The Mayflower Had a Better PR PERSON!

A replica of the ship that actually settled California — and it was long before the Mayflower in Massachusetts, it was the ship San Salvador in San Diego. Some Massachusetts people know that the Mayflower was not the first ship, but they contend that the Mayflower brought the first continually occupied territory — as if other cities didn’t exist. The Mayflower just had better Public Relations!
The Mayflower touched just north of Cape Cod, at Plymouth, Mass in 1620. (My wife is from a Mayflower family, and there are six families in Marshfield, Mass. still living on the original grants, including my wife’s family.)

So, imagine my wife’s surprise to learn that Juan Cabrillo arrived in San Diego Bay in 1542!

Yep! That’s before Jamestown, Va., also, 1607.

The San Salvador, a light 200 ton ship of only 100 feet, was not a usual sea-going ship, but rather what we would call a costal ship. Although there is a spot on San Diego Bay called Cabrillo Landing, it is a lot like the Plymouth Rock. It is unlikely either vessel landed at either point — the most likely point in San Diego Bay is called Ballast Point, currently the site of the Submarine Base. I served aboard three submarines stationed at Ballast Point.

The first European to touch what is the continental U.S. was Ponce de Leon, and the first cities were Saint Augustine, Florida, and Sante Fe New Mexico — both were settled cities before the Mayflower was even considered.

I Am Angry

There is a lot of Internet traffic contending the John McCain was nicknamed “Songbird” — because he talked so much.
I have no idea if it is true or not, but EVERYONE talks under torture, and anyone who has any first, or second-hand knowledge knows that.

So let me tell you why Commander Bucher of the USS Pueblo signed his “confession” — the North Koreans took Bucher to a cell where a man hung in irons — the guy had one eye removed and it hung down his face with black matter dribbling down his face from the extraction. A bone stuck out of his right arm. He had chewed through his lower lip which hung by a thread, and he was just mumbling.

The NK Colonel took Bucher back to his cell and said, “Congratulations, Commander. You have withstood our beatings and torture, and now you see what we are capable of…sign the confession or we will parade your crew (82) and we will shoot them beginning with the youngest (19). If you can watch every crew member die before you — you win.”

If you sign after the 10th or 20th, you have wasted 10 or 20. If you don’t believe you can withstand all, don’t wast any. Sign!”

He signed.

I know this because I represented his family… He had been my XO on a Submarine. I acted as Buchers bodyguard and speechwriter after his return.

I have 26 years service, Enlisted and Officer, and I do not want ANY captured serviceman spoken about like Trump did, unless they have SERIOUS service behind them, and, according to the news, neither foes the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Trump was a silver spoon Ivy Leaguer — inherited his fathers business. 

I am deservedly ANGRY!

What We Need Is N AMERICAN DESK At the State Department

As long-time readers know, I was the organizer and main participant in the national Remember the Pueblo in 1969, and it cost me my Naval career. Lieutenants should be seen and not heard, and when a Navy Lt. Is quoted in Time magazine, often, and other media constantly, it is going to cost.
It was a learning experience, and the first thing I learned is that our State Department is filled with liberals who believe, as does this administration, that the United States is just too big, too powerful, and that the “foreign desks” on which the diplomatic staff sits, can best be represented by taking their side at every opportunity.

What we need at State is an AMERICAN DESK!

First, upon the seizure of the crew of the Pueblo, 81 men, by the North Koreans, my first words to Rose Bucher, the wife of the Commanding Officer of the Pueblo, CD-R. Loyd “Pete” Bucher, was, “Don’t worry Honey, the honor of the United States will not let this last 24 hours.”

I could not have been more naive. 

As my wife, Jean, Rose and I were dealing with phone calls from Pete’s friends from around the world, plus the national press (Walter Cronkite from the first day), plus the Navy Brass, we were also contacted by several mothers, fathers brothers and children of previous North Korean captives, and a helicopter pilot captive previously held.

The conversations, condensed, were: The State Department told us right after our loved ones were captured that we should be quiet, and let diplomacy work on this. We did, for years, but when we continually got the message, ‘We are working on it.'”

“When we finally got frustrated and went to the press, the press said, ‘That’s old news.’ They never listened to us.”

“Please, Please, PLEASE, do not stay silent.”

The Navy and the State Department asked us, and the pueblo families to stay quiet and let “Quiet Diplomacy” work its magic.  

I told the State Department that we would remain silent for 30 days, after which we would raise hell. That is exactly what we did.

(If you can imagine a young Navy Lieutenant giving an ultimatum to the State Department, the you can imagine why my Navy career was cut short!

