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RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon

 
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RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/18/2012 5:27:39 PM   
vettim89


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21 February 1942, South Pacific

The carriers departed Wellington two day ago. They now sit in the open ocean between New Zealand and the Society Islands. Scuttlebutt has it that there is some big troop convoy that needs an escort to one of the Island groups in the area. Some say it will be Fiji while others say it will be New Caledonia. There is even one rumor that the are heading straight up to Rabaul to retake that base from the Japanese.

LCDR Gallaher is taking advantage of the transit time to go over proper dive bombing techniques with the squadron. As of yet they have not dropped a single bomb on the enemy. Some of the men have barely even practiced on non-moving targets. Gallaher goes over how to judge the proper point to “tip over” or begin the dive. He tries to convey what they planes controls will feel like under the strain of an 80 degree dive. He spends extra time on the proper time to deploy the dive brakes during the dive. He cautions the men to fight the dual temptations or diving too shallow and pulling out of the dive too soon. If the bomb is released at 2000 feet it will take about three seconds before it hits. If it is release at 4000 feet it will take more than six seconds before it hits. Gallaher points out that a ship moving 30 kts will move an additional 50 yards in the three second time differential between the two release points.

“Fifty yards may not sound like that much”, he says, “but that will often be the difference between a solid hit and a near miss. You have to have nerves of steel to press home your attacks, boys.”

The meeting breaks up and a few of the younger pilots stay to ask questions of Gallaher. LT(jg) West notices ENS Stone sitting in the back of the room almost ashen . He refills his “bug juice” then casually makes his way over to the young pilot.

“What's up, Stone?”, he asks.

“Lieutenant”, he says weakly. “I don't know if I can do it. I have a hard time just getting an SBD back on the carrier. How the hell am I going to be able to keep it under control in a combat dive?”

“Your problem is a lack of trust, Stone”, West answered. “I've seen you fly. You don't trust the airplane. You don't trust your training. And most importantly, you don't trust yourself.”

“You really think its that simple?” Stone said not believing what James was saying.

“Yes, it is that simple.” he answered firmly. “The difference between being a Nugget and a competent pilot is getting to the point where you stop thinking about flying the aircraft and feel it instead. That's were the trust part comes into it. Once you stop worrying about all the little details and learn to trust in your aircraft and yourself, it will get a lot easier, I promise”

Stone looked up at West with a lightened demeanor. Just hearing that he wasn't a complete wash out was actually all he really needed to know.

“Thanks, Lieutenant”, he said as he rose. He joined the group of young pilots around LCDR Gallaher who were still asking questions.

< Message edited by vettim89 -- 1/18/2012 6:28:56 PM >


_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 91
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/18/2012 7:35:23 PM   
vettim89


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22 February 1942, Soerabaja, Java

SS Sturgeon had deposited the remnant of Swordfish's crew here on Java five days ago. LCDR Smith had tried to urge LCDR Wright to linger in the area his boat has went down for a little while longer. The seas were too rough and Sturgeon had just missed being discovered by patrol aircraft itself. They searched an addition six hours but LCDR Wright's orders were clear: egress the immediate area of Swordfish's demise and return to Soerabaja. The Sturgeon was carrying near one and a half of it's normal complement. The boat could just not run efficiently with this many people in the way. Smith acquiesced reluctantly and retreated to his cabin. He was hardly seen away from it during the entire journey down to Java.

The crew was billeted in a shabby hotel near the naval base. While it was still functioning fairly efficiently, Soerabaja Harbor was full of hulks of numerous small craft and even a few submarines. The Japanese carriers had raided the base twice with devastating results. Still, there was a lot of activity around the harbor with Dutch and USN submarines coming and going. Besides that there was nothing larger than a minesweeper in and around the harbor. The Dutch, US, and British surface fleets had fled to safer waters weeks ago. The local Dutch were not being very cooperative. Any US sub that needed fuel or provisions had to pay for them with cash on the spot. The remnants of the Asiatic Fleet staff headquartered here spent most of their time running around making sure the money was available to pay any USN debts without delay. History had proved that any sub tied up to a pier was nothing more than a target if the Japanese carriers were to reappear.

LT(jg) Dan Haskins spent most of his time at the hotel awaiting some form of transport out. The Javanese people were not at all like the Filipinos he had gotten used to in Manila. Like the Filipinos they were more than willing to make a buck off any unwitting US sailor, but there was a coldness to their manner. They had a weary eye towards the Americans, and it was obvious they did not appreciate their presence on Java. DJ wondered if was the way they treated all foreigners or if there was something particularly irksome about the US presence that bothered them. Well, if it were up to DJ, they would be on their way out of this miserable place already. He doubted if the locals understood that, at least for the crew of the Swordfish, they wanted to leave just as badly as the Javanese wanted them gone.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 92
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/19/2012 4:25:18 AM   
vettim89


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23 February 1942, Washington, DC

The need for improving the US Navy's ASW efforts is becoming desperate. The German U-boats are sinking Allied merchants off the East Coast and in the Caribbean almost daily. Early this morning, a Japanese I-boat bombarded the refinery at Ellwood, CA. While little damage was done to the facilities, the West Coast was now in a near panic. The US was building destroyers at an amazing rate but there were still too few to meet all the needs of a war on two fronts.

LT(jg) Greg Cummins sits at his desk going over blueprints for the Bagley Class destroyers. With the first Sims Class ships due in port in less than a week, CPT. Lawrence's team had shifted it's attention to the remaining USN destroyer classes. Present circumstances made this project a top priority for BurShips and a firm deadline of 1 April had been set to have everything ready. While the modifications to each class were similar, individual layouts and armament meant slight variations on the same themes: adding K-guns, upgrading the AAA, and adding and/or upgrading the RADAR sets.

“Lieutenant Cummins?”, one of the enlisted men asks.

“Yes”, Greg replied thankful for the distraction.

“Captain Lawrence wants to see you, sir”, the sailor informed Greg

“Thank you”, he said as he rose from his chair made his way to the Captain's office

“Sir, you asked to see me?”, Greg said as he entered the office.

“Yes, Greg. Sit down”, Lawrence said motioning Cummins to a seat.

“The Buck is on her way into Norfolk”, the captain started. “She'll be the first of the Sims Class to upgrade. I need you to drive down and make sure everything goes as planned. I don't think I need to tell you that the Navy needs every destroyer it can find right now. While the augmented ASW armament will be a welcomed addition, we need to get these ships in and out of the yard as fast as possible. You understand?”

“Yes, sir”, Greg replied. “I think you are ordering me to be a burr up the butt of the yard people to make sure they get the job done expediently, correct?”

“Well, I wouldn't have put it quite that way, but I think you get the point,” Lawrence replied.

“Consider it done, sir”, Greg said as he stood to leave.

“Good man”, Lawrence said as he returned the lieutenant's salute

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 93
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/19/2012 11:30:05 PM   
vettim89


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24 February 1942, Iceland

Hurry up and wait: the unofficial motto of the Marines. At least that is what 1st LT Brett Castlebury was thinking at the moment. The orders to redeploy back to the States had been made official weeks ago, but all the men of Foxtrot Coy, did was the same old same old. Get up, patrol the coast, maybe work on some fortifications, go back to barracks, and then go to bed. The war seemed very far away to these men. Fighting was heavy all across the globe from Malaya to the Philippines to Russia and the skies over Britain. Here in Iceland there was only monotony and a lot of it.

Still, Brett was feeling pretty good about the platoon. The new recruits had now been with the unit long enough to be fully integrated. While they all still lacked true combat experience, that would come in time. He was sure of that. He did not know when or where but he knew that the 6th Marines would eventually lock horns with the Japanese. While his men were green, they were well trained. He and MSGT Wilson had made sure of that! Now all they could do was train some more and wait.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 94
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/24/2012 5:51:07 AM   
vettim89


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25 February 1942, Kane'ohe NAS, Oahu

This was definitely NOT Alaska, Hank Tyler mused to himself. He remembered when he first heard that VP-51 was being deployed to the Pacific that he thought that would be about the worst thing that could happen. Instead they found themselves here in a tropical paradise. If they kept this up, Hank may lose faith in the Navy's ability to make life as miserable as possible for it's officers and enlisted men. This may be the best billet in the entire world, Hank thought to himself.

However, Tyler knew the truth. CDR Underwood had shared with him the future plans the Navy had for the squadron. They were heading to Fiji as soon as he proper support could be put into place. It would take a few weeks to move all the necessary troops and supplies around, but their days in Hawaii were numbered. Underwood had only let the senior pilots in the squadron in on the details. He had forbidden them from sharing the information with the rest of the squadron. The whole “Loose lips sink ships” thing had seemed like overkill when they were still on the mainland. Here in Hawaii, it didn't seem unreasonable.

Hank had mixed feelings about being deployed to a forward area. While part of him wanted to be “in the fight” as much as any man, he also felt that pang of self doubt that most feel when faced with battle. Would he be able to get the job done? Would he panic when he first met the enemy? Would he be coming home when it was all over? That last thought was new to Tyler. He had always lived by the Latin motto, Carpe Diem: seize the day! He didn't worry about tomorrow or his future very much at all. That changed the day he met Emily. Now, he had a new thought mixed in with all the others: would he ever see her again?

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/24/2012 11:15:37 PM   
vettim89


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26 February 1942, NE of New Zealand

LT(jg) James West is on patrol east of the Enterprise. After months of what seemed like mindless wandering through the South Pacific, the USN carriers now had a job to do. That job was shepherding a large convoy into Suva, the main port in the Fiji Islands. The convoy was huge with over twenty transports carrying an entire infantry division plus other troops. This was the reason the US carriers were called back from their planned raid of the southern Solomons a few weeks ago.

There was no intelligence as far as the location of the Japanese carriers but ADM Nimitz was taking no chances. He had dispatched the entire available carrier force to escort the first large troop movement into the South Pacific. It was not hard to understand why these precautions were being made. The loss of this many troops to an unexpected raid by the IJN would be devastating to the US morale. So while it was not the most glamorous of duty, it was obviously important. That alone was enough to raise the spirits of the men aboard the carriers and their escorts.

They were steaming up from New Zealand to some island group James had never heard of east of Fiji. They would refuel there before meeting up with the convoy. The only question now as had they enemy caught wind of this movement as of yet?

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 96
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/25/2012 4:06:14 AM   
vettim89


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27 February 1942, Washington, DC

LT(jg) Greg Cummins is clearing his desk on this Friday afternoon. With the War on the Navy no longer thinks in terms of a five day work week and weekend. The Yard is nearly as busy on the Saturday and Sunday as it is during the week. Greg, however, needs to tie up loose ends. He is driving down to Norfolk in two days, and he knows it may be a while before he returns. Despite all the planning and preparations, he holds little hope that the upgrading of the Sims Class will go off without a glitch. That said, he has no intention of letting the project fall behind schedule.

A tanker and a bulk carrier were sunk right off the East Coast just yesterday. This is fast becoming an embarrassment for the US Navy. Everyone expected the Germans to put up a fight in the Atlantic. No one anticipated them parking their subs right off the US coast and truly wreaking havoc with the US Merchant Fleet. Something needed to be done before things truly got out of hand.

“Perhaps they already have”, Greg thought to himself.

“How did the USN enter the War so unprepared?”, his thought continued.

He was a profession sailor, a graduate of the US Naval Academy. If he didn't understand, how could anyone expect the civilian populace to come to grips with it. Pearl Harbor was a shock to the US psyche but it also was a rallying cry. The initial fervor was wearing off. After months of steady losses, people were beginning to doubt the outcome. Was it possible that the US could lose the war?

“Enough!”, Greg concluded the thought.

He knew better than anyone how many ships were in the pipeline. Hundreds of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and patrol craft of all sizes would very soon be patrolling the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. It was only a matter of time.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 97
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/25/2012 6:59:33 PM   
vettim89


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28 February 1942, Indian Ocean

LT(jg) DJ Haskins is standing watch of the bridge of USS Porpoise as she heads south towards Perth, Australia. The Swordfish's crew had been divided among three subs all heading there for repairs. Porpoise had been damaged while trying to prosecute a convoy off Indochina. While the damage was not severe, the threat of enemy air attack precluded repairing her at Soerabaja. The USN had already lost one sub up there and they were not about to lose another. Fortunately, the crew of Porpoise seemed happy to have the extra help on board, Haskins is especially happy they were letting him stand watch.

DJ wished he had been matched up with LCDR Smith but he was aboard Searaven. He is concerned about the skipper. He had not been right since they were rescued. DJ had tried to get him to talk while they were still on Java, but Smith rebuffed all his attempts. The loss of the boat was weighing heavily upon the man, and even though he wouldn't talk of it, the fate of LT Phelps and the rest of the crew had to be on his mind also. Were they lost at sea? Had they been captured? Could they possibly made land fall in China or the Philippines?

They were their shipmates and friends. Was it just the whims of the Fates that they were safely heading to a friendly port while the rest of the crew was lost? How does one reconcile that to himself? Just a few weeks ago the were united in their efforts to do their part in defeating Japan. Now there were scattered. None of them even had a permanent place in the Navy at the moment. It happened so fast. Where did they go wrong? Was there something that could have been done to save the Swordfish? Should they have made more of an effort to find the rest of the crew?

Questions without answers. Confidence and assurance now replaced with fear and doubt. Maybe DJ didn't need to talk to LCDR Smith. He already knew what was going on in the man's mind. If he couldn't answer the questions himself, how could he offer any help to the skipper?

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 98
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/27/2012 1:56:13 AM   
vettim89


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1 March 1942, near Raratonga

Enterprise was abuzz with excitement. Word had “leaked” out of the Comms section that the Japanese carriers had been spotted off New Guinea. Would they finally get their chance at striking back at the Japs? Speculation was running wild. The ships were short of fuel but that was about to be remedied. Two large replenishment convoys were waiting at Raratonga. Once the carriers met up with them, they would be free to go after the Japanese.

The pilots of VS-6 and the other squadrons of Enterprise's air group were all gathered in their ready rooms awaiting the orders they hoped would soon be coming down from ADM Halsey.

“Do you think we will go after the Jap carriers, James”, LT(jg) Carey asked.

“Not sure”, West replied. “Depends on how many and where they are headed”.

“What difference does that make”, Carey said incredulously. “We know where they are so we should go get them. End of Story”.

“First, we have four carriers. We know they used six at Pearl Harbor”, James replied patiently. “If all six of their carriers are there we could be walking right into a trap.”

“Second”, he continued, “this could be a diversion. What if one of those stupid float plane carrying subs of theirs caught site of the convoy? What if chasing this sighting is exactly what they want us to do so they can slip another force in behind us and sink all those transports?”

“You know you have a way of taking the joy out of just about everything?”, Carey chided. “Why can't you see the bright side of things every once in a while?”

“I'm just the voice of reason”, James replied. “You ever hear the story of the Eagle and the Arrow?”

“Don't think so”, Carey replied curiously.

“It goes like this:”, James began. “ An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. "Alas!" it cried, as it died.”

“What's you point?”, Carey asked

“The moral of the story is”, West paused for effect, “we often give our enemies the means for our own destruction”.

“You're just full of little bits of wisdom, aren't you”, Carey snarked

“Like I said, the voice of reason”, West concluded.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 99
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/27/2012 5:17:23 AM   
vettim89


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2 March 1942, Norfolk Naval Yard, Virginia

The USS Buck is safely stood down next to a pier at the yard. Her boilers have been extinguished, and cables stretch from the pier to the ship to provide power for the work that needs to be done. LT(jg) Greg Cummins stands on the pier admiring the ship. She is a fine looking vessel: sleek and mean and ready for war. While destroyers may lack the graceful lines and towering superstructure of cruisers and battleships, they are truly ships of war. Every space not devoted to propulsion and habitation has some weapon or sensor attached. In truth, the design of a “tin can” is a much more difficult proposition than a larger ship. There is just no room for error.


