Monday, May 25, 2015

The first and the last* **





Our helo was on the outbound leg of a standard plane guard orbit. The boat was shooting jets and preparing to recover aircraft from the first go of the day. I didn't see the crash.

I heard the Boss's call though.

"PLANE IN THE WATER, OFF THE BOW!"

Our Sea King made a quick, steep banked turn, followed by an immediate call.

"Jaguar's tally, inbound."

Over the ICS, "S-3, four chutes."

In the back I was shucking out of my SV-2/LPA, flight suit and boots, and shucking into fins, mask and snorkel, and SAR vest. It was January in the Mediterranean, so I was already wearing a wet suit.

Training. The muscle memory of endless training was driving my body, freeing my mind to prepare, review, anticipate. This would be my first real swimmer deployment. Part of my mind recognized a gut filled with butterflies. Another part was icy calm and professional.

I sat in the door as we came to a hover. Twenty feet below an aviator struggled with a sodden and sinking parachute. There was blood in the water.

"Go, Go, GO," shouted the crew chief, each "go" accompanied by a slap on the back. I levered myself out and dropped feet-first into the sea behind the survivor, sweeping shroud lines aside as I plunged beneath the surface, then spinning the man to face me as I bobbed back up.

Automatic. Training.

About a third of his head was gone.

I signaled the situation to the crew chief and the helo moved off, horse collar descending as the rescue hoist paid out cable. There were three other aviators in the water.

I opened the koch fittings on the victim's torso harness and let the chute sink away into the depths. I pulled the beads on his LPA and he bobbed higher in the water as the flotation lobes filled with gas.

Then I waited, one hand clasped to the victim's harness, and watched the rescue unfold. The helo plucked one survivor from the sea and sped off toward the boat. Another helo hovered over another sinking parachute. The ship's motor whaleboat chugged past, heading for the fourth parachute.

Eventually the whaleboat returned. Their rescue had become a recovery as well. We chugged back to the ship with the mortal husks of two American heroes aboard. The other helo delivered a third hero to the flight deck.



########################################################################################################



The boat shuddered as she crashed through storm tossed Mediterranean waves. Another January in the Med. Different boat, different decade. The storm was a big one and the Ageless Warrior was closed up tight, sailing into the heavy seas. White water was coming over the bow, lashing the jets and helos chained to the deck with heavy weather tie downs. There was no flying, of course, and the weather decks and sponsons were secured. It was far too dangerous for men to venture outside the confines of the ship.


A few minutes after a particularly severe wave-crashing shudder came the "medical emergency" call over the 1-MC. The medical response team dashed off. Reports began coming in, and they weren't good.

"CPR."

"Can't get an airway."

"Defibrillating."

As the stretcher bearers bustled into the treatment room with the injured sailor, the surgeon took one look and told me to scrub.

"You'll have to rub his heart."

I scrubbed and donned gloves.

With the casualty on the table the surgeon called for a knife, then slashed the chest open on the left side.

"Spreader."

As I turned from donning my gloves I heard the ratcheting sound of the rib spreader opening, allowing access to the heart. I slid my hands into the sailors chest and clasped the heart between opposing palms. The heart should have been turgid with blood and beating, but it was flaccid and still.

"Heart's flat," I reported.

The surgeon glanced at me and mimed "heart compression" with his bloody hands, then quickly performed a stab thoracotomy on the right side of the chest. The internal pressure of hemorrhage in the chest was relieved, finally making it possible to get air in. The gas passer quickly placed an endotracheal tube and began squeezing the ambu bag.

As I compressed the heart, I could feel the left lung inflating. A good sign?

A pair of flight surgeons started large bore IV's, one in each arm, and began administering Ringer's Lactate as fast as it would flow. The gas passer injected a cocktail of medicines to make the heart beat and raise blood pressure.

Within my hands the sailor's heart began to quiver in fibrillation. Another good sign?

On the floor of the treatment room a pool of blood began to grow, supplied by a steady stream flowing out of the casualty's mangled torso.

As room-temperature Ringer's Lactate replaced warm blood, the sailor's heart began to cool.

Then it stopped fibrillating.

The senior medical officer stuck his head in the compartment.

"I've activated the walking blood bank," he said. "How much will we need?"

