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Showing posts from January, 2011


In the history of Tunisia, it's been ruled by all of the major players in the area because of its strategic location in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea. The Romans, the Carthaginians, the Muslims, and the French all had their turns there. It was a contested area in World War II as well, the site of famous tank battles involving Rommel and Patton. Today, Tunisia is an Arab Islamic nation and an ally of the United States. With that country in the news a lot here lately, I've been thinking back on when I was there in the late 80s. The United States had good relations with the government (and still does now, I believe) so we were able to train there in the Tunisian countryside west of the capital, Tunis. We had completed a week of training there and the U. S. Ambassador to Tunisia was on our ship for a visit. He needed to get back to Tunis so I was assigned to fly him there the night before we pulled up the anchor to move to another part of the Mediterranean to train. I fil


The other day, I was telling someone something that my Dad used to say when it occurred to me that I've done that quite a lot over the years. As often as I've gone to that well, you'd think that he lived a hundred years. But he didn't.  He died of cancer about 22 years ago when he was just over the age of 53. Actually, he was 53 years and a little less than 6 months old when he died. I'm particularly conscious of that today because I sit here at this computer 53 years and a little less than 6 months old, keenly aware that he wasn't as old as he once seemed. Where he once seemed to have lived a long and full life, my perspective on that is a little different now for obvious reasons. He did do a lot of living while he was with us. He was born in Watsonville, California in 1935, the son of a former Texas public school superintendent and teacher, turned labor leader in the bloody lettuce strike in Salinas, California in 1936. My Grandfather's obituary records

A Big River

The largest and bloodiest battle in 1952 during the Korean War was the Battle of Triangle Hill. Chinese Communist forces in defensive positions on Triangle Hill and nearby Sniper Ridge fought back American and South Korean forces for 42 days as they attempted to seize the tactical advantage on the high ground and drive the Chinese army back. While the Chinese suffered some 11,500 killed and wounded during the battle, compared to 1,500 U.S. and 4,500 South Korean casualties, the Chinese held the ground and the Americans and South Koreans ultimately retired from the battle without securing a victory. For the American and South Korean forces, the battle at the center of Operation Showdown was a failure in spite of the losses they inflicted on the Chinese because they failed to take the ground. The battle became a symbol of Chinese perseverance against the American imperialists to the Chinese faithful. Although the Battle of Triangle Hill isn't exactly a household name among America

The Honors System

U. S. Navy Captain Owen Honors, recently skipper of the USS Enterprise, has received some unwanted press over the past few days. Captain Honors is a 1983 graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy, a fighter pilot, and a former instructor at Top Gun, the Navy's Fighter Weapons School. Finally, he achieved the highly coveted command of a United States aircraft carrier. Today, all of it - and more - are gone.   The American people today know that Captain Honors liked to make videos that, depending on your perspective, were either amusing spoofs or they were evidence of a cavalier abuse of power. By all accounts, Captain Honors had a distinguished career, so the question arises: did he deserve to be relieved of his prestigious command and perhaps forced to retire from the Navy? Opinions run the gamut. On one hand, some say his antics were bigoted and contrary to the values of American society today. On the other hand, some say there's a locker room manner that runs through many combat