The Pride of Nations (part one)

Discussion in 'Politics and Society' started by Quahom1, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    I have spent over two and a half decades in the service of my Country. I have sailed into places most in the world only read about in National Geographics, or in the news. Rich countries and poor, I've walked the shores of both.

    I would like to tell you of my thoughts of the people (and their lives), and the places (and their efforts to show their pride) we have sailed into (and hearts never quite sailed out of).

    In the late 70s, early 80s, we played cat and mouse with the Soviets in the Bering Sea (between Alaska and Siberia), it was a rough time between are two nations, and war ships carried out their orders, goading and listening in on eachother's messages. There were often "skirts" across the borders then back into one's own water, but it seamed to be harmless (though exciting). Then one day, we caught one vessel clearly on the wrong side of the border...

    We borded her (an AGI posing as a fish processing plant, but carrying armament usually reserved for an escort destroyer, and an antenna array that would leave NASA drooling).

    What the "captains" were doing, is not my concern, as we (boarding teams), were supposed to be cataloguing and counting fish in their holds. This particular vessel ended up not in violation of the fishing regulations (as later found), but in violation of crossing a soveriegn border, and unable to declare "innocent passage"...so we waited while the state department decided what to do.

    In the mean time, sailors are a boasting bunch to begin with, as well as curious about things. One of them spoke broken english, while two of us spoke Russian.

    First, the trading began with patches and pins of rank, followed by hats, and uniform parts. Then eventually out came the Vodka, and Coca Cola, the girlie magazines and the canned borsht, and Sturgeon eggs. Russian Pepielnetza (cigarettes) will kill an American in a day, but American Marlboros (though taste like sucking air), were status symbols to those who swapped them. A few of us even got a quick tour of the enginerooms...:eek: The engineers could be heared cursing above the sound of the plant, but when an American walked by, there was nothing but beaming pride in their engines (and it rubbed off on the obersvers).

    Our turn, we let a couple of curious machinist mates take a look at our Rigid Hull inflatable with its twin 125 Johnsons...and multiple frequency RHF VHF UHF integrated radios (which were turned off).

    The engineers were fascinated with the "dead mans kill switch", which would stop the boat if the Cox'n was not at the controls. The other fascination was the combination of rigid hull and pontoons made of the new material called "kevlar".

    One Russian (Ukranian) engineer scoffed at the speedometer registering a maximum of 60, until we translated that 60 (mph) into kph...much to his wide eyed shock.

    After eight hours, the captians parted company with sour looks on their faces, but the boarding teams and Russian crew, held hidden smiles, and a new found respect for eachother. Of course our departure was solemn and serious, but when the sea painter was cast away and we began to pull off, the sailor handling the line winked and grinned, so only we could see. And he slipped a bit of the "Playboy" magazine he newly acquired from the top of his tunic, which made our captain choke, then start to chuckle.

    During our debrief, contraband was never brought up, nor volunteered. However, the next time we saw that Russian processor plant (about 12 months later), they were on their side of the Bering by 1/2 a mile, and there was a semiphore signal flashed to us from their flying bridge, that simply said, "good sailing border guardsman"...

    v/r

    Q
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Q, this is exactly what gets me...in general we fight for those who are in power...throughout every war there are stories of the enlisted encountering the enlisted...or officers encountering officers when no one else was watching and learning, exploring the humanness, the fact that we are all the same under the flag, under the uniform, under the skin...

    It is the imperialist nature of those that rise to power that gets us all in trouble. I don't believe there is a mother that would prefer to send her son to kill another mother's son. Every mother wants a roof over her childrens heads, a dry warm bed, and food in their bellies...

    Tis a shame the machine believes that wars will end wars...just a few men can incite enough to get millions behind them....
     
  3. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards!

    Great post, Q!

    Wil, a part of me wants to agree with you; the emotional, gut side. Then, the ol' noggin kicks in. What alternative is there? Do away with government altogether? Should we have the free-for-all of anarchy? Last I looked into this, anarchy is a far worse situation for the human condition than most any kind or form of government.

    I like John Lennon, but on this point I disagree. "Imagine there's no countries...nothing to kill or die for..."
    And nothing to live for, or with, or by, or of, either.

