Archive for the 'History' Tag

On Inevitable Sickness:meehan post

5 November 1943

Dear Mom,

When in Rome, speak as the Romans’ – The Indians always have to have some ailment or other – or their friends get suspicions that they’re getting something extra to eat. So I got Malaria. The first couple of days I was hot and cold in relays – since then I’ve felt fine – but a little weak. I don’t think they’ll let me out of the hospital for another week yet.

I haven’t received any of the Air Mail packages you sent – I’ll let you know as soon as I do. Glad to hear Bill likes it and I certainly hope he can get deferred and continue with medicine…

…Well they still won’t let me out of bed. With nothing to do, I’m slowly going nuts. This morning, while counting the cracks in the ceiling plaster, Coresia in the next bed says – look Meehan – and points behind my head, so I roll over and raise my head and ½ inch in front of my nose is a monkey. He scowled and I jumped ten feet – Coersia roared. I’ve been sitting here sharpening my dagger and eying his throat. He’s laughing a bit nervously now. The monkey is a pet of the medics and has been inoculated as much as the G.I.s.

How are you all doing? I haven’t had a letter for several days – Pat, Betsy and Lou should be able to get along now. Dad should try to get some gold in – his only hobby seems to be politics. Interested in hearing how Doc and Lou made out.

I think we should finish Germany next summer and Japan in ’45, which is the earliest I to expect to get home.




27 Mar 2014

Hello dearest family!

Allow me to enlighten you on the last few days. Now, the Navy has inoculated people against smallpox for years, but they stopped doing it a few years back. I thought I got lucky and avoided it but nooooo, they were just building up their vaccine quantity. So this year, when we deployed, the docs informed us all that we were getting Anthrax (most painful shot of all time six times) and oh, btw, you’re getting smallpox post-Turkey. Grand. … I have an entirely new perspective on the Black Death. Officially the most disgusting/worst way to die of all time. Oh, and your body is trying to fight it so your immune system is wrecked and everyone, I mean EVERYONE on the boat is sick. So anyways, that’s the scene. Hopefully it will scab over soon and then please send massive quantities of Mederma. That’s about all on my end! I love you all so much and I hope everything is going well! I’ve LOVED some of the emails I’ve received…Mom, I love the decorating emails and STM updates…Dad, I have more books for you! Read ‘em for me, cause I have zero time right now …Kelse, we LOVE reading your emails…we miss college! And they’re hilarious!…and PAT…WRITE ME AN EMAIL BRO :-) Love, Mere


On Holidays and Missing Good Food:


1 January 1944

Dear Mom,

A beautiful cool New Year’s afternoon with not much doing – just lying around. Received your package containing soap and shaving supplies, Asprin – I’ve never had a headache since I’ve been in the army – except when I had malaria, and little liver tablets! Now I know I’ve probably bitched and griped about the food, but with all, it’s never been that bad. Never took them in my life and don’t intent to start now. I have never felt better.

Cards from Don Damice’s, Louise and ten-spot from Harry- no good here, but negotiable in China where U.S. money is called “Gold.” News from Germany sounds good with the Russians cutting off the Germans at China. I don’t think they’ll last long and Japan should be out a year after Germany falls.

Love Jimmie


4 July 2014

Great Americans,

Hoping this email finds all of you quite well this 4th of July! Please have some corn-on-the-cob, potato salad and that jello and pretzel dessert stuff (is there actually a name for it? C’mon, you know what I mean!), for me…and a beer! Or two…or five… While life is fairly insane at the moment (no fireworks or celebrations for me this year), I spent the day up in the control tower and then out went out to the LSO platform (Landing Signal Officer), and watched some jets land. Now if that doesn’t scream “‘Merica!” I don’t know what does! On a more serious note, things have been quite interesting around here, which has added to the already complex ops of day-to-day life onboard the boat. We all faced a steep learning curve over the last few weeks as certain international events unfolded, and I have learned vast amounts on a variety of subjects. The current situation means that we have an extremely high op-tempo, and just as our aircrew have been busy flying, our maintainers have been working incredibly hard to keep our airplanes up and functioning. The other day, one of my AEs (I’m the Avionics Division Officer), fell off a ladder while he was fixing an engine component with his arm wedged all the way inside the engine nacelle, and he now his entire arm is mottled purple, red and yellow. Despite this, he was back to work three hours later, with a smile on his face, happy that he got the plane back up and ready to fly! These are the type of awesome guys and gals that make up my squadron, and I couldn’t be more proud of them, especially on a day like today. Happy 4th, everyone!



