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War

Pearl Harbor Day 2009, Links

December 7, 2009 | By | No Comments

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The Pearl Harbor Telegram

We were at war.

We are at war.

***

Tom McMahon did the thinking. I’ll do the linking.

See more of Tom’s outstanding Pearl Harbor Day — WW2 blogging at the jump.

###

Thank you (foot)notes:

Be sure to follow Your Business Blogger(R) and Charmaine on Twitter: @JackYoest and @CharmaineYoest

Jack and Charmaine also blog at Reasoned Audacity and at Management Training of DC, LLC.

Red State Rant has more on 7 December 1941.

And Follow Tom McMahon on Twitter www.Twitter.com/TomMcMahonNet He’s the best.

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Burial at Sea

September 28, 2009 | By | No Comments

Alert Readers know that Your Business Blogger(R) served as a Survivor Assistance Officer in the Army. This is real work. Duty and Honor.

The death of every service member is a public event.

John Howland, editor of USNA-AT-Large sends this article — it deserves a wide audience.

“Burial at Sea” by LtCol George Goodson, USMC (Ret)

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial.

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 37 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia, Laos, and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army.

Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

*The smell of Nuc Mam.

*The heat, dust, and humidity.

*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.

*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.

*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.

*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.

*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.

*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.

*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.

It was late 1967. I had just returned after eighteen months in Vietnam. Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove ten miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5’9″, I now weighed 128 pounds – 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant’s desk and said, “Sergeant Jolly, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket.”

Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, “How long were you there, Colonel?” I replied “18 months this time.” Jolly breathed, “Jesus, you must be a slow learner Colonel.” I smiled.

Jolly said, “Colonel, I’ll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, “No, let’s just go straight to his office.”

Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, “Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He’s been in this G*dd@mn job two years. He’s packed pretty tight. I’m worried about him.” I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major’s office. “Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Office. The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, “Good to see you again, Colonel.”

I responded, “Hello Walt, how are you?” Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt’s stress was palpable.

Finally, I said, “Walt, what’s the hell’s wrong?” He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, “George, you’re going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here. I’ve been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months.

Now I come here to bury these kids. I’m putting my letter in. I can’t take it anymore.” I said, “OK Walt. If that’s what you want, I’ll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps.”

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.

MY FIRST NOTIFICATION

My third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19 year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps. The information detailed:

*Name, rank, and serial number.

*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.

*Date of and limited details about the Marine’s death.

*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.

*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy’s family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina, I stopped at a small country store / service station / Post Office. I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The Storeowner walked up and addressed them by name, “Hello John. Good morning Mrs. Cooper.”

I was stunned. My casualty’s next-of-kin’s name was John Cooper!

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, “I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Copper of (address.)

The father looked at me-I was in uniform – and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me. Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes. Then I drove them home in my staff car. The storeowner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the storeowner to his business. He thanked me and said, “Mister, I wouldn’t have your job for a million dollars.” I shook his hand and said; “Neither would I.”

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk. Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death notification.

THE FUNERALS

Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals.. I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how

to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, “All Marines share in your grief.” I had been instructed to say, “On behalf of a grateful nation.” I didn’t think the nation was grateful, so I didn’t say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn’t speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder. They would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, “I’m so sorry you have this terrible job.” My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.

ANOTHER NOTIFICATION

Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young PFC. I drove to his mother’s house. As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenlythe door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO!”

I hesitated. Neighbors came out. I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up and carried her into the house. Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten or fifteen later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel. I have no recollection of leaving.

The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill. The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.

ANOTHER NOTIFICATION

One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing. Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, “You’ve got another one, Colonel.” I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up. Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person’s address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman. He lived a mile from my office. I called the Longshoreman’s Union Office and asked for the Business Manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father’s schedule.

The Business Manager asked, “Is it his son?” I said nothing. After a moment, he said, in a low voice, “Tom is at home today.” I said, “Don’t call him. I’ll take care of that.” The Business Manager said, “Aye, Aye Sir,” and then explained, “Tom and I were Marines in WWII.”

I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw instantly that she was clueless. I asked, “Is Mr. Smith home?” She smiled pleasantly and responded, “Yes, but he’s eating breakfast now. Can you come back later?” I said, “I’m sorry. It’s important, I need to see him now.”

She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, “Tom, it’s for you.”

A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door. He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, “Jesus Christ man, he’s only been there 3 weeks!”

Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth… I never could do that… and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, “Got it.” and hung up. I had stopped saying “Thank You” long ago.

Jolly, “Where?”

Me, “Eastern Shore of Maryland. The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam.”

Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, “This time of day, it’ll take three hours to get there and back. I’ll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I’ll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief’s home.”

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father’s door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, “Which one of my boys was it,

Colonel?”

I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.

He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM). “I’ve gone through my boy’s papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?” I said, “Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will.”

My wife who had been listening said, “Can you do that?” I told her, “I have no idea. But I’m going to break my @ss trying.”

I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, “General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?” General Bowser said,” George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you.

I was and the Admiral did. He said coldly, “How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel.” I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, “Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?” The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, “Captain, you’re going to do a burial at sea. You’ll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed.”

He hung up, looked at me, and said, “The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don’t have to sic Al Bowser on my @ss.” I responded, “Aye Aye, Sir” and got the h-ll out of his office.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship’s crew for four days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said, “These government caskets are air tight. How do we keep it from floating?”

All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, “Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out.”

They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worse for wear, and said, “It’s simple; we cut four 12″ holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat.”

The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The Chaplin spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.

The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever.

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, “General, get me the f*ck out of here. I can’t take this sh!t anymore.” I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, “Well Done, Colonel. Well Done.”

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor.

###

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The Long War, by LTC Reid Sawyer, USA

September 21, 2009 | By | No Comments

The following report was forwarded to Your Business Blogger(R) by John Howland editor of the USNA-AT-Large. It deserves a wide audience.

THE LONG WAR.
Presentation by LTC Reid Sawyer, USA,

Director,

Combating Terrorism Center (CTC)

U.S. Military Academy

West Point New York.

Hosted by the West Point Society in Tampa Florida

September 17, 2009.

Report by Captain Raymond Burke “Buddy” Wellborn, USN/SS (retired), USNA Class of 1959.

“The CTC is not a self-licking ice cream cone,” opened the Director of the CTC, who then elaborated on their uniqueness as a center for the study of terrorism. Colonel Sawyer then stated that 80% of the CTC’s budget is privately funded as a “think tank” for studies on combating terrorism.

Colonel Sawyer further elaborated that the CTC also is “contracted” regularly for instruction on terrorism by other national agencies, such as the CIA, FBI, STATE, et al. The CTC provides on-site instructors to teach the culture and strategy of terrorism as well as current tactics and counters that those officers could expect to face in the field.

He somberly closed his opening remarks with the by-word of the CTC, to wit:

“We are a nation at war.”

Al-Qaeda is a species of the terrorist genus. They perpetrate terrorism on the international stage. They are most resilient, and as such are very robust in their pursuit of heinous acts. One of the more subtle purposes for the pursuit of spectacular violence is to get it aired on worldwide news agencies as sensationalism.

One might presume that al-Qaeda is akin to fire-truck chasers and disaster junkies, but their actions are much more disdainful than that. They perpetuate terrorist acts just not for extortion, but also to gain press coverage in the worldwide media. Such reporting of their acts is sensationalism at its best, and most definitely helps them milk more funding from their donors– who deceitfully wish the West, and the US in particular, no well.

As another species of the same genus, the Taliban (Arabic for “students”) in Afghanistan from Pakistan are more localized. They are dissidents who were ousted as the governing party in Afghanistan. In essence, they are a national insurgency striving to regain what they once governed.

It is estimated that active loyalists for the Taliban number about 200,000, in the sixth most populated nation in the world–Pakistan, which has a little less than 200-million people. It also is estimated by human-intelligence sources that of that number they field some 20,000 fighters of which only about 2,000 are hard-core, trained fighters.

In that the Taliban is a “party” without national backing, the “host” country does not share their culpability, per se. The perpetration of civil disorder and crimes against humanity by Taliban forces should be proscribed by lawful nations as being at best resurgent belligerents, and at worst, virulent militants.

The Taliban receive about $100-million per year in “donations” — in that alms-giving is one of the pillars of Islam. Most of the donations come from the coffers of mosques in the Persian Gulf States, as does most of the funding for al-Qaeda. In addition, the Taliban net about $400 million per year from the opium poppy crop in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda, however, strives to internationalize terrorism so as to solicit a larger donor-base. Terrorism, although gaining notoriety, is also gaining donors, and therefore there is a concomitant increase in capacity for violence with even more spectacular attacks that producers of the international media air as sensationalism–to attract more advertisers.

