Sgt. Dakota Meyer in Afghanistan (Photo US Marine Corps)

At 2 PM EST today at the White House, President Obama will present the Medal of Honor to Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer for his actions in Afghanistan in 2009. Meyer says that he struggles with receiving the honor and national attention. He doesn’t see himself as a hero, and he saw close friends die that fateful morning of September 8, 2009, when they were ambushed and pinned down in Kunar province, a hotbed of clashes with the Taliban.

“It’s hard, it’s … you know … getting recognized for the worst day of your life, so it’s … it’s a really tough thing,” Meyer said. Meyer insisted his fallen comrades also be remembered, so memorial services are being held in the hometowns of the slain soldiers to coincide with the White House ceremony.

Hear about him from his family and friends back in Kentucky…

Part II

From Marine TV

Posted by: Waring Hills | 14 September 2011

USS Yorktown Hosts 43rd WMD-CST Training

SC National Guard unit 43rd WMD-CST team begins to arrive at Patriots Point.

Last night the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point was not a site  for tourists, scouts, students or a corporate party, but a training site for military professionals with a serious job of being prepared to protect the American homeland. These citizen warriors were hard at work from 1900 -0100 (7 PM to 1 AM for civilians) on the property at Patriots Point and onboard the USS Yorktown.  The 43rd WMD-CST (weapons of mass destruction-civil support team), the only joint Army-Air National Guard unit in the state, is from West Columbia, S.C., and is made up of 22 full-time National Guard members. As a resource of the S.C. National Guard, the 43rd CST is available upon request to assist local responders throughout the state in potentially hazardous situations that may include nuclear, biological and chemical contingencies.

Decontamination centers are set up at Patriots Point.

The WMD Civil Support Teams were established to deploy rapidly to assist a local incident commander in determining the nature and extent of an attack or incident; provide expert technical advice on WMD response operations; and help identify and support the arrival of follow-on state and federal military response assets. They are joint units and, as such, can consists of both Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel.

Here is how a CST deploys people and assets.

The CST deploys to an area of operations to 1) assess a suspected chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high yield explosive (CBRNE) event in support of a local Incident Commander, 2) advise civilian responders regarding appropriate response actions, and 3) assist in expediting arrival of additional state and federal assets to help save lives, prevent human suffering, and mitigate property damage.

Two members of the Recon/Survey element of the South Carolina's 43rd Civil Support Team, conduct an initial sweep of a suspicious area as part of the Vigilant Guard exercise held in the Beaufort, S.C. (National Guard Photograph taken by MSG Phillip Jones, SCARNG/PA on Apr. 21, 2008 in Bluffton, S.C.)

A wide range of low and high-tech devices are used, including the latest military hardware and commercial equipment including personal protective equipment, reconnaissance/detection/sampling gear, computer modeling and response database systems, communications van, and an analytical laboratory system.

Watch the video below to learn more about the 43rd CST…

Hopefully they will never need to deploy in a real crisis, but if needed, they are well-trained and equipped to handle the challenges of the times. Patriots Point salutes the 43rd CST!

Posted by: Waring Hills | 13 September 2011

Just Another Day On Yorktown At Patriots Point

Kindred employees prepare for their video by forming their corporate symbol "Kindred Man" on the flight deck of Yorktown.

As our crowd demographics move from summertime families to fall reunion groups and older adults, the days become a little quieter at Patriots Point, but everyday brings something different and interesting!

Yesterday some of the staff of Kindred Hospital in Charleston showed up on the flight deck of USS Yorktown to work on some corporate competition between the 76,000 employees of the Kindred Hospital system throughout the nation. Led by their Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Sheets, the enthusiast group of employees were here to perform in the filming of their music video entitled, “We’re All In This Together.” While the videographer was setting them up for their performance I took a few shots of them on our flight deck as seen below.

Film crew prepares for shooting the Kindred Video up on the O-6 level, navigation bridge in background.

When asked why they were shooting their video here on Yorktown, CEO Sheets explained that the USS Yorktown was a prominent part of the Charleston skyline and she wanted to introduce the national Kindred audience to such a powerful image.  Additionally, she has four sons who love climbing around the aircraft carrier and seeing…touching the aircraft onboard.

Kindred employees dancing for the production of their video (see film crew on far right).

Good luck to Kindred Charleston in their competition!

Tonight the South Carolina National Guard will be conducting terrorist response training drills on the USS Yorktown…you never know what might be happening here at Patriots Point!

Posted by: Waring Hills | 12 September 2011

Patriot Day At Patriots Point: The Power Of Memory

I touch the day

I taste the light

I remember

M. S. Merwin

Yesterday a crowd of 700-800 people silently watched and listened in Hangar Bay 3 on the USS Yorktown as over 9,000 names were read aloud. The names included all those who died on 9/11/01 and members of our armed forces killed in the War on Terror since 2001. Our readers were Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Scout leaders, JROTC cadets and midshipmen, NROTC officer candidates, Patriots Point volunteers, civilians, firefighters, and active duty Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy  and Marine Corps.

