(Written in 1998)
Our parents witnessed incredible change in their lives--truly muscles to missiles and a man on the moon (the first one a Flying Midshipman--Neil Armstrong). We of FMA have also witnessed incredible change in technology, morality, ethics, ad infinitum. We all have strong remembrances of a very different world than the one we live in today. Among the many questions that whiz around in my thoughts is: WHY WOMEN AT SEA?
Now that we have had some experience with women at sea, it seems abundantly clear that this policy is a failure. Their presence is costly; they are not needed and an unnecessary distraction is added to an already complex environment.
Cost has always been a big factor in the building and manning of ships. Great effort has been put into reducing manning through labor saving devices. Yet, in the push to prove equality, by sending women to sea, cost has been seemingly ignored. It is expensive to modify our warships to include female quarters and sanitary facilities. When one thinks of cost, a corollary word seems to emerge, i.e. PRICE. I fear that we may be paying a price in the defection of very capable young men who are disgusted with the political correctness that surrounds this issue.
We must all be very proud of the wonderful contribution that women have made to our armed services. It was great to see that a proper recognition of women who have served with great courage and dedication has finally been recognized in the new memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery. Their legacy enhances present and future female service personnel. Many went in harms way but their role was not in combat arms.
Through the centuries, women have been placed in harms way just as their warrior fathers, sons, and husbands have been. I recall visiting a place in the mountains of Switzerland that had been successfully defended several centuries ago by women when their men were away doing battle with invaders. So it certainly is not news that women have a capacity to flight when called upon to do so.
There have been many women in aviation. I visited Beechcraft Aviation in Kansas many years ago and was truly impressed with pictures on the wall of their auditorium. The room was filled with pictures of women aviators. Further, there is a great tribute to Anne Bumgartner Carl in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. She was a test pilot and flew the [Bell] YP-59A (OUR FIRST JET) in 1942! Further, she flew all the various types of aircraft in the inventory at that time. After WW lI, she had a family and then went back into the flying world. Jackie Cochran, Amelia Erhardt and many others fill historical records.
I point all this out to emphasize the fact that there should be no contest between men and women about skills. It is clear that there is no equality among men; so how can there ever be an argument centered on the notion of some sort of superiority/inferiority between men and women? Women have performed very well on the flight line in the Naval Air Training Command. The only problem in that situation was that they occupy billets that were formerly filled by sailors who were due for shore assignment.
Now having explored all that, let's address the issue of women in Naval Aviation and their deployment on our carriers. What I observe about carriers also carries over to surface and subsurface combatants. The issue is SEX! This wonderful issue is so completely defining that it cannot be brushed aside with the idea that PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT rules it out. Kings have been dethroned along with lesser beings in this life because mother nature overrode good judgment. Service on our ships at sea is very demanding. In wartime, the schedules are exhausting and there is only time for pure focus on the mission at hand. Given that SEX is a very strong tension reliever, what can one expect when very young, often lonely people are pressed together in the confines of a ship. They are far away from home in a highly charged, demanding and tiring atmosphere. The many pregnancies that have occurred is ample evidence that what I imply is true. I recently met a very dedicated young female LTJG in the Coast Guard. She was in the Human Resources section at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This previously Enlisted woman clearly knew the ropes. She told me that many young women in the Coast Guard used pregnancy to force transfers when they did not like their shipboard assignment. Just think about what that absence does to a small ship's readiness? And, what about the young male sailor whose workload is doubled?
