The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 30, 2001 · Page 8
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 8

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Salina, Kansas
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Monday, April 30, 2001
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THE SALINA JOURNAL MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2001 A9 Tom Bell Editor & Publisher Opinions ' expressed on tliis page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljoumaLcom Quote of the day "I feel like I'm just a kid who grew up in Scandia." Judge Deanell Reece Tacha chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit Radar madness THE BSIIE Death in Peru THEARGUMBVT U.S. role is indefensible F federal officials should abandon all attempts to figure out why a Peruvian Air Force jet shot down the wrong airplane as part of the drug interdiction flights it conducts with CIA assistance. It shoiild stop wondering why the wrong plane was shot down, because that suggests there is such a thing as a right plane to shoot down. And there quite simply is no such thing. For reasons that only make sense to people who are thoroughly addicted to the anti-drug drug, the Peruvian Air Force apparently patrols its skies in search of the many civilian planes that, undoubtedly, ferry large shipments of illegal drugs to the United States and unbelievable amovints of American cash back to Peru. Apparently U.S. officials, who should know better, assign surveillance aircraft to assist the Peruvian warplanes in their search for these 21st century rum-runners. It is not clear how often such planes get shot down, because most of them don't carry American missionaries and their children. But the one that was fired upon April 20 did. The attack killed American citizen Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter Her husband and their 6-year-old son survived the crash, as did the pilot. The U.S. government personnel involved in this tragedy did not authorize the shoot-down. Apparently they even tried to stop it. But they were the ones who tracked the unarmed plane and located it for the fighter jock to lock on to. Normally, if a fighter jet from any other nation opened fire on an unarmed civilian aircraft carrying innocent American citizens, the outcry against that other government would be loud and universal. But because that fighter pilot was on an anti-drug mission, more or less in cooperation with the U.S. Puzzle Palace and its lawless law enforcement efforts, the response is muted and the excuses come fast and furious. Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., chairman of the House so-called Intelligence Committee, referred to the Peruvians as "good partners" in the anti-drug efforts. With partners like that, this dance is too expensive. Warplanes exist to shoot down other warplanes. To have them train their tremendous and sophisticated firepower on unknown Cessnas is hardly a sport for grown men. And it is hardly an activity for a national security establishment that is supposed to be protecting freedom. U.S. participation in such military actions should cease immediately and permanently The flow of drugs into America can only be dealt with,, practically and morally in America. — George B. Pyle Journal Columnist LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters@saljournal.com Help to build a healthy citizenry In the April 19 issue of the Journal I read about Richard Strange and Sandra Branda's proposal to extend the 2-mile bike and hike trail. I am writing to strongly support that idea. People need a place for outdoor recreation and what better way to enjoy the outdoors than to bike or hike! The exercise is also good for one's health. , Why should those who^enjoy hiking have to drive 500 miles to Colorado or over the line in- 1 to Missouri where some good : trails are available to enjoy hiking or biking? What about the young people in the city? Children are in need of such access to open space. I think most , churches have youth groups. ' What a wonderful way for the : groups to get out together for ; fun. There is always much palaver about children on drugs. If they had youth leaders who formed biking clubs, they would have a worthwhile outlet for their energies. Abandoned rail lines are another possibility for developing • hiking and biking trails. How; ever, there are always a few negative-minded citizens who RO. Box 740, Sallna, KS 67402 mount a loud campaign against the use of these abandoned rail sites. Such people probably have never gotten out of their comfy chair and done anything exciting in their lives. I have often thought that there ought to be a hiking-biking trail from Lake Kanopolis to Cheyenne Bottoms, two of the prime recreation areas in central Kansas. Why nothing has been done over the last 25 to 30 years to bring about such a trail baffles me. I think the use of the trail would appeal to people of all ages. Let's get away from the boob tube and all those pills people seem to pop. Help buUd a healthy citizenry Going back to the article, the cost factor came up. I find it difficult to believe that the cost of building the existing two-mile trail came to $280,000. That is probably what that stretch of levee cost to build — not the cost for the bike trail on top of it. Building a longer trail on the levee would give more residents of Salina access and just might attract some tourists to stay aroimd a day or two longer, too. Let's go for it, Salina! — HUBERTINE MOG Wilson T LIBERTIES Talking about their generation The Greatest Generation is losing many of the qualities that made it great W ASHINGTON — I told my mom I thought this Greatest Generation thing was getting a little out of hand. She gave me a steely look. "We saved your butt," she said. She began reminiscing about the way she finagled to get meat ^ during the war by finding a vegetarian family in the neighborhood and trading her vegetable ration card for their meat ration card. Yeah, yeah, I thought, she's playing the ration card. Sipping my $5 cup of coffee, I pondered how sad it is that the Unsung Generation had become the Singing Generation. We encouraged ovu: parents to stop being so mod- # est and share their stories. Now they can't stop gushing and celebrating themselves. Boomers have done a bad, bad thing. We have made our self-effacing elders as self-regarding as we are. We plumbed our own yuppie depths and found them shallow. So we moved on to plumb our parents, and fill our shallows with their depths. Not satisfied with one Me Generation, we made two. We felt guilty about not being more like them, strong and silent. So we made them more like us, gabby and navel-gazing. T POINT OF VIEW MAUREEN DOWD Vie New York Times There is a geyser of World War II reunions, oral histories, Web sites, panels, TV specials. The veterans want to violate the beautiful Mall here with a kitschy memorial to themselves. There is even talk of a World War II channel — all Hitler, all the time. (Isn't the History Channel already doing that?) The Stephen Ambrose