Monday, May 05, 2008

PBS presentation of Carrier

The mini-series ran for ten hours last week. We DVRd it and I watched it when I could. I wanted to see what was the same and what was different 45 years later. The way they launch and recover planes is still the same. That technology has been around for 50 plus years. The main difference is electronic technology...and of course, the fact that they have a crew of 12% women. That is major.

I wrote to my old Skipper, Captain (then) Miller. He retired as a Vice Admiral, but I wanted to get his take on the show. I have been corresponding with him for almost five years and he politely responded the other day. He did watch the series and felt, as I, that the gender issue was huge. He felt like we could have handled it if asked. I don't know. I have always worked in a female present environment...except on board FDR. I just don't know if the advantages out weigh the disadvantages.

I liked the fact that the Helm (the ship's steering wheel) was handled (almost said manned) by a woman. I also liked the fact that the lead air traffic controller was a women. I liked that two of the pilots featured were women, but much of the rest of it I shuddered to think that somebody's daughter is on board a big old ship (they called it a boat a lot) with all those horny guys. Let me end that discussion there.

Boat or Ship? It is a ship. A boat is a vessel that is small enough to be carried by a larger vessel. There is nothing that can carry a 90,000 ton carrier. To call it a boat was a sign of disrespect when I was in. The airdales (aviation people) sometimes called it a boat because they did not know better. And I had a couple of men who would call it a boat when they were especially frustrated or mad. There was a derogatory expression that went: "Xo@#% you and the boat you came in on." These were fighting words if said by the wrong person.

The eighteen-twenty year olds bad mouthed the Navy and the ship just like our sailors used to do. They did not have a good concept on life and what they were learning only that they were required to be there and work hard...and be bored to pieces sometimes. That has not changed. They discussed freely the need for their presence in the Iraqi theater. We never questioned our being where we were asked to go. It was either supporting the Viet Nam thing or facing down the Russians during the Cold War. Maybe the questioning came to the fore after I got off in 1965. But we rubbed elbows with the Russians weekly in the Med.

I liked the series, but not the drama. I wept a bit when they did the home coming scenes. I remember how it felt leaving and returning. No one ever met me at the pier, but the feelings were still strong. Amazing how your brain recalls some of that stuff when given the chance to see it again.

I again thanked Captain (then) Miller for being a strong leader whom I learned from...mainly how he handled my (all too frequent) interface with him at Captain's Mast. I had a big division of rowdies, so I saw him too frequently in that context. He sure knew how to handle people (I almost said men.)


Cindi said...

Thanks Unca Tom for your view on the series. I am watching now (online) and finding it intriguing. Being an Army brat/wife this is a whole new word. I did have the opportunity to go onto the Kersarge (spelling) when we were in Naples. What a experience that was...800 Navy, 2000 Marines and 8 women. So I keep relating to that experience.

Cindi H

Tom said...

Hi Cindi... I am sure the military in general has changed. I think the millennial generation is a more questioning generation, so that does not surprise me. I think they are more open to "hook-ups" and there in rests the sociological issue. The other thing that comes to mind is that there was a draft going on when I was in and we not only got the social rowdies (the WWE crowd,) but the college bound who were threatened by the draft. Sorry to go on so, but it is always fun to discuss these things.

Cindi said...

It also brings back memories of when a battle group would arrive in Naples..I think we had the GW and possibly the TR?? 10,000 sailors (Rob called them pirates). I never saw so many tattoos in one place on men or women. They would come in the summer and go to the rec area where the only pool and relaxation area was. We wouldn't let the girls go anywhere alone those weeks. We called it "locking up the virgins".

Tom said...

What can I say? I apologize for my swabbie brothers. I do know that the aviators play hard.