These are perspectives on three cruises. They are not intended as a guide or the ultimate source of reference concerning the 'way things go'. You're probably not going to like some of the material and you may doubt some of it. You may believe that it is meandering bullshit attempting to garner attention for something far less than what it actually is. Other bits of it you may enjoy, which is the end of what I am attempting to accomplish here.
Some time ago I watched a spot of television depicting the glory and the fine tradition involved in being in the Navy. The people were happy, they were well adjusted, they loved their jobs and their country. They didn't make mistakes and sacrificed without hesitation or a second thought. They believed with the fervor of a zealot in their leaders whom seemingly could make no mistake and do no wrong. It was like Top Gun, a pasty version of reality that at the time I honestly believed was what things were going to be like, what the people were going to be like.
It's not like that at all. We're not like that at all.
Disillusionment is a powerful thing to endure. Coupling it to a loss of innocence compounds the sense of frustration and self-hatred spawned by a thousand questions with no right or real answers. To quote Kurt Vonnegut: "So it goes."
Aircraft can fly for 150 hours before they have to go through what is called a Phase Inspection. This is mandated in gory detail by volumes one through five of the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (4790.2G) and countless standards derived from this tome. In six months, you can expect to pull between four and six phases. In between, are the hours of flights, maintenance and humanity that invariably accompany an SH-60B detachment to sea. We're not like Maverick. We aren't mythical supermen that eat bullets and shit gasoline for fun. We're human.
These stories are my own. They are truth according to my own perceptions. The places and people that I write about are real and the emotions are real. Sterile recording technology and a half-hour exposé don't capture to or do justice to six months of time. There is no peppy soundtrack, there is no catharsis, and there is no explanation to be offered. This is simply, my own phase.
Sequence Control Chart: A Timeline for Phase Maintenance.
The series of text essays covers an almost eight year period from when I enter the Navy and continuing until the end of a third detachment, which I am due to leave when checking out of the squadron in early September of 2001. The schedule for a det typically involves six months of work-ups, then six months of an actual deployment. The essays and content in chronological order run like this:
Enlist for first term, report to RTC San Diego for Basic Training. Beginnings of Manhattan Project worked up on paper while under leave. Originally entitled 'Children of the Bomb,' it is a much more personal perspective on my perceptions of nuclear weapons.
Reenlist after having spent three years as an Aviation Electronics Technician at HSL-41, on shore duty. Trial, Returning, Outgoing, and Gulf written in interim period.
Transfer from HSL-41 to HSL-49. HSL-49 Det 8I formed.
The conversation with Sarah from Rapid Uncontrollable Descent.
Party from One Night I Think.
HSL-49 Det 8I arrives in Japan, assigned to FFG-48 USS Vandegrift. Begins operations with JMSDF, in support of RIMPAC 98.
Riot in Unrecoverable Flight Regime. Pusan, South Korea.
North Korean missile test, FFG-48 USS Vandegrift and Det 8I
turned around in Okinawa and sent to area for operations. This makes up the bulk of the material in Rapid Uncontrollable Descent. On War written in response to stress and a need of an outlet.
HSL-49 Det 8I returns to San Diego and stood down immediately.
HSL-49 Det 8L formed. Some of the people that I was on 8I with were lumped into 8L, including the Chief.
Never Forget the Ghosts and Gone Beyond Reasonable.
Losing Oneself written while on work-up to Mazatlan, Mexico. Duty-Vans-a-Go-Go written concerning a trip to load out the ship.
HSL-49 Det 8L arrives in Japan. Assigned to DD-966, USS O'Brien.
HSL-49 Det 8L arrives Saipan. Free Slaves comes from this visit. This was actually a shorter essay from a cruise journal I kept, it was expanded upon a day or so after leaving.
I find my own sort of Albatross shortly before leaving for the boat. Do Not Shoot: Non-Combatant, Too Many Cigarettes and Not Enough Lung and Thailand trip.
HSL-49 Det 8L returns to San Diego and stood down immediately.
Yurei goes to Bahrain, meets up with HSL-49 Det 4 and the USS Shiloh. October 22, 2000 and November 28, 2000. The latter of the two (Point Less was the original title as listed below,) written after not being able to get a consistent straight answer out of anyone as to why exactly we were in the Gulf to begin with.
HSL-49 Det 4 outchops from 5th fleet and the Persian Gulf. Messages are flung about the ether with Yurei's name on it, and he is finally Under Orders.
HSL-49 Det 4 visits Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. January 22, 2001. January 23, 2001, January 25, 2001, January 30, 2001 and Manhattan Project written/finished in Sydney.
HSL-49 Det 4 returns San Diego. February 20, 2001, February 24, 2001 and March 7, 2001 written over returning home, not wanting to be there and the nature of having one's calculator break in the middle of an exam.
Phase cycle complete. Turn in the MRCs, complete the FCF brief and prep the bird for it's first turn. Long way home, think I may have found Sarah's ghost alive after all. Another death in the family on March 20, 2001.
Another gray face for your new war. I'd like to go home, but I am not sure where that is anymore.
Phase Deck: Applicable Maintenance Requirement Cards
Losing Oneself: Short cruise, southern California.
Rapid Uncontrollable Descent: Korea, first Japan trip.
Free Slaves: Saipan, second Japan trip.
Duty-Vans-a-Go-Go: 32nd St. Navy Base, San Diego prior to second Japan det.
One Night I Think: San Diego, prior to first Japan trip.
Gone Beyond Reasonable: Irvine, California prior to second Japan det.
Unrecoverable Flight Regime: Korea, first Japan det.
Never Forget the Ghosts: San Diego between first and second Japan dets.
Do Not Shoot: Non-Combatant: Pattaya Beach, Thailand second Japan det.
Too Many Cigarettes and Not Enough Lung: Pattaya Beach, Thailand second Japan det.
October 22, 2000: Originally titled "Heathrow Terminal Three." Beginning of the Persian Gulf cycle and assignment to detachment four.
November 28, 2000: Originally titled "Point Less." Persian Gulf cycle
Bright Sun: Persian Gulf cycle
January 7, 2001: Originally titled "Black Bag Head." Persian Gulf cycle and San Diego between the two Japan detachments.
January 11, 2001: Originally titled "Killers." Persian Gulf cycle
January 22, 2001: Originally titled "Life and Death." Persian Gulf cycle.
January 23, 2001: Originally titled "Requiem for a Cruise." Persian Gulf cycle.
January 25, 2001: Originally titled "What you doing?" Perisan Gulf Cycle.
January 30, 2001: Originally titled "Six Years Gone." Persian Gulf Cycle.
February 20, 2001: Originally titled "Homecoming." Persian Gulf cycle.
February 24, 2001: Originally titled "Static." San Diego, California post detachment Four and the end of the Persian Gulf cycle.
March 7, 2001: Originally titled "Flat Line LCD." San Diego, California post detachment Four.
Sarah's Ghost: San Diego, California post detachment four.
March 20, 2001: Originally titled "CNN Knew Then." San Diego, California post detachment Four.
Under Orders: Persian Gulf cycle Epilogue.
Albatross: NAF Atsugi, Sagamino, Japan during the second Japan det.
April 6, 2001: Originally titled "Doubting Technician." San Diego, California and post detachment Four.
Another gray face for your new war: changing times, changing missions. Same story.
Late For Work One Day
Far Side of This Earth
Martha Stewart Lady
Sitting and Waiting
a conversation with this, that, or the other god
Still Looking for Ends
These are included here simply because at some point I either plan on referring to the material or have referred to it already. Given that some of the colloquialisms used in the course of Phase Maintenance are specific to the Navy and to the LAMPS community, I elected to explain as much as possible of my world here. They are also personal and relay some of the world that I come from, some of the people that I know and other miscellanious interests.
JETDS: Joint Electronic Type Designation System
How to Permanently Repair Wire
Chronology of the U.S. Navy Involvement in the Persian Gulf War
Domestic Intelligence Collection Fundamentals
How to make a Ghillie Suit
How to Patch a Leaking/Broken Pipe
How to Construct and Use a Basic Hazardous Materials Spill Cleanup Kit
The Creepy Green Book: Detachment 8L Cruise Journal.
The Creepy Green Book (as named by Ziggy on the way back from Santa Cruz,) was the journal that I kept while on Detachment 8L. It is unedited. It is slightly acidic. It is cynical, unforgiving and exactly what was going through my head at the time.
If there is one thing that I would want my children (should I ever have any,) to read in order to understand what this time was like for their father, it would be this. With that in mind I dedicate the Creepy Green Book and the sum total of the content to sensei.
He asked me to read node for the ages. This is my story, this is my life. This is for everything and a sense of permanence.
Part One: Calming Actions in Hostile Waters, San Diego to Japan
Sarah's Ghost (6 October 1999, USS Valley Forge. Coast of southern California en route to San Francisco.)
1984 to Present (11 October 1999, Caffé Trieste. 1300 block of Grant St. San Francisco, CA.)
God vs. Schrodinger's Lost Cats (13 November 1999, Chowderhouse. Santa Cruz, California.) and (15 November
1999, Starbucks. 5th and Washington San Diego, California.)
Foggy Small Head (16 November 1999, Living Room. 59th and El Cajon Blvd. San Diego.)
Even a Doll Can Seem To Have a Soul (17 November 1999, Living Room Coffee. El Cajon and 59th, San Diego.)
Don Quixote Had His Windmills, I Have My Helicopters (18 November 1999, Living Room. 59th and El Cajon Blvd. San Diego.)
Paranoid Legacy Union Dues (23 November 1999, Living Room. Same place, same people, same time.) to (22 December 1999. Terminal 5, Gate 52A, Los Angeles International Airport.)