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Veteran’s Corner

Column by Jesse Church

Hello my beloved veterans and people of Molokai, old Jesse here with all the veterans’ news and upcoming events. Retired Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey, loved by Marines for his bombastic role as the salty drill instructor in the 1987 movie “Full Metal Jacket,” has never been afraid to tell you what’s on his mind. Just last year he tried to get the Dept. of the Navy renamed to the Dept. of the Navy and Marine Corps, but failed. Now, he has a new message for the “losers” in Washington who want to save money by slashing the military, “Hands off!” He said to the Marine Corps on Sept. 28, “I’m going to tell you something right up front. Don’t cut anything until you cut this damn foreign aid.” He went on to say eroding the military should not happen until the nation has cut the fat in less critical areas. “You want to take millions away from our military, but you continue to send billions of dollars in foreign aid to countries that hate our guts. Explain that to me,” he said citing Pakistan as an example. Ermey also advocated cutting expensive civilian contractors who are employed everywhere from the base gate to the mess hall.

For years the Navy and Northrop Gruman have worked on precise navigation technology that will make it possible to land an unmanned, persistent low-observable aircraft on a moving carrier and refuel the drone from a tanker in flight. This year, the program stepped much closer to reality. The X-47B flew for the first time in February. In July, an F/A-18 D Hornet equipped with an early version of the autonomous guidance software designed for the drone successfully landed on a carrier without a pilot on the stick and throttle. Although the primary goal of the unmanned combat air system demonstration aircraft program is to launch and land the aircraft on the carrier, officials must accomplish much more. Upon touchdown, crews must clear the drone from runway within 45 seconds, no easy feat, so other aircraft can land.

A Lt. Commander made the first takeoff from an official aircraft carrier Oct. 17, 1922, launching his biplane from the decks of the Langley. Twelve years earlier, Eugene Ely was the first to take off from a ship. Langley had been re-commissioned as the Navy’s first aircraft carrier just six months earlier after the service aviation, according to Naval History and Heritage Command. Lt. Cmdr. Virgil Griffin wasn’t the first pilot to take off from a ship and Langley was not the first ship with a flight deck installed. But Griffin’s flight in Vought VE-75F was momentous for the Navy because it introduced the era of the aircraft carrier. A number of milestones happened over the next month on Langley. Nine days after Griffin’s flight, Lt. Cmdr. Godfrey Chevalier made the first landing on an aircraft carrier. On Nov. 18, Cmdr. Kenneth Whiting became the first aviator catapulted from a carrier deck.

I’d like to remind everyone that the local VFW Post #3870 will have its monthly meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Tues. Dec. 13 at the home of Cmdr. George Harada (call 553-5730 with questions). This holiday season let’s not forget out military personnel stationed in harm’s way. To the veterans and people of Molokai, you are all very special and I love you all. If anyone has any news or needs any help, give old Jesse a call at 553-3323.


One Response to “Veteran’s Corner”

  1. Kalikiano says:

    Always good to hear about Molokai vets and their activities on the island. Although I am one of the very few Air Force weenies in the group (and living off-island), the strong sense of solidarity that Molokai vets demonstrate is laudable…especially on a day like this (7 December). What comes out above all else with regard to that unfortunate event at Pearl, so many years ago, is that war is an artificial division between all men (and women) that eventually erodes. In that sense we are all a band of brothers (hui koa kahiko), no matter what political economic divisions once separated us into opposing camps. Those who have been through active war and survived know, of course, that General William Tecumseh Sherman’s memorable Civil War quote (“War is hell…”) is as true today as it was when the first Proto-Neanderthal brained one of his fellows with a club, 600 thousand years years ago. What is sad is that it usually takes a full lifetime to truly understand that what we fight for as youths is usually far less important than the collective awareness that comes with age and broadened understandings of the world we all share. On this day I salute all those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 and my fellow Molokai koa kahiko as well! A hui hou e malama pono!

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