Posted tagged ‘Marine Corps’

8 Wheelin’ Through ‘Stan

June 13, 2010

The LAV-25 is an eight-wheeled amphibious infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) used by the United States Marine Corps. It was built by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada and is based on the Swiss MOWAG Piranha I 8×8 family of armored fighting vehicles.

 

 Design

Powered by a 6V53T Detroit Diesel turbo-charged engine, they are 4-wheel drive (rear wheels) transferable to 8-wheel drive. These vehicles are also amphibious, meaning they have the ability to “swim”, but are limited to non-surf bodies of water (no oceans). While engaged in amphibious operations, the maximum speed is approximately 12 km/h using equipped propellers. The current SLEP (Service Life Extension Program) modifications will hinder/eliminate amphibious ops.

Typical land speeds are approximately 100 km/h (62.5 mph) in either 4 or 8-wheel drive, however fuel economy decreases in 8-wheel drive. The vehicles operate on diesel fuel, and require 3 weights of lubricants to remain in running condition. They are equipped with a M242 Bushmaster 25 mm cannon, two M240 7.62 mm machine guns, and two 4-barrel grenade launchers usually loaded with smoke canisters and located on the forward left and right sides of the turret. The crew is three; Vehicle commander (VC), gunner and driver, and four passengers (scouts) with combat gear.The vehicle has been through many changes through the late 1990s. The new modification or SLEP has changed the LAV-25 to the LAV-25A1 standard and has been completely fielded.

 Variants

 LAV-25
Standard LAV fitted with a turret with 360° traverse, armed with an M242 25 mm chain gun with 420 rounds of 25 mm ammunition, both M791 APDS-T( Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot-Tracer) and M792 HEI-T (High Explosive Incendiary-Tracer), of which half is ready for use. 150 rounds are ready for use from one stowage bin, 60 from another stowage bin, the other 210 rounds are stowed elsewhere in the vehicle. A coaxial M240C machine gun is mounted alongside the M242, and a pintle mounted M240 G/B machine gun, with 1,320 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, is mounted on the turret roof. The Canadian Army uses this chassis for its Coyote Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle.

 LAV-25A1

 The vehicle has been through many changes through the late 1990s. The new modification or SLEP has changed the LAV-25 to the LAV-25A1 standard and has been completely fielded.

 

 

 

 

 

LAV-25A2


Funding has been approved for continued upgrades to the LAV family to bring them up to the LAV-A2 standard. Phase I improvements include increased external and internal ballistic armor upgrades, improved fire suppression equipment, and upgrading the vehicle’s suspension to the Generation II standard. Phase II upgrades include replacing the turret hydraulics with an electric drive system and replacing the thermal sight with an improved model incorporating a laser range finder.

To reflect the improved significant survivability and capability enhancements occurring today, the LAV is being renamed as the LAV-A2. The LAV-A2 project involved developing and installing an internal and external ballistic protection upgrade package for the Light Armored Vehicles, an automatic fire suppression system for the interior of the vehicle and a Generation II suspension upgrade to support the added weight of the new armor. The suspension upgrade includes new struts/steering knuckles, torsion bars, shocks and mounts and drive shaft. The three-kit armor system provides the LAV with additional survivability against improvised explosive devices (IED) and direct-fire kinetic energy weapons.

LAV-A2 includes the AN/PAS-13 Improved Thermal Sight System (ITSS) developed by Raytheon of McKinney, TX, scheduled for fielding by the end of 2007. The ITSS provides the gunner and commander with thermal images, an eye-safe laser range finder, a fire-control solution and far-target location target grid information.

The new armor will provide 14.5 mm armor-piercing all around protection for both the crew and passengers of the vehicle, along with anti-spall lining in the vehicle to further protect the crew. It will consist of the same protection as the US Army’s Stryker.

 Derivatives

LAV-AT (Anti-Tank)


LAV fitted with an Emerson 901A1 TOW-2 ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) launcher, the same turret that was fitted on the M901 ITV (Improved TOW Vehicle). It is also armed with a pintle mounted M240E1 machine gun. It carries a total of 16 TOW missiles, and 1,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.

