Navy Promotes SEAL Commander In Defiance Of Congress

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Navy promotes SEAL commander in defiance of Congress

March 31 at 3:29 PM
In defiance of Congress, the Navy has granted a retroactive promotion, back pay and a bigger pension to an admiral whom lawmakers forced to retire last year after multiple investigations found he had retaliated against whistleblowers, records show.Brian L. Losey, a former commander of the Navy SEALs, rose in rank to become a two-star Rear admiral in January after the Navy conducted a secretive and unusually rapid review of his case during the final days of the Obama administration, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

Losey’s promotion came two months after he retired from the military under duress, the casualty of a clash between Navy leaders who wanted to reward the combat-hardened SEAL commander and a bipartisan group of senators who demanded his ouster after the investigations determined he had violated whistleblower-protection laws.

The dispute represented a rare public challenge by senior military leaders to congressional oversight of the armed forces, and left lingering resentments on both sides. Lawmakers thought they had prevailed by blocking Losey’s promotion last year, but the newly obtained documents reveal the Navy had the last word.

The promotion capped a long-running controversy over Losey’s record as a commander of the SEALs and other elite Special Operations forces during a highly decorated 33-year military career.

Three separate investigations by the Defense Department’s inspector general found that Losey had wrongly fired, demoted or punished subordinates during a vengeful but fruitless hunt for an anonymous whistleblower under his command.

Losey denied wrongdoing. Navy leaders dismissed the findings after conducting their own review and decided in October 2015 to promote him anyway. But members of Congress objected strenuously when they learned about the case from a report in The Post, and pressured Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to block Losey’s advancement.

Mabus resisted at first as many other admirals pushed him to stand behind Losey. After the Senate upped the ante by freezing the nomination of the Navy’s second-ranking civilian leader, the service announced in March 2016 that Mabus would reluctantly deny Losey’s promotion, effectively ending his military career.

The documents obtained by The Post, however, show that Mabus later reopened the case. On Jan. 12, during his last week in office as an Obama political appointee, Mabus signed a memo boosting Losey’s rank from a one-star to a two-star admiral.

Losey, 56, will stay retired, but the documents show that his promotion will benefit him financially for the rest of his life.

His higher rank entitles him to a bigger annual military pension. It will swell to about $142,000 this year, an increase of $16,700, according to Defense Department figures.

He will also receive a one-time check for about $70,000 in back pay because the Navy dated his promotion retroactively to the date when he first became eligible for a second star.

Sen. Grassley: Navy commander denied promotion ‘can only blame himself’

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Speaking on the Senate floor April 6, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey was “an honored naval officer” but was “a serial retaliator” who deserved to be denied a promotion. (United States Senate)

Mabus declined to comment. His decision to promote the admiral was based on a recommendation from the Board for Correction of Naval Records, a quasi-judicial panel that fields requests from veterans to review potential errors in their personnel files.

The board has the authority to fix mistakes or “remove injustices” from a veteran’s permanent military record, according to its mission statement.

Losey retired Nov. 1. Three weeks later, he submitted a petition to the board, arguing that he had been unfairly denied promotion because the inspector general and his critics in Congress were biased against him.

“The damning assertions against my leadership are not supported by the facts, and these errors in fact contributed to an unjust outcome,” he wrote.

The Board for Correction of Naval Records receives 12,000 applications annually and typically takes between 10 and 18 months to issue a final decision, according to Navy officials.

Losey’s application was approved by the board and Mabus in seven weeks.

Experts in military law said they had never heard of a case being reviewed so quickly.

“I’m not passing any judgment on his promotion and whether he deserves it or not, but the process certainly does look suspicious,” said Raymond J. Toney, a Utah attorney who specializes in such cases and who reviewed Losey’s file at The Post’s request. “It suggests to me that the Rear Admiral has some friends who did not want to see him go down in flames at the end of his career.”

Eugene R. Fidell, a lecturer on military justice at Yale Law School, said the speed in which Losey’s appeal was heard made it appear that the outcome was predetermined. “The circumstantial evidence suggests to me that this was wired,” he said.

Navy officials denied that Losey was given special treatment.

In a statement, Capt. Amy Derrick, a Navy spokeswoman, said the Board for Correction of Naval Records “provides a full and fair hearing on all requests that are complete and submitted in accordance with established procedures.”

Thomas Oppel, who served as Mabus’s chief of staff until both left office in January, said in an interview that any suggestion the Navy rushed the process during the waning days of the Obama administration was “a whole lot of speculation without foundation.”

“This is a case that had been freshly investigated, and the facts were fairly well-known,” Oppel added.

Losey deferred questions about how his petition was handled to the Navy. “I followed processes available to me,” he wrote in a brief message to The Post. “I do business by the book and have always aimed to be fair.”

Members of Congress who had urged the Navy to hold Losey accountable for punishing whistleblowers said they were dismayed to learn about the admiral’s promotion.

“Cases like these send the wrong message about whistleblower retaliation,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an emailed statement. “When accountability is lacking, retaliation continues. Good government suffers.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who held up the confirmation of the Navy’s second-ranking civilian leader last year in a tactic to block Losey’s rank advancement, said he was disappointed but not surprised.