Apparently, the strategic plan of the Taliban to defeat the US (and its dwindling Western partners) is with the support of al-Qaeda. The plan is to perpetrate scattered, yet spectacular, violent acts, which can be staged covertly. When executed overtly, these acts tend to embarrass the Super Power in defiance of security and stability.

Such actions gain the attention, and the headlines, of the international media. In turn, this will help them solicit more funding from their donors to continue their pursuits, which will aid and abet them in attaining their goal of returning to governance.

Most particular to this strategy, is their assessment that USA involvement will dwindle if it doesn’t show signs of success in 12 months. Critical to this strategy is to gain regional control in the north of Afghanistan–among the warlord chiefs of the Northern Alliance. As they do, they also will pursue destabilization of US coalition partners in the south, particularly the Germans and the Brits.

When asked afterwards to opine on whether our commanders on the scene considered the current ROE, Rules Of Engagement, too restrictive and/or endangering our troops unnecessarily, he replied, “No, we can work with (around?) them.”

The implication was that our commanders in the field are well schooled on the importance of gaining the hearts and minds of the civilian populace. Moreover, it was inferred that the locals understand very well their plight in such a hostile environment. They are slowly but surely learning that US forces have their best interest in mind–and, at heart.

They accept the danger of USA doing what we have to do to rid them of evil. Therefore, one can deduce that the canceling of the call for fire mission for artillery support, when women and children were seen in the target area, was a special case with extenuating circumstances.

A closing op-ed note by [Wellborn], “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil — But, because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1958)

9.11.01 to 9.11.09: George Bush, Thanks for Nothing

September 11, 2009 | By | No Comments

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Dad & The Dude

preparing for war

September 11, 2001

“I didn’t turn my saber

into no plowshare,”

John Wayne, The Searchers

photo credit:

Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D.We have not been attacked since 9.11.01. It is nearly impossible, in war, in politics, to make nothing happen.

So the liberals are right when they say to George Bush,

“Thanks for nothing…”

Here is a review of Reasoned Audacity’s 9.11 posts over the years.

***

Following is background from Your Business Blogger(R) in an article published just after 9.11. Things have changed since then. A little.

Booby traps at the Pentagon: Charmaine and Jack Yoest introduce you to the Pentagon’s babes in arms. What do they want? An “open dialogue” on breastfeeding. (Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services)

Originally published in The Women’s Quarterly; January 01, 2002;

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Pentagon attack

ON SEPTEMBER 10TH, [2001] the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, the group most responsible for promoting women in combat, gathered in Pentagon Conference Room 5C1042. This civilian advisory committee, whose members have the protocol status of three-star generals, monitors the concerns of women in uniform. And what was the topic on the eve of the worst attack in U.S. history?

After briefings from representatives of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, DACOWITS, as the committee is known, issued a formal request for more information on what they deemed a matter of paramount military significance:

breast-feeding.

As the terrorists prepared to hit the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon itself, our military leaders were directed “to engage in open dialogue” on lactation tactics.

The Defense Advisory Committee on Women celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last April. At the birthday party, President Bush’s deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz, a man well regarded for his level-headed and conservative approach to military issues, lauded DACOWITS in his address as an outstanding organization” and told the assembly of earnest women that he “looked forward to [their] advice.”

Read the article.

***

Just after 9am on 9.11, Your Business Blogger(R) was doing what all business owners were doing: selling something. I was on the phone with a client. Making a pitch to attend a series of seminars, with CNN on in the background. I was a bit distracted by the live feed of a burning building.

While making ‘the ask,’ it was clear that my customer was not aware that we had just been attacked. I wanted to say something, like, Turn on your TV and stare at real pain. It just didn’t look real. I continued instead with the conversation. Your Business Blogger is not normally so focused. In denial, perhaps. Disasters are not normally good for business.

There was work to be done. My next class was on September 19 [and another in Oct].

And I didn’t want the customer on the other end of the phone distracted until the sale was closed. Then we could go to war.

The deal done, I noticed my boy, The Dude, was concerned that the attacks would continue down to us in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“We got to get ready!” he shouts and scampers around digging up my old uniform, boots, saber and his grandfather’s bayonet.

(Old soldiers never die, they just file away. Apologies to MacArthur.)

