Oh, my country, bless the training that from cot to castle runs -The pitfall of the stranger but the bulwark of thy sons -Measured speech and ordered action, sluggish soul and un-perturbed,Till we wake our Island-Devil-nowise cool for being curbed!When the heir of all the ages "has the honour to remain,"When he will not hear an insult, though men make it ne'er so plain,When his lips are schooled to meekness, when his back is bowed to blows -Well the keen aas-vogels know it--well the waiting jackal knows.Build on the flanks of Etna where the sullen smoke-puffs float -Or bathe in tropic waters where the lean fin dogs the boat -Cock the gun that is not loaded, cook the frozen dynamite -But oh, beware my Country, when my Country grows polite!Rudyard Kipling, Et Dona Ferentes (1896)WHAT REALLY HAPPENED12 January 2016 Persian Gulf, off Farsi Island
It had been a frustrating voyage for the two-boat detachment making a routine transit from Kuwait to Bahrain. The departure had been delayed by engineering problems with one of the boats. When they finally got underway shortly after local noon, the detachment commander [hereinafter, “the Commanding Officer”]conducted only a cursory briefing for the crews of his two boatsbecause of time constraints. Each boat had a crew of 5 sailors andeach was armed with both .50 calibre heavy and 7.62 mm mediummachine-guns, a total of 3 weapons per craft.
Several hours into the transit, one boat suffered yet another engineering casualty and the other came alongside to renderassistance.Shortly thereafter, two small Iranian boats approached and theIranian crews began displaying small arms of the AK-47 variety.The Commanding Officer was able to notify NAVCENT (the
Naval Component of Central Command) that he was being hailed,but shortly thereafter, all communications between NAVCENT andthe boats ceased.
Air assets from USS Harry S Truman began a search and USS Anzio(CG68, whose motto, ironically, is Stand and Fight) responded. Afew hours later, it was Anzio who entered Iranian waters in searchof the American craft and engaged in “robust bridge-to-bridgecommunications” with Iranian military vessels. (If there is one goodside to this pathetic story, it is that at least one American Navalofficer that day had remembered to strap on his balls—or her balls,as the case may be!) At any rate, Anzio was informed that “the RCBswere in Iranian custody at Farsi Island.”
The crews and their boats were released the next morning and takenunder escort by Anzio. The crews were relieved and transferredashore and Anzio put replacement crews aboard the RCBs whichtook them to Bahrain.
But then the sickening details began to come out. What followsis from a Navy investigation.
As soon as the Iranian boats made their approach, the CommandingOfficer –an officer of the United States Navy of the same rank asStephen Decatur, an officer in command of two warships of the United States and of nine Americanbluejackets—promptly surrendered.
He did not go to GQ.He did not tell the Iranians to “get the hell away from my boats orI will blow you out of the water.” (He could have easily done so.Four of “ma deuce” would have reduced the small Iranian boats tosplinters.)
He did not tell his crews “Don’t give up the ship!”He surrendered!After the Korean War, it was discovered that many American soldiersand airmen who were captured by the Chinese and North Koreanshad turned their coats, turned on their fellow prisoners, andcollaborated with the enemy. (Interestingly, hardly any Marines didso—and note was taken that in the Marine Corps, an institutionalethic of honor, self-sacrifice, and loyalty was specifically built intorecruit training, so that Marines would rather die than betray theirCorps or their fellow Marines.)
As a result, President Eisenhower directed that steps be taken tocreate an aspirational statement of core ethical standards applicableto ALL of America’s warriors. To this day, those six
aspirational standards are taught to, and memorized by, every
As a result,President Eisenhower directed that steps be taken to create anaspirational statement of core ethical standards applicable ALL ofAmerica’s warriors. To this day, those six standards are taught to,and memorized by, every American fighting man and womanstarting in boot camp, the Academies, ROTC, and OCS.