“The Navy leadership has long sought to sweep away the inspector general’s findings and make excuses for one of its own, and Secretary Mabus’s decision to grant Admiral Losey a backdoor promotion is yet another disappointing example,” Wyden said.

A spokesman for the Senate Armed Services Committee said the panel was not informed of Losey’s post-retirement request for promotion until after it was finalized. Other lawmakers said they were unaware of his new rank until they were told by The Post.

A prominent figure in the military’s secretive Special Operations forces, Losey served as the head of the Naval Special Warfare Command from 2013 to 2016. He formerly commanded SEAL Team Six, the clandestine unit known for hunting terrorist targets. He deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia, Panama and other conflict zones.

The Navy first tried to promote Losey to become a two-star admiral in 2011. The Senate confirmed his nomination that year. But the move was put on hold when the Defense Department’s inspector general began investigating Losey’s actions while serving as commander of Special Operations forces in Africa.

Five of Losey’s subordinates filed complaints that he had unfairly fired or punished them during a ham-handed hunt for a suspected whistleblower. After spending four years interviewing more than 100 witnesses and reviewing 300,000 papers of emails, the inspector general determined that Losey had violated whistleblower-protection laws in three of the cases.

The outcome marked a rare instance of a commander being found guilty of misconduct in a whistleblower case. The Defense Department’s inspector general receives more than 1,000 whistleblower cases each year, but upholds only about three percent of them.

Losey asserted that he had acted within his rights as a commander and that he had merely held his staff accountable for mediocre work.

Despite the findings of the inspector general, the Board for Correction of Naval Records sided with Losey, concluding that there was “insufficient evidence” that Losey had violated whistleblower-protection laws.

Moreover, the board found that Mabus had never signed paperwork formally denying the admiral’s promotion before he retired.

In a unanimous vote on Jan. 11, the panel recommended that Mabus grant Losey’s request for the higher rank and back pay, documents show.

Mabus signed a memo approving the decision the next day.

Admiral Charged In Fat Leonard Navy Bribery Case

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

Admiral Charged in Fat Leonard Navy Bribery Case

The Justice Department has charged an admiral and eight other current and former Navy officials with corruption for allegedly taking bribes from a Singapore-based defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” in exchange for classified and internal Navy information.

Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, several Navy captains, a retired Marine colonel and an enlisted sailor are accused of accepting Cuban cigars, prostitutes and free hotel rooms from Leonard Glenn Francis, who also allegedly threw sex parties for U.S. sailors. The behavior described in the charges allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2014.

Francis, the former CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy of millions of dollars. The information he received from Navy officials allowed him to overcharge the government by $20 million.

“This is a fleecing and betrayal of the United States Navy in epic proportions, and it was allegedly carried out by the Navy’s highest-ranking officers,” said Alana Robinson, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California. “The alleged conduct amounts to a staggering degree of corruption by the most prominent leaders of the Seventh Fleet – the largest fleet in the U.S. Navy — actively worked together as a team to trade secrets for sex, serving the interests of a greedy foreign defense contractor, and not those of their own country.”

Eleven other Navy officials, including another admiral, have already been charged in the fraud and bribery investigation.

 

Image: Bruce Loveless
Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless poses in this undated photo. U.S. Navy

The Life And Times Of Blanche Anders Savage (The Cookie Lady) 1930-2000

 

The  Cookie Lady-A True Story of a wonderful person who lived from 1930-2000.

My name is Blanche, I was born into a poor white family in Benson Minnesota in September of 1930. My mother is Sophie Amanda Hanson. She was born here in Benson Minnesota in December of 1905. My dad is Elbert Anders of Galax, Virginia. He was born in September of 1905. I only have one sibling, my brother Lonnie who was born in January of 1936 in Faith South Dakota. But, I won’t speak of Faith just yet. My mom’s parents came here from Norway in the late 1880’s and had more kids than the fingers could count. Mom was just one of many of the Hanson children but in my opinion was the sweetest of all. Mom obtained a seventh grade education, enough to read and write clearly. Dad was a rambler who was doing just that in 1928 when he and my mom met.

Dad seemed to always love two things most in life, horses and women. I don’t blame my dad for all of his faults; after all, we all have some. Dad never had any education at all and never did learn to read and write. It was the late 1960’s before he learned how to sign his name.

Watching my parents struggle throughout my childhood ingrained in me the determination to get an education and to stay in school and get my high school diploma. This was one of the few goals in my life that I was able to accomplish.  My childhood taught me many things; things like the rich had good educations. And that the rich got rich and stayed rich on the sweat off the uneducated poor man’s back. Even as a small child I was always aware that we were looked down upon by those who could afford the nice clothes, fancy cars and big houses.

Mom and dad got married in 1928 in Benson. I never could figure why mom would have married my dad. Maybe it was that she was considered an old maid, going on 23 and still not hitched. I know she was never happy in her life with the cards she had been dealt. You know, uneducated, poor women aren’t anything except slaves to their uneducated ignorant husbands. Even the children that they bare are just an extension of the male’s property.

Shortly after I was born dad moved us to a little town in western South Dakota called Faith. A saying that I remember about Faith was fitting, “Faith South Dakota, a hundred miles from anywhere”. Dad had a couple of brothers that lived out that away. So I guess it was fitting that he would up and ramble toward them next.

I remember our years in South Dakota as being a pure hell, Faith with its dirt streets and water that had to be trucked in. It seems like I was always cold and dirty there. We lived in several one room shacks, some just lean-to’s on the back of peoples’ houses, seems like we were always hungry and cold. There were several of the places we lived that had dirt floors with walls and roofs that you could see straight through to the outside. I guess Faith was the reason I never did like to do any camping, so many of the places we lived seemed almost like we were camping.

To be fair to the town, maybe things wouldn’t have been as bad as they were if dad would have cared more about his family and less about other women, horses and bulldogs. Dad always tried to keep a horse and a bulldog or two. The horse I could understand, we hardly ever had a car, so the horse was his transportation back in those years. The bulldogs, I don’t know why he liked to have them. I guess it was just so he could have something else to beat on. I was always scared of his dogs, yet I always felt sorry for them. They were always kept chained to a stake in the back yard. Looking back, it might have been that he knew the dogs would bark if we had any visitors. The way he was always chasing after women, I guess that wasn’t such a bad idea.

My brother Lonnie was born there in Faith in January of 1936. It was always nice having a brother. Throughout our childhoods we were each others best friends, confidants and play partners. Yet having a brother was difficult too. It wasn’t just having another mouth to feed and back to clothe. It was also the having to see the hardships put upon yet another one that you loved without being able to do anything to correct it, or stop it.

I remember one night it had gotten dark and dad wasn’t home from his job yet and mom was crying real hard. I didn’t understand why mom was so upset because it was normal that dad didn’t come home before dark. I asked mom what was wrong and she told me about the rent being due that night, and dad being paid that day, but he hadn’t paid the rent or come home with his pay.

This was in the summer of 1937 and I was almost seven years old. My brother Lonnie was just about one and a half at the time. Mom said she had to stay home with the baby, but she told me to go through town and look for dad’s horse, find him and ask him to please come home, pay the rent and buy the family some food. It wasn’t long before I found dad’s horse tied up beside a building that had a lot of music and noise coming from it. I noticed a window on the side of the building with some empty wood crates by it. I took a few of the crates and stacked them up to where I could get up on them and look into that window. What I seen shocked me a lot. There was a naked woman sitting on top of my dad in a chair and he was also naked. They were just laughing and seemed to be having a lot of fun. Well, I was so surprised that I stumbled and fell off the crates onto the ground, with the crates falling after me. I made such a noise that the woman and dad both came and looked out the window at me. Dad was sure mad at me and he whipped me all the way home.

When we got home dad was still mad and he hollered at mom for a long time, I know she cried for hours. Dad said that mom and I had embarrassed him something horrible by doing what we had done. A couple of days after that dad sold his horse and his dogs and he pulled up to the shack we were living in, in an old dilapidated 1922 Ford car. Dad and mom took what few things we had, stuffed them and the four of us into the car and we left Faith South Dakota for a place called Galax Virginia.

I didn’t know anything about this place we were headed, I just hoped it was better than the place we had been. I know I prayed that I would never see Faith or South Dakota again for all I remembered of them was hardship. As it turned out I would see both again, but at least it would wait almost thirty years.

The trip from Faith to Galax is about 2,000 miles and in that old piece of junk dad was driving it took us three weeks to make it to Galax. I learned that the reason dad chose Galax was because he had several brothers and sisters living in and around this town he was born in. The three weeks the trip took seemed like forever. At night we would stop alongside the road and we would sleep on the ground beside the car. I remember being so scared and so hungry, hoping that we could make it to our new home.

When we finally made it to Galax we were broke and hungry. None of dad’s folks knew we were coming but none the less they took us in and kept us alive. I know it embarrassed mom a lot as we moved from one of dad’s kin to another over the first two months. But eventually one of dad’s brothers was able to get dad on at the mine he was working at just across the North Carolina line. Mom got a job at the local hospital changing linens and bed pans for the patients.

After a couple of months mom and dad were able to save enough money to rent a house in “the bottom” there in town. The bottom was a place that the working white poor folk lived. But still the house we were renting was like a real home. It had windows and wood floors and you couldn’t see any stars at night while lying in bed. Even though you could feel the cold air in the winter around the windows and doors at least it wasn’t so bad that the snow would come through them when they were closed. A few years later we were able to buy a different house there in the bottom down by the swinging bridge. That was after the war had started and dad was getting to work regular. It was a two bedroom with an inside toilet and a pot-bellied coal stove in the living room that kept us warm in the winter.

With the move to Virginia our scenery got a lot prettier, the weather was a lot nicer, and the people seemed to be friendlier. Our housing situation was much more stable and mom and dad had regular work. So a lot of things were better, more stable for us now, but there was still much heartache. The change of location didn’t change any of dad’s ways. We soon had a bulldog staked in the backyard and dad bought himself a horse and paid a farmer money to keep the horse at his place. Any money he had left was always spent on other women.

