All posts in “milblogging”

Flightdeck Friday (I): Ave Atque Vale – Three Years On

Today’s Flightdeck Friday is a repost from the day when our extended family here learned of Lex’s passing out at NAS Fallon.  It was a grim day – a hard day and as noted below, one myself and many of us who have hung up our spurs thought we were done with.  In honor and memory therefore – today’s repost.  We’ll return to our regularly scheduled series this weekend. — SJS sends.


I lost a friend today.

We have lost a friend, a father, husband — a comrade in arms. Fellow aviator and blogger-at-arms, Neptunus Lex, was killed earlier today when the F-21 Kfir he was flying in support of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (“TOPGUN”) adversary squadron crashed at NAS Fallon.   No word on the cause as yet.   Prayers and thoughts go out to his family — please likewise keep them in your prayers in the days/weeks to come.

Lex would be the first to tell you, upon asking (or not), that he was a fighter pilot.   And he was an accomplished one at that – having reached the pinnacle with command of a Hornet squadron and XO at TOPGUN (“not two words” he would say…).   He was a sailor at heart with a love for the sea and those who set forth thereon in grey-hulled ships – befitting of one who wore the gold wings of a naval aviator.   And he was a patriot in the truest and traditional sense with a deep love for this country and her people.   Indeed, his last work in this life was training a new generation of fighters to defend this nation.

Even so, what really set Lex apart was his eloquence, obvious love of the classics and an abilty to turn a phrase that would do his Irish ancestors proud.   Anyone who has spent time in the air or at sea comes to appreciate the change in perspective those alluring mistresses offer and how they come to change you.   It is the rare person, however, who is able to more than adequately express and convey that imagery, that perspective.   Lex was one of those rare individuals and you could readily see it in his work – almost all of which he shared gratis online.   Whether it was a semi-fictional account of a young aviator wrestling with carrier flight ops or surgical disection of a controversial subject, his wit, grace and command of the language marked him as a finely honed rapier in a field cluttered with dull broadswords and broken battle axes.   And it will be missed.

The time will come when we will take position and give our formal farewells with appropriate ceremony.   For now, I’ll leave with this thought from a fellow naval aviator and friend – part of a discourse from last night…

” We are, actually, pretty few, and we count our fellows as friends of a different sort.. And so when one of us leaves, it is noticed. It is one thing to fade, fade away. It is another to be taken by the mistress, to be here, and then gone. I thought she was done with leaving me to count. So I thought.”

I too thought my counting days finished – alas not so…

Fair winds Lex and God bless and uphold your family.   We’ll meet you at the rendezvous point…on the other side  at the Green.



Welcome Aboard to

The latest to join the milbog/aviation ‘verse  is – brought to you by a former Crusader/Corsair II naval aviator with 170 combat missions in the A-7 over Vietnam while flying off the USS Midway in the 1972-73 timeframe.  Consider one of the more recent posts:

All days come from one day, as the writer, the poet, the singer  says, so without attempting to channel Ernest Hemingway, this reflects basic remembrance of the day I and a lot of young men went off to war.  For me, it meant I would spend the 11thof April at sea – my one month wedding anniversary.  I left a beautiful young woman crying on the pier.  She drove from Alameda to the Golden Gate Bridge to watch MIDWAY change her life in ways completely unexpected a month earlier in the chapel at Point Mugu.  We weren’t following closely the day-day of the war nor privy to the back channel information of impending crisis in the war in Vietnam. Things had been rather quite there since the bombing halt up North in 1968 called by President Johnson after the Tet Offensive...

Looking forward to many more good reads over there — be sure to check it out (we’ve added it to the blogroll under “Naval Aviation”).

Catching Up

Much has been going within and outside the household these past several weeks – and that explains a lot of the paucity of posts of late. Foremost amongst these was the passing of my wife’s father, a Korean War vet, railroad worker and longtime sufferer of Alzheimer’s. Word to the wise — if you haven’t had “the talk” with your parents and, depending on your relationship, your in-laws about living wills, advanced directives, hospice, and other end of life decisions, you are only denying the inevitable and setting yourself up for an even more difficult scenario at the very time when you need clear thinking. I add in-laws because like as not, you will be the go to person when faced with that scenario. Have that discussion, plan out the branches and sequels and write it down so you are ready at the drop of a hat — because even if you are dealing with a disease (or collection thereof) which have been grinding slowly, inexorably on for years, decades even, the end may come suddenly, in days or even hours and these days time is not on your side for research and deliberation. While you are at it, add a wifi/3G enabled iPad/tablet to your list. My iPad was invaluable during the course of the past week with quick access to a variety of needed sites and online forms, especially where the VA was concerned. Do this and while it won’t make the hurt and loss any less, it will significantly reduce the stress and anxiety levels for ALCON, and that in the long run will pay dividends. Above all, keep and call upon your faith – remember Isaiah 40:31

