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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/12/2005 11:52:56 AM EDT
In two parts.

This and the follow-on post will be long...occasionally technical and sometimes rather esoteric...but VERY enlightening. I think you will enjoy the read and gain a good understanding of what the status was at the time of the writing and how the Navy is contributing to the relief efforts.

These newsletters were written by the IWO JIMA CO, Captain Richard S. Callas.

Here is IWO JIMA's site: www.iwo-jima.navy.mil/co.htm




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


Link Posted: 9/12/2005 11:54:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By LWilde:
The TAO thanked him for his interest in national defense.




Should have ordered weapons-free on the elephants.
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 11:58:48 AM EDT
And here is page two...


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, throughout 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

Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:06:35 PM EDT
For those who don't know what an LHD is:





Of course, to old farts like me, "IWO JIMA" still brings THIS immediately to mind! :

Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:07:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By LWilde:
all provided by the uncomplaining engineers.




Who gives a shit what the snipes think, anyway?
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:08:45 PM EDT
That is one squared-away Naval officer! he is clearly in charge, yet seems to be taking the enormous, unexpected pressure in stride and with a brilliant sense of humor! Thank God for the Iwo Jima and her tireless crew as they continue to provide rescue, relief and recovery to the embattled region!

Go NAVY!

Poor SOB - host to 17 high-ranking officers! A fate worse than death right there!
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:12:28 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Zaphod:

Originally Posted By LWilde:
all provided by the uncomplaining engineers.




Who gives a shit what the snipes think, anyway?



ooooh your gonna pay for that someday. God himself is a snipe, didn't they tell you?

Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:14:41 PM EDT
I feel for the junior troops who have to put up with the bullshit.

"Stepping outside to change your mind" - Classic!


Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:18:03 PM EDT
You know the Captains day was much better on the 11th....


050911-N-6204K-001 New Orleans (Sept. 11, 2005) - President George W. Bush pauses to shake the hand of the Navy personnel standing quarterdeck watches before departing the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). President Bush visited New Orleans and Iwo Jima to observe first hand the results of the rescue and recovery missions carried out by the military. Iwo Jima is currently pier side in New Orleans, assisting in Joint Task Force Katrina hurricane relief efforts to bring much needed supplies and help to Gulf Coast region. The Navy's involvement in the humanitarian assistance operations is being led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Department of Defense. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Christian Knoell (RELEASED)


Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:29:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DzlBenz:
That is one squared-away Naval officer! he is clearly in charge, yet seems to be taking the enormous, unexpected pressure in stride and with a brilliant sense of humor! Thank God for the Iwo Jima and her tireless crew as they continue to provide rescue, relief and recovery to the embattled region!

Go NAVY!

Poor SOB - host to 17 high-ranking officers! A fate worse than death right there!



No shit brother! But if he has balls (and it certainly sounds like he does) they ALL know who's ship it is, it's the swabbies and junior officers I feel sorry for.
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:39:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Zaphod:

Originally Posted By LWilde:
all provided by the uncomplaining engineers.




Who gives a shit what the snipes think, anyway?





Keep saying that and your damn water will be turned off!
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:44:27 PM EDT

Originally Posted By KA3B:
You know the Captains day was much better on the 11th....

www.navy.mil/management/photodb/webphoto/web_050911-N-6204K-001.jpg
050911-N-6204K-001 New Orleans (Sept. 11, 2005) - President George W. Bush pauses to shake the hand of the Navy personnel standing quarterdeck watches before departing the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). President Bush visited New Orleans and Iwo Jima to observe first hand the results of the rescue and recovery missions carried out by the military. Iwo Jima is currently pier side in New Orleans, assisting in Joint Task Force Katrina hurricane relief efforts to bring much needed supplies and help to Gulf Coast region. The Navy's involvement in the humanitarian assistance operations is being led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Department of Defense. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Christian Knoell (RELEASED)





BONG-BONG...BONG-BONG...BONG-BONG...BONG-BONG:

United States, Departing!


Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:47:02 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Dino:

Originally Posted By Zaphod:

Originally Posted By LWilde:
all provided by the uncomplaining engineers.




Who gives a shit what the snipes think, anyway?



ooooh your gonna pay for that someday. God himself is a snipe, didn't they tell you?





But Jesus is a fellow Twidget, so I'm safe!
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:47:38 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DzlBenz:

Poor SOB - host to 17 high-ranking officers! A fate worse than death right there!



Brother, ain't THAT the truth!
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 12:50:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By LWilde:

Originally Posted By Zaphod:

Originally Posted By LWilde:
all provided by the uncomplaining engineers.




Who gives a shit what the snipes think, anyway?





Keep saying that and your damn water will be turned off!




It turned off all the time anyway.

I had almost forgotten how wonderful it was to shower in water that went from ice cold to scalding hot and back again in a matter of half a second. I swear before anything you want me to pick that the different jets in the showerhead each had different temperatures!
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 1:18:04 PM EDT
I had to take a minute and make sure I wasn't smoking crack again. When I was on the Iwo in 90-91 (Desert Shield/Storm) it was an LPH-2...I did not realize it had been "reborn" as and LPD.
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 1:27:20 PM EDT
tag
Link Posted: 9/12/2005 1:37:19 PM EDT
Hey, when I was on the Stennis I only had two cold showers, no JP-5 showers, no salt water showers and three no-water days (shower or clothes washing).

The rest of the time it was "Hollywood shower, accelerate your life, full speed ahead".


Link Posted: 9/12/2005 2:13:47 PM EDT

Originally Posted By KA3B:
Hey, when I was on the Stennis I only had two cold showers, no JP-5 showers, no salt water showers and three no-water days (shower or clothes washing).

The rest of the time it was "Hollywood shower, accelerate your life, full speed ahead".






Fucking brown shoes.....
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