Posts filed under ‘Lessons Learned’

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (June 19, 2021)

Eagle Has Landed.

(Photo courtesy U.S. Embassy Reykjavik, Kristjan Petersson) Please click on the photo to enlarge the image.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle — “America’s Tall Ship” — arrives in Reykjavik, Iceland on June 9, 2021.

The Eagle is a three-masted sailing barque and the only active (operational) commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. maritime services. And here’s something for you Master and Commander fans, the Eagle is an actual war prize, taken from the Nazis.

The ship was built in 1936 by the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned as Horst Wessel. (Can you believe it?) Four identical sister ships were also built. Originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy, the ship was taken by the United States as a war prize after World War II. In 1946, a U.S. Coast Guard crew – aided by the German crew still on board – sailed the tall ship from Bremerhaven to its new homeport in New London, Connecticut.

Today, a permanent crew of eight assigned officers and 50 assigned enlisted personnel maintain the ship year round. They provide a strong base of knowledge and seamanship for the training of up to 150 cadets, or officer candidates, at a time.

Eagle is currently conducting summer U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet training in at-sea leadership and professional development. Their first port call was Portugal in late May. Since 1946, Eagle has been giving future officers the opportunity to put into practice the navigation, engineering, and other professional theory they have previously learned in the classroom.

For more on Eagle — including photosclick here and here.

*** *** ***

For regular 4GWAR Blog visitors who expected to see a pretty picture or an interesting one with a story behind it in yesterday’s FRIDAY FOTO/SHAKO posting, thanks for your patience. We hope this FOTO fits the bill.

June 19, 2021 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO/SHAKO (June 18, 2021)

JUNETEENTH!

It’s June 19, or Juneteenth, – the holiday marking the last gasp of legal slavery in the United States. What started out as a holiday in Texas has been gaining recognition and popularity — especially in this very troubled time of police shootings, protest marches and the still evolving reckoning about the place of race in American history.

At 4GWAR, we thought we’d take a look at the events that led to the Juneteenth tradition in the waning days of the Civil War — harking back to a posting we created in 2015 to mark the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth

EDITOR’s NOTE: That’s how we started our blog posting a year ago. Little did we know those words would foreshadow recent events in Washington and around the country. You can see that 2020 blog posting in it’s entirety here.

But tomorrow marks the first time June 19th will be celebrated as a federal holiday since Congress passed legislation and President Biden signed it into law on Thursday (June 17) . Some people are already worried whether the U.S. Mail will be delivered or the banks will be open on the 19th. Here at 4GWAR we’ll let other folks worry about all that.

We do have one concern that arose when we read a news story about the 14 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted against making June 19th a federal holiday. That news didn’t surprise us, not nearly as much as the news that the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make this date a federal holiday.

The 14 House members gave various reasons for their “No” vote — some of them pretty lame, like the added cost to taxpayers of another day off for federal workers. But a few voiced concern that the official name of the new holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day, would confuse people about the July 4 holiday — or worse, “push Americans to pick one of those two days as their independence day based on their racial identity,”as Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said.

That did concern us at 4GWAR. The last thing the United States needs right now is something to divide us even more. And at 4GWAR, where we’ve been writing about Juneteenth (off and on) since 2011, we feel any holiday that celebrates the fight for freedom from oppression — even if it commemorates somebody else’s history, like Bastille Day, Cinco de Mayo or Hanukkah — is still worth appreciation.

We’ve been wracking our brain to find a military image in U.S. history, emblematic of the fight for freedom in the American Civil War for today’s FRIDAY FOTO. We thought about the opening battle scene in Lincoln or the final one in Glory, but on their simplest level they show white guys (the oppressors) and black guys (the oppressed) in brutal hand-to-hand combat. Neither looked like material to bring people together in today’s hair-trigger atmosphere.

Finally, we thought of Gettysburg, the epic 1993 film about the epic 1863 battle. It, too, can be problematic. Its even-handed portrayal of the soldiers and leaders of the Confederacy has been criticized as Southern propaganda. And there are next-to-no people of color in it, except for one scene with a runaway slave. However, there is a scene that captures the one difference between the soldiers in blue and those in gray (or butternut brown) — slavery. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine’s speech to a group of hard-headed soldiers from another Maine regiment who refuse to fight because their enlistment has run out. Here’s a shortened version, with very clear imagery.

In a statement quoted by the New York Times, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas (she represents the Houston area) and a lead sponsor of the bill, said “Juneteenth is as significant to African Americans as July 4 is to all Americans.” We hope that Juneteenth will grow to be appreciated by all Americans, and that whites will see it as something more than a black holiday marking beginning — just the very beginning — of the United States of America doing the right thing about racial inequality. To paraphrase Henry Fonda’s character in The Ox-Bow Incident, a cowboy trying to stop a lynching who’s been told its none of his business. Slavery “is any man’s business that’s around.”

And we hope people of color will realize than in addition to the 180,000 black soldiers who fought for freedom, thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of white men and boys died, not just to preserve the union, but to set other people free.

We all have a stake in the meaning of Juneteenth.

ANOTHER EDITOR’s NOTE: For regular 4GWAR visitors who expect to see a beautiful photo, or at least an interesting one with a story behind it on Fridays. We will post one on Saturday as a FRIDAY FOTO EXTRA.

June 18, 2021 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 28, 2021)

The Long Gray Line.

(U.S. Army Photo by Cadet Tyler Williams) Click on photo to enlarge the image.

The graduating class of cadets march across the reservoir bridge to Michie Stadium for graduation ceremonies at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York on May 22, 2021.

It was the first West Point graduation since 2019 where cadet families were allowed to attend. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, friends and family couldn’t witness the ceremony in person in 2020.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, a retired Army four star general and West Point graduate, was the commencement speaker for the Class of 2021.

We’ll have more details on this commencement and all the other service academy graduations in a roundup on Monday (May 30).

May 28, 2021 at 11:24 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: TWO HEROES, TWO WARS Part II:

The Navy Hospital Corpsman.

In recent weeks, the heroics of two men, one a soldier, the other a sailor, have come to our attention at 4GWAR Blog. To give each their due, we’ve decided to tell their stories separately in a two-part posting. Today, May 27, 2020 is the second installment.

Most Decorated Active Duty Corpsman Retires.

Petty Officer 1st Class Luis Fonseca, the U.S. Navy’s most decorated active duty hospital corpsman and a recipient of the Navy Cross for heroism in Iraq, retired at a May 14 ceremony in San Diego, California.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Luis Fonseca receives a flag from his son during a retirement ceremony held at  Fonseca was the Navy’s most decorated active duty hospital corpsman, and received the Navy Cross for heroism with the Marines in Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Luke Cunningham)

The Marine Corps does not have its own combat medics. That role is filled by Navy hospital corpsmen, better known simply as corpsmen. Fonseca served two combat tours with the Marines in Iraq in 2003 and 2005, and one tour with the Marines in the War in Afghanistan from November 2003 to May 2004. During that first tour in Iraq, serving with the First Marine Expeditionary Force as a 23-year-old hospitalman apprentice, treated and evacuated under heavy small arms and machine gun fire, five Marines severely wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade knocked out their armored vehicle and set it ablaze.

It happened during the Battle of Nasiriyah, the first major battle fought in Iraq by U.S. forces. For those actions, Fonseca was awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest U.S. military decoration for valor in combat.

Here is the citation for the medal:

Hospitalman Apprentice Luis E. Fonseca, Jr., stands with his Navy Cross citation for heroism during the battle of An Nasiriyah, Iraq, in March 2003. . (U.S. Navy photo by Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Wayne Nelms)

“The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Hospital Apprentice Luis E. Fonseca, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy while serving as Corpsman,  Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoon, Company C., First Battalion, Second Marines, Regimental Combat Team Two, Task Force Tarawa, First Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 23 March 2003. During Company C’s assault and seizure of the Saddam Canal Bridge, an amphibious assault vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade inflicting five casualties. Without concern for his own safety, Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca braved small arms, machine gun, and intense RPG fire to evacuate the wounded Marines from the burning amphibious assault vehicle and tend to their wounds. He established a casualty collection point inside the unit’s medical evacuation amphibious assault vehicle, calmly and methodically stabilizing two casualties with lower limb amputations by applying tourniquets and administering morphine. He continued to treat and care for the wounded awaiting evacuation until his vehicle was rendered immobile by enemy direct and indirect fire. Under a wall of enemy machine gun fire, he directed the movement of four casualties from the damaged vehicle by organizing litter teams from available Marines. He personally carried one critically wounded Marine over open ground to another vehicle. Following a deadly artillery barrage, Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca again exposed himself to enemy fire to treat Marines wounded along the perimeter. Returning to the casualty evacuation amphibious assault vehicle, he accompanied his casualties South through the city to a Battalion Aid Station. After briefing medical personnel on the status of his patients, Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca returned North through the city to Company C’s lines and to his fellow Marines that had been wounded in his absence. His timely and effective care undoubtedly saved the lives of numerous casualties. Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca’s actions reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions to the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”

Over his nearly 22 years of naval service, Fonseca received three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals; two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; two Combat Action Ribbons, (which are awarded to those who have actively participated in combat in a given theater); the Presidential Unit Citation; two Meritorious Unit Commendations; two Navy “E” Ribbons; two Good Conduct Medals; a National Defense Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Humanitarian Service Medal; four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; a Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon; a NATO Medal; a Rifle Marksmanship Medal (Expert); a Pistol Marksmanship Medal (Expert); as well as campaign medals for both Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the website Task & Purpose.

And that made Fonseca the most highly decorated active duty corpsman.

Fonseca and his wife, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Christina Fonseca, who officially retired in February 2021, retired together in a joint ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego on May14. The couple have a combined 46 years of Naval service.

*** *** ***

SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress, or parade, uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

May 28, 2021 at 12:40 am 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (March 5, 2021)

Combat Yoga.

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Casey Hustin, 17th Field Artillery Brigade) CLICK on photo to enlarge image.

Soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in the state of Washington, use their lunch time for a combat mobility yoga session February 26, at 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment headquarters. While combat yoga sounds like an oxymoron, it’s helping Soldiers prevent injuries and deal with fatigue and chronic pain — with the potential of saving the Army millions of dollars in medical bills for the active duty force.

In a planned cultural shift, the Army last year formalized a holistic health and fitness (H2F) program that will consolidate and overhaul existing programs and events — such as the Army Physical Fitness Test, the Ready and Resilient Campaign, physical readiness training (PRT), and Army wellness centers.

Yoga sessions are designed to improve overall mental wellness and increase core strength and mobility. Yoga is just part of the plan. The key is to prevent injuries and increase lethality.

As of February 2019, more than 56,000 Soldiers were non-deployable –a number comparable to more than 13 brigade combat teams.  In 2018, more than half of all Soldiers were injured at some point, and 71% of those injuries were lower extremity micro-traumatic musculoskeletal “overuse” injuries. The 2018 report also reported more than 12 percent of Soldiers had some form of sleep disorder and 17 percentof active-duty Soldiers were obese, both of which can lead to an injury.

In other words, how Soldiers trained, in and out of the gym, was yielding counterproductive results. This health care burden wasn’t just impacting operational readiness, but the musculoskeletal injuries racked up half a billion dollars of patient care costs among active-duty Soldiers, according to the Army News Service..

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, studies show that nearly 45 percent of soldiers and 50 percent of veterans experience pain regularly, according to a 2018 article in Yoga Journal.  And there’s a significant correlation among chronic pain, PTSD, and post-concussive symptoms such as fatigue, poor balance, sleep disturbances, and depression (meaning, if you have one, you’re more likely to experience one or more of the others), the article noted..

Over the past two decades, a series of clinical trials backed by a growing catalog of scientific evidence persuaded high-level Defense Department health care experts to accept yoga and meditation as legitimate treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pain management, and much more the Yoga Journal noted.

March 4, 2021 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 11, 2020)

Brown Water Sailors.

(Photo by Michael Williams)

International students at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) participate in an exercise on Mississippi’s Pearl River, near the John C. Stennis Space Center on December 2, 2020.

These students are participating in the seven-week Patrol Craft Officer Riverine course, which is designed to provide Foreign Security Force personnel with the specialized training to plan and execute security actions in riverine and littoral environments. Missions in the rivers and shallows include supporting interdiction, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics operations . The current semester course includes representatives from the African nations of Chad, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo.

NAVSCIATTS is a security cooperation training command operating under U.S. Special Operations Command in support of Security Force Assistance and Geographic Combatant Commanders’ security cooperation priorities. To date, NAVSCIATTS has trained with more than 12,000 students from 121 partner nations.

December 11, 2020 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 3, 2020)

Solemn Masked Men.

Military Funeral Honors with Modified Funeral Escort are Conducted for U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jesse Lewis Jr.

(U.S. Army Photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon conducts military funeral honors with a modified escort for Navy Commander Jesse W. Lewis Junior at Arlington National Cemetery on June 29, 2020.

It was the first funeral service since March 26 to include a caisson, the next step in Arlington National Cemetery’s phased plan to resume greater support to military funeral honors as COVID-19 cases within the national capital region trend downward.

According to the Arlington website:

 Military funeral honors with modified escort consists of individual service branch body bearers, a firing party, an escort commander with guidon, escort, bugler, drummer, national colors and chaplain. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment’s caisson platoon may also be requested. Additionally, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps service members with ranks O-6 [colonel] and above may receive a caparisoned horse and flag officers [generals and admirals] from all services may receive the appropriate presidential salute battery (PSB) gun salute. 

The U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard also participated in the ceremony for the Navy veteran.

Military Funeral Honors with Modified Funeral Escort are Conducted for U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jesse Lewis Jr.

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

July 3, 2020 at 4:42 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 12, 2020)

Back at Work Again.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dylan Lavin)

F/A-18 Super Hornets fly in formation over the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt during operations in the Philippine Sea on June 9, 2020.

The TR, as the Nimitz-class, nuclear powered carrier is known, was the first U.S. Navy warship to endure an outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 while at sea.

After several Sailors tested positive for the virus, the ship pulled into Guam on March 27 and was sidelined there for more than two months. Most of the nearly 5,000 crew members were transferred off the ship — either to hospitals for treatment, or isolation in barracks and hotels on the island.

Before the ordeal was over, more than 1,100 Sailors were sickened and one died. A political firestorm sprang up when the skipper’s letter to Navy leaders seeking a quicker response to the crisis was leaked to the press. That led to the captain being relieved of command and the resignation of the acting Navy Secretary who fired him.

The TR returned to sea May 21 with a partial crew for a shakedown cruise to re-certify the carrier’s air wing and flight deck operations. After returning to pick up the rest of the crew, who now tested negative for COVID-19, the TR departed Guam on June 4 to resume its mission in the Asia-Pacific region.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt flies a replica of Capt. Oliver Hazard Perry’s “Don’t Give Up the Ship” flag, while leaving Guam after battling a COVID-19 global outbreak for more than two months. (U.S. Navy photo by Naval Air Crewman 1st Class Will Bennett)

June 11, 2020 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 24, 2020)

Wet Work.

Hotel Company Crucible

(Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Christopher McMurry)

Marine Corps recruits participate in a Crucible event at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, on January 10, 2020. The Crucible is a 54-hour field training exercise that presents continuous physical and mental challenges. After successfully completing The Crucible, recruits are welcomed as members of the Corps and awarded the Marines’ eagle, globe and anchor emblem.

