Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Space Race.

Memories can be fuzzy things.  Especially, when the event happened so long ago.  There are those certain things that are as clear as the day they happened.  I have tracked my early memories based on the events of history.  One of these early memories took place when I was 4 years old.

It is significant because I shared that moment with my Dad. His excitement was a key to the memory..the event added to it.  A man, Alan B. Shepard, was about to be launched into space.  I remember the blurry image on a small black and white T.V.  I was bitten by the space bug.

I didn't just watch it on television, I played with it in the backyard.  My Dad helped me launch our first rocket.  It was a baking soda and vinegar rocket. I marveled as it buzzed to untold heights.  In fact, it probably only flew 20 feet, but it was amazing.

I remember listening to the beeps and tweets of passing satellites on a radio my Dad had built. I had no idea what it was saying, I just knew it was talking to me from space.  I watched every flight of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.  I hung on every update, and imagined myself up there with them.

My Dad had a Ford Ltd Station Wagon. The one with the flip up seat in the back.  I would climb into that seat and imagine I was docking to the Lunar Excursion Module, as my Dad hooked up the old Cox tent camper.

I drank Tang because that is what Astronauts drank. I ate those disgusting breakfast sticks, because that is what Astronauts ate.

When I got older my Dad, Brother, and I would build better models using solid fuel engines.  These rockets would take off quickly and fly as high as a few thousand feet.  We worked at making our recovery systems better by cutting holes in the parachutes. We built our own launch pads with plywood, wire coat hangers, and 6 volt flashlight batteries. Each of us would build our own rockets then fire them as a family.

There were four rockets that I was most proud of.  The first was my attempt at multi stage rockets...the Black Widow was a two stage rocket that could reach 2000 feet.  It took me several attempts to get the second stage to light correctly...when it finally did it was attacked by a crow and destroyed during the recovery stage.

The second was a glider recovered rocket.  I painted it a super ugly dark blue.  During its maiden flight it disintegrated shortly after clearing the launch pad...too much engine...not enough rocket was to blame.  After some technical adjustments it flew well, sadly during recovery it landed high in an elm tree.  The tree, with the help of the wind destroyed it beyond recognition.

The third was the Eggscrambler. It had a clear payload area that could take and egg or other small creatures for a flight.  Its also introduced multiple engines in a single stage.  The trick was getting all three engines to fire at the same time.  We tried connecting them in parallel and in series circuits...upping the power to a 12 volt car battery.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  As you might imagine we were happy when it worked, often amazed at the outcome when it didn't.

The fourth was the greatest challenge of all.  The Saturn V. This was a three foot tall, multi-engine, multi-stage rocket.  The First Stage consisted of 5 engines and the second stage consisted of 3 engines.  The rocket was a very detailed model, and because it was so heavy would only reach just a few hundred feet.

It took my Dad, Brother, and I weeks to complete the model.  Many of our early launch attempts were complete failures with only 1 or 2 of the engines lighting. We had tried launching that rocket so many times, that my brother and I never expected it to fly.

One day my Dad said he had an idea to get it off the ground.  Unfortunately, I had a very bad cold and my Mom would not allow me outside.  So I watched as my Dad set the rocket up in the field across the road.  We always followed the same launch procedure.

10.  Check to see that there are no low flying aircraft in the area.
9. Check the to insure that all batteries are connected and working.
8. Check the wind to make sure you are not down range of the rocket when it clears the guide wire.
7. Check for people down range.
6. Check for birds
5. Check again for aircraft.
2. Energize the batteries.
1. Ignite the engines.

The engines lit..all of them..and the white smoke they generated quickly became a huge cloud.  The rocket began to move!

At first it was very slow..too slow from what I could tell.  It cleared the guide wire and hovered for a moment..then...the second stage ignited..just a bit early. The shock of the second stage igniting blew the the recovery system out and the parachutes deployed.

For the next few seconds my Dad and that rocket were locked in a death dance.  It chasing him..and in the confusion...him chasing it. When it was all done, the second stage had suffered severe damage.  The rocket sat as a nice looking charred model for a few months, before being relegated to the bone yard.

