A veteran soldier we listened to give a brief description of his time served in the Navy. John was enlisted as a cook, and worked in quite a few different areas of the ship. The ship he was placed on was USS Inchon, which was a marine carrier. He worked with nuclear weapons and security. The most prominent factor he wanted to make clear was it was a hard work, and requires dedication. He started out at the bottom of the ranks in his service. John was given a lot of the grunt work to begin, but worked his way up the ranks. He cooked in the officer’s gallery most of the time. He visited many countries in his first service, such as Greece. In the next term with his squadron he visited Bermuda, Sicily, and other countries. John mentions meeting his wife in the service and explains it was a rough road. He wanted to continue his service and retire from military but it placed a strain on his marriage, so he choose to leave for her sake. He reflected on a moment that was very emotional for him, one that I could see was a very special memory from his service. He was going to Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis, and was looking for a moment’s reflection. He went out one of the port doors and looked out over the sea, and instantly felt a calm feeling rush over him. So much so he was unaware there was someone else there. He was startled by a Seal that spoke to him and was upset he never got a chance to see that Seal again. John wanted to remind those that served, or anyone that you have to keep moving forward. You can’t live in the past, it will only haunt you as a result. You have to push on, and move forward. The best thing about listening to John’s story was that he seemed relieved after sharing it, like it helped to have someone listen, if only for a moment’s time. That is what our mission is all about and I am glad to get a chance to witness it.
Navy is allowing females to become submariners!
The news was anoounce at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The top U.S. officer for human resources in the Navy annouced this shocking news on Thursday. He says that he is sure that the service members will be able to over come any barriers that they may run into as they fully intergrate women into the submarine force.
Bill Moran, the naval personnel chief, has spoken to reporters and states that he will be seeing this firsthand onboard the USS Mississippi later in the week. The first two women to serve on a submarine started last month. The women serve as a supply officer and submariner on the Pacific and are among the very first women to serve on a attack submarine.
When the crude traditions were brought up in regards to the underwater fleet, Moran said he might not have been a submariner himself, but knows that they are a highly professional force.
“Part of being a professional is treating people with dignity and respect,” Moran said. “If there are cultural aspects of being a submariner that don’t comport with professionalism, male and female, then I’m sure they’re going to figure out a way to get rid of those cultural barriers.”
There have been women to serve on guided missile, and even ballistic missle subamarines since 2010 when the Navy removed the ban on women serving on submarines. The main difference between these submarines is size.
The contractors and Navy are currently working on changes to the design that will better accomodate the mixed gender crewmates. Privacy on these boats are currently a rare thing as the biggest of subs sleeps around 9 to a room and a total of 4 showers, and seven toilets to serve for the crew. The same crew that is approximately 140 men, and the passages are so narrow its hard not to be in close proximity of someone else.
The women selected first are put through a training school in Connecticut before being placed with a crew. The problem they were faced with was ensuring that the women that would be placed were of various ranks so that they would not only have junior females as this has presented previous issues.
“Once enlisted women get on board submarines and their experiences are positive, that word spreads by social media and other ways and hopefully that helps inspire other women to want to continue,” Moran stated.
This is a great example of our changing society as we are finally allowing women to rank anywhere in our military.
That’s how most numbers are supposed to work and that is what is expected when a line combat company moves out for a search and seize, or any other operational directive that the combat company is assigned to carry out. The numbers of the march order should be: First, second, third, and fourth. Or so we thought. But that was not what the 3rd of the 7th Infantry Charlie company commander (usually a Captain) wanted on this particular day.
Disturbance Activity and Orders
(Military map reading) VC sightings in grids, from sun west 2.5. South 1, 5. Direction, 277 degrees for 15 clicks. The Captain’s orders were: “4th Platoon, you will be point platoon. Move out 277 degrees for 15 clicks.” Ah, being 1st Squad’s squad leader and in the 4th Platoon, guess who was leading the 3/7 combat company into this patrol? 1st Squad 4th platoon.
Positioning is Everything
The actual positioning for patrolling within this combat squad of 10 men (14 men is a full squad), looked like this:
1st Man: Point Man, 10 -15 feet in the front of the squad’s main body with a 277 degree direction.
2nd Man and the Point Man’s guard: 5-feet behind the Point Man.
3rd, Man: Squad leader.
