Skip to comments.USO Canteen FReeper Style....Aviation Ordnancemen Thank You.......July 3,2002
Posted on 07/03/2002 4:32:33 AM PDT by Snow Bunny
Inspect, maintain and repair aircraft mechanical and electrical armament/ordnance systems.
Service aircraft guns and accessories.
Stow, assemble, and load aviation ammunition including aerial mines and torpedoes.
Service releasing and launching devices.
Load supplementary munitions.
Assemble, test, and maintain air-launched guided missiles.
Supervise operation of aviation ordnance shops, armories and stowage facilities.
Possibly function as air crewmen in various types of aircraft.
For our Troops and supporters of the
Thank you for being a FReeper and for your wonderful support of our Military and our Veterans.
God Bless you.
At sea aboard USS George Washington, Jun. 30, 2002 Aviation Ordnancemen aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) unload bullets from an F-14 Tomcat assigned to the "Jolly Rogers" of Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103). Carriers, such as George Washington and her sister ships, allow the United States to bring air power where it's needed, when it's needed and for as long as it's needed without requiring any basing permission from another country. George Washington is based in Norfolk, Va., and is on a scheduled six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographers Mate Airman Jessica Davis. [020630-N-3986D-006] Jun. 30, 2002
At sea aboard USS John C. Stennis, Feb. 18, 2002 Aviation Ordnancemen from "Checkmates" of Fighter Squadron Two One One (VF-211) aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) complete installation of a GBU-12 500 pound laser-guided bomb on an F-14A Tomcat fighter aircraft. John C. Stennis and her embarked Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) are supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Quinton Jackson. [020218-N-8505J-735] Feb. 18, 2002
It was our normal Thursday morning business meeting at our real-estate office. No big deal. Before the meeting we hung around the bagel table, as usual, with our coffee. He stood aside, looking a little shy and awkward and very young, a new face in a room full of extroverted salespeople. An average looking guy, maybe 5 feet 8 inches. A clean-cut, sweet-faced kid. I went over to chat with him. Maybe he was a new salesman?
He said he was just back from Kabul, Afghanistan. A Marine. Our office (and a local school) had been supportive by sending letters to him and other troops, which he had posted on the American Embassy door in Kabul. He stood guard there for four months and was shot at daily.
He had come to our office to thank us for our support, for all the letters during those scary times. I couldn't believe my ears. He wanted to thank us? We should be thanking him. But how? How can I ever show him my appreciation?
At the end of the sales meeting, he stepped quietly forward, no incredible hulk. As a matter of fact, he looked for all the world 15 years old to me. (The older I get, the younger they look.)
This young Marine, this clean-faced boy, had no qualms stepping up to the plate and dodging bullets so that I might enjoy the freedom to live my peaceful life in the land of the free. No matter the risk. Suddenly the most stressful concerns of my life seemed as nothing, my complacency flew right out the window with his every word. Somewhere, somehow, he had taken the words honor, courage and commitment into his very soul and laid his life on the line daily for me and us. A man of principle. He wants to do it. Relishes it. And he came to thank us? For a few letters? I fought back the tears as he spoke so briefly and softly.
He walked forward to our manager and placed a properly folded American flag in his hands. It had flown over the Embassy. He said thanks again. You could hear a pin drop. As I looked around I saw red faces everywhere fighting back the tears.
In a heartbeat, my disillusionment with young people today quickly vanished. In ordinary homes, in ordinary towns, kids like him are growing up proud to be an American and willing to die for it. Wow. We'll frame the flag and put it in the lobby. He only came to my office once, for just a few minutes. But I realize I rubbed shoulders with greatness in the flesh and in the twinkling of an eye my life is forever changed. His name is Michael Mendez, a corporal in the USMC. We are a great nation. We know because the makings of it walked into my office that day.
Orange County Register, June 30, 2002
Golden Pen Award
Awesome find Linda! My sister's husband is an F18 pilot on the JFK. She's coming to see me tomorrow. Thanks for the great pictures. I'll show these to her.