“Permission to come aboard”, Greg asks the coxswain at the top of the prow.

“Permission granted, sir”, he replies.

Greg sees a familiar face and walks towards two officers on the foredeck. One of them is LT(jg) Sam Jones, a USNA classmate of Greg.

“Jonesy!”, Cummins calls out.

“Greg!”, Sam replies. “What are you doing here?”

“I am the official BurShips representative on your little upgrade project”, Greg answered.

“Oh we're in for it now!”, Jones mocked. “LCDR Stevens, this is Lieutenant Greg Cummins, one of the finest engineering minds the Academy has ever produced”

“Sir”, Greg says as he salutes.

“Pleasure to meet you”, Stevens says. “Are you the one responsible for setting this upgrade up?”

“Afraid so, sir. Any problems so far?”, Cummins asks.

“None”, Stevens answers. “In fact, this is about the most well organized project I have ever seen the US Navy put together. Everything is in place. All we need to do is fit the ship and make sure it all works”

“I should have known you were involved”, Jones offers. “Now that I think about, this project has you hand writing all over it. All the i's dotted and t's crossed. Pure Cummins to be sure.”

“Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. This is the first Sims to be upgraded; still a lot that could go wrong”, Greg cautions

“From what I've seen so far, I don't think we have much to worry about”, Stevens says. “Lieutenant Jones, why don't you show Lieutenant Cummins our little ship.”

“Aye, sir”, Jones replies. “Come on Greg, I'll show you what you've been missing up there in your cushy office at the Yard”

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 100
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/27/2012 11:53:31 PM   
vettim89


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From: Toledo, Ohio
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3 March 1942, East of Fiji

“We're going the wrong way!”, cries ENS Stone.

“We know exactly where the goddamn Jap carriers are and we running away. What the hell?”, adds ENS Jaccard

“I cannot believe ADM Halsey of all people is doing this”, LT(jg) Carey chimes in.

Silence now fills the room as all eyes turn to LT(jg) West.

“Well, aren't you going to offer up some of your famous wisdom on this matter, James?”, Stone challenges.
James takes a deep breath. He knows the situation is a bit tense. He better tread lightly.

“The only thing I can say is that I have never met a man with more fight in him than “Bull” Halsey”, he says. “If we are steaming away from the Japs there can only be one of two explanations. The first is that the admiral knows more about the situation than we do. If that is true, there must be a very good reason for what we are doing”.

“And the second reason?”, Carey asks bitterly.

“The same as it has always been in the US Navy: orders”, James responds. “In fact, I have a hunch that is exactly why we are heading east instead of west. ADM Nimitz is as cautious as Halsey is aggressive. Chances are, for reasons only known to him, he has decided to not engage the Japanese at this point. If that is true, I wouldn't want to be on the Flag Bridge right now because ADM Halsey is probably fit to be tied”

“Me neither”, Carey agrees. “I am sure the air is a bit blue up there right now”.

High above the young officers' cabin stands ADM “Bull” Halsey screaming and cursing at anyone within range. Nimitz's orders left no doubt:

“Do not, repeat, do not engage IJN carriers near New Guinea. Proceed east to rendezvous with TF 46 and escort it to Suva”, Nimitz.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 101
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/28/2012 3:27:04 AM   
vettim89


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From: Toledo, Ohio
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4 March 1942, Perth Australia

Porpoise has tied up at a pier in the crammed harbor here on Australia's southwest coast. Every spare pier and anchorage space is occupied with ships of all sizes. Many of the ships have odd names that betray their origin – they are refugees from the Dutch East Indies, Malaya, and the Philippines. One ship is very familiar to LT(jg) DJ Haskins and it is the submarine support ship Holland. DJ is very surprised to see her here. His last glimpse of this particular ship had been in Manila Harbor on 8 December 1941 as Swordfish got underway on her first patrol. From the bits and pieces, DJ had been able to pick up, Holland's trip to Australia had to have been a tightly run affair. Some how she had managed to sneak past all the Japanese aircraft and combat ships patrolling the waters south of the Philippines during the first weeks of the war.

“Well done, old girl. Well done”, Haskins said quietly as he passed her berth.

The USN is in the process of building a full fledged sub base here at Perth. While it was obvious still an ongoing project, things were beginning to take shape. There is a torpedo workshop up and running. Various machine and small engine shops have sprouted up around the base. Definitely getting there even if not done yet.

DJ steps into the small building serving as Headquarters for the Asiatic Fleet's sub operations. He asks the Petty Officer near the entrance if there is some one he can talk to from the Bureau of Navigation. The Petty Officer points to a desk in the far corner. Haskins approaches a desk manned by a middle-age LCDR who is sweating profusely.

“Excuse me, sir ...”, DJ starts.

“Name, rank, and current assignment”, the man interrupts before DJ can finish his sentence without looking up.

“Haskins, Daniel, LT(jg), Navigator, USS Swordfish”, DJ says.

“Swordfish?”, he man blurts looking up. “When did you get here?”

“I just arrived, sir”, DJ answers. “I was told to come see you regarding my assignment.”

The man paused looking at DJ oddly.

“At present, Lieutenant”, he speaks slowly, “there is no new assignment for you. In fact there is some important matters that will need to be cleared up before you are reassigned. In the mean time, speak with PO Jenkins over there and he'll get you put up in the BOQ.”

“Excuse me, sir. What administrative matters are you speaking of?”, Haskins asks.

“Well, Lieutenant, there is the matter of the inquiry into the loss of a US Navy ship”, the LCDR says coldly. “Namely, the USS Swordfish. Until that matter is closed, you will be stationed here. I cannot offer you anything more than that at the moment. I suggest you get yourself some rest. The heat in this god forsaken hell hole will melt you if you are not careful. Dismissed.”

DJ walks away slowly. As he makes his way to the BOQ, his mind is racing. It never had occurred to him that there would be an inquiry into the loss of the boat. It was war after all. There were casualties in war. Surely, the brass understood that of all things. They couldn't hold LCDR Smith responsible for the loss, could they? Hadn't the man suffered enough. First losing his command and now this? DJ has to fight back the urge to just scream out loud.

“Stupid Friggin Navy”, he utters under his breath as he walks down the street toward the BOQ.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 102
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/29/2012 4:04:43 AM   
vettim89


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5 March 1942, Iceland

Finally some movement. The 1st Provisional Marine BGD has been ordered to pack up. A convoy with Army troops is due to arrive within the week, and Marines will ride those transports back to the States. All the heavy equipment is being packed and stowed for moving. Machine guys, mortars, anti-tank guns, and artillery pieces are all heavily greased to assure they are protected from corrosion by the sea air during transport.

The men of 3rd Platoon are in high spirits. Hopes run high that they will be given leave before heading to the West Coast. Few will miss Iceland with its long nights and constant dampness. More importantly they are eager for action. It was clear from the beginning of their deployment here that the Germans were not going to invade. There job was to act as a deterrent and it was successfully accomplished. The Marines almost felt sorry for the Army pukes replacing them. Almost

1stLT Brett Castlebury was monitoring the preparations in the courtyard in front of the platoon barracks. The men were joking and screwing around more than working at the moment. Brett is about to give them what for when a booming voice interrupts the festivities.

“You Marines look like you got too much time on your hands”, shouts MSGT Wilson who had just come around the corner. “Perhaps you need some extra duty to occupy your time.”

This is met by collective groans from the Platoon who immediately refocused their efforts.

“They have no idea what they are going up against”, Wilson says as he walks up to Castlebury.