LAV-M (Mortar)

LAV fitted with opening doors on the top, inside it is fitted with an 81mm M252 mortar, with 360° traverse, and a pintle mounted M240E1 machine gun. It carries 99 81mm mortar shells, and 1,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.

 LAV-AD (Air Defense)

LAV fitted with an electric turret mounting a 25 mm GAU-12 Equalizer gatling cannon, and two, four missile pods, which contain FIM-92 Stinger SAM (Surface-To-Air Missiles). It carries 990 rounds of 25 mm ammunition, and 16 FIM-92 Stinger missiles. This variant has been removed from service. A variant using the Mistral missile in place of Stingers was developed for the export market.

LAV-R (Recovery)

LAV fitted with a boom crane, and recovery winch, for use in recovery of vehicles, specifically other LAVs. It is armed with a pintle mounted M240 E1/G machine gun, and carries 1,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.

LAV-C2 (Command & Control)

LAV with a raised roof to accommodate several VHF, UHF and HF radios. It is armed with a pintle mounted M240 E1/G machine gun, and carries 1,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition. Generally referred to as the C2 (“C-square” or “C-two”).

LAV-LOG (Logistics)

LAV modified for use in a logistics role (e.g., cargo transport).

LAV-MEWSS (Mobile Electronic Warfare Support System)


LAV modified for use in an electronic warfare role. Specific details of this variant are classified.

LAV-EFSS (Expeditionary Fire Support System)


Proposed replacement for LAV-M, LAV fitted with provisions to use Dragon Fire, a 120mm recoil mortar system.

 

LAV-25

Type IFV 

Place of origin  Switzerland / Canada
Service history In service 1983-present
Specifications 

Weight 12.80 t (14.10 sh tn)
Length 6.39 m (20.96 ft)
Width 2.50 m (8.20 ft)
Height 2.69 m (8.83 ft)
Crew 3+6
Primary armament M242 Bushmaster 25 mm chain gun
Secondary armament Two FN MAG 7.62 mm machine guns, one mounted coaxially and one pintle mounted on the roof
Engine Detroit Diesel 6V53T 275 hp (205 kW)
Power/weight 19.5 hp/sh tn (16.0 kW/t)
Transmission Allison MT653
Suspension 8×8 wheeled
Operational range 660 km (410 mi)
Speed 100 km/h (62 mph)

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Development of Aerial Combat in World War II

May 30, 2010

Fighter development slowed between World War I and II, with the most significant change coming late in the period, when the classic World War I type machines started to give way to metal monocoque or semi-monocoque monoplanes, with cantilever wing structures. Given limited defense budgets, air forces tended to be conservative in their aircraft purchases, and biplanes remained popular with pilots because of their agility. Designs such as the Gloster Gladiator, Fiat CR.42, and Polikarpov I-15 were common even in the late 1930s, and many were still in service as late as 1942. Up until the mid-1930s, the vast majority of fighter aircraft remained fabric-covered biplanes. Fighter armament eventually began to be mounted inside the wings, outside the arc of the propeller, though most designs retained two synchronized machine-guns above the engine (which were considered more accurate). Rifle-caliber guns were the norm, with .50 caliber machine guns and 20 mm cannons deemed “overkill.” Considering that many aircraft were constructed similarly to World War I designs (albeit with aluminum frames), it was not considered unreasonable to use World War I-style armament to counter them. There was insufficient aerial combat during most of the period to disprove this notion.

The rotary engine, popular during World War I, quickly disappeared, replaced chiefly by the stationary radial engine. Aircraft engines increased in power several-fold over the period, going from a typical 180 hp in the 1918 Fokker D.VII to 900 hp in the 1938 Curtiss P-36. The debate between the sleek in-line engines versus the more reliable radial models continued, with naval air forces preferring the radial engines, and land-based forces often choosing in-line units. Radial designs did not require a separate (and vulnerable) cooling system, but had increased drag. In-line engines often had a better power-to-weight ratio, but there were radial engines that kept working even after having suffered significant battle damage.

