FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Have you really been to the locations in your book?
Yes, with one notable exception. Antarctica. Otherwise, I’ve traveled to or actually lived in most of them. I grew up in West Virginia, and have traveled extensively or lived in the South Eastern United States. I was in the James River Valley as recently as a week or so ago, and along the Savannah River basin even more recently. I have passed through Hawaii, lived in Texas, and moved extensively through Central and South America. I have even logged time in Europe, Korea, and other portions of the Asian and Australian continents.
Why does a Lieutenant General outrank a Major General, when a Major outranks a Lieutenant?
This is actually one of my favorite questions! When the United States decided to start naming our military ranks, we borrowed then from the British. Believe it or not, and this is a slightly more obtuse factoid from military history, the original name for the rank “Major General” was “Sergeant Major General.” Through the years in the British Army, this longer title was eventually shortened to just “Major General.” This is why the Lieutenant General is the higher rank, because it was consistent with Lieutenants out-ranking “Sergeants Major.” Of course, as Command Sergeant Major Clagmore would say, “Lieutenant, you might THINK you out-rank me, but you’ll NEVER out-think me because of rank!”
What did you do in the Army?
I served. Some of things I can talk about? I flew helicopters, and commanded at several levels (Platoon, Company, Battalion, etc.), in Aviation, Medical, and “other” type units. I have a special operations background, and have jumped through the hoops necessary to work in those fields. I also started my career out of college as a Private, and was the rank of Sergeant when I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. As for rest, I’m keeping that on the “down low” or on a “need to know” basis.
Was your Dad in the Navy like General Patrick?
Yes, he was, and he was a man with some very proud service. He was in World War II on a Destroyer Escort, the USS Cloues, in the Pacific. (He had an uncle serving as a Turret Captain, on the USS North Carolina too.) Later he went to Submarine School and served on the USS Seal. Eventually he served in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Air Force Auxiliary, as an aviator/pilot. Hence I grew up around the Navy and with airplanes, which may have something to do with my eventual gravitation towards Army Aviation. Well, that and the fact that I was told that the “only way out of Special Operations was to either die or go to flight school.” Joke was on me, since even after I started flying, I was usually still snagged for the “off the wall” stuff. I also have a working knowledge of the Submarine service, at least as a spectator. As for the Naval Aviation side, I did get deck qualified and have landed and/or operated from several ships to include the USS Capadono (Fast Frigate or FFG); USS Guam (LPH); USS Okinawa (LPH); USS Sphinx (converted LST); USS Enterprise (CVN); and a number of other vessels that include LHA or LHD class ships.
How does a guy in the Army wind up working around the Navy?
In today’s world, the services work together far more than ever before. Much of this started from hard lessons from prior wars or conflicts, but to fight a common enemy requires common communications, planning and consistency. The ability to achieve this requires that members of all services, understand and work with their counterparts in the other services. For a while, the Joint Service position was what was known as a “Purple Suit” position. As opposed to a “Green Suit” (Army), “Blue Suit” (USAF), etc. These lessons harken back to World War II, and Admiral Halsey’s brilliant move in the South Pacific. In that theater of the war, everyone wore Khaki, regardless of service, and it was to enhance everyone’s working together towards a common goal, devoid of inter-service rivalry. More recently, and a personal lesson learned from Grenada, was that Army Aviators doing medical evacuation missions, were unable to land on the ships that were supporting the operation. Having never operated from ships they were at a loss to speak the language or engage in the art of landing on a moving target. So, either the pilots lied, and landed hoping for the best, or they had to land on the beach for the patient to be transferred by boat. Neither option was workable, and because most of the aviators were unfamiliar with how to approach this ship, much less land on it, this situation created huge problems. As a result, the solution was simple, get our guys deck qualified for future operations. Since that pivotal moment, we learned, and it paid dividends later in my career and for the entire services as a whole. Then we get to how special operations came under one roof, with the Joint Special Operations Command, which would be a basis for an entire series of books, and well outside a posting here. Needless to say, working with other services is our acknowledgment that we all have a skill set to bring to the table, and while not to perfection yet, we are at least closer than ever before.