The surgeon glanced at the casualty and quickly, silently polled the treatment team. He sighed.

"We won't need any, Spud."










*With apologies to Dolfo Galland.
**This was supposed to go this morning, but Blogger did what I told it to do, not what I wanted it to do.

Friday, May 22, 2015

9.80665 m/s^2





And of course this made me think of this:


This one's long, but might be worth your time.








Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What can YOU do?





We all know what Memorial Day is, right?

It’s the first day of summer, according to the rocket surgeons in major media, and one of the 15-25 or so days of the year that most government employees, bank employees, and selected others get paid to stay home to burn meat and drink beer.

Since it’s a paid holiday, some may wonder what the celebration is all about. What does it represent?

Something about dead people I think.
S
Anyway, here are a couple of points to ponder.

The other day I had a conversation with a local person who told me that it was their right to have people die for them. “I expect people in the military to die for me,” this person said, “that’s what they get paid for and it’s my civil right. It’s in the Bill of Rights, “Freedom from Fear and Worry.” (Some slight confusion there with FDR’s notion about government guaranteed freedoms).

On the same day I had a conversation with a veteran. “The only reason this country exists is because of the military,” he said. “The only reason!”

So, to cut to the chase, they were both utterly wrong.

In the first case, let’s think it through from the first founding principles of America. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

No one is better than another, no one is worse. We are all fundamentally human. And not just human, each of us is a sovereign human being, independent and the master of our own lives. None of us are slaves, and none of us are slave owners.

Nor are we owned by the government. The very next sentence has this to say: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”


Given the above, how can anyone believe that they have the right to have others die for them for any reason, let alone to shield them from fear and worry?

How? It’s pretty simple, really. This is what the young adult person I was talking to has been taught. This is what that person believes to be true.

This being the case, I find it hard to be judgmental. The person is misguided, and in my opinion has been used shabbily by the education system and the popular ideological mainstream narrative. Life is going to be unnecessarily hard for this person as they struggle with learning about reality and the universal truths our nation was founded on.

My veteran friend is another matter. I’m quite cross with him and quite -- irritated -- by his attitude. Sure, he served in the military, and that’s a wonderful thing. But it’s not the only thing. Where does he think his pay, clothing, food, equipment, and everything else he touched or used in the Army came from? And does he think that having served two years in the military that he’s done with serving his country, done with working hard to be an American?

This nation is not the united states of the military. It is the United States of America. We are all sovereign citizens. None of us are better or worse than our fellows. We all play vital and important roles. The neurosurgeon is every bit as good as the ditch digger. These truths are described in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.

My veteran friend seems to have forgotten this. I wonder if he remembers the oath he swore when he joined the Army?

"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

I wonder if he remembers that the oath of enlistment has no expiration date?

There would be no military if the sovereign citizens of this nation did not provide for it. It’s become quite popular to “thank a vet” these days, but in my view it should be equally popular for veterans to thank their civilian fellows, not only for funding and supplying the military, but for granting us veterans the opportunity to serve our nation in the military capacity.

Back to Memorial Day. Despite my rather tongue-in-cheek statements at the beginning of this piece, most Americans know perfectly well that Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor the sacrifice of those who fell in military service.

Whether Americans take the opportunity to do so is up each individual. We’re all sovereign citizens. We can’t be compelled by the government or by our fellows to yield such honor. As free men and women, we make our own choice in the matter. Period.

Now if you’ve read this far you might agree with me that the United States of America is an extraordinary place, and that to be a citizen of this great nation is perhaps the greatest boon any human can have.

You might also be frustrated and worried about the state of our nation; apathetic and selfish people, overreaching government bureaucracies, the erosion of civil liberties, the encouragement of selfishness and the discouragement of selflessness. You might be wondering, “what can I do about the mess our country is in?”

In short, you might be asking yourself, “what can I do about how messed up all these other people are?”

The best answer is the simplest answer. Do what’s on your own plate first. To paraphrase scripture, don’t worry about the speck in your neighbor’s eye until you’ve removed the rock from your own eye. In other words, be the best human being you can be. When you’ve got that mastered, then you can branch out. And when you’re ready to branch out, you’ll find that the key is to lead rather than to compel. Leadership is 99 percent example, and only one percent direction. If you do it right, when you’re ready to branch out and start fixing the mess, you’ll find that you accidentally began leading somewhere along the line.