I won't be around much again today. More cleaning. I'll BBL.
Have a great day!
By the morning of July 3, the Army of the Potomac was formed into a "fishhook" line firmly anchored on Cemetery Ridge. Fighting erupted on Culp's Hill early that morning when Union troops attacked Confederates who had taken a portion of the hill the night before. After six hours of intense fighting, the Union succeeded in driving off the southerners. With the loss of his advantage at Culp's Hill, General Lee decided to alter his strategy. Having already ordered his cavalry chief, JEB Stuart, to ride around the right of the Union position and attack the Union supply line, Lee decided to strike what he thought to be a weakened Union center. He issued orders for a massive bombardment of the center followed by an assault of 18,000 men, co-ordinated and commanded by his trusted corps commander, General James Longstreet. Longstreet's assault, better known today as "Pickett's Charge", would be Lee's last gamble at Gettysburg.
These fields are where the last Confederate attack of the battle, known as "Pickett's Charge", occurred. Almost one mile of open ground lay between Seminary Ridge in the distance, and Cemetery Ridge in the foreground. The day before this great charge, Confederate soldiers swarmed through the distant woods that line Seminary Ridge, moving artillery and infantry into position to prepare for the July 2 attack against the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. It was late on the second day of the battle that General Ambrose Wright's brigade advanced across this wide plain to strike Union troops centered around the Codori House on the Emmitsburg Road. Though initially successful, Wright's men could not penetrate the Union line and were thrown back. Soon after dawn on July 3, these fields and pastures were full of troops engaged in heavy skirmish fighting that lasted throughout the morning.
Promptly at 1 o'clock, two Confederate guns were fired to begin the artillery bombardment. Over 150 southern cannon replied, sending shot and shell into the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Colonel Edward P. Alexander recalled, "In another minute every gun was at work. The enemy were not slow in coming back at us, and the grand roar of nearly the whole artillery of both armies burst in on the silence, almost as suddenly as the full notes of an organ would fill a church. The enemy's position seemed to have broken out with guns everywhere and from Round Top to Cemetery Hill was blazing like a volcano. The air seemed full of missiles from every direction." For nearly two hours the deadly duel with Union cannoneers on Cemetery Ridge continued with no let up in the volume of shells or ear-splitting blasts. The cannonade was so loud and sound carried so well that it could be heard as far away as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a distance of 40 miles.
General James Longstreet was tasked with command of the infantry in the last great charge of the battle. General George Pickett's Division of Virginia soldiers, General Heth's Division (commanded by General J.J Pettigrew), and two brigades of General Pender's Division (commanded by General Isaac Trimble), approximately 12,000 infantrymen, would make the initial charge. The troops would be followed by reinforcements including General Cadmus Wilcox's Alabama brigade and Colonel David Lang's brigade of three Florida regiments. General Lee's last gamble for victory at Gettysburg now rested in the hands and hearts of these southern infantrymen, about to enter into one of the most desperate and famous charges in American history. After an hour and a half of cannonading, the Union guns fell silent, which was mistaken for a general withdrawal. Alexander scribbled a note to General Pickett: "For God's sake, come quick... come quick, or my ammunition won't let me support you properly." Pickett carried the message to General Longstreet, seated on a fence in Spangler's Woods near the location of the Virginia Monument. Sad and bitter, Longstreet could barely a nod a reply. The dashing Pickett rode off to order his men forward while Longstreet remained on his fence, preferring not to watch the disaster about to befall his troops.
"Up men and to your posts," ordered a joyous General Pickett. "Don't forget today that you are from Old Virginia!" His men cheered as they rushed into formation. "Before us lay bright fields and fair landscape," a Confederate staff officer remembered as the southern infantry stood in perfect order, prepared to cross the mile of open farmland. The huge formations moved forward, each regiment marked with the red cloth battle flags of the Army of Northern Virginia. This massive parade was suddenly rained upon by a shower of artillery shells as Union guns came back to life.