“No, Sergeant, they don't”, Brett says. “They will soon enough.”

“They're ready, even if the don't know it yet”, Wilson comments

“I agree”, Castlebury says. “We've done all we can to get them ready. They're rock hard and full of piss and vinegar. They Japs won't know what hit them.”

“You can be sure of this, Lieutenant”, Wilson says as he hardens. “Those yellow bastards will remember the day they meet the United States Marine Corps. OOHRAH!”

“OOHRAH”, Brett answers.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 103
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/29/2012 4:05:25 AM   
vettim89


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6 March 1942, Honolulu, Hawaii

VP-51 is stood down today. The men are given one day passes to explore the island. The vast majority have opted to us their time on Hotel Street in downtown Honolulu. Over 200 women practice the “world's oldest profession” here. Three dollars gets you three minutes. While officially not condoned, a blind eye is turned towards the activities in the brothels. It is considered the lesser of two evils in the minds of local authorities and the Army and Navy brass. Considering the lines stretch around the block at most of the establishments, this is probably the wisest choice to make.

LT(jg) Hank Tyler stands on a street corner waiting for some of his squadron mates to finish their transactions. There was a time when Hank wouldn't have thought twice about taking advantage of such an opportunity. He hadn't been with a woman since the war started and for him that was a long dry spell. Things were just different now. While most of that change could be attributed to a certain girl back in San Francisco, that was not all of it. The War has already begun to change Hank. He finds himself thinking a lot more about things.

The only thing he used to ever take seriously was flying. In his mind a sloppy pilot often ended up being a dead pilot. In fact his friends used to joke about the disparity in his attitude towards flying versus life in general referring to him as Dr. Jekyll and Mr, Hyde. Life of the party anywhere else but deadly serious in the pilot's seat. He was not that way so much anymore. For the first time in his life as a naval officer he found himself actually worrying about setting a good example to the younger pilots.

The rest of the pilots are returning from their rendezvous.

“Hey, Dr. Jekyll, you wanna go get a beer?”, ENS Page calls out a he approaches, “Or is that against your religion too?”

“Nah”, Hank replies. “A beer sounds good to me right now.”

The transformation has not completely killed Tyler's need to blow off steam now and again. The group heads up the street towards one of the many bars. They still have a few hours before curfew.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 104
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/29/2012 4:06:20 AM   
vettim89


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7 March 1942, 700 NM ESE of Suva

The morning staff meeting has just concluded on Enterprise's flag bridge. The squadron commanders, CPT Murray and his staff, as well as ADM Halsey's staff are all present. To say it was an unpleasant event would be a gross underestimation of the mood. LCDR Gallaher returns to the ready room in a foul mood.

“I can tell from the look on your face that the meeting did not go well”, LT(jg) James West comments as Gallaher enters the room.

“Talk about an exercise in futility”, Gallaher replies as he gets a cup of coffee. “The Bull is in rare form today. I swear I saw steam coming out of his ears”.

“Would you expect anything different?”. James asks

“I suppose not”, the commander answers, “but there is a point where bitching about our orders becomes counterproductive. That meeting could have been over in fifteen minutes. Instead we got fifteen minutes on the operational material for the day and half an hour of Halsey screaming about Nimitz's lack of manhood.”

“I suspect the ADM wouldn't share that opinion to CINPAC's face”, Jame laughs.

“I dunno”, Gallaher says. “Halsey's in such a state that if Nimitz were to come aboard right now, he might be forced to bust Bull down to mess steward. I have utmost respect for the man, but I do have fear that his aggressiveness is going to get us all killed one day.”

James is taken aback by that last comment. He could not deny that he himself had had the same misgivings. Still, it was a shock that LCDR Gallaher would freely speak of it in the open.

“I guess we should be grateful that CINCPAC still has a short leash”, West says. “I almost feel sorry for the Japanese.”

“Why's that?”, Gallaher asks.

“Because some day, the leash is going to be taken off the old dog”, James says. “I suspect that will not be a good day to be a Japanese sailor.”

“Yup, Halsey's gonna bite them in the ass and not let go”, Gallaher adds.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 105
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/30/2012 3:35:19 AM   
vettim89


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8 March 1942, Perth, Australia

Its only ten in the morning and it is already almost unbearingly hot in the building where the inquiry into Swordfish's loss is being conducted. The board consists of VADM Leary (newly appointed CINC Australian/New Zealand Command), CPT Reynolds, and CDR Grayson. To LT(jg) Daniel Haskins relief, their tone is not confrontational. They seem to just be interested in getting the details of the incident correct.

As the only junior officer present, DJ is questioned extensively. He details the nature of the damage suffered in the attack and the efforts to save the boat. He is forced to relive the agonize night on the open sea and the subsequent loss of half the ships company. The board questions him extensively on the procedures that were followed prior to the attack and afterward. The only awkward moment comes when ADM Leary pushes DJ on the circumstances of the attack.

“Lieutenant Haskins”, the admiral begins. “Was there any indication that there was an enemy aircraft in the vicinity of USS Swordfish before she surfaced?”

“No sir”, DJ answers with a dry mouth.

“Did LCDR Smith survey the sea surface via periscope before ordering the boat to surface?”, Leary continues.

“Yes sir, he performed a 360 degree search with the periscope immediately before giving the order”, Haskins replies.

“Did you witness this personally?”, the admiral presses.

“Yes, sir”, DJ answers shifting in his seat. “I was present in the Control Room and witnessed LCDR Smith's search.”

“Lieutenant, how would you account for the fact that the aircraft that attacked Swordfish was not detected?”, Leary asks.

“Well, sir”, DJ pauses. The last thing he wanted to do here was to say anything that would reflect poorly on the skipper.

“My only explanation is that the plane was so close to the submarine that it was impossible to see through the periscope. The narrow field of view allowed by the scope prevented detection of the aircraft”, Haskins answers.

That seemed to satisfy the admiral as he then moved on to other details of the event. The inquiry continues for another hour before adjourning. DJ waits with LCDR Smith in a small room nearby. Surprisingly, the skipper is actually looking better than he has since the boat went down.

“Sir,” DJ breaks the silence, “I want you to know that I have no doubt you are responsible in any way for the boat's loss. I testified to that fact.”

“Thanks, DJ”, Smith answers. “I'm sure you did fine. I hope you told the truth as far as you know it.”

“I did and I made sure the board knows my stance on the issue”, Haskins says firmly.

The board deliberates for less than an hour. They declare the loss of Swordfish as an unavoidable casualty of war and clear LCDR Smith of any fault or responsibility. In addition, notes of commendation are added to both Smith's and Haskins' files for their efforts in attempting to save the sub and crew. LCDR Smith is obviously relieved as he leaves the hearing.

“That just leaves one more thing to do”, he tells DJ as the exit the building.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 106
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/30/2012 3:36:48 AM   
vettim89


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9 March 1942, Norfolk, VA

There is a saying: to make an omelet you have gotta crack some eggs. The upgrade of USS Buck was proving that saying to be true. Before the new radar and K-guns could be installed, the old Y-guns had to be stripped from the ship and the RADAR mast rebuilt to accommodate the larger antenna. Work was proceeding according to schedule on both of those tasks. The ships deck was now a mess and the smell of acetylene filled the air. The roof of the after deck house was being repaired to cover the scars left by the now removed Y-gun fittings. The main mast was being reinforced so as to accept the additional weight of the new gear.

LT(jg) Greg Cummins was observing the work from the pier beside the destroyer. It was good to see all his work come to fruition. He was so tired of being cooped up at the Yard that he was beginning to worry about his own sanity. It did not lessen his desire to get to sea, but it was good to actually be around a warship. He had spent a lot time staring at blueprints, computing weights and balance with his slide rule, and writing notes and reports. It was nice to get away from the conceptual and deal with something concrete.