When I reflect on life at sea and the problems one deals with, it is clear that introducing this new unneeded variable is complete nonsense. In the late '50's, I served as the Legal Officer on the old FDR (CVA-42). How that happened to a line Naval Aviator is too long to explain, but there I was. Believe me it took a lot of my time AND our ship had about 1,000 less sailors than today's Nimitz Class. We were fortunate in those days while on Med deployment. Our money was valuable and in some places not even needed. A sailor could get almost anything he wanted with cigarettes or silk stockings. We spent a lot of time in port because operating funds were in short supply. Our mission was showing the flag and we were quickly moved from port to port when elections were about to happen. Keeping good discipline with a bunch of red blooded, hard charging, young blue jackets on an idle ship was a challenging task. Now look at today's world; a similar scenario exists, except the ports are not nearly so nice as were Cannes or Nice then. We go to third world ports where liberty is less than one would desire and we add female blue jackets.
Everybody knows the old saw about idleness. It seems to me that our society is violating a long said prayer ["lead us not into temptation"] when we place our young women on WARSHIPS. We are underwriting recreational procreation and the resulting single parent home. Doesn't anyone have concern for the little children that are born into this situation when many single parent family studies have shown that the lack of two parents is detrimental to child development? How far we have come from not discussing women, religion and politics in the wardroom!!?? Now women are politically there, and on the mess decks!! Will we have to change the title COMMANDING OFFICER to MAYOR??
Many years ago, I heard a briefing in which it was hypothesized that we would have manning problems in the future because of a forecast shortage of young men. This notion created the idea that more females would be needed to support military operations. In addition, the feminist movement was pressing to give women an opportunity to serve. Now that more women have entered the service, we hear the argument that they must be in the combat arms in order to achieve senior rank. This whole train of logic is faulty. First, with the winning of the cold war and the addition of sophisticated force multiplier weapons, we do not need to be concerned about having enough men to meet our needs. Many have been discharged. Second, this is not a glass ceiling situation as is often cited in the corporate world. It is not the mission of the armed forces to build a human resource system designed to provide upward mobility for anyone. It is the mission of the armed forces to FIGHT.
Another very important part of this equation is the role of the dedicated Navy Wife. It seems to me that her service to the Navy (acknowledged on paper at retirement) is impacted by the presence of women at sea. Our society has, over the past years, denigrated the institution of marriage and the team work that is needed for success in work and family. Women at sea can be detrimental just like poor tax codes.
This is not to say that there isn't a place for women in the service. We have a long legacy of female service members that, as stated above, we have finally recognized. WE JUST DON'T NEED TO DEPLOY THEM ON OUR WARSHIPS. Their presence is a not needed variable in an already complicated environment. The system was not broken, WHY DID IT NEED FIXING?
These remarks relate to experience in the U.S. Navy. Recent events seem to indicate that similar arguments might be made on behalf of the other services in the arena of combat arms.
GOD BLESS AMERICA! WE MUST KEEP OUR WARFIGHTING STRENGTH!
I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
[President, Flying Midshipman Association]
“To Pee or not to Pee—That is the Question” *
Most all of us have had to deal with this Question. I remember when it came up at about 0300 in the morning when I was a part of a division of Grumman Guardians orbiting our carrier in the North Sea. It has been my misfortune at not being able to find a letter that I wrote to Naval Aviation News about this experience. Since my search has been fruitless it is worth a little time to describe what this is all about.
Two sections of AF (Grumman Guardians) aircraft were launched from the USS Mindoro (CVE-120) at 0 dark thirty off the coast of Norway while participating in Operation Mainbrace circa 1952. Our mission was a ASW sector search using "Hunter-Killer" tactics. Clearly, launching from a Jeep CV in the middle of the night in the North Sea is not something that we all crave to do nevertheless duty called and away we went. The weather in the search area was very pretty since we were witnesses to the great northern lights!! Search was not the problem in the first instance but when it came to the final search i.e. finding our carrier it REALLY WAS. Typical of what many of us have experienced that little CVE was under a rain storm when we returned for CHARLIE. In those days there was no CCA so our signal was DOG (orbit) until there was sufficient visibility to be recovered. This maneuver was not really very simple since we were for all practical purposes IFR with the wingmen half on the gauges and half formation flying--in and out of clouds and looking through a wet wind screen. After a considerable period one of the section leaders asked, "What's the matter Waylay 14, got a little vertigo?" The immediate reply was, "Nope, just using the relief tube!" Now that was a masterful feat! Clearly an accomplishment that was amplified by the fact that he was wearing a MARK 3 EXPOSURE SUIT!