It may be hard to see the similarities in experiences that are separated by so many years, policy changes and shifts in generational mindsets. But they are there. And they remind us that despite the differences, we share (at least) one fundamental commonality: we all wear/wore the uniform of a United States Armed Forces service member.

As part of Women in Writing Week, we recognize one of the first female role models in the Navy: Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. Here she is on The David Letterman Show, at age 80:

Letters transcend generations. Some of my family’s most sentimental possessions are my grandfather’s letters home during World War II while he was stationed in India. Growing up, I’d often heard the story of how he began writing to a woman his Aunt worked with, and after years of exchanging letters, he proposed to her the first time he met her as she picked him up from the airport upon his arrival in the States (that woman later became my grandmother).

But despite the fact that one of my cousins transcribed Grandpa’s letters to his own mother a few years back, I never got the chance to read them before I left on my own deployment. It wasn’t until I returned home that I read through them in their entirety, and was struck by the similarity between the multitude he had penned home, and my own numerous emails home to friends and family. His letters contain sections that have been cut out, and apparently his mother once received a scrawled note, “Ma’am, your son is fine…he just talks too much!” Clearly, he didn’t have a mandatory NKO OPSEC course…

Of course, Grandpa didn’t write using “hashtags” or about “missing WiFi” or even of women in the service. But he wrote of flying, the heat, his concern regarding things at home, silly things he and his friends did to pass the often boring times that happen on deployment and how much he missed his family. And so did I. What follows is a short compilation of letters written by my Grandfather, along with a few emails I sent to families and friends along similar topic lines.

meehan postBeginning Deployment

17 July 1943

Dear Mom,

I hope, by this time, you will have my first letter. I am finally at what appears to be my base – doing what I expected and trained for, although the camp isn’t exactly as I had hoped it would be.

It isn’t bad though and the stories are as interesting as amazing to the gullible – pythons, cobras and stampeding elephants. I haven’t seen any in the raw yet, except, on the way thru, in a city street, when a native lad would run up to us and throw a bag down at our feet whereupon an indifferent and defanged cobra would coil up and stare at us icily- the boy would want 4 annos (8c)…

…At [section cut from page] the streets were narrow, dusty and dirty, but the surrounding parks and residential districts were nice. The Taj Mahal was beautiful at night and looked just like it does in pictures. Send all your mail – air mail – as it will probably take from 15 days to a month anyway – you might get some of this stationary – air mail. I want to know about everybody and hope you have written – My regard to anybody you feel like giving them to – hope you are all well.

Love, Jimmie

16 April 2014

Important people of my life,

Hello to all of you! I am currently deployed and we are 2 months into what is sure to be an awesome nine-month deployment…yes, I’m saying that without a hint of sarcasm…none whatsoever. While I may not quite be bursting with enthusiasm for the coming months, I will say that so far, it has certainly been an adventure! After crossing the Atlantic, we ended up having a bit of an extended stay in the Med due to the current events in Ukraine. While our port visits to Athens, Greece and Antalya, Turkey were unaffected (you could probably hear the sigh of relief from all 5,000 people on the ship from across the Atlantic), the flight operations in the area were decidedly more interesting. Despite being on high alert for a few tense days, we managed to find some humor in the situation, as sailors (and especially aviators!), are wont to do. Chat rooms became the basis of many a laugh, as evidenced by the “Is love a Crimea? No, but you shouldn’t Russian to it” – subject line of one such room.

Dork humor aside, there is plenty of room for laughs on the boat. Sidenote: it’s “the boat” for aviators, and SWO’s (surface warfare officers) refer to the carrier and all naval vessels as “ships.” Aviators have a long history of being impertinent towards SWOs…and we take gleeful pride in maintaining this relationship. A recent email was forwarded to the entire airwing with the choice sentence “Reaction Officer complained that the airwing LT was not contrite when confronted. It strikes me that Naval Aviation’s characteristic irreverence and slight rebellious streak still generates surprised consternation and SWO-ish indignation.”…

…Well, this email has been in the works for about 5 weeks…hopefully the next one won’t be so delayed! I would love to tell you all more about the boat, the groups of people, flying, cat shots, call-signs and the awesome group of people I work with every day! I hope you all are doing well-Happy Easter to you and your families!

HUGS, Mere

27 October 1943

I was glad to get your letter and snapshots – they’re great. To answer some of your questions the 301st has just moved into its own area – which means that we now have our own mess hall – good food, comfortable bunkers – they are sprayed daily and of course we have our own mosquito net – shower rooms and day room.

I’m still flying a lot, but am now in charge of special services in the squadron – which means that on days off I’m in the library, day room, or working on the volleyball court etc. We are laying out a baseball field, football field and horseshoe pits and planning on a boxing ring. The red-cross has donated full equipment for all this – even checkers, chess, and playing cards for the day room. Now if we could get some blondes!

I’ll write tomorrow

Love, Jimmie

In the pantheon of privately managed Navy memorials, one of the most envied is the Intrepid–the centerpiece of New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Perched in Manhattan, the Intrepid draws in enough revenue to survive complex–and pricey–maintenance, grow facilities and attract a high-profile board (Including Xe/Blackwater founder Erik Prince). To envious outsiders, the institution seems like it is on the right track.

But how healthy is the Intrepid, actually?

Find out more here, at

Is the organization attempting to “save” the ex-USS Iowa (BB-61) telling the truth?

With the agreement to shed the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, the ex-USS Iowa is set to be disposed of in about seven years. To save the Iowa, the Navy’s designated partner, “Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square”, must raise $15-20 million dollars.

But the President of “Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square,” Elaine Merylin Wong, is saying some things that make me question her credibility.

Look at the recent news coverage. As the the Governor of Iowa, Chet Culver, signed on to support fundraising efforts, Wong said, according to the Des Moines Register, her organization has done quite a lot:

Already, $4 million has been raised and spent, and another $18 million to $20 million is needed to prepare the USS Iowa for public visitation, Wong said.

The article also said Wong painted a dire picture of the ship’s condition:

“Today, the ship is somewhat of a bathtub itself. It draws in copious amounts of ocean water, said Merilyn Wong”

But that…well, that horrible news on the ship’s condition totally contradicts what Wong said earlier in the month. A few days ago, the Courthouse News Service reported this:

Wong says the inside of the ship is in “pristine condition,” and says it has “received at least $1.5 million in work in the last four or five years.”

The nonprofit hopes to raise another $18 million on top of the $4 million it already has raised to restore the Iowa.

So what is the deal? Is the Iowa’s interior “pristine” or shipping a “copious” amount of water?

And… more worryingly, if the “Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square” has raised and spent $4 million dollars (never mind the $1.5 million supposedly spent on interior work–I’m assuming that’s money the government has spent on things like dehumidifying the vessel), where is it?

Where did $4 million dollars go? There’s no record of this amount of money ever entering the nonprofit’s books.

None of the $4 million dollars that the “Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square” has “already raised” shows up on the Form 990s nonprofits are required to file on an annual basis. In fact, the 990s point to an organization starved for funds. They detail an organization that is, quite frankly, a horrible–almost incompetent–fundraiser.

According to the 2006 and 2008 990s, the Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square took in $16,595 in 2002, $26,782 in 2003, $11,930 in 2004, $15,147 in 2005, $25,254 in 2006, $41,459 in 2007, and $ 30,905 in 2008.

That’s not anywhere near $4 million dollars.

So…where’s the money? For a nonprofit, the public gets to know these things.

See more at NEXTNAVY.COM

What’s the most endangered floating naval monument? Is it the soon-to-be abandoned ex-USS Olympia (C 6)? The “get-it-out-of-water-or-it’ll-sink” ex-USS Texas (BB 35)? The “dry-dock or dispose” ex-USS Yorktown (CV-10)?

If the Navy had a hefty (yet limited) amount of funds earmarked to bolster floating Naval memorials/floating landmarks, which monuments would you like to see the fund save?

Or…would you prefer funds went towards the best-preserved vessels? Or just save the ones in trouble? Do let me know!

Retired Navy SEAL and noted author Dick Couch told USNI Blog: 

The recent events off the coast of Somalia focused the nation on the issue of piracy on the high seas. This was last dealt with in any serious way during the Jeffersonian era, when the seven frigates sortied against the pirate threat.

These recent events also focused on the use of SEALs to resolve what evolved to be a hostage crises on the high seas. Past the shooting mechanics, which were a neat piece of work, there are two other issues that I find compelling. The first is the professionalism and courage of the on-scene commander. Someone had to make that decision, and that decision could well have turned out badly–and then that commander would have had to live with the call. These issues are never easy and never certain. I’m sure there are a few sleepless nights in his future, replaying events and wondering, “What if . . .”

Lost amid the decisive ending was the commute to the job site. That too was an interesting piece of work. Given the distances involved, those SEALs had to load up their gear–probably kit that involved a helo-borne assault and surface swimmer attack as well as sniper work–and parachute into the water. They probably jumped from a C-130, perhaps with refueling en route. Then they had to be recovered from the water and sort themselves out for a multiple-assault scenario. This is is like being a concert violinist, parachuting into the sea with your Stradivarius–probably at night, getting fished from the drink, then playing a concert–without missing a note.

For our SEALs, it was a day at the office–just like a day at the office for a heart surgeon or Kobe Bryant.

Many thanks to Captain Couch for his insights on the rescue of Captain Phillips. Loyal readers of this blog may remember our prior interview with Dick Couch about his latest book, The Sheriff of Ramadi.


Times Past

March 2009


My single favorite page in any Proceedings issue is the last page: “From Our Archive.” It’s great to read of things past, but seeing the faces and emotions really drives it home. This has to be my favorite photo since joining the Institute. The full version of the picture can be found here:

From the August 2008 issue of Proceedings
From the August 2008 issue of Proceedings

It was around 2345 the other night when we discovered a goldmine of memories. As I checked in for the night, a firstie (senior) called me over. “Hey, I have all these pictures and video from your plebe year,” he said as he handed me a CD. “Thought you might have wanted them. Make sure they get spread around to your classmates.”

I was now holding a time capsule of sorts. This disc held images of my friends and I which we had never seen. Sites like Facebook make it extremely easy to share and view all your friends’ photos. That’s certainly neat but after awhile you’ve seen all of them; I was given something “old” but refreshingly new. It was our version of “From Our Archive.”

I grabbed a couple of friends, one of whom was currently reading old emails from plebe year (“Wow, did I really sound like that,” he wondered), slid the CD into the tray, and started going through it. The pictures chronicled our plebe year starting from Hello Night (August), where we were “welcomed” by the upperclass. That’s when we felt it. “I sort of wish I were a plebe again.”

Yeah, I said it. Do I really want to go rewind spend another two and half years to get to this point? No, not really. But there was something exciting, fresh, and simple about the first year. There’s something exhilarating about the “Us vs. Them” mentality of it all.

I know a lot of readers here are former/current military…I’m curious as to what you reflect upon and say “I sort of wish I were a _________ again.” Was it a remarkable crew? First division? First command?