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Farewell, Paladin

Once described as being a product of the “most dangerous publisher in the world,” the Boulder, Colorado-based media house and distributor is closing its doors at the end of the year.

As noted on the company’s website, Paladin is shuttering following the death earlier this year of their co-founder and publisher, Peder Lund, and is selling off remaining inventory at greatly reduced prices. Over the decades, Paladin has marketed 800 how-to books and videos on topics like self-defense, firearms, martial arts, and survival as part of its Professional Action Library. Some are downright hokey, but others are very valuable texts, especially those on military history.

“There will be no more books or videos sold after November 29, 2017,” the company’s website says. “We are incredibly grateful to all of our amazing customers and authors for their continued loyalty and support over the decades.”

I ordered a mystery crate of 50 titles for $50 as well as a few classic volumes that I didn’t have hard copies of for basically chump change. For example, they have Maj. John L. Plaster’s excellent work on Great War snipers, which just came out and has a $40 MSRP, on sale for $6 measly dollars.

You are welcome!

And just like that…they were gone

USS Houston, CA 30 valiantly fights on alone during the night of February 27-28, 1942 against an overwhelming Japanese Naval Force. “They Sold Their Lives Dearly” by Tom Freeman.

The Guardian has a great interactive piece on the prolonged phenomena that is the rapid disappearance from the ocean floor of WWII ship wrecks in Indonesia including the battered veterans of the Battle of Java and others.

Fueled by a a booming demand in China for scrap metal, large crane barges have been photographed above wreck sites, often with huge amounts of rusted steel on their decks.

“At the seabed, divers have found ships cut in half. Many have been removed completely, leaving a ship-shaped indent.”

Why all the risk and expense to rob war graves for scrap steel? It’s not just your typical scrap steel.

Archeologists believe the criminals might be turning a profit because the hulls are one of the world’s few remaining deposits of “low-background” metals. Having been made before atomic bomb explosions in 1945 and subsequent nuclear tests, the steel is free of radiation. This makes even small quantities that have survived the saltwater extremely useful for finely calibrated instruments such as Geiger counters, space sensors and medical imaging.

More here.

Battle Cat headed to the scrapper, and likely a park in South Texas

Blast from the past, first, from a decade ago:

Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the ship leaves San Diego, Aug. 28 2007. Kitty Hawk is making its final voyage after 47 years of service to Bremerton, Wash., where it will prepare to decommission early next year. Approximately 1,600 Sailors are making the deployment, along with nearly 70 former Kitty Hawk Sailors, including a few dozen of the ship's original crew, known as plankowners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lily Daniels/Released)

Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the ship leaves San Diego, Aug. 28 2007. Kitty Hawk is making its final voyage after 47 years of service to Bremerton, Wash., where it will prepare to decommission early next year. Approximately 1,600 Sailors are making the deployment, along with nearly 70 former Kitty Hawk Sailors, including a few dozen of the ship’s original crew, known as plank owners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lily Daniels/Released)

Now, from the Kitsap Sun:

The Kitty Hawk (CV 63) will be disposed of by dismantling, according to Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke.

O’Rourke cited an annual report to Congress that outlines the Navy’s five-year shipbuilding plans. In this fiscal year’s edition, released in April 2016, the Kitty Hawk was listed as one of the Navy’s inactive ships slated for scrapping.

The Navy has not yet determined when the Kitty Hawk will depart its berthing in Bremerton, where the ship will go to be dismantled or what company will be awarded the contract, O’Rourke said.

Laid down in 1956, Kitty Hawk became the oldest active warship in the Navy (besides Constitution) in 1998 and held that title for a decade until she was officially decommissioned on 12 May 2009 after almost 50-years in the fleet. Between her launch date and now, 57.4 years have passed.

Kitty Hawk is currently held in Maintenance Category B receiving the highest degree of maintenance and preservation to a retired ship, though with USS Ford entering the fleet, she will likely be downgraded to Category C or X in coming months as the big new carrier moves through a 10-month shakedown and goes through working up for her first deployment. She recently has been used to help train ship-less carrier crews on the West Coast.

Though plans have been floated to look into reactivating “Shitty Kitty” the CNO has downplayed that and she now will most likely head to Texas, where all the conventional carriers in the past few years have gone.

As a result the city of Laguna Vista is set to unveil the Rio Grande Valley’s first ever Aircraft Carrier Memorial. As noted by the Brownsville Herald the memorial will include bollards, or posts that secured the ships, from the USS Independence, USS Ranger, and USS Constellation.

Kitty Hawk will no doubt join the collection in good time.

