Hog Pilots and Coffee Mugs


Over the 4th of July weekend I bought and read Robert Kaplan’s “Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts” and learned a lot about our changing Military and the things we do around the world. For those of you with a lot of military familiarity it’s probably nothing new, but my exposure to our Armed Services is rather thin and distant, so this book was eye-opening and increased the depth of my appreciation.
The section on the mysterious undersea world of Submariners was especially interesting and revelatory.
Kaplan embeds with a marine platoon in the the African sahel who are on a training mission with troops from Niger, goes up to Alaska to meet with Air Force and Army National Guard troops training there, and then down to Thailand, Okinawa, and Singapore to board a Navy destroyer for a month at sea, and then onto a fast attack nuclear submarine re-crossing the Pacific. And more. It’s all pretty astonishing.
As a kid I remember reading a book about the dramatic exploits of Subs and their crew during WWII, and about a year ago we went on board the USS Pampanito docked up at Pier 45, during one of our infrequent visits to The City. It’s a floating museum now, smelling like musty old G.I. web gear, grease and hot oil – and you can easily understand the intimacy, fear, and claustrophobia of it’s era – but the ships of today are vastly different, and peopled by very different men.
And there’s my (today’s) coffee cup. In the distance you can see my very sturdy old glasses from 5th or 6th Grade.
My parents had found them while cleaning up clutter and were going to donate them to poor children in Nicaragua, “Who have nothing.” I dissuaded them from that. They are hazy-scratched beyond belief making life’s view a fuzzy milkshake, and ugly. They are thick, ill-fitting and bent, and ruinous of self-image. I had hated them deeply and even though they let me see clearly they had hurt and shamed me. Why inflict that horror on some poor-damn-poor-kid? Even the indigent have pride and self-respect especially kids with their youthful innocence – there is no need to shatter their world and drag them down, to break them on the wheel. So I took them and keep them to remind me.

Hope you-all had a happy 4th of July.

About NotClauswitz

The semi-sprawling adventures of a culturally hegemonic former flat-lander and anti-idiotarian individualist, fleeing the toxic cultural smug emitted by self-satisfied lotus-eating low-land Tesla-driving floppy-hat wearing lizadroid-Leftbat Califorganic eco-tofuistas ~

4 thoughts on “Hog Pilots and Coffee Mugs

  1. I’ve toured a couple of old subs and it’s hard to imagine living in one for weeks or months at a time.One of these days I want to get out to Pearl Harbor to see the Missouri.

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  2. Thud – I think the German U-boats must have been a lot like the US counterparts. Check out the Pampanito at Pier 45 some time, the self-guided tour is only a few bucks and quite intersting – or do the Quicktime online tour which actually makes the boat seem bigger (on account of wide angle lens).B&N – Glad to oblige! Find a used copy and save a little money! 🙂What struck me most reading about today’s Submariners – esp. after crawling through and around the strong diesel/oil and other smells of the old USS Pampanito – was the statement to the effect that inhospitable odors were absolutely not accepted, and that each crew member showers very frequently, and that nobody raises a sweat over anything – they are always very-very cool headed in every respect. That and they are all like math geniuses or something.

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  3. There is a german uboat that was salvaged a few years ago berthed by my home in england…just the look of it scares the daylights out of me

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