Archive for September, 2008

The Phalanx

The phalanx was a rectangular shaped unit of soldiers standing tightly together several ranks deep. The men were armed with long spears or pikes, and frequently carried large shields as well.
The battle line was formed by placing one phalanx next to another. If manpower, allowed a second phalanx line was formed behind the first.
The first documented use of the phalanx is found on a Sumerian stele dating from 2450 BC. Egyptian Pharaoh’s armies also employed this formation.

Read the entire article at Hampton Roads Military History

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September 30, 2008 at 1:48 am

Home sweet home for C-133 Cargomaster

Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

The military Aviation Calendar 2009 is available for $ 19.99, exclusively at The PatriArt Gallery. Thirteen thrilling images of US fighter jets, bombers, transports, UAVs and helicopters, as well as selected allied aircraft including the famed RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team. Visit The PatriArt Gallery now to preview all 13 images or to order.

 In front of more than 80,000 spectators, the last flying C-133A Cargomaster returned home to Travis Air Force Base at the 2008 Travis Air Expo, Aug. 30. 

The event was special for a lot of reasons said Master Sgt. Terry Juran, Travis Air Museum director. 

“The arrival and retirement of the C-133 here really fills a void in our aircraft collection,” said Sergeant Juran. “Only two bases had the C-133, Travis and Dover. They have their aircraft and now we have ours.” 

The C-133 flew at Travis from 1958 until its departure in 1971. According to Mr. John Lacomia, 60th Air Mobility Wing historian, the first C-133 arrived at Travis on Oct. 17, 1958 and was dubbed the “State of California” and was assigned to the 84th Air Transport Squadron of the 1501st Air Transport Wing. The last Cargomaster a C-133B departed Travis on July 30, 1971 for Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona. 

The arrival of the C-133A has been more than 20 years in the making. Members of the Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Foundation, formally the Travis Historical Society, played a major role in the acquisition. 

“We wanted to have this part of history here at Travis,” said Mr. Dave Floreck, foundation member. “This arrival means a lot to so many people.” 

Mr. Floreck was an active duty Airman and worked on the aircraft while stationed in Korea. He, along with other C-133A crew members and maintainers, from as far away as Switzerland, made the trip to Travis to see the landing. 

“It’s a great day for the aircraft,” said retired Lt. Col. Joe Fouts, a former C-133A pilot.
Colonel Fouts resides in Anchorage, Alaska, where the C-133 had been flying. He saw the plane take off from there and land during the show at Travis. 

Colonel Fouts said he had many fond memories of the Aircraft. In particular was a mission that took his crew around the globe, flying heads of state and dignitaries in July, 1960. 

“We planned for the trip to take 84 hours,” he said. “We took off from Travis and touched down in exactly that time.” 

Colonel Fouts praised the Aircraft for its reliability but said they knew it was better to be safe than sorry. 

“We took two extra engines, two props and an extra maintenance crew, just in case.” 

The Travis Air Museum has plans to move the aircraft from its position on the ramp to a location near the David Grant Medical Center, closer to the base’s entrance and future site of the Jimmy Doolittle Air Museum. 

“We really want to show off this aircraft to honor those who served and sacrificed.”
Because only 50 total C-133s flew in the Air Force, Sergeant Juran said he felt its history, and the history of its crewmembers had been overlooked. 

“It’s such a small community of people who served on this aircraft. But they did a lot of work. I think we may have forgotten that, but with the arrival of this aircraft we can right that wrong.”

Shaun Emery

September 16, 2008 at 2:30 am

Military Aviation on the Eve of WW I

On the eve of the World War I, no country was prepared for using aircraft or had even admitted they would make an effective weapon of war. Several had experimented with dropping bombs from aircraft, firing guns, and taking off and landing from aircraft carriers, but no country had designed or built aircraft specifically for war functions.

 Limited bombing operations had been carried out before 1914, but most thought that aircraft use was limited to reconnaissance or scouting missions. An October 1910 editorial in Scientific American, a respected publication, denigrated the airplane as a war weapon:

“Outside of scouting duties, we are inclined to think that the field of usefulness of the aeroplane will be rather limited. Because of its small carrying capacity, and the necessity for its operating at great altitude, if it is to escape hostile fire, the amount of damage it will do by dropping explosives upon cities, forts, hostile camps, or bodies of troops in the field to say nothing of battleships at sea, will be so limited as to have no material effects on the issues of a campaign….”
But some effort was made to use aircraft for military purposes. Some of the earliest efforts took place in Italy. In April 1909, the newly formed Italian aviation club, Club Aviatori, brought Wilbur Wright to Italy to demonstrate his Military Flyer at the Centocelle military base near Rome. Before leaving Rome, Wilbur trained the naval officer who would become Italy’s first pilot, Lieutenant Mario Calderara. In 1910, Italy set up its first military flying school at Centocelle.

