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Author: Subject: An Update from The USS Iwo Jima, now stationed in New Orleans.

Peach Head





Posts: 157
(159 all sites)
Registered: 5/10/2002
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  posted on 9/10/2005 at 01:11 PM
Subject: IWO Update - 6 Sep 05
>
>
> Hello All;
>
>
>
> Since I took over IWO JIMA over a year ago, I felt
> as though I
> had control of the destiny of the ship. I thought I
> lost it today, the
> first time ever, and that we were merely reacting to
> events rather than
> controlling them.
>
>
>
> Within the first 24 hours after arriving pierside
> in New
> Orleans, IWO JIMA has become many things. We are
> one of the few full
> service airports in the area and have been operating
> aircraft on and off
> our deck for almost 15 hours each day. We are also
> one of the only air
> conditioned facilities within a ten mile radius and
> though we have had
> problems making water from the polluted Mississippi,
> we are also the
> only hot shower within miles. All day long we have
> been accommodating
> local policemen, firemen, state troopers, national
> guard, 82nd Airborne
> division personnel with hot showers and hot food. I
> met an ambulance
> team from Minnesota who just drove straight to New
> Orleans when they
> heard of the tragedy and have been supporting
> hospitals free of charge
> for the last week. They hadn't had a hot meal in
> over a week and were
> grateful to have the opportunity to have lunch
> onboard. The Deputy
> Commander of the RI National Guard reported to me
> that he had guardsmen
> who were whipped, but after a hot shower and an IWO
> JIMA breakfast were
> ready to hit the patrols again. Rarely have I seen
> so many smiling,
> happy faces than on these people. After two weeks
> in the trenches
> sleeping on concrete floors, no shower, and eating
> MREs, good ship IWO
> JIMA has been a Godsend. I had an opportunity to
> talk to the Director
> of Homeland Security for a few minutes in my cabin.
> I asked him if
> there was anything more I could do for him, he asked
> if he could get a
> shower. I was glad to turnover my cabin to him.
> The local FEMA
> coordinator and his logistics and security teams
> were on my quarterdeck
> this afternoon asking permission to set up their
> command center on the
> pier next to the ship. While they had sophisticated
> command and control
> equipment, they had no place to berth their 250 FEMA
> members. We were
> glad to give them a home. Contrary to the press,
> all the FEMA people I
> met had been on station since last Sunday (before
> the Hurricane hit),
> never left the area, and have been in the field ever
> since. The command
> duty officer was told that one state trooper had
> driven 80 miles to get
> to the ship. He said that the word was out: Come
> to IWO JIMA. We
> expect that the flood gates will open on us.
>
>
>
> Early this morning we received our first medical
> emergency: an
> elderly woman with stroke-like symptoms. Throughout
> the day we received
> about a dozen medical emergencies, the most serious
> was an elderly man
> who was stabbed in the chest and was bleeding to
> death. The doctors
> performed surgery on him and saved his life. I
> toured the hospital
> ward; all our charges were elderly and disadvantaged
> individuals. As
> with Hotel IWO JIMA, we expect to see many more
> casualties tomorrow.
>
>
>
> Our curse appears to be our flight deck and our
> extraordinary
> command and control capabilities. Our challenge
> today was the tidal
> wave of Flag and General Officers that flooded
> onboard, 17 total,
> virtually all without notice. I couldn't believe
> there were so many
> involved in this effort and they all wanted to come
> here. They poured
> onto the flight deck in one helicopter after another
> in order to meet
> with General Honore, the Joint Task Force Commander.
> The majority
> showed up around the same time and all wanted to
> leave at the same time,
> making it a nightmare for our flight deck team to
> control and coordinate
> flights on and off the ship for all these admirals
> and generals while
> supporting the humanitarian effort. I spent most of
> the day running
> around the ship getting these people off and on
> helicopters and in and
> out of the meetings and command spaces. It was like
> herding cats. But
> the ship performed superbly and "flexed" to meet the
> challenge.
> Regretfully, we expect nearly 20 admirals and
> generals onboard tomorrow
> for more meetings. To add to the challenges,
> virtually all of these
> commands are sending liaison staffs to help
> coordinate issues, and
> already a number of admirals and generals have
> "permanently" embarked.
> The Inn is full.
>
>
>
> I talked to one of the FEMA team members who had
> also worked the
> disaster relief for 9/11. I asked him how much more
> difficult was the
> Katrina relief effort compared to 9/11. He said it
> was without measure:
> thousand of times worse than 9/11. He couldn't
> articulate the magnitude
> of the destruction.
>
>
>
> Despite all the challenges, I think we regained
> control by the
> end of the day. We are forearmed for tomorrow's
> onslaught. At our
> evening Dept Head meeting, I asked all my principals
> to tell me what the
> stupidest thing they heard or saw today. The list
> was enormous. But
> the most absurd item was when my Tactical Action
> Officer, who runs our
> 24 hour command center (CIC) got a phone call from
> the Director of the
> New Orleans Zoo. Apparently, there was a large fire
> near the zoo. It
> was so intense that the fire department had to
> abandon the cause, but
> military helos were heavily engaged in scooping up
> giant buckets of
> water and dumping in on the blaze in an effort to
> put it out. The
> director complained to us that the noise from the
> helos was disturbing
> the animals, especially the elephants, which he was
> most concerned
> about, and asked us to stop. The TAO thanked him
> for his interest in
> national defense.
>
>
>
> It is inspiring to meet and talk to such a huge
> number of
> individuals who are doing the Lord's work to recover
> this city. They
> have had little sleep, little food, no showers,
> working 16-18 hours a
> day, and in some cases no pay, and they are thanking
> ME for a hot meal!
> Only in America. We have turned the corner. It
> will take an awful long
> time, but we have turned the corner.
>
>
>
> All the best,
>
> RSC