When I was about 12 or so we took the trip of a lifetime..for me anyway.  My uncle was stationed at MacDill  Air Force Base...and we were going to take a trip to visit him. Along the way we visited my other Uncle who worked at Warner Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia.  That is where I saw my first C-130.  An aircraft I would become familiar with in another post.

The trip to Florida would not be wasted..we saw St. Augustine, Daytona, and my nirvana...Kennedy Space Center.  I know I must have walked around with my mouth agape...seeing the Saturn V transporter, the building where everything was put together, the history, and the sadness of the pad in which Grissom, White, and Chaffe died. We would later visit Disney Land, but I barely remember that.  Kennedy Space could you beat that?

I have followed every space mission since I was a child...As an Adult stationed at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico I was fascinated by the stories that a physicist there told me about his contribution to space flight.  Later, after receiving my degree in computers, one of my first customers was a classmate of the Rocket Boys in West Virginia.  He had to force me to take his money.  His stories were always fascinating.

The space program has contributed untold advancements in engineering, medicine, energy, and management.  I am very saddened at the possible loss of this marvelous addition to the education of America. I am hopeful that this is but a brief pause. Our space program is a National Treasure that must be preserved.

I would like to say thanks to Space Coast Conservative[dot]com for inspiring me to tell this story.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Teufel Hunden

Teufel Hunden

            With Veteran’s Day fast approaching I have always felt that something should be said for those that came before us.  In our modern world we often get bogged down with the politics of war and fail to remember the sacrifice, dedication, and patriotism expressed by those who go to war on our behalf.  The right and wrong of a war can be argued.  But the shear bravery, audacity, creativity, and selflessness of those who fight reflects honor on our country, and sends a message to our foes.  Don’t Tread on us.

          This story is the story of the United States Marine Corps.

            The U.S. 2nd and 3rd Divisions had been dispatched at the request of the French, by General John “Black Jack” Pershing to defend the area around the city of Chateau-Thierry. The divisions fell under command of the French XXI Corps.  This meant that although the American divisions were part of the American Expeditionary Force, they would receive and follow the orders of the French.

            The need for these units was based on a thrust by the German Army Group Crown Prince toward Paris.  The German Army Group had dispatched the 237th Division, 10thDivision and later reinforcements from the 197th, 87th, and 28th Divisions to take and occupy the Chateau-Thierry area.

On the first of June 1918, Marine Captain Lloyd Williams began to dig in along with the rest of second division near the town of Lucy-le-Bocage.  When advised to withdraw he said, “Retreat Hell, we just got here!”   The whole move had been a mess, given the emergency of moving a whole division to counter the German thrust.  However, the Marines quickly turned disorder into order.  Soon they were demonstrating to the Germans the damage American marksmanship can provide. 

On the 2nd and 3rd of June the German 237th Division Occupied Belleau Wood.

On the 4th the Germans launch an attack at a place called Les Mares Farm.  The 2ndBattalion, 5th Marines defend the farm.  The Germans ran head long into well-prepared positions.  Marine machinegun, and artillery tear into the assault and turn it back.  This is the closest the Germans will ever get to Paris, just 50 miles away.

On the 5th the French commander orders the 2nd Division to recapture Belleau Wood.  The 4th Marine Brigade is tasked to recapture the wood.  According to the French the Germans only occupy a small corner of the wood.

On the 6th of June the Marines launch their attacks.  The first attack comes at 0500 to capture hill 142.  With this hill the Marines can support the main attack on the wood. Despite some tense moments this attack is successful.

At 1700 hours the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments frontally assault the wood.  To get there they must cross a wheat field.  The wheat field is well covered by German machineguns.  Gunnery Sgt Dan Daly yells, “come on you son of a bitches, you want to live forever?”  The attack is a near disaster.

The 3rd Battalion 5th Marines are decimated and the 3rd Battalion 6th Marines barely make it into the woods.  In addition to the attack on the wood, the 4th Brigade was ordered to take a railroad station just outside of the town of Bouresches.  The station is heavily defended and the attack fails.  The action on this day results in the most casualties suffered by the Marines in a single day, 1087 men.

