Loyalty and Risk-Taking

In one of the old Neptunus Lex posts that Bill Brandt has been rerunning at The Lexicans, Lex wrote about the man who was CO of his FA-18 training squadron:

My student cohort held him in awe: We’d been told that he had received an Air Medal during the war for saving a squadron mate’s life, or his liberty anyway. The latter had come off target badly hit and managed to limp only as far as the harbor at Hai Phong before his machine came apart. The pilot had been forced to eject and was floating in his raft a mile or so off shore, when he saw an NVA patrol craft bounding out to seize him. The unlucky aviator was contemplating the austere amenities of the Hanoi Hilton when our CO roared overhead at 500 feet, firing a Shrike missile in boresight mode.

The Shrike is an anti-radiation missile, designed to home on enemy radar and destroy it.  The radar-following mechanism is its only guidance system; the only way to hit a target that is not emitting radar is to get very close to it before you fire the missile–thereby placing yourself at considerable additional risk  Lex’s CO had taken that risk, destroying the North Vietnamese patrol craft, and making it possible for the shot-down pilot to be rescued by helicopter..

Reading the story, I couldn’t help wondering:  which if any of our current crop of political candidates and leaders would–in the extremely unlikely event that they ever found themselves flying combat aircraft–have made the same decision?

25 thoughts on “Loyalty and Risk-Taking”

  1. There’s always heroes and cowards in wartime. I have always been ambivalent with John McCain, but Trump’s denigrating his 7 years at the “Hanoi Hilton” really grated me. I wonder how he would have fared with 7 years of deprivations and torture? Can’t think of another politician besides McCain who could endure this.

    Then on the Net I ran across this on the findings of the Navy commander who allowed his crew to be captured by the Iranians:


  2. @Bill: that report was unimpressive. What’s the point of complaining that “the navigation system identified Iran’s Farsi Island for them, none of the 10 picked up on that information because no one zoomed in on the island that the system was displaying” ? We’ve already been told that the crew were scarcely familiar with the system.

    “They also didn’t look to … call in their location to one of their maritime operations centres”: but we’ve been told that the radios didn’t work.

    Then, when his argument is bogus, he tries shouting: ” While we are not in a declared war with Iran, they are the ENEMY”.

    Pretty poor article really, though not as poor as the behaviour he describes. At least the thrust seems reasonable: it’s a tale of woeful incompetence and recklessness; only the girl comes out of it well. And to a tiny degree the o/c: at least he didn’t follow up all his lousy earlier decisions by starting a war and getting his crews killed.

  3. Dearie, I was impressed with what that report got right.

    “When the military spends all of its time on sensitivity training and other PC insanity, you lack time to conduct real training for war.”

    The navigation story is really appalling. I have navigated a sailboat to Hawaii from California and many times navigated shorter trips around islands off California and Mexico.

    One thing you ALWAYS do is keep a deck log and consult charts. The negligence is really outstanding.

    It isn’t even “training for war.” It’s training to get you from one place to another.

    It is interesting that the one female crew member is the one who activated the distress signal.

  4. Munich: if the police are to be believed the perpetrator was more of a nutcase who happened to be Moslem, than the familiar sort of Moslem nutcase.

    On the other hand, the German police have been lying about crime and Western Asians for many months; why would one believe them now?

  5. “On the other hand, the German police have been lying about crime and Western Asians for many months; why would one believe them now?”

    Exactly. Where was the gun obtained ?

  6. Can’t think of another politician besides McCain who could endure this.

    You never know what someone will do in such circumstances, but I’d put money on GWB, if you consider him still a politician, Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse or Joni Ernst. Good news is that there’s a good representation of youngsters there.

  7. Hillary Clinton, of course, would have headed back to the carrier while thinking out how she was going to write her report to make her look like a hero.

    Trump I think would have tried to do something as long as the personal risk wasn’t too great..perhaps fired the missile at a distance where the probability of kill was 50% or so, rather than getting close enough to get a very likely hit.

  8. >>I’d been wondering when the Shia would join in.

    The shooter was ethnic Kurd, all be it from Iran.