We have zero idea if the furor we raised helped free the Pueblo crew, but the crew thinks so, and Pete and Rose thought so, We will never know. Within the Navy there were two schools of thought and it was best demonstrated by my being summoned to the office of the Commandant of the 11th Naval District, where the Commandant (Admiral) reamed me for an hour, after which, as I left, the Secretary told me the Commander of the Seventh Fleet Flagship wanted me aboard the flagship, USS Chicago, for lunch. The Admiral, Bernie Roeder, hugged this Lieutenant and we had a great conversation. 

The Navy tried to separate me from Pete Bucher’s wife — they thought I was some sort of evil Svengali, writing the speeches and getting national press interviews (Guilty) — so they first sent me orders to Keflivick, Iceland, and when I got the CNO to personally change those orders (I did have friends), the Forces of Evil tried to lure me away by sending me orders to the flagship of the Sixth Fleet as Navigator. (Got those changed, also.)

Meanwhile, the Navy refused to give the wife of the Commanding Officer, the addresses of the families of the crew. The spokesman sent a letter to Rose saying, “The administration does not find it useful to cooperate with those who may not be friends of the administration.”

Unrealistic Expectations

The Iranian Foreign Minister says today, that the restriction on ballistic is not in the main body of the agreement but in Annex, and “restrictions” are not required but Iran is “called upon to comply” — therefore not binding. 
Further, the Foreign Minister says, the restriction on ballistic missile development is on ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons, and since Iran never intended to develop nuclear weapons, the restriction is invalid.

Not to mention that the religious leader still calls for “Death to America,” but that is nothing new.

What is new is that Kerry says these things are “troubling” — as if (almost) everyone could see and here that coming from the get-go. 

Saudi Arabia has expressed their disgust with the deal — it is not a treaty — and, while they do not have the interest or assets to attack Iran, they do have bases that can provide much needed refueling for Israeli jets enroute to and from Iran.

The Saudis themselves are unlikely to provide cover for the Israeli jets, although they certainly have advanced American jets, armament, electronics and, most importantly, American training. The Saudis, have always — at least until Yemen — been risk averse, and are more likely to engage in nuclear weapon competition through buying nukes from Pakistan or North Korea.

Kerry is not just a fool, easily duped and out maneuvered by trained Middle East negotiators who cut their teeth bargaining in the bazaar, but he apparently was under presidential orders to get whatever he could. 

From an administration that considered ISIS a “JV” squad, being unrealistic and naive is a hallmark of the Democratic Party. 

Perhaps the administration might have just hoped that the “deal” would unravel in the next administration. 

Another unrealistic expectation.

Remembering the LST

CBS is featuring a piece on an old sailor named Ernie who is walking across America to remind us of the WWII LST. — Landing Ship Tank. There is only one left in its original WWII configuration, although we built more than 1,000 them.
Know the ship well… I served on one crossing the North Atlantic. By then (1952) the LST I was on had been converted to the ARVA-6, the USS Megara. The ARVA stood for Aircraft Repair Ship, but all that meant is that the Navy took the tank deck and filled it with aircraft fuselage repair machinery. It took a ship designed for a crew of 80, with food preparation for 80, food storage for 80, toilet facilities for 80 and sleeping facilities for 80 — then stuffed 240 men aboard. 

(I slept in the Armory, with a mattress(sic) laid upon the Cosmoline-smelling rifle repair bench. I will never forget the smell!)

As a Seaman, I was returned too late from Korea (aboard the the USS O’Bannon, DDE 450) to enter Annapolis because of an administrative SNAFU, the Navy decided to send me to Europe aboard this ARVA rust bucket. Designed to make a one way trip to heave combat troops on the last mile of invasion, this ship had made…lets just say too many miles. Far too many miles.

Crossing the North Atlantic, we broke a main expansion joint, and as Helmsman I watched the bow first rise to the left, then the right, then the left, while the stern where the helm was located, remained steady on the course. We put into Horta Bay, in the Azores to get repairs after the bucket brigades kept us afloat. 

 I was eventually sent back States from Taranto, Italy, first to Prep School (they wanted to make certain we had not been too long away from school), then to Annapolis.    

It was an experience to serve aboard that ship, as an 18 year-old, but I hope that Ernie gets attention to these ships — they certainly helped win WWII.

Trump Just Tanked

Donald Trump went one bridge too far, putting down Prisoners of War in general, and John McCain in particular — that stepped Way Over the line! Think of the Bataan Death March as the very best example, or the pilots shot down over anywhere, but Tokyo as an example.
This from a man who never served in the military!

I am willing to bet good money that Trump falls heavily in the Republican polls, and quickly.    

This is one from which he cannot recover…

Who’s In Charge Here?

Ahhh…Chris Christie says, with great knowledge of the obvious, that the criminal justice system is brokenIt is obvious as well that the immigration system is broken.
It is also obvious that the U.S. foreign policy is broken.

Gosh…who the hell has been in charge for the past SEVEN years? 

