Monday, February 28, 2005
Can't wait until all those Moonbats move to Canada...we can replace them with hardworking Mexicans.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
From the Black Hills Pioneer
The rifle sat firmly in place on the bench rest last Saturday. A small group gathered behind the rifleman as his cheek rested in the stock and his keen eye peered through the scope. "It needs to move a little that way," he said gesturing a thumb to the left. An adjustment was made and he announced that the sight picture was good. He took the shot, and then nine more before making sure the gun was empty and moving downrange to inspect the target some 30 yards away. Five of the ten shots were grouped tightly in or just next to the one-inch bull's-eye, and the others weren't more than an inch or two away. A broad smile showed his satisfaction and then he exchanged high-fives with his instructor...me. My 4-year-old son then turned the Ruger 10/22 over to his 7-year-old sister, and she shot an almost identical group. It was their first attempt at shooting a rifle, and their enthusiasm suggests there will be many more outings like it.
Read the rest.
Friday, February 25, 2005
More Flash Mediocrity
Damn You, Garfield Ridge!
Besides ranking them, Retrocrush posts some background on the production and folks who created the themes:
...A month later we were recording the now-famous Simpsons theme on the 20th Century Fox lot with a huge orchestra. I think all the producers were a little nervous and fidgety about the untrendy audacity of the music. But then-executive producer James L. Brooks came in, listened a bit, then said, "My God! This is great! This is lemmings-marching-to-their-death music!"
"Rain and wind and weather...hell-bent for leather!" seems like it'd be in the lyrics of a Village People song, but it's the mighty theme to Rawhide where it became famous. Anyway with that wonderful cracking whip, sounds of cows mooing, and those tough guy vocals from Frankie Laine, it certainly sets the tone for the show. It may be the best song with cow sounds in it since the debut album from Wilson Phillips.
Oh, and a damn and a hat tip to Ace.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Ten Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't
1. Worked as an extra and stunt man in a movie.
2. Sat through an aerial refueling, sitting backwards (ulp!).
3. Been mistaken for a German in Germany and for a Korean (half-breed, anyway) in Korea.
4. Seen the Korean DMZ up close from a Marine SuperStallion, the Chesapeake Bay from an Army Chinook, and winched into an Air Force Huey.
5. Toured the CIA, NSA, FBI, and the Capitol Building within a week.
6. Received two speeding tickets on the same roadtrip, talked himself out of another.
7. Field-stripped and reassembled a .45 Automatic blindfolded, before graduating high school.
8. Dated a woman five inches taller than I was.
9. Acted as the title character in my high school play.
10. Quit his high-paying job because it was interfering with his blog-reading (well, not the only reason...).
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Quotes for Boring Meetings
1. I can see your point, but I still think you're full of sh*t.
2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
3. How about never? Is never good for you?
4. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
5. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way.
6. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
7. I'm out of my mind, but please feel free to leave a message.
8. I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
9. It sounds like English, but I can't understand a damn word you're saying.
10. Ahhh... I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again.
Many more at The Stupid Shall Be Punished
My personal go-to line (when I wasn't management): "Sounds like a management problem."
Monday, February 21, 2005
The 80s were a golden age for gun collecting, for me anyway. I managed to pick up several WWII-era pieces, but my eye soon turned to more modern weapons, especially Soviet-bloc and non-American designs. I was young and single and let loose in West Texas gun shows. When I moved to Maryland, I thought that would all end...until I discovered my cousin's father-in-law had an FFL. Thank heavens I was able to keep my Pennsylvania driver's license (and residency)!
At one stroke, I bought a Chinese Norinco Tokarev clone in 9-mm (shown above) and a Sino Makarov in .380 ACP. I knew these were not high-quality weapons...the Mak had cheap, clunky sights, but it shot like a laser. "The Toke" was very rough and no amount of Dremeling would fix that. It was okay; all I wanted was something different. I haven't fired them much since then. They are part of my "museum pieces," even though they're buried in the gun safe. I take them out once in a while and picture their arsenal brothers in the hands and holsters of people very different from myself, grunts who realize that this marginal firearm is the best their country can do for them. I stopped short of buying Chi-clones of American weapons...their 1911 was temptingly cheap, but there's no substitute for Colt. M-14...I don't think so.
I didn't give much thought that I was lining the pockets of Chinese Communists; I saw it as they were supplying the American militia for cheap. "A rifleman behind every blade of grass," the Japanese knew well our strength in WWII. Now, numerically there's probably an SKS in one house out of twenty in America...what better militia weapon is there? Since I started competing, I stayed with high-end American products (and Glocks, baby!), but if the SHTF, we can hand out an SKS or two with a couple of clips to the neighbors so they can watch our backs.
My entry for this week's Carnival of Cordite
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Taking a break from the Silent Warrior series, let's look at one of the truly great stories of the Vietnam War, a story dramatized in a book and movie of the same name, "Bat-21," the radio callsign of Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton.
Col. Hambleton was the navigator of an EB-66 electronic countermeasures aircraft. He and his crew went into combat armed only with radio-frequency output and their personal sidearms. When their aircraft was struck by a surface-to-air missile, Hambleton was the only one to eject safely. He landed near a heavily traveled enemy supply line and was pursued vigorously by the North Vietnamese Army. The USAF equally energetically tried to rescue him; he had been a missile squadron commander, a very valuable prize for the Communists.
Despite the loss of one rescue helicopter and crew, the Air Force snatched up Hambleton after a complex overland exfiltration ending in the company of a Navy SEAL and an ARVN Ranger. The book and the movie hardly do this feat justice, but writers are writers, and Hollywood is...you know.
The reason I'm posting this is that only today did I find out that Col. Hambleton passed away in September of 2004. He had retired here in Tucson and I'd met people who knew him. The 43d Electronic Combat Squadron ("The Bats"), while not descendant from the 42d TEWS, adopted Bat-21's "Mojo" as their own and retired his callsign. The 42d TEWS became an ECS in 1983, and later an airborne combat control squadron in 1994. I flew and deployed with the 43d ECS during the best four years of my Air Force career.
Update: Who'da thunk it? The History Channel showed "Bat-21" this weekend!
And Walter: Our prayers are with you; may your aim be true and body warded from harm as you continue the fight against evil.
h/t to El Capitan
Friday, February 18, 2005
The Hainan EP-3 Incident
On April 1, 2001 (China time), a US Navy EP-3E Aries II was performing surveillance operations in international airspace over the South China Sea when it was intercepted by two PRC J-8 fighter aircraft. One of the interceptor pilots (there is evidence that this guy had flown like a hot dog on previous intercepts) made close passes at the plane to rattle the crew. On his final pass (on Earth, ever) his vertical stabilizer (tail) struck the left outboard propeller...his plane broke up and fell into the sea. Parts of his jet sheared off the EP-3's nosecone, which did damage to the right outboard engine and much of the aircraft's instrumentation. The plane inverted and went out of control, saved only by the airmanship of the pilot, Lt. Shane Osborn.
Bringing the plane back under control, Lt. Osborn decided that ditching or bailing out at sea was certain to result in loss of life, so he steered toward Hainan to attempt an emergency landing. Osborn and his crew (22 sailors, one Marine, and one USAF member) became "guests" of the PRC for 11 days until a diplomatic agreement could be reached. The crew was well-treated and not interrogated, but were interviewed.
For the story of their retrieval, read here.
Most of these Silent Warrior stories were already part of service lore before I enlisted; this one I was able to watch unfold from the very best vantage point, an intelligence squadron. Many of us were at least two degrees of separation from members of the crew. As for me, my Number One E-6 (soon to be E-7) had been a student of mine at tech school; he had returned to be an instructor himself and had one of the crewmen in his class. We were all happy with the outcome, and extremely grateful it wasn't the North Koreans involved instead of the Chinese.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Keepers of the Mojo
You may have noticed I've finally put a graphic in my profile. This isn't something I just whipped up; it's actually four years old. The original Hagar the Horrible comic panel and the Chinese characters were my entry for Able Flight's new challenge coin design contest. Here's the story:
A junior officer had embarassed our squadron commander with the Base Brass during a major exercise. "We've lost our Mojo," he was known to have lamented. One evening a week later, our flight, and my crew, scored a major intel find that had the Brass coming in to look over our shoulders. Our commander happily notified us, "You got our Mojo back!" At that point, Able Flight became Keepers of the Mojo. The Hagar comic had been published recently and I thought it would look good on our coin we were trying to design. The characters pronounced in Korean are "mo" meaning "mother" (notice the nipples?) and "cho" (pronounced like "jo") for "morning," the same cho in "Chosun" which means "Morning Calm" and is another word for "Korea." I don't think it ever made it onto a coin, but I used the graphic on the title screen when showing slideshows at Flight gatherings (yeah, I was the Flight Camera Geek). I added the sombrero for Able Flight's Cinco de Mayo celebration at the lounge.
Image courtesy of EC47.com
"Baron 52" was the callsign of an EC-47Q with a flight crew from the 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron and a mission crew from the 6994th Security Squadron. Based at Ubon, Thailand, it was lost over Laos to enemy ground fire on February 4, 1973 -- eight days after the Peace Accords had been signed with North Vietnam. This mission continues to stir the POW/MIA controversy, since only the remains of the front-end crew had been verified at the crash site. Some speculate that the four surviving mission crew members may have been spirited away to North Vietnam or possibly the Soviet Union for interrogation and technical exploitation given their cryptologic backgrounds. For details:
1989 Oral History Interview Transcript
Robert Destatte disputes that any survivors existed or were captured.
Larry O'Daniel disputes Destatte's analysis. As does Steve Golding.
The families of the missing crewmen joined the Bamboo Pipeline.
Wasn't John Kerry one of the politicians in such a hurry to quash the MIA issue in order to normalize relations with Vietnam? I'm just saying.
The USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was much larger than the USS Pueblo and represents a bloody smear cast upon the United States' relations with Israel. An intelligence collection ship in international waters, the Liberty was attacked by Israeli aircraft and warships while operating off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June, 1967, during the Arab-Israeli Six Day War. The attacks killed 34 and wounded 171 men out of a crew of 297, "the worst loss of American naval personnel from hostile action since World War II."
Relevant web sites: USN History site, an article by Eric Margolis, another by John Bourne, one by James Ennes, Jr., a Court of Inquiry site, a Memorial site, and anothers by the Jewish Virtual Library by Mitchell Bard and Michael Oren.
Showing American testicluar fortitude, Liberty declined later Isreali offers of assistance after the "mistake" had been identified and limped to Malta for repairs.
The incident was hushed up by the Johnson Administration, and the commander of Liberty, Commander McGonagle, was quietly awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and his ship awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for her heroic actions during the incident.
The Israeli government maintains that they had mistaken Liberty for an Egyptian horse-carrier, El Quseir, one-fourth of Liberty's size, a dubious claim, but the heroism of Liberty's Silent Warriors remains undisputed.
G E R 2
If they weren't busy performing emergency destruction of classified material pending their imminent capture, the cryptologic technicians aboard the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) may have heard North Korean Navy patrol ships reporting their description and actions back to headquarters. On January 23, 1968, NKN vessels overhauled the slower intelligence collection vessel in international waters and captured the ship, crew, and classified documents left undestroyed. Four crewmen had been wounded by NK gunfire, one (damage control crewman Duane Hodges) later died of his wounds.
Good web sites for this incident are by the USS Pueblo Veteran's Association, Wikipedia, and Mark Evert's salute to the USS Pueblo.
Besides erupting into a bout of internecine finger-pointing, the seizure and captivity of Commander Lloyd Blucher's ship and crew served up a putrid pile of lessons to those in the intelligence collection business. Improving the curriculum in the service survival schools, the incident also proved a good motivational tool in the cryptologic training business. We used to show the TV movie Pueblo in our technical school for that purpose.
The brutality of the Stalinist North Koreans is legendary. I heard that a survival instructor once gave this advice for those about to undergo interrogation at their hands:
Place one of your testicles on the table and smash it with a brick. Hand them the brick. They'll leave you alone afterwards.BTW: I got to meet James Hong who played "Super C" in Pueblo. He's much cooler than Gary Busey.
The USS Pueblo is still in the registry of US Navy vessels, even though it is now docked near Pyongyang and used as a propaganda museum.
Monday, February 14, 2005
They Served in Silence
"This photo above, taken from the gunsight of a Soviet MIG fighter, is of C-130 60528. On board this aircraft were 17 members of the United States Air Force on a normal workday that ended with these men paying the ultimate price for a philosophy of 'Freedom Through Vigilance.' This is a real photograph and on board this aircraft were 17 real men, 17 Silent Warriors."
So reads the caption at the website. Aircraft 60538 was shot down near the Turkish border in 1958, just one of several reconnaisance platforms lost during the Cold War. Silent-Warriors.com is dedicated to the men (and women!) of the US armed forces' aerial reconnaissance crew members who put their lives on the line every day to ensure America is never surprised as was on December 7, 1941. The site is managed by the Propwash Gang, former and current members of the Air Force Security Service, Electronic Security Command, Air Force Intelligence Command, Air Intelligence Agency, (and now 8th Air Force IIRC) .