histories and Tom Brokaw books of memories keep coming. "I'm stiU getting a couple of hundred letters a week," Brokaw said Tuesday, flying back from giving a speech in Toronto to neurosurgeons about the Greatest Generation. "You can't turn it off Everybody wants in. I can't go out without people pressing their stories into my hands. They send me books and unpublished memoirs every day. "I'm a little concerned. I hope the World War II generation doesn't lose that quality that made them so appealing: their modesty, and the way they are always looking forward and seldom looking back." Hollywood is lavishing more money on World War II movies now than it did during the war The Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks 10-part HBO mini-series "Band of Brothers," about the Army division that captured Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden, will premiere at Utah Beach in Normandy on D-Day. The press release notes: "Invitations wiU be sent to the heads of state of The United States, Great Britain, France and Canada, as well as the children and/or grandchildren of Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower" (What about Betty Grable's family?) Before the screening, "there will be a memorial service, complete with a col­ or guard, honor guard and U.S. bomber contingent flyover" (It's bigger than the Talk/Miramax party!) "Pearl Harbor," with Ben Affleck, the biggest movie budget ever approved, will debut in May on board a Navy battleship in Pearl Harbor The invitation offers dressing tips: "Military Attire: Navy: Service Dress White. Army: Army White. Air Force: Service Dress. Marine Corps: Blue/White 'B.' Coast Guard: Service Dress White." (Army White?) (Studio executives: Fred Segal vintage Hawaiian shirt, stainless steel Nokias with earpieces.) Nicolas Cage is starring in two World War II movies, "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" and "Windtalkers," a John Woo movie about Navajo code talkers. Spielberg, who says human experience* trumps human imagination, just outbid Clint Eastwood to make "Flags of Our Fathers," the best seller by a son of one of the six Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. Bruce Willis stars in the adaptation of John Katzenbach's World War II novel "Hart's War," based on an incident in the life of his father, former U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach. The danger of forcing the Silent Generation into self-examination is that they will come to regard their children as even more spoiled and vacuous. They will have to immodestly admit how infinitely superior wartime sacrifice is to millennial fripperies, how much cooler it is to save the world from Nazis than swivet over the Nas­ daq, to storm the beaches than to storm the Stairmasters. Will they look at us and conclude it was aU downhill after V-E Day? Sub skipper may have been too good Report suggests that the crew just stood back to watch the old man shine T hreaded through the H9-page report of the Navy Court of Inquiry on the Ehime Maru tragedy is a notion that some may find surprising: that demonstrated competence in a commanding officer could be dangerous. Cmdr Scott Waddle, who was the skipper of the USS GreeneviUe when the submarine surfaced and collided . with the Japanese training vessel last February, is now being released by the Navy on full pension for the mistakes he made in that | tragedy. But by all accounts, before this event he was a superior officer, well- respected by his subordinates. That seems to have been a problem, according to the admirals who conducted the inquiry Waddle was so good at his job that the peo- ^ pie under his command were almost lulled into complacency "The crew was accustomed to the CO directing actions and maneuvers on the ship in challenging operational environments," said the court. "They trusted his judgment (sic) as it had brought them success. This was a factor in the crew not providing the degree of forceful backup that was required on 9 February" In particular, the JOHN HALL Media General Newsservice sonar crew felt that Waddle was so good at his job when he raised the periscope and saw nothing that they were not willing to contradict him. The evidence of a fast-closing surface vessel just couldn't be true, they felt. This is what is reaUy hard to take when you look at Waddle ending his naval career If he had been a drunk or a sadist or a chucklehead, it would be easier to watch him go down. But he was none of those. Instead, words like engaged, personable, charismatic, gregarious and professional fill the same report that lays the blame for this accident squarely in his cabin. The Navy is losing an outstanding officer Apparently, Waddle had been mildly criticized at one point by the commander of submarine forces in the Pacific, who said he should "not run too fast" and give his crew the opportunity to grow. The reason was that Waddle was known as a "hands-on" manager who was fully engaged with the operation of the Greeneville, particularly during difficult drills. On the day of the accident, he was directing what is called an "angles evolution" and other high speed undersea maneuvers, telling his deck officer precisely what angle of attack and what depth he wanted achieved. Waddle's habit was to provide direction and close oversight even to experienced officers during difficult maneuvers. This struck the admirals as unusual. It resulted in crew members who thought the world of him but grew accustomed to letting him run the show instead of doing the job themselves. His response, when questioned about whether his management style deprived underlings of valuable training, was that people would learn from seeing him do it correctly On the day of this accident, there were problems with equipment, sonar, absentees and a lot of showing off for civilians. Indeed, Waddle seems to have been a little too eager to "showcase" the Greeneville, and — as the court sniffed — "quick to take advantage of opportunities to make his command, the Navy and himself look good." However, the biggest problem with that day, the admirals suggest, is that the crew had not been forced to learn their jobs and had come to depend on Waddle. They thought he was so good that they were unwilling to believe his eyesight might be failing. The Court of Inquiry criticized Waddle's "directive nature." which comes as a surprise to those of us who thought officers were bred to be that way The problem with Waddle may have been an inability to delegate authority It is hard to hee how he could be any other way, because the Navy holds the skipper responsible for everything on board a ship. Whether intended or not, the suggestion that comes from the court is that the modern Navy might be better off with more standoffish and incompetent skippers than Waddle was. That way crews may hop to and do their work because they know the old man is so out of it. • Washington correspondent John Hall can be reached by e-mail at jhall@media- general.com. DOONESBURY FLASHBACKS By G.B. TRUDEAU

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