The Dude spent the rest of the morning marching outside our front door. Looking out for terrorists. It must have worked.

Charlottesville was not attacked.

But we were affected. Everyone was. But I wasn’t sure that the bank was going to delay getting their money over a pesky act of war. I still had to earn a living.

How would the war affect business? Not the macro, but mine? I had a seminar and clients coming into town in little over a week and the world was on fire. Would anyone show up? Would anyone care?

We North Americans do business like we do war. We win. Donald Trump becomes Victor Davis Hanson. At 8 am on 19 September 2001, 86 professionals showed up for my class and got down to business. A packed room.

The free lunch helped.

Even my business partner, Faisal Alam, came down from New York City to join us. He is Muslim.

The country was mourning, but on the move.

I started with a minute of silence in remembrance of those lost in the World Trade Towers.

Then we all got back to work. Each making the world a better place. Even with a war on.

###

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King Kong in New York CityFrom time to time, Your Business Blogger works out of a client’s offices at the edifice at 350 Fifth Avenue in NYC.

Also known as The Empire State Building.

It is still standing.

So what didn’t happen on New Year’s Eve?

Nothing.

Enemy Jihadists didn’t blow anything up. And they didn’t touch Times Square packed with people at midnight 31 December.

President George Bush has been keeping us all safe since 9.11.

Even Michael Moore.

###

In war every soldier’s death is a public event.

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The Falling Man

credit: Richard Drew, AP

Because of 9.11, we are all soldiers now.

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The Pentagon circa 9.11.06. Lit by 184 lights to commemorate each life lost there on 9.11.01

Credit: Unknown

###

Caution, sales pitch follows, On this 9.11.08 Your Business Blogger(R) continues his business at Management Training of DC, LLC.

A Thank you note to Michelle Malkin on 9.11 for Tom Junod’s The Falling Man in Esquire.

Basil’s Blog has open trackbacks.

Follow Your Business Blogger(R) and Charmaine on Twitter: @CharmaineYoest and @JackYoest

Herbert Meyer Writes, What the President’s Attack on the CIA Really Means

August 31, 2009 | By | No Comments

John Howland, who runs the USNA-AT-Large sends this along — it deserves a wide audience.

What the President’s Attack on the CIA Really Means, By Herbert Meyer, August 26, 2009

There is now just one group of people exempt from President Obama’s worldwide ban on torture: the men and women of the CIA.

By authorizing Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether a full criminal investigation of CIA employees and contractors is warranted for the manner in which they interrogated captured terrorists, the President has thrown his power and support behind those far-left ideologues — in Congress and elsewhere — who believe that the CIA is a bigger threat to our country than al Qaeda.

I know the men and women of the CIA — I had the honor of working with them during the Reagan Administration — and they would rather have their fingernails pulled out with pliers or have holes drilled into their knees (neither of which they did to captured terrorists, as the Justice Department’s hot-shot investigators will learn) than be thought of as anything other than honorable patriots doing their best, under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, to protect our country from its enemies.

It will be excruciating for them to face their colleagues each morning under the strain of looming criminal prosecutions that will destroy their careers and deplete their meager savings accounts — and, even worse, to come home to their families each evening with the stench of President Obama’s contempt for their honor in the air.

Also read the INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING FOR Chief Executive Officers By HERBERT MEYER

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In Memoriam: USS Bonefish Lost 18 June 1945

June 17, 2009 | By | No Comments

At a recent funeral — they seem to come faster and faster as we get older and older — Charmaine and I talked about burials. Cremation, well, lights our fire and speeds up that dust-to-dust transition.

Charmaine asked what we’d plan to do with the ashes, where on earth to put them. We talk about the extended family’s burial plots.

“Where do you want to get buried?” She asks.

“37º18′N, 137º55′E,” I say.

“What?”

“The Sea of Japan,” I remind her.

She just looks at me. Women!

“What’s there?” she wonders.

Bonefish.

***

June 18th is the day we remember the loss of USS Bonefish.

This piece was originally published by The Virginian Pilot and the Courier Post.

DEBT OF HONOR: REMEMBERING THE USS BONEFISH

by John Wesley Yoest

My father, then only a teen-ager from Jersey, left high school, went to war and was assigned to the submarine, USS Bonefish. Just before the final mission of the Bonefish, my father walked off the gangplank – transferred to another assignment. Another man took his place.