    "When (John) Locke explains how government comes into being formed, he uses the idea that people agree that their condition in the state of nature is unsatisfactory, and agrees to transfer some of their rights to a central government, while retaining others. People then exchange some of their natural rights to enter into society with other people, and be protected by common laws and a common executive power to enforce the laws. People need executive power to protect their property and defend their liberty."
    http://www.exampleessays.com/viewpaper/69073.html

    John Locke was influential to the Founding Fathers of this nation. People need someone to be there for them in time of disaster or calamity. Yeah, look at New Orleans and Katrina and the botched job by the government...blah, blah, blah. How much worse would all of that have been if there were *no* governmental "rescue?" I would go a step further...the accomplishments of a nation as great as ours, even with its faults and frailties, would not be possible without a government. In short, Lennon's starry eyed utopian idealism is a pipe-dream. That's just not how the human animal works.
     
  4. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    And you see ... some of us aren't willing to put down the pipe. No matter who shows up to share it. (Please avoid the obvious snide remarks ... which I sniff coming a MILE away. Just because a door is left open, doesn't mean you have to walk through it. NATIVE AMERICAN ... PEACE PIPE ... nuff said. OR, look up the band Arco Iris, if you really feel like expanding your horizons, naturally.)
    "I hope some day you'll JOIN us ... and the world will live as ONE."
    Some of them do. And that's when the animal is tranformed ... to the point where his gift to us, the form, is governed by level-headed Reason (the human part), and something altogether higher - or trans-Human - is put in charge.

    This can be true of an entire populace, and has been. Again it shall be in the future. But right now (and until then), I will happily join you - and others - in celebrating the progress that all Nations have made, toward International Cooperation, and true Unity. Each has a part to play, a gift to share.

    Personally, Hunt for the Red October was always one of my favorites. A very powerful movie in many ways, though granted, nowhere as moving as a real-life experience ... and your story. Thanks for that, Q! :)

    andrew
     
  5. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    But I'm not talking about power Wil. I'm telling a story about people...
     
  6. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    John Lennon isn't exactly what I had in mind...I just want to tell my story...:eek:
     
  7. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Perhaps not, but even with an occasional bit of irreverence ... he remains, for me and for many, both a hero - and an American one. That's notwithstanding his country of birth, mind you.

    Interesting movie about this man, coming out in a few days. One I'll look forward to seeing. Proudly.

    As some might say, with a wry smile (at best), it takes all sorts. It does. Indeed.

    andrew
     
  8. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: The Pride of Nations (part two)

    So the American and Canadian governments (fed up with a certain cartel running drugs), realized they couldn't catch them unless we pooled resources. So the Cannucks came up with a brilliant Idea.

    Since the US Coast Guard is sea faring and used to shallow waters too, and well versed in law enforcement, and the RCMP (at the time) was the ones to catch the cartel at the roots, there should be a team co-operation. After agreement, the two countries hammered out the details. Canada would get a "mother ship", and the US Coast Guard would crew that ship, while the Canadians would be the law enforcement part of that ship (with the US Coast Guard backing them up).

    After three days of being drilled in Canadian Law, the Coast Guard part of the team was ready...but the damn ship wasn't. :rolleyes: It was a 155 foot service rig for oil platforms (oil service rig), capable of carrying a dozen cargo containers on its enlongated fantail. The engines were in serious need of tune up, and navigation packages, and other stuff was needed to bring her into the 1980s. We needed a month to retrofit her...we got four days...

    While the Coast Guard worked round the clock on upgrades, the Canadians watched in bemused fascination. They couldn't understand why we would put so much effort into readying a ship for basically a year at sea, when we only needed it for two days (remember this thought). And they made no bones about it. In the mean time we were wondering why they didn't get their collective asses down below and help us...not a good start.

    Day four came, and we completed upgrades. That is when the Canadians acted. First thing they did was inspect the ship (which royally pissed us off). Next thing they did was take us out for dinner and drinks for a job well done (which totally stunned us). Ah, but the mutual feelings of comradarie were short lived. A radio call from the lone watch stander told us the ship was sinking (literally). So we hauled ass back to the ship, only to see that she was listing to port.

