28 August 2014

Medal of Honor to be awarded for Civil War and Vietnam

ZUI this White House press release dated 26 Aug 14:
On September 15, 2014, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and to Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat for conspicuous gallantry.

Command Sergeant Major Adkins will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions while serving as an Intelligence Sergeant assigned to Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. Then-Sergeant First Class Adkins distinguished himself during combat operations at Camp A Shau, Republic of Vietnam, on March 9 through March 12, 1966.

Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as a Machine gunner with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. Specialist Four Sloat distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of Hawk Hill Fire Base, Republic of Vietnam, on January 17, 1970.

President Obama also approved the awarding of the Medal of Honor to Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing for gallantry in action at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Additional details on the award to First Lieutenant Cushing will be announced separately.

First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac. Cushing distinguished himself during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863.

05 August 2014


25 Dec 06.

A month or so before my daughter's first birthday, we put her in her stroller and took her for a walk down by the river, not far from where we lived at the time.  A few blocks into our walk we met a cat and stopped to say hello to it.  It was a young cat, very friendly, and when we walked away it started following us.  Every now and then it would head up the front walk of a house we were passing, but then it would turn around and hurry to catch up with us.

There was a small embankment between us and the houses along that street, so every one of them had a few steps in its front walk.  The embankment didn't run straight - it meandered a bit, so at some houses those steps were right out at the end of the walk, where it joined the sidewalk along the street, while at others they were set back, closer to the house.  And it didn't take us long to notice that whenever the cat stopped to investigate a house, it was always one where those steps in the front walk were right out next to the sidewalk.  So we figured the cat was lost, and while it didn't know where Home was, it knew what Home ought to look like.

It had been following us for several blocks when a woman out working in her garden as we passed commented on what a pretty cat we had.  We explained that it was a stray that had attached itself to us, and she offfered to loan us a cat carrier so the poor cat wouldn't have to walk all the way to our house, which was still a few blocks away.  We accepted and carried it the rest of the way home.

The next morning we printed up some "FOUND CAT" signs and set out to post them in the area where we'd found the cat.  Just after we finished attaching the first sign to a telephone pole two teen-aged girls came up and stopped to see what we were doing.  After reading our poster one of the girls said, "Oh, that's Megan's cat!"  My wife recognised Megan's name - she was a young lady who had been murdered a week or so earlier by her estranged husband - and remembered her address, so we walked over to have a look at her house.  It was a block or two from where we'd first met the cat, and sure enough, it had steps at the end of its front walk, right out at the sidewalk.

So we went back home and discussed the cat.  She was a grey tabby, similar to one we'd lost the year before, very friendly, and she seemed to get on well with our other two cats, so we decided to keep her.  According to the vet we took her to she was around a year old, or perhaps a bit more - a month or few older than our daughter.  We picked the name Seshet* from a list of Egyptian goddesses, and she settled right in.

26 Nov 09

A year later we transferred from Norfolk to Groton.  We were only allowed two cats in Navy housing, and we still had two of the three my wife had had before we were married, so Seshet went to live with my in-laws, in the next town over.  The other two cats died over the course of the next few years, but by then Seshet had become used to being an indoor/outdoor cat, which wasn't permitted in housing, so she stayed on at my in-laws' place, even after I retired and we moved out of housing.  She's still officially our cat, though, not theirs.


It's now a few weeks shy of eighteen years since that walk with our daughter and a poor, lost cat.  Seshet has gone deaf, and arthritis has set in; she can still jump up onto the porch railing, but she can't sit properly - she squats, with her butt still an inch or so off the ground - and she's no longer flexible enough to clean herself properly.  Recently she's begun losing bladder control, and forgets to use the litter box.  So it's been decided that tomorrow she'll make her final visit to the vet....

We'll miss her.

5 Aug 14

* Wikipedia prefers the spelling "Seshat."

150 years ago: Mobile Bay

On 5 August 1864 a US fleet commanded by Rear Admiral David G Farragut, supported by 1500 soldiers under General Gordon Granger, attacked the defences at Mobile, Alabama, the last major Gulf port east of the Mississippi still under Confederate control. Farragut's flagship was the screw sloop USS Hartford; other ships present were screw sloops USS Brooklyn, Monongahela, Oneida, Ossipee, Richmond, and Seminole; screw sloop-of-war USS Lackawanna; gunboats USS Galena, Itasca, Kennebec, Metacomet, Octorara, and Port Royal; ironclad monitors USS Manhattan and Tecumseh; and ironclad river monitors USS Chickasaw and Winnebago.

Tecumseh sank after hitting a mine - in those days called a torpedo - on the way into Mobile Bay.  Brooklyn, leading Farragut's main column (because she had more forward-firing guns than the other sloops), slowed to ask for instructions, causing Farragut to order Hartford to take the lead with the famous if apocryphal "Damn the torpedoes!" Hartford and the other ships passed successfully through the minefield that had claimed Tecumseh.

The defending forces included the ironclad ram CSS Tennessee and side-wheel gunboats CSS Gaines, Morgan and Selma, under Admiral Franklin Buchanan. Farragut's gunboats made short work of the side-wheelers, capturing Selma, seriously damaging Gaines (which was beached and burned by her crew), and forcing Morgan to take cover under the guns of nearby Fort Morgan. Tennessee took more work, but was eventually battered into submission and surrendered. Farragut's ships then provided fire support for Granger's attacks on the three forts - Powell, Gaines, and Morgan - protecting the harbour. Fort Powell was abandoned that day; Fort Gaines surrendered on 8 August, and Fort Morgan on 23 August. (The captured CSS Tennessee was repaired, commissioned into the US Navy as USS Tennessee, and sent to join in the final attack on Fort Morgan.)

96 men (88 sailors, seven Marines and one civilian pilot) were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions on 5 August.

USS Brooklyn (23): Ship's Cook William Blagheen, Captain of the Forecastle John Brown, Landsman William H Brown, Coxswain John L M Cooper, Ordinary Seaman Samuel W Davis, Sergeant J Henry Denig, Boatswain's Mate Richard Dennis, Coxswain William Halstead, Sergeant Michael Hudson, Seaman Joseph Irlam, Coxswain John Irving, Seaman Nicholas Irwin, Quartermaster Barnett Kenna, Boy James Machon, Captain of the Top Alexander Mack, Coal Heaver William Madden, Engineer's Cook James Mifflin, Quartermaster William Nichols, Corporal Miles M Oviatt, Coxswain Edward Price, Corporal Willard M Smith, Coal Heaver James E Sterling, Quartermaster Samuel Todd

USS Chickasaw (2): Chief Boatswain's Mate Andrew Jones, Master at Arms James Seanor

USS Galena (4): Seaman William Gardner, Quartermaster Thomas Jordan, Quartermaster Edward S Martin, Coxswain Edward B Young

USS Hartford (12): Landsman Wilson Brown, Ordinary Seaman Bartholomew Diggins, Coal Heaver Richard D Dunphy, Coxswain Thomas Fitzpatrick, civilian pilot Martin Freeman, Coal Heaver James R Garrison, Landsman John Lawson, Captain of the Forecastle John C McFarland, Ordinary Seaman Charles Melville, Coal Heaver Thomas O'Connell, Landsman William Pelham, Shell Man William A Stanley

USS Lackawanna (11): Seaman John M Burns, Landsman Michael Cassidy, Landsman Patrick Dougherty, Captain of the Top John Edwards, Landsman Samuel W Kinnaird, Seaman Adam McCullock, Boatswain's Mate William Phinney, Captain of the Forecastle John Smith, Armorer George Taylor, Quarter Gunner James Ward, Quartermaster Daniel Whitfield

USS Metacomet (8): Seaman James Avery, Quarter Gunner Charles Baker, Ordinary Seaman John Donnelly, Captain of the Forecastle John Harris, Seaman Henry Johnson, Boatswain's Mate Patrick Murphy, Landsman Daniel Noble, Coxswain Thomas Taylor,

USS Oneida (8): Quartermaster John E Jones, Coxswain Thomas Kendrick, Landsman David Naylor, Ordinary Seaman William D Newland, Landsman John Preston, Sergeant James S Roantree, Quartermaster James Sheridan, Seaman Charles B Woram

USS Richmond (28): Yeoman Thomas E Atkinson, Quartermaster John Brazell, Captain of the Top Robert Brown, Master-at-Arms William M Carr, Coxswain James B Chandler, Quartermaster Thomas Cripps, Chief Quartermaster Cornelius Cronin, Boatswain's Mate Charles Deakin, Chief Boatswain's Mate William Densmore, Coal Heaver William Doolen, Boatswain's Mate Adam Duncan, Coxswain Hugh Hamilton, Coxswain Thomas Hayes, Captain of the Top John H James, Captain of the Top William Jones, Captain of the Top James McIntosh, Sergeant Andrew Miller, Captain of the Top James H Morgan, Captain of the Forecastle George Parks, Seaman Hendrick Sharp, Coxswain Lebbeus Simkins, Captain of the Forecastle James Smith, Second Captain of the Top John Smith, Coxswain Oloff Smith, Ordinary Seaman Walter B Smith, Orderly Sergeant David Sprowle, Coxswain Alexander H Truett, Quartermaster William Wells