On its eighth mission, on June 18, 1945, Bonefish was lost fighting the enemy in the Sea of Japan, with the loss of all 53 officers and men. It was the last U.S. submarine sunk in World War II…

Article at the jump.

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Follow us on Twitter: JackYoest and CharmaineYoest

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The Salvation of Private Ryan, D-Day; 2009

June 6, 2009 | By | No Comments

Following is a movie review by Your Business Blogger(R) originally published by the Scripps Howard News Service. Get updates on Twitter.

WHY SAVING PRIVATE RYAN FALLS SHORT

By JOHN WESLEY YOEST JR.

“Please tell me I’ve been a good man,” Private Ryan tearfully begs his wife when, as an old man, he visits the grave of the man who died for him. “Tell me I’ve led a good life.”

Well frankly, Ryan, your life probably wasn’t all that special. At least not good enough for another man to die in your place. No man is “good enough,” no man is truly worthy of the ultimate sacrifice. In his heart, Ryan knows this. And so do we.

But as Hollywood prepares to honor the depictions of sacrifice in the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” it’s worth reflecting on true worth of that ultimate gesture. …

…There is an Unknown God that we all seek. Speilberg was on to truth in depicting Captain Miller as “the teacher,” a rabbi, a Christ-figure. In its final moments, the movie reveals its allegory of man’s yearning for Christ. Only in this context does “Saving Private Ryan” make sense. Private Ryan cheated death, but he didn’t cheat eternity. Was he good enough? No man is good enough.

In the end, Ryan falls to his knees before his savior’s grave feeling his unworthiness. Asking in anguish the movie’s central question: was I worthy? The only answer Speilberg leaves us with is a silently waving flag and Ryan’s hollow cry … I tried to be a good man! The difference between saying “I was a good man” and admitting, “I am not worthy” may seem slight. But traversing the chasm between the two provides the true liberation Ryan was seeking.

In Spielberg’s movie, Ryan is saved by Everyman. But the captain’s grave provided no ultimate answers. For salvation, Ryan should have kneeled before an empty grave.

Read the rest at the jump.

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Dog tags with P38

Service Number blurred

 

 

***
Thank you (foot)notes:

scripps howard news service logo yoest

Originally published by

the Scripps Howard News Service

Also titled

The Salvation of Private Ryan by Jack Yoest, The Virginian Pilot.

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The One Veteran I Want To Thank, Memorial Day, 2009

May 25, 2009 | By | No Comments

When I cross over to the other side of eternity, there is one young man I want to thank: The submariner who took my dad’s place.

This piece was originally published by The Virginian Pilot and the Courier Post.

DEBT OF HONOR: REMEMBERING THE USS BONEFISH

My father, then only a teen-ager from Jersey, left high school, went to war and was assigned to the submarine, USS Bonefish. Just before the final mission of the Bonefish, my father walked off the gangplank – transferred to another assignment. Another man took his place.

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USS Bonefish,

Returning from her 4th patrol.

Sailors, rest your oars.

On its eighth mission, on June 18, 1945, the Bonefish was lost fighting the enemy in the Sea of Japan, with the loss of all 53 officers and men. It was the last U.S. submarine sunk in World War II. Dad eventually went back to high school and married my mother.

The other man is “on eternal patrol,” as the veterans say.

A half-century later, after fighting in and surviving two wars, my father was buried in Arlington Cemetery. He had the chance to raise a family and devote 30 years to the armed services, and pin second lieutenant bars on my shoulders.

He didn’t talk much about the Bonefish or the man who replaced him.

Still, I imagine in some Navy Valhalla my dad and this other sailor linked up together and asked the Creator, “Why?”

“Why him? Why me?”

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John Sr. with John Jr.

War forces these questions on us, and they echo for generations. My father had me, and I now have a 4-year-old son, John, who carries his grandfather’s name and his love of battle and discipline.

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John III with

John Jr. (Jack)

John, like all children, often asks, “Why?” Like all fathers, I struggle to answer. But there are questions mere human reason cannot fathom.

Why was my father not on that submarine that fateful day?

And the answer does not come. Only that John now lives. With a purpose and a destiny still unknown.

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, someone asked her, “What is your greatest fear?” She answered that it was losing her husband; she feared the possibility of facing the awesome responsibility of motherhood alone.

But now, several children later, as I reflect on that same question, my fear is not of losing her, or even one of our daughters. I fear losing my son. In my masculine pride, I believe I can protect my wife and girls, but in my heart lurks the dread possibility that I must one day send my son to war.