By now I was reaching an age to where I wasn’t as blind to the reality I was living in. For years I was required to take this little red wagon I had to a building downtown where I got food twice a month. This place handed out some flour, cornmeal, beans, bread, and cheese. If it wasn’t for Mr. Roosevelt, mom, Lonnie and I would have been very hungry. I guess that is a big reason why I was a lifelong democrat. I grew up believing that to vote republican you either had to be rich or stupid.

At the age of fourteen, I was able to get a job at the soda fountain inside the Peoples Drug Store in downtown Galax. I worked there three hours each evening and all day on Saturdays. I used this money to buy my own school clothes and the cost of my school supplies. I also worked in the school cafeteria serving food so that I could get my meals there for free. That was a lot better than having to run home at lunch, get a sandwich and a glass of milk then run back to school especially on the cold winter days.

I graduated high school in 1947. It was then I started working full-time at the drug store. I still lived at home and remained under dad’s control. I was never allowed to date. I’m sure it was because dad had his view of what women were and he wasn’t about to let me be anything like the women he had always known.

Dad worked with a man named Wayne Savage whom dad admired a lot because he was very strong and a real hard worker. As things worked out, Wayne had a younger brother named Bill who was getting out of the Navy from his two-year hitch in February of 1948. Wayne got Bill a job there at the mine when he was discharged from the Navy. So I ended up with dad’s insistence dating Bill and then marrying him May 29th, 1948. One truth I was always proud of is that I was a virgin on my wedding night.

Bill turned out to be a lot of the things dad was, and a lot of things he wasn’t. I think the reason Bill got married was for the free sex, free housekeeper, free cook and an extra paycheck. In my dad’s defense he was a hard worker and a non-drinker. Unfortunately Bill was an alcoholic and he never found a job he would stick with.

From 1949 through 1956 I gave birth to four children. Our oldest Larry was born in my mom’s home in June 1949 with a midwife. Our second child, Steven Ray was born in a hospital in Winston-Salem North Carolina in May of 1952. I have always been so glad that I gave birth to Steven in a hospital or I never would have been able to forgive myself. The doctors said Steven was born with a hole in his heart. In 1952 they couldn’t save him; he lived three days, never leaving the hospital. We buried Steven in the McKenzie Cemetery just outside of Galax. Our third child was our little girl Jackie; she was born in September of 1954. Jackie and our last child Ted were born in the hospital in Galax. Ted was born in August 1956. He was always sickly and skinny as a rail, at every meal it was difficult to get him to eat. This just made him a target for Bill. I dreaded every meal because you always knew that Bill would start yelling at him and then start beating him. Ted had to put up with that until he was seventeen. He stood up to Bill then and it was plain that Bill got scared, but he never treated Ted like that again. But that was 1973, so I’m getting ahead of myself so I’m going to step back in time to 1961.

Bill and our family had rented many places until we got lucky and was able to get the bank to finance us a small eight acre farm in nearby Woodlawn, Virginia. It was a dream come true for me, our own house. It was a three bedroom, one bath, two-story house with a small detached garage, a full size barn, and a hog house. The property was fenced in so we could have a cow and there was plenty of wild game such as squirrels, rabbits, pheasants and turkeys to keep the freezer full. In 1961 the cost of all this was $8,000.00.

By the time the spring of 1965 rolled around Bill had worked at about every place in the Galax area and none of the employers would have him anymore. That spring one of Bill’s drinking buddies stopped by our house and talked to Bill about the coal mines in Butte, Montana. Telling Bill about the good paying jobs there in the mines and how wonderful Montana was. In less than two weeks Bill was on a Greyhound bus.

The plan was for Bill to go there, get a good job, find the family a place, then in August come back to Virginia, sell the farm and we would move to Butte. Like always things didn’t work out that way. Bill came back on the bus the first of August without a dime in his pockets. He had been living in an apartment and had no place ready for us to move to. He said he had been keeping all his money in his apartment and shortly before he was to come back home someone broke into the apartment and stole all the money.

Bill’s plan was to come back to Virginia, sell the farm, and use the equity money to move with. It was many years later before we found out that the mines Bill was working at had closed down. This explained why he was broke when he came back. This also meant that Bill had no job to move us to.  So he came back, we sold the farm for $8,500.00 netting a clear $800.00 to use for the move. Bill’s plan was to stop in Deadwood South Dakota where I had two uncles and aunts, play sick, say he went to a doctor, lie saying he had black lung and that he would be dead by forty if he continued mining. He was one month away from thirty-eight at that time.

So Bill, with no job to go to, sells our home, and moves his wife and three kids across the country headed to nothing. We stayed with my family for three days while Bill found a job in nearby Spearfish at the Homestake Sawmill. We then found a basement apartment to rent nearby the mill. The jobs in Galax all paid the minimum wage of $1.25 per hour. I found a job in a nursing home for, you guessed it, $1.25 per hour. Bills job at the mill paid $1.90 per hour.

