Monday, August 29, 2011

Career Choices

"Give Me Operations" by Oscar Brand.

(The annotator has it wrong, he sang "rockets, radar and AB" (afterburner).

Fairchild jet fighters were indeed ground-loving whores. The joke used to be that if they built a runway that went around the world, Fairchild would build a jet fighter that would use every inch of it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Albert Brown, R.I.P.

He was the oldest survivor of the Bataan Death March. Born in Nebraska, he was Buffalo Bill Cody's godson and Henry Fonda's cousin. He was 36 when the Death March occurred.

Monday, August 8, 2011

USS Monitor

This is the inside of the turret (inverted):

A lot of details about the Monitor's design are in this article in the NY Times.

This is what I found fascinating: The War Department in 1861 opened a public competition to design a new class of warships. The designs had to be submitted in a month. They built the ship in four months. From one end to the other, it was a ship with new technologies and it was in combat a month after that.

The closest thing that I've heard to that was the first class of LSTs, which went from the beginning of design at BuShips to sea trials in less than a year. Over a thousand were built during the war. One of them is still working for a living.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Scenes From Wardrooms

All places and names have been changed to protect the guilty.

In port, San Diego, Sunday morning: A number of officers are having breakfast. Between the oncoming and offgoing duty sections, plus the handful of junior officers who live aboard the ship, maybe a third of the officers are there.

A young female officer walks through the wardroom. She is wearing a rather short skirt and a low-cut shiny top. She has on flats and is carrying a pair of spike-heeled sandals.

The Ops Boss looks at her and says: “That’s a pretty risque outfit to wear to church, Cindy.”

The Weapons Officer doesn’t even glance up from his plate of eggs. “She’s just returned aboard, Ops,” he says, and adds, sotto voce, “you fucking moron.”

Port visit, Haifa, Israel: It is Saturday night and officers are gathering in the wardroom to go out for a steak and some nightclubbing.

The Weapons Officer is waxing ecstatically: “Man, this is one friendly town. The women are fantastic. Anybody can get laid in this place.”

The Chief Engineer is skeptical. “Even the EWO?* I got a hundred bucks, says that you can’t get him laid, not without hiring a hooker.”

Weaps: “Hell, I’ll take that bet.” Other officers offer up bets, as well, and soon there is about $500 riding on whether the Weapons Officer can get the EWO laid.

Then the EWO, who knows nothing about this, walks into the wardroom. He is wearing plaid trousers and a striped shirt. He is the poster child for bad taste. The Weapons Officer takes one look at him and yells: “The bet is off!”

In port, Norfolk, VA: The admiral commanding Surflant** pays a visit to a destroyer tender to talk to a few commanders of repair activities. After the conference, the admiral meets with the officers of the tender for a little morale-boosting. During the meeting, the admiral says something along the lines of: “Earlier this year, I went to Charleston and Mayport. The piers on those waterfronts are so clean that you could eat off them, but the piers in Norfolk are shithouses. We need to do better here in Norfolk.”

That pronouncement is met with an audible snort from the tender’s Repair Officer. The Captain doesn’t let it pass: “Commander, you have something to add?”

The Repair Officer*** says: “Yes, sir. Is the Admiral referring to his visit to Mayport in April?”

The admiral said that he was.

“I was stationed there,” the Repair Officer said. “They shut down the fucking waterfront for three days prior to the Admiral’s visit just to clean up all of the crap. They washed the piers, removed all of the stuff from the piers and even painted the guard shacks.

“But if the Admiral were to hop on a plane and go down there right now, unannounced, I guarantee he won’t see anything different in either Mayport or Charleston than what he sees right here, right now, in Norfolk.”
* Electronic Warfare Officer.
** "Surflant", or Commander, Surface Forces Atlantic, was the "type commander". His job was to ensure that the ships were ready.
*** He was actually a lieutenant commander limited duty officer who, if my recollection is accurate, was about fifteen days away from retiring.