4th, 5th, 6th Men: First fire team. A M60 machine gun operator and two riflemen one a team leader, one an ammo team guard with M60 ammo and assistant to the M60 gunner. When any contact arose, the M60 machine gunner is first into position to lay down fields of fire for any incoming threats. There’s nothing like a M60 for a squad’s protection.
6th 7th, 8th Men: Second fire team. Two riflemen and a M79 grenade launch operator.
9th Man: Medic.
10th Man: Rear rifleman keeping connection with Second Squad.
Terrain: Rice paddy fields with large jungle-type bush of terrain between rice paddy fields. You never walk on the rice paddy dike. The rice paddy dikes are easy to walk on, yet very susceptible to booby traps. First Squad’s line of patrol was right smack in the middle of the rice paddies. The middle part of the rice paddy usually holds about two feet of water. Movement that day for the company was good only snipers fire for some brief moments. The smart thing that took place within the company command was that no one would show their rank or insignias out on patrol, so as not to be the target of choice for any threating actions.
The Place to Be
You can be in a lot of places in your life that you really want to be, have fun, and enjoy. Patrolling right smack in the middle of a rice paddy in 1968 in South Vietnam was, for most people, the last place they ever wanted to be.
Or maybe not.
Sometimes in life it’s who we are with that really counts. It’s how we conduct ourselves in toughing it out in the places that we are placed. These places are what make us the heroes we all want to be. The integrity, valor, and precision of operations that took place that day and the following months with these heroic American soldiers was that moment in my life. Exactly where I wanted to be.
In the submarine movie U-271, there is a quick change of command during wartime circumstances. The first officer becomes the Captain. His start as Captain is somewhat shaky. He delivers commands and actions that are indecisive. The Chief of the boat senses this, and confronts the captain with some startling words. He is straightforward and says, “Captain, if you are going to lead this command, then lead with precision and decisiveness. No in-between.” After that, the Captain rose to his command potential.
The First Sergeant of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 199th, at the forward headquarters north of Saigon was a Sergeant who showed the essence of taking hold of your command. As the First Sergeant asked for my MOS (“Military Operations Specialty”), I explained that I had two: 11 Charlie, 11C (this is an indirect fire specialist, that is, “mortars”), and 11 Bravo, 11B, which is a line platoon infantry specialist.
He decided to place me with the 4th Platoon–the mortar platoon. The First Sergeant said, “Sergeant, we need you in the 4th. There is no qualified NCOs with your 11C MOS. Sergeant, head up the hill to the right you’ll find 4th platoon area up there.”
Stay the course
Walking into the 4th Platoon area of operations was like walking into a bar that you have never been in before. Somewhat unsure of your surroundings, the people inside size you up to see how you walk to the bar. How you walk in those moments will determine how you earn a space at the bar. As I learned, being with the 4th Platoon 199th soldiers, courage under fire was the norm. Their skills and bravery as weapons platoon soldiers was second to none.
I was put in charge of first squad, and was also made Fire Direction Specialist, responsible for directing the elevations, charges and accuracy when the motors fired into the planned targets. The guys in my squad were very accepting of me. One soldier said, “Sergeant, we all were praying for a Sergeant for our squad–a leader that would really show up.” My response: “First squad, I am here. I am your Sergeant. And, I will lead you.
The VLP Team
The mission statement of the United States Navy is, “A force for good.” These few words sum up a picture of thousands of protective ships, planes, men, and equipment that travel the earth’s oceans for the protection of what “we the people” believe is good for our society. Out of a need to bind together and preserve the values of their sacrifice and service, Vietnam veterans made their own mission statement: “Welcome home brother.” This statement was born out of a simple fact at the time: People did not say, “Welcome home” to Vietnam vets.
Presently, the statement “Thank you for your service” has come to represent all military services and veterans. It rings especially true for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in their transition home to civilian life. What is really important about the “thank you for your service” statement is it’s born out of the goodness of our civilians wanting to show in some way their thankfulness and support of the services of the returning veterans.
While this statement shows its worth in many ways, it is time to reignite the light of recognition for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and our present military service people. Now is the time for a new mission statement to restore and revitalize that flame of recognition. “We the people” do not want to lose a generation of veterans to nothing less than a lifelong recognition of their service.
Out of the experiences from your Vietnam brothers, Korea brothers, WWII, WWI, and all the other conflicts that share in the eternal verification of their service, you, Iraq, Afghanistan and military service persons can unite under this new mission statement: “Stay in the Light.” During all conflicts they say the generation at that time is the best that has come from our country. We veterans say that the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and service people who are serving then and now are the most unselfish service generation to ever perform for their country.