I was not a Silent Warrior is the same respect as these fine crewdogs; for most of my career, I was a "Chairborne Ranger" doing their job from a safer distance. When I was aircrew, our mission was to ensure that the enemy became silent when we wanted them to. We flew a C-130 much like the one pictured, so the story strikes close to my heart. Our Electric Herk (EC-130H COMPASS CALL) operates as part of carefully planned strike mission, complete with dedicated air cover, while the Silent Warriors operate Alone, Unarmed, and Unafraid. If you're ever in the Fort Meade MD area, visit the National Vigilance Park memorial to the souls who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives conducting "peacetime" reconnaissance.
This is the first of several posts I have planned to honor those warriors of all services who Served in Silence.
Labels: Silent Warriors
Who Are These Guys?
Guess who these folks are and win a homemade blog ad in my sidebar for a month!
Update: This is apparently not as easy as I thought (due to the lousy resolution). No one's made use of the obvious yet. Maybe some of the folks at Castle Argghhh! can figure it out.
Hint: There are guys from two units in this picture. It was snapped in the early 80s. I will also accept the project name or the squadron now performing the mission.
Wrong guesses so far:
Det 2, 67th Information Operations Group
628th Air Mobility Support Squadron
553rd Air Force Band...John!
Squadron 23 Iraqi Air Force & USAF Instructors...good one!
Another Update: There has been one correct response (he nailed it after making the wrong assumption several others have made) but he requested to disqualify himself. Even so, I'll make him a blog ad if he ever decides to publish a blog.
Yet Another Update: Enough people have guessed one group that I'll post it: The flight crew of this aircraft are from the 193d Special Operations Wing, PA Air National Guard, based at Harrisburg IAP. What about the guys in the back?
We Have a Winner! Close enough for government work, anyway.
Jeremy Bol of American Warmonger guessed 193d SOW PANG and 169th Intelligence Squadron UTANG of Senior Scout. The Stormin' Mormons of the 169th have the mission today, and I said I'd accept that. The "self-loading baggage" in the back were actually members of the 6994th Electronic Security Squadron based at Fort Meade MD.
The aircraft is an EC-130E (COMFY LEVI), not a (RIVET RIDER) "Commando Solo" as many have guessed. The RR is a flying radio and television station used for PSYOPS with very distinctive tail antenna. The CL accepts a roll-on, roll-off crew suite and bolt-on antennas , and performs various classified mobility missions.
The 6994th ESS was a descendant of the 6994th Security Squadron detachments who crewed EC-47s during the Viet Nam conflict, and now exists as the 94th Intelligence Squadron. Photo courtesy of the Prop Wash Gang at Silent Warriors.
"Vega-31 is Going Down!"
Nothing clears the sinuses and tightens the sphincter of an airman like a distress call over the radio. On March 27 1999, a USAF officer using callsign "Vega-31" abandoned his aircraft over the Former Republic of Yugoslavia after it had been crippled by a Serb forces surface-to-air missile. Vega-31's evasion and rescue was full of drama for himself and hundreds of service members supporting the NATO strikes.
Great sites on this event here and here.
I actually got to meet Vega-31, who unlike Captain Scott O'Grady, remained in the Air Force after his rescue but doesn't want his name released in association with the event. Vega-31 had some light colonel job in Korea, but really relished giving motivational speeches to airmen. My flight had a low-activity day, so when we were invited to one of these chats, many of us jumped on it. Many of our intel professionals had had a hand in the rescue in some way or other; I tagged along because I was a relatively recent graduate of USAF Survival School and wanted to see how his experiences stacked up compared to O'Grady's.
It was cool that the briefing was classified to the highest clearance we all had in common (that's pretty high). My conclusions were the rescue mission wasn't perfect, but was effective; that Vega-31 had more "on the ball" than O'Grady, and that the intelligence/rescue communities can turn into Mama Grizzly Bear separated from her cub. Pilots knowing they have a team like this behind them motivates them to fight like tigers and such feedback from the iron-droppers made our job that much more satisfying.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Saturday, February 12, 2005
No Way to Run a Saloon
I used to DJ at the unit lounge (oops, Squadron Activities Center) in Korea using my private CD collection, and I prided myself in never repeating a song. Even when the blue-eyed hottie twanger tried to get me to repeat her favorite Shania Twain tune, I held firm. Sure, she could bat her eyes at me, but I knew she was married anyway. Darned if she wasn't used to her not getting her way. I wish VH-1 would dig deeper into their stash of good videos, maybe even a blast from the past, or two. Maybe it's time to surf into Dish Network's Sirius Channels, but I'd much rather have the video diversion.
