Saturday, November 16, 2013

UnStolen Valor?

What is the opposite of Stolen Valor? Is it earned humility?

I saw this license plate in my area the other day and it hit me like a two by four upside the head.  I respect this man's service and his honesty. I wish we had more like him.

As with many things in the military, the needs of the service often times is just the luck of the draw. Sometimes you're in the infantry and sometimes you're in the rear with the gear. Sometimes you can become one of Uncle Hyman's Superhuman Advanced Undersea Warriors or you can be stationed on the tender, welded to the pier.

I was surprised to find out that the REMFs even have their own home page. They would prefer the term Rear Echelon Military Forces.  (At least that's what they tell their wives.)

Unfortunately, too many old timers feel the need to embellish their otherwise honorable service by denying what they really did (supply, maintenance, laundry, Armed Forces Radio & TV, etc.) and spinning tales of daring do with the elite special operations units of our services. 

My personal favorite REMF is Pat Sajak.  I have never really heard him talk about his service in Vietnam but they say the Internet has everything and, apparently that is true.

So today we salute you, REMFs for all of that boring, vital stuff you did in the rear with the gear. We also thank you for not overstating your record.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Me & Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy has left us and his death brought back many memories.  When The Hunt for Red October hit
the theaters, yours truly was an inmate of Uncle Hyman's School For Wayward Boys of Orlando.  We were so green our class had yet to get our civies. My bunkmate from Boot Camp had managed to get a pair of passes to the premiere at the Colonial Squid Mall just a few yards out of the main gate.

Every swinging Richard that had ever eaten an oblong sandwich and considered themselves a Sub expert was there to see the Daring Men of the Deep on the Big Screen.  I'm not sure, but there may have even been a pair of actual Dolphins in the theater.  It was here that Clancy's naval masterpiece taught us some very important lessons about the Sub Force:
  1. All US Submariners MUST wear a white turtleneck under their poopie suits.
  2. The Soviet Sub Force had us beat in the chrome department.
  3. Unrated Seaman freely float in and out of Sonar according to their whims.
  4. Russian Senior Captains don't take a dump without a plan.
  5. Clancy in his pseudo uniform
  6. And, Some things don't react well with bullets. 
After shipping over into the fleet, the COB, 1st Lt. and Deck Div LPO completed the process of un-educating me about Hollywood's vision of Submarines.

Some years later, I was home from the fleet enjoying dinner with friends, several hundred miles from salt water.  The door to the restaurant opens and in walks a gentleman who apparently just walked off of the D&S piers.  He was clad in all khaki with an A-1 Flight Jacket and Aviator sunglasses.  My first thought was, "Look at this wannabe.  Who does he think HE is, Tom Clancy?"  Well, sportsfans.  That is exactly who it was.

I waited for him to get seated at the bar and light up his smoke before I made my approach. (This was back in the good old days when you could actually smoke in a bar/restaurant w/o having the SWAT team descend on the Applebees.) I walked over and introduced myself as a veteran of the Ustafish and his reaction was priceless.  "Aw Jeez, here we go again," he said.  He then introduced to his dining companion.   Commodore Douglas Littlejohns, RN Ret. formerly Commander of Her Majesty's Submarine Sceptre.  He was a close friend of Clancy's and had been brought across the pond to run Clancy's gaming software company, Red Storm Entertainment. 

Clancy & Littlejohns didn't have to spend their time making small talk with a former junior petty officer that night but the fact that they did reflected greatly on their character. We talked about the Cold War, the Falklands and politics.  Apparently, some of Senator Jesse Helms' political strategists had tried to talk Clancy into running for the Senate from Maryland.  Can you imagine appearing before Senator Clancy's Armed Services Committee?

Clancy never served in the military due to his poor eyesight.  Had he served, he would have never been able to write the novels that he did.  He possessed a knack for learning about the US's technical capabilities and the using that base of knowledge to forecast the next logical advance.  Rumor has it that military intelligence hauled him in early in his literary career and grilled him about who his sources were.

Tom, Fair Winds & Following Seas on your voyage to Valhalla.  No greater friend have the US Navy, her Submarines & Sailors ever had than Tom Clancy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Israeli Submarines

For a country about the size New Jersey, Israel packs quite a punch.  Surrounded by hostile neighbors that have invaded the country more than once, Israel has defied the odds.  It took the Israeli Navy a couple of years after independence to reach the decision that the Jewish state needed the finest naval weapon known to man: the Submarine.

The Father of Israeli Submarines was actually born in Mexico.  Yosale Dror came to Palestine as a child and became an underground fighter in the Jewish pioneer naval militia, the Palyam. He specialized in diving and help sink several British ships that were being used to deport Jews.  Dror became convinced the the submarine platform was vital to Israel's military interests and began to urge for the creation of the IDF Submarine Force. After several years of persuasive lobbying, his efforts paid off.  (Incidentally, he also help found the Shayetet 13, the Naval Commandos.)

Israeli Naval Commando Badge
Israel sent 28 volunteers to Toulon, France to be trained as Submariners.  Israel was then able to acquire British S & T Class Boats.  One the T Boats, the Dakar, never made it to Israel.  It was lost somewhere off the coast of Cyprus. The next step was the creation of the Gal Class Boat based on the the German 206A Class Submarine.  The current hulls being used by the IDF are the German built Dolphin Class.

The Israeli Submarine Force has had extensive use during Israel's wars with its Arab neighbors with numerous covert insertions of troops.  During the Six Day War in 1967, the INS Tannin launched an attack on targets in Egypt's Alexandria harbor using torpedoes and embarked naval commandos. As a result of that action, crewmen of the Tannin we authorized to use a red background with their submarine qualification badge while the rest of the fleet use a blue background.

Today's Israeli Submarines may also pack a bit more heat than their neighbors.  There are rumors to the effect that Israel possesses nuclear strike capabilities.  (The Israelis will neither confirm nor deny their nuclear capabilities but, let's just say, a betting man would take the odds.)  It is also rumored that these nuclear capable subs are on patrol off of the Iranian coast thus, giving Israel both first strike and second strike capabilities.

Today's Sub fleet includes:
INS Dolphin
INS Leviathan ("Whale")
INS Tekumah ( "Revival")
INS Tannin ("Crocodile")
INS Rahav ("Dragon")
with another possible boat to be delivered in the the near future.

 Israeli Submarine Qualification Badges are unique in that each badge is numbered so that each Submariner is known by his number.  With 10 years service, the badge is upgraded to the Senior Submariner Badge which has a Star of David and wreath added to the top.

Without a doubt, the Submarines of Israel are No Slack, Fast Attack.

Should you want to get your own Israeli Submarine Badge just click the banner below: