Saturday, March 7, 2015


I will bring it here. I always knew that the administration of the Smithsonian sucked but this made it really clear. I was mostly out of the country when the debate raged about displaying the plane that dropped the first atomic weapon. The link is well worth the time to read even if it doesn't conclude with the plane now on display way out by Dulles.

There aren't more than a handful of people that remember that I wore an Air Force uniform for two years. Airpower was the rule of the day back when I wore that uniform. We held those who fought from the air in high regard. Airpower was doctrine, tactics and operations. Later on, after signing up for something I may name later, I used to listen to guys talk about "warheads on foreheads." Every one of them was a staff pogue. Say what you will about Americans and their medals/ribbon culture. A pro can glance at the uniform of any serviceman and know a great deal about him/her. Unless he's a faker and oddly enough, a pro will figure that out very quickly.

At the 'fruit salad' level to a professional, it's not a confusing mass of tatter. It speaks volumes.

The thing I learned about air power back when I was expected to be a proponent of it, was that it included something called Effect By Obliviation of the enemy. Thousand bomber raids to drop incendiaries on cities in Europe and Japan could be matched by the delivery of a single bomb from a single bomber. That was progress! As it happens, there is no way that I could bring myself to wage that kind of warfare. My eyes precluded even navigator on a C-130 and made nuclear missile silo watch stander my only career path in the USAF. I walked away and upstairs to sign on with the Navy.

Growing up in places like Fort Sill and Fort Riley, there were school libraries and they appealed to little boys. To this very day I remember how crewmen were extracted from burnt Shermans and Matildas. A wire was required. War is necessary and required. Naked, unchecked atrocity is not, even if it hides it's guise under MAD.

I had an appointment at the VA the other day. Whenever I've gone there in the past I noted that it was packed with men who appeared to be just sitting there. My business was on the second floor and it's a bureaucracy, I went up and down the stairs from the main lobby 6 times. I really hate elevators.
Hey Bob!, do you need a push?"
Hi Bill, we missed you yesterday!
Hey bro, how's it going?
I started to pick up on the way the VA in my place is a community where old men at arms gather and just sit and talk. No booze, no whining, no complaining. It offers a place and it does offer a place.

Two weeks ago I was looking for a place. It was a place I remember most fondly. Fort Riley is its name. We had directions but we thought maybe the back gate would be open. Ultimately, I stopped and asked directions. This was an exit not quite, but just off I-70. I found the VFW and asked, how do I get to Fort Riley. At 2100 the VFW post at Fort Riley, in Junction City, had 5 men, my age, two bartenders and nobody else.

I'm a veteran of many foreign wars and I would never think of joining the VFW. I'm not sure why. I think maybe I'm not a joiner.

When I left as Operations Officer for a Group Staff I had just deployed all of our units to OEF, OIF for their third and fourth tours there. Active and Reserve units. 1ID had been there continuously in one way or another and at 2100, the VFW at that place mustered 5 men a wee bit older than me. I'm older than I thought I'd be but I thought there would be more guys at the local VFW. I suspect few of our generation are 'joiners.' Been there, done that.

I remember sitting overseas with a LT CEC who, "built shitters in Fullujah" swapping tales over a beer with a female LCDR CEC who ran convoys out of the FOBS to resupply the local fire bases with food, ammo and no beer. Watch some video of convoys blown up by IEDs and watch some video of Fallujah way back. I very much doubt they have any interest in joining the VFW either. In the olden days it only required a campaign medal to join. It was like it was taken over by big Army and they are death on beer and having a good time. Everybody knows that. They've probably arranged with the local law to stake out the place to catch any DUIs just as the Shore Patrol staked out the clubs in Treasure Island back in the days when we had a fleet base there.

It was amusing to visit Yongsan Main Post. I used to fly there 15 times a year from the west coast. I did that thing for about 6 years. It got old. As a navy man I would visit the Navy's club up at the top of the post. The place was always hopping, great food, great staff, free lunch, live bands, good movies and I don't mean just a few times, it was every single time I stopped by. There were 19 other clubs run by the Army at Yongsan where one could, sometimes, find an old sergeant drinking a beer under fluorescent lights in a giant empty, cold, echoing hall.

Maybe some day I'll check out the local VFW posts in MetroParkCentralis. Maybe. I wouldn't bet a donut on it.


virgil xenophon said...

I think the FW and the American Legion is mainly an enlisted thing. No one I know who was an officer and Viet Vet ever joined and my Father, a WW II Inf officer never joined either--nor did any of the other ex-officers on the faculty that I knew, to the best of my knowledge.

And ROGER THAT on Army O-clubs! The only Navy club I was ever in was the "Stone Elephant" at DaNang, which was as fabulous as any O-club (or night club, for that matter) in the US. I once wandered into the 5th Army HQ )-club in Fort Carson, Colo and it was like something out of a John Wayne movie--a big barn-like structure that you nailed as a "cold echoing hall" of a wooden dance floor with nary a person in sight in mid afternoon. I was amazed. THIS is the O-club at a permanent numbered Army HQ!!!??? "God" I thought, "I don't want to even see the ones at the isolated outposts." (Although the MACV/Army club at DaNang not far from the Stone Elephant downtown was dynamite mainly because it was the old Colonial French Army O-Club and was a magnificent old structure and almost impossible for the Army to screw up as it was run mainly by civilians attached to MACV, iirc)

HMS Defiant said...

no no. You should have seen what the Army offered at 6th Army, Presidio of San Francisco! I have to admit that as a LT you might not have liked us when we arrived. We bounced a golf ball of a General's golf cart. He came all the way back up to the tee to invite us to admire his invisible stars and me and Todd waggled clubs and told him, he wasn't the party in front of us, he was so far off his stroke he was in the wrong fairway and way and invited him to FOAD.

I was still in the process of teaching my subordinate officers. We had a hasty way with senior officers......what were they going to do? Send us to a war zone?

The Navy Club at Yongsan was 10 orders of magnitude better than any of the Army Clubs there.