Sunday, February 28, 2016

August 1864 a Civil War Naval Adventure

Captain John Taylor Wood was the commander of a fast cruiser named the Tallahassee during the American Civil War. During a single month, under Wood’s command, the Tallahassee captured more than 30 enemy ships . Some days, she captured as many as four or five ships in one day.

 H.V. Rhodes, a retired U.S. Naval officer wrote August 1864 a Civil War Naval Adventure and the amount of extensive research he put into his book is evident. 

Through narrative and realistic dialogue, he carries readers back in time, to naval warfare as it was 152 years ago and brings his characters to life, filled with virtues, flaw and a natural authenticity. It's easy to believe his characters, or people like them, existed.  Rhodes dramatically and honestly captures the emotions of the men, and sometimes women, on these ships as well as persons on land, those who influenced the sailors from afar. 

As with many wars, some battles are fought, won and lost in boardrooms and staterooms, behind closed doors, within the documents of politicians and the voice of public opinion or in the media. Rhodes touches on this but does not overwork the theme.

His use of romance and intrigue make readers yearn to know more about the era when dialogue portrayed the polite civility common to the time when men apologized for using foul language that is gentler than what can be heard on today's school playgrounds. 

His familiarity within the Navy's chain of command and strong research easily bridges the gap between pure history and dramatic fiction.

I recommend August 1864 to everyone who enjoys reading about romance, political intrigue or historical events or life at sea.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Retirement on the horizon

Not my retirement, but my sailor son's, looms and now he has begun the dreaded health checks with the VA. I'll never understand why that organization twists veterans the way it does. Rather than being easy to navigate and help the vets, it seems to rejoice in finding new ways to perplex and confound.

Case in point: His first appointment with the VA is in a facility more than 150 mile from where he lives. That appointment is at 8 in the morning. Then he has two more, with the last of the day at 2 in the afternoon. The next morning, he has another appointment nearer his home, then, the next day, more appointments after driving more than 2 hours.

I'm grateful he doesn't have anything "major" wrong with him, at least by their standards.

Monday, November 9, 2015

I recently had the honor and privilege to read a book written by WWII Navy veteran, Henry Scott Harris. I'd been assigned to read and review the book for one of my writing clients and my first thought was, "Oh, no, not another self-published book."

As a whole, self-published authors often forego the need for an editor. Everybody needs an editor. I can find mistakes in best-selling books, but the self-published books' errors often make reading difficult and unpleasant. All Blood Runs Red is the exception. Oh, it has mistakes and I yearned to grab my red pen and dig into them, but the mistakes were minor typos and infrequent.

They did not diminish my reading pleasure of this historical novel at all.

Traces of Harris' naval career showed up when Bullard spoke of keeping his head on a swivel and I chuckled. I appreciated the author's military background as he described the French Legion's equivalent of MEPS.

Harris is all that I admire about the US Navy. He set about to right an injustice. If you thought the Tuskegee Airmen were the first pilots in US military aviation, you're going to want to pick up a copy of All Blood Runs Red.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

At no cost to Taxpayers

This summer, the USS George H.W. Bush underwent maintenance for, among other things, repairs to the faulty Vacuum flush toilet "heads" that had sailors standing in line for hours, doing what some reporters called "the pee pee dance." At no cost to taxpayers, the repairs have been made. Washington Post reporter Al Kamen wrote:
The Navy is working to finally fix a chronic problem that has been bedeviling sailors aboard its newest aircraft carrier — clogged toilets.
Kamen linked to an earlier article by Michael Welles Shapiro of the Daily Press, a Virginia newspaper. Shapiro reported that special anti-snag devices had been installed in the toilet drainage lines that would prevent future clogs. He also reported:
EVAC has not charged the Navy for the work.
EVAC of North America Inc. headquartered in Cherry Valley, Ill. is the company that built the waste management system on the Bush and executed the repairs, which included reconfiguring the system to increase its capacity.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

