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By Major Van Harl USAF Ret

USS Oglethorpe

USS Oglethorpe (AKA-100) underway off of NOB Norfolk, July 1964

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Wisconsin --(Ammoland.com)-  My farm sits in a valley with no natural flat ground to build on. I had to have some excavating work down in order to build a pole barn.

I also had what we call the “flat spot” dug out of the side of a hill to create a level location for possible later building of a cabin. The problem is the contractor opened up a natural spring on the “flat spot.

I know if you live in Oklahoma you would love to have a natural spring seeping out water round the clock on your dry parched land, but in Wisconsin it can be a problem.

That problem is mud.

The Colonel and I drove our 4 x 4 truck onto the “flat spot” and promptly got the front tires stuck, buried in the mud. I have an old Toyota Land Cruiser sitting in the pole barn, so I walked back to get it. In the Land Cruiser I keep an inch and a half in diameter, old 50 foot nylon rope handy for just these kinds of situations. I call it my “Oglethorpe rope.”

The USS Oglethorpe, AKA 100 was an attack cargo ship built at the end of WWII. It was a type of ship that landed supplies on the beaches in support of Naval / Marine amphibious operations. The Oglethorpe was at Inchon, Korea when MacArthur landed there in September 1950. It sat off the coast of Cuba in 1962 ready to deploy onto the beaches of that country during the Cuba Missile Crisis.

In 1968 after spending almost four months in dry dock under-going an expensive overhaul, the USS Oglethorpe was de-commissioned and later sold off for scrap. Large metal dumpsters were set on the pier next to the Oglethorpe and “stuff” was just hauled off the ship and pitched into the garbage, really good “stuff.”

My father was the senior Master Chief on board the Oglethorpe during the de-commissioning and was always bringing home treasures that were headed to the dump. One of those treasures was my 50 foot hunk of nylon rope that had been used to lash down stowed cargo. I used that rope and other ropes the Master Chief brought home to build rope bridges at Scout camp.

Over the years all the other ropes have faded away, but not the primary 50 foot “Oglethorpe rope.” I have towed many a vehicle with that rope in the past 46 years (nylon does not rot). I used it on the Alaska Highway in 1978 to help pull a vehicle out of a ditch in the middle of no-where. I have tied it to trees to pull them with a vehicle so they fell in the direction I needed, as I took a chainsaw to the tree in question.

As I was pulling my stuck truck out of the mud I thought of our military. Just as the Oglethorpe was scrapped, so, is much of our current Department of Defense (DoD) headed that way.

There were thousands of US ships in the Navy during WWII, then the downsizing started and when the Korean War happened in 1950 we were not ready. We again downsized the military after Vietnam, but President Regan stepped in, in the early 1980s and started a build-up of the Navy. He wanted a 600 ship naval force. Today the US Navy has less than 300 ships and is headed closer to only 200 ships in the next five years.

The Navy and the Air Force are half the size now that they were when I joined the military in the late 1970s.

Oglethorpe Rope

How much longer will it be before we come to the end of our nation’s “Oglethorpe rope?”

Current politicians and senior military officers fail to remember as they insist on more cuts to the DoD, that we have already cut the Navy and Air Force by almost 50 percent in thirty years (the other branches have also suffered).

Just how much do you want to cut and still expect our nation to be ready to go into harm’s way should the need arise?

I also have a small water-tight first aid kit that came off the Oglethorpe that I have used all these years (I do replace the contents). Many Boy Scout canoe trips, fishing and hunting trips, field operations in the Air Force and road trips in my truck have seen the use of that Navy sea going first aid kit. I used it many times to stop the bleeding.

When is my government, my big Air Force, and the elected politicians going to stop the bleeding of the military?

Do we have to lose an air base or a carrier strike group before we realize enough is enough with the cuts to our nation’s defense? How much longer will it be before we come to the end of our nation’s “Oglethorpe rope?” Evil is out there and it wants the US as its target. Circle the wagons and bring strong rope, we are going to need it.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
vanharl@aol.com

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”  vanharl@aol.com

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  • One User comment to “Oglethorpe Rope”

    1. wjamyers on June 10, 2014 at 12:08 PM said:

      The United States is already essentially bankrupt. We do not have any excess funds to allow us to weather any kind of storm, military, financial, or otherwise. A reckoning is coming and when the bond markets stop taking US treasuries the Fed will no longer be able to keep interest rates low. Even a few points increase will put us instantly in the red. It could happen tomorrow. You’d best keep your powder dry and disabuse yourself of the conceit that the US govt will come to your rescue because the day is coming when it will become impossible.

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