This was August 1965, we didn’t escape there until November 1966. A representative from Chrysler Corporation came out there trying to recruit employees for a new assembly plant in Belvidere Illinois. Seems the local people were too offended that Chrysler was going to pay people more than $5.00 an hour with great benefits while the rest of the town was settled into jobs paying less than $2.00 an hour. I know that makes no sense, but a lot of people from South Dakota jumped on those jobs the Belvidere locals didn’t want.

In the fifteen months we were in Spearfish I was so depressed that we were going to end up stuck there forever. I have to admit we had a few good times while we were there. We did visit a few local parks, and Spearfish is in the “Black Hills”. During this time our oldest son Larry went back to Galax to live. He was sixteen, almost seventeen and he got a job at Vaughan Basset Furniture factory. He stayed there until just before we moved to Belvidere. He came back and helped us with the move then he decided to stay in Belvidere and when he turned eighteen he also got a job at Chrysler.

I remember that while we were in South Dakota we visited Mount Rushmore on our eighteenth anniversary (1966). We also took a trip in the summer of 66 to Faith to watch a big yearly rodeo they held. The roads were still dirt and I still saw water trucks, but they did have a good rodeo. On the Fourth of July 1966 we went to the big rodeo show in Deadwood. During an intermission they put on the Wild Bill Hickock Show, the one where he was shot in the back playing cards in the saloon. That’s pretty much all the good memories I have from there. I was just glad to get out of there in November of 66 as we headed east praying that Belvidere would be better.

When we got to Illinois we rented an apartment in the town of Cherry Valley for three months. The rent was $150.00 per month but after we had been there for three months they raised the rent to $200.00 so we looked around and found a nice old house in Belvidere for $85.00 a month. It was right by the city park, real close to the waterfall. If Bill could have ever quit his drinking and acted like a husband and a dad we could probably have been happy there.

We lived in that house from February 1967 till April 1970. We all survived the big F-4 tornado of April 21st, 1967 unharmed while living in that house. Also during that time frame Bill got hurt at work. Bill’s foreman told him to take a part over to a certain bucket and wash it off. Turns out the bucket had acid in it. Bill had only stuck his right hand down in it thank goodness. The acid really messed up his hand and the nerves with it. He ended up missing several months work and we sued Chrysler settling out of court for $10,000.00. We put $8,000.00 down on a home on the western outskirts of town that was priced at $25,000.00. It set on an acre of land bordering a large county park. Once again, if Bill could have just acted like a man we could have been very happy there.

In February 1974, Bill and I were in a car wreck in Belvidere as a man drove through a stop sign and hit us broadside. I wasn’t injured but Bill broke his left hip and cracked his left ankle. The day after Bill had his hip replacement he had a heart attack while lying in his hospital bed. He ended up having to have a four-way bypass operation. While Bill was recuperating he got a check in the mail from Social Security. Turns out that Chrysler went through the process to get him disabled because he had nine years in with them and at ten years guaranteed lifetime benefits would be coming into effect and they weren’t wanting to have to pay them.

Larry had gotten married in October 1968 to a lady with two kids; I think he married her to get out of being drafted into Vietnam, though I’ve always believed she really loved him. Jackie got married in August of 1971; I believe just to get out of the house and away from Bill. My youngest, Ted, got married in May 1975. Now I was home alone with Bill all the time. Without the kids there Bill was still as hateful as ever.

In 1977 we sold the big house on the west side and bought a nice ranch style house only a couple blocks from my work in town. It was a beautiful house and I really loved it. Also about this time Bill finally quit drinking and I had high hopes for a better life but that was just wishful thinking. Bill stayed just as hateful and self-centered as he had always been. I had always hoped it was the alcohol, it wasn’t, it was just who he was.

I had a bad left hip during this time and it was real painful to try to work with. I had tried for Social Security but got turned down so I had to go back to work after about eleven months off. I had only been back to work less than a year when Bill came up to the office and told them I had to quit because I had gotten my Social Security. When we got home I found that was not true. It had only been suggested by my lawyer to appeal. Well, during this time our income was not enough to pay the bills. So in 1981 we had to sell the house before we lost it. We only had enough money to buy a new, but cheap single wide trailer that because of zoning laws we had to put into a mobile home court. It was the nicest court in town but losing our home because of Bill’s ignorance just made me sick.

Shortly after we got moved I was turned down again on the Social Security. I had to go back up to that hole I had worked at since 1968 and ask for my job back, to my surprise they reinstated me with full seniority. I did end up getting a left hip replacement on my birthday 1992. The month before my oldest son Larry died of an aneurysm in his apartment in Scranton Pennsylvania. Bill’s health was constantly deteriorating and he died just before Christmas 1993 from heart failure. I ended up retiring in February 1994.

Now I was truly alone except for my daughter Jackie who lived locally and was now a Methodist minister. I did have a few people at church that I associated with. My son Ted was a long-haul truck driver who only got to stop in for a night or so about three or four times a year.

My dad died in his sleep in early March 1987. I had a major heart attack on June 1st, 1996 that really set me back physically. But 1996 would only get worse. Mom died all alone in a nursing home in August and my brother Lonnie died that November of brain cancer and heart failure.

