corruption at the top has weakened our military force in its support elements (e.g. Pvt. Jessica Lynch’s Army) but, more importantly, how that kind of thinking that has corrupted our military thinking all the way down to the mid-level (field grade) officer corps.
It defies understanding how a naval officer, commissioned in the 1980s, could have it so wrong. Those old-timer ‘dinosaurs’ that the ‘Sledge’ Davis’s of the New Age Navy hold in such utter contempt were the Navy’s ‘warriors’ who were held in very high regard by those enlisted men who served under them. They were the young ‘warriors’ who fought and won the Battle of the Pacific in World War II and who, upon attaining flag rank, led the ‘warriors’ of the Korean and Vietnam Wars in the major battles that won the Cold War. The respect and admiration for those old ‘dinosaurs’ is exemplified by an enlisted man who served under RADM C.A. ‘Mark’ Hill, Jr., USN (Ret.) when he was the commanding officer of the USS Independence.
An enlisted airgunner who served under Mark Hill when he was the commanding officer of the USS Independence has this to say , “When I went aboard Independence in April 1968, the Commanding Officer was a Clarence Hill, Jr. who was a fine Naval Officer and a great Aircraft Carrier Commanding Officer...He has written several essays and articles concerning the Navy and leadership and performance in the Navy...He is well respected at the U.S. Naval Academy although he is very critical of the current conditions there...This man could remember the name of every person that he was introduced to and knew. He was quite a gentleman.”
Now, our New Age naval officer, ‘Sledge’ Davis may admire his “...limp-wristed, yogurt eating, wall street reading, computer toting, sensitivity training attending, long distance running, teetotalling Naval officers of the new millennium,” but the real ‘warriors’ in the U.S. Navy still respect and admire leaders with the true ‘warrior spirit,’ the ‘Mark’ Hills reincarnate. The problem is that any young ‘Mark’ Hill in the Navy today cannot make it past the rank of CDR because such ‘warriors’ will be purged by the affirmative action commissariat which is in charge of ‘Sledge’ Davis’s New Age Modern Navy.
RADM C.A. ‘Mark’ Hill, Jr. exemplifies a Navy of old where every branch of that service saw combat – over, on, and under the sea – in a war that required ‘warriors’ who were selected and able to lead. He served on the submarine USS Ray (SS-271) in the Battle of the Pacific during World War II. His submarine suffered every battle experience that was recorded on film for the German U-boat in the documentary film, ‘Das Boot,’ including a sinking to the bottom of Lingayen Gulf with a recovery due only to the courage, bravery, and skill of its crew — except that Hill’s ship was not destroyed in the end. Mark entered flight training after the war and rose to command an A-4 Skyhawk squadron as well as the aircraft carrier USS Independence.
When shown a copy of ‘Sledge’ Davis’s derogatory comments concerning the leadership of his generation, he was incredulous. “How could any naval officer come to believe such garbage?” he exclaimed. His answer was “What have they done? Bombed a bunch of raggedy primitives hiding out under rocks or in caves in Afghanistan and a second-rate third-world army in Iraq?” When informed that Davis, the New Age Warrior, was an NFO, his comment was that he was no more a ‘warrior’ than the 100-or-so civilians who rode in an airliner to New York City with him on a recent trip. “They are just passengers,” said the object of ‘Sledge’s’ scorn. Indeed, ‘Sledge’ Davis and his ‘chicks rule’ gang are nothing more than passengers in the back seat, playing with their Gameboy technology gadgets. RADM Hill suggested that those who hold Davis’s view of their fathers’ Navy read his article on CDR Bob Stumpf at the link: ‘The Stumpf Affair’ on the ‘Mark Hill Corner’ of this web site. The vision of RADM Hill and his companion ‘Moorer’s Boys’ is that now-CAPT Bob Stumpf, USN (Ret.) embodies the kind of ‘warrior’ leader that the Navy now needs to carry on the leadership tradition of the past. And he realizes that the purge of then-CDR Bob Stumpf by the nation’s political leadership, and the flag-rank Navy leadership at the time has resulted in the kind of Navy that breeds ‘faux-warriors’ with a mind-set born of the French Revolution of 1789 – a mobocracy wherein leaders must take a vote of the crew on whether or not to engage the enemy before a battle.
We are reminded that George Washington saw just such a problem during the Revolutionary War and, afterward, saw to it that a professional cadre of Army officers would be educated and trained at a military academy at West Point. Indeed, John Paul Jones  (the iconic father of the U.S. Naval Academy) saw exactly the same thing in the Continental Navy – one whose commanding officers, with the exception of John Paul Jones -- would not sail out of port, their safe haven. One whose captains were expected to take a poll of their enlisted crew before engaging the enemy. In his most famous battle against the HMS Serapis, John Paul Jones could not entice his squadron commanders to engage the enemy because their captains and crews did not want to fight. In fact, one such captain fired a withering volley at JPJ’s USS Bon Homme Richard during the engagement. The ‘Danzigization’ of the U.S. Navy would only bring us full circle to a Navy that does not want to fight, won’t fight and can’t fight.
The ‘Sledge’ Davis generation of naval officer reminds one of a similar escape into fantasy that has become the pop culture signature of a segment of the 13er-generation of Americans. Frank Furedi, a professor of sociology at the University of Kent at Canterbury, England, writes , “The alarm bells started ringing a few years ago. I was showing a friend around my campus when we encountered a group of undergraduates absorbed in watching ‘Teletubbies’ in the bar. Normally, the sight of a group of 18-to-21-year-olds indulging their taste for a program aimed at toddlers would not have made much of an impact on my imagination. But when my then 2-year-old son’s attachment to these sickly-sweet characters meant that I had become all too familiar with them; and the previous evening I had made a futile effort to wean my son off the ‘Teletubbies’ by offering him some more challenging visual alternatives. It didn’t work – and I was struck by the thought that it wouldn’t work with these 21-year-olds either.”
