USS Greeneville


Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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Hello all.

Did anyone else catch Commander Scott Waddle chatting on Larry King Live the other night.

What a guy!

In this day in age of everyone passing the buck, for a man like that to lose everything and accept full responsibility with no grudges for the tragic accident was truly refreshing.

Regards

Sam
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Well, Ronald Reagan magnanimously took responsibility for lots of stuff and then just ignored it, or didn't care. I'm not impressed by that. There are some people who think Waddle got off lightly. He gets a full Navy retirement pension, retains his rank, and yet his mistake killed nine Japanese sailors. Would you be impressed if the U.S.S. Greenville killed your father, brother or husband?

One Admiral wanted to court martial him --do you think he would have accepted "full responsibility" if he had been faced with that?

We all know that a Captain of a vessel virtually has no choice but to accept full responsbility when something goes wrong. So by accepting full responsibility, what did Waddle do that he wasn't already obligated to accept responsibility for?

Finally, the Navy is notorious for scandals: the U.S.S. Iowa gun explosion (killing 47 sailors) where the Navy came up with this really cockeyed story of sabotage, the "Tailhook" scandal, and now this.

Further, there's a lot more going on that you never hear about. For example, as Michael and I discussed on this board the so-called "love boat" --known as the Aircraft Carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, where some years ago the ship went out and when it came back some 90 or more women aboard were pregnant.

Former Senator and Presidental Candidate John Kerry, previously a Navy Seal, recently revealed that he and members of his Navy Seal team murdered many innocent civilians during the Vietnam War, in raids. He just now accepted responsibility for having done that some 35 years ago.

So, "accepting responsibility" doesn't matter that much. It puts you just a mousehair higher than J. Bruce Ismay on an already low scale of integrity.

I read about a former Japanese soldier who participated in the so-called rape of Nanking during WWII, in Iris Chang's "The Rape Of Nanking." At his business, he regularly plays a video of the horrible destruction of Nanking, every day, to remind him of what he participated in. That's accepting resposibility.

Certainly, Waddle's negligence doesn't nearly reach that degree, but the point is, "accepting full resposibility" is a relative concept, and often a tactic used to save face. No one truly accepts full responsibility --except the nine guys who are now dead.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Jan -- Your dislike for the military and the U.S. Navy is obvious. I suspect you are not alone in your beliefs. But, consider whether or not you would be able to type the message you just sent without the services of men like Commander Waddle.

The U.S. Constitution may guarantee freedom, but it is the force of arms that insures those freedoms. That is why the primary function of the federal government is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

Commander Waddle has taken full responsibility for his actions. That is honor. He did not blame someone else, nor did he quibble over the definition of the word "is." Waddle's sense of duty and responsibility is refreshing in a world where selfishness has been raised to a virtue.

-- David G. Brown
 

Sam Brannigan

Member
Feb 24, 2007
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Jan - as far as I have heard (which admittedly isn't much here in Ireland) this was all a very tragic accident which should not have happened but did.

No one is infallible, and terrible as it is that nine people died in this accident it seems to me that Commander Waddle has acted impeccably since the incident.

It is obvious that this incident, and by that I mean the loss of life more than his command, will overshadow the rest of his life. It would have been easy for Waddle to try and attach the blame to one of his subordinates but he did not and this is as much a testimony to the discipline wtihin the US Navy as it is to him.

I find the reference to the Rape of Nanking drastic in relation to this accident, as this was obviously not a premeditated action and I also feel that Commander Waddle is a fair way above J Bruce Ismay in terms of moral integrity.

The man was involved in an accident, he has accepted full responsibility instead of pointing out any his crew members and he has accepted the loss of a true vocation for himself with grace and dignity.

Regards

Sam
 
Mar 3, 1998
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I just happened to be talking to someone in the submarine community this weekend and he said it was well known in the community, even before the accident, that CDR Waddle was a self-important, risk-taking so-and-so.

So what? Procedures are supposed to keep the playing field safe and level, no matter what personalities are on the field. But, it sometimes happens that an occasional personality will come along and overwhelm the procedure, with the result that ship happens. E.J. Smith might not have been as abrasive as CDR Waddle, but he was as big a risk-taker. His violation of procedure, whether informally sanctioned by the Line or not, killed a lot more than 9 students. So, it's not just the U.S. Navy which is involved in scandal.