 
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Peach Head



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  posted on 9/10/2005 at 01:16 PM
Subject: IWO Update - 7 Sep 05
>
> Hello All;
>
>
>
> We finally had a chance to have Captain's Call this
> morning.
> The ship has been running at full speed for 8 days
> straight with a
> myriad of changing missions and requirements piled
> on top of us. I
> thought it best to tell the crew where I thought
> this was going and what
> impact we have made. I told them that as with any
> contingency
> operations there is that initial surge of energy and
> inspiration that
> often times gives way to frustration and tedium; I
> did not want them to
> underestimate the magnitude of what they were
> accomplishing each day by
> their hard work on the flight deck, the galley, the
> well deck, CIC,
> Radio Central (JMC), on the pier, and in the
> engineering spaces to
> support this great undertaking. Every job on the
> ship is important and
> the contribution of IWO JIMA has already been
> enormous.
>
>
>
> Our contributions have been growing. Today, we
> opened out doors
> to 900-1,200 Army, National Guard, and local law
> enforcement personnel
> to take showers and get hot meals. We were getting
> overwhelmed. There
> was a steady stream of 60 to 100 every hour on the
> quarterdeck asking to
> come onboard and get refreshed. The word has
> obviously gotten out. One
> Army Captain told the Command Master Chief that his
> unit of 60 soldiers
> had come from 60 miles away because his general told
> him to "go to IWO
> JIMA and they'll take care of you." We couldn't say
> no.
>
>
>
> Not satisfied with the record-setting flight
> operations
> yesterday, the flight deck team nearly doubled the
> number of aircraft
> hits. At one point the team was bringing in Army
> Blackhawks two at a
> time, one group after another in perfect sequence.
> It was an impressive
> sight to behold. Medical casualties continued to
> come onboard the ship,
> some by stretcher and ambulance, others by air or
> boat. After
> yesterday, the Medical folks reworked their
> procedures, so today
> everything flowed smoothly. Supply department has
> served up thousands
> of meals; the mess line never closes. Deck
> department got back to their
> roots and conducted boat operations and a sterngate
> marriage with
> TORTUGA's LCM-8 landing craft, moving more supplies
> to our sister ship.
> But lest we forget, the bedrock of IWO JIMA's
> strength lies in three
> simple things: electricity, air conditioning, hot
> water - all provided
> by the uncomplaining engineers.
>
>
>
> But of all the manifold capabilities of good ship
> IWO JIMA,
> medical, logistic, and air support, our command and
> control capabilities
> have moved to the forefront. It almost sounds
> surreal but IWO JIMA has
> literally become the headquarters, the "center of
> the universe" for all
> Federal recovery efforts - DoD as well as civilian.
> It is on this ship
> that the myriad efforts have all come together.
> Yesterday, for the
> first time ever, some 17 admirals and generals got
> together with the
> Joint Task Force Commander, General Honore, face to
> face to coordinate
> the numerous and ever growing military recovery and
> support efforts.
> Today, the same cadre of admirals and generals were
> back onboard but
> this time accompanied by the civilian side. FEMA
> has now established
> their headquarters on the pier along side (and
> onboard IWO JIMA) to
> better coordinate their efforts with us. But with