Tim Callanan reads the names of his coworkers who were killed at work in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Patriot Day at Patriots Point served as a poignant reminder of the power of memories. We see pictures and remember. We smell aromas that bring up memories of people and things. We hear voices or music that take us to another place and time. We remember birthdays, anniversaries and funerals. We remember with stories, monuments and a plethora of everyday actions.  Everyday brings a memory to our conscious thoughts and we remember as the sun rises and sets, and as we look up at the stars.

Scientists have discovered that memory takes place in the same part of the brain where we plan our futures (read more here). Without memories of a past people can’t see or even imagine a future, but with memories they can make good decisions on future plans and envision good things and success.

Our nation’s remembrance and commemoration of war and crisis is important, because it prepares future generations to see their way through war and crisis. They remember Americans who went before them and their success at surviving and thriving, despite terrible calamities (war, economic depression, disease, etc). Ceremonies like the one yesterday are gifts to our children and grandchildren. Just as children are inoculated from disease to help them remain healthy and survive childhood, ceremonies of remembrance and commemoration like Patriot Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Veteran’s Day, etc, will help future generations by acting as a memory vaccine, giving them the memory antibodies that help them to survive. What could be better and more important than memories passed from generation to generation…Memories that allow us to see a future with hope and prosperity…in the end, we only have what we remember.

Photos below courtesy of Scout leader Jenny Gray Hough:

Read other accounts of the ceremony below:

Charleston News and Courier

WCIV News 4

WCBD News 2

Posted by: Waring Hills | 8 September 2011

Video Thursday: Patriot Day Remembrances

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America and the beginning of the War on Terror.  Since that date in 2001 over 9000 Americans have lost their lives in the terrorist attack that September day and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Join us on the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point this Sunday to commemorate Patriot Day. Our ceremony begins at 8:46 AM (the time the North Tower was hit) and will end around noon as all the names of those lost are read aloud.  Watch the videos below and remember our country’s past…and the brave men and women who seek to keep America safe!

Posted by: Waring Hills | 1 September 2011

Video Thursday: Brand New Blue Angel Video!

Blue Angel F-18 climbing just prior to the Cooper River bridge (Photo Robert Manucy)

Here is a brand new Blue Angel video! Enjoy the view! Featured is the Skipper and Citadel graduate, Captain Greg McWherter United States Navy.

2011 BLUE ANGELS Website PROMO – FINAL APPROVED COPY from Blue Angels on Vimeo.

Posted by: Waring Hills | 31 August 2011

Carolina’s First Ship With Colonists: Adventure

Adventure on her way back to Charles Towne Landing after a little work in the shipyard is here dwarfed by the cruise ship Carnival Fantasy.

Lots of sights can be seen from the flight deck of Yorktown at Patriots Point…dolphins, manatees, alligators, C-17’s, Blue Angels, the Hunley…but today a replica of the proprietary colony of Carolina’s first sailing vessel could be see from our World War II aircraft carrier’s flight deck. Above is a replica of Adventure, a 17th century ketch that brought the first colonists to Charles Towne in 1670. This is the second replica to be based at Charles Towne Landing State Historical Site and is built from the original plans by William Avery Baker, a Colonial ship expert whose credits also included the Mayflower II.

If you watched the heavy weather videos last week (go here to see large waves), you might wonder about the courage and/or sanity of those first colonists who crossed the Atlantic to come to America! Below are several images of Adventure as she cruised from the Wando River through Charleston Harbor on her return to Charles Towne Landing. See Adventure for real at Charles Towne Landing…and come aboard Yorktown’s flight deck…you never know what you might see up here from day to day!

Adventure coming out of the Wando River approaching the new Cooper River Bridge.

Adventure is no match for the size of our beautiful bridge!

Another shot at the base of the bridge, could you imagine Adventure in 80-100 foot seas! Yikes...

Adventure passing on the port side of one of our tour boats in Charleston Harbor, a different breed of passenger that she never saw!

Adventure under the view of the Second Presbyterian Church's steeple and home church of the architect and father of Naval Aviation, Rear Admiral William Adger Moffett, United States Navy.

Too bad we didn't have Adventure profiled by Yorktown, but to give you an idea here is her profile against the entire length of 855 feet (CV-10 is 888 feet).

Posted by: Waring Hills | 29 August 2011

Gemini 5 Splashes Down 1965

Astronauts (Cooper on left/Conrad just leaving the capsule) depart the recovered Gemini 5 capsule as Navy frogmen assist (Photo NASA).

Gemini 5 splashed down in the Atlantic just 90 miles off her intended target on 29 August 1965. The USS Lake Champlain was the recovery ship for the astronaut crew of Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad. Gordon Cooper was from Shawnee, Oklahoma, and was a Life Scout and Air Force pilot. Charles “Pete” Conrad was from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and had been a Naval Aviator before joining NASA.