I saw a lot during my career in the Navy. Yes, there's a lot that goes on that the public doesn't know about. Most of it is none of the public's business. I-have-a-right-to-know fanatics are wrong about one thing...paying taxes does not automatically give you have the right to know everything. Argue it the whole day long, but that's not going to change. The military is not a democracy, and a successful democracy needs an un-democratic military to safeguard her liberties. In my experience, I have seen many more lives saved by our Navy than I have seen lost or hurt. So, the system, imperfect as it is, works.

Sure, the Navy has had its badly-handled scandals. Humans are in the loop, and they sometimes make decisions based on human emotions. More often than not, those human-based decisions save lives. It's a thin line to thread, and I dare anyone to show me where it's done better (keep in mind that as the stakes are raised, so do the risks...I would like for someone to show me an organisation that accomplishes as much as our Navy with less mistakes, with one exception which I will discuss below).

Why are we having this conversation on this particular board? The same argument applies to the decision-making that led to Titanic's demise, as I've already alluded to above. The same decision-making process applies today, in many areas that affect your safety. What you need to do is find out if the overall outcome is worth the occasional sacrifice.

I've given plenty here for people to get riled at. You can go ahead and retaliate, but nothing anyone can say will change the basic fact that our Navy is doing the job our Government chartered it to do, and is doing it well. In my opinion, there's only one other service who does their overall job better, and that is the USMC (which is within the Department of the Navy). Feel free to disagree with me -- it's one of the freedoms which I used to protect, and which I continue to support.

Parks
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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I would say that the Coast Guard does a lot more then people think. Withe plenty of mistakes here and there just like any other service. But the Coast Guard does not train for something that might happen. But constantly works to accomplish what is happening.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Jan, I would have to throw in my lot with David, Sam, Erik, and Parks, who all said it far better then I could. In a self important age where passing the buck and blame shifting is all in vogue, it's refreshing to see somebody...anybody at all...fess up and say "I screwed up" especially on television with millions of people watching as one does a mea culpa. Waddell did just that. He may be quite a piece of work, but to do as he did takes guts.

The Navy is far from perfect and that's due to the fact that it, like any organisation, public or private, is made up of very fallible human beings.

As much as it tries, nothing about the Navy, or any branch of the military, can ever be made risk free. The military is the sort of organisation which needs risk takers because of the deadly serious nature of it's charter. It's members work on a day to day basis with high performance equipment, aircraft, ships, and weapons. Accidents, however regretable, are inevitable because of the human factor I mentioned.

What I find curious, and not just a little aggravating, is that so much attention is focused on the mistakes, and nothing is ever mentioned about what the military does right, or of the couragous men and women who go in harms way in some of the most unmentionable hellholes on the face of the planet. Do you know anybody who would volunteer to do a summer cruise through an unswept minefeild? I've done that. Have you ever fought a shipboard fire or seen a shipmate killed in an accident? Been there done that too!

How about going to countries to protect people who would just as soon cut your throat as look at you, even if all you're trying to see to it that they get their next meal. (Ever hear of Somalia?)

It takes a special sort of person to do all that, endure months or even years of family seperation, and all to protect the freedoms and interests of people who thank you for your trouble by spitting on you or calling you a baby killer. You might want to give that some thought, as I've been down that road. I didn't like it, but I'd do it again if I had to as I think our country, however imperfect, is worth the trouble.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Actually, there's a very pertinent point here. The crew of the Greenville didn't ask to have civilians aboard...SUBPAC promoted the issue in order to gain favourable publicity with a select group of locals. Basically, an aggressive guy like Waddle was encouraged by his superiors to show off the capabilities of his submarine so that the public would think highly of the Navy. It happens all the time, in all services.

Back to 1912.... Do I have to continue? The analogy is fairly obvious.

Parks

P.S. By the way, it occured to me after I posted that I didn't give the complete story. Reading my words, it looks as though I was insinuating that there should not be any oversight on the military. That's not true. There rightly should be, and is, Congressional oversight of the armed services. They are the elected representatives of the American people and have influence over the military through control of the services' budgets. Again, the system isn't perfect, but it seems to work fairly well. If you don't like something that the Navy does, then have your Congressman address the issue. If he/she doesn't, vote him/her out and elect a new representative.
 

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