The next year, 1997, I had to have my right hip replaced, again on my birthday. It was hard to make do on my own but I made it. Jackie came over and helped me some while I was recuperating and Ted would send me extra money when he could to help me out. He was paying my lot rent for me each month which really helped out. One day when Jackie and her husband were over I got a letter from Ted with a check for $690.00 in it, $190.00 for the lot rent and $500.00 to put up for emergency needs. Jackie and her husband got really mad at me for “taking Teds’ money” like that. So from that point on Ted and I never mentioned anything about him helping me.

In March of 1999, Ted had to have heart surgery after a heart attack and he was out of work with no income for a long time. So in the summer of 1999 I took a job at a local nursing home two hours per night. My job was to help clean up the dining area and kitchen after supper had been served to the residents. It wasn’t much of a job, I hated doing it but it did make my lot rent payment.

That fall an opening came up for an extra half hour per night to go from room to room passing out cookies. I took on the extra work, but I truly enjoyed doing it. I felt sorry for so many of these people who had been discarded and abandoned here by their family members. I enjoy talking with them each evening, trying to cheer them up. It wasn’t long before I became known as “the cookie lady”, I enjoyed that title, it made me feel wanted.

Well, this is Sunday morning August 20th, 2000. I sometimes find it hard to believe that with the life I have had that I would have made it to the year 2000. I just spoke to my son Ted at his home in Florida but I need to get going or I will be late for church. I still need to stop by Jackie’s before church and get her newspaper put in her house because they are on a weekend vacation.

Mom never made it to church. As she slowed down and turned into my sister’s driveway a young man driving a four-wheel drive Dodge Ram pickup thought it was a good time to speed up and pass. He hit mom right in the driver’s door at about seventy miles per hour, killing her instantly. He had hit her so hard that the coroner said the impact tore all the arteries away from her heart.

A bright light put out. A life lived in the darkness of others, seldom being allowed to shine. A life lived in so much sadness, put upon by others. So many joys of life denied her. In so many ways, a light, a life, unfulfilled. But a woman who will always be very much-loved, and missed “The Cookie Lady”, our Mom.

U.S. Navy Has Done A Massive Shakeup Of Enlisted Rankings

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NAVY TIMES NEWS PAPER)

The end of ratings: What’s next in the Navy’s radical enlisted shake-up

October 2, 2016 (Photo Credit: PO2 Kenneth Abbate/Navy)

“Choose your rate, choose your fate.” It’s a saying every sailor has heard — and as of late September, its history.

That’s the news as the Navy has eliminated every sailor’s rating title in favor of generic rank-specific titles like petty officer 2nd class, a move intended to encourage training across specialties and to help them later transition into the civilian workforce with more skills.

“We’re going to immediately do away with rating titles and address each other by just our rank as the other services do,” said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke in a Sept. 19 interview. “We recognize that’s going to be a large cultural change, it’s not going to happen overnight, but the direction is to start exercising that now.”

Navy Times
Navy scuttles sailors’ enlisted rating titles in huge career shake-up

The announcement signals a tectonic shift in Navy’s personnel system, where sailors have long identified with their individual occupations — ratings — first and foremost. They’re the stuff of murals aboard ship and ink on arms. The magnitude of the move isn’t lost on the Navy’s top leaders, who recognize this move will be unpopular and stress the changes will allow sailors to move easily between related fields and choice more duty stations.

The move ends every enlisted rating, some of them like Gunner’s mate, Quartermaster and Boatswain’s mate that dated back to the Continental Navy. The Navy has had nearly 700 different rating titles in that time — all of which are now history.

It starts the Navy on the most radical personnel overhaul in a generation, one that will change the way sailors are trained and advanced — it could even end the semi-annual petty officer advancement test.“We’re going to take a new approach to the enlisted ratings with the idea that we would provide more assignment flexibility, more training opportunities and better civilian credentialing opportunities,” Burke said.

Navy Times
The Navy dumped its time-honored job titles and the decision incited widespread outrage

This began with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ mandate in January to eliminate the use of the word “man” from rating titles to make the enlisted service more appealing to women. In June, the Marine Corps — also under the Mabus edict — announced they’d take “man” out of 19 occupational titles. The Navy has gone much further. Their more controversial approach will eliminate the rating title every sailor uses and aims to scrap the existing advancement system and start over.

Burke said this will eliminate conflicts as the Navy moves to a more modern personnel system over the next few years. The promise is that sailors will soon be able to qualify in multiple skills and across today’s traditional rating lines. That will mean they can apply for a wider variety of jobs, duty stations and have more chances to move up the ranks.
What you need to know about the Navy’s sweeping changes:

New titles
For the first time in the Navy’s history — every sailor’s title will be the same. For E-3 and below sailors, the only title will be “seaman.”

Though the title “seaman” still has “man” in it, the working group found no workable alternatives, according to now retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens, who was the driving force for these changes.

“We just didn’t have any good substitutes for seaman,” Stevens told Navy Times in an interview this summer. “One was mariner, but no one liked that — the other one was sailors, but that was convoluted because we all refer to ourselves as sailors. So we kept it and the secretary agreed.”

Gone in name will be the other non-rated designations — airman, fireman, constructionman and hospitalman. These designations will be converted to codes.

Now sailors’ jobs will be identified by a four-character combination, known as a Navy Occupational Specialty. Consider the three most historic ratings, once abbreviated as GM, BM and QM. They’ll now be B320, B400 and B450, respectively.

The service has translated every previous rating and special skill into over 160, four digit alpha-numeric NOS codes. Navy Enlisted Classifications will still fall under an NOS as they did with a rating, to denote skills not common across the rating.

“Petty officers will be addressed as petty officer and then their name, or petty officer third, second or first class more formally — chief, senior chief and master chief for the senior enlisted,” Burke said.
For example, Yeoman 2nd Class (SW/EXW) Snuffy Smith will now have the title, Petty Officer 2nd Class (SW/EXW)  Snuffy Smith. When Smith reaches the chief’s mess, he’ll be Chief Petty Officer (SW/EXW) Snuffy Smith.
As seen above, warfare qualifications will continue to be abbreviated in sailor titles.
“Sailors take great pride in earning those coveted warfare designations and they like to place those behind their ratings because they want people to know they’ve earned them, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (IDW/SW) Steve Giordano said. “That won’t go away — they will still have those as part of their titles.”
The only exception to the job title rule will be the MCPON.
Badge of honor
Much about the overhaul remains to be determined. Case in point: ratings badges.These insignia are for ratings that no longer exist — now they’re NOS classifications — and there are a few ideas on what to do. Keep them. Dump them. Replace with something new.

Ratings badgeHospital Corpsman 1st Class Scott Sears sews on a 3rd class petty officer crow for Hospital Corpsman 3rd class Eric Norris during a Tacking on of the Crow frocking ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). Sailors can say farewell to their ratings badges. (SA Zachariah Grabill/Navy)“It’s definitely our plan to cross that bridge, but it will be one of the last things we’ll do for a couple of reasons — one depends on how we draw the career fields lines and something may fall out, based on that. I just don’t know yet,” Burke said.

“We may want to go to something that signifies the new career fields or stay with something for the NOS — or we may want to simply go to something like the anchor, constitution and Eagle,” Burke said referring to the insignia on the chest pockets of the blue-and-gray Navy working uniform. “We just want to see where we end up on this journey before we re-badge ourselves, so it’s all open.”

In the meantime, sailors can hold off on having their dress blues and whites sleeves resown.

Flexible careers
Sailors will soon be able to qualify for more skills and even advance in multiple NOS quotas. To get there, the Navy is reviewing how to redraw the community lines that distinguish skills by specialty.
“Today we have 12 career fields that group the [over 90] Navy enlisted ratings we have today,” Burke said. “Most sailors will be hard pressed to tell you what they are because they are outdated for the most part.”
“We want to redraw those career field lines with two major objectives,” Burke said. “First, we’ll regroup the now Navy Occupational Specialties so that the training and experience is similar between the career fields. If we do that right, we’ll be able to pinpoint additional training or experience that a sailor needs to move into a different, but related NOS.”
These have been grouped into broad categories like aviation, surface engineering and nuclear power.  These would become broader career fields that group sailors by skill type.
“Maybe there’s a field we’d call aviation maintenance,” Burke explained. “We’d like to get to the point in the first step where we can move sailors between types of engines, and then maybe move between engines and airframes and into avionics, too — then possibly move between maintaining combat systems on an aircraft to combat systems on a ship.”
As the Navy designs and fields newer ships, Burke said more commonality between systems will make these kinds of leaps more possible.
Burke says they’ll achieve that through modular training via the new Ready Relevant Learning system that is coming online this year for every career field in the Navy, providing constant training throughout a sailor’s career. It can be used to qualify sailors as they advance in a given skill set — or to give them new skills to cross them into a related field.
“You might have to go to a brick and mortar schoolhouse for a couple of weeks, but it will be at a fleet concentration area so you are not going to have to leave home,” Burke said. “You might only need enough training that could be accomplished through an app on a smart device, or through a distance learning course — or even by acquiring an additional certification at your current shop or at your squadron.”
But acquiring the new NOS won’t require you to go back through another “A” school, he said. What will happen is the Navy will simply look at your existing skills and design a custom program to fill in the gaps.
“If you complete those requirements, you could shift into a different NOS,” Burke said.  “And that shift will bring with it an increase in assignment options, more detailing flexibility  — more home ports to choose from, more types of platforms.”
It could even put more money in your pocket.
“It will open up more timing options — maybe move into an NOS that has special or incentive pay or even a re-enlistment bonus.”

The new system allows sailors to hold onto your old skills, and learn new ones that allow you to move between different billets.

“Then, unlike today, where you cross-rate and you don’t go back,” Burke said. “Our idea is the lines between NOSs will be blurry and will allow you to move back and forth.”
Advancement changes

For now, the advancement system will be organized by NOS. But how it works may be radically changing in coming years. It could mean instant promotions and the end of the test.