    We combed the ship's bilge stem to stern, but could not find a leak. yet she was still listing!? Then we went into the engineroom where the Canadian watchstander was trying to open the Water tight door to the shaft alley. But the door wouldn't budge. So I told him to step away (I'm the big, bad Damage Controlman, and know what I am doing). I brought the door arm to the striker plate, and nothing happened. No water leaking, no groaning of stressed steel, nada. "Nothing wrong here", I said as I cleared the door arm...WHOOOOOM!!!!

    That door hit me so hard I flew over the engines, cleared the people behind me and hit the side/back corner bulkead, and crumpled into the corner, out cold. In the mean time 5000 gallons of water filled the engine room bilge, and kept pouring out through the shaft alley doorway (but it was fresh water).

    When I came to, the lead RCMP asked me "Are you still with us?", then pulled me up. One of their officers was a medic, and tended to the knot in my forehead. Someone had left the potable water fill going into the tanks, which ruptured and filled the shaft alley (and kept putting pressure on the door to the shaft alley). The Door had a "cork" seal, which swells with water (I'm used to rubber or silicone), which is why it did not leak when I brought the door arm to the strike plate. (lesson learned: not every ship is Navy/Coast Guard standard...assume nothing).

    After the water was pumped from the bilge, I welded the fissure in the potable water tank closed, and slapped a doubler plate on for good measure.

    The next morning we were off...for what would become a month long sail...(so much for two days)...:rolleyes:
     
  9. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious
    - Oscar Wilde
     
  10. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    quoting oscar wilde at the military is the privilege of the smug liberal.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  11. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Namaste Q, and a wonderful story it is... am I understanding you don't want us to respond? I so agree, people is where it is at. Were you human beings connecting on the high seas...or spiritual beings being forced into a human experience (borders) and connecting with other spirtual beings? We've given up our power, allowed our Gov't to usurp it, 'for our own good'. What ever happen to the King or the Prince leading the charge down the mountain? If we decided our leaders had to lead the charge, if their sons had to be in the front lines...me thinks we'd have a lot less disputes in this world.

    On your last story...interesting metaphor that you had to fix an internal leak, which almost sunk your ship, to insure the mission went off safely. Loose lips...
     
  12. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Hi, Peace To All Here--

    Thank you, Q, for sharing your story with us. It gives me hope to know that in the midst of turmoil in the world, that many if not all of the men and women who risk their lives to keep others safe would rather be at peace. I enjoy hearing about your travels and experiences.

    InPeace,
    InLove

    Edit: I apologize for posting out-of-order. I did this by mistake. Hope everyone understands.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2006
  13. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Respond away. I don't mind. I was just saying I want to tell a story...;)

    not trying to justify it.

    v/r

    Q
     
  14. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    understood my brother, I'm listenin, please continue...
     
  15. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    You should read what he says on marriage :p
     
  16. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    of course, dear oscar was such an example to follow in that department. i say this as a great fan of his wit and work. anyway, i prefer dr johnson on second marriages: "a second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience."

    hur hur hur.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  17. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    amen...(did i say that?) :eek: :D
     
  18. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro Moderator

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    Rading the two anecdotes reminded me of an incident between me, my (former) sister-in-law and a few British sailors.

    Milwaukee had a visit from a soon-to-be-decommisioned British naval vessel, and they (the sailors) granted free tours of the ship while they were in port. My brother, (former) sister-in-law and I went down to see the ship (curiosity + me = meow) and took the tour. Francine (the sil) stuck with me while Barry got a bit distracted by the artillery, and I soon regretted having her tag along.
    I found out she was asking the occasional sailor if he was married and if he was Jewish. I was embarrassed enough by something I blurted out to a leftenant (he was showing some of the stuff they did in "Welding Class" and I blurted that they looked like some of the toys my nephew played with [luckily, the leftenant looked at one of his companions and joked in that typical British manner, "Ah, yes. Executive toys."]) She asked if he was married and volunteered that I wasn't. Needless to say, I wasn't a happy camper. :mad:

    I'm just grateful that she wasn't with me when I toured a Soviet ship that was welcomed into Milwaukee harbor after saving several people that would've drowned if not for the Soviets and the Polish tall ship that was here for Polish Fest (an ethnic festival here in Milwaukee.)