Still, being so near the Buck only awoke his desire to be at sea again. It had now been nearly two years since he had been to sea. His time aboard Warrington and Texas seems like a distant dream to him. He had not entered the USNA to sit at a desk and work on preparing ships so others could fight them. He was a trained combat officer. He came from a long line of combat officers. Enough was enough. He had to figure out a way to get on a ship even if it meant stowing away. He laughed at himself at that thought. So maybe stowing away wasn't an option, but there had to be a way. He thought that when he died and reached the Gates of Purgatory, he could just pass by.

“Sorry”, he thought, “I already performed my penance in the US Navy”

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 107
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/30/2012 11:36:55 PM   
vettim89


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10 March 1942, USS McCawley. North Atlantic

“Nothing like the smell of vomit first thing in the morning, eh, SGT Wilson”, Brett Castlebury remarks.

“My gawd, it does stink down here Lieutenant”, Wilson agrees.

The North Atlantic was not being cooperative for the Marines journey back to the States. It had blown up a late winter storm just for good measure. It had more than a year since most of the Marines on board had been at sea and current conditions were not making it easy for many of them. The Navy corpsman assigned to the unit were busy tending to the worst cases. In a few days most of them would get their “sea legs', but for some the entire journey would be pure misery.

“Think we'll make New York on time, sir”, Wilson asks

“Well, we are talking about the US Navy, SGT”, Castlebury quips. “If nothing else you can count on being on time barring extenuating circumstances.”

No one talks about what those circumstances might be. The German U-boats are everywhere it seems. Brett's men had seen evidence of their handiwork up close and personal. The thought of being trapped deep below decks in a sinking ship that had been torpedoed is terrorizing to most of the Marines. They feel powerless down here in the bowels of the ship. The storm is not making it any easier. The ship groans and shudders as it attacks each wave in succession. Occasionally a wave is taken abeam and the ship heels over in response. Most men do little more than try to sleep and sit quietly. There is nothing they can do but wait out the storm and the journey in general.

Castlebury moves among the men talking to them in small groups. He shares the story of how he became a Marine to lighten the mood. The men laugh and rib him a little about having a glass jaw. Normally, he wouldn't allow such familiarity with the enlisted men, but he feels the situation merits it. He doesn't share that he himself can’t wait to get off this goddamn boat and get his feet back on solid ground.

(Author's note: the 2nd BTN actually shipped back January 1942. I did not discover this until after I had written Castlebury's narrative of his experience on Iceland. Creative license employed. Sue me)

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 108
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/31/2012 3:18:44 AM   
vettim89


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11 March 1942, 250 NM south of Oahu

LT(jg) Hank Tyler is on patrol today in his PBY. ENS Page has the controls at this particular moment. Hank is peering through his binoculars surveying the sea surface. He nearly misses the submarine on his first scan through that section of ocean, but then the movement catches his eye.

“Surface contact, 10 o'clock”, he almost screams in excitement. “I'll take her now, Page.”

Hank grabs the yoke as he keeps his eyes fixed on his target. It is still nearly ten miles away but he is almost sure it is a submarine.

“Check the list again. Any friendlies due in today?”, he asks Page.

Hank banks the plane hard to the left as he reaches up and pushes the throttles forward to their stops.

“No, sir”, Page responds. “No friendly ships or subs are supposed to be here right now”

Tyler needs to be sure. Already there have been several incidents of near fratricide by US patrol aircraft attacking friend ships. He puts the PBY into a shallow dive. The plane shudders as it approaches 170 kts (its listed max speed). The sub is now obviously diving. Tyler finds it hard to believe they crew of the sub could have seen the PBY from this distance. They must have heard the engines. The subs decks are awash by the time he is within three NM. It is definitely a Japanese sub; Hank recognizes the shape from the recognition cards.

“Make sure the bombs are armed”, Hank say willing the PBY to close the distance.

“Aye, sir”, Page responds. “Ordnance is verified hot”.

The sub slips beneath the waves while the flying boat is still 2000 yards away. Hank aims for a point along it's last known course and release the two 500 lb bombs. The ocean explodes with their impact sending geysers of water 200 feet into the air.

“Any one see anything”, Tyler calls over the intercom.

He is answered by a chorus of negatives.

“Radio, raise Kano'ehe.”, Hank says dejectedly. “ Give them our position and tell them we unsuccessfully attacked an enemy submarine.”

Tyler circles the area for another 20 minutes before resuming his normal search pattern. The war is exactly 95 days old. LT(jg) Hank Tyler and his crew have finally seen the enemy.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 109
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 1/31/2012 5:55:51 PM   
vettim89


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12 March 1942, South of Suva, Fiji

The Japanese carriers are still in the Coral Sea and the US carriers are still parked near Fiji. The sightings coming in from Australia and New Guinea are confusing. The exact count of Japanese carriers is some where between six and eight. It appears Nimitz was right in his caution. The USN would have run right into a mismatch of anywhere from 1.5 to 2 to 1 in carrier strength. Considering some of the US squadrons were still flying inferior aircraft, the battle could very well have ended in a slaughter.

That doesn't mean the sailors and airmen aboard the four USN CVs are not frustrated. Caution is a luxury afforded admirals and generals but not men at this level of command. They want to fight. They want to test their mettle against the Japanese and prove to the world they are not invincible. No, there is no place for hesitancy among this group. Even a fraction of a second of doubt can mean the difference between living and dieing. There are beginning to wonder if they will ever get their chance to meet the IJN in battle.

LT(jg) James West is relaxing in the ready room after completing his PM patrol. Today, like every other day of the war, was completely uneventful. ENS Jaccard enters the room and slumps down in the chair next to West.

“Another day, another dollar, eh Lieutenant?”, Jaccard says.

“You see anything?”, James replies thoughtlessly.

“Nothing, nada, zilch”, the ensign answers

“Me too”, James continues. “Just miles and miles of miles and miles of empty ocean”.

“You think we ever are gonna do any real fighting, Lieutenant?”, Jaccard asks

“I don't think, I know”, West answers firmly. “This is just the warm up. The real show hasn't come yet”

“What is the real show?”, Jaccards asks. “I mean, Port Moresby is only about 500 NM from Australia. If that isn't the real show what is?”

James contemplates that for a moment.

“I be honest with you, Bob”, he says slowly. “I don't know. There is a line on some map somewhere that would tell you. If the Japs cross it, we will fight. I, unfortunately, do not have access to that map.”

“You mean ADM Nimitz didn't consult with you”, Jaccard jokes

“No, afraid not”, West smiles. “One clue might be where we are and what we are doing right now. I doubt we would risk an entire Infantry Division on a piece of land we were not willing to fight over.”

“Guess I really didn't think about it that way”, the ensign replies. “Well its something. At least now I can be sure of one thing: we will fight for Fiji.”

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 110
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/1/2012 5:19:42 AM   
vettim89


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13 March 1942, Norfolk, VA

Friday the 13th again. A cruel trick played by the calender every five or six years where there is a Friday the 13th two months in a row. LT(jg) Greg Cummins is not much for superstition but today might change that feeling. U-boats have sunk two merchant vessels practically within sight of the US East Coast today. Then, an acetylene torch caused a small fire to break out on USS Buck . Damage is minimal and repairs are already underway. Cummins hopes it will not delay the Buck's return to service. The need was never more obvious than on this bleak day.

Cummins is making his way back to the BOQ with Lieutenant Jones. Strict black out rules are in effect for the entire East Coast. There is no where else to spend the evening even if the two officers were so inclined. They meet in Gregs' room for a few minutes before hitting the sack.

“A little tonic for what ails you?”, Jones say offering Greg a glass as he pulls a bottle from under his coat.

“Hmm, contraband?”, Cummins jokes. “I may have to report you.”

“Well, join me and you can deal with the ethical quandary of turning us both in”, Jones says.