My boy loves my cavalry saber and my dad’s medals. Wearing a military uniform and military service runs in our family. My son’s bloodline is traced through the Civil War and the Revolutionary War to William Penn to Charlemagne of ninth century France. His great-grandfather helped build Virginia Military Institute.

I pray the time never comes, but if it does, I expect that he will fight for God and country like his fathers before him.

Buried at sea, there are no headstones. I cannot mark the grave of the man who took my father’s place, so I mark the date. I pay silent homage in remembrance of June 18, 1945, when the sea smashed through the bulkheads and turned a warship into a coffin.

There have been many such coffins, and if history is any teacher there are many yet to come.

When I think of future wars, I pray that a doomed high-tech Bonefish will not carry my John. The fear of this nearly unendurable loss humbles me. That young man who walked on the Bonefish to take my father’s place was another man’s son. Another man’s dreams lost at sea.

War turns civilization on its head. In peace, sons bury fathers. In war, fathers bury sons.

It is a weighty debt. A debt of honor due. I expect to instill in my son a sense of history, of purpose, of his mission. That his body is not entirely his own, that he has a high calling.

I hope that I can teach him the lessons of his forefathers, those men now called the Greatest Generation.

It is my prayer that instilling this sense of mission will drive out the distractions, temptations and destructions of his growing generation. That drugs will not cloud his ambition. That he will see the hand of divine providence moving in his life.

That he will know he has so much to be thankful for. Like his fathers before him.

I pray he will be grateful, like his grandfather. It is my charge to tell my son that another man took his grandfather’s place. My son has the duty, and like me, the obligation to his family and to that other man, to live with a sense of purpose and awe.

To live with a sense of respect to the tomb of that other young submariner.

This June 18, I want to salute the man who died for me and the men who died for us all. I want my son to know his debt of honor. And, God willing, my son will bury me.

John Wesley Yoest, Jr., of Richmond, is [the former] assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

###

Thank you (foot)notes:

Charmaine blogged on Bonefish .

Since this was first published a few years ago, we’ve been honored to hear from other veterans who served on Bonefish and naval historians. There were actually 85 men lost aboard Bonefish and another boat holds the distinction of last sub lost in the war.

And, since this piece was written, we’ve added John’s brother James to the family — here he is in the same sailor suit that dad sewed by hand while at sea decades and decades ago.

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James and Jack

See here for our visit to Arlington Cemetery.

Alert reader Greg Gray reminds us that,

“In peace, sons bury fathers. In war, fathers bury sons.”

That comes from Herodotus 1:87. But it’s still a wonderful point. Also relevant to today is Pericles’ oration in Thucydides’ Peloponnesian Wars.

Published: June 18, 1999

Section: LOCAL, page B11

Type of story: OPINION

Source: JOHN WESLEY YOEST

© 1999- Landmark Communications Inc.

Description of illustration(s):

Art by Margaret Scott

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Follow us on Twitter: @jackyoest @charmaineyoest

Memorial Day: 2009

May 23, 2009 | By | No Comments

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The Penta-Posse at

Arlington National Cemetary, 2005 Charmaine wrote this a few years ago.

Every time we’ve made the left turn onto Eisenhower Drive, and passed through the imposing brick gates of Arlington National Cemetery, I’ve been overwhelmed with emotion. Family members of those buried at Arlington National Cemetery are given a special pass and may drive onto the Hallowed Grounds to visit the grave of their loved one. It’s an enormous honor which makes me feel humbled.

My husband’s father served thirty years in the United States Navy, and died the year I married into the family, so I didn’t know him well. And the fact is, after a lifetime of nine-month Mediterranean tours, wars, and rumors of war, there is a lot my husband doesn’t know as well.

However, over the 15 years that we’ve been married, I have gotten to know my mother-in-law well. She doesn’t talk either about the sacrifices she made, but there is one story that she has told me several times.

Once, when my father-in-law was out on tour, and she was home with three small children, the car broke down and, of course, she had to take care of it. My husband marched up and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll fix it.” He was about five years old at the time.

My mother-in-law laughs. . . the little man, takin’ care of things. But it makes me cry.

We owe a lot to our military families.