If I had become a sailor

If I had become a sailor, I might not have been retained by the ERB and I might be facing early dismissal. But, I'm not a sailor. If I had become a sailor, I might have been assigned to the USS George HW Bush's maiden voyage and I would have had to deal with the ship's malfunctioning heads. But, I'm not a sailor. If I had become a sailor, I know I would not have had the freedom to become a HANC for my mother. If you want to know more about what a HANC is, visit 37 Not-necessarily-easy-steps to become a Master HANC

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thoughts from others on the Navy

I thought I'd share the thoughts of some other people who had something to say about sailors and the Navy.
No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned... a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company.
Samuel Johnson
The Ancient Mariner would not have taken so well if it had been called The Old Sailor.
Samuel Butler
The Marine Corps is the Navy's police force and as long as I am President that is what it will remain. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin's.
Harry S. Truman

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sailors Against ERB

Sailors Against ERB is a group on Facebook that is trying to help make sense of the early release from contracts for almost 3,000 sailors. Recently, it posed the question:
Is anyone being required by their command to get their Warfare Device? The pin will only help the command numbers, not a sailor being ERB'd out. I know a sailor that has been told if they don't they will receive a bad separation eval. Is this happening to you or someone else you know? I'm sure Captain (Steve) Holmes (director, Military Community Management at Navy Personnel Command) would like to know the commands names....
A Warfare Device is an official insignia that is added to a uniform.

One responder said: Surely you aren't implying that ERB'd sailors should stop meeting requirements of their current job... That only stands to HURT any chances they have to a reversal of the decision to separate them.

Others responded with:

why should anyone getting seperated out really care. the navy is a cooperation not a branch of the military anymore of which is ran by a bunch of idiots. Who really wants to stay at a place that doesn't care about them anymore. We are being punished for be to close to retirement so officers and E-9 can get their full retirement. I will be glad not to be apart of all this crap anymore.
In my command if you don't have it after 18 months of being on Sea Duty then you should get a counseling chit every month there after until you get it, because it's required to challenge other people in the same rank for evals. They haven't said anything about getting a bad eval upon separation. But honestly it didn't help me in my situation when I got ERB'D so I don't see the use of it anymore.
One responder said:
Im Dual qualed and the only E-5 in my division dual qualed and I am getting ERB'd. So I dont see how it helps anyone compete with anyone else. I would still get the pins though because its one of the only things the navy cant take away from you and it looks good on the uniforms.

Another countered with:
Your warfare pins can get taken away. They don't do it much anymore but that is a real kick in the face. COs used to do it at mast instead of busting you down. I don't think anyone getting out this summer should be forced to do anything but prepare to look for other opportunities.

Sailors deployed on the USS George HW Bush have been informed they can be taken to Captain's Mast for relieving themselves in places other than the ship's heads. In Novem1, the heads were locked in an ownership experiment of the few working heads on the aircraft carrier. As soon as the media ran the truth of the story, the cipher locks were reset and sailors were free to use whatever facilities they could find that worked. The world's most modern and most expensive aircraft carrier isn't scheduled to be upgraded until May 2012.

One sailor said:
It is mandatory in the Navy. However, who cares about a bad separation eval? Honestly, most employers have no idea what the stuff on an eval means. This is just poor leadership trying to beef up their numbers. Its all about the FITREPs. Its all about "Equal Opportunity" (ie picking less qualified officer candidates because of gender/race). This is what Big Navy is coming to. The ball can't be stopped from rolling down the hill. I'd tell the Sailor not to get the pin.
The devices cost from $2.55 to $15 apiece.

A sailor who was was told the Enlistment Retention Board had decided to release him or her from the Navy's contract early has placed a positive spin on this.
I'm gonna use my warfare qualifications on my resumes and bring it up during Job interviews. "I have my information dominance and surface pins before i was ERB'd out, so I'm exactly what this company needs"

What the Navy has done to thousands of sailors, many of whom did not deserve it, is similar to what has been done to millions of civilians for many years - the only difference is these sailors are active-duty military. Tax-payers fund the military.

What's next?