A week(plus) ago we kicked off the annual fund raising drive for Valour-IT, the program that through Soldier’s Angels provides IT solutions for our wounded service members who are otherwise unable to avail themselves of conventional methods of accessing computers and other IT devices you and I take for granted on a daily basis.   Folks – I know times are beastly hard,but the measure of a society is how it cares for and supports those who face physical and mental challenges in the course of their daily lives. Doubly so for those who have made the sacrifice in service to that society. There are an abundance of charities out there covering almost every cause (most worthy, others maybe less so) – heaven knows, you only need pick up the annual Combined Federal Campaign book listing them to see. Project Valour-IT is one of those rare charities where 100% of what you donate goes to helping the wounded vet and not providing overstuffed furniture in some palatial headquarters office or a six-figure salary for a charity CEO. It is why this is the one charity I will support (outside of our church and tithing) monetarily (others we provide our time). Look over to the top right side and you’ll find two widgets — one to learn more and another to donate. Yes, we have a “friendly” competition going on between Service related teams, but in the end the money all goes into the same pot and all we get is bragging rights (which at the moment, ahem, it appears Team Army is running away with). We’re entering the home stretch and there is a long ways to go to meet this year’s goal of $25K for Team Navy. How about pitching in?

Sometimes I get notes offline (and you can write to me here if so moved) asking about why I hadn’t addressed a certain event or topic, or if I had, why I was late to the game. One of the self-imposed restrictions I set on myself was to swing to the cautious side in certain topics that may relate to my real world job. It is altogether too easy to allow what in the vernacular is called “spillage” if you get on a roll and unintentionally reveal that which shouldn’t surface in this arena. The figleaf of blogger anonymity only goes so far if you stretch beyond hit-rates that exceed single digits on a weekly basis (which we have occasion to do here). On more than one occasion I’ve spiked my own draft based on that degree of conservative approach only to see it substantially posted elsewhere. Selah – my conscience is clear and the wolves of unemployment remain stayed at the outer gates. Still, I’ll continue to find some way to bring a perspective to certain topics that is lacking in the broader blogsphere that are sourced from daily experience – like a recent trip that included getting into the guts of surface-to-air and ballistic missiles that cemented concepts and engineering principles studied from afar while illustrating the problems of proliferation (like my up close and personal look at an application of pyrolytic-reinforced graphite).

Finally – there are several articles in the bullpen or warming up – many dealing with the ongoing observation of the Naval Aviation Centenary (including a look at operations in the Alaskan theater of operations). As the saying goes – more to follow…

w/r, SJS

P.S.  Oh and standby — more coming down the pike re. the Naval Institute and it doesn’t look good for the home team.

Project Valour-IT: A Little Upfront/Straight Talk. . .

8 Nov update: Four days left folks- let’s make it count!!

Let’s set aside the competition for a minute and talk straight to the heart of the matter. Fact is, the need is great and growing. Our wounded warriors number in the tens of thousands, the majority of which would benefit in one way or another from the solutions being offered through Valour-IT:

– Soldiers’ Angels is responding to unmet needs-specific requests of medical personnel, and are working directly with personnel to identify individual needs (such as for the laptops).
– As the military/VA are more effectively meeting the tech needs of severely wounded in-hospital, we are finding new needs that are not being met.” (DoD and VA are starting to make voice-controlled computers available in-hospital, but not necessarily when patients leave and not necessarily laptops).
– Soldier’s Angels will continue to provide voice-activated laptops to severely wounded as a priority, where needed (6-10 a month at the moment).
– Physical therapists report Wii Sports and similar programs are extremely motivational and helpful in physical therapy and are requesting support in procuring them (hardware & software).
– Personal and vehicle GPS are needed for wounded with TBI and severe PTSD-helps keep them from getting lost and disoriented when they move to more independent living after initial in-hospital recovery or after being med-boarded out.
– Soldier’s Angels will also make laptops and desktops available to severely wounded leaving the service who need them for retraining, job hunting, etc.

