Are You Ready for Service?

From this report, comes the news that young people in this country are often too overweight and out of shape to join the military.

The Army is facing a weighty new challenge: would-be soldiers who arrive at basic training so out of shape that they suffer alarming numbers of stress fractures and other injuries. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who oversees basic training for the Army, said the nation’s obesity epidemic has forced the military to turn away a growing number of enlistees because they were too overweight to fight. But he said that even many recruits who are in good enough shape to be accepted into the 10-week course are unable to complete it because their poor diet and lack of regular fitness quickly results in a variety of training-related maladies.

This is not a completely new problem, there used to be videos films shown to young men to give them some direction on getting in shape. Here’s one from the series, “Are You Ready for Service?”

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.
–John F. Kennedy

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Naval Aviation News

Naval Aviation News is a magazine produced by and for Naval Aviation. It started up during WWII and is still in publication. The old issues are interesting reading, articles month by month, through the war and on into the 1950s and up to the current day.

One of the regular features was Grandpa Pettibone, a cartoon character that hosted a safety column in each edition. There would be a report about a mishap or accident and then Grandpa Pettibone would cite the pertinent regulations, the obvious mistakes, and occasionally plead with the Almighty for pilots and mechanics to develop some sense.
He was introduced to the world in 1943 and was still active 60 years later. He is such an institution in the Naval Air community that occasionally there are articles published crediting the column with saving aircraft and lives because someone thought, “Now wait a minute, I don’t want to be the feature article in next month’s column.”

He who turns around and lands at base will live to fly to some other place.
–Grandpa Pettibone

U.S.S. Wolverine

The American Ship Building Company built ships for use on the Great Lakes during the first half of the 20th century. One of those ships was the Seeandbee, a coal fired, side-wheel excursion steamer built in 1913.
In the spring of 1942 the U.S. Navy acquired the ship and converted it into an aircraft carrier. They sailed it on Lake Michigan, with a small group of supporting ships, a freighter that had a crane to pick downed aircraft, and some smaller vessels to rescue the pilots. The carrier was designated the U.S.S. Wolverine.

Used throughout the war to carrier qual new Navy pilots, the ship was eventually joined by a second converted steamer, the U.S.S. Sable. They had some limitations. They burned coal, trailing big plumes of smoke as they steamed at their best speed for flight operations. They didn’t make enough speed to launch airplanes on calm days, needing a breeze to sail into to allow launches. The decks were only 28 feet above the waterline, meaning that the launched airplanes dipped alarmingly close to the water on takeoff. They also had no hanger deck, so the planes took off and landed with all the other aircraft staged on deck.

They were berthed in Chicago. A town that a lot of sailors remember as a great place for liberty during the war.

There is a museum for the Glenview Air Station. Here’s a slide show of flight operations on Lake Michigan. Those ships are gone, sold for scrap right after the war. But in their day they trained almost 18,000 Navy and Allied pilots, and launched and recovered 116,000 flights.

I remember those Great Lakes flights very well in the open cockpit that winter. Coldest I ever was in my life.
–President George H.W. Bush, reflecting on his training as a Navy pilot

Resubmerging

We’re going to collapse under the weight of the debt. It isn’t just what we owe today. It’s everything that is already promised that we will owe over the coming years, the “unfunded liabilities”. If the first and immediate action of the next Congress isn’t to completely restructure the budget of the United States to eliminate deficit spending and begin to repay the dept, everything else we do is just rearranging the deck chairs while we sail into the icebergs.

Debt is the slavery of the free.
–Publilius Syrus