Category Archives: Lex

Navy Cross

By lex, on June 10th, 2011

Two Marines will receive the nation’s second highest award for valor for their conduct during a bloody ambush  * in eastern Afghanistan in 2009:

Fabayo, then a first lieutenant, is credited with pushing into a kill zone on foot and engaging enemy at close range with his M4 carbine. He braved heavy enemy fire to carry wounded Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook several hundred meters, treated wounded Afghan forces that his unit was training and took the gunner’s position in a gun truck with three other service members as they drove into the kill zone to recover the bodies of three Marines and a corpsman killed in the battle.

Rodriguez-Chavez was assigned to the unit’s security element during the ambush. Under heavy fire, he drove a gun truck into the kill zone three times to cover the withdrawal of the training team and partnered Afghan forces. He then made a fourth trip into the deepest part of the kill zone in another truck to recover the bodies of the fallen Marines and corpsman, positioning his vehicle to shield fellow service members from the intense fire as they left the vehicle to retrieve the bodies.

In October, the Marine Corps recommended that the gunner with Rodriguez-Chavez, former Cpl. Dakota Meyer, receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, sources with knowledge of the award process told Marine Corps Times. He is credited with charging into the kill zone repeatedly on foot to find the missing Marines, who had been shot to death and stripped of their weapons. No decision on his award has been announced.

Three Marines and a Navy corpsman were killed during the ambush, and a US Army officer later died of wounds. Eight Afghan soldiers and an interpreter were also killed.

The story is sadly not exclusively one  * of courage and intrepidity under fire:

The training team, out of Okinawa, Japan, was pinned down without artillery and air support for hours by well entrenched insurgents armed with assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades and machine guns, prompting a joint Army-Marine military investigation.

Conducted by Army Col. Richard Hooker and Marine Col. James Werth, it determined that “negligent” leadership by three officers at nearby Forward Operating Base Joyce contributed “directly to the loss of life which ensued.” They refused direct calls for help from U.S. forces on the ground and failed to notify higher commands that they had troops in contact with enemy, the investigation found.

Two of the three negligent officers apparently received “career killing” letters of reprimand.

The Marines and soldiers on the front line in Afghanistan know they face a cruel and implacable foe. They have a right to expect better support from the rear.

** Original links gone; replaced – Ed

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Bonus Aircraft

By lex, on June 6th, 2011

A Pakistani Air Force F-16 pilot on exchange with the Turkish Air Force gives some interesting insights into the PAF’s procurement and tactical strategies: *

Q 16: Any memorable experiences that you would like to share?

A: On one occasion – in one of the international Anatolian Eagles – PAF pilots were pitted against RAF Typhoons, a formidable aircraft. There were three set-ups and in all three, we shot down the Typhoons. The RAF pilots were shocked.

Q 17: Any particular reason for your success?

A: NATO pilots are not that proficient in close-in air-to-air combat. They are trained for BVR engagements and their tactics are based on BVR engagements. These were close-in air combat exercises and we had the upper hand because close-in air combat is drilled into every PAF pilot and this is something we are very good at.

An interesting comment indeed.

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RLTW

By lex, on June 2nd, 2011

Meet Army SFC Leroy Arthur Petry, the second living awardee of the Medal of Honor:

Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Petry — despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety — consciously and deliberately risked his life to move to and secure the live enemy grenade and consciously throw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers, according to battlefield reports.

As Petry released the grenade in the direction of the enemy, preventing the serious injury or death of Higgins and Robinson, it detonated and catastrophically amputated his right hand.

With a clear mind, Petry assessed his wound and placed a tourniquet on his right arm. Once this was complete, he reported that he was still in contact with the enemy and that he had been wounded again…

Higgins later wrote in a statement, “if not for Staff Sergeant Petry’s actions, we would have been seriously wounded or killed…”

Petry currently serves as a liaison officer for the United States Special Operations Command Care Coalition-Northwest Region, and provides oversight to wounded warriors, ill and injured servicemembers and their families…

He has deployed eight times in support of the War on Terror, with two tours to Iraq and six tours to Afghanistan.

Geez.

That’s all I’ve got: “Geez.”

 

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Deep Stall

By lex, on May 31st, 2011

On the weekend gig, I introduce the guest pilots to the notion of aerodynamic stall. Some of them get a gleam of fear in their eyes when they hear the word “stall”, because they invariably think it is ineluctably linked with “spin, crash and die.” Which can be true, but isn’t necessarily so: Learning how to stall and recover an airplane is one of the first things the novice aviator is taught, and it is re-learned in every aircraft transition.

When I brief my civvie passengers on weekend dogfight hops – that’s not a Michael Vick dance variation, by the way – I try to explain to them the relationship between stick position and angle-of-attack: “If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull stick aft, the houses get smaller. If you keep pulling aft on the stick, the houses start getting bigger again.”

Note to Air France: I’m available for consultative work.

Point.enquete.af447.27mai2011.En

I get that the weather was rough. I understand that the compound emergency and loss of normal displays was confusing. I suspect that in their peril, the pilots were left to wonder whether some strange software gremlin had suddenly rendered their aircraft un-flyable.