As great as that need is, the need for your support is greater. Before this year’s fund drive began the coffers were near empty. There is no Federal, state or other governmental or non-governmental funding for Valour-IT — you are it. At the same time, no other organization can provide the direct, undistilled benefit to those in need like Valour-IT. Yes, times are tough and the current state of the economy does little to inspire near-term confidence. And yet — and yet for say, $20, about the price for a dinner for a family of four at a fast food joint, you have already started the process. Talk to a couple of friends, convince them to pass on the high bucks coffee for a week and contribute instead and in short order, ecce, another warrior is matched with a laptop, a wii or another technological device that will significantly help them down the road to recovery.

So here, today, right now — here is something you can do to make a difference. Make a donation – $10 or a thousand. Any and all amounts are welcomed – all put to immediate and good use. Make it via a team or direct to the site, please. The time is short, the need great and your thoughtful consideration and donation welcome. And tell someone you know…

Milblogging Conference 2010 Wrap-up

If tw0’s company and three’s a conspiracy/mutiny – what about a bunch more?  Call it Milblogger 2010 . . . Made it to the morning session before having to depart for other duties in the afternoon, but in the interim joined up with Mary (USNI), ‘Phib (CDR Salamander), Taco (Sandgram), Jim Dolbow (USNI); Sgt B (Gunline), Claude B. and a grunch more.  Of what gathering would be complete without the bog princess herself, Maggie (Boston Maggie) too?  Good sessions this morning, especially the last AM session with Maj Hatch, USMC-Ret. who narrated footage he shot at Tarawa.  Great conversation at lunch – and major thanks are due to Mary for making it happen. Regrettably missed the afternoon session with CFFC himself.  All in al, decent half day — hope to make it a full one next year.

Oh, and Maggie — one word: iPad.  😀

2010 Milbloggies – Navy Blogs

Well the nominations are in and on the Navy side of the house there are five sites up for your voting consideration –USNI’s blog, CDR Salamander, Neptunus Lex, US Fleet Forces Command (ADM Harvey’s blog) and your humble scribe.  The list provides a most interesting cross-section of the Navy’s milblogging community.  There are active duty and retired bloggers – single and group efforts.  New kids on the block and old hands.  Concentrations run the gamut from current topics to historical series, mundane to the profound — but at the end of the day we are all united by one thing — our love of the sea, the Navy that sails it and the nation it protects.  For details on casting a ballot – head over to the main site.  Don’t lag behind — voting closes 7 April 2010!

I won’t advocate for any one in particular – that’s your call, just make sure to get over and vote.  Let the chips fall where they may…

P.S.  While you are there, drop by the “Military Supporter” category and plant one for our own Boston Maggie!

Coming Soon: The Naval History Blog

It is a meeting place where renowned scholars and self-taught history buffs linger and share ideas and perspective on naval events that shape nations.

The Naval Institute and Naval History and Heritage Command have combined efforts to bring forth a new blog serving those with an interest in naval history.  The christening page is up here: Naval History Blog — look for launch and commissioning in the *very* near future.

And yes, I’ll be posting there too…

Milblogs: EMCON ALFA

Joining the milblogsphere through 18 Dec:

On Wednesday 16 December 2009, many milblogs — including This Ain’t Hell, From My Position, Blackfive, Miss Ladybug, Boston Maggie, Grim’s Hall, and those participating in the Wednesday Hero program — are going silent for the day. Some are choosing to go silent for a longer period of time.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, milblogs are facing an increasingly hostile environment from within the military. While senior leadership has embraced blogging and social media, many field grade officers and senior NCOs do not embrace the concept. From general apathy in not wanting to deal with the issue to outright hositility to it, many commands are not only failing to support such activities, but are aggressively acting against active duty milbloggers, milspouses, and others. The number of such incidents appears to be growing, with milbloggers receiving reprimands, verbal and written, not only for their activities but those of spouses and supporters.

The catalyst has been the treatment of milblogger C.J. Grisham of A Soldier’s Perspective. C.J. has earned accolades and respect, from the White House on down for his honest, and sometimes blunt, discussion of issues — particularly PTSD. In the last few months, C.J. has seen an issue with a local school taken to his command who failed to back him, and has even seen his effort to deal with PTSD, and lead his men in same by example, used against him as a part of this. Ultimately, C.J. has had to sell his blog to help raise funds for his defense in this matter.