    Sorry about the possible derailing of the thread. :eek: *hands out :kitty:s and ferrets*

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
  19. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    Q...Great stories! Which all goes to prove ...again... that government is the problem...people are the answer. ;)

    My Dad was in the U.S. Army during WWII and served most of his duty as a radio operator on supply ships shuttling between the Aleutians and Seattle. Lots of great stories about that time from him which I intend to put to words sometime. The Canadians flew patrol planes up and down the "inside passage" every day and demanded the "code pass" of the day as they buzzed the ship. Dad woud have an envelope with a code for each day of the trip and was always worried about sending the wrong one and getting blown out of the water.

    On the good side, the Cap'n would slow the ship down to idle speed and all able bodied hands would throw their hand lines off the stern and catch halibut, salmon, and cod for dinner. He told me of some monumental storms and seas that he experienced in the Bering sea going to and fro from Kodiak, Attu, etc. Thanks again for your stories.

    flow....:)
     
  20. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: The Pride of Nations (part two B)

    Now where was I...? Oh yeah, we were on our way to play the bad guys.

    See, weeks before, US Customs agents and DEA (undercover) were approached to make a purchase of dope, about 20 tons. So the game settled to this:

    Five Coasties would run the ship (one skipper, one navigator, one Bosn's mate and two engineers), while the RCMP would have their "ninja" team on board to make the final bust. Of course there was a representitive from the US Customs and one from DEA along for the ride (only fair, they set the whole thing up, besides one doubled as the ship's cook...damn good cook I might add). Again we Americans were only back up (a support platform for Canada to enforce their laws). So, we're sailing around the west coast with what looked like twenty tons of dope in conex boxes, waiting for contact...and got five crew on board (with 20 ghosts haunting our decks). Well after a few days, the ghosts start getting bored, so they (the RCMP ninjas), decide to have a fantail shoot...their targets?...floating beer cans, and their armament?...assault weapons. :eek:

    Needless to say the Coast Guard Commander acting as "Master and Skipper" of this rig was not at all pleased with gun fire coming off the back of "his" vessel, nor the fact that the targets were empty containers of "alcohol" that he had no idea were aboard to begin with...and he got pissed off. (big difference between the Canadians and Americans, pertaining to alcohol onboard a "sovereign vessel", let alone one that is jointly sovereign... (at the time). So he turned the ship around, and started heading back to Seattle.

    That got everyone's attention. So, we had a "muster", and during that muster the RCMP "ninjas" made it plain..."We're bored! What can we do?"

    Clearly they were not sailors, nor were they loafers, either. After the "Skipper" made it clear he was the "Master of the vessel" and his rules were law (which all readily agreed), he did a very cool thing. He asked the RCMP police some questions...

    "Who looked at the stars at night, who liked working on engines, who liked to cook, and who had a thing with electronics, and who liked radios?..."

    After that muster, we had a "crew".

    NOTE: For the first five days, there were two engineers standing six hours on and six hours off in the engine room, and we were doing everything, from security rounds to acting as oilers, to throttlemen, to EOWs. The Skipper would sleep like Thomas Edison (cat naps, every three hours for 15 minutes). The "Navigator" slept at the chart table on the bridge. The Bos'n mate had gotten a couple of RCMP curious about manning the helm (which made him about four days smarter than the rest of us) :rolleyes:

    (the MK1, "Machinery Technician First Class", got so frustrated that he put a bottle of Jack Daniels in a box and hung it on a bulkhead with a glass front and a hammer hanging next to it and a placard glued to the glass that said 'In case of personal overload, chain engineroom doors and break glass'). American military vessels do not allow the use of liquor, on duty or off, while underway, except in exigent circumstances...

    So the breakdown of the new "crew" was four Bridge/Pilot House watchstanders (helmsmen and lookout), two cooks, two radiomen, one extra navigator
    eight engineering watch standers, and one RCMP officer assuming the role of Executive Officer/First Mate.

    On day eight, the Coast Guard crew of five slept soundly for an entire six hours, while the Canadians carried out their "underway duties"

    Note: the Coast Guard Commander slept on a cot in a corner of the bridge, and the MK1 slept on the deck plates, with a bed roll, in the Fidley to the Engineroom.

    By day 14, everyone slept in real racks...and the "ninjas" were more precise about taking readings than we "engineers" ever were (they would argue about every damn reading)...:rolleyes: :p :D

    This crew was in safe hands...and no one was shooting at beer cans off the fantail...
     

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