Read the entire article at Hampton Roads Military History

September 15, 2008 at 1:42 am

McCain: A Tale of Two Admirals

USS John S. McCain

USS John S. McCain

USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) is a US Navy Arleigh Burke Class AEGIS destroyer. It is jointly named after Admirals John Sidney McCain and John S. McCain jr.
Visit The PatriArt Gallery and purchase the USS John S. McCain poster, framed art print, 12-month calendar, or greeting card set.
Or find the USS John S. McCain  tee-shirt or browse our collection of USS John S. McCain  souvenirs at The Military Chest.

There is something about the naval service that the civilian simply doesn’t understand. That the men who go down to the sea in ships man the far distant pickets during peace-watching, listening for those perturbations in the political environment that may mean a future threat to the homeland. They are the first to hear the crackling of peace.

     And when the clouds of war roll out of the horizon, it is they in their iron watch towers who bear and blunt the first shocks of malevolence.

     In the meantime, they watch and wait, peering into the distance-usually unnoticed, often unappreciated in the times of peace. Not until the drums of war roll throughout the land do they get their due. But these men and women care less about this, because their reward is not the accolades, but the service itself.

     This great, gray, sleek ship… the men who bend back and mind to serve her…and the spirits of the two men for whom it is named…will be the newest spike in the floating steel veil that protects the land. And as we look at the pristine vessel it looks rather like some great predatory cat, doesn’t it? Crouched down, ears laid back in stalk- we know that its presence and its implied menace will more likely mean peace than war. But some day this ship may have to be in a fight. There will be the loud clang of “BATTLE STATIONS!!! ALL HANDS TO BATTLE STATIONS!!!”, and smoke, and missiles, and noise and that fierce coordinated focus that only comes to men in a battle.

     The two McCain’s – John Sidney, Sr., and John Sidney, Jr., served both in the clamor of battle and the long days of keeping the peace. They sacrificed just as the crews of this ship will sacrifice, in peace and war. For that is the lot, and the privilege of the sailor. To serve.

     Who these two men are is often obscured by the stars that studded their shoulder boards, and by the lofty commands they held at the ends of their careers. And this too short treatise is to present them not as Admirals and military luminaries, but rather I think how they would be remembered-as human beings. Leaders who were made, not born.

They were men who worked hard, studied their fellow man, made mistakes, learned, and tried again. Most importantly, these two men always told the truth – especially to themselves-because they knew that’s the only thing you can count on. As far as I can find out, they never quit, and they never laid down a responsibility, or tried to transfer blame to another pair of shoulders.

     Doing this was no easier for those two men than they are for the rest of us. They just learned and accepted the reality that there is no way around doing you job. No magic, no special internal muses…just hard work and keeping an eye on those twin saboteurs of doing a job right- fear and irresponsibility.

     It is an accident that the McCain’s even went to sea. Because in their Mississippi family, the eldest son always took over the family land, “Teoc”, and the second son went into the army. In fact, a McCain served on George Washington’s staff. Another served in the Civil War, was badly wounded, and came home to Teoc to die. Yet another was a three-star general in World War I- the Adjutant General of the Army. Still another was one of the last battle cavalry officers and served with “Black Jack” Pershing on his raid into Mexico trying to catch the elusive “Cucaracha”, Pancho Villa, and also became a general.

     Trouble was, John Sidney McCain, Sr. was the third son. The second, Bill, was already at West Point, so “Sidney”, as most of his friends called him, went to “Ole Miss”, presumably to become a doctor, or lawyer or something useful. Still, he itched to put on the West Point gray. Bill approved and suggested he go up to the big city, Jackson, to take some entrance exams they were offering for the U.S. Naval Academy as practice for the rigorous West Point tests.

     He did so well on the tests he got an appointment to Annapolis, and decided to go to the sea in ships. It changed McCain history. Since then, at least five McCain’s and blood kin have gone to Annapolis, and several others have joined the enlisted ranks. Nary an Army man in all that time.

     John Sidney McCain, Sr. graduated in 1906 and joined a different Navy. A service of iron dreadnoughts belching black coal smoke, of swinging hammocks, and of under slung bows still evolving away from the ancient tactic of stabbing other ships beneath the waterline.

     He was ordered out to the old Asiatic Station of song and legend, to serve on many classic ships now long gone to scrap yard and history- the battleship OHIO, the cruiser BALTIMORE, the destroyer CHAUNCEY, and the gunboat PANAY, whose “accidental” sinking by Japanese aircraft two decades later was to be one of the malevolent tidal events that inexorably pulled the United States towards the maelstrom of the Second World War.

     Young McCain served on the battleship CONNECTICUT in Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, 16 battleships sent around the globe in 1907 to show the world the power of this muscular new nation in the Western Hemisphere. He escorted convoys through the teeth of the German “Unterwasserboots” in The Great War. More battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and gunboats- learning the ways of the sea, and the men who sail on it in ships of iron.

     Almost unnoticeable in this formidable list of men-of-war assignments is a duty which became instrumental in forming his ideas of leadership. That duty was as Director of Machinist Mates School in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1912-1914. It is likely that it was here, as well as on those hard steel decks, that he understood that the career enlisted man is the heart of any Navy. A fact that must never be forgotten if an officer is to truly “lead”. His son, John S. McCain Jr.-second part of this story- was later to put that into a phrase that has become a One Commandment Bible of naval leadership.

     In the 1930’s with the rapid expansion of the naval arm-the marriage of ship and warplane-the Navy had a bit of a dilemma. Plenty of naval officers were trained as pilots, but few trained for sea command. The Navy Department decided to look for experienced commanders who might be willing to go to the naval flight school in Pensacola. One of those asked was Sidney McCain, now a Captain- a more serious rank in the small and parochial Navy before World War II.

     So Captain McCain went down to Florida with a bunch of kids to learn how to strafe and dive bomb, and land on a pitching carrier deck- at the age of 50. Still a record. And in September, 1936, at the age of 52, some admiral or captain pinned the golden wings above his left breast pocket, 52!

     Now an aviator, he commanded two naval air stations and the carrier RANGER, and in February 1941- the Second World War already mauling Europe- he was made Rear Admiral and put in command of the new combined scouting forces and fleet wings on the West Coast. When the Japanese made their terrible miscalculation in attacking Pearl Harbor, his command was the umbrella against the expected attack on the mainland.

     May 1942, he took over command of all land-based naval aircraft in the South Pacific. His planes fought the battle of Guadalcanal and helped dent the Japanese effort to “finish off” the Americans in the Pacific.

     After a stint back in Washington as Chief of Naval Aeronautics, where he got a third star, it was back to the war in later summer, 1944, as Commander of the Second Fast Carrier Force Pacific and Task Group 38.1. Three months later, he took over Task Force 38, Halsey’s cavalry.

     McCain, say the various accounts, became a sort of Jeb Stuart/George Patton of the ocean, dashing from flash point to flash point, attacking, attacking, and attacking. He was awarded the Navy Cross for putting his forces between the battered cruisers HOUSTON and CANBERRA, and a hornet’s nest of Japanese fighters trying to finish off the crippled ships.

     In October, he was ordered to take his worn down men and planes for a rest, when a Japanese armada launched a thrust at the American invasion force in the Philippines. Halsey had been drawn Northward by a feint, and the landing troops were protected by only a light force under Admiral Sprague. McCain raced back to help, but his carriers were too far away for his beloved pilots to make it back to the carriers after the strike. He pressed onward, hoping for another hundred miles, but the reports from the beach told of increasing peril and cries for help.

   Admiral McCain went down to his cabin to think a few moments. Then came up and said, “Turn into the wind”. The order that precedes an aircraft launch. His aircraft and Sprague’s heroic actions caught the Japanese force flatfooted, and the invasion was saved.

Read the entire Tale of Two Admirals (written by Senator John S. McCain III) at the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) website.

September 14, 2008 at 2:55 am

PAVE LOW dedicated into AF Armament Museum

An MH-53 PAVE LOW helicopter took its final flight Sept. 5, landing outside the Air Force Armament Museum near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The helicopter, from the 20th Special Operations Squadron, 1st Special Operations Wing, will remain right where it landed as part of the museum’s collection, representing the fleet of MH-53s that will be retired from Air Force inventory Sept. 30.

“This is a wonderful aircraft that served its country proudly for over the past 35 years,” said George Jones, the museum director, who officiated the dedication ceremony. 

The largest, most powerful and technologically advanced helicopters in the Air Force, the PAVE LOWs have service records dating back to the Vietnam War. They opened the air war in Operation Desert Storm, flew reconnaissance missions over Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and have since been continuously deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

For MH-53 tail No. 73-1652, much of that history involves Lt. Col. Sean Hoyer, who piloted the aircraft en route to the museum. In fact, it carried him through his first combat mission in Bosnia almost exactly 11 years ago.

Hoyer later flew the same aircraft in Iraq. He said bringing it to its final resting place at the museum is “bittersweet.”

“All of us know it’s the end of an era,” he said. “I had a really good time. I was privileged to work with some of the best people I could ever know.”

The flight was also the finis flight, the last flight in the airframe, for Hoyer and Master Sgt. Jason Rushing, a flight engineer.

“It’s a fitting end,” Rushing said, “putting it in a place where other people can appreciate its history.”

The crew said 1652’s final flight was uneventful, but their squadron didn’t let it go without ceremony. Upon exiting the aircraft, Hoyer, Rushing and their crew were attacked from above – with a bucketful of water.

“I saw the bucket from afar, so I kind of figured it would happen,” Hoyer said.
The ceremonial dousing is tradition for finis flights.

The MH-53 is the first aircraft to be dedicated to the museum in almost 10 years. It’s also the only aircraft ever to be flown to its resting place.

“I think it will be a great thing to show friends and family when the time comes,” Hoyer said. 

A handful of PAVE LOWs are still in use in the Middle East, and will fly their last missions in combat before being transported back to the U.S. The final local flight will take place Sept. 16.

Lauren Johnson

MH-53 Pave Low

MH-53 Pave Low

Find a poster, framed print, or 12-month calendar of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) MH-53 Pave Low helicopter at The PatriArt Gallery.

September 13, 2008 at 1:12 am 1 comment