An excellent story on the situation with C.J. can be found at Military Times:

While there have been new developments, the core problem remains, and C.J. is having to raise funds to cover legal expenses to protect both his good name and his career.

One need only look at the number of blogs by active duty military in combat zones and compare it to just a few years ago to see the chilling effect that is taking place.

Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to the public. They have provided vital context and analysis on issues critical to operations and to the informed electorate critical to the Republic.

On Wednesday 16 December, readers will have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it. Those participating are urging their readers to contact their elected representatives in Congress, and to let their opinions be known to them and to other leaders in Washington.

Some milblogs will remain silent for several days; some just for the day. All have agreed to keep the post about the silence and C.J. at the top of their blogs until Friday 18 December.

The issues go beyond C.J., and deserve careful consideration and discussion. We hope that you will cover this event, and explore the issues that lie at the heart of the matter. Contact the milbloggers in your area or that you know, and hear the story that lies within.

Participating blogs:

A Soldier’s Perspective
You Served
The American Legion
Laughing Wolf
Hugh Hewitt
This Ain’t Hell
Castle Argghhh
Boston Maggie
Miss Ladybug
Hooah Wife
Kiss My Gumbo
Some Soldiers Mom
Assoluta Tranquillita
Knee Deep in the Hooah
Soldiers’ Angel New York
Drunken Wisdom
Grim’s Hall
From my position
CDR Salamander
Confederate Yankee
Chromed Curses
Homefront Six
Pvt Murphey’s Law
Delta Bravo Sierra
The Sniper
Another Voice
Support your Local Gunfighter
Knottie’ s Niche
Great Reader JihadGene
America’s North Shore Journal
Righty in a Lefty State
Thunder Run
Gazing at the Flag
Neptunus Lex
Soldiers Angels Germany
Bring the heat, bring the stupid
Little Drops….. Into the pool of life.
The Gun Line
In Iraq Now (at 56)
Army Houesehold6
Susan Katz Keating
The Mudville Gazette
The Dawn Patrol

Covering the story:

Michelle Malkin
National Review’s The Corner
Ace of Spades
Jawa Report
Winds of Change
Cao’s Blog
Free Republic
Dr. Melissa Clouthier
Villainous Company
The Washington Independent

Grisham Legal Fund
c/o Redstone Federal Credit Union
220 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35893
Please write “Grisham Legal Fund” in the memo line if you use this option.

Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to you. Today, many milblogs are gone and others are under attack from within and without. Today, you have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it. Make your voice heard by writing your congressional representatives and others, and by making donations as you see fit.

The battle for freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas is fought on many fronts and in many ways. Without your help, the battle may well be lost.

Arbitrary and Capricious – DoD Agencies Website Blocking


It has come to our attention that certain DoD agencies have instituted blocking software that blocks this site and several other milbloggers from being viewed in the workplace. Amongst the casualties of this policy are Eagle1, Far East Cynic, Boston Maggie, Black Five and OP-For.

Sites that are generally  DoD friendly(yes, including Skippy).

Sites, some of whose owners (including your humble scribe) are part of the DoD sponsored Bloggers Roundtable for pity’s sake…

Fortunately, some other notables, not named here for obvious reasons are still available.  Sites aren’t being blocked because of their hosting source (as has been the case in the past with the Army and AF vs, for example).  What is especially egregious – and hence the title of this post, is this COA was instituted presumably to prevent users in the .mil domain from accessing sites deemed “non-productive.”  So will someone *please* explain to us just how DailyKos, Huffingtonpost and others of that ilk *are* productive because they sure aren’t blocked.

Oh yes — the other reason the blocking software was instituted — too many users accessing pr0n on the ‘net.  Guess what – even with the new software, more users than ever are downloading pr0n at one agency that has instituted this policy.

Arbitrary and capricious indeed…but we have a plan.

IA Blogger

Latest addition to the blogroll is “Spooky In  The Sand” – a Hawkeye NFO (and former Steeljaw to boot!) who is presently one of the many Navy IA’s in Iraq with the Army.  Swing by to capture culture encounters with the Army and the wry observations and POV afforded by a career of being shot off the (not-so) pointy end of the boat.  Begin with the electric flyswatter – you shan’t be disappointed.