Veterans and military, let’s go within our ranks and bind together and reemerge into a better, brighter, and immensely meaningful life-long campaign to preserve Staying in the Light. Staying in the Light is a short mission statement with a very deep, wide, and high purpose to keep military and veteran recognition alive and well. Civilians and all people with freedom in their hearts¬—we need you now more than ever in these uncertain times. Can we count on you?
Let’s say it together: “Veterans and Military: Stay in the Light.”
The VLP Team
“In country” can mean many different things. In 1968 it meant one thing across the world: “NAM.” The civilian jetliner that cruised across the pacific stopping in Alaska then Japan, following the polar route landed on the east coast of South Vietnam at the U.S. Air Force Base Cam Ronh Bay, South Vietnam. There are no special treatments when you move through military channels. The good news is you always get fed and are always given a place to bunk for the night. That next day the transition NCO that handled the flow of personnel through Transitioning from Cam Ronh Bay Air Base to their assigned orders says, “Sergeant, you’re on the morning flight tomorrow at Gate 5. The flight will be taking you to Tan Son Nhut Air Base right into Saigon. Your orders say the 199th light infantry brigade. Sergeant I will tell you this much: the 199th is stationed at Long Binh, north of Saigon and it’s a tough, rugged outfit—always on the move.
Keep on Moving
Landing at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, we are met by MPs fully armed to the hilt with directions to get us to the 199th. A half-hour ride in a Deuce and half Army truck on Route 1 placed us into the base camp compound of the 199th. Standing in the heart of the base camp by the welcome bunkers waiting for the our next direction, out comes a NCO sergeant first class looking like he had been born and raised right there.
Here is the best part: as he comes out of his hooch to greet us, on his left shoulder is a little monkey. The sergeant’s shoulder, as far as the monkey was concerned, was the monkey’s home. In between looking at us like we had messed up his day, the sergeant fed his little pal on his left shoulder with, yes, bananas. For the week that we stayed in base camp to get our bearings, this wonderful NCO gave us all brilliant insights and tips on the local terrain and culture that I know served us very well during our duty In Country.
—Coach Chris, VLP Team
As soon as we see a rock star, movie star or athletic star appearing or walking in a mall—wow—we are so excited by their presence. We might even risk asking them for an autograph. How about when we see a military service person? Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard—a service person dressed in their branch uniform. Are you moved and excited by their presence? If the opportunity presented itself, would we respectfully ask the military person for their autograph? With the rock star we would remember the experience as a highlight in our life. We would share it with family and friends. As the Marine passes in uniform in an airport terminal, would we smile our best smile? Would we wink our best wink? Would we pass through to the service person an uplifting moment of recognition? Sure we would. Our recognition shows an enormous amount of support for the service person’s sacrifice and commitment. Both stars and military persons are entitled to the rewards they have earned through their determination and effort.
One More Thing About Rock Star Versus U.S. Military
When it comes down to the light switch moments, such as Americans staying strong, free and protected 24/7, there could be a line drawn in the sand. There are very real dangers present in the world arena today. Fear not civilian, the line in the sand is drawn. It’s the U.S. military and our free world allied military defending, protecting and securing the 24/7 for us. As in the movie a Few Good Men when one character asked, “Why are we doing this?” The answer is: “Because there is marine on the wall.”
Ask the rock star, movie star and athletic star their choice and they’ll likely all say the same thing: U.S. military.
Coach Chris the VLP team
Sitcom: Army orders: report Fort Lewis State of Washington United States Army base. Await further orders republic of South Vietnam station and destination.
Waiting is a part of the process when it comes to services in the United States Military. It’s good; it acts as a buffer zone for making sure you are in the right place for your next duty station. The interesting part of being a NCO is that wherever you go with new orders, the brass will always find something for you to be in charge of. For this NCO, as soon as I bunked up in the NCO billets, the first sergeant in charge detailed me for the management of the rec. room for the enlisted personnel who were also awaiting orders for their next assignment at Fort Lewis. For us civilians, that’s the place with a pool table, darts, games and just a place that you went without having to lie in your bunk thinking of what would be the next operational orders coming down for you.