Some air forces experimented with “heavy fighters” (called “destroyers” by the Germans). These were larger, usually a two- engine aircraft, sometimes adaptations of light or medium bomber types. Such designs typically had greater internal fuel capacity (thus longer range) and heavier armament than their single-engine counterparts. In combat, they proved ungainly and vulnerable to more nimble single-engine fighters.

The primary drive for fighter innovation, right up to the period of rapid rearmament in the late thirties, was not military budgets, but civilian aircraft races. Aircraft designed for these races pioneered innovations like streamlining and more powerful engines that would find their way into the fighters of World War II.

At the very end of the inter-war period came the Spanish Civil War. This was just the opportunity the German Luftwaffe, Italian Regia Aeronautica, and the Soviet Union’s Red Air Force needed to test their latest aircraft designs. Each party sent several aircraft to back their side in the conflict. In the dogfights over Spain, the latest Messerschmitt fighters (Bf 109) did well, as did the Soviet Polikarpov I-16. The German design, however, had considerable room for development and the lessons learned in Spain led to greatly improved models in World War II. The Russians, whose side lost in the conflict, nonetheless determined that their planes were sufficient for their immediate needs. I-16s were later slaughtered en masse by these improved German models in World War II, although they remained the most common Soviet front-line fighter until well into 1942. For their part, the Italians were satisfied with the performance of their Fiat CR.42 biplanes, and being short on funds, continued with this design even though it was obsolescent. The Spanish Civil War also provided an opportunity for updating fighter tactics. One of the innovations to result from the aerial warfare experience this conflict provided was the development of the “finger-four” formation by the German pilot Werner Mölders. Each fighter squadron (German: Staffel) was divided into several flights (Schwärme) of four aircraft. Each Schwarm was divided into two Rotten ,which was a pair of aircraft. Each Rotte was composed of a leader and a wingman. This flexible formation allowed the pilots to maintain greater situational awareness, and the two Rotte could split up at any time and attack on their own. The finger-four would become widely adopted as the fundamental tactical formation over the course of World War II.

Aerial combat formed an important part of World War II military doctrine. The ability of aircraft to locate, harass, and interdict ground forces was an instrumental part of the German combined-arms doctrine, and their inability to achieve air superiority over Britain made a German invasion unfeasible. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel noted the effect of airpower: “Anyone who has to fight, even with the most modern weapons, against an enemy in complete command of the air, fights like a savage against modern European troops, under the same handicaps and with the same chances of success.”

During the 1930s, two different streams of thought about air-to-air combat began to emerge, resulting in two different approaches to monoplane fighter development. In Japan and Italy especially, there continued to be a strong belief that lightly armed, highly maneuverable single-seat fighters would still play a primary role in air-to-air combat. Aircraft such as the Nakajima Ki-27, Nakajima Ki-43 and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero in Japan, and the Fiat G.50 and Macchi C.200 in Italy epitomized a generation of monoplanes designed to this concept.

The other stream of thought, which emerged primarily in Britain, Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States was the belief that the high speeds of modern combat aircraft and the g-forces imposed by aerial combat meant that dogfighting in the classic World War I sense would be impossible. Fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Supermarine Spitfire, the Yakovlev Yak-1 and the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk were all designed for high level speeds and a good rate of climb. Good maneuverability was desirable, but it was not the primary objective.

The 1939 Soviet-Japanese Battle of Khalkhyn Gol and the initial German invasion of Poland that same year were too brief to provide much feedback to the participants for further evolution of their respective fighter doctrines. During the Winter War, the greatly outnumbered Finnish Air Force, which had adopted the German finger-four formation, bloodied the noses of Russia’s Red Air Force, which relied on the less effective tactic of a three-aircraft delta formation.

European theater (Western Front)

The Battle of France, however, gave the Germans ample opportunity to prove they had mastered the lessons learned from their experiences in the Spanish Civil War. The Luftwaffe, with more combat-experience pilots and the battle-tested Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter operating in the flexible finger-four formation, proved superior to its British and French contemporaries relying on the close, three-fighter “vic” (or “V”) and other formations, despite their flying fighters with comparable maneuver performance.

The Battle of Britain was the first major military campaign to be fought entirely by air forces, and it offered further lessons for both sides. Foremost was the value of radar for detecting and tracking enemy aircraft formations, which allowed quick concentration of fighters to intercept them farther from their targets. As a defensive measure, this ground-controlled interception (GCI) approach allowed the Royal Air Force (RAF) to carefully marshal its limited fighter force for maximum effectiveness. At times, the RAF’s Fighter Command achieved interception rates greater than 80%.

In the summer of 1940, then Flight Lieutenant Adolph Malan introduced a variation of the German formation that he called the “fours in line astern”, which spread into more general use throughout Fighter Command. In 1941, Squadron Leader Douglas Bader adopted the “finger-four” formation itself, giving it its English-language name.

The Battle of Britain also revealed inadequacies of extant tactical fighters when used for long-range strategic attacks. The twin-engine heavy fighter concept was revealed as a failed concept as the Luftwaffe’s heavily armed but poorly maneuverable Messerschmitt Bf 110s proved highly vulnerable to nimble Hurricanes and Spitfires; the Bf 110s were subsequently relegated to night fighter and fighter-bomber roles for which they proved better-suited. Furthermore, the Luftwaffe’s Bf 109s, operating near the limits of their range, lacked endurance for prolonged dogfighting over Britain. When bomber losses induced Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring to assign most fighters to close-in escort duties, forcing them to fly and maneuver at reduced speeds, German fighter effectiveness fell and losses rose.

The Allies themselves, however, would not learn this latter lesson until they sustained heavy bomber losses of their own during daylight raids against Germany. Despite the early assertions of strategic bombing advocates that “the bomber will always get through”, even heavily armed U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) bombers like the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator suffered such high losses to German fighters (such as the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 “bomber destroyer”) and flak (AAA) that – following the second raid on Schweinfurt in August 1943 – the U.S. Eighth Air Force was forced to suspend unescorted bombing missions into Germany until longer-range fighters became available for escort. These would appear in the form of Lockheed P-38 Lightnings, Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and North American P-51 Mustangs. The use of drop tanks also became common, which further made the heavy twin-engine fighter designs redundant, as single-engine fighters could now cover a similar distance. Extra fuel was carried in lightweight aluminum tanks below the aircraft, and the tanks were discarded when empty. Such innovations allowed American fighters to range over Germany and Japan by 1944.

As the war progressed, the growing numbers of these advanced, long-range fighters flown by pilots with increasing experience eventually overwhelmed their German opposition, despite the Luftwaffe’s introduction of technological innovations like jet- and rocket-powered interceptors. The steady attrition of experienced pilots forced the Germans to more frequently dip into their training pool to make up numbers when casualties surged. While new Allied airmen in Europe were well-trained, new Luftwaffe pilots were seldom able to get effective training – particularly by the summer of 1944, when Allied fighters often loitered around their airfields. Luftwaffe training flights were additionally hampered by the increasingly acute fuel shortages that began in April 1944.

European theater (Eastern Front)

On the Eastern Front, the strategic surprise of Operation Barbarossa demonstrated that Soviet air defense preparations were woefully inadequate, and the Great Purge rendered any lessons learned by the Red Air Force command from previous experience in Spain and Finland virtually useless. During the first few months of the invasion, Axis air forces were able to destroy large numbers of Red Air Force aircraft on the ground and in one-sided dogfights. However, by the winter of 1941–1942, the Red Air Force was able to put together a cohesive air defense of Moscow, successfully interdict attacks on Leningrad, and begin production of new aircraft types in the relocated semi-built factories in the Urals, Siberia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. These facilities produced more advanced monoplane fighters, such as the Yak-1, Yak-3, LaGG-3, and MiG-3, to wrest air superiority from the Luftwaffe. However, Soviet aircrew training was hasty in comparison to that provided to the Luftwaffe, so Soviet pilot losses continued to be disproportionate until a growing number of survivors were matched to more effective machines.