Its a good Kentucky Bourbon. Something that was non-existent just a few years ago due to prohibition. Greg is happy to find out the fine art of distilling whiskey had not been lost in the thirteen years it had been illegal in the US.

“What's it like, Jonesy?”, Greg asks. “Combat I mean. What's it like to be out there in a real shooting war?”

“I hate to disappoint you, Greg”, Jones answers, “but its not a lot different than before the war. You stand watch. You fill out paperwork. You ride the loafers. You do what you always have since we graduated from the Academy.”

“Except there is an enemy out there trying to kill you”, Greg inserts.

“True”, Jones continues, “but, especially when you are fighting U-boats, its more theoretical. You never really see them. Even when we have made a depth charge attack against a sound contact, its more like we are attacking the water than the enemy.”

“Doesn't the real danger of being hit by a torpedo make a difference?”, Cummins asks.

“Sure it does”, Jones says without hesitation. “You just can't let it alter the way you act. I'm not saying I'm not afraid. A man would be crazy not to be. Its just that there isn't really anything you can do about it; so, why worry.”

“Kind of a cavalier attitude, don't you think Jonesy?”, Greg says.

“Maybe so”, he answers, “but I guess I just have to believe its not gonna be me when the time comes. A man could drive himself crazy if he dwells on it too much”.

Greg is unsure. Yes, spending too much time worrying about saving your own skin is probably not a good thing, especially for an officer. He appreciates his classmate's sunny outlook but cannot accept it at it's face. A good officer is not a coward, but he is also prepared for every eventuality. Its his duty to the Navy and his men. Greg's analytical mind just cannot wrap itself around discounting any possibility. Even if that includes his own demise.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 111
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/2/2012 1:11:00 AM   
vettim89


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14 March 1942, Fremantle, Australia

The remaining crew of USS Swordfish have gathered atop Arthur's Head above the port. Most will be shipping out in a few days assigned to other submarines. Today, however, they remain united as a crew for one last task. Even though Navy tradition says otherwise, all in attendance feel the time and place is appropriate considering the circumstances.

"Firing party, Present Arms", LCDR Smith orders.

The crew come to attention and salute.

“Petty Officer William Timmons, Torpedoman Michael Smith, Seaman Robert Green, Seaman Douglas Delorenzo”, Smith slowly calls off the names of the confirmed dead of Swordfish's crew.

"Firing party, Order Arms, Parade Rest", Smith orders.

The men all bow their heads as Smith prays. What each man's thoughts are at the moment is between him and his maker. Many of the crew are not particularly religious men, but on this day and in this place they all find themselves dealing with their own mortality and their final disposition whatever that might be.

“... and so we commit these men to the depths and Your eternal care, Heavenly Father. Amen”, Smith concludes

"Firing party, Attention. Fire three volleys", Smith commands. "Ready, aim, fire; aim, fire; aim, fire." Seven sailors armed with Springfield rifles they had managed to dig up fire with each call from the skipper.

It had taken some searching but DJ was able to find a sailor from Searaven who was a bugler. He was the only man in attendance not from Swordfish's crew. He now slowly played Taps as the crew remained at attention.

"Firing party, Order Arms, Parade Rest", Smith again orders.

The crew all looks at Smith. The service is familiar to most but the circumstances give it an odd feel. Committing men to the deep when they have already been so for more than a month does seem superfluous, but at the same time like the right thing to do.

“Gentlemen, it has been an honor serving with you”, Smith says almost overcome. “I trust that each and every one of you will remember this day. It is my expectation that each of you will do your part to assure that our brothers did not die in vain.”

“Attention”, Smith says. “Dismissed”

The bugler plays Retreat and the crew of USS Swordfish (SS-193) ceases to exist as a unit.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 112
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/2/2012 4:48:17 AM   
vettim89


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15 March 1942, Kane'ohe NAS, Oahu

Once again VP-51 is stood down in anticipation of another move. The men are joking that they are becoming the US Navy's equivalent of a band of Gypsies. Never staying in one place long enough to put down any roots. As before, CDR Underwood insists that every aircraft be in as close to perfect condition as possible before the move. This trip will make the move from San Francisco to Oahu seem like a walk around the block.

LT(jg) Hank Tyler is with Judd Stephens as they supervise the overhaul of one of their PBY's engines. The US Navy may consider the flying boat it's property but as far as the two men are concerned the bird belongs to them. PBY #08277 is about a year and a half old now. She has flown almost twenty combat missions over the Atlantic and Pacific to this point. Adding in training missions and ferrying, the bird has just under 500 hours on her. In other words, she is just now getting “broken in”.

“You know where we are heading, Lieutenant?”, Judd asks.

“I have a pretty good idea, but I can't say just yet”, Hank replies.

“Awww, c'mon Lieutenant”, Stephens prods, “don't go all “officery” on me now. I thought I trained you better than that”

“Trained?”, Hank ask incredulously. “I thought you worked for me.”

“There ya go being all “officery” agin,” Judd responds.

Hank laughs.

“I won't tell no one, Scout's honor”, Judd offers.

“I know you wouldn't mean to but you might just share it with one other person – some one you trust”, Tyler says. “Then that persons tells just one other person who he trusts and before you know it, the whole units knows. I know it seems stupid to be so secretive but things are different in war”

They are interrupted as PO1C Lucas runs up.

“Hey, Judd”, he says. “You hear? We're heading to Fiji”

“Yeah, I know”, Judd answers. “Now git you ass back to work”

“You knew?”, Hank asks with a raised eyebrow.

“Y'all should know by now, Lieutenant”, Stephens says. “Nothing gits by me. I was just seeing if I could git ya to spill the beans.”

“Really?”, Tyler says. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

“Oh, you didn't disappoint me, Lieutenant”, Judd says. “In fact I'm quite proud of you”

“How's that?”, Hank asks

“You did what you was s'posed to do”, Judd answers. “Ya followed orders and kep it secret. You may make a decent officer yet and that's too bad.”

“Why too bad?”, Hank asks

“ 'Cause I like ya”, he answers, “and its akillin' me to be likin' an officer”.

“Don't feel too bad, Judd,” Tyler jokes, “they are far worse sins. I'll try not to be too “officery” around you”

“Thanks, Lieutenant”, Stephens says. “I 'preciate it. I really do”

With that the two men get back to work.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 113
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/2/2012 11:10:46 PM   
vettim89


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16 March 1942, Norfolk, VA

Things are right on schedule and LT(jg) Greg Cummins is pleased. The little incident a few days ago did not end up causing any significant delay. The new mast is completed and the RADAR is being installed. The first of the K-guns were already being fitted. If all proceeds as planned, Buck would be able to put back to sea in a mere five days. She has been joined now by USS Roe, the second Sims Class destroyer to put into Norfolk for upgrade. Having now nearly completed the first ship, the yard workers are making even better time getting Roe ready to be back in service with the Atlantic Fleet.

Greg is in the yard office talking with CPT Lawrence.

“Yes, sir”, Greg says into the receiver. “Buck should be good to go within a week. No significant problems other than the fire”

“Good job, Greg”, Lawrence's voice crackles through the receiver. “As soon as Buck is back in service, I need you back here. I have another project for you that I think you are going to like”

“Sounds intriguing”, Cummins says. “Any hints as to what it might be?”

“Can't say right now”, Lawrence answers, “but I can tell you it is going to be warmer where you are heading,”

“Well, like I said, Buck should be done in five to seven days”, Greg says. “I guess I'll find out what this all about after that.”

“Keep up the good work, Greg,” the Captain says. “I'll see you some time next week.”

Aye, sir”, Greg says as he hangs up the phone. “I wonder what that is all about.”

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 114
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/3/2012 4:51:24 AM   
vettim89


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17 March 1942, New York Harbor

“There she is!”, an excited CPL Riggs says peering through a port hole.

McCawley is slowly making her way up the Hudson to a birth on the Brooklyn side of the East River. The Marines are taking turns peering out the port holes at the Statue of Liberty. Many of the men are first or second generation Americans. The Lady welcomed the men and/or their families to the country. To some, their service in the Marines is specifically to express thanks to the country for welcoming them and their families with open arms. Even though its just a copper clad visage, the Statue means much more in the hearts of many of those aboard.

1StLT Brett Castlebury takes his turn getting a glimpse. The ship passes slowly up the channel with Liberty Island and then Ellis Island to the port and Governor’s Island to the starboard. The last few days of the trip were much smoother. Only a handful of the men in the Platoon still struggled with sea sickness. For those unlucky men, landfall can not come soon enough. Those that are smart enough know that there next sea voyage cannot be too far in their future. They will have to cross that bridge when they get to it. For now, the promise of solid ground beneath their feet is more than enough to brighten their moods.

“Well, sir,” MSGT Wilson asks, “where to now?”

“I suspect San Diego is our next stop”, Brett answers

“Makes sense,” Wilson says. “And then?”

“Dunno,” Brett says. “No one has told me for sure but scuttlebutt says the rest of the Division is some where in Hawaii.”

“I've heard that too,” the sergeant says. “I suspect that posting is likely temporary”

“Probably right,” Brett says. “If we are heading some where beyond there, I haven't caught wind of it.”

“Me neither,” Wilson says. “You think we are gonna get some leave?”

“One would hope, Sergeant,” he answers, “but as of yet I have not heard anything definite.”

“Well, here's hoping,” Wilson says as he holds up crossed fingers.

Normally leave would be a foregone conclusion. The 6th Marines had been deployed to Iceland for over fourteen months. The War had changed a lot of things. Brett would not be surprised if they went straight from the ship to a waiting train to take them to the West Coast. He didn't think it was fair to not give at least a short time for the men, but since when has the USMC been about fairness.

“Here's hoping,” he sysd to himself.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 115
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/3/2012 11:37:28 PM   
vettim89


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18 March 1942, ESE of Fiji

Commander Gallaher has gathered the entire squadron int the Ready Room. Every one is more than a bit anxious to hear what Enterprise's next assignment is going to be.

“Gentlemen,” he begins, “I have good news and bad news.”

Most of them already know Port Moresby has fallen. They hope that is the only bad news the Commander has for them.

“The bad news is Port Moresby has fallen to the Japanese,” he continues. There is almost an audible sigh.

“The good news is that as soon as we meet up with the oilers,” he says now with everyone's full attention, “we are heading home for repairs and upgrades.”

The room explodes with whoops and hollers.

“Can't say for sure where we are going,” the Commander continues, “but it most likely will be some where in the San Francisco Bay area. I'll try to keep you posted as the information becomes available.”

Enterprise has been at sea now for over four months. Even though she has not seen battle, she needs some down time to take care of those maintenance items that cannot be dealt with under steam. Unfortunately for the women of the Bay area, the crew also needs to take care of some “maintenance” issues that also cannot be dealt with while at sea.

LT(jg) James West cannot deny the idea of liberty has a nice ring to it. If nothing else, it will give him a break from the Three Bobs.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 116
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/4/2012 4:07:28 AM   
vettim89


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19 March 1942, Perth, Australia

LT(jg) DJ Haskins is making his way through the streets of Perth this morning. He is hoping he will finally found out what his new billet will be. LCDR Smith left two days ago for the Australian East Coast. From there he is heading back to the States to brief ADM Lockwood's staff on Swordfish's experiences. The rest of the crew had already been assigned to other submarines operating out of Perth. DJ was the odd man out at this point and didn't like it at all. He has a strong desire to prove himself once again. Even though the loss of Swordfish was not his doing, he still somehow feels like it is a blot on his career.

He makes his way to the HQ building for Sub Force Southwest Pacific Areas (Asiatic Fleet is no more). Its the same building he had been to when he first arrived in Perth. Entering the building from the brightly lit street, he takes a moment to let his eyes adjust to the diminished light. He makes his way over to the desk of the same LCDR he spoke to two weeks ago. DJ has found out the man's name is LCDR Gary Rybka, and that his is pretty much despised by most of the officers assigned to the command.

“LCDR Rybka”, DJ says. “LT(jg) Daniel Haskins reporting. My current billet is SubForce SWPA. I am here to find out if you have a new billet for me”

“Ah, Haskins,” Rybka says shuffling through a stack of papers. “Yes, here we go. Take this to CPT Reynolds over there”

He hands DJ a large manila envelope and points to the Admiral's office without even looking up.

“Thank you, sir,” DJ salutes and turns away from the man. He is beginning to understand why everyone dislikes him. He walks across the building and announces himself to the CPO at the desk.

CPT Reynolds comes out and after exchanging salutes invites DJ into his office.

“Remain standing, Lieutenant Haskins,” Reynolds says rather formally.

DJ isn't sure what this is about but he feels himself stiffen. He thought the matter of Swordfish's loss was a settled matter , but the Captains tone concerned him. Without warning CDR Grayson and another officer Haskins does not know enter the room. Now he is really concerned.

“I wish we had more time to do this properly, but there is a war on in case you didn't hear, Haskins,” CPT Reynolds says. He lifts a piece of paper he had taken from the envelope DJ had given him.

“By order of the Secretary of the Navy, Lieutenant (junior grade) Daniel P. Haskins, Jr. is promoted to the temporary rank of Lieutenant”, the Captain says. “The rank to be made permanent pending the approval of the United States Senate.”

The Captain steps forward, removes the single silver bar from DJ's lapel and replaces it with a double silver bar. The Captain steps back with a smile on his face.

“Congratulations, Haskins,” he says

“Thank you, sir”, DJ says noticeably relieved. He salutes CPT Reynolds smartly.

The men all exchange handshakes and some strong pats on the back. CPT Reynolds then dismisses the others.

“Sit down, Lieutenant”, Reynolds says. “SS Shark suffered some serious damage up off Indochina. We had to send her over to Melbourne as that was the nearest dry dock space available. “

“I am assuming that Shark is my next billet,” DJ says.

“Well, that's the second matter we need to discuss,” Reynolds says. “There is no easy way to ask this so I will just cut to the chase. I need to know if you are ready to go back out. I am sure you have guessed that LCDR Smith's reassignment was in part because I judged he was not ready to take command of another boat just yet. I have known him for over ten years. He's a fine officer.”

“One of the best, Sir,” DJ interrupts.

“I admire your loyalty,” the Captain says, “but this isn't about LCDR Smith. Its about you. I need to know that you are ready before I send you back out.”

“Sir, I will not deny that losing Swordfish has been weighing on me,” DJ says. “ The hardest part to deal with is not knowing what happened to the remainder of the crew. I don't know what I can say to you to convince you I am ready to go back out. I don't know if this will make a difference but I want to go back out. I NEED to go back out. They only way I will be able to put it behind me is to get back into the war and do my best to make a difference.”

“That's all I needed to hear, Lieutenant,” Reynolds says. “Shark's XO has been promoted. He has been sent back to the States to take command of one the new subs. I need you to take over as XO of Shark. How do you feel about that?”

Now DJ knows why CPT Reynolds was pressing him. This wasn't just another billet. He was going to take over as second in command of one the Navy's submarines!

“If you think I'm ready, Sir,” DJ replies. “I am good to go”

“I know you're ready, Lieutenant,” Reynolds says. “You're an Academy grad. We don't have many of those in the Submarine Force. I think you are exactly what Shark needs right now. They need a professional sailor on board to set the example they need to be an effective boat”

“I appreciate your confidence in me,” Haskins say.

“LCDR Rybka will get you on the next train heading east,” Reynolds says. He stands and DJ does likewise. They exchange salutes. The Captain offers his hand.

“Good luck, Haskins,” he says. “Give those Jap bastards hell the next time you see them.”

“Thank you, Sir,” DJ says returning the handshake.