“Not every 20-something is into the ‘Teletubbies.’ ... Yet when I complain about young adults’ fascination with early years television, 28-year-old John Russell looks at me as though I am a lost cause. John, a well-paid lawyer, says he isn’t interested in doing ‘adult stuff,’ He loves his PlayStation and spends a considerable portion of his disposable income on hi-tech toys.”
Even some Boomer generation adults have succumbed to the ‘Teletubby’ syndrome . “Maybe I’m in my second childhood,” muses fan Anne Czubek of Toledo, Ohio, a 40-ish hospital lab worker. Czubek, who has no kids, says she and two co-workers mimic the Tubbies’ soft, crescendoed phrases to relieve stress on the job. “I just used ‘Big Hug’ the other day to help mediate a disagreement,” she says. “And saying ‘Laa-Laa’ or ‘Po’ (in the characters’ voices) makes us laugh. Of course everyone else thinks we are crazy, so we tend to only do this between ourselves.” Some public TV programmers have begun rebroadcasting the [‘Teletubbies’] show at night for grown-ups. [A Dallas program director] airs an episode for adults each Saturday at 1 a.m. CT. ‘Personally, I’ve found no matter what my day was like, after watching it, I think everything is all right,’ he says.”
Furedi explains this ‘quest for nostalgia’ in some of our 13er generation youth . “In New York, twenty-and-thirty-somethings buy products that remind them of their childhoods...People in their twenties and thirties are clamoring for comfort in purchases and products, and sensory experiences that remind them of a happier, more innocent time – their childhood...Society has come to accept the idea that people do not become adults until they are in their late thirties. As a result, adolescence has been extended well into the twenties. It is interesting to note that the Society for Adolescent Medicine, an American doctors’ organization, now states on its website that it cares for persons ‘10 to 26 years of age’... The sense of despair that surrounds adult identity helps explain why contemporary culture finds it difficult to draw a line between adulthood and childhood. Childishness is idealized for the simple reason that we despair at the thought of living the alternative...Maturity, responsibility, and commitment are only feebly affirmed by contemporary culture. Such ideals contradict the sense of impermanence that prevails over daily life. It is the gradual emptying out of adult identity that discourages young men and women from embracing the next stage of their lives.”
Indeed, given this direction for America’s popular culture, it is no wonder that the military brass who champion a Navy that ‘looks like America’ would encourage mid-level officers to complain about their GI generation and Silent generation predecessors. After all, they have been ‘sensitivity trained’ and coerced via their fitness report requirements to create an environment that encourages the ‘feminization’ of the armed forces. Obviously, our ‘Sledge’ Davis is one of those who relish a ‘Teletubby’ Navy.
Islands of Hope
There is another side of this coin. There are still those in carrier naval aviation, other branches of the U.S. Navy and in the Army and Air Force who still (in spite of the barriers placed in their way) have and encourage others to have the traditional ‘warrior spirit.’ I found this on the USS John F. Kennedy during a ‘dependents’ cruise in 1998. See my article published in the FORUM section of The Sunday Washington Post at the link: ‘Islands of Hope,’ for a detailed account of this phenomenon. More on this in a following section on a Vigilante Dedication.
An inspiring account by a father, probably a Boomer generation parent of an 18-year-old Marine returning from the second Iraq war recently, is a testament that there are still ‘Islands of Hope’ out there. It is a complete answer to the juvenile ranting of the ‘Sledge’ Davis’s, some of whom now inhabit the mid-level officer corps of the U.S. Navy. It puts to shame the premise that our future military success depends upon an officer corps that is proud to be “...limp-wristed, yogurt eating, wall street reading, computer toting, sensitivity training attending, long distance running, teetotalling, Naval officers of the new millennium.” Indeed, the young enlisted Marine, the NCOs for whom he avowed admiration and respect, and his platoon leader for whom he would follow anywhere in combat, provides the answer to the whining New Age Modern Naval Officer of today. And his father – as well as his 87-year-old grandfather -- are the ‘dinosaurs’ who are the objects of ‘Sledge’ Davis’s scorn. After all, all they did was win World War II and persevered in Korea and Vietnam in spite of spineless political leadership. It is, they, not the pretenders of those commissioned in the early 1980s (see my answer to Stewie-baby, one of ‘Sledge’s’ contemporaries) at the link: ‘You did not WIN the Cold War – We Did’). And, as RADM ‘Mark’ Hill asks, “Who in the world have ‘Sledge’ Davis and his cohort fought against?” The answer is clear. Most of them have gone through a complete 30-year naval career and never fired a shot in anger nor been shot at in anger by a determined, capable, non-third-world enemy. Many of them are not ‘warriors.’ They are only pretenders. Compare their rhetoric with the testimony of a father of a young Marine just returned from Iraq below.
Return of Warriors
July 16, 2003
I would have you day by day fix your eyes upon the greatness of [America], until you become filled with the love of her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the courage to do it, who in the hour of conflict had the fear of dishonor always present to them, and who, if ever they failed in an enterprise, would not allow their virtues to be lost to their country, but freely gave their lives to her as the fairest offering which they could present at her feast."
(Pericles' Funeral Oration, describing the young warriors of
Athens, recorded by Thucydides, History, Book 2, Chapter 6)
It was 6 a.m. when we stepped on the fog-shrouded East Coast beach. Humidity hung in the air like a damp blanket and waves of brown water crashed on the beach. Almost immediately I heard the first massive hovercraft far off the coast and then saw it come through the fog like a Viking Warship, an instrument of conquest -- graceful yet fearsome. It was riveting, and the awesome power of the American military machine took my breath away. We were there to meet victorious United States Marines returning from war to American soil. Most of America was still asleep.