Clue: He said the seas would begin to subside if he was elected just once…

The Confederate Flag

I suppose that the Confederate battle flag represents slavery and racism to some, but to others…well let me tell a personal story. I am Allen Polk Hemphill – the Polks of Tennessee and the Alabama Hemphill families married each other “back in the day” with some regularity. 

I was born in Alabama, orphaned by age five, raised in Texas, and upon high school graduation was sent to Columbia Military Academy in Columbia, Tennessee, the home of the Polks, for a summer to engage in my Polk heritage. I visited James K. Polk’s home, but one home left a lasting imprint on my memory: the plantation home of the 11th president’s brother, George Washington Polk.

The plantation home is named “Rattle and Snap” because George won it in a dice game from the Governor of Tennessee! 

(My family is filled with colorful characters and iconoclasts!)

Saying the plantation was a wreck when I visited it in my youth would be an understatement. I had two elderly aunts living there, but there were chickens in the living room and other farm animals roaming the rooms. Even a Yankee soldier would have wept at the sight. 

A squad of Yankee soldiers was sent during the Civil War to burn the grand plantation home, but didn’t do so because the Masonic squad leader saw a portrait of the plantation owner, and a Masonic ring was visible in the picture.

The home might have been better served had it been burned. Grand homes across the South were torched because there was a conscious effort by the North not to win the war, but to destroy the South. They succeeded spectacularly! The South was destroyed and impoverished, the word “reconstruction” was an oxymoron, and my grandmother (born 1890) who raised me, spat out the word “Yankee” as an ultimate insult.

As part of a motorhome-based family-roots tour with our grown children and their children, my Yankee wife and I toured several old plantation homes in South Carolina. In one we marveled at the intricate wood carvings of a beautiful room, the result of many British woodworkers. After admiring the magnificence of the room, the guide threw open huge doors on each side to show long mounds of dirt, “those are the remnants of many other rooms, similarly built and appointed, burned to the ground by Yankee soldiers.”

At another plantation, after the tour of a grand home, the guide said to our astonishment, “This was not the grand home. That was burned to the ground. This building was actually the family’s hunting lodge, hidden downriver. It was laboriously shipped to this site for your enjoyment.”

At each site, you could hear and feel the resentment for the destruction. The Confederate battle flag represents some of that lasting resentment. It was not just the rich who suffered as a result of the grinding, purposeful and needless destruction.

(A more pleasant note: Rattle and Snap remains was bought by major Fort Worth philanthropist, Amon Carter. The grand home and plantation were fully restored to their full 1860 glory — you can Google “Rattle and Snap” for photos of the beautiful restoration — and the Carter family lived in an adjacent special-built structure just for the family.)

Trust Iran?

The Iran Treaty depends upon trust– but the U.S. has little “SnapBack” power to reintroduce sanctions if the Iranians cheat. Our “friends” at the UN are not going to lose the Iranian oil again.
It is more likely that Israel will have to solve the problem on their own. If the need is seen soon by Israel, they may well use nuclear weapons (nuclear weapons are not a deterrent if your opponent believes they will not be use under any circumstances), and perhaps only a few with the threat of more to come.

If the perceived threat comes about after the change of administrations — I believe that even Hillary would be stronger in responding than is Obama — a new administration may share our largest and most powerful bomb, whatever that is. The 30,000 MOP (Massive Ordinance Penetrator is public, but the U.S. has a habit of not revealing our most powerful weaponry) can be passed to Israel along with the B-2 delivery system.

I have no idea what the Iranians will do now, or how the U.S. and Europeans will react if the Iranians are caught cheating, but I am not sanguine that this will end well.

History says you should not be, either.   

The Guillotine is Thirsty and Awaits….

The Confederate Battle Flag is down in South Carolinaand is a triumph of symbolism over substance — and one wonders how far this modern French Revolution will go, executing symbols hour after hour, until it reaches Robespierre.
I believe that it was probably the Washington Redskins kerfuffle that was the beginning of the “hate symbol” mob that charged the Symbol Bastille, but there is now a bloodlust in the nation and the guillotine will not be denied.  

Well, enough of the metaphors, you get the message, if you know history, and if you don’t…
Already, cities and states are looking to see if their flag, symbol or slogan might offend some, anyone. 

Actually, even the mention of God appears to offend some activist Atheists, so I suspect everything offends someone, but as the Facebook note I reposted yesterday, “Just because you are offended, doesn’t mean you are right.”

Several years after I began writing and publishing my column, our home was firebombed (with minor success) three times. I finally called my attorney late one night, and he sleepily informed me that, “Alan, your enemies list is the San Diego phone book!”

(I found the guy, we had a very short discussion, and he never did anything again.)

Then there were the Hangul phone calls at all hours of the night, but primarily after midnight. That was a man in Rancho Bernardo. A phone tap caught him, and he had a visit from the Sheriff.

The point is that even a sweet, non-toxic guy like me can offend someone…

Who will you offend today…the Guillotine is thirsty and awaits