> this has come an ever
> growing number of staff members embarking on the
> ship. Our population
> has grown from a crew of some 1,200 to nearly 2,500
> (including several
> hundred guardsmen and soldiers living onboard) with
> all the detachments,
> augments, and now senior staffs. I think we are now
> up to one
> three-star, one two-star, and four one-stars
> embarked good ship IWO
> JIMA. We are bursting at the seams. We have spent
> the vast majority of
> our days taking care of and chasing down the myriad
> staff members. It
> is like herding cats, except these cats fly on and
> off our flight deck
> periodically.
>
>
>
> I had a chance to meet Governor Blanco of Louisiana
> and her
> Lieutenant Governor today when she came onboard for
> the giant 1200
> briefing with General Honore and were later joined
> by Admiral Nathman
> and Vice Admiral Fitzgerald. The ships Ready Room
> was bursting at the
> seams with senior officers and high officials - you
> had to step outside
> just to change your mind. I had seen the Governor
> on TV many times.
> She looked different in person: tired and worn out.
> She told me that
> she was averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night,
> but smiled, "I guess
> that's about what you get in the military." You
> could see the severe
> strain of the past weeks events. I quoted her the
> famous line from
> Churchill the night be became Prime Minister of
> wartime Britain, "that
> it was as if I were walking with Destiny, and that
> all of my past life
> had been but preparation for this moment and this
> trial." The recovery
> from the damage of Hurricane Katrina is an
> unprecedented trial for the
> Governor and many, many others. My observation is
> that America,
> throughtout her history, has always been slow to
> respond, but once that
> powerful engine gets into gear it is massive and
> unstoppable. I suspect
> this will also be the case for the Gulf Coast.
>
>
>
> It has become our tradition at the evening
> department head
> meeting to go around the room and have each person
> list the stupidest or
> silliest thing they heard or saw during the day. As
> you can imagine,
> the log book is overflowing with accounts.
> Yesterday it was the helos
> and the elephants at the zoo. Today it was me. I
> have been inundated
> with doing interviews: CNN, Pentagon press, Regina
> Mobley and Channel
> 13 news, the Boston Globe, Carla McCabe and the Army
> Times, and finally
> Greta Van Susturen. We did a spot with Greta on the
> pier this morning
> with the massive bow of IWO JIMA in the background
> and helos flying on
> and off the ship with great noise - an impressive
> backdrop for this
> puffed up officer. As I was being interviewed by
> Greta, a pair of
> Blackhawks swooped onto the flight deck sending up a
> great wind which
> blew off my ball cap. I instinctively scrambled
> after it before it blew
> into the water. When I turned around the FOX News
> photographer looked
> at me and smiled, "I got that on film."
>
>
>
> Look for me chasing my hat down the pier on the
> next Fox News
> spot.
>
>
>
> All the best,
>
> RSC

 
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Peach Head



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Posts: 157
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  posted on 9/10/2005 at 01:25 PM
A link to a description of this vessel:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/navy/lhd-7.htm

 
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