Friday, February 11, 2005
Got Tired of the Old Template
Just checked my Sitemeter and was excited to see about a dozen visits over a short period. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a spate of Next-Blog hits from Blogger.
Been racking my brain trying to envision my next animation masterpiece. Okay, journeyman piece...FINE!...amateur hack job!
Thursday, February 10, 2005
The Norks Have the Bomb
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
What Happens When Your Girlfriend Moves In
Monday, February 07, 2005
It's a Girl!
Sunday, February 06, 2005
I swear Gracie could hear someone unscrewing the cap on a tube of Ferretvite, a dietary supplement for ferts. Here she is licking the last little bit off her whiskers.
Another Voice Silenced
Best Superbowl Commercials?
Mustang Convertible (driver frozen solid), but I'm biased concerning Mustangs...and the Bud Light Puerto Rican cockatoo.
But it's only Halftime.
Sir Paul, take a bow...that was magnificant!
The field of commercials was lame, the game was close, but ended with lousy clock management by the Eagles. Congrats to the Pats; enjoy your dynasty while it lasts!
A Little Wood
The first shooter's award was a surprise for Jon...his stepson (now living in Virginia) was named Top Pistol-caliber Carbine shooter. Jon had fixed him up with his Glock/Mech-tech carbine for several of his visits to Phoenix and that was enough to accrue points in that discipline. Next, Jon picked up Top Riotgun Open and Riotgun Limited, but since I was the only other regular riotgunner to play all year, I didn't feel slighted for getting no award...I took second place last year when there was a lot more participation (but Jon was off fighting a war).
Jon also brought home Top Carbine, Phil Gallegos took second, and yours truly third. Phil is a Master class pistol shot to Jon's B class, but Jon's more competitive with a long gun. As for me, I just hung around; participation and persistence counts when some matches are held in 100+ degree summer heat. Jon also placed third in Top Limited shooter, the same award I got last year...I'd much rather have Jon around to shoot with than a plaque on the wall.
After they named the league's top shooter, a Spacegunner (Open class), natch, they gave equal attention to the League Service Awards. You gotta love the folks who go the extra yard to make the League such a wonderful organization. From the kid who shows up every match to help set-up and take-down, to the number-crunchers in the Stat Shack, to the Prize Coordinator in the League's big-ticket tournaments...these are the folks who make it worthwhile to drive two hours each way to shoot with a great bunch of folks.
After awards, Terry kicked off the fundraising auction. Several folks brought in items for bidding; Jon donated one of his spare flight suits. I bid on a couple of the RCBS Rockcrusher reloading presses, but didn't "press" enough to win...they went relatively cheaply since this is Dillon Precision Country (I've already got one Dillon progressive and two RCBS singles, but I've been too lazy to reload for years...if I ever get into Cowboy Action Shooting, I might start handloading for .38 and .44 Special). Anyway, I brought home some plastic cartridge boxes, a set of .44 dies, and some solid copper .40 S&W hollowpoint defensive ammo.
I hear they're building a new shooting facility right down the road from me near the Pima County Fairgrounds. If a 3-gun match league springs up there, I might think about joining, but not if their match schedule conflicts with the Cactus League!
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
1. "The 'L' in CENTCOM stands for leadership
2. "At this Command, we have written in large, black letters: DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) on the back of our security badges." Maj (CENTCOM)
3. "'Leaning forward' is really just the first phase of 'falling on your face.'" Marine Col (MARFOREUR)
4. "I am so far down the food chain that I've got plankton bites on my butt."
5. "None of us is as dumb as all of us." Excerpted from a brief (EUCOM)
6. "We're from the nuke shop, sir. We're the crazy aunt in the closet that nobody likes to talk about ..." Lt Col (EUCOM) in briefings
7. "Things are looking up for us here. In fact, Papua-New Guinea is thinking of offering two platoons: one of Infantry (headhunters) and one of engineers (hut builders). They want to eat any Iraqis they kill. We've got no issues with that, but State is being anal about it." LTC (JS) on OIF coalition-building.
8. "The chance of success in these talks is the same as the number of "R's" in "fat chance..."" GS-15 (SHAPE)
9. "His knowledge on that topic is only power point deep..." MAJ (JS)
10. "Ya know, in this Command, if the world were supposed to end tomorrow, it would still happen behind schedule." CWO4 (EUCOM)
Thanks to Scottish Tanker Hooligans, go there for many more.