My youngest son's task force had fought its way across the desert, liberating four of Iraq's largest cities: Nasiriyah, Amarah, Diwaniyah and Kut, and 16 smaller cities having populations larger than 10,000; they secured the bridges along "ambush alley" in Nasiriyah intact, defeated the Iraqi 11th Infantry Division, defeated remnants of the Iraqi 51st Mechanized Infantry Division, and defeated Saddam's contemptible Fedayeen and Al Quds in Nasiriyah. They controlled an area of 50,000 square kilometers, captured more than 1,000 prisoners of war, destroyed approximately 30 paramilitary and military targets, destroyed more than 200,000 pounds of enemy unexploded ordnance, and, last but not least, rescued survivors of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company.
My son's company went for one stretch of 42 days without a shower, napped briefly when they could, saw death and destruction everywhere, and seldom had a moment without tension until they returned to their ship to be transported home. Even then, his company was held off coast on combat readiness aboard ship during the president's stay in the Middle East and then diverted to Africa to evacuate, if necessary, the American Embassy in Monrovia, which was surrounded by rebel forces. My son's name is Caleb, and he is named after a faithful and pious man still vigorous enough to identify himself as a warrior at 85 years of age. Finally, Caleb was to arrive home.
I did not send my son to war. His mother did. Fathers don't send their sons to fight wars. It is intrinsic in the nature of a male to fight and contend. We are born to it. It is in our blood. Before any boy can speak, he reaches for a toy sword or gun. Fathers don't send their sons to fight, they just watch them go. What could be more contrary to a mother's nature, however, than standing unmoved and unmoving while her son marches off to war? Every aspect of a mother's being is outraged at the thought of her son in harm's way and her heart cries out, "No, not my son!" That's why a mother must conquer her instincts, muster courage from somewhere, and send her son to war. She cannot just watch him go. So, my wife donated our son to his country, and I, true to form, watched him go. But for us, that decision was made not when the Marines ordered our son to Iraq. It was made when we concurred in his decision to serve his country in the Corps.
As he says, "I did not choose the Marines, they chose me." They were looking for a few good men. Our son did not join the United States Marine Corps, however, to acquire money for an education, or extra funds to purchase the car of his dreams. He joined to serve his country. We all knew what that meant.
On homecoming morning, the noise of the hovercrafts reverberated across the open water, growing louder and louder as they skimmed over the waves toward shore. We knew they would not land where we stood, but we simply could not tear ourselves away from the stunning image to rush closer. They raced into a dock one after another a thousand meters down the beach from us. It was a spectacle that continued like clockwork until nearly noon.
Fortunately, our son was in the first wave off the ship. The Marines disembarked at a distance and then roared down the road toward us in full battle array. Wave after wave of battle-scarred Humvees, troop carriers, and LAVs (light armored vehicles) came down the road toward the corner where a group of parents, families, and friends waited with signs and American flags. I have never seen such young faces look so old. Most looked as if they were 15 years old, and all looked exhausted -- and then there was our son, acknowledged later by his regimental commander as, perhaps, the youngest Marine to go to war.
We saw him coming with the first wave of his company from a distance, and he saw us as well. We were almost standing in the road and he had a broad smile on his face — even managing an appropriately subdued Marine wave. He drove by at "battle speed" and wheeled around the corner. We jumped in vehicles and hurriedly followed over a bridge to a huge open field where the troops were gathering in a staging area. LAVs parked in neat lines, helicopter gunships, and CH-46s flew overhead and landed in the open field for hours. It was a sight to behold. It was one of those rare moments (perhaps the only moment) that I actually wished I were young again — to experience the rush of emotion accompanying a return from victorious battle.
Families parked cars along the road and hurried into the dew-dampened field to meet the Marines jumping from their vehicles. I could see Caleb coming from a distance, picking up speed each moment, until we were running to meet each other in the field. It was a glorious reunion! We were all overcome with emotion born of months of not knowing whether our embraces in December would have to suffice until a meeting in glory. I wept the way a father does — poorly — the short involuntary gasps of breath one takes when composure is the goal but the heart just won't cooperate. It was the first time our son's feet touched solid ground in nearly seven weeks, and the first time he witnessed green vegetation and trees for six months.
Families crawled in and out of the LAVs, had pictures taken on them, met Marine buddies. It was quite the scene for hours. Caleb introduced us to the print media reporter embedded with his company throughout the war, and the last reporter to return from the battlefield. We had the opportunity to tell him what his reports from the front meant to us and many others waiting at home. We met several Marine buddies, including a courageous staff sergeant whom our son admires for his calm demeanor in battle and the fact that he is "a good Marine," always taking care of his men. He looked like a warrior — decked out in camouflage, battle flak jacket, an automatic pistol strapped to one leg, and a combat knife strapped to the other. I kept my distance. It was, however, unnecessary. I noticed the fierce warrior was slowed by a Velcro-like attachment to one of his legs — an elfish little girl yet to graduate from kindergarten. He was being followed as well by a slightly older boy looking up at his father as if he were ten-feet tall. He appeared to be.
Our son pointed out at a distance his platoon lieutenant and identified him in similar fashion to his staff sergeant. He couldn't have been out of his 20s. Caleb holds him in the highest esteem, stating that he won the hearts of his men when, in the midst of battle, his LAV machine gun jammed and, instead of dropping into the safety of the gun turret, he grabbed an M-16 (a rifle) and stood up in front of everyone, exposed to enemy fire, to return fire and encourage his men.
Where do these young men come from? They looked so normal — and young — for the most part. I closed my eyes a number of times throughout the meeting in the field, eager to keep these images embedded in my mind forever, and hoping never to see these young men wearing baggy pants and FUBU sweatshirts and listening to rap music. Were it not so terrible, I would think all young men must go to war at least once, thus giving them at least the prospect of overcoming the growing decadence of American culture.