The Union position was not abandoned as some thought. Union artillery came to life, blasting the large formations with shell and canister- a tin can filled with iron balls that when fired acted like a giant shotgun, cutting large swaths through the close ranks. Officers dropped as sergeants and even privates took command. In the center of the column was Brig. General Lewis Armistead at the head of his brigade with his hat thrust upon his sword. Despite the terrible fire, the Confederates made their way up to "the Angle" at the Union center and halted. Pushing his way through the crowd, Armistead knew what had to be done. "Boys, we can't stay here!", he cried. "Give them the cold steel!"
Explosions ripped through the Confederate ranks. Officers waved swords and shouted above the noise for the men to close the gaps. Guided by their flags, the southerners continued on toward Cemetery Ridge.
This small grove or "copse" of trees had little or no significance prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, but on July 3, 1863, it was the focal point around which swept vicious hand-to-hand combat during the climax of "Pickett's Charge". The trees grow within a confined area known as "The Angle", named for the stone fence that bends to the west and then southward to border the small pasture where the original trees stood. It was behind this stonewall that Union troops were positioned during the battle. The title of "High Water Mark of the Rebellion" was bestowed upon the copse by John B. Bachelder, the first government historian of the Gettysburg battlefield, who realized its significance during a visit to the site with a veteran of General Pickett's Division. It was through Bachelder's influence that the "High Water Mark of the Rebellion Monument" was placed here and dedicated in 1892. The monument lists the commands of both armies that participated in Pickett's Charge. This grouping of trees marked a Confederate crest of the battle and the war. After Gettysburg, Lee's Army of Northern Virginia would never reach such a high point again.
Approximately 7,000 Union soldiers were positioned in the area of the Angle and adjacent to it, men of the Union Second Corps commanded on July 3rd by Brigadier General John Gibbon. Some expressed relief to be over the ordeal of the artillery bombardment as they gazed at the parade of southern infantry headed toward them. "Beautiful, gloriously beautiful did this vast array appear in the lovely little valley," observed one soldier. The southerners reached the Emmitsburg Road and began to leap over the stout fences. "The column pressed on," General Gibbon observed, "coming within musketry range without receiving immediately our fire, our men envincing a striking disposition to withhold it until it could be delivered with deadly effect."
The Union line suddenly came to life, pouring a dreadful fire of lead into the southern ranks. Within the acre of ground surrounding the clump of trees was the famed "Philadelphia Brigade", regiments raised in and around the city of Philadelphia, under the command of Brig. General Alexander Webb. Webb's men sent volley after volley into the mass of Confederates who pushed onward and, despite the intense fire, reached the stone wall. Congregating along the wall, Pickett's men intermingled with some from Pettigrew's command and all traded rifle shots across the bare space of 50 yards between them and some of Webb's men standing on the crest of the ridge. The last of Pickett's brigadiers, General Lewis Armistead, pushed his way through the crowd and led a charge over the wall. The fighting was brutal and at one point was hand to hand in the copse of trees. The last remaining Union batteries used double-shots of canister to blast away groups of southerners who ventured their way around the Yankees still holding the wall south of the trees. Without reinforcements or support, the Confederates could not hold the Angle and clump of trees. Those who could retreated to Seminary Ridge leaving behind their dead and wounded.
The High Water area is one of the most visited sites on the battlefield and has been the scene of countless reunions and ceremonies. Veterans of the Philadelphia Brigade and Pickett's Division returned to this site several times, grasping hands over the same stone wall that so many had died over during the battle. The reminders of the men who fought here and those that died live on in the granite and bronze monuments that stand within the Angle.
North of Pickett's Division, troops under Generals Pettigrew and Trimble reached the Emmitsburg Road to attack Union positions between Ziegler's Grove and the Angle. Following their red battle flags, groups of Confederates leapt the fences lining the road and forged ahead toward the stone wall behind which were aligned troops under General Alexander Hays. Hays had lined up his men in a solid mass behind the stone walls and fences, backed up by artillery.
