UNSUNG HERO

REMEMBERING ONE OF OUR UNSUNG HEROES!

NAVY STEWARD MATE 2ND CLASS (StM2c) MILES S. BURKE!

StM2c Burke reported aboard the destroyer, USS Bush DD-528 on May 26, 1944.

In the segregated US Navy of World War II, Black-American men like StM2c Burke all had general duties as Steward’s Mates or Officers Cooks when serving aboard ship.

They were part of the Supply Division, reporting through the ship’s Supply Officer. Their job was to attend to the officer’s quarters and in the wardroom.

StM2c Burke was a big, strong man with a lot of heart. His battle station was below deck, as part of the number 5 5-inch gun handling room team.

StM2c Burke hoisted the heavy projectiles from one of the ship’s 5-inch magazines to those in the handling room.

Many of StM2c shipmates believed he had all the physical attributes to make him the perfect Sailor for the job. In addition, he had the mental, emotional and moral strength to handle the situations they got into without breaking down when the ship needed him the most.

He never complained about the hard work…he worked all alone and he never asked to be relieved even for a short period of time.

USS Bush was operating as a radar picket ship off Okinawa on 6 April 1945 and had splashed at least one plane when she was hit and subsequently sunk by three Japanese kamikazes.

At 1515, the first plane hit at the deck level on the starboard side between number one and two stacks causing its bomb or torpedo to explode in the forward engine room.

Although damage was sustained the ship was not believed to be in severe danger and tugs were requested.

The USS Colhoun was closing in to assist when she was hit by a suicide plane and was so severely damaged that she had to be sunk by another Navy ship.

At 1725, a second kamikaze crashed into the port side of the USS Bush’s main deck between the stacks, starting a large fire and nearly severing the ship.

When his team in the handling room were ordered to come topside, StM2c Burke LPO, SKD2c Aguilar had a hard time convincing him that the order meant him also, he did not want to leave his post.

Once topside, former Assistant Gunnery Officer Ltjg Lubin remembering seeing StM2c Burke go down into the afire engine spaces at least 3 or 4 times to bring up one burned snipe each time.

The Ltjg Lubin noticed that Stm2c Burke’s feet were bleeding and wasn’t wearing any shoes. Being as big as he was, and the deck hatches down to engine spaces as small as they were, the Ltjg Lubin didn’t know how he managed to get through the hatches.

At 1745, a third Kamikaze crashed into the port side just above the main deck. Some of the ship’s ammunition caught fire and began to explode.

Although it was believed that she would break amidships, it was thought that both halves would be salvageable. However, an unusually heavy swell rocked the ship, and the USS Bush began to cave in amidships.

Other swells followed, and the ship was abandoned by her 227 survivors including StM2c Burke. just before she folded and sank. 87 of her crew were lost.

The Commanding Officer, Commander Westholm of the USS Bush, recommended that StM2c Burke receive the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

The medal was awarded for lifesaving heroism at great risk to one’s own life.

In Commander Westholm’s letter of recommendation, he observed the following regarding StM2c Burke’s actions:

“BURKE’s battle station was in the lower magazine of 5″ gun #5. When his gun became inoperative he came topside and aided in the care and moving of the wounded. He did this in the face of the repeated air attacks on the ship. When forced to abandon ship he remained calm and was a source of constant encouragement to his shipmates. For a period of five hours in the water and on a raft, he supported two men unable to swim and who had lost their strength and one of which was without a life jacket, thus saving their lives. When alongside the rescue vessel he assisted in getting those who did not possess their strength aboard.”

In addition to the medal and citation, Petty Officer Burke was advanced to Steward’s Mate 1st Class “for meritorious performance of duty while in action against the enemy.”

StM1c Burker survived the war but what happened to him after his Navy career is unknown.

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Asia Sailors and Shipmates

Asia Sailors and Shipmates

By Garland Davis

Here’s to the boys who went to sea in old worn-out steel vessels out on the Pacific Rim. They smoked cigarettes and sometimes something else, drank beer and whiskey and cohabitated with the girls. They fought a hot war while facing off an enemy in a cold war.

They built relationships stronger than any friendship. They were Shipmates. Fifty and sixty years have passed, and they still greet each other as they did in those long-ago days. And meeting a Shipmate they haven’t seen in decades brings tears to their eyes.

They talk of generations delineated by birthdate, Silent, Boomer, X, and Z. Tom Brokaw wrote a book, The Greatest Generation that brought to life the extraordinary stories of a generation who won WWII, which gave new meaning to courage, sacrifice, and honor. I don’t think you can categorize the Asia Sailor into a specific generation. I like to believe that members of today’s Greatest Generation still ply the seas to keep the peace and fight the countries battles.

