Archive for the 'History' Tag

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 NextNavy.com



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.



31st

Times Past

March 2009

By

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?



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