But – and this is not to beat a dead horse – I really don’t understand how no one among three very experienced and highly trained airline transport pilots ever figured out that it was worth a try to lower the nose and reduce the angle of attack. Maybe get some airflow over the wings.

Stall warnings coupled with wing rock are classic indications of deep stall, and if what you’re doing isn’t working it’s time to consider something else.

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Memorial Day Messages

By lex, on May 28th, 2011

From the Chairman:

Back at Dover, the pitch-black night begins to yield to dawn, and the ramp lights fade behind a persistent mist. The flag-draped caskets are gone, and those in mourning retreat for a few short hours of rest before continuing their final journey home with their fallen loved one.

Nevertheless, the sun will soon rise. A new day will begin.

And on that day, troops will still be deployed around the world, still defending all of us. Sadly, some will come home to Dover, others to Bethesda and Walter Reed.

On Memorial Day, we pause to honor those who selflessly gave all to their nation. As we do so, we must also keep faith with our Wounded Warriors, forever support our Gold Star Families, and stand alongside those who still wait for the missing.

It is these efforts — not only on Memorial Day but every day — that truly make us a people worthy of their sacrifice.

From CNO:

While our sailors continue to make extraordinary contributions across the globe, it falls to us to ensure their personal sacrifices are not overlooked. This is why our Navy remains committed to support for those who have been wounded and the families of those who have given their lives, with the very best care our Nation can provide. This is why we prioritize family readiness and quality of life through housing, child and youth services, and education. And this is why we must not waiver in our commitment to provide sailors with the tools they need to perform the many missions we will ask of them.

It is my greatest privilege to lead the finest sailors in the history of our Navy – these distinguished Americans, these “fortunate few” answer the call to serve. In tribute today I ask you to join me in remembering, thanking and taking action on behalf of those who sail the oceans, serve on land and patrol the skies in the greatest traditions of the U.S. Navy and in the best interests of America’s future security and prosperity.

From the Commandant:

Our nation places our freedoms and hopes for a more peaceful world on the shoulders of these brave, young men and women who serve without complaint in dangerous places far from home. Our Marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen, coast guardsmen and military families have been tested over this past decade at war, and they have measured up in every regard and been equal to every challenge. They have kept faith with their oath to defend the American people, and it is our duty as a nation to honor their sacrifices and keep faith with these noble warriors and their families — especially those who have been injured or fallen in combat. These young heroes represent the highest qualities of service to our nation and to its people. Let their example remind us all of what it means to be truly selfless and just how much the human spirit can endure, accomplish and overcome.

From a writer:

On Memorial Day, we pause at the graves of lost soldiers and make speeches that sometimes open to view the heartbreak and love that are their last traces. But this is not enough, because they do not hear, and because those who will have followed in the years to come will not hear. Love is not enough, rationalization not enough, commemoration a thin and insufficient offering. The only just memorial to those who went forth and died for us, and who therefore question us eternally, cannot be of stone or steel or time set aside for speeches and picnics.

We should offer instead a memorial, never ending, of probity and preparation, shared sacrifice, continuing resolve, and the clarity the nation once had in regard to how, where, when, and when not to go to war. This is the least we can do both for America and for the troops we dispatch into worlds of sorrow and death.

Amen.

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Guest Post: David

By lex, on May 28th, 2011

In honor of this weekend, a former shipmate and respected mentor sent me a note that he authorized me to share. It’s a good one.–

In May of 2001, I was serving on the Navy Staff and, in addition to my regular duties, was part of the rotation of Navy Captains on call for special events. As luck would have it, my number came up to be part of the Navy contingent at the Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery on May 28th, 2001.

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Nostalgia Day

By lex, on May 26th, 2011

Today seems to be  a day of remembrances. Quite out of the blue I got a note from an old shipmate who’s beginning a book project on the last deployment of USS Constellation. My ship. He wanted to touch base for an interview, gather some reflections from those aboard her.

He also attached an email I wrote to my officers and chiefs on my last day aboard. It’s nice that he kept it, I’m not very good at holding on to such things.

CONSTELLATION was my first ship. Tomorrow is my last day aboard Connie, at least as a member of her company. After tomorrow, I will be a guest, someone you used to know, who used to be a part of you.

I may not get the opportunity to say farewell to each of you in person tomorrow, so please forgive me if this seems too impersonal. I just want to say that it has been an incredibly positive experience working with such an outstanding group of professionals.

Your focus, energy and enthusiasm were remarkable to observe.

A warship never sleeps – there are always people on watch, keeping her safe, keeping all of us safe: the ship is, in a sense, alive. Her people give her life.

You made this ship a living thing, working her decks and spaces. You lightened it with laughter, and freighted it with consequence to our country’s enemies. This ship lived fast, and it lived hard, like it meant business, like it knew that what we were doing was too important for half measures. We trained hard, fought hard and played hard, because of your work and that of our CPO’s and Sailors. And we did great things, with style – flawless execution was the standard expectation.

Life is very much more about what you accomplish than what you acquire. I hope you are as proud of what we accomplished together, as I am to have been a part of it.

My very best wishes to everyone. I will not miss all of this, but I will miss all of you. Maybe we’ll meet again in the fleet. Until then, farewell, and following seas.

Very Respectfully,

Commander, United States Navy

Operations Officer

USS Constellation CV-64

I meant it, too.

Still do.

 

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