Luckily, as wet and uncomfortable as these recruits look, at least it wasn’t typical January weather that day. The high on January 10, 2020 at Parris Island was an unseasonable 72 degrees, with a low of 54. The average historical high temperature for January 10 in those parts is 60 degrees, with a much colder low of 39 degrees, according to AccuWeather. Maybe hot and wet in January is worse?

To see a short video clip of the Crucible, click here.

January 24, 2020 at 12:10 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Al Shabab Raid on US Base

Al Shabab Raid Fallout.

Earlier this month m embers of the al Shabab terrorist group attack a Kenyan military base near the Somalia border. Three Americans were killed and numerous U.S. aircraft and vehicles were damaged or destroyed. The fallout from this surprise — and costly — raid is still developing.

HornofAfrica-Somalia_19881

The Horn of Africa

Here is some of what U.S. Africa Command, which oversees U.S. military activities across the continent (except for Egypt), had to say about it today (Thursday, January 23).

“U.S. Africa Command continues to investigate the January 5 attack on the Kenyan Defense Force Military Base in Manda Bay, Kenya, that killed U.S. Army Specialist Henry J. Mayfield, Jr., and two U.S. contractors, Bruce Triplett and Dustin Harrison.

“In the early morning hours of Jan. 5, al-Shabaab initiated mortar fire on the Kenyan Defense Force installation and Camp Simba, while simultaneously assaulting the airfield. U.S. forces are primarily located at Camp Simba, about one mile from the airfield. Shortly after the attack began, U.S. forces at Camp Simba quickly responded and actively counterattacked the enemy at the airfield.”

U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, Africa Command’s chief said “The attack at Manda Bay demonstrates that al-Shabaab remains a dangerous and capable enemy.” The general called Shabab “a menace to the people of East Africa and U.S. national interests there.” Townsend maintained Shabab’s goal is “eventually attacking the U.S. homeland.”

Since 2010, al-Shabab has killed hundreds of innocent people outside the borders of Somalia.

Marine Raiders.

The attack caught American and Kenyan forces by surprise, but Marine Raiders — the Special Operations unit of the Marine Corps — were in a base about a mile away and led the counter attack, according to Marine Corps Times.

Multiple sources within the Marine Raider community told Marine Corps Times that about a dozen Marines from 3rd Marine Raider Battalion, based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, led Kenyan commandos against the Islamic militants. The Marines engaged in an intense firefight with the al-Shabab militants, the sources said, ultimately pushing the Islamic fighters out of the military base.

“While numbers are still being verified, it is estimated that several dozen al-Shabaab fighters were repelled,” U.S. Africa Command said in a Thursday press release. “Because of the size of the Kenyan base, clearance and security operations continued for several more hours to ensure the entire base was secure.”

Chaos at First.

The New York Times first reported Wednesday (January 22) that Marine Raiders participated in the counterattack.

The Marines were located at Camp Simba, the Times reported ― roughly a mile from the airfield at Manda Bay where the attack took place. The Times initially reported that the Marines’ response was delayed due to their distance from the base, but on Thursday U.S. Africa Command said that the Marines’ response was “timely.”

The brazen assault at Manda Bay, a sleepy seaside base near the Somali border, was largely overshadowed by the crisis with Iran after the killing of that country’s most important general two days earlier, and is only now drawing closer scrutiny from Congress and Pentagon officials, the Times noted.

The storming of an airfield used by the American military so alarmed the Pentagon that it immediately sent about 100 troops from the 101st Airborne Division to establish security at the base. Army Green Berets from Germany also were shuttled to Djibouti, the Pentagon’s major hub in Africa, in case the entire base was in danger of being taken by al Shabab, an East African terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda, according to the Times.

January 23, 2020 at 11:43 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts Newer Posts


Posts

September 2022
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Categories


%d bloggers like this: