Tomorrow night, Wednesday, September 15, 2010, at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, the United States Navy Memorial is having the 2010 Lone Sailor Awards Dinner.

A couple of days ago on Midrats, fellow USNIBlog’r EagleOne and I had on two of the honorees as guests; Eddie LaBaron and Lanier Phillips.

Though known as four-time Pro-Bowler, quarterback for the Washington Redskins in the 1950s, Tom Landry’s first quarterback in Dallas, and Don Meredith’s mentor; he was also a USMC Lieutenant in the Korean Conflict; decorated with the Purple Heart and awarded the Bronze Star.

We spent the first half hour of the show discussing the Korean War, Marines, and professional football – along the way weaving in some well grounded ideas on the nature of leadership.

Our guest for the second half of the hour, Lanier Phillips, was a trailblazer for all Sailors. In October of 1941, at the age of eighteen, Lanier joined the Navy. He was a survivor of the February of 1942 sinking of the USS TRUXTUN (DD-229). He was not just any Sailor though, he later took a step with confidence like he did during the shipwreck that put him in an raft – he asked to be treated as an equal and was the first black Navy sailor to become a sonar technician.

An impressive man and Sailor – we had a chance to talk about everything from life on a WWII era destroyer, the arch of how our Navy has dealt with race over the last 70 years – challenges that still exist, and some bright thoughts for the future.

It’s fine if you couldn’t join us live – you can always reach the archives at blogtalkradio – or set yourself to get the podcast on iTunes.

Posted by CDRSalamander in History, Marine Corps, Navy, Podcasts
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  • Matt Yankee

    “Mr. Gaffney said the report concludes that U.S. government programs aimed at reaching out to Muslim groups that promote Shariah law “is not political correctness, it’s submission.”

    [Editor: the rest of this has been redacted. Love it or hate it, we are a military blog, not a political blog].

    Matt Yankee, please take note.

  • Byron

    With all due respect, Matt, just what the hell does this have to do with the subject of Phib’s article?

    By the way, and I’m late to the party, but listening to Mr. Phillips was an inspiring event. I strongly urge anyone who wasn’t there live to listen to the whole thing.

  • Matt Yankee

    The following is on your own website…

    What is the Naval Institute Blog?

    An independent online forum where you can express thoughtful, productive ideas, insights and opinions on issues affecting our Nation’s defense.

    We’re not the Navy nor any government agency.

    Blog and comment freely.

    I commented on the Ground Zero Mosque issue because it DOES relate to this nations defense as far as properly indentifying our adversary in all his forms both violent and non-violent actors. It is not a political issue…Bloomberg the Republican mayor and our President are on the same side and in my judgement are on the wrong side so i speak out. I am not in the military and so I might have more liberty to express my opinion on sensitive issues and I guess you didn’t agree with me so you silenced my comment. Bravo Zulu…Mao.

    The comments section that would have been the “proper” section was not functioning and so i went to the next one which had 0 comments. Whats your problem? One comment should be better than 0.

  • Context, topic, and theme. You are missing on all three.

  • Byron

    Phib, you forgot to mention common sense. Matt, all your comments just went into my “/ignore” file.

  • RickWilmes

    The point Matt was making is that his comment was not making it through the moderation here at USNI so he posted the comment in the next available location he could find.

    Dissenting views are a problem here at USNI.

    Matt, I understood your point if the Cdr. and Byron didn’t so be it.

  • Byron

    The point, in case you either missed or had an axe to grind, was whether or not he was on topic. Not censorship. Not to mention, Rick, posting here is not a right protected by the Bill of Rights; it’s a privilege that can be given or taken away. So the term “censorship” does not apply to this blog. More properly, it’s “moderation”.

  • Rick,

    Sorry you feel that way. Sometimes comments are not posted because they are a thinly veiled attempt to highjack a post.

  • RickWilmes


    I understand the difference between censorship and moderation and no where on the USNI blog have I said that censorship is in play.

    I am fully aware of the moderation standards here at USNI and have been accused several times of attempting to hijack a thread which has never been my intention or purpose.

    Expressing a dissenting view has on occassion been my purpose, agreeing with certain views has also been my purpose and both have been moderated here at USNI,

    My point is I understand what and why Matt did what he did. That is all.

  • … and the sad thing is that no one has yet commented on what the two men we interviewed on Midrats had to say. Men, I might say, who have had lives of significant consequence to all of us.