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR MEMBERSTHE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCESI. I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my countryand our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.II. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I willnever surrender the members of my command while they still havethe means to resist.But not this poor excuse for an American! He immediatelysurrendered!He had two (relatively) heavily armed warships of the UnitedStates of America and nine American bluejackets under hiscommand,BUT.HE.SURRENDERED!I am surprised that Bancroft Hall is still standing. Surely John Paul Jones must have leapt from his sarcophagus in the AcademyChapel and dashed to Memorial Hall to make sure that Perry’sflag was still there, and then…..wept for a Navy that putsofficers in command who are afraid to “go in harm’s way.”There is an old military saying, probably dating from Caesar'sX Legion, or perhaps from Alexander’s Army 300 years earlier,or even the Sargon's mighty armies: “Excuses are like assholes; everybody has one.”In this case, the Commanding Officer's was a doozy!Did he remember San Bernadino Strait (see Part I)?Did he remember Captain Ernest E. Evans of USS Johnston who,at 0700, that awful morning, looked out across the San BernardinoStrait and saw, not a couple of flimsy little Iranian boats but a fleetof 22 battleships, heavy and light cruisers and destroyers coming athim?Did he consider emulating this American hero who informed hiscrew that "This will be a fight against overwhelming odds fromwhich survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage wecan."?Did he then, take a deep breath and do his duty to his Nation, hisNavy, and all who had come before him?Did he go to flank speed with his one good boat and attack theapproaching armed enemy—an enemy who had stated its attempt toboard his command, set foot on what is American soil, and therebyearn the undying respect and admiration of his Country?Oh, hell no!Here, instead, is his confession to the investigators:"So at that point and time, if I had decided to start a firefight, I knowa lot of my guys would be dead….We all might be dead at thatpoint….I didn’t want to start a war with Iran either. I didn’t want tostart a war that would get people killed….”The investigation by the Navy is still under way. Only three seniorcommanders have been relieved because they have "lost theconfidence of their superiors."Well, as they say, duh!They clearly failed to properly train their subordinates, and they puta coward in command of one of our warships.Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 99:Any member of the armed forces who before or in the presence ofthe enemy—…(2) shamefully abandons, surrenders, or delivers upany command, unit, place, or military property which it is his duty todefend;…shall be punished by death or such other punishment as acourt-martial may direct.So, the Lieutenant should be sweating bullets. But I doubt that thispathetic Administration will let him go to trial. Hell, they may givehim a medal--the Putting Politics Over Duty Cross." Certainly, John“American-Fighting-Men-In-Vietnam-Were-Murders-And-War-Criminals” Kerry actually thanked the Iranians for their cooperation and remarked that “we can all imagine how asimilar situation might have played out three or four years ago.”(New York Times, 13 Jan 2016)But there is more! Our hero, having, shamefully surrendered hiscommand without firing a shot took it upon himself to throw out therest of the Code of Conduct, too.III. If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available.I will make every effort to escape. I will accept neither parole norspecial favors from the enemy.andV. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am requiredto give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evadeanswering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will makeno oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies orharmful to their cause.So, did he suddenly regain his senses and at least try to restore hishonor and do his duty?Of course not. He allowed himself to be videotaped telling theIranians “It was a mistake that was our fault and we apologize forour mistake…. The Iranian behavior was fantastic while we werehere and we thank you very much for your hospitality and yourassistance.”Well, Dayum!!! The American POWs who endured days and weeksof torture rather than betray their Country must be sick to theirstomachs.Compare this to Senator McCain. After months and years of tortureand starvation rations, he is suddenly given clean clothes, allowed tobathe and shave, and then paraded into a room where there were tablesset with fresh fruit and vegetables--and full of TV cameras! One ofhis torturers puts a huge grin on his face, sticks out his hand, and says"Merry Christmas, Mack-Kane."And Lieutenant Commander John S. McCain, USN, third of thathonorable name, replied " Your behavior has been fantastic while Ihave been here and I thank you very much for your hospitality."Right??? In a pigs eye! He looked right into the cameras, gavethe goo....., er, the North Vietnamese gentleman the finger, and said"Fuck you! Now let's see you use that tape!"He later wrote that as a result, he was subjected to "attitudereadjustment"...10 straight days of physical torture. Then, "myattitude having been suitably adjusted, they tossed me back into mycell."It is hard to live up to high standards of honor, but so many have andit is shameful that the Commanding Officer in question did not eventry!Nor did our President.According to Reuters in an article published on 18 January 2016, theObama Administration said that the release of the sailors “shows thepower of diplomacy and the promise of its new engagement withIran.”Or…. hearkens back to the days when the Barbary Pirates couldseize our ships and ransom them back to us. Until our Navy....and a few Marines...taught them a lesson. Remember, the first timethe American flag was raised over a captured fortress in the oldworld, it was at Derna, on the "shores of Tripoli."Sooooooo, ............I leave this where I started, with a quotation byRobert A Heinlein, the dean of American science fiction writersand USNA, Class of 1929:“Roman matrons used to say to their sons: ‘Come back with yourshield, or on it.’ Later on, this custom declined.SO DID ROME!”