Farewell, Lion: headed to the great razor blade store in the sky (not Port Stanley)

171014-N-VC599-068 NORFOLK (Oct. 14, 2017) Lt. Michael Murmuys carries the last flag flown aboard afloat forward staging base (interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) during the ship’s decommissioning ceremony. The ship, commissioned in 1971, was the 12th and last ship in the Austin-class of amphibious transport dock ships. After being forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation for the past five years, the “Proud Lion” returned to her homeport in September for decommissioning and dismantling. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/Released)

From the Navy’s presser:

Named for the Puerto Rican city of the same name, Ponce served mostly in the Atlantic Fleet, completing 27 deployments in the North Atlantic, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf.

Originally slated for decommissioning in 2011, the “Proud Lion” was refitted and reclassified, based on the USS Kitty Hawk’s (CV 63) role as an afloat special operation staging base during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. And, she was outfitted with a joint Navy – Military Sealift Command (MSC) crew.

Forward deployed for the past five years, the crew provided vital support to U.S. and allied forces in the U.S. 5th Fleet and Central Command, primarily during mine countermeasures operations, but also in international maritime command and control roles. In doing so, the crew launched, recovered and sustained multiple aircraft, riverine and other vessels. Their actions led to the ship and its crew being awarded the Combat Action Ribbon.

All points Falklands?

Contrary to some reports that had her going to Argentina, which caused heartburn in London, the 46-year-old Ponce now joins the inactive fleet and will be dismantled.

Why was that such a big deal?

During the 1982 Falklands Islands War, the Argentine Navy used three new 10,000-ton Costa Sur-class light cargo ships and a 7,800-ton LST (ARA Cabo San Antonio) to invade the islands, with the latter transporting a mixed battalion of two Marine companies, an Army infantry unit, and 20 LVTP7 Amtracs in the initial attack and the cargo ships landing follow-on supplies to bolster the division-sized garrison.

However, Cabo San Antonio was retired in 1997, leaving just the three cargo ships.

One of the trio, Bahia San Blas, has been converted since then to something akin to the amphibious cargo ships used in island hopping during WWII, and has carried Argentine Army troops to Haiti and the former Yugoslavia on UN peacekeeping missions.

Bahia San Blas, note the 1940s surplus LCVPs on deck. She carries four, each of which are good for a light platoon. Current British garrison in the Falklands as part of British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI) is around 1,200

However, while Bahia San Blas can carry a couple hundred sea sick guys in sleeping bags, four LCVP’s on deck (or the Argentine Marine’s aging Amtracs) and containerized cargo, she lacks a drywell for larger landing craft or accommodation for helicopters, meaning she still needs a length of pier to unload and isn’t able to “kick in the door” in a serious amphibious assault with much more than a company-sized force.

Comment on the above from Admiral Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy, and the prospect of the Argies getting Ponce: “At a time when the Argentine government still refuses to accept that UK sovereignty of the Falkland Islands is not up for discussion, I would prefer if our friends such as the United States did not sell them a landing ship capable of launching helicopters and large numbers of troops.”

74 years ago today: A silent testimony

In command of occupied Wake Island after the American surrender of that U.S. Territory in the opening weeks of WWII, Rear Adm. Sakaibara Shigematsu was cut off from resupply by U.S. submarines, and subjected to periodic bombings. After one particularly gnarly raid on 5 October 1943 by Task Force 14 (TF 14), he ordered the execution of the 98 remaining U.S. civilian prisoners to avoid a possible escape attempt.

One escaped, carved “98 US PW 5-10-43” on a coral rock as declaration to the war crime, but was soon recaptured, and beheaded by Shigematsu personally.


Shigematsu was subsequently tried and convicted of war crimes in 1945, and was hung, on Guam, in June 1947.

The identity of the escaped civilian worker who carved the rock was never ascertained. The remains of the murdered civilians were exhumed and reburied at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in section G.

A bronze plaque nearby lists the names of the 98.

I think everyone remembers where they were that day

At 6 WTC, the U.S. Custom’s House had a high-security evidence vault that contained dozens of impounded firearms as part of criminal investigations and a portion of these guns are in the 9/11 Museum.

Vale, Paniku

Vito was a standup guy. One of those charismatic guys who was quick with a joke and a laugh that he delivered so hard that it would buckle him over. A guy’s guy, we always had the best conversations and he was one of the most genuine people that I have ever met. 40 is far, far too young. It goes to prove that the man upstairs comes for the good ones first. The gates of Heaven are well protected and I will have a cigarette for you when I get there.

Rest in peace, Vito.

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

Emily Dickinson, published posthumously.

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