Artillerymen had set up their guns at the edge of the woods, which also provided shade from the warm afternoon sun. The grove was the only tall stand of trees on this portion of Cemetery Ridge where the ridge took a sharp turn to the east to join into Cemetery Hill. Hays' men, with several regiments of the First Army Corps nearby, enjoyed a clear field of fire in three directions and had successfully kept Robert Rodes' division at bay during the second day of the battle and the morning of the 3rd.
A line of stone walls provided natural protection for the infantry regiments here and Hays' men used these strong walls for defensive positions on July 2 and 3. Rails than added height to the walls were taken down and piled on stop of the stones to add height for the men kneeling and standing behind them. During Pickett's Charge, the wall south of the Brian barn bristled with infantrymen who fired down at the Confederates crossing the Emmitsburg Road, approximately 200 feet away.
These Confederates were under the command of James Johnston Pettigrew and Isaac Trimble. Halted by the heavy musketry from Hays' line, the southerners also suffered the fire from Union batteries on west Cemetery Hill and in Ziegler's Grove. Though many soldiers halted in the road to shoot back, others followed their flag bearers over the fences and continued on toward the stonewall. Soldiers fell by the dozens, but the flags continued forward. General Pettigrew had just conferred with General Trimble near the road when both were severely wounded, Pettigrew in the hand and Trimble in the leg. No supports could be seen coming to their aid and a lone Union regiment, the 8th Ohio Infantry, swung into the southern left flank, sending a spattering of rifle fire down the road and hitting men who crouched there with deadly accuracy. The Confederate flags disappeared, fallen into the smoke, not rising again as bearers and supporters were killed or wounded. There was nothing left for Pettigrew to do but order a retreat.
General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia were stunned by the stark reality of the repulse. Over 15,000 men had stepped off Seminary Ridge in the attack. Only 6,000 returned.
General Meade arrived on the scene just as the last few shots echoed over the hills. Seeing the Confederates in retreat, the general waved his hat and shouted a hoarse "Hurrah!" as a Union band struck up "The Battle Cry of Freedom". General Meade knew that his army had given Lee a telling blow, but his had also suffered severely during the battle. Satisfied with the day's results, Meade decided to hold his commanding position and wait for Lee's next move. Apart from a skirmish on the southern flank of both armies, the Battle of Gettysburg had drawn to a bloody close.
Lee knew that he could no longer remain in Pennsylvania. Late that evening, he dictated orders for his army to withdraw from Gettysburg and begin the retreat back to Virginia. Storm clouds and a heavy rain that evening signaled the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, but the suffering was far from over.
All told, the cost of the Gettysburg Campaign was dreadful; 23,045 Union soldiers (24% of 95,369), and 27,528 Confederate soldiers (36% of 77,500) had been killed, wounded, or were missing.
The Battle of Gettysburg was an extremely important victory for the Army of the Potomac and ended Lee's invasion of the north. Yet the agony of the battle was felt in Pennsylvania for many months after. Approximately 22,000 wounded Union and Confederate soldiers filled churches, barns, and private homes.
We have gotten a letter, and a phone call since I last reported on Eric's boot camp experience, so I thought I'd give you a brief report.
He's one third of the way done, and says time is flying. Yesterday the whole squad had to run a mile, and they were told that the first 5 men in would get phone privileges tonight, and he said when he heard that, he had to win! He came in third, and called us last night! It was incredibly good to hear his voice, and his enthusiasm for what he was doing!
He's a little homesick, but says he tries not to think about home very much. He says he misses things like being able to jump in his car and go where he wants to, or just grabbing a can of pop when he wants to. He also said that you never realize what you have until you are away from it, and he thanked us for our love (OK, I cried a whole lot about that one!).
He loves the physical stuff, especially the obstacle course where he had to climb a wall with a rope. He also mentioned crawling around in wet sawdust as a fun activity (??). He's excited that they're going to learn hand-to-hand combat on Thursday, and will soon learn how to fire their M-16's (that's what he's been waiting for!).