As long as I live, when I want to remember what is representative of the best in America, I will summon to mind the images I saw in the field that day. An indomitable and magnificent force marshaled from the youth of America, garlanded in martial splendor, transported half way across the world, shedding its own blood and that of the enemy, and then coming home. While that is objectively what happened, it is not the way my son perceived his task and role. Upon his return, he told us that the most often asked question by the Marines in combat, of the members of the media, was, "What are the people back home saying about us?" The Marines were initially concerned they might be the recipients of a "Vietnam reception" back home. When he told me that, I was ashamed of the American imagery it brought to mind. When we first briefly spoke to our son by satellite telephone, after the major combat was over, he was amazed that we knew the names of battles and locations of troops. He and his fellow Marines had no idea Americans knew anything about what was actually going on in Iraq. I am still amazed that American teenagers went to war in the Middle East desert and performed so admirably with virtually no idea that Americans at home even cared.
Not given to brooding angst, Caleb seems none the worse for emotional wear, despite having fought a war. Warriors do not think as civilians do. While they are often afraid, they do not have the luxury of wringing their hands, getting in touch with their emotions, or laboring over the anguish of mortal combat. That's for postmodern people back home to do — people with more time and less stress, and Hollywood stars, of course. And warriors do not, once back home, whine to their loved ones, "Tell me that I am a good man — that I have lived a good life." The warrior thinks about discipline, training, presence of mind not to panic, not to yield to despair; and he hopes above all, when the time comes, to perform the ordinary under extraordinary conditions. And then he moves on.
Talks with my son have revealed little bravado and no recitation of the "pleasures of war." A few themes have emerged — the satisfactions of shared hardships, of triumph over adversity, of camaraderie, and love of one's comrade-in-arms. Oh yes, and the joy in having extra cash as a result of accumulating combat pay with no way to spend it.
After the homecoming meeting in the field, the Marines convoyed to battalion headquarters, washed saltwater off the LAVs, and turned in rifles, sidearms, and other equipment. About mid-afternoon they marched (for effect) to where families and friends were anxiously waiting under oak trees, while the Marine Corps Hymn blared from speakers. It was fascinating to watch the other Marines around the base within hearing distance. They stopped and snapped to attention, regardless of what they were doing when the hymn began. The crowd of waiting parents initially surged toward the Marines, only to respectfully freeze unprompted until the Marine Hymn ended. The awe-inspiring power of symbols swirled in my head like discotheque lights in a small room. Historical symbols of honor, discipline, esprit de corps, and military power assembled for a just cause can spontaneously engender intense emotions in the stiffest breast, stop traffic, and silence an anxious crowd. These are spellbinding effects in individuals jaded by an American culture devoted to pleasure-seeking excess and avoidance of personal responsibility.
How on earth do the Marines do it? They often start with the raw, cynical, MTV-educated youth of America and, regardless of what remains of those young people individually, collectively they are transformed into what the human spirit longs to be -- virtuous. Pericles was right when he spoke of young warriors: "For even those who come short in other ways may justly plead the valor with which they have fought for their country; they have blotted out the evil with the good, and have benefited the state more by their public services than they have injured her by their private actions."
There was something significant to be learned on that homecoming beach and in that dew-damp field when warriors returned home, but most of America slept through it.
Bruce W. Green is dean of the Liberty University School of Law (email@example.com) in Lynchburg, Virginia. Prior to his position as dean, he practiced constitutional law with the American Family Association's [ http://www.afa.net/clp] Center for Law & Policy in Tupelo, Mississippi. His son Caleb left for the Marine Corps 17 days after he graduated from high school and six days after his 18th birthday. He was still 18 when the actual war in Iraq ended. Caleb Green is assigned to Charlie Company, 2nd Light Armored Recon Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
(c) 2003 Agape Press all rights reserved.
End of The Return of Warriors
A Vigilante Dedication
During the last weekend in March 2003, I attended a Vigilante reunion in Sanford, Florida. No, we did not wear camouflage clothing, paint our faces an earthen hue and run around in the woods, brandishing rifles and knives. Conjure up a different image. The RA5C Vigilante is an aircraft — a very special kind. It is a supersonic (Mach 2) twin-jet tactical reconnaissance aircraft which operated off the decks of large Navy aircraft carriers. Born during the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was flown over the skies of North Vietnam during that war. I, and many of my close Navy friends, flew the Vigilante over North Vietnam. Some were killed in accidents while flying the RA5C. Many of us were shot at by anti-aircraft and SAM missile fire. Two of my close friends were shot down over the North, were captured, tortured, and repatriated at the end of that war. Luckily, my aircraft survived several hits by anti-aircraft fire and I flew it back to the ship. Indeed, small things make a big difference — in this case four feet from a fireball of death or, at the very best, seven or so years of captivity in a communist prison.
Naval aviators become quite attached to their aircraft. After several long deployments, and especially after flying it in combat, the aircraft almost becomes a part of oneself. I was fortunate enough to have flight demonstrated the RA5C Vigilante in the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport in 1965. In fact, I think I am the only Navy pilot to have had the opportunity to fly the Vigilante in that world-famous air show. And I will confess — that experience is the second most memorable flying experience of my life. It was six and one-half minutes of pure pleasure — truly an orgastic aviation experience.
The Vigilante reunion, usually held every five years, was a special one. A real RA5C aircraft was refurbished, painted, and the exterior was restored to nearly-new condition. It was placed on three support pedestals about 30 feet above the ground in a Memorial Park at the Sanford-Orlando International Airport. It looks as if it is in a climb-out after takeoff with both afterburners blazing, ‘reaching for the sky.’