    That is what trolls do. That is what hijacking does. The internet version of vandalism and graffiti. Distract from and deface work of greater men (LaBaron and Phillips) out of intellectual laziness spiced with a bit of narcissism.

    As for USNIBlog – if you want your comments nuked – come over to my home blog. USNI in general and this blog specifically is one of the most open and free forums of quality around. All they ask (and I am a guest just like you) is that you stick to the topic at hand and make an effort to contribute.

    Rick and Matt – I would have ignored your comments, but I have such respect for LaBaron and Phillips after spending an hour with them that is torques me off that you would comment on their thread without even having the respect due the men to give them a listen.

    Instead of slandering USNI – redeem yourself. Listen to the episode, return here, and offer your observations and comments. You are both well educated individuals who want to contribute and want to share your ideas with others. Well, here is your chance. Focus on the topic at hand, in this case two national treasures, and build on the issues they bring up.

    That is my troll/hijacker intervention for 4QFY10. You’re better than this. Prove it.

  • RickWilmes


    As soon as Byron makes a relevant comment to the topic at hand I will chime in.

  • Byron

    Phib, with all due respect, comment #2 for your attention

  • RickWilmes

    “Instead of slandering USNI – redeem yourself. Listen to the episode, return here, and offer your observations and comments. You are both well educated individuals who want to contribute and want to share your ideas with others. Well, here is your chance. Focus on the topic at hand, in this case two national treasures, and build on the issues they bring up.

    That is my troll/hijacker intervention for 4QFY10. You’re better than this. Prove it.”

    OK, Cdr. let’s get to work and start with

    “Our guest for the second half of the hour, Lanier Phillips, was a trailblazer for all Sailors”

    What did Lanier Phillips do when he discovered that his application for a different rate was being stopped by white racists who were too old to change their ways?

    He wrote a letter that circumvented his chain of command.

    Now you and Byron claim that Matt Yankee is a troll and trying to hijack this thread.  My question is how is his action different from Lanier Philips writing his letter. 

    As far as I can tell both individual’s are applying the same principle. In Philips case he beleived that he could better serve the Navy by pursuing a different rate and he found a way to get around the road block that was in his way.

    Matt Yankee thinks his ideas at USNI need to be heard but he can’t get through so he found a work around?
     So his actions and comments are related to this thread and topic.

  • Sigh.

    We should leave this thread up intact just as a monument to the futility of optimism.

    Byron, let’s go get a couple of Sheepshead sandwich platters and a pitcher of beer at Singletons.

  • Byron

    I was thinking fried softshell crab sandwiches, just to make the tourists gag when you bite into all those legs 🙂

  • Matt Yankee

    Sorry but I wasn’t atttempting to hijack anything…Like I stated I was attempting to comment on the blog posting from the 15th which my comment did have something to do with but to section wasn’t working. If you want proper placement of comments it might be a good idea for them to be funtioning properly.

    My larger fight is calling out political correctness…no disrespect to anyone anywhere.

    Byron ????…you remind me of a small town deputy getting a bit to excited about going 3 mph over the speed limit and wanting to stick your gun in my face over it…lighten up buddy.

    I do love softshell crab though…

  • Byron

    Yup. That’s me. Only got one bullet…but I never miss.

  • Matt Yankee

    Yup…your foot doesn’t count…

  • RickWilmes

    In the first half-hour the interview covered such topics as the Marine Corps, leadership, and working in the corporate world.  I was reminded of General Hoar’s Proceedings article “Critical Dilemma: Loyalty versus Honesty.” I think Lanier Phillips’ officers could have used the following lesson instead of posing as a roadblock to Lanier Phillips future.

    “In the U.S. military services, loyalty and honesty—often described as integrity—are highly prized virtues. They rank right behind courage as prized characteristics of an officer. Although there is perpetual friction and competition between them, we need go no farther than the oath taken by all military officers: “I solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . .” This provides the necessary direction as to where our primary loyalties should lie—to the Constitution, not to our commanders. As a matter of custom in the Marine Corps, officer promotion ceremonies include a renewal of that oath to underscore at each promotion that there are new opportunities to contribute. Equally important, it reminds officers their overriding fealty is to the nation.

    Senior military commanders are most likely to face this dilemma. Because their responses are key to high-level policy decisions, they must realize that weighing honesty against loyalty is an abiding responsibility.”

    One other point that Eddie LaBaron discussed was his experience in Korea and the marked contrast that now exists between North and South Korea.  I think a discussion about General MacArthur and his firing, its effects on the current state of Korea, and leadership in general is worthy of this thread. Such a discussion would tie in well with, previous guest on Midrats, Col. Macgregor and his Naval Institute book, “Warrior’s Rage.”

    In this book, Col. MacGregor describes the reluctance of higher ranking officer’s lack of courage to push forward and destroy the Republican Guard.

    “As General Schwarzkopf later noted, after Khafji it had always been doubtful that any Iraqi maneuver across the open desert would survive under the crushing weight of American airpower.

    Now, it also was obvious to Schwarzkopf that the Iraqi force could do nothing but surrender, die, or retreat.  Of the three options, it looked like Saddam Hussein had made the decision to retreat. To Franks’ VII Corps staff, however, talk of pursuit was out of the question.

    Even with the relatively light and ineffective Iraqi resistance on the 24th, General Franks continued to regard the Iraqi army as intact and capable.  Presumably, Franks also remained convinced the Iraqi enemy was patiently waiting for him to attack.  In the tank battle of attrition Franks imagined would take place, massing his divisions into narrow zones of attack was essential to success in the direct frontal assault on the Republican Guard that he planned before Christmas of 1990.

    Colonel Stan Cherrie, General Franks’ G-3 (principal operations officer) and a lifelong friend, going back to the Vietnam War, strongly supported Franks’ assessment.  He also worried that converting the planned deliberate attack to a pursuit could lead to uncontrolled formations of American soldiers shooting each other in a mad dash across the desert.(2)  Cherrie’s concern was not without merit, but fear of fratricide is no excuse for inaction when it comes to the overarching priority of attacking the enemy.  Predictably, the larger effect of these concerns was to once again halt, not accelerate, VII Corps’ movement forward.

    In Cougar Squadron, we had no idea that a divergence of opinion on these matters had developed between General Schwarzkopf and General Franks.  But Franks must have had some doubts, because now, at 1000 hours on the 25th, he had called his division commanders for advice on whether to continue the advance or to halt.

    This was curious indeed.  Knowing the criticality of his mission to the larger strategic success or failure of Desert Storm, it’s hard to understand why he would ask generals commanding units that had yet to really see action whether he should press the attack or stop.  But this is what happened. (p. 91 +2 to 91 +3)

    I wonder how many of our senior military leaders have thought about the fact that the United States’ failure to continue to finish the job in Korea has led to the current state of Korea.  The United States unwillingness to push forward in the first Gulf War has resulted in the current state of Iraq.

  • Matt Yankee

    Insightful comment…I agree especially with your last paragraph regarding our bad habbit of leaving unfinished business. MacArthur was relieved for his desire to take the fight to China even with nuclear weapons. If you go futher back to Patton he wanted to go after the Soviets immediately after WWII which also brought his career to an end. History has proven the decision to go into the USSR would have not been wise given the eventual peaceful collapse however would we have prevented the Vietnam War if we had taken Patton’s advice? North Korea has been a large thorn in our side to say the least. We cannot even bring ourselves to return fire when they sink an allied warship and hand out nuke technologies to terrorists (Syria = Hezbollah).

    “The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!”
    George S. Patton

    We listen to all those fears and that’s why we don’t go ahead. Maybe that’s wise…maybe that’s disasterous. God only knows sometimes.

  • Matt Yankee

    Eddie LaBaron and Lanier Phillips are incredible men and you can sense the difference in the country that brought them up from where we are today.

    The main thing that caught my attention was LaBaron’s comment on the total salaries of the Red Skins in 1959…175,000 for all 33 of the players. And when they left football they became lawyers and doctors. Football should be more of a means to a greater end and not the rat race for unimaginable wealth it is now. When we have a large portion of high school kids taking steroids in the desire for success at all costs we are on the wrong side of the road. The military is a great institution to teach honor and hard work and this should be what we engrain into the heads of our young. Require a semester in ROTC and make mandatory 2-year enlistments after high school and/or college and our younger generations will have much more success. Our republic depends on a honorable and honest citizenry for many reasons including financial reasons…like people who walk away from their promise (mortgage) for purely economic reasons thus backrupting the lendors and reducing loan values and the abilities of everyone to obtain future financing.

  • RickWilmes

    Matt Yankee Says:

    “Insightful comment…I agree especially with your last paragraph regarding our bad habbit of leaving unfinished business.”

    Thank you,  Matt

    I have more to say but don’t want to overwhelm the thread with my comments.

    Cdr, Byron any thoughts?