In 1968, all the enlisted men were there awaiting orders for Republic South Vietnam. Things were in full bloom in the republic. These guys in the rec. room had no tolerance for being pushed or bossed around. They were what we call in the service, “in Boogie Land”—neither here nor there.
One of the wisest managements for me as a NCO was those two weeks in charge of the rec. room. As I waited for my orders, I would only react or say something when it was absolutely necessary. Like when there was a double down of egos and two of the enlisted men were ready to take it outside and rumble. I was very fortunate at those moments because I used a choice of good commanding words: “At ease soldiers. Let’s be calm. All of us are on the same side.”
The stripes on my arms seemed to demand respect because they listened—during tough times and good times.
New Orders: Report ASAP—Republic South Vietnam, proceed through Army channels and air flights leaving Fort Lewis Washington in the morning, 0400 hours.
A veteran recently asked this question: “Things to know for going into business. What help can I get to start a business?”
To answer this Veterans question, how about looking at this from two different ways that might make sense—one from the head and one from the heart.
As a U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer, I am sure that you are very familiar with protocols, procedures and SOPs (“Stand Operating Procedures”). Starting and operating a business has the same type of structure. The difference is the vocabulary of words and categories. Words like “incorporation,” “local permits,” “filing fees,” “tax ID numbers” and “finance” fit into business start-up procedures.
For me, three words come to mind: Research, Listening, and Doing. Research is important to gather all the information available to you. Listening means there are good local resources to turn to. Your friends, family, and local business people are likely willing to give you an immense amount of good information.
Now here’s my answer from the heart: “Determination,” and “effort” are emotional words. They are also needed for a start-up business venture. I am sure that after six years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard, you know the meaning and the process of applying those words to your business venture. Which brings us to: Doing. That’s when the head and the heart work together to help you make decisions.
When you’ve got those three areas down, then you are ready.
VLP, Coach Chris
You know when you’re in control of your life. You go through the days, weeks, months and things are just working for you. HOWEVER, we all know there is always another hurdle to go through.
The last week in AIT Training, instead of getting orders though the regular channels, my Captain and Company Commander calls me into HQ Barracks. He says, “Soldier, you are lucky.” “Yes, Sir, Captain.” “Captain, you’ve been chosen.” ” Yes Sir, Chosen?” From where I am standing at this moment in my life, chosen can mean a lot of things. Holding my breath I say, “Yes, Sir, Captain.” “Soldier, you have been chosen to attend the Non-Commissioned Office School in Fort Benning, Georgia. We need to fill the ranks with more NCOs.” “Yes Sir.” “Soldier, here are your orders. The good news is that the school that trains the NCOs is the same outfit that trains our brave Rangers. You will have the best training to become a NCO. You can go home for a week and then report on the 15th. NCO school starts on the 16th.
Non-Commissioned Office Training
Did you think that Basic Training and AIT Training was the toughest training you would go through? Think again. The drill sergeants that trained you in the NCO training center seemed to have come out of a time zone of absolute control and expertise. They knew everything, did everything, and always looked like they could manage and take charge of whatever occurred in the next moments of their life. This was actually very good because the candidates that showed up for NCO School at Fort Benning, Georgia were no slouches either. When the drill sergeants told us to run at 4:30 AM, we ran. We ran good and hard and long. When we lapelled down the training walls, we did it with the courage that was incubating and taking hold of our confidence. When we performed night maneuvers and stayed up all night knowing the next day we would be doing more training, the saying was. “We got this, what’s next?”
One of the duties as corporals (that’s the rank we held during our training) was to be First Sergeant for the training day. This was an exacting task. When picked for this duty the night before, you would attend the established NCO meeting with the lieutenants and captain for the briefing on the protocol for the next day’s training. When the next morning came, you were in the spotlight calling out the full company unit to order and asking for the report, which would come from the platoon sergeants. It would go something like this:
“COMPANY A-ten-shun.” Pause. Everyone was in the “do not move” position.
The next command is “REPORT.”
The platoon sergeants of each of the four platoons snapped a perfect salute, then each reported and said:
“First platoon all present and accounted for.”
“Second platoon all present and accounted for.”
“Third platoon all present and accounted for.”
“Fourth platoon all present and accounted for.”
You, very smartly with your best about-face, turned, then paused and saluted the company commander and said, “Sir, NCO Training Company, all present and accounted for.”
And that was just the beginning of the day.
– Coach Chris, VLP