A dedication ceremony was held at the Memorial Park one morning in the hot sun. It was attended by over 1,000 former Vigilante pilots, naval flight officers (the RA5C had a crew of two), maintenance and support personnel — as well as Sanford-area townspeople who had ‘grown up’ when the airport was home base for RA5C squadrons during the 1960s.
Two things happened during this dedication ceremony which exemplify the nature of the social bonds — the nodal connections, if you will — among the people attending. The guest speaker was CAPT Gerald Coffee, USN (Ret.) who flew the RA5C over North Vietnam, was shot down, captured, tortured, and repatriated. Jerry is now a motivational speaker who shares his experiences in captivity with Americans across the land.
Jerry and I were to be roommates aboard the USS Ranger during a combat deployment in 1966. He was, instead, sent to the USS Kitty Hawk to replace a Vigilante pilot who had been shot down over the North. We had attended the Navy’s SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape) training school together in the northern Maine woods before deploying. There, we got to know each other quite well. We were physically ‘roughed up,’ interrogated, placed (sitting with knees bent, arms holding our knees with our heads bent down between our knees) in small boxes until the circulation to our legs was cut off, released to the excruciating pain that comes with the blood rushing back into the veins, stuffed into bitter cold puddles of water on the ground under a large board cover, and made to undress and do pushups on command in freezing cold weather. Naked, soaking wet, shivering with cold and on a starvation ration of food — one comes as close to the real captive experience as can be fashioned without crossing the line into brutality.
While this training is nowhere near the actual conditions Jerry and others faced under captivity by the North Vietnamese communists, it is as close as one wants to come to it under training conditions. You find out what you are made of during such training. While it is nothing compared to the real thing, sharing that experience builds a strong bond that cannot easily be explained.
Jerry spoke to us at the dedication ceremony of his POW experience, including the ‘tap code’ by which the POWs communicated with each other. He reminded us of the anti-war activities of the Jane Fonda crowd while he and his fellow POWs were being tortured. Then he reminded us that many Americans, including possibly some in the audience, were ambiguous as to whether or not America should have fought the Vietnam War. But he told us that he knew that fighting that war was the right thing to do. He had lived for 7 years and 9 days under a brutal communist system and he knew first-hand of its corruption, its brutality, and its Godlessness. Communism simply had to be defeated. Then he said that “...in spite of the captivity, the torture, the inhumane conditions under which he had lived for so long” that, if so summoned, he “would do it all over again.”
The crowd of over 1,000 people, spontaneously and in unison, rose to their feet in the hot sun and gave Jerry Coffee a long, sustained, standing ovation. They had seldom, if ever, heard such a public declaration by a man who had paid such a price for his dedication to country — and to each of us.
Shortly after Jerry’s uplifting message, it was announced that a flight of four F/A-18 Hornet strike-fighter aircraft were in position to make a low-level flyover of the RA5C dedication site. Sure enough, as the crowd turned around to see these Navy jets flying toward us in a tight formation at 500 feet altitude, the announcer said, “The formation is led by CDR John Butler.” My wife and I instantly understood that the lead pilot had to be the son of C.T. Butler, a friend of ours from Naval Postgraduate School days. C.T. was killed in 1967 during a night field-carrier landing practice session. His RA5C lost an engine on takeoff as he was turning downwind for another practice landing. He ejected from the aircraft. His NFO survived the low-level ejection, but Charlie did not.
C.T. Butler, Jim Bell (another RA5C pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam and spent over 8 years in captivity) and I were friends who had come to Sanford from the Navy Postgraduate School.
As the formation zoomed overhead, making a thunderous noise, the third jet in the formation popped in its afterburner, pointed its nose upward and roared straight up into the blue sky, creating the powerfully emotion-laden ‘missing man formation.’ I turned to my wife, and remarked that this was a private tribute to C.T. Butler, our good friend. Indeed, it was. The pilot of the third aircraft was Richard Butler, another of C.T.’s sons. And little did we know then, but Barbara Butler, C.T.’s widow, was in the audience and was present, along with her sons at a reception and dinner on the last evening of the reunion. We had not seen Barbara since C.T.’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery some 36 years ago. What a wonderful memory-laden reunion it was!
Jim Bell recounted the story to the Butler sons that he had put together a bicycle that the then-deployed C.T. had bought for Richard for Christmas and asked Jim to assemble it. They remembered that bike with a twinkle in their eyes and a younger son (also in attendance) recalled that by the time it was passed down to him it was a slow, wobbly, banged-up rendition of the original — we, friends all, enjoying the family interplay, laughed until tears starting forming in our eyes. Indeed, the closest bonds — after the blood bond of family — are those forged in the crucible of shared experiences. Especially if those experiences include a bit of shared danger, challenge, and the prospect of a sudden death.
C.T. Butler was the embodiment of the ‘warrior spirit.’ A former Marine enlisted man, Charlie graduated from the Naval Academy with the Class of 1953. A taciturn, no-nonsense naval officer with his head ‘screwed on straight,’ Charlie was a professional naval aviator in the finest sense of the word. He flew and deployed with the A4-B Skyhawk, as many of us did, in the early days before that (staple of Navy TacAir) aircraft had the ‘bugs’ worked out. In fact, my first squadron, VA-86, lost nine pilots in six months flying that aircraft. The J-65 engine had serious problems. When the pilot throttled back in the ‘break’ to land and ‘dirtied up’ (slowed down with speed brakes out and lowered the flaps and landing gear) for the correct abeam position at the 180-degree point – advancing the power to full throttle often produced an engine ‘hang-up’ at 80 percent power which lasted for upwards of ten to twenty seconds. The ‘dirty’ aircraft could not maintain the proper 600 feet abeam altitude at 80 percent power. This was especially dangerous at night when the aircraft started to lose altitude and/or slow down to stalling speed. If the pilot was not quick enough to correct this ‘underpowered’ situation, the only alternative was to eject. This was in the days before the fully automatic Baker ejection seat. More than a few crashed and burned as a result of this engine characteristic or died from the result of a low altitude ejection.