He did say that because it was so hot today that they didn't do their PT outside......some humanity has obviously crept into the military! He also said that they would be marching up Misery and Agony hills (about 15K, I think), but they wouldn't be forced to run because some people had died doing it (good thinking).
The food, he says, is good.....they have chow 3 times a day, but he said he's never really full.......of course he's always eaten like a horse anyway (6'1", 155 lbs!), and with all the physical exertion, there would be no way to fill the boy up. They spend a whole lot of time cleaning, and a few days ago had to change from BDU's (Battle Dress Uniforms) to PT's (Physical Training) in 5 minutes, then line up, then change back to BDU's then line up, then change change back to PT's run upstairs and line up, then run downstairs, change back to BDU's and line up........he said he'd never worked up a sweat before changing clothes!
His Drill Sergeants (with one exception) have been 'awesome' (his word), and he hasn't been yelled at individually yet (who would yell at such a good boy anyway? LOL!)
He has been able to continue to witness to lots of the guys around him, and really feels as though he has grown spiritually because of this experience. He says he can feel all the prayer for him (thank you, friends!!!), and wants us to keep praying for the guys he's been able to share his faith with.
Praise the Lord for his faithfulness!!
Wonderful thread, Bunny, you did it again.
Gotta run, see you later.
If you aspire to become a prestigious and prosperous attorney, you naturally attend Yale or Harvard law school. Want a successful career in medicine? Consider Johns Hopkins. A future in motion pictures? Try New York Universitys film school, where Hollywoods top directors go.
And if you want to learn how to build the best bombs, which boom the loudest, you go to AFCOMAC the Air Forces Ammo University. Its the MIT of munitions; the Berkeley of bombs. AFCOMAC, short for the Air Force Combat Ammunition Center at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., just north of Sacramento, is an institution of higher learning where you literally get more bang for your buck. The school offers two courses the three-week combat ammunition planning and production course, and the two-day senior officer orientation course.
To gain admission to this college of kaboom, you need not hold honors as a high school valedictorian, score 1600 on your SATs, or hold a Phi Beta Kappa key, but dont expect to find any dunces in the classroom. Though, you might run across a few duds. To get accepted, you need membership in the society of ammo troops, not to be confused with weapons loaders, known as load toads in ammo circles, or with nuclear weapons technicians, maligned as mushroom mechanics. Of course, these other two vocations have their pet name for ammo BB stackers.
Ammo airmen technically called munitions systems specialists and classified under the specialty code 2W0X0 belong to a relatively small career field, only 6,200 or so strong. Their mission: handling, maintaining, building, delivering and accounting for conventional munitions used on aircraft.
We produce bombs to make smoking holes, because lets face it, an Air Force combat jet without bombs is just an unscheduled airliner, said Maj. Lee Rhino Levy, the centers commandant and 9th Munitions Squadron commander.
Bombs dont come straight from the factory, ready to drop on the enemy. On the contrary, munitions mechanics must install fuses, attach fins, install mounts for different aircraft configurations and laser guidance systems for smart bombs.
The Ammo Universitys official motto is To keep the peace, prepare for war! which may look professional on squadron stationery but doesnt sound so cool on T-shirts or bumper stickers. Ammo troops prefer the catchier, IYAAYAS, which means If you aint ammo, you aint spit (more or less).
Phi Blasta Kappa
The center began life in late 1984 after Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez assembled a Tiger Team to investigate ways to improve munitions production capabilities with the loss of experience after the Vietnam War. The team discovered that, among other problems, the munitions career field suffered from a lack of realism in its training. They found that many ammo troops never received hands-on instruction on assembling certain types of bombs, and in some cases, had never seen the ordnance theyd construct during contingencies and wartime. Hence, the center was born. The first students filed into the classroom in March 1986 at the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong, Calif. Then in summer 1993, the school moved to Beale to cut costs.