Here’s to the coffee drinkers, those still waking up before dawn, because that’s what we do. They listened to Johnny Cash, Elvis. Conway, Creedence, The Stones, Lennon, Kyu Sakamoto, Hikaru Nishida, Ayumi Ishida.

Here’s to the best of the best, those few that are left, to those you call when you don’t know what to do, which way to turn, or how to fix something. To the thinkers, the ones that just don’t know how to give up. To the ones who give so freely of themselves. To the committed.

Their shoulders are stooped now. They’ve carried so much for so long. Their hair is gray, their steps come slower, the time left to them is short.

Here’s to Asia Sailors and my Shipmates.

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1/2 boy 1/2 man… the Sailors Edition

He is me, and I am him. We are one. If he’s lucky, he is the Asia Sailor.

Purloined from the US Navy Vets page.

1/2 boy 1/2 man… the Sailors Edition

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father’s, but he has never collected unemployment either.

He’s a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and waves break over the bow.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can tie a double bowline on a bight or can start a P250 pump with a Peri Jet Eductor in 30 seconds… and can plug and patch a ruptured salt water feed in half that time in the dark. He can describe the fire fighting techniques for every class of fire in effective detail, and can don a Scott Air Pack and operate a firehose effectively when he must.

He can answer a bearing order either at the helm or from aft steering and can apply first aid like a professional. He can secure any aircraft or equipment or cargo to the deck while the ship lurches and rolls with the fury of the sea crashing all around him.

He can keep the slack out of a phone and distance line until he is told to stop, or stand vigilant and firm against waves and wind until he is relieved of his watch.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient.

He has two sets of uniforms underway: one for watch and the other for work. He keeps one eye on the horizon for contacts and the other on his shipmates to ensure they remain on the right side of the life rails.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to square away his rack or polish his boots. He cleans his spaces for daily inspections, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.

If you’re thirsty, he’ll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He’ll even share his back and lean into you while you’re on the nozzle in the midst of battling a raging fire.

He has learned to use his hands to tame the sea and the sea has become his home. When injured, he bleeds one part blood and one part sea water.

He will save his ship and crew before his own life, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all.

He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to’ square-away’ those around him who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Sailor, and his brethren have sailed the globe to keep this country free since 1775.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.

Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

Today’s Navy offers the same opportunities to women to carry forward the same honored tradition of sailing and flying into harm’s way, doing their part in this tradition of going to War when our nation calls us to do so.

As you go to bed tonight, picture this shot.

A short lull on the fantail, the green flash, and a picture of loved ones pulled from their pocket.

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Surrender, September 2, 1945

Surrender, September 2, 1945

More than two weeks had passed since the Japanese laid down their arms and declared they would no longer fight the Allies in the Pacific.

The US and the other Allies organized a ceremony in which Japanese representatives would sign an Instrument of Surrender, formally marking the end of World War II.

The site chosen for the ceremony was Tokyo Bay.

By 2 September 1945, more than 200 Allied ships were moored in the bay, eagerly awaiting the moment that would finally bring the hostilities in the Pacific to a close.

Among the ships was USS Missouri BB-63, an American battleship launched after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Perhaps because it was named for his home state, President Truman decided that USS Missouri would host the surrender ceremony.

It was one of the most important events ever to take place aboard an American ship.

As Officer of the Deck on the morning of the ceremony, USS Missouri’s navigator, Lieutenant Commander James L. Starnes, played a major role in ensuring it went off without a hitch.

Although he had only joined the Navy a year prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, Lcdr. Starnes found himself responsible for the logistics of the somewhat complicated ceremony. Considering the magnitude of the event, with the entire world watching and listening, the pressure was high.

As Starnes quickly found, organizing an event of such importance wasn’t going to be simple. One of his decisions, to have attendees wearing formal military attire, was overturned by General Douglas MacArthur. Starnes recalled MacArthur saying, “We fought them in our khaki uniforms, and we’ll accept their surrender in our khaki uniforms.”

Lcdr. Starnes worked alongside the USS Missouri’s Captain and the Admiral’s staff to embark and disembark nearly two hundred correspondents and photographers from all over the world.

He also helped ferry the Allied and Japanese officials who were to participate in the ceremony on what came to be known as the Surrender Deck of the USS Missouri.

The importance of the ceremony wasn’t taken lightly, and rehearsals were held to pinpoint the time it would take the Japanese delegates to arrive on the surrender deck from their smaller boat.

This became more complicated when it was determined that Japan’s foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, would take part in the signing.