When we visited Arlington this past week, we passed at least three funeral ceremonies on the way to Section 64. I lost track of the fresh graves and the still-standing tents, either just vacated by other grieving families, or awaiting the afternoon’s fresh, raw sorrow.

As we pulled up on Bradley Avenue, an Air Force honor guard was marching precisely back to their bus after a ceremony for an airman who had been a POW in Korea. While we searched for my father-in-law’s headstone, an empty horse-drawn caisson lumbered past, and settled briefly in the shade nearby, awaiting their next assignment. . .

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We found my father-in-law’s headstone: The front has the Christian Cross with the old Chief’s Curriculum Vita. Chief Yoest cut high school to catch World War II. He retired with rows of ribbons and a “v” device, and pinned butterbars on his boy. He now has a grandson, The Dude, who bears his name and wants to be a Navy pilot.

The reverse of the stone is blank, awaiting the inscripton for Chief Yoest’s high school sweetheart, his wife, Jack’s mom, “Babcia” (Polish for Grandmother), who is still with us. In the end, they will be buried together, an honor she earned.

As we turned to go, the Diva took her jingle-bell necklace from around her neck, and left it on the headstone. A fitting tribute for a warrior.

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Sailors, rest your oars.

We drove back down Bradley Avenue — past a fresh grave covered by a tarp. In front of us, sparkling in the bright sunlight of a gorgeous day, stretched row after row of white marble markers, orderly, peaceful, some weathered, others new and crisply chiseled . . .

I turned to the Penta-Posse. “I want you to look,” I said. “I want you to understand, that each one of these headstones represents someone who gave their life so that you could be free.”

They were quiet and solemn. The weight of it is beyond measure.

The Dreamer said, “Don’t cry, Mom.”

We made the right turn onto Eisenhower. We drove slowly toward the exit, passing the drive to the Tomb of the Unknowns to our left, until we came to a crosswalk thronged with tourists. The guard on duty motioned to the crowd to stop, and we drove through, passing through the gates, back to a busy day, leaving behind — the curious crowds, the chattering school children. . . and the silent stones.

***

Our good friend Mackubin Owens, Ph.D., has a terrific article up on NRO from last year, Mystic Chords of Memory, From America’s Founding, to the sacrifices of her sons and daughters, we remember.

This weekend, we mark the 140th anniversary of the first official observation of the holiday we now call Memorial Day, as established by General John A. Logan’s “General Order No. 11″ of the Grand Army of the Republic dated 5 May, 1868. This order reads in part: “The 30th day of May 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers and otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” Logan’s order served to ratify a practice that was already widespread, both in the North and the South, in the years immediately following the Civil War.

Alas, for many Americans today, Memorial Day has come to signify nothing more than another three-day weekend, a mere excuse for a weekend cook-out. Such an observance of Memorial Day obscures even the vestiges of its intended meaning: a solemn time, serving both as catharsis for those who fought and survived, and to ensure that those who follow will not forget the sacrifice of those who died that the American Republic and the principles that sustain it, might live.

“Mac” continues,

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address gives universal meaning to the particular deaths that occurred on that hallowed ground, thus allowing us to understand Memorial Day in the light of the Fourth of July, to comprehend the honorable end of the soldiers in the light of the glorious beginning and purpose of the nation. The deaths of the soldiers at Gettysburg, of those who died during the Civil War as a whole, and indeed of those who have fallen in all the wars of America, are validated by reference to the nation and its founding principles as articulated in the Declaration of Independence.

Some will object, claiming that linking Memorial Day and Independence Day glorifies war and trivializes individual loss and the end of youth and joy. How can the loved ones of a fallen soldier ever recover from such a loss? I corresponded with the mother of one of my Marines who died in Vietnam for some time after his death. He was an only child and her inconsolable pain and grief put me in mind of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, Epitaphs of the War, verse IV, “An Only Son”:

I have slain none but my mother, She

(Blessing her slayer) died of grief for me.

Kipling too, lost his only son in World War I.

But as Holmes said in 1884, “[G]rief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death — of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope and will.”

This Memorial Day the household of Your Business Blogger(R) will fly our Flag as we always do and remember those who “gave the last full measure” and died in service.

***

Dad is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The years on his head stone tell of his full life. Our family was so lucky.

Nearby head stones tell of service men who died far too soon. Far too young. In war for us.