The J-65 engine also had a serious problem with the fuel control rod – the cross-shaft rod from the throttle linkage to the fuel valve that fed fuel to the engine. I remember one landing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in the A4 Skyhawk which was uneventful until I taxied into the chocks. Before I could pull the throttle ‘around the horn’ to shut the engine down, the engine just QUIT RUNNING. It shut itself down. Had this occurred only 30 seconds earlier, during final approach over the 500 ft hill on the approach end of the runway during landing, it would have been ‘all she wrote.’ I would certainly have ‘bought the farm.’ It turned out that the J-65 engine had a vibrational harmonic that was perfectly ‘tuned’ to the length and weight of the fuel control cross-shaft rod. The cross-shaft rod had failed due to metal fatigue resulting from this harmonic vibration.
The early-model A4 had a disconcerting characteristic that required pilot ingenuity (juryrigging) to keep from placing oneself into an uncomfortable situation upon launch off the bow of the ship. Before the catapult shot, the pilot with the engine at full power, had to place the throttle friction lock into the full-lock position so the throttle could not move, even if forced by hand. If he did not, when he reached up to lift the landing gear handle after the cat shot, the throttle would spring back into the idle position. If the pilot forgot (it was not a NATOPS check-list item – it was an obvious design flaw) to set the throttle friction lock, he was in for a certain ditching at sea off the catapult or at a minimum a very narrow escape from same — depending on whether or not the engine ‘hung-up’ at 80 percent power upon application of full throttle.
The point I am getting at here is that those of us who flew Navy carrier jet aircraft in the 1950s and early 1960s were essentially unsung ‘pioneers’ in naval aviation who flew aircraft that were being ‘redesigned’ as they were introduced into the fleet. We were the cadre of naval aviators who flew the jet aircraft that Admirals Arleigh Burke, Thomas Moorer, and others conceived and produced after their famous ‘revolt of the admirals’ in the late 1940s. Those aircraft and the pilots who flew them essentially ‘saved’ naval aviation at a time when the U.S. Air Force was making a strong bid to take over the complete strategic and tactical role for air warfare.
And we young Lieutenants Junior Grade and Bull Lieutenants gladly accepted that ‘challenge’ of operating on the edge of the impossible. We did not ‘whine’ over the unfortunate deaths of our fellow naval aviators, as does ‘Sledge’ Davis above. We eagerly sought out such challenges. For example, on my first deployment flying the A4 Skyhawk on the USS Randolph, an aircraft from our sister-squadron, VA-72, was launched at night as an inflight refueling ‘tanker.’ The catapult bridle slipped off the hook on one side of the aircraft and, as the aircraft was launched down the catapult by the bridle loop on the hook on the other side, the aircraft rolled to the right and went over the side ‘upside-down’ off the bow of the ship. The pilot, a young Lieutenant, was trapped in the pitch black cockpit and did not survive. The aircraft was not recovered.
Do you think that Skyhawk tanker flight operations were suspended for a long period of time (what in the Modern Age has become to be known as a fleetwide ‘standown’) as a result of this accident? Not on your life. The next night our squadron had the A4 tanker ‘duty.’ The young Ltjgs and LTs in our squadron all sought out the squadron Operations Officer and directly volunteered to fly those flights. We did. Without incident.
The major point I am making here is that naval aviation was in dire straights during that time period. Sacrifices had to be made. The Air Force was making a major move to dominate air warfare. Jim Bell reminds us that the only jet aircraft the Navy had during the Korean War was the F9F-2 Panther, the F2H Banshee, and the lumbering F3D Skyknight ( a dual crewed night-fighter which Jim Bell tells me, accounted for most of the Navy Mig kills), which were all inferior in performance to the Air Force stable of fighter aircraft. Consequently, the Navy’s role in the Korean War was primarily air-to-ground – using the WWII F7U Corsair and the A1 Skyraider, both propeller-driven aircraft – and the underpowered, under-performing Navy jet aircraft.
Two books provide a detailed history of this time period in naval aviation. One, ‘The Wrong Stuff,’ by John Moore provides some comic relief for the hair-brained schemes dreamed up to ‘save naval aviation.’ One was taken from a British suggestion that (since 25% of the gross weight of naval carrier aircraft was in the landing gear and structure to support it), we design the aircraft without landing gear and bring it aboard ship on rubberized cushions. The other book, ‘Wings and Warriors,’ by Don Engen details the trials and tribulations of naval carrier jet aviation in the 1950s and early 1960s. Engen was the CO of an FJ-3 Fury squadron which ‘shook down’ the USS Forrestal with us (VA-86 in the F7U-3M Cutlass) in the late 1950s.
In fact, the Cutlass (Gutless as we called it, or Ensign Killer by reputation) was a prime example of the Navy’s search for a competitive jet fighter in those days. The aircraft was a state-of-the-art design with redundant hydraulic flight controls and no manual backup. It also had no horizontal stabilizer. The Cutlass had a noxious flight characteristic of going into an unrecoverable Post-Stall Gyration if flown into a deep stall during combat maneuvering. Ejection was the only way out of this situation. We brought it aboard the USS Forrestal using the old ‘paddles’ LSO technique (the Fresnel lens mirror was still under development then). The F7U-3M was so under-powered that it took full power to fly it around from the 180 degree position (150 ft altitude) to the 90 degree position (125 ft altitude) to final (100 ft altitude) and on the LSO’s ‘cut’ signal – dip the nose and pop it back up, still at full power – to get the aircraft down to the arresting gear. The twin-engine aircraft had afterburners but they were of no use – especially on a waveoff. If you jammed it into afterburner for a huge burst of thrust, you actually lost power for two full seconds – the engine nozzles went full open on burner lightoff which resulted in a loss of thrust initially and then it took two seconds for the nozzles to close back down to get full afterburner power. If used during a carrier landing waveoff, it was certain death – a ramp strike for sure.