    IOW, he was likely Sunni.

  9. Only the female gunner exhibited courage? The lone female crew-member aboard, in a Navy commanded by a community organizer? These Ben Rhodes scripts are as predictable as they are pathetic. I’m reminded of the drone that went “missing” over Iran. Something about it being to much trouble to retrieve…

    The whole story is pure horsesh*t as far as I’m concerned. The American military is and has been formidable for many years, competent as well. If you’re going to engage them in any sphere, you need some help. You need somebody on the inside, and the Iranians have that. As do the Chinese, the Russians, the Equatorial Guineans, etc.

    This boat ride may have had a number of purposes, chief among them a morale breaking exercise, as have numerous occasions in the recent past, disastrous ROE, Extortion 17 come immediately to mind.

    An islamic dictator shuts down power to a U.S. base and the U.S. President tells the public to support the tyrant? When can we start calling it what it is?

    A new administration should reopen the investigation, reviewing ALL communications via the small boats, the units they were attached to, regional command, DOD, Pentagon, White House. (assuming they were not using a parallel network of some sort)

    Mistakes happen in military operations, but with this administration everything is suspect, particularly just offshore of the country that got cash, prizes and the bomb, from that administration.

    I’m not a big McCain fan, less so in recent years, but seven years is a long time to be confined anywhere, let alone in a communist prison. Trump is better connected than I am though, and he may know something. There are suggestions elsewhere out here, of just that.

  10. “IOW, he was likely Sunni.” Oh dear, I had assumed that being Iranian and called Ali pointed the other way. So the Shia Spring is still in store for us.

    Is “David” a common Kurdish name?

  11. “Trump is better connected than I am though, and he may know something. There are suggestions elsewhere out here, of just that.”

    McCain was heroic in refusing to be released as a propaganda move by the NVA.

    Since he returned there have been a few disturbing rumors about him and Kerry and about MIAs that were abandoned.

    A friend of mine is a retired Marine fighter pilot who lives in Arizona and has no use for McCain. He has had a couple of contacts with him where he was a jerk.

    Not major stuff but maybe an indicator.,

  12. Dearieme,

    The Munich shooter has been identified as Ali Sonboly. He was an 18-year-old German born man of Kurdish descent with Iranian citizenship.

    The name “David” appaears to be media disinformation.


    Munich Shooter Identified as Ali Sonboly – Media Cultural Marxists Jump Into Action…
    Posted on July 23, 2016 by sundance

  13. I’ve now seen someone alleging that he was a Syrian “Turk”.

    Maybe we’ll find out the truth one day.

    So, not a Shia Persian anyway.

  14. The question “Is “David” a common Kurdish name?” is now redundant as apparently he wasn’t called David anyway.

    It seems possible that the media changed his more exotic name to “David” for reasons one could scarcely guess.

  15. Today’s Muslim attack in Germany. I wonder where tomorrow’s will be ?

    Good book recommendation from Powerline.

    Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad, by Stephen Coughlin.

    I’ve ordered the Kindle version and will report.

  16. As a Vietnam vet and retired Naval aviator I want to weigh in on the Trump- McCain issue.

    I was flying in Vietnam before McCain was. We lost four from my squadron, three close friends died, and I knew three Navy pilots (Harry Jenkins, Fred Franke, and Phil Butler) that spent up to seven years as POWs. I went through SERE training with Fred Franke, who ended up in the Hanoi Hilton. My two tours ended in 1967 so I spent six years wondering how it was going for the POWs and feeling guilty that I was safe and sound.

    As a result, I read all I could get my hands on about the POWS. Most of the POWs did their best to resist. All of them who survived broke at one time or another. A few didn’t break but did not make it home. They died from injuries and sickness brought on by REAL torture. And what the North Vietnamese did was torture – agonizing physical pain that left many of the POWs crippled for life. All who resisted were tortured. Some much worse than others. McCain was tortured and resisted to the best of his ability. He admitted in his book, “Faith Of My Fathers,” that he broke and collaborated. Collaboration meant signing statements renouncing the USA, capitalism, democracy, etc. The motto was to work on trying not to break again. Those who could stand the most torture died or were crippled for life. McCain was crippled. It hasn’t kept him from leading a nearly normal life, but no one wants to have an unrepairable shoulder to go through life with.