Shigemitsu had lost a leg several years prior, and walked on an artificial limb. In order to estimate the amount of time he would require, Sailors strapped mop handles to their legs and simulated his walk.

Clouds hovered over Tokyo Bay on the morning of the ceremony and cast a gray shadow over the momentous occasion.

That didn’t dampen the mood off the coast of Tokyo, however, as representatives from the US, the UK and the other Allied nations, and Japan gathered for the historic moment.

As Officer of the Deck, it was Lcdr. Starnes who greeted the arriving dignitaries.

As the Japanese came aboard USS Missouri, there wasn’t a sense of animosity between the former adversaries.

As Lcdr, Starnes recalled…..

“This was peacetime. It was a very formal, very dignified ceremony.”

The event unfolded with only minor hitches: one delegation signed the document on the wrong line, and the flyover of more than 450 planes was delayed until just as the Japanese were disembarking. When it was over, the world was once again at peace.

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Unintended Consequences

Unintended Consequences

By Garland Davis

Brtt walked slowly back toward the hovel where his mate and last living child waited hoping that he would catch something to eat, but like the animals of the land, the fish were dying. It had been seven days since he had caught one. Perhaps it was the last of the fish, he thought as he stopped, gasping aggressively for oxygen. After a few minutes, he staggered onward toward what he could see only as the end. After a number of stops, he arrived at the place where his mate and daughter waited only to find that they had succumbed during the day. He lay down beside them and sometime during the night the man who was the last human being on the third planet from the sun, once called Earth, died…

Five thousand three hundred years earlier… Most of the nations of the world had been torn apart by a rift between those who discounted the effects of the sun and believed that humanity was the cause of rising global temperatures and those who said that fluctuating temperatures were caused by the sun and short term fluctuations in temperatures weren’t reliable to base theories of global warming or cooling.

Carbon dioxide became the culprit. The global warming faction held that a buildup of CO2 in the air and trapping the heat radiated by the sun was the cause of rising temperatures and mankind was the cause of the increasing CO2 levels.

During the mid-twenty-first century, the global warming faction gained political power in the primary developed nations of the world. They arbitrarily forced laws that mandated the elimination of fossil fuels, ordered the scrapping of all vehicles with combustion engines, and grounded all aircraft other than early model electric solar-powered aircraft.

These actions threw the world into a great depression and the population into a panic. People in the cities were rioting and fighting with each other over dwindling food supplies while crops in California and the Midwest rotted in the fields without the machines to harvest and transport them. Many diseases weres rampant, people were dying. The pharmaceutical companies’ distribution networks were no longer operational. Sewage and wastewater systems failed, freshwater supplies dwindled as fewer and fewer people were available to man the controls and repair breakdowns. The Elite members running the government saw the lessening of the world’s population as beneficial in their fight to control the change in the climate.

A note here: Plants take CO2 from the air and, using the energy of sunlight convert CO2 into carbohydrates and oxygen in a process called Photosynthesis. The process can be described as breathing in CO2 and breathing out oxygen

Climate scientists, in an effort to produce a mechanical means of removing CO2 from the air, developed technology that mimicked the process which plants used to accomplish this. Instead of breaking the CO2 down into its molecular components and releasing the oxygen back into the air, they pumped the captured CO2 deep underground. This, in effect, removed both CO2 and Oxygen from the air since the O2 component of the formula wasn’t being returned to the atmosphere. The first and most touted of the CO2 plants was built near Schenectady. Two months after it went into full operation a dissident group overran the facility, massacred the scientists and operators and using explosives, destroyed the machinery and the building complex.

The Elites around the world ordered the CO2 processing plants to be rebuilt and equipped with a state of the art robotic operational and defense system all controlled by Artificial Intelligence. Only certain scientists and politicals were identified to the AI system as being authorized to enter the facility. One hundred eight of the Carbon Dioxide Synthesis plants were built around the world using a combination of solar, wind, and the energy produced by the rotation of the planet to power them. They were enclosed, self-aware mechanical systems capable of repairing and maintaining themselves indefinitely.

The little innocuous virus had existed for centuries. It caused no trouble for any other living organism on Earth. It was marginal due to the level of Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen in the atmosphere. One could say it was hanging on by a tentacle. As the levels of CO2 and Oxygen in the atmosphere lessened, the little virus took on new life, mutated into what was to become a virulent strain which swept around the world and killed four-fifths of the population of Earth. The rest of the population seemed to have a natural immunity to the virus and without a host to prey on, it reverted to just being another virus while waiting for another victim.

The Elites weren’t exempt from the plague. All the politicals and scientists with access to the plants were killed. No one alive could halt the process of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere. The plants were impregnable and killed any life form that wandered too near.