Of course, in that age of youthful ‘dinosaurs’ there were no backseaters. They came into being with the F4 Phantom fighter and A5A Vigilante high-altitude nuclear weapons delivery aircraft. Jim Bell tells the story of his early days flying the old F4D Skyray fighter (now designated the F6) when the early models of the F4 Phantom were undergoing their ‘maiden’ tours. He remembers a short deployment in the early 1960s when he lived across the hallway from several F4 RIOs (backseaters). They posted a comic caption on the wall, “We cry a lot...” Evidently, they had seen a few ‘hairy’ approaches coming aboard ship as well. Maybe that was the genesis of ‘Sledge’ Davis’s attitude toward naval aviation.
We can rest assured that C.T. Butler’s sons, John and Richard, are ‘warriors’ in the mold of their father, whose brass plaque mounted on the back of a memorial bench placed in the Vigilante Memorial park by his family reads, “In Memoriam of LCDR C.T. Butler, USN – a Kentuckian.” And there are other such John and Richards out there who have the ‘warrior spirit.’ The problem is that they are ill-served by their flag-rank superiors who have sold out naval aviation and the Navy in general to politically correct politicians who have used our armed forces as a model for the ‘socialization’ of America.
For example, Admiral William J. Fallon, USN, was the keynote speaker at the Vigilante 2003 Reunion Banquet. ADM Fallon is a Naval Flight Officer (a backseater in both the RA-5C and A6 aircraft) who had served as Vice Chief of Naval Operations since October 2000 and had orders as Commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. He highlighted his flying credentials by bragging about his 4,800 flight hours in tactical jet aircraft and his more-than 1,300 ‘traps’ (carrier arrested landings). In fact, he made the statement that “I would go anywhere, anytime to get another ‘trap’ aboard ship.” Of course this always plays well to a crowd of Navy carrier pilots, but only if the speaker is himself a Navy carrier pilot. Such braggadocio does not rest well in the ‘craw’ of the former if the speaker is not a pilot. An old-timer squadron commanding officer at my table whispered under his breath, “The SOB doesn’t have even one carrier arrested landing. He was just a passenger.”
Nevertheless, ADM Fallon continued to smoothly regale the audience (he has a polished ‘politician’s presence’) with his memories of playing basketball on the team of Filippino stewards while he resided at the Sanford Bachelor Officers Quarters. This story obviously was gauged to fit into the current military vogue of celebrating ‘diversity’ in our armed forces. He was the hero on a team of ‘short people’ who ‘won all the marbles’ in the league. His remarks played a patriotic theme as he mentioned the heroism of those who flew high-tech weapon systems in Iraq and those who fought the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. He finished his presentation on a hugely patriotic note — but with a surprising twist. He recounted the battle of Roberts Ridge in the Tora Bora mountain area of Afghanistan.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Neil C. Roberts, a Navy Seal in a special operations unit fell from an insertion helicopter as it abruptly pulled away from its landing spot after being hit by enemy fire. U.S. commanders  “...watched in agony as images were beamed back from a reconnaissance plane of [Roberts] being captured and executed.” U.S. forces, including Rangers responded with withering force, using Apache helicopters and Air Force fighters to strike the al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist fighters. Two troop-carrying helicopters came under enemy fire. One was hit and crash-landed, after which an intense firefight broke out on the ground. Six Americans were killed in the ensuing battle. The remaining crew members had to survive withering enemy fire before being rescued. The bodies of those killed, including Neil Roberts, were recovered at that time.
One of those killed was Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham, a pararescueman who lost his life while saving the lives of 10 others and making it possible for seven others who were killed to come home. Cunningham has posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor for wartime heroism. This award is for extraordinary heroism while engaged in action against an enemy of our nation. The citation accompanying the award reads , “Despite effective enemy fire, and at great risk to his own life, Airman Cunningham remained in the burning fuselage of the aircraft in order to treat the wound[ed]. As he moved his patients to a more secure location, mortar rounds began to impact within 50 feet of his position. Disregarding this extreme danger, he continued the movement and exposed himself to enemy fire on seven separate occasions. When the second casualty collection point was also compromised, in a display of uncommon valor and gallantry, Airman Cunnignham braved an intense small arms and rocket-propelled grenade attack while repositioning the critically wounded to a third collection point. Even after he was mortally wounded and quickly deteriorating, he continued to direct patient movement and transferred care to another medic. In the end, his distinct efforts led to the successful delivery of 10 gravely wounded Americans to life-saving medical treatment.”
After summarizing this heroic event, which heated up the patriotic juices of the Vigilante ‘warriors’ in attendance to a boil, ADM Fallon then proceeded to play the politically correct card, which would be duly rewarded in his fitness report (and all of those who parrot such a line). He proudly exclaimed that Theresa Cunningham, the young widow of Jason Cunningham, has been awarded an ROTC scholarship at a an American university so that she can “...follow in the footsteps of here heroic husband.”
After telling the story of the heroic MEN in the story of Roberts Ridge — and they were all men — this politically correct Navy Admiral used it to further the radical feminist agenda of women-in-combat. This bold-faced politicizing of a very heroic event is mendacity of the highest order. How has this mind-set come about? Why has the senior Navy leadership stooped so low? The answer is simple.