    The North Vietnamese were not interested in military information – they had all they needed from spies and collaborators inside our government who provided it to them. When we first went over there the Air Intelligence Officer briefed us that the NVNs knew our names, ranks, serial numbers, squadrons, ship, home towns, families names, etc. I believe this was true because the wives of squadron mates who died were harassed by telephone after their husbands’ deaths by anti-war activists. How did they get the phone numbers?

    Anyway, I admire McCain and all my fellow aviators who were POWs. They are heroes in my book.

    That said, I have disagreed with McCain on many political issues. He does not seem to have a solid conservative philosophy. He is more like a pragmatist. He seems to go with what he thinks will work and hope for the best. His collaboration with Democrats on issues (McCain-Feingold being one major one) has not always been well thought out. Yes, disagree with his politics, but don’t besmirch what he did as a Naval aviator and POW. Trump was a draft dodger. He has no credibility in criticizing the heroism of anyone. He can criticize their politics, but not their military service. At least that’s the way I see it.

  17. Reports I’ve read are that McCain was a bad pilot who got himself shot down through incompetence, and he dodged the worst abuse that his fellow POWs endured because he was the son of an admiral.

    Even if it’s true, I don’t care. For whatever reasons, he was still there flying missions. When he was captive, he did what everyone else did – he broke – but he still refused an early release until others there longer were set free before him.

    What he did and what he went through are good enough for me. Never confuse motivations with results. If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, you’re still doing the right thing, and that’s all that matters.

  18. I think Trump lives on hyperbole.

    He may have had a valid criticism of McCain but he got off on the wrong aspect of it. His opposition to the Iraq War is another example of some mental shortcuts, it seems to me.

    He is a very flawed man and candidate BUT maybe that is the only kind of person who will defy so much of the conventional wisdom this year.

    The hysteria that results from any, ANY, criticism of the left wing PC culture is a very large disincentive for a politician, a normal politician, to take it on.

    One small example, a conservative commentator named Ben Shapiro was supposed to speak at Cal State LA and was cancelled after an uproar by left wing students and faculty last spring.

    Liberal groups on campus caught wind of the event and pushed back. Five days before Shapiro’s Feb. 25 speech, entitled “When Diversity Becomes a Problem,” a student, whose name is redacted, wrote to President Covino, writing in the subject line, “I DO NOT FEEL SAFE!”

    “The fact that so many right wing conservatives that own guns RSVPd to this event makes me feel extremely uncomfortable,” the student wrote. “We should be able to go to an event without worrying about our safety. And frankly this event sounds like an undercover KKK meeting. This event in general speaks volumes as to how little our lives matter…”

    After hearing from more students and professors who felt similarly, Covino announced on Feb. 22 that he would cancel the speech—though he publicly insisted it wasn’t really a cancellation.

    I am not a fan of Shapiro. He is a young guy who made a very public show of breaking with Trump and seems a bit self indulgent..

    Cal State Colleges were founded as part of the original system to educate teachers and offered no graduate programs except in education. Now, with all the inflation of education that has taken place, they are a second level university system in California with huge campuses and even larger “Diversity” programs,. They have nothing like the cachet of UC and UCLA which are the blue ribbon campuses.

    Anyway, the willingness to take on this world of bulls**t may require a narcissistic personality, and to do so on a national level may require somebody with an excess of whatever it takes.

    We are where we are. I doubt Trump will destroy the country but we will hear a steady diet of such stuff for the next few months and, if he wins, for the next four years.

    I was a very enthusiastic Romney supporter in 2012 but he was a weak candidate. If we need somebody with a streak of sociopathy to win, provided there is enough substance to do the job if elected, I can handle the suspense.

    I think it is reassuring that his children seem to be so well balanced, as celebrity children often are not.

  19. While he has dropped out of the campaign now, I would find it completely consistent with what I know of Jim Webb’s character and experience, if he had been a pilot rather than a Marine Corps Platoon Leader.

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