As the centuries passed, the dwindling humanity had devolved to a caveman lifestyle living in the ruins of the cities adopting a hunter-gatherer method of subsistence. As the thousands of years passed, plants and trees became fewer and stunted because of the lessening CO2 and consequently, other life forms became fewer and fewer and died. Temperatures dropped because of lesser free CO2. Ice built up at the poles and began to slowly creep southward and northward to eventually meet at the equator.

The point was finally reached where most land life that depended upon CO2 or oxygen had died. The action of the oceans captured oxygen from the air that nurtured sea life. With less oxygen in the sea, many marine species became extinct. Those species living at greater depths will possibly survive the coming ace age when the planet becomes a frozen ice ball.

… and sometime during the night the man who was the last human being on the third planet from the sun, once called Earth, died from lack of oxygen…

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As the Asia Sailor Ages

As the Asia Sailor Ages…

By Garland Davis

1. Everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.

2. The gleam in his eyes is from the sun reflecting off his bifocals.

3. He awakens with the feeling that he pulled a night ion Magsaysay yet didn’t leave the house.

4. His little black book contains doctors’ contact info and a list of medications.

5. His kids who he knows about begin to look middle-aged.

6. He can no longer climb ladders and has to pay his grandkids to change light bulbs.l.

7. His mind says, “Hold my beer and watch.” His body says, “Fuck you, Dude.”

8. He looks forward to a dull evening.

9. His favorite TV shows are Re-runs of Victory at Sea, McHale’s Navy and, CPO Sharkey.

10. He turns out the lights for economical rather than romantic reasons.

11. He sits in a rocking chair and can’t get it going.

12. His knees buckle, but his belt won’t.

14. He’s 17 around the neck, 42 around the waist, 95 strokes and 6 beers around the golf course.

15. His back goes out more than he does.

17. His Pacemaker makes the garage doors go up he sees a pretty girl.

18. The little old gray-haired lady he tried to help across the street is his wife.

19. He sinks his teeth into a steak, and they stay there.

20. There is too much room in the house and not enough in the medicine cabinet.

21. He gets his exercise acting as a pallbearer for shipmates who have departed for Fiddlers Green.

22. He knows all the answers, but no one asks the questions any longer.

23. Whenever he falls asleep, people check his pulse to ensure he isn’t.dead.

24. He stops trying to sck in his gut regardless of who walks into the room.

25. He buys a compass for the dash of his car.

26. He is inordinately proud of his John Deere lawnmower.

27. His best friend is dating someone half his age…and is accused of Cougar hunting.

28. He doesn’t understand why the plumber doesn’t follow his advice on piping repairs.

29. His arms are almost too short to read the newspaper.

30. He knows the lyrics and sings along with the elevator music.

31. He would rather go to work than take a sick day even when he is sick.

32. He is constantly pissed and talks about the price of gasoline.

33. He enjoys hearing about other people’s operations and describing his in detail..

34. He considers coffee one of the basic food groups and possibly the most important thing in life besides beer, whiskey, rum, other forms of alcohol, and pussy.

35. He doesn’t understand why he has to go for a dental check-up when he no longer has teeth.

36. He no longer thinks of speed limits as a challenge.

37. Neighbors borrow his tools, except for the lawnmower.

38. His shipmates call at 9 p.m. and ask, “Did I wake you?”

39. He dreams of aircraft carriers, San Miguel, LBFM’s, prunes, and LBFM’s.

40. He answers questions with, “because I said so.”

41. He makes donations to Trump and cusses the Democrats.

42. The end of his tie doesn’t come anywhere near the top of his pants.

43. He takes a metal detector to the beach.

44. He wears black or white socks with sandals. Sometimes one of each.

45. He knows what the word “equity” means.

46. He can’t remember the last time he lay on the floor to watch TV but thinks it had something to do with gin.

47. He has more hair growing on and out of his ears than he does on his head.

48. He gets into heated arguments about the qualities of beer, Retirement Pay, Social Security, and Medicare.

49. He watches cable for the weather channel (sometimes referred to as “Old Folks MTV”).

50. He has a party and the neighbors don’t even realize it.

51. He almost has a heart attack when his granddaughter asks, “Granpa, you want to see my pussy.” just before she displays her new kitten.

52. He can no longer drink as late as he once did, so he starts his drinking earlier in the day.

53. Waits anxiously for May when he can attend the Annual Asis Sailor Westpac’rs Reunion in Branson, Missouri, and reconnect with his shipmates.

54. Alone late at night with his final whiskey, he removes his glasses to see better or perhaps cry.

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