The Navy currently advances to vacancies in given career fields Navy-wide twice a year, where sailors are ranked by rating based on their performance, occupational knowledge and more. The biggest way to gauge their knowledge is via the semiannual petty officer test. The new system will rank them by NOS.

As the Navy improves it’s information systems, the twice a year system could get dumped. Instead, advancements will happen year-round, anytime vacancies occur. As part of this, MCPON Stevens had advocated for dumping the advancement test and going to a new, points-based system similar to those used by the Army and Marine Corps.
The Navy is still working through proposals to change the advancement system under NOS, such as getting rid of the tests.
““I think that’s one possibility we’re looking at,” he said. “But we’re just getting started in deciding where we need to go with the advancement exams.”

“With this ability to move back and forth between multiple Navy Occupational Specialties, we have to really think through what that does. Will you have to meet the requirements to advance in all of [the skills you have qualified in] or just one and how that would impact assignments?”

Burke stressed that any changes to the advancement system will be announced well in advance of their implementation and for now, sailors will advance along the new NOS lines.

“So if any sailor out there is wondering if they have to do anything different in preparing for their next exam, the answer to that is no, not yet, and we’ll give you adequate time to prepare when it does happen. We’re very sensitive to the need to do that very methodically.”


Earning certifications
One thing is certain: civilian certifications will play an even greater role in sailors career paths.
Right now, the Navy operates a web site that for more than a decade has helped sailors acquire civilian certifications for the Navy skills they hold. It’s called Navy Credentialing Opportunities Online. The Navy plans to take that a step further and incorporate certifications into career paths so qualified personnel will readily obtain the credential via their training.
“We can draw these lines intelligently to describe our occupations in a way that make sense for [civilian] certifications,” Burke said. “For example, an air traffic controller would be tied into a path so that when they leave the Navy, they leave with the appropriate level of a FAA air traffic control certification.”
Aviation maintenance sailors could work towards the coveted FAA Air frames and Power plants certifications. Surface engineers and deck sailors could net themselves Coast Guard licenses.
Many of these valuable and time-consuming certifications that sailors had to get on their own time will now be part of their careers in the future. Moving up the ranks could depend on getting them.
“If an advancement exam does exist in the future it could also serve to help qualify sailors for a certification as well,” Burke said. “It depends on what your certification will be — some are federal, but most of them are state level certifications and no two look exactly the same — but we are now heading down this road.”

China And Russia Hold 5th Annual Military Drills: This Year In The South China Sea

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News Paper)

China, Russia navies to hold navy drill in South China Sea

CHINA and Russia will stage an eight-day Navy drill in the South China Sea off southern China’s Guangdong Province starting Monday, a Chinese Navy spokesperson said Sunday.

The drill, “Joint Sea-2016,” will feature Navy surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters marine corps and amphibious armored equipment from both navies, according to spokesperson Liang Yang. Most of the Chinese participants will come from the Nanhai Fleet under the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

Together, Chinese and Russian participants will undertake defense, rescue, and anti-submarine operations, in addition to joint-island seizing missions and other activities, Liang said.

The marine corps, in particular, will carry out live-fire drills, sea crossing and island landing operations, and island defense and offense exercises among others, he said.

Liang said the drill, from Sept. 12-19, is part of an annual program, which aims to consolidate and advance the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and deepen friendly and practical cooperation between the two militaries.

It will also improve coordination between the two navies on joint defense operations at sea, he said.

Earlier reports in July quoted a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson as saying that the drill “does not target any third-party.”

The annual China-Russia joint naval exercise is the fifth of its kind between the two countries since 2012. The drills were held in 2012 in the Yellow Sea; off the coast of Russia’s Far East in 2013; and in the East China Sea in 2014.

In 2015, the drill was conducted in two phases: in the Mediterranean in May and then in the Peter the Great Gulf, the waters off the Clerk Cape, and the Sea of Japan in late August.

Firing Live Missile By Accident: 3 Charged: 1 Idiot: 2 For Dereliction Of Duties

 

3 charged over missile fired at mainland

AN unsupervised Taiwan naval officer who accidentally fired a missile toward China’s mainland was one of three people charged in connection with the incident yesterday.

The Hsiung-feng III (Brave wind) missile hit a Taiwan trawler, killing its skipper and injuring three crew members on July 1.

Prosecutors in the southern port city of Kaoshiung said Kao Chia-chun had been left alone in the master control room for up to seven minutes.

Kao decided to practice without a supervisor, despite the system being in “combat mode,” prosecutors said.

“He did not ultimately notice that missiles No. 3 and No. 4 were already in ‘live-fire’ mode and went on to press … ‘allow launch,’ ‘launch missile,’ and ‘confirm,’”prosecutors said.

One of the missiles traveled for about two minutes, automatically searching for a target before locking onto the fishing boat in the waters off Penghu Islands.

Kao was charged with negligence leading to death and injuries, as well as damaging weaponry.

His supervisor Chen Ming-hsiu and Lieutenant Hsu Po-wei, who was responsible for overseeing weapons, were charged with neglecting their duties.

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