(So our first "Dog" makes O-3. By tradition, they would be eligible for promotion in June which would mark six years in service. I figure the war would accelerate most of these promotions at least a little. Having been the only "dog" to see real combat, I thought DJ would be the obvious first choice)

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 117
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/4/2012 5:33:42 PM   
vettim89


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20 March 1942, Pago Pago, Samoa

LT(jg) Hank Tyler was never more grateful for CDR Underwood's excellent navigation skills as he was right now. The squadron had left Kano'ehe on the 18th and flew to Christmas Island. This morning they left that base and headed southwest. The trip was nearly 1500 NM over featureless ocean. No landmarks. No friendly bases. Only dead reckoning and celestial navigation to guide their way. It was on an over ocean flight just like this one that Amelia Earhart, one of the finest pilots in the world, got lost and disappeared just three years ago. To a man, they were all very much relieved when they caught sight of the island.

The pilots and aircrew all slowly pile out of their planes stiff from over ten hours of flight in a loud, vibrating flying boat that was short on creature comforts. Hank only has one thought on his mind as he makes his way up the pier: where's the head? He had needed to go now for over three hours. While the crews of PBYs often had to answer nature's call in flight, it was neither comfortable nor private. The crude privy the engineers had built seemed like the Taj Mahal when faced with the other options

With that taken care of, Hank surveys his surroundings. Most of the island is covered in dense tropical vegetation. The Navy was carving out a base here on the southern coast. At this point, it is little more than an outpost. It is nothing at all like the well developed facilities they had just left on Oahu. In fact, the American military presence has almost double the population of the island. Sounds of hammers falling and construction equipment fill the air. It won't be long before this becomes a major base.

VP-51 is only scheduled to stay here for a day. They will depart for their true destination the day after tomorrow. Hank wonders what awaits them at Suva.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 118
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/4/2012 7:16:16 PM   
vettim89


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21 March 1942, NE of Raratonga Island

“What a way to run a friggin' railroad”, ESN Stone says.

“Tell me about it”, ENS Jaccards adds

The Lexington and Enterprise groups had both been ordered home. Saratoga and Yorktown will stay in the South Pacific in case the Japanese make a move further south. The problem is there is only enough fuel in the replenishment group to refuel three out of the four carriers. Enterprise drew the short straw and is heading towards some place called Hiva Oa in French Polynesia. Supposedly fuel will be waiting there for her arrival. In the broad scheme of things it will only make the trip home a few days longer, but once you tell men they have liberty coming they get a little antsy.

“I bet ole Halsey is still steamed about not being allowed to go after those Jap carriers”, ENS Stone offers.

“Well, according to ADM West here, it was best we didn't,” Jaccard says.

Jaccard really didn't mean to challenge James' bravery, he was just trying to get his goat. The Three Bobs all sit in silence waiting to see if West will take up the challenge.

“Foolishly running to a battle he knows he will lose does not prove a man brave,” James says. “It only proves that he is a fool. As Falstaff said, The better part of valor is discretion.”

“Falstaff?” Stone says.

“Its Shakespeare, you dolt,” Carey says “Henry IV, Part I if my memory serves correct. Right, James?”

“Correct,” he answers “Perhaps that is too deep for present company. Maybe the tale Jean Sot would better illustrate the point.”

“Who's Jean Sot?” Jaccard asks falling right into it.

“No surprise a Yankee like you does not know the tale,” James jokes

“Are you going to enlighten us?” Carey asks.

“Seems only fair,” James says.

One day, Jean Sot's mother wanted to go to town.

"Now Jean," she said, "I want you to guard the door.

"Yes, Mama," Jean Sot agreed.

Jean's mother left for town. Jean waited and waited for her to get back. But she was gone a very long time. Jean got worried, and decided to look for her. But he remembered he had promised to guard the door. So Jean took the door off of its hinges and carried it on his back when he went to look for his mother.

Along the way, Jean Sot saw some robbers coming along the path, carrying a heavy sack of money. Jean Sot was frightened. He adjusted the door on his back as best as he could and climbed up a nearby tree to wait for the robbers to go by. But the robbers stopped underneath the tree! They sat down and began to count their money. The chief robber counted out the money for each man, saying: "This is for you, and this is for you, and this is for you."

"And that one's for me," Jean Sot cried. The robbers were startled. They looked around, but couldn't see anyone. The chief robber began counting again: "This is for you, and this is for you, and this is for you."

Again, Jean Sot said: "That one's for me!"

"Who is that?" called the chief robber. "I will wring his fool neck!"

Jean Sot was so scared he began to shake, and the door fell off his back and down onto the robbers.

"The Devil is throwing doors at us!" shouted one of the robbers. They were so frightened that all the robbers ran away without their money. So Jean Sot climbed down the tree, picked up the money and the door and took them home to his mother.


“Are you suggesting we start throwing doors at the Jap,” Jaccard quips.

“No, merely pointing out that doing what you are told and minding you business can sometimes reap unexpected rewards,” James says.

“Like Shore leave,” Stone adds.

James just shakes his head.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 119
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 2/5/2012 1:32:02 AM   
vettim89


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22 March 1942, Saginaw, MI

Janet Castlebury is busy in the kitchen fixing Sunday dinner. Her husband Ed is in the living room fiddling with the radio. One of the tubes burnt out the day before and Ed had picked up a replacement at the hardware store. He has the back of the set opened up and is installing the new tube. Her daughter Mary is joining them with her husband and two sons. Mary's husband is a train dispatcher for the New York Central Railroad. His job was deemed too important to allow him to enter the service. Janet thinks it is probably for the best as she doesn't think Joe would make it as a soldier. He was a good man just a little too attached to his creature comforts. She hears a car door close and goes to the front door to let them in.

“Oh my,” she says as she grasps her chest and begins to cry.

“Hello, to you too Mother,” 1st LT Brett Castlebury says smiling. He steps into the house and drops his duffel bag. His mother grabs him and practically squeezes the breath out of him.

“You could have called or sent a telegram or something,” she says through her tears.

“Hiya, Pops,” Brett says to his father who has now joined them. “I wanted it to be a surprise.”

His mother releases him and tries to collect herself. His father places both hands on his shoulders and squeezes them firmly.

“Good to see you, son,” he says with a slight crack in his voice. “How long you home for?”

“Just for a few days,” Brett says. “I have to be in San Diego no latter than the 31st.”

“San Diego, eh,” his father says. “Sounds like you are heading to the Pacific to fight the Japs.”

“That seems to be the plan,” he says almost feeling like he is leaking intelligence.

The door opens and his sister and family come parading in. The scene repeats itself once again with Mary doing the squeezing this time. Her youngest son, Jack, is now a toddler. He was born just before Brett had shipped off to Iceland. Her oldest son, Billy, was now almost four. He especially was excited to see his uncle, the Marine.

The family sits down to dinner. Brett's mother fusses over him like a cackling hen. It would almost be annoying if he hadn't been away for so long. He shares stories of his time in Iceland, of Jarl Jonsen, and the whale. There are all duly impressed when he retells the story of the “hurricane”. They ask him about the country and it's people. He obliges them as best he can. They relay stories of life in the States during the War, of rationing, and black outs. Mary talks of the boys and funny stories of their escapades over the past eighteen months.

Mary, Joe, and the boys stay until almost six o'clock. Brett's mother makes a light supper for he and his father. They remain at the kitchen table for hours talking about nothing in particular. One subject that is not discussed much is the War and it's progress. Janet forbids it. She does not want to spoil the homecoming with such talk. There will be time enough for that. She leaves Ed and Brett to talk for a few minutes while she fixes Brett's bed up for him. They retire around nine o'clock. Brett walks up the steps and enters his room. It looks exactly the same as it did when he left ten years ago. He slips into bed and pulls the down comforter up around his shoulders. He doubts the King of England has a more comfortable bed this night as he drifts off to sleep.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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