Most disasters require 7 things to go wrong; my rule of 7. Whether it be a plane crash or a military disaster. Pearl Harbor was no different. It wasn’t one or two or even six things that went wrong: it was seven.
Free today through 9 December is Stuff Doesn’t Just Happen II: The Gift of Failure. Pearl Harbor is one of seven events I detail, showing how and why they occurred. By studying that, we can prevent future disasters, because a man-made error is always at least ONE, if not more of the Cascade Events.
Here briefly are the Cascade Events detailed for this event in the book:
Cascade One: Political misunderstanding and maneuvers that backfired.
Cascade Two: Military strategic planners in both countries seriously miscalculated each other.
Cascade Three: Warnings were ignored and/or not given to those who needed to get the warnings.
Cascade Four: Tactical considerations worked both ways.
Cascade Five: New technology was not used correctly.
Cascade Six: Timing is everything.
Final Event: At 7:48 am on December 7th, 1941, the Japanese Empire conducted a surprise assault on the island of Oahu, primarily focused on the American Pacific Fleet in the harbor, with a secondary objective of destroying military aircraft at outlying bases.
It began as nothing more than a routine training flight. At 2:10 p.m. on December 5, 1945, five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers took off from a Naval Air Station in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The planes—collectively known as “Flight 19”—were scheduled to tackle a three-hour exercise known as “Navigation Problem Number One.” Their triangular flight plan called for them to head east from the Florida coast and conduct bombing runs at a place called Hens and Chickens Shoals. They would then turn north and proceed over Grand Bahama Island before changing course a third time and flying southwest back to base.
Shortly after the patrol turned north for the second leg of its journey, something very strange happened. For reasons that are still unclear, Taylor became convinced that his Avenger’s compass was malfunctioning and that his planes had been flying in the wrong direction. The troubles only mounted after a front blew in and brought rain, gusting winds and heavy cloud cover. Flight 19 became hopelessly disoriented. “I don’t know where we are,” one of the pilots said over the radio. “We must have got lost after that last turn.”
The flight leader became convinced they were over the Gulf of Mexico rather than the Atlantic and ordered the flight to fly east, despite protests.
They were never seen again.
Even stranger, a PBM Mariner with 13 crewman took off that same evening to search for Flight 19 and disappeared 20 minutes into the flight and was never seen again. What happened?
This past week when my grandsons were visiting we went to the Worlds Fair Park here in Knoxville. Not far from the infamous Sunsphere, is the East Tennessee Veteran’s Memorial. It’s a solemn spot, as all such locations are. Each Medal of Honor awardee from East Tennessee has his own granite pillar and the names of all the fallen are listed on other pillars, grouped by wars.
There are a lot of names. I ended up having to discuss and explain things with my elder grandson that I found difficult to talk about with a seven year old.
Centered on one end is the pillar below with a poem I had never seen before from an Army Major written at Dak To on 1 January 1970. I write about two earlier battles at Dak To in 1967 where the 173rd Airborne was involved in New York Minute and Lawyers, Guns and Money, but by 1970 we were still fighting over the same hills that didn’t even have names, just numbers.
Major O’Donnell was KIA at Dak To on 24 March 1970, serving as a helicopter pilot.
Rarely have I seen the wishes of a veteran more aptly described than in this poem:
It’s a bit difficult to believe that Caesar had no idea about the plot against him. Intelligence was critical for survival in ancient Rome, especially given that there was no police force: order was kept by strength and to wield that, one required knowledge.
Why Caesar went willingly is key to one of the missions in Ides of March (Time Patrol) which is free today, 12/1, through Tuesday, 12/3. One thing I learned researching this mission was that Cleopatra was actually in Rome at the time, actually outside the city, staying at one of Caesar’s houses.
The other missions off a slice of history across the ages:
On the Ides in 1783 George Washington stopped a mutiny among his officers. This mission, which appeared straightforward turned out to be a bit more complicated for the Time Patrol agent assigned it, Eagle.
Columbus returned from the New World on the Ides, in 1493. He brought back more than just news. Stopping what he brought back is Mac’s mission.
On the Ides in 1917, the Last Tsar formally abdicated. This is one of the most significant events in modern history. What if he hadn’t? This is Doc’s mission.
We’re one week out from the release of Walk on the Wild Side and I’m already well into the follow on Will Kane, Green Beret book: Hell of a Town. I’ve scheduled it for release in June, but hope to have it out earlier. In between, will be another Area 51 title: Earth Abides. And later in 2020 I plan on the fourth book in the Duty, Honor, Country series, tentatively titled: Shiloh.
Nothing but good times ahead!
The pre-orders for my next two books: Area 51: Earth Abides and Hell of a Town are now live. While they’re set for June 2020, both books will be out earlier and the live date will be moved up as I get closer to completion.
I’m excited about both books. Earth Abides will provide some key answers to the Area 51 series. It picks up after the Swarm invasion of Earth has failed, but the planet is in dire straits.
Hell of a Town, from the song, New York, New York, is set a year after Walk on the Wild Side, which comes out 9 December. Will Kane gets caught up in the underbelly of New York City in 1978. Literally. He has to descend into the city below the city to root out a a group of brutal killers. What he discovers, though, goes far beyond what he fears.
Beyond those three, I plan on releasing the 4th book in the Duty, Honor, Country series.
Nothing but good times ahead!
That was the question at the core of one of the missions for the Time Patrol, Independence Day. I was trying to think of an ethical dilemma for the agent assigned the 4 July 1776 mission and this is it: Along with the declaration of Independence, Jefferson and the Committee of Five, have drafted one for Emancipation.