From the 7th to the 15th of June the Marines engage in the back and forth of trench warfare.  They endure bombardment and gas attacks.

On The 16th of June the 3rd Divisions Army units relive the Marines.

On the 22nd of June the Marines reenter the battle relieving the Army units.  The French continue to order the woods be taken.

On the 23rd of June the Marines launch an assault that makes very little headway, but results in terrible casualties. Two hundred ambulances are needed to remove the wounded.

On the 25th of June the French finally bring in enough guns to reduce the woods to firewood.  After a 14-hour bombardment the Marines capture the wood.

On the 26th of June Major Maurice Shearer sends the signal “Woods now entirely-U.S. Marine Corps.”

Legend has it that a German dispatch to headquarters described the newly arrived American forces as fighting like “Tuefel Hunden” or “Hounds from Hell.”  This is the origin of the term “Devil Dogs”, a common term of endearment and honor for the Marines.

The result of the action at Belleau Wood demonstrated to the Germans that the Americans were here to fight.  The overall action resulted in the German advance being stopped.

Total casualties 9,777

Medal of Honor awards: Gunnery Sgt E.A. Janson, Lt. JG. Weedon Osborne (a street in Bouresches is named for him), Lt. Orlando Perry, and Gunnery Sgt. F. Stockham.

Excerpt of a Citation from the French Government.

During these operations [of early June], thanks to the brilliant courage, vigour, dash, and tenacity of its men, who refused to be disheartened by fatigue or losses; thanks to the activity and energy of the officers, and thanks to the personal action of Brig. Gen. Harbord, the efforts of the brigade were crowned with success, realizing after twelve days of incessant struggle an important advance over the most difficult of terrain and the capture of two support points of the highest importance, Bouresches village and the fortified wood of Belleau.”

In French, Belleau Wood is Bois de Belleau.  At the end of the battle the French renamed it to “Bois de la Brigade de Marine.”

Salute to the “Devil Dogs.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How I founded the Tea Party

IT is a statement I have made many times,  and it does raises an eyebrow or two.  In most cases, I have had the luxury of discussing this face to face.  Answering questions that arise in the course of a conversation. It is within this discourse that I have been able to explain that statement.

Anyone that has been a part of this movement will recognize the truth. It is the difference between those in the movement, and those who oppose our voice that require greater explanation.

This article is for them.
Make sure you watch the Video at the end of this article.


When all the laughter dies in sorrow 

And the tears have risen to a flood 

When all the wars have found a cause 
In human wisdom and blood 
Do you think they'll cry in sadness 
Do you think the eye will blink 
Do you think they'll curse the madness 
Do you think they'll even think 

When all the great galactic systems 
Sigh to a frozen halt in space 
Do you think there will be some remnant 
Of beauty in the human race 
Do you think there will be a vestige 
Or a sniffle or a cosmic tear 
Do you think a greater thinking thing 
Will give a damn that man was here

Kendrew Lascelles

Prior to founding the Tea Party my political life consisted of showing up to a straight Republican Ticket...and returning home with the feeling that I had accomplished my civic responsibility.  I was politically in a dark, warm, and safe place.  

Oh, I discussed politics, but only to keep someone from boring me into non-existence with their pictures of children, dogs, or cars.  My favorite discussion surrounded religion, or what if military situations.  That all ended on a dark and stormy night in Montana.

As a young Security Specialist one of the jobs we had was to baby sit nuclear missile sites.  We would go out as a pair and sit all night making sure no one tried to steal the beast.  On this particular night I was paired with a guy who was, for lack of a better word, out there. Being on the edge of out there myself...I liked him.  He was entertaining. 

In our previous assignments together we would discuss what if scenarios...such as...what if we were notified that the missiles quietly sitting underground were about to be launched...what would you do?  My first inclination would have been to drive as fast as I could...not with the hope of avoiding disintegration...but to enjoy the exhilaration of being propelled to the afterlife in an old dodge truck.

On this particular night things were ugly from the start.  It was raining as hard as I have ever seen in Montana. The night was so dark that just finding the road was difficult, but that is the mundane danger we must face to keep America safe.  As we passed the bridge that passed over Belt creek we were notified that it was now closed to traffic.  As we began to climb into the Little Belt Mountains we were told time and time again that the bridge we had just crossed was closed to traffic.  At one point we came upon a bridge with water flowing over it...we were told.."let us know when you are over"...we did...they closed it.

Our target was the Alpha-5 Minuteman Missile silo.  The alarm system...called the Banjo...because it looked like a green banjo...was not working.  They never worked in the rain, snow, or for that matter in perfectly clear weather.  We made it to the site and prepared for what would hopefully be just a long night.   

Alpha 5 had a history.  It was what JFK called his "Ace in the Hole".  Located high in the mountains and surrounded by very nasty looking peaks on 3 sides.  It was a pilot option site...meaning the pilot of our helicopter support unit could decide to attempt a landing or questions asked.  It was also haunted.  What would scare me this night was not ghosts.

The rain had stopped, and after doing a walk around of the site my partner started with "So, let me pose this question...", he always started the ball rolling this way.."What if our commander ordered us to take part in enforcing martial law on a town?" 

Easy question....I would follow the orders.  My partner began adding additional what ifs..and I had the answer...until he hit the scary one.

"What if those orders violate the Constitution?", he asked.

When I graduated from High School, what I knew about the Constitution went like this....Some guy wrote the Magna Carta...then we went to war for our independence...Ben Franklin helped some other guy write the Constitution...We won the war...and McDonalds invented the hamburger.  Armed with all that Constitutional knowledge I could get a Big Mac..and that was about it.

It bothered me that I could end up not only involved in hurting innocent people, but I could end up  as the party to an overthrow of the country.  We discussed this for the next few days...that is how long it took them to find a pilot.  That rainstorm had created what is called a "100 year flood".  There would be no driving out for a long time...and we were running out of food. 

That was a turning point for me.  I decided that I needed to keep up on current events, and learn as much as I could about our Constitution.  From that day, till I retired from the military I took every course on U.S. History that I could.  I read many books that were dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.  However, I still remained naive' about our Government.

I believed that my representatives, especially the ones I voted for, were looking out for the country.  A feeling that I shared with millions of other Americans.


After I retired I decided to go back to school full time, of course I still had to work full time, but civilian work was a snap compared to the job I did in the military.  My major was in Computer Science, but I just couldn't stay away from history courses. When I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, I had accumulated enough credits between the courses I took while in the Military to get a History degree. 

The aftermath of 9/11 was my first twinge that something was not right.  The Patriot Act was dancing all over civil liberties in order to purchase a false sense of security.  Ben Franklin said, 

I believe...Liberty second.  There is nothing safe about being a Nation of Free people.  I began to question the rationale of our Government, especially my representatives.  Things began to click...war with Al Qaeda...makes sense....war with Iraq...why...WMD's...I can buy that they had them at one time...Congress agrees...good with me....what  no WMD's...okay...who broke the checks and balances...nothing but finger pointing...the math was not making much sense.

I began discussing this...sometimes heatedly...with my friends.  Educated people with whom we could discuss our differences without shooting one another. Then the bottom fell out of the Housing market...then the bottom fell out of everything.  

Suddenly everyone from the President, to Congress, the School Board became math stupid.  They began suggesting that I pay for someone else's bills?  I became angry..and as the hulk would won't like me when I'm mad. 

Everyone I spoke with were feeling the same way...We had to do something!!  Discussions between my friends began speeding up...the tipping point came in the debates of the 2008 Presidential Elections.  We now had the choice between two candidates that differed very little from one another. They both suggested that the Tax Payer, us, absorb the poor business and personal decisions of others.  

After the Inauguration of President Obama I still thought that there may be some hope of a Fiscally responsible government...that was not to be...he began spending money like a fat kid in a candy store...the only difference was, he wanted the other customers to pay for it.

I began to increase my network of like minded people..then along came Rick Santelli...Calling him a modern day Patrick Henry may be pushing it...but he was at the least a modern day Samuel Adams.  Like millions of Americans I began looking for someone to join help stop this madness.  

Along with three other people we organized the first Tea Party in Great Falls, Montana...we were joined by about 500 other founders and expressed our disgust at the way our Government had been abusing the privilege of representing us. We were joined by ten's of thousands of like minded founders.  In the months that followed we had meetings established national organizations, raised money.  We managed to rouse Millions of soccer moms, stay at home dad's, Sunday School teachers, Professors, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islanders, Fat, Skinny, Old, and young.  Working from the bottom up we have created a Total Quality Management Masterpiece.  All with simple goals...restore Fiscal Responsiblity, Limited Government, and Free Markets...the things that have made this country the greatest country of all time.  We are not better than everyone else...WE ARE EVERYONE ELSE.


In the beginning they made fun of us...called us Tea Baggers...a rabble.  I think the British said that...just a rabble. Now the power elite are standing toe to toe with Soccer Moms...Farmers...and plumbers....just a rabble...but a dedicated, stubborn, and right rabble. Even better...they are becoming an extremely well educated rabble.  The message we send is to forget party, and remember your responsibility to US....the WE in WE the People.

The following video is dedicated to the tens millions of Tea Party Founders!


The Whole World is Watching.

The Video is in 5 Acts, that describe my journey to founding the Tea Party Movement.  Yes you heard me right. I founded the Tea Parties, no need to thank me.

Act 1 is a poem read by Robert Lamm of the band Chicago.  The title of the poem is “When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow”, by Kendrew Lascelles.  Mr. Lascelles is best know for his poem The Box, which was performed by John Denver on his album “Poems and Prayers and Promises”

The symbolism here is that the earth is being watched by a "Greater Thinking Thing".

When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow, suggests that the Human Race is being observed by some “Greater Thinking Thing” and our activities though important to humans, has little effect on this “Greater Thinking Thing”. 

In the last line the poet asks the question “Do you think that a greater thinking thing, will give a damn that man was here”?

Act 2. Is a short description of my journey to understanding my political beliefs and the documents that created our nation.  The song is “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten”, by Arvo Parte.  Mr. Parte best known for his sacred music.  I selected this particular piece due to its somber mood and use of the church bell at the beginning. The bell is heard throughout the piece. It signifies the loud and sustained sound of Liberty.

The symbolism here is pretty strong.  

It begins with the Church, early governments were controlled by Monarch, but the Church often controlled the Monarch. It was the Church that helped repeal the first Magna Carta.

The graveyard shows the death and destruction of the many wars between 1215 and 1297 when the Great Charter was reinstated.  It indicates that the quest for freedom...even the few granted by the Great Charter...was costly.

Next we have William Penn. William Penn was one of the most forward thinking men of his time.  He  recognized that religious freedom was key...and that a single recognized religion had no place in government, but was important to exist within the men who ran government.

The final section of this act is about the creation of the United States.  Patrick Henry quotes bookends the symbols of freedom, the Bell, and the Unknown Soldier.  

Act 3 Is how I viewed my country during my service in the Military.  We provided many inventions, as well as, examples to the world about what Freedom means.  We used our might to free Europe from its self-created hell, and provide, free of charge, our resources to the poor and those who suffered during times of disaster.  We are a loving nation.  Often while being derided by those we helped.  The song “Bourree” is a dance of French origin…it is very carefree and uplifting type of melody.  This particular version is inspired by J.S. Bach’s Bourree in E minor, and performed by the band Jethro Tull. 

These inventions were possible because of Free Markets.  

Act 4 Is what I call the “Great Awakening Part 2”.  This is the political awakening of the American people.  Not just the Right, but for the Left as well.  The protagonists in this are Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. They represent the forces that are attempting to usurp the Constitution. They are clearly the antihero in this act.

The antagonists are the people as represented by the Tea Party. 