Astronauts Conrad and Cooper (Photo NASA)

The mission duration of nearly eight days proved that astronauts could deal with weightlessness for the time necessary to fly to the Moon and return. At the return time of 190 hours and 55 minutes, the United States had also regained the record of longest space flight from the Soviet Union.

One of the Gemini 5 mission objectives was to rendezvous with a Rendezvous Evaluation Pod (REP). Unfortunately rendezvous with the REP was cancelled due to problems with Gemini 5’s  fuel cell system, which produced electricity and water during the mission.  Gemini 5 marked the first time an on-board fuel cell was used for this purpose. Though fuel cell performance started off erratic at the beginning of the mission, eventually it stabilized as the flight progressed.

Other mission objectives were also cancelled due to equipment problems and astronaut Conrad later remarked that he wished he had “brought along a book”. A total of 17 scientific experiments were flown, of which 16 were completed.

Once again, a Gemini spacecraft significantly missed its primary recovery vessel. The error was due to faulty data transmitted to the spacecraft from ground computers.

Note: Gemini 5 was the first U.S. manned space flight to have an official mission insignia. The Gemini 5 astronauts designed a mission insignia featuring a Conestoga wagon bearing the motto “8 Days or Bust”.

While the astronauts were allowed to wear the insignia on patches sewn on their spacesuits, NASA required that the motto “8 Days or Bust” be covered with fabric during the actual mission.

NASA managers feared that the public would perceive the mission as a “bust” if for some reason it did not complete eight days in duration, no matter how much scientific data was generated. In addition, NASA feared the potential association of the word “bust” with portions of the female anatomy.

A view of Cape Canaveral and Florida from Gemini 5 in August 1965 (Photo NASA)

Astronauts pose for pictures back on USS Lake Champlain CVS-39 (Photo NASA)

Posted by: Waring Hills | 25 August 2011

Video Thursday – Heavy Weather

Aegis destroyer in heavy seas (Photo US Navy)

With Hurricane Irene churning through the Bahamas and heading for the US East Coast, our Navy has put her ships to sea to ride out the storm…If you have never been at sea in heavy weather, it makes for sights you never forget…watch the videos below and you’ll be glad to be high and dry (we hope!).

Posted by: Waring Hills | 24 August 2011

Navy’s First Rigid Airship Crashes 1921

Makes its first trial flight, at Cardington, England, 23 June 1921. Note that the airship already wears U.S. markings.(Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

After World War I, the United States Navy decided to add rigid airships to its fleet and originally pursued acquiring German Zeppelins as part of the wartime reparations. However, all Zeppelins were deliberately destroyed by their crews in 1919.

Due to the new postwar economy, the Royal Navy cancelled the building of its R-38 airship series which were designed to be capable of six days of patrol, at ranges of up to 300 miles from home base, and at altitudes of up to 22,000 ft.  The US Navy expressed an interest in the R-38 and an agreement was reached in October 1919 for purchase at $2,000,000. The original design changed to include a requirement for mast mooring gear, which added a ton to the bow and required ballast at the rear to counterbalance the airship. This modification along with the weight savings in the design made an airship that was weak longitudinally.

Naval airmen are:left to right, kneeling: S.H. Knight, F.M. Gorey and A.C. Carlson. left to right, standing: W.G. Steele, F.L. Stevens, W.A. Russell and R.N. Coons. Chief Machinist's Mates W.J. Steele and R.M. Coons were among those who lost their lives in the crash of R-38 (Photo Naval History and Heritage Command).

The R-38 made its first flight on 23 June 1921. After modifications to the rudder and elevators, a second test flight flew on 17 July and testing of the re-balanced control surfaces resulted in severe pitching. Examination of the airship after the flight revealed damage to several of the girders. These were replaced and others were strengthened but there were increasing doubts being expressed about the design.

On 23 August in the early morning, R-38 took off for her fourth flightheading to RNAS Pulham, Norfolk, for testing of the mast mooring, a facility lacking at Howden. Low clouds at Pulham prevented mooring and R-38 flew out to sea to run some high-speed tests before returning to base at Howden. The speed runs proved successful. Next the airship commander decided to try some low altitude rudder tests to simulate the effects of the rough weather that could be expected on the Atlantic crossing. At 17:37, fifteen degrees of rudder was applied over the city of Hull. Eye witnesses reported seeing creases down the envelope and then both ends drooped. A fire started in the bow and then a large explosion occurred which broke windows over a large area. The airship failed structurally and fell into the shallow waters of the Humber estuary.  Twenty-eight of the thirty-two Britons in the crew were killed including Air Commodore Maitland, RAF. Sixteen U.S. Navy officers and men were killed, essentially wiping out the Navy’s small cadre of experienced rigid airship personnel (Polar explorer and naval aviator Richard Byrd had requested to be part of the R-38’s crew, but was turned down). The only American to survive was Rigger Norman C. Walker. The five crew members who survived were in the tail section.

(Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)


(Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)


(Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

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