The senior leadership of our nation’s armed forces, and the U.S. Navy in particular (see the essay ‘The Annaoplization of America: A Social Epidemic’) has been subjected to extortion, blackmail, and brute force politically-inspired purging of the ‘warrior ethos’ and tradition. This was instituted from the top down by the Clinton administration during the 1990s and is still being implemented by those who ‘foot-soldiered’ its ‘cultural Marxist’ doctrine in the military that President Bush inherited. ADM Fallon is a perfect example of such a ‘foot-soldier.’
How were such ‘foot-soldiers’ made? They were the subject of career ‘blackmail’ and extortion by politicians who delved deep into the officer promotion process (see ‘The Bob Stumpf Affair’) all the way down to the Lieutenant level. Their efficiency (fitness) reports have contained a category which forces the grading officer to comment on whether or not the officer being evaluated has contributed ‘directly’ to establishing a work environment which essentially ‘empowers’ women. It is couched in the language of ‘equal opportunity’ and ‘diversity’ with respect to race, ethnicity, and sex.
This type of career coercion has worked so well for the radical feminists and race-industry public figures that it is being perpetrated on industry, and even the national professional sports industry. Reverend Jesse Jackson and Representative Al Sharpton from New York are shining examples of such extortionists. The NFL has fined the Detroit Lions $200,000 for hiring a white coach. This is the work of the NFL ‘diversity’ committee. The league is responding to Jesse Jackson-type tactics mounted by two aggressive attorneys, Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran . The attorneys issued a blistering report [in the Fall of 2002] endorsing the conclusion that the league is suffering from ‘submerged racism.’
This pattern of extortion was evidenced in the racial settlement at Texaco, arranged in part by Mr. Mehri . “Anti-preference leaders Ward Connerly and Edward Blum called the bias claims against Texaco ‘specious.’ But rather than face a boycott and a tide of bad publicity, the company settled for $176 million and installed many questionable diversity programs, including the executive compensation to cooperativeness on diversity plans.” This is simply the ‘fitness report’ extortion tactic that has worked so well for the ‘cultural Marxists’ in its application to the U.S. military – applied to industry.
What does the young ‘warrior’ in today’s Navy think of this situation? Well, one ‘Sledge’ Davis tells us that he is proud to be a part of it. But what of the others, those who privately abhor the ‘feminization’ of the Modern Navy but who cannot speak out loud of it less his career is ‘cut off at the knees?’ We are told, through retired flag-rank naval officers that they encourage their career Navy sons to ‘stay the course’ until a more favorable political climate favors the reforms required to return to a ‘fighting’ force – instead of a ‘support’ force, a jobs corps for preferred minorities and women. But what will this tactic do to solve the problem?
The answer to that question appears in an article by a naval officer in the U.S. Naval Institute ‘Proceedings,’ the magazine devoted to discussing the naval profession . “I personally find distressing, the concept that naval officers should stay silent and avoid putting their careers at risk until they ‘rise to the level where they can do something effective about it.’ So what is the level they wait for – Chief of Naval Operations? My observation is that those who stay silent most of their careers for such a purpose also stay silent when they arrive at a ‘high level’ because they arrive with absolutely no experience at speaking out... Also, there always is a yet higher level to (silently) strive for.”
Maybe the mid-level to senior officer corps is too ‘risk averse’ in their career decisions to speak their minds, but our young ‘warriors’ in the ranks are not so timid. For example, a Marine Sergeant (a reconnaissance team leader in the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina – recently returned from deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit) speaks his mind . “This is a situation report from the most important part of the Marine Corps – the ‘trenches,’ where the glamorous plans created at higher headquarters are executed. Here, at the bottom, is reality.”
The Sergeant continues. “Down here there is no time for politics. There is no brain-warping terminology for every different mission undertaken, and every confrontation is ‘high intensity,’ whether termed a low-intensity conflict or a military operation other than war...Although it looked at first glance as if the Corps was shucking its peacetime shackles and readjusting to the deadly business of war fighting in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, there was insufficient combat training. It was peacetime business as usual: for example, energetically issued orders from higher headquarters that reflective belts be worn while running during periods of reduced visibility, and mandated classes on drunk driving and the effects of sexually transmitted disease.”
“Before the dust from the collapsed World Trade Center towers had settled, my unit – which has no women assigned to it – had to complete Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service questionnaires on equal opportunity. True resurgence of preparation for combat never happened. Down here, we were stunned.”
“From where I stand, risk aversion has become the de-facto benchmark for today’s careerists. Training too often is watered down to ensure nothing goes awry — not for troop safety, but for protecting careers. Tough training for war often is overcome by administrative events...Today’s leaders...train to craft perfect plans on paper and make the prettiest presentations with all the computer support imaginable. Substance has been superceded by form.”
“Careerism hazards the bond of trust between the leader and the led...in my view, that bond is not down here [see my essay, ‘Military/Civilian Generational History,’ for background on this attitude]...The fact we are warriors appears to have been forgotten. Regardless of politically correct polishing of mission statements and warfighting publications, the harsh nature and stark reality of war remains. My leaders seem almost embarrassed by this, as if training to attack and kill the enemy is somehow wrong. Sessions on consideration of others, equal opportunity, and sexual harassment may be personnel management priorities in peace time, but they must not become the Marine Corps’ point of main effort. Management should not supplant leadership.”
The straight speaking Sergeant concludes, “Fancy technology, transformational equipment, and modernized weapons are important. Leadership by example is vital – and down here, we will return 110% on that investment.”
The Sergeant has given the answer to the ‘Sledge’ Davises and the ADM Fallons of our New Age ‘Teletubby’ Navy. Leaders must be found who will rid the armed forces of the deadly scourge of this kind of “...limp-wristed, yogurt eating, wall street reading, computer toting, sensitivity training attending, long distance running, teetotalling” leadership. Leaders must be found in the image of the Nimitzs Halseys, Burkes, Moorers, and Hills if it is to regain its ‘warrior spirit’ and contribute to winning our nation’s wars.
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