The song “Some Day” by the band Chicago is a great choice.  Created while they were doing protest songs it uses the chant “The Whole World is Watching” taken from the protests held during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. I got the idea from a video here in Florida when a group of protesters at a county meeting were kicked out…they began chanting “We Will Be Heard”.  Oh Yes they will be.  In the song the singer asks “Do you know what I mean?” then after asking the listener to look around he asks “Now you know what I mean?”

The first symbol is the subway where a crowd has gathered...they cant see more than the person in front of them. This represents the haze of misinformation that is sent out by the media. 

The next two symbols represent the face of Hate and Fear...Reid and Pelosi.  They are not just the target, but are both filled with hate and fear of what the awakening will mean for them. 

The symbol of the Man in the Chair indicates the despair that many Americans have felt when dealing with our Government.

The answer for the people now arrives in the form of the Tea Party.

In the next video clip you see people running from the camera in fear..with the exception of one woman..she runs to the camera as if to say stop...she represents the Tea Party and its call to stand up to the Government.

The egg being shot by a bullet indicates how fast the bullet of truth has shattered the world of the old political elite.  

The Next video is from the protests in Iran, and reminds us that those in power will do what ever they can to silence us.

Beginning with the earth graphic and ending with Edward we are reminded of the road to our freedom. 

To promote discussion the rest of the symbolism is up to you to decipher.

Act 5 is where the question from Act 1 is answered.  “Do you think that a Greater thinking thing, Will give a damn that Man was here”?  You will have to watch it for the answer. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Story of "Haughs O'Cromdale"

A battle took place on 30 April, 1690, in which a Jacobite force was routed on the low ground (haughs) at Cromdale in Morayshire by government forces. James Hogg, the Ettrick shepherd, later wrote a song about the defeat which became very popular. But then an unknown bard, unhappy with the story of a lost battle, added an exaggerated description of Montrose's victory over the Covenanters at Auldearn in 1645. Despite the muddled history and the fact that Montrose had been dead for 40 years before the conflict at Cromdale, the ballad remained popular. Many a Highland regiment has marched to the tune of this song.

As I came in by Auchindoun,
A little wee bit frae the toun,
When to the Highlands I was bound,
To view the haughs of Cromdale,
I met a man in tartan trews,
I speir'd at him what was the news;
Quo' he the Highland army rues,
That e'er we came to Cromdale.

We were in bed, sir, every man,
When the Engligh host upon us came,
A bloody battle then began,
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.
The English horse they were so rude,
They bath'd their hooves in Highland blood,
But our brave clans, they boldly stood
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.

But, alas! We could no longer stay,
For o'er the hills we came away,
And sore we do lament the day,
That e'er we came to Cromdale.
Thus the great Montrose did say,
Can you direct the nearest way?
For I will o'er the hills this day,
And view the haughs of Cromdale.

Alas, my lord, you're not so strong,
You scarcely have two thousand men,
And there's twenty thousand on the plain,
Stand rank and file on Cromdale.
Thus the great Montrose did say,
I say, direct the nearest way,
For I will o'er the hills this day,
And see the haughs of Cromdale.

They were at dinner, every man,
When great Montrose upon them came,
A second battle then began,
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.
The Grant, Mackenzie and MacKay,
Soon as Montrose they did espy,
O then, they fought most valiantly!
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.

The Macdonalds they returned again,
The Camerons did their standard join,
MacIntosh play'd a bloody game,
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.
The MacGregors fought like lions bold,
MacPhersons, none could them control,
MacLaughlins fought, like loyal souls,
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.

MacLeans, MacDougals, and MacNeils,
So boldly as they took the field,
And make their enemies to yield,
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.
The Gordons boldly did advance,
The Frasers fought with sword and lance,
The Grahams they made the heads to dance,
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.

The loyal Stewarts with Montrose,
So boldly set upon their foes,
And brought them down with Highland blows,
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.
Of twenty thousand Cromwell's men,
Five hundred fled to Aberdeen
The rest of them lie on the plain,
Upon the haughs of Cromdale.

Meaning of unusual words:
speir'd at him=asked him
haughs=low lying ground