Tag Archives: USMC

“You’re a ‘hotbox’, Father George!”

zero dark thirty hotbox torture

Enhanced interrogation can include the hotbox, which you can see pictured above on the right. The front side flips down and the person is crammed inside in a fetal position for a day or two. Really, really, really horrible. The hotbox itself doesn’t do anything, but certainly attracts the attention of the one inside of it, others having done that.

There are many definitions of hotbox, some related to growing cannabis, some to enhanced interrogation, some to solitary confinement, etc. However, in prison, a ‘hotbox’ is a prisoner who is constantly being surveilled, that is, more than others. For some reason or other or none, he’s got the attention of the powers that be, with the guards and administration always in his face. It’s not that he’s done anything wrong. It just is what it is. Entertainment. Perhaps a psychology module for continuing education.

Today I protested to Father Gordon that he might be more blacklisted than he already is if he’s associated with me, even though I’ve never met him, and only do some logistical things for him. He dismissed that, laughing, saying the worst of what he thought of me, which, he being good and kind, isn’t bad at all. He said: “You’re a ‘hotbox’, Father George!” After he explained what that meant, I protested: “I didn’t do anything!” He said, laughing again: “That’s what they all say!”

Ha ha ha.

If there’s supposed to be something annoying about being a ‘hotbox’ I haven’t noticed. I mean, if it’s not one thing then it’s another in life, right? If anything, it makes life interesting. Oh, that’s right. That’s some sort of Chinese curse, you know, to have an interesting life! I always thought it was fun. Make me the ‘hotbox’! Make me the ‘hotbox’! Me! Me!

I always did like extreme sports, doing things others avoid. It’s a No Fear! thing.

Be careful what you wish for.

How Kryptic can one be?

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Filed under Humor, Intelligence Community

Top Gun: The Rest of the Story

Live and learn, right? But maybe it’s taken all these years to learn a lesson about military funding. Trump’s got it right. Here’s why:

At the end of any war there is a push by politicians who have no military background to cut military funding down to just about nothing, as if no other war would ever take place.

What happens is that training goes to hell and no one knows how to do anything anymore. No more tactics. No more talent. An entirely vulnerable nation. But it’s like clockwork. Politicians play on the heresy of false optimism, that we’ve saved ourselves because we played out some fearfully effective strikes in the last war, yesterday. So, now it’s all good. We don’t need funding. Let’s spend money on pork projects for my constituents. Then, for just a few individuals, literally, the entire nation is put at risk.

After WW2, and then, “after” the Korean conflict (which Trump will hopefully now bring to an effective and formal close), back in the 1950s, pretty much the entire budget for pilot training was slashed to nothing, that is, just when the first jets were coming out.

My dad, commander of the famed Checkerboard fighter attack squadron out of the Marine Corps Air Station (Merritt Field) of Beaufort, SC, just up from Parris Island, came back from his ten years in the South and then North Pacific Corsair flying (VMFA-312) so as to teach the guys how to fly at Andrews just South of D.C. while he was put through JAG school at Georgetown University. After this, he went to Chicago to continue to teach a new generation of fighter pilots.

But that’s when the funding was cut. He knew how to fly by instinct and could handle the new jets, but his students couldn’t learn the instinct because there was no funding except for just a practice flight here, maybe again later, there. Nothing really. They had to think about flying the planes. Not good enough. They flew the planes literally straight into the ground.

My dad complained ferociously about the need for more funding for more flights. Denied. Again and again. More deaths of the best of the best.

And that was it for him. He wasn’t going to kill off an entire generation of pilots just because some self-congratulatory politicians thought they could please a few pork recipients.

So, dad took a cut in rank, left the Department of the Navy, moved to Minnesota to be a civil lawyer and politician himself, meanwhile joining the National Guard for something like another 20 years. But his heart was still with flying for the USMC. He would often bring me to airfields, and sometimes was able to commandeer a fighter to buzz over the rooftops of our local city where he was mayor. Why? Because his heart was still with the guys who were flying their planes straight into the ground because there was no funding for pilot training in the hippie days of the early-mid 1960s. Guys thought they could fly. They knew nothing. They were taken out with great ease by the enemy. We had now lost everything. Tactics. The whole lot. Gone.

Finally, with enough dead, people woke up. Top Gun school was created. Now, looking back, we all wish the Top Gun of Top Guns would have been heard. But at the time, all that could be heard was the ♬ kaching ♬ of greed. I, for one, am happy for the renewed military spending, and that, finally, finally, we are taking a look at the plight of our pilots.