Beginning in 1942, significant numbers of British, and later U.S., fighter aircraft were also supplied to aid the Soviet war effort, with the Bell P-39 Airacobra proving particularly effective in the lower-altitude combat typical of the Eastern Front. Also from that time, the Eastern Front became the largest arena of fighter aircraft use in the world; fighters were used in all of the roles typical of the period, including close air support, interdiction, escort and interception roles. Some aircraft were armed with weapons as large as 45 mm cannon (particularly for attacking enemy armored vehicles), and the Germans began installing additional smaller cannons in under-wing pods to assist with ground-attack missions.

Pacific theatre

In the Pacific Theater, the experienced Japanese used their latest Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” to clear the skies of all opposition. Allied air forces – often flying obsolete aircraft, as the Japanese were not deemed as dangerous as the Germans – were caught off-guard and driven back until the Japanese became overextended. While the Japanese entered the war with a cadre of superbly trained airmen, they were never able to adequately replace their losses with pilots of the same quality, resulting in zero leave for experienced pilots and sending pilots with minimal skill into battle, while the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and U.S. schools produced thousands of competent airmen, compared to hundred the Japanese graduated a year before the war. Japanese fighter planes were also optimized for agility and range, and in time Allied airmen developed tactics that made better use of the superior armament and protection in their Grumman F4F Wildcats and Curtiss P-40s. From mid-1942, newer Allied fighter models were faster (Wildcat was 13 mph slower than the Zero, but the Warhawk was 29 mph faster) and better-armed than the Japanese fighters. Improved tactics such as the Thach weave helped counter the more agile Zeros and Nakajima Ki-43 ‘Oscars’. Japanese industry was not up to the task of mass-producing fighter designs equal to the latest Western models, and Japanese fighters had been largely driven from the skies by mid-1944.

Technological innovations

Piston-engine power increased considerably during the war. The Curtiss P-36 Hawk had a 900 hp (670 kW) radial engine but was soon redesigned as the P-40 Warhawk with a 1100 hp (820 kW) in-line engine. By 1943, the latest P-40N had a 1300 hp (970 kW) Allison engine. At war’s end, the German Focke-Wulf Ta 152 interceptor could achieve 2050 hp (1530 kW) with an MW-50 (methanol-water injection) supercharger and the American P-51H Mustang fitted with the Packard V-1650-9 could achieve 2218 hp (1650 kW) under war emergency power. The Spitfire Mk I of 1939 was powered by a 1030 hp (770 kW) Merlin II; its 1945 successor, the Spitfire F.Mk 21, was equipped with the 2035 hp (1520 kW) Griffon 61. Likewise, the radial engines favored for many fighters also grew from 1,100 hp (820 kW) to as much as 2090 hp (770 kW) during the same timeframe.

The first turbojet-powered fighter designs became operational in 1944, and clearly outperformed their piston-engined counterparts. New designs such as the Messerschmitt Me 262 and Gloster Meteor demonstrated the effectiveness of the new propulsion system. (Rocket-powered interceptors – most notable the Messerschmitt Me 163 – appeared at the same time, but proved less effective.) Many of these fighters could do over 660 km/h in level flight, and were fast enough in a dive that they started encountering the transonic buffeting experienced near the speed of sound; such turbulence occasionally resulted in a jet breaking up in flight due to the heavy load placed on an aircraft near the so-called “sound barrier”. Dive brakes were added to jet fighters late in World War II to minimize these problems and restore control to pilots.

More powerful armament became a priority early in the war, once it became apparent that newer stressed-skin monoplane fighters could not be easily shot down with rifle-caliber machine guns. The Germans’ experiences in the Spanish Civil War led them to put 20 mm cannons on their fighters. The British soon followed suit, putting cannons in the wings of their Hurricanes and Spitfires. The Americans, lacking a native cannon design, instead chose to place multiple .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns on their fighters. Armaments continued to increase over the course of the war, with the German Me 262 jet having four 30 mm cannons in the nose. Cannons fired explosive shells, and could blast a hole in an enemy aircraft rather than relying on kinetic energy from a solid bullet striking a critical subsystem (fuel line, hydraulics, control cable, pilot, etc.). A debate existed over the merits of high rate-of-fire machine guns versus slower-firing, but more devastating, cannon.

With the increasing need for close air support on the battlefield, fighters were increasingly fitted with bomb racks and used as fighter-bombers. Some designs, such as the German Fw 190, proved extremely capable in this role – though the designer Kurt Tank had designed it as a pure interceptor. While carrying air-to-surface ordnance such as bombs or rockets beneath the aircraft’s wing, its maneuverability is decreased because of lessened lift and increased drag, but once the ordnance is delivered (or jettisoned), the aircraft is again a fully capable fighter aircraft. By their flexible nature, fighter-bombers offer the command staff the freedom to assign a particular air group to air superiority or ground-attack missions, as need requires.

Rapid technology advances in radar, which had been invented shortly prior to World War II, would permit their being fitted to some fighters, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 110, Bristol Beaufighter, de Havilland Mosquito, Grumman F6F Hellcat and Northrop P-61 Black Widow, to enable them to locate targets at night. The Germans developed several night-fighter types as they were under constant night bombardment by RAF Bomber Command. The British, who developed the first radar-equipped night fighters in 1940–1941, lost their technical lead to the Luftwaffe. Since the radar of the era was fairly primitive and difficult to use, larger two- or three-seat aircraft with dedicated radar operators were commonly adapted to this role.

My Memorial Day

May 29, 2010

It was pitch black outside and all I could hear was the crashing of the waves on Gold Beach. I closed my eyes, trying to hear the chatter of the machine guns as the spit out fire towards the growing waves of human flesh clawing their way forward.Opening my eyes again, I tried to imagine rows of landing craft rushing towards me. Yet all I could see was the lights of a French fishing trawler, lazily bouncing through the water.  It was 1987, and I was 13 years old. I had come to Europe that fall on my family’s version of the National Lampoon European Vacation (yes we did get caught in a traffic circle in Paris going 6 times around before exiting). Six countries in 14 days and roughly 2000 miles worth of driving. Although I have many “firsts” accomplished during this trip, the only thing I wanted to see was this span of beach.

If you are my age, or older, you’ll remember that our introductions to World War II, were through films made in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Tora, Tora, Tora…Sands of Iwo Jima…the Longest Day, were all done in black and white. Nothing was computer generated and the special effects were primitive.  The only thing I requested from my parents during this trip was to be taken to the Normandy Beaches.  I wanted to see what those thousands of soldiers saw on that fateful day of June 6th 1944. I started out at Gold beach and the next day I went to Omaha and Utah beaches. Standing on Omaha beach, I could only imagine the enormity of the task that those grunts went through.  The German pillboxes are empty but they still bore the signs of the intense fighting that took place. Shell markings and bullet holes still remain, along with a beached burnt out landing craft still there. I went to the National Cemetary nearby and although I didn’t see an old guy collapse crying near Capt. Miller’s grave (movie Saving Private Ryan), I will never forget the hundreds of rows of crosses and the eerily quiet sound I experienced.  I went to Arnhem and tried to figure out what they meant by a Bridge too Far.  Funny how, years later,I can understand the German being spoken in those movies without having to utilize the subtitles.