Danny Boy

The BalladThe Irish classic Danny Boy has a long and varied history. The following explanation is my favorite and the simplest,

Once, a long time ago there was an old man who had raised many sons who he loved dearly. A war raged over the land that they lived in and one by one he saw each of them go off to fight and not return. Then one day, as harvest time drew near, he knew that his youngest, and most precious, son would soon be going off to fight just as his brothers before him. The old man was sad and knew that he may never see his last boy alive. He looked intently at the young lad, and with tears in his eyes he sang this song.

The ballad cannot begin to reveal the emotion and the pain of fathers and mothers who bury sons in a time of war.

I do not know how families do this.

But I do know that we must be grateful.

We are so lucky. Happy Memorial Day.

###

Thank you (foot)notes:

See Meditation on Suffering and Sacrifice,

The famous chapel on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains is more truly a cathedral. Outwardly, it is all sleek silver-wing metal, with seventeen external buttresses, knifing severely skyward. Designed to evoke an air-frame, the architecture does not immediately summon spiritual devotion.

But cross the threshold, step inside, and one is transported to another plane. The solemn air is bathed in the soft splendor of muted light. While the stern steel silhouette dominates the external view, the interior reveals the fragile panels of stained-glass that the harsh ribs support. The intricate glass panes filter and animate the sunlight, illuminating the sacred space with almost a visual hush.

At the front of the chapel, a single row is roped off. “Reserved” the sign says, for all the United States aviators who are missing in action or prisoners of war. The only occupant of the pew is a single, burning candle.

“Greater love hath no man than this. . .” reads the plaque. The Scripture it alludes to concludes: “that a man lays down his life for his friends.”

My thoughts immediately fly to my boy, my sweet Dude, who wants to be a fighter pilot. And baby Boo, who will almost certainly want to follow his older brother. My heart blanches. How could I bear it? And yet so many other mothers — gold-star mothers — even this very day, must find a way when their sons have given the last measure of devotion.

Be sure to read Charmaine’s post from 2005, Memorial Day: Arlington National Cemetery

Danny Boy Lyrics at Memorial Day, 2008, Danny Boy.

Follow us on Twitter: @jackyoest

USS Scorpion Lost: A Remembrance 2009

May 16, 2009 | By | No Comments

Each year in May Your Business Blogger(R) remembers the Cold War loss of submarine Scorpion. We are so lucky to have such brave men. And their families.

Our prayer is that our current Commander-in-Chief would know the culture of our warriors.

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In Remembrance of

those in the

Submarine Service Some 40 Years ago the USS Scorpion was due in my hometown, Norfolk, VA. She never returned.

She is, as the veterans say, on Eternal Patrol.

***

Your Business Blogger(R) wrote an article for National Review Online about those left behind from the loss of the USS Scorpion.

Five Days in May: The loss of the USS Scorpion.

By Jack Yoest

Yolanda Mazzuchi was about the prettiest girl in our school class. Our dads were in the Navy, often gone for months at a time. And they would be welcomed home at dockside with cheers and homemade signs. These gatherings at the D&S Piers at the Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia, were a regular part of our lives growing up. Families often took children out of school to celebrate a ship’s homecoming.

At 1 in the afternoon on Monday, May 27, 1968, at the height of the Cold War the USS Scorpion was due in port.

Yolanda didn’t know it then, but her dad was already dead….

Continue reading here.

John Howland at USNA-AT-LARGE has set up a group for the boat,

Dedicated to and in honor of the 99 U.S. Navy submariners who perished in the loss of SCORPION in May 1968. The 40th Anniversary of that tragedy …[is] (May 2008), yet the cause(s) of the loss remain a complete mystery.

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USS Scorpion

40 Years on Eternal Patrol

This lack of clarity and closure has created a void into which charlatans now have full play in creating bogus theories for profit.

This unsatisfactory situation may result in the SCORPION 99 going into history forever at the mercy of the unscrupulous.

The solution that this group will work toward will be to encourage the U.S. Navy to, at the very least, put to rest the loss scenarios which have MINIMAL TO NO PROBABILITY of having actually occurred.

###

Thank you (foot)notes:

Follow Jack and Charmaine on Twitter: @JackYoest and @CharmaineYoest

More from BubbleHead.

And read about the Loss of the Bonefish.

Your Business Blogger(R) of Management Training of DC, LLC, is a licensed agent for the William Oncken Corporation, presenters of Managing Management Time(TM) fondly known as Monkey Management.

Remember Me at the jump.

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