Here’s dad, George Byers Jr, getting out of one of the planes he so loved to fly:

george-byers-jr-usmc-corsair

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Filed under Military, Politics

AT: USMC and engineers are the worst

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This view, which I’ve often put up on this blog, is directly on the path of the AT (Appalachian Trail). Jesus and I pass this way frequently on Communion Calls.

At one stop at the Hike Inn, having a chat with the owner, I was told that Marines and engineers are the absolute worst for hiking the AT.

  • Engineers are persnickety and think they can make just one more nook or cranny in their massively huge backpacks so that they can actually carry the kitchen sink with them. You could never fit their backpacks into a small SUV. What are they thinking? Too smart for their own good. They make a few miles and are worn out. They don’t calculate the human factor.
  • Marines are, of course, stuck on 80 pound packs. As long as it is 80 pounds they’ll be just fine. Going 25 miles in one day with 80 pounds is one thing, for one day. But when you’re facing 2,200 miles, that’s another thing altogether. Again, they don’t calculate the human factor. Anything is easier than war, right? Even civilians do this trail thing, right? But then…

In the picture above, I count about 25 ridges over the space of about as many miles. This is not easy. But am I recommending to count the cost before you start? No, not at all. If you knew what it might just cost you before you start you might not even begin. Rather, the old saying about preparing for the worst fits well, but kind of in reverse. Instead of packing more, you pack as little as possible.

The analogy to the spiritual life is easy. Purity of heart and agility of soul, having as little baggage as possible, having one’s eyes on goal, taking up the cross but following Jesus, keeping one’s eyes on Him, that’s what makes it all possible. But maybe we think we can get away with carrying extra rubbish, like the USMC or engineer guys that the nice lady at the Hike Inn meets all the time, you know, because we know how to congratulate ourselves, allowing ourselves to get away with this and that and the other thing. But then the fatigue of the first day on the trail hits us, and then we fall by the way side.

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Filed under Spiritual life

Shaw Air Force Base Air Expo 2016: LOL – “Just eat bananas!”

O.K. Wow. That’s just crazy insane. I love it. Great editing. Family memories and all. My neighbor in Transylvania county went to the air show the other day and sent me this video. Note that some of the planes have a bit of checkerboard in the tail. My dad headed did the Major thing for the Checkerboard squadron of the USMC in Korea. Glad to see even the corsairs are in the air. Very cool. This video set me to laughing out load for quite a while. These guys are crazy sick out of their minds, some of the best pilots in the world. Love to see it. Less editing here. Here’s an F-4U  like my dad’s (who flew the Pacific from 1943-1953). It’s the gullwing, you know, leading from behind. The Corsairs were the fastest plane around, including the first jets:

Precisely, he flew the F4U-5N for the VMFA-312 [Vaught Marine Fighter Attack Squadron], called the Checkerboarders. I asked dad what the tail code was: “Willey Roger” he said.

corsair vmfa 312 USMC Korea

More crazy wild from the air show in the video below. A close friend has been doing the avionics on these birds, besides his love for pyrotechnics and EOD insanity. I don’t know why, but this stuff makes me laugh out loud, raucously. I suppose for nostalgia.

The advice is to just eat bananas when you go along for a ride, the reason being that bananas are the only thing tasting the same going down as when they come right back up.

Perhaps this all made me laugh so hard because I’m taking it as a sign that perhaps things will change for the better come next January 19, 2017. Perhaps, perhaps. We pray.

I’m getting too nostalgic. In the picture below, I’m guessing that’s my dad to the immediately left of the prop standing on deck with his back to you, with his double-cowlick halfway up his head. This is on the USS Bataan in the Spring of 1952.

corsair bataan

Just a thought: Beaufort, SC, at Marine Corps Air Station (Fightertown [East]) home of today’s Checkerboarders with their F-18s, are only 5 hours, 43 minutes away from my parish. I never ever got a chance to be in a fighter piloted by my dad. I wonder, I just wonder if it would be possible for a son of a one time war-time commander of the checkerboarders to get a ride… That’s a far cry from me being any kind of VIP, but, you know, hey! It’s worth a try, right? Any ideas? I promise not to eat anything beforehand, not even bananas. Trouble is, the USMC only have the F-18C, which, unlike the B and D, has no VIP seat. Also, they have only a few which are flight worthy, as they been cannibalizing even the new planes for parts. Too sad, that…

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Filed under Military