When I was 8 years old, I went to Pearl Harbor. There is a rule that states that persons younger than 6 could not go to the Arizona Memorial. I actually witnessed two groups of elderly gentlemen, one American, the other Japanese get into a heated argument and tussel while I stood there trying to imagine that there were over 1000 men entombed below me. I’ve been to the Bridge of the river Kwai (it’s a mile and half away from the original) and have even seen the British fortress in Singapore.  I’ve stood on the walls of Fort Macon thinking how absurd it was that they felt secure not thinking they could be flanked from the “land” side.  I stood on the earthen walls of Fort Fisher trying to imagine how it took the US Marines 4 tries to finally defeat the fort. I’ve even stood inside the Baltimore Harbor looking towards Fort McHenry and knowing that the British felt like fools for not being able to take it.

History. Most of you absolutely hated the subject in high school, and avoided it in college. A subject taught so watered down, you couldn’t tell me who was the US president after Abe Lincoln was assissinated BUT you could tell me how many seasons American Idol has been on and who won the 3rd one. History is often fueled by people’s passion and interpreted incorrectly the same way. For me history is simply the event. We all know that the twin towers in New York City were brought down. That is the event, it cannot be disputed. What cannot be agreed upon is, who did it.  Anyway, I feel I was just about to go on a tangent so let me get back to the subject.

Here are the cold hard facts. I was born in the United States.  I was born in Texas and raised in North Carolina. By default, making me a Southerner. I enlisted into the US Marine Corps at age 18.  Watching movies, reading books, and traveling to different historical landmarks has made me wholely appreciate the sacrifices of many generations of Americans that lived before me. You cannot step on places like Gettysburg and not feel the enormous sadness  of entire bloodlines being wiped out with one volley of 58 calibre musket fire. While at the same time knowing that as Americans, they fought and stood up for what they believed in. For me, that was enough. I felt that for a country to give “me” such liberties and freedoms, I should feel obligated to repay them, even if it meant my life.

I guess I had always wanted to be a Marine since I saw my uncle in his Dress Blues at age 4.  I said that would be me one day.  In high school, I latched onto the visiting Marine recruiters making sure that I wanted in real bad. I was a two sport athlete and ready for any challenges that lay ahead. Then Iraq invaded Kuwait in my senior year and it was on…This was my chance, go fight for my country and repay my blood debt.  It of course was not meant to be…It was over in 100 hours and I still had 4 months till graduation. My uncle was killed in an accident at Quantico, two days after I turned 18. I never looked back.  My mother cried on the telephone when she found out, my father was just pissed because he wanted me to go to college.  I bent a little and and did both. I made it through literally by the skin of my toenails and earned the coveted title Marine.

For me, 8 1/2 years was literally boring.  I was a Marine during the Clinton era. Not much going on and the only excitement was getting orders to Somalia.  I did however fulfill another promise.  My unit was based out of Raleigh North Carolina. A 330 man supply unit with nothing (really) to do during training weekends.  I got into a little trouble due to the monotony of it all and decided to be a better Marine by joining the color guard.  So every month, my little detail would go down to the capital(NC) area and participate in the POW/MIA ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial.  This ceremony is simply where participants would read off all the dead and missing Carolina natives from the Vietnam War. After years of being the port rifleman, I actually was promoted to the NCOIC of this ceremony. Other times we’d participate in parades throughout the region, including strangely enough a Cinco de Mayo parade. Marine Corps Balls were always my favorite and even events that had camera crews filming inches from your face.  Funerals were often taxing due to having to be stone faced yet compassionate towards the grieving families. For me though, it was an honor, being bestowed by strangers to allow me to help lay to rest, a warrior that went before me.  I remember every single funeral I did in those 8 1/2 years. I don’t remember every name or even one name. To me though, that was history.