My long lost letter summed up this adventure with, "TO PEE OR NOT TO PEE--THAT IS THE QUESTION," WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE???
* Aviation Midshipmen LOG, summer 2001; © 2001.
This benediction was given at a recent Daedalian luncheon in las Vegas. The prayer was reportedly authored by a Marine Chaplain:
MY FRIENDS, IT WAS ONCE SAID … ‘O LORD, WE HAVE LONG KNOWN THAT PRAYER SHOULD INCLUDE CONFESSION: THEREFORE ON BEHALF OF THE AVIATORS AND THEIR GUESTS GATHERED HERE THIS AFTERNOON, I CONFESS THEIR SINS; “LORD, THEY'RE JUST NOT IN STEP WITH TODAY'S SOCIETY. THEY ARE UNREASONABLE IN CLINGING TO OLD-FASHIONED IDEAS LIKE PATRIOTISM, DUTY, HONOR AND COUNTRY. THEY HOLD RADICAL IDEAS BELIEVING THAT THEY ARE THEIR BROTHERS KEEPER AND RESPONSIBLE FOR THE AVIATORS ON THEIR WING. THEY HAVE BEEN SEEN STANDING WHEN COLORS PASS, SINGING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM AT BALL GAMES, AND DRINKING TOASTS TO FALLEN COMRADES. NOT ONLY THAT, THEY HAVE BEEN OBSERVED STANDING TALL; TAKING CHARGE AND WEARING THEIR HAIR UNFASHIONABLY SHORT. THEY HAVE TAKEN TEDDY R'S AND JFK'S WORDS TOO SERIOUSLY AND ARE OVERLY CONCERNED WITH WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR THEIR SERVICE AND COUNTRY INSTEAD OF WHAT IT CAN DO FOR THEM. THEY TAKE THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO HEART AND BELIEVE THAT THEIR OATH IS TO BE HONORED.
AND … THEY KNOW WELL WHAT THE DEFINITION OF 'IS' IS. FORGIVE THEM, LORD FOR BEING STUBBORN MEN AND WOMEN WHO HOLD THESE VALUES AS GENUINE. THEY ARE AWARE OF THE PRICE FOR HONOR AND WITH TOTAL COMMAND OF THEIR SPIRIT, THEY HAVE BEEN WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE. AFTER ALL, WHAT MORE CAN YOU EXPECT? THEY'RE AVIATORS! O LORD OUR GOD, BLESS THESE MEN AND WOMEN, CONTINUE TO RAISE UP IN THIS NATION STRONG LEADERS AND DELIVER US FROM "ME FIRST' MANAGERS AND 'DON'T ASK ME' LEADERS. BE OUR HONORED GUEST TODAY, OH LORD, AND JOIN WITH US IN LAUGHTER, GOOD FOOD, GOOD DRINK, AND TELLING OF TALL TALES AND LEGENDS THAT MAY OCCASIONALLY EXCEED THE TRUTH. WE BOW OUR HEADS TO THOSE AVIATORS WHO WERE LOST IN PLACES TO PROTECT OUR FREEDOM AND OUR ABILITY TO PRAISE YOU. WATCH OVER AND KEEP SAFE ALL THOSE WHO WEAR THIS NATION'S UNIFORM WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THEIR FAMILYS AND LOVED·ONES EVERYWHERE. WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR GRACE DURING THIS CONVENTION AND ALL THE DAYS AND NIGHTS IN OUR FUTURE. GOD BLESS YOU, GOD BLESS THIS GREAT NATION AND GOD BLESS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
KEEP THE BLUE SIDE UP.