In the last three years, the center has become a real boomtown, erecting a new $6.3 million schoolhouse with five seminar rooms and four bays used for demonstrations and performance training. Adjacent to the facility, students bunk down in two new dormitories, while across base inside five munitions storage igloos, the center stockpiles $9.2 million worth of bombs and bullets. By using their own people to disassemble, repack and restore the munitions, the 9th saves more than $3 million annually.
The school accepts 70 students for each planning and production course with the classs composition and rank structure mirroring a deployable unit four company grade officers, one chief master sergeant, 10 senior noncommissioned officers and on down the line.
The shrapnel scholars spend the first two weeks of the basic course in the classroom, studying conventional munitions plan development and large-scale conventional ammunition production using mass munitions assembly techniques. The centers commandant compares the munitions plan to a football coachs playbook.
Its like the first 20 plays in a football game. It gets you through the first quarter, said Levy, the schools dean of detonations. If you dont have your playbook ready by the time the whistle blows, youre in trouble. And then when the opposition starts reading you well, you might have to throw the playbook away and adjust.
The course is mandatory for airmen to advance to their 7-skill level, and upon graduation, students earn five college credits. For the final exam, students participate in a week-long field exercise dubbed Iron Flag, giving new meaning to the term bombing an exam.
Iron Flag participants deploy to a bare-base environment, where they must execute their munitions plan then initiate and sustain combat munitions production. Iron Flag simulates the fog and friction of war, preparing Ammo troops for real-world contingencies like Operation Allied Force in the former Yugoslavia.
The advantage of the AFCOMAC experience is that if you screw up in this training environment, you learn from your mistakes and the mission doesnt suffer, plus you dont die, Levy said.
Saluting the frag
The classs goal is to make the frag, short for fragmentary order, (translation: build the required munitions for each sortie). Its no easy chore. Only 14 of the schools 97 classes have pulled it off. If you make the frag at AFCOMAC, it buys you bragging rights for the rest of your career, Levy said.
The ammo warriors spend about four days during Iron Flag jamming out iron for fighters like the F-16 and F-15E, then another day on bombers, like the B-52 and B-1, and as well as cross-servicing unique aircraft like the F-117 Nighthawk and A-10 Thunderbolt II.
Cranking out this many bombs is grueling, physical grunt work, and when the missions complete, these airmen wearily trudge home exhausted with calluses on their calluses, and arms and legs aching, looking like theyve just spent a hard day toiling in a coal mine.
Iron Flags tough and very demanding, especially for the young guys because theyre doing the bulk of the heavy work, said Master Sgt. Chuck Keisel, a student assigned to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Actually, its a lot more punishing than I expected. I was over in the sandbox during Desert Storm, and the ops tempo at the schoolhouse is much higher here than it was in wartime.
When we have to deploy, you cant beat this training. It teaches you to integrate with others and get the job done, Keisel said.
Theyre tasked by the centers cadre to build almost 1,500 munitions, a mix of GBUs (guided bomb units) or smart bombs, like the computer-controlled GBU-27 used on the F-117; cluster bomb units; and general purpose bombs, like the 2,000-pound Mk-84.
This fall the school will begin instruction in assembling the JDAM, the joint direct attack munition, which is the newest class of smart bombs employing a global positioning system to direct the bomb to the target without regard to cloud cover or poor visibility.
And, oh, by the way, theyre making real, live bombs. Theres no simulation.
Said Levy: Nothing gets your attention like live munitions. It gives our students a sense of realism and focus, and provides one-of-a-kind training.
To the schools credit, its never suffered an explosives accident in its history, and recently, it won the 1998 Air Force explosive safety award for direct-mission support. You can attribute that success to the squadrons safety philosophy.
Safety is everything period, Levy said. Theres nothing during peacetime worth getting killed over. The No. 1 goal of our squadron is everybody gets out of here alive.
During wartime, however, our enemies arent so lucky. Ammo troops say, We live so others may die. Now wouldnt that look good on a T-shirt?
Takes me back. There's nothing like basic to teach a person just what it takes to make a person happy. A cold coke and a candy bar and 10 mins. away from ti's yelling at you, that'll do it.