I remember is high school how the school newspaper found out that I was pro Helms(Helms vs. Gantt race), pro war, and joining the Marine Corps after graduation.  I had countless people approaching me after the “sound byte” and berating me and chastising me for my opinions.  I never backed down and interestingly enough, 3 of my friends actually joined the Navy after graduation. Your are damn right I point that out everytime it comes up too. I am absolutely appalled at most Americans for their views on practically everyting.  During Desert Shield/Desert Storm we had “everyone” flying the American flag from their car antennae trying to “bury” the ghosts of Vietnam. As quickly as it appeared, the faux patriotism quickly disappeared with me constantly getting fussed out by parents ,when calling an applicant’s home  while on recruiting duty, because there was no way their son was going into the military. The one thing that annoys me to this day is someone finding out you were in the service and saying,” Well I was gonna join but (fill in the blank)….” It doesn’t make me respect you nor does it make me connect with you. If you are one of those types…just don’t do it. I was honorably discharged in 2000. Obviously the events of 9/11 happened. Afghanistan and Iraq now have US forces in them. There yet again was the reemergence of faux patriotism…instead of flags on cars, we had magnetic yellow ribbons. That sooned disappeared when it was popular to hate Bush and to hear people say,”I support the Troops, but don’t support the War.” Newsflash: Soldiers and Marines don’t like to hear this statement b/c in reality, you don’t support them at all. There are countless anti war protests with former soldiers and Marines (some in wearing their former uniform) taking place even today. Although these same individuals served their country, they’ve lost sight of what it meant to serve their country, choosing instead to say that their country “lied to them”.  This is not honoring your brother that has sacrificed and gone before you. You cannot mix politics and military service while in uniform.

I have friends that suffer from PTSD and are alcoholics due to what they’ve seen and been through. The thing is, they know the risks. Suicide rate is up high, there is no money to treat every case to PTSD at the VA. Barracks are in shambles. I knew Marines that were on food stamps and working at pizza delivery places after work, just to have some extra money. Yet peoples’ political passions are strong and their support for the military man, weak.

My whole point in this is, it’s another Memorial Day. When they play the National Anthem at whatever ballpark you are going to this weekend, take your hat off, shut up, and stand still for those 2 1/2 minutes. If you run into a veteran and are truly thankful for his service, give him a strong handshake and say thanks. Say a prayer to whatever God you worship and thank him for giving you ancestors that stood up and fought for that 93% lean beef patty your grilling out on the Weber. If you don’t know much about your own family, research it. You might find that your great great granddad made a stand at Little Round Top or shot down a Japanese fighter defending the USS Nevada during the attack on Pearl Harbor. I believe in God, County, the Corps. I believe in defending the Constituition of the United States. I believe in fighting for and upholding the rights of all “American” citizens, even when I don’t share their views. I made a difference. Those are who I will always remember on Memorial Day. All Gave Some, Some Gave All.
Semper Fi!

Cloning My Ghost

March 13, 2010

Sometimes when you see my artwork(print stuff), you’ll notice that it is a bit dated. Is it a fault of my own? Sure, I haven’t had a “real” art class since high school, and even then it was my sophmore year in ’89.  I did have art classes at the School of Communication Arts, however I don’t think drawing a nude model constitutes enhancing of my art skill. Anyway, not to get off on a sidebar and this first ever blog is not about that, I wanted to show you a new photoshop skill I learned last year and have been trying to improve on since. Ghosting or cloning ; the art of creating several images of one’s self in the same photograph. I was looking up tutorials on photoshop and I stumbled upon this and thought that it would be cool to try.

The first attempt: I was watching a Carolina football game and they were losing at that point so during halftime I put my digital camera on my daughter’s Playskool table and shot this. I tried to use an interactive style shot but the main problem was that I was wearing the same outfit. I just felt that I didn’t get the whole effect of what I was going for in this shot. It did take me 1/2 hour to take and edit this photo though.

The 2nd Attempt: This time I definitly made sure to make it look like I was wearing different clothes (except I saw later that I didn’t change shorts) Same set up on the table as before. I just could not figure out a good pose.

3rd Attempt: One of my better attempts at double cloning with interaction was this playstation bit. I made sure that I had completely different clothes on and used a prop. I don’t remember entirely but I think my wifey asked why all those clothes were in a pile in the living room when she got home.

 4th Attempt: This time I wanted to try and up the ante and do some overlapping, this was a little difficult for me since you had to get the depth right or it wouldn’t work. I did a few other double clonings but by far these four examples turned out the best.

 

SEMPER FI!