The point isn’t to fix all the problems of society. In a land of sovereign citizens, the land of e pluribus unum, our job is to be the best Americans we can be, and to treat our fellow sovereign humans the way we wish to be treated. A equals, not as “them,” not as “the other side.” Not as helpless victims, nor as superior or special. Not as “the problem,” but as the precious human beings they are.

It’s not always easy. But it’s always right.

The problems of American society will only be fixed by sovereign Americans, the many become one, Americans living principled lives based on the natural truths of our national founding.

We can have differences. We're supposed to have differences. As sovereign Americans we respect our differences because we respect each others sovereignty.

Since we’re talking about Memorial Day...

Fred Lincoln Hewitt, III was 76 when he passed away on May 14. Fred was born September 25, 1938 in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from The Pingry School in 1956 and from Hamilton College in 1960. After graduating from college he joined the navy via the Naval Officer Candidate School in Rhode Island.
Fred Hewitt, 1938-2015. RIP Shipmate.

Initially he served in the Guided Missile Cruiser USS Boston, followed by a stint as an instructor at NOCS. His next assignment was flight training at Pensacola, Florida. Fred had been due to get out of the navy, but decided to stay in after thinking about President Kennedy's famous speech "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

At that time he did not know if he would make the Navy a career, but he felt he could "give more years to his country." Later on he survived 205 missions over North Vietnam in the Grumman A-6 Intruder and had 352 carrier landings. He served in A-6 squadrons VA-42, VA-85, VA-75 and VA-34. Fred was awarded the Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 16 Air Medals.
Punchers, 1967. Fred Hewitt is back row, 8th from left.
After 13 years, Fred decided to leave the Navy in order to spend more time with his family. From 1973 through retirement, he served as a high school Athletic Director, history teacher and ice hockey coach, both here in the states and overseas.

Fred married and had a family. He leaves behind a wife of 53 years, four daughters, and eight grandchildren. He also leaves behind the legacy of a sovereign American citizen who lived a great American life. There simply weren’t many days in Fred’s life when he wasn’t leading by example, making a difference, serving his nation and humanity as a whole.

So on Memorial Day, if you’re so inclined, think about and honor the sacrifice of those who fell in service to America.

And if you really, really want to honor that sacrifice, if you really want to thank a vet, then do it this way:

Be a great American. Live a big, rich, great American life.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Roots






Nature

A rancher is a grass farmer. In this part of the country the grass farmer uses cattle to harvest the bounty of nature’s grass production. As the cattle eat the grass, they use its energy, protein and nutrients to grow and reproduce. Calves born to the cows are the grass farmer’s crop, which he trades for cash.


Most people see the cattle and ignore the grass, and tend to think that the cattle are the key. Without the grass, however, there can be no cattle, so that notion is exactly backwards. The grass is the key; the beginning, middle and end. And it supports more than cattle.


When you change your focus from cattle to grass, a whole different world opens up, and nature begins to reveal her symmetry and majesty.

So look at the grass. What do you see? Green stems and luscious green leaves, packed with everything cattle need to grow and reproduce. But look a little bit closer. The leaves and stems are more than cow food, they’re autonomous grass production machines. The green is the green of chlorophyll, the catalyst of photosynthesis, which transforms radiant sun energy into metabolic energy, combining carbon dioxide, water and nutrients to the carbohydrate of grass growth and production.


There’s more, though. Just as you can miss the grass by looking at the cows, so too can you miss the grass by looking only at the leaves and stems.


Beneath the surface of the soil, the grass roots extend down at least as far -- and usually much farther -- than the leaves and stems extend up. Leaves and stems need water and nutrients, after all, and those things live in the soil.


Without access to water and nutrients, and without a firm anchor to the earth, grass can’t begin to grow, let alone produce cow food. Strong, healthy roots are the key to the grass.


There are other kinds of roots.


Family


As the sky lightens in the east, I’m sitting on soft, green, cool season grass, mostly green needle and western wheat grass. I lean back in comfort against a timeworn hump of siltstone. I’m nearly in the center of a pasture we call the North Googie. The air is cool still and fragrant with the smell of prairie-May and cattle.
My North Googie stopping place as range management classroom.
Around me I hear the quiet sound of cow-calf footfalls, the soft grinding of cow-calf chewing, the dim rumble of cow-calf rumination. The waning gibbous moon hangs fat and bright over my right shoulder, providing plenty of light to take in the scene. The pairs are grazing north-to-south, moving along the low ground at a steady pace, selectively grazing on nature’s tender springtime bounty. As sunrise nears, morning twilight fills the air and the still somewhat shadowy animals gain substance, dim shapes becoming distinct and shaped like what they are – cattle.


I’ve come to check these cattle, but I’ve come early enough to enjoy the transition from too-cool springtime night into the beauty of sunrise. Wrapped in cool beauty and surrounded by natural wonder, my mind dashes down thought-filled brain corridors as each sensation prompts staccato flood of thoughts.


The cattle grazing around me are in the midst of a remarkable transformation. The cows have only recently given birth and are heavily lactating. As if that isn’t enough, they are also cycling back toward reproduction. The calves are growing like weeds on a diet of rich milk and an increasing ration of grass. The grass combines water, nutrients and carbon with the power of the sun to make more grass. The cows and calves eat the grass and use it to make flesh and bone and sinew. In that sense the cattle are concentrated sunshine. Calves yet to be born will be made up, in part, by today's sunshine.


People will eat the beef these cattle produce. Hamburgers yet to be consumed will become flesh and bone and sinew. In that sense people are concentrated sunshine. Babies yet to be born will be made up, in part, by today's sunshine.


This springtime slice of the cycle of life is remarkable to me, but only because I pause to give it thought. Otherwise it is simply nature at work, and nature does her work whether I think about it or not. Although we spend lots of time and more than a little effort managing our ranching operation, nature is really in charge here, at least in charge of the important stuff.


I smile as the cattle graze on by. Just as it’s important to manage the ranch to the best of our abilities, so also is it important to understand the reality of one’s place in nature.


My thoughts shoot down another passageway, one echoing with voices from the past. How many times, I wonder, have people paused here to enjoy mid-spring coolness and the impending beauty of sunrise?


I have no way to know, of course. It seems a perfect pausing place, and I’d be unsurprised to find evidence of previous use. Yet the land is wide, with many possible paths, and people – compared to the vastness of the land – are few, even at their present six-billion-plus number.


I think about a letter penned by my maternal great-grandmother Oda and addressed in 1970 to my grandparents. The letter describes, in two pages of sparse but detail-packed paragraphs, Oda’s marriage to Sam in Kentucky, their subsequent migration to a homestead in New Mexico, and ultimately, back to a farm in Adams County, Neb.


“(We) were married Apr. 20, 1904 at a lumber camp in Lee Co., Ky. Pastor was an old man who came on a mule across the Mts. from Owsley Co., Ky. Mamma had dinner soon as the ceremony was over. They had a square dance at the house that night. There was no work at the mill that day…


“In summer of 1909, Sam went to New Mexico & took up a homestead. He paid $550…we picked up bag & baggage & got to Estancia, New Mexico. The shack was very small, 10 x 16 ft. It was fun at first, but money ran out & first crop burned up – so dry. Sam went to Albuquerque to look for work. The children & I stayed on the claim, as the family had to stay 7 months of the year. We had 2 horses & a neighbor worked them while Sam was gone. Every week the children and I went 11 miles to Estancia to get groceries and mail. Sam would send me a little money. We proved the claim in Dec. 1909. Sam came back to prove up & we went back to Belen with him. Dale was born 5 days after we got back…


“Dale left us 28 Sept. 1915, and it was a sad time. He was at a cute age, 2 years, 9 months. In August 1917, Sam decided he wanted to visit his brother in Nebraska so he got a pass on the railroad. He rented a farm and went back to New Mexico and disposed of the household goods. We got to Nebraska 2 August 1917…


“The first year, we got hailed out, but Sam had good luck with hogs and with chickens. By this time, both girls had to go to high school. Mae worked for her board and came home on week ends. She taught school at 17, Wilma at 16. They took Normal training at Kennesaw, Neb.”


Oda lived to be 99 years old. Sam died in 1973 at 94. They were never very successful at farming, but farming isn’t the yardstick to gauge a successful life. How many Americans could do today what Sam and Oda did a century ago?
Oda working hard at 95.
Oda, son in law Ed, 1975.
My grandparents came of age during the Great Depression, living a life I can only imagine, never understand. My grandmother Burback was born into an immigrant family of German-Russians.
German-Russian immigrants Henry and Anna Burback on their farm, 1950.
Consider this – consider hoeing beets every day from planting to harvest, starting in the fields as soon as you were able to pick up a hoe. All day, every day, except when school was in session, when you worked the fields before and after school. And except for a few hours on Sunday when you went to church.


Before heading to the fields in the morning there were chores to do – a cow or two to milk, horses to feed, hogs to slop, chickens to feed and eggs to gather. And the same chores in the evening, after a day in the fields and at school.


Consider living in a one-room shack with your parents and a dozen siblings. A home where German was the tongue, but where the children were expected to master flawless English.


Where there was no indoor plumbing, just a hand well and a privy. A single cast iron stove for warmth. Consider spending countless chill winter hours gathering coal along the railroad tracks, one lump at a time, to burn in that stove, to stave off the killing cold.


Consider the deep terror caused by a winter sniffle when there was no money for a doctor and the doctors had no antibiotics.


Consider living and working in those conditions and being expected to be neat, clean and polite, to show and live your family pride and thrift and honesty and integrity.


No computer. No I-Pod. No television. No Radio. No refrigerator, microwave, toaster, no range. Just a coal stove. No car. No bus to ride to school.


Yet they were clean and neat and polite and well fed and didn’t see the hardship of walking to school and to the fields.


Consider the courage and the deep and abiding love it took to get married and start a family in those hard times. Consider the scrimping and saving and the hard physical labor it took to acquire land and machinery and start to farm while raising a family. Consider the delight and the warm glow of success at being able to purchase your very own radio.


Consider building, with the labor of your family alone, a modest but successful farm and ranch. Building your own barn. Your own home. Hiring laborers. Putting in one of the first pivots in the county. Watching your daughters grow and marry and start families of their own.


Consider working hard and building every day throughout the long but oh-so-brief years. Feeding the county, and the state, and the nation, and the world. Building and keeping an honored and honorable name.


By the time I came on the scene killing labor was a thing of the past, the depression only a word. But the reality of those things remained in the weathered skin and strong, ropy muscles of those who had lived it. And in the stories they told of “hard times.” Stories told with honest laughter and verisimilitude only those who’ve lived it can bring.


I am blessed with countless sweet, loving memories of these people and the way they lived their lives, working hard and without complaint. Clean, neat, well dressed, honest, forthright, giving. Loving.


I think of my great-grandmother, Maude Evertson, who so often told me of her love for the prairie, and her contention that most of it should never have been plowed and farmed. I can’t help but wonder whether she’d ever beheld the beauty of a May sunrise from the North Googie. Perhaps yes, perhaps no. I think about the wonders she must have beheld back when the prairie was essentially undisturbed, when there were no county roads nor REA lines and fences were few and far between. When Indians still occasionally trotted across the landscape on short, colorful horses.
Maude Evertson, Helen Evertson, dogs and a child, Blizzard of '49.
Mickey Evertson, Evert Jay Evertson, 1945.
Maude Evertson, 1955.

Maude and her Mama, ca 1890.
These things are roots also.


Nation


America is an idea living in the hearts of a diverse people in a wide and varied place. E Pluribus Unum. These are, in part, our American roots:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...
No person shall be held to answer for a capital... crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury...; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury... be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military JusticeSo help me God."




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Stearmans





Sarge has some great pics up of the WWII aircraft flyover that took place in the District of Corruption over the weekend. One of the images featured a flock of Stearmans (no, not Stearmen) flying over the USDA.

Which made me think how refreshing it would have been had the whole lot -- more than 40 aircraft including heavy bombers -- pickled fused ordnance over that special place.

But I digress. The Stearmans made me think of a visit three of those noble steeds made to KIBM last year.

In chatting with the pilots, I mentioned Stephen Coonts' book The Cannibal Queen. "Throw it away," they chorused, "that path leads to madness and financial ruin!"

Having read the book, you see, each of them -- former Air Force and Navy pilots -- had rushed out and snapped up a Stearman.

So they were mad and nearly broke, but living the dream. Not a bad trade.

And so with no more silly words at all, here are a few images. Click for larger.