The Time Patrol’s mandate is to keep our history exactly as it is has been recorded. The reasoning: we’re still in existence. We know other timelines diverted and no longer exist.
But. What should the agent do? Wouldn’t it be the right thing to do, to allow both to go forward? But. What if by presenting both to the Continental Congress, the vote is split and neither get passed?
Understanding and empathy is the path forward for mankind and this documentary made by a Syrian woman about their life in Aleppo over five years is a step in the right direction. It is available for free on Youtube (link below) via PBS. I’ve found Frontline to be one of the best sources of in-depth information on many, many issues. This is about much, much more than Syria. It’s about basic humanity and bravery.
Having deployed many places around the world, and living numerous places, including overseas, I’ve found that people tend to be ethnocentric. Troubles “somewhere else” are on the horizon and most people are confident that “it can’t happen to us”.
It can. One of the hardest deployments we had in 10th Special Forces was Eastern Europe were we witnessed the results of religious and ethnic cleansing where neighbor turned against neighbor. People who had been living peacefully next to each other for generations killed each other. Why? Because the rule of law was tested, then broken.
This documentary also touches on immigrants. We are a country of immigrants who are now turning our backs on what made us. Immigrants are fresh blood to renew our country. Our fear, hatred and anger will destroy us unless we can rise above all of it. Here is the trailer:
Most of all this is a human story of perseverance in the face of adversity. If it doesn’t move you to tears at times; well I don’t know what to say. I’ve seen terrible things in person; this film shows terrible things on camera. I do warn you there are very graphic scenes. But also very inspiring ones.
Here is the link to the entire film on Youtube:
I saw a question about this on Quora and it got me thinking, because there’s so much information out there and it can be overwhelming. Where to start? What’s the first step? Especially for someone starting cold.
Here’s what I’ve come up:
The first thing everyone should do is make sure they have the four basics we all need, regardless of where we live. You can get them for under $60 total:
2 cases of water per person
Basic first aid kit
Then download free survival apps for your phone such as American Red Cross First Aid, CPR and Choking and others as applicable.
Then conduct an Area Study. This is looking at yourself, those around you and your locale for assets and possible threats. This will determine how you prepare further, for your specific situation as we are all different. Here is a brief summary how to do this:
Once you have the Area Study done, you can prepare your home, your work/school, your car, etcetera. You can coordinate with family members and friends about what to do in disasters, such as a initial rally point and emergency rally point.
You can also then prepare your grab-n-go bag. You can also simply get a pre-packaged grab-n-go bag. It contains basics, including the first aid and emergency radio needed. I bought one for my son to put in the trunk of his car.
I think this is a good start. I go into more details in The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. The first half is all of the above explained, with links, and then the second half is a manual for survival and beyond, including scavenging.
Another good book I recommend to complement it is the SAS Survival Handbook. It’s more detailed in terms of long-term survival as far as plants, animals, etc.
Let me know if you find this useful or have suggestions.
After years of studying accidents and disaster, I came to the conclusion that almost every one involving people required seven things to go wrong. The seventh was the actual disaster. But those six precursors, which I call Cascade Events, by themselves, would not have caused the disaster. And one of them was always human error.
Thus, they could have been prevented.
Stuff Doesn’t Just Happen 1: The Gift of Failure is free today to the 18th.
The first book covers the Titanic disaster where hitting the iceberg was one of a series of preventable events. The Tulip Bubble is applicable in modern times given our recent housing and tech bubbles. People still get drawn into the belief that the value of something can only keep increasing when reality says otherwise. Little Big Horn is a class example of a leadership failure; but that failure had its roots years before 1876.
Why does propane have an odor? The sad disaster of the New London Schoolhouse explains that, where other warning signs were overlooked. From the Kegworth Crash we learn to question experts. And it’s also the crash from which we learned what positions might help survivability in an actual crash as the plane hit just a quarter mile short of the runway.
If you want to know about other such offers of free books and audiobooks, sign up for my newsletter HERE. I send it out at most once a month so you won’t get bombarded with emails.
Or you can join my private Facebook group, The A-Team, where I announced specials not otherwise publicized.
Even though I went to West Point, which is just south of Storm King Mountain from Newburgh where Washington the Continental Army was encamped in the winter of 1783, I had never heard of this. We studied the battles of the Revolution but perhaps we should have also studied the politics. After all, as Clausewitz notes, war is an extension of politics by other means.
The war was essentially over since Yorktown the previous year. The Continentals wintered at Newburgh and the British in New York City. The peace negotiators were in Paris hammering things out.
But the officers and troops hadn’t been paid in months while Congress dithered in Philadelphia. Resentment grew during a harsh upstate winter. I can testify to the cold wind coming off the Hudson having stood in formation on the Plain at West Point.
A group of officers determined to march on Philadelphia and toss Congress out. Essentially upending the country even before it became a country. Washington became aware of this. He gathered his officers on the Ides of March, 15 March, 1783, and made an epic speech.
When I wrote Ides of March (Time Patrol) I knew this had to be one of the six key events. I thought if the Shadow could foil Washington and the officers marched that would be a time ripple; combine it with five other time ripples on the same day across the ages and you’ve got a time tsunami and our timeline ceases to exist.
But, as I started writing that part of the book, I realized that misdirection is the key to effective operations. The real goal of the Shadow that day was something that involved Washington but in a different direction.
Here’s some more about this event and book: