The USS John Murtha and the USS Cesar Chavez

I try to adress all things Navy without stepping over that imaginary line that active-duty should not cross. This is a delicate topic, but we have two ships slated to hit the fleet with controversy over their names. CenTexTim, a Texas blogger and military vet, sent me this email:

Hey NavyOne –

I’d be interested in your thoughts regarding the recent brouhaha about the naming of Navy ships.

What initially brought this to my attention was the naming of a San Antonio-class ship after an individual (John Murtha).

I live near San Antonio, and there was a fair amount of local publicity about the USS San Antonio.

USS San Antonio, LPD-17

I always thought the theme of ship names was consistent within a given class, so the discrepancy caught my eye.

The Chavez thing seems to be another break with tradition. (Lewis and Clark class ships being named for explorers.)

It’s not so much the controversy about Chavez and Murtha (although I fail to see what either of them have done to deserve the honor of having an United States warship named after them) as it is the break with long-standing naval tradition.


The positives of naming the vessels after Chavez and Murtha is that both served in the military. Yet despite this fact, each has glaring downsides.

Cesar Chavez, Navy Sailor

Cesar Chavez recounted his time in the Navy as the worst two years of my life, which is nothing to speak of his probable Communist ties.

BLACKFIVE covered the subject:

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California suggested that Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta would be a better choice (than Chavez) for the ship.

Peralta was an immigrant from Mexico that earned his citizenship while in the Marine Corps, and was killed in Iraq in 2004 when he covered a grenade with his body in order to shield his comrades nearby.

The Conservative Hispanic Society even has a Facebook page:

  • Leticia Gutierrez Ablaza No!! He is the reason my dad left Cali and moved us tho Houston. He stopped working as a labor farm worker soon after Ceasar started unoinizing. He said C C was a mafioso who only looked out for his pockets and didn’t care about the people. My dad’s words.
    Cesar Chavez
  • Daniel Cardenas My grandfather worked in the fields in California and he did not much like Cesar Chavez either.
  • Elizabeth Raquel Sanchez Cesar Chavez considered his time in the Navy the worst time of his life! He may be a hero to farm workers, but he is not deserving of this prestigious honor!! This is a disgrace and an outrage!

As for John Murtha:

Mr. Mabus was also wrong to name the amphibious ship LPD-26 after the late Rep. John P. Murtha, breaking with the tradition of naming San Antonio class ships after U.S. cities.

Although Murtha was a Marine, he was criticized by veterans groups for calling the U.S. Marines facing charges for killing 24 Iraqis in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005 “cold blooded killers.”

Almost all the charges were later dropped. When Murtha died in 2010, an extensive federal corruption investigation was underway against him.

His name is not fit to carry our heroes to war.

John Murtha with Code Pink (the folks who vandalized the USMC Recruiting Center in Berkeley, CA)

I am not going to comment more extensively on either gentlemen other than to stress how important a ship’s name is. A friend of mine served aboard the USS Robert Stethem:

Robert Dean Stethem (November 17, 1961 – June 15, 1985) was a United States Navy Seabee diver who was killed by Hezbollah militants during thehijacking of the commercial airliner he was aboard: TWA Flight 847. His Navy rating was Steel Worker Second Class (SW2).

And he told me of running into SeaBees who tried to buy his command ballcap off his head. So naming a ship is a highly personal affair. Neither Murtha nor Chavez appear to be the best choice. What do you think?

USS Robert Stethem, DDG-63

An AK-47 Vs. An Old Western Pistol

Is there anyone anywhere, over the age of 18, not familiar with the AK-47?

It is an iconic weapon, the most widespread gun in the world. “More AK-type rifles have been produced than all other assault rifles combined.”

AK-47, favorite rifle of terrorists, pirates, jihadis

It is a durable, not at all touchy, rifle. It takes a lickin’ and keeps clickin’.

Of the more than 500 million firearms worldwide,” the World Bank states, “Approximately 75 million are AK-47s. Another 100 million are variants on the model.”

Burkina Faso

It also is quite widespread on flags, seals, and emblems around the world:

The proliferation of this weapon is reflected by more than just numbers. The AK-47 is included in the flag of Mozambique and its coat of arms, an acknowledgment that the country’s leaders gained power in large part through the effective use of their AK-47s.

East Timor

It is also found in the coat of arms of Zimbabwe and East Timor, the revolution era coat of arms of Burkina Faso, the flag of Hezbollah, and the logo of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Yet it is directly responsible for the killing of our service members. And while I respect the AK’s durability and success, I would not want to be associated with it. Sure, it has counter-culture cachet, but the only counter I want to lean on is the one at McDonalds. Ordering some McNuggets.

Rev Guard

So why would a jewelry maker want to make earrings and other pieces of bling out of old AKs?

Fonderie47, a collaboration between humanitarian Peter Thum and jeweller Philip Crangi, has transformed old rifles into high-end jewellery.

The resulting pieces don’t come cheap – prices for a pair of earrings start at $23,000. But proceeds will help fund organisations that are working to get the weapons off the streets in Africa.


I have always wondered what the A in AK stood for. Now we know, it stands for 23. As in 23K. (Apologies to the #23, Michael Jordan. Perhaps with tax, it might cost as much as 24K. If so, apologies to #24 Kobe Bryant.)

Forget about the measly 23K and take a look at what 150K buys, modeled below by Mad Men’s own Cara Buono. (The actress is married to Peter Thum. He, along with John Zapolski, conceived of the Fonderie47 project.)

Mad Men’s Cara Buono wears a Fonderie47 creation worth $150,000

Wow. The designer had this to say about his masterpieces:

He told the New York Times how the idea came about in 2008, while he was in Kenya where he was stunned by the number of AK-47s he saw. 


The purpose of his project, he hoped, would help get the guns off the streets, and also make something beautiful with the recovered weapons.

He said: ‘We saw the AK-47 as an opportunity because it’s such a successful design.

Okay, that is all I can post on jewelry. Considering that an AK can be purchased for $30 in some African cities, I don’t think taking a couple off the streets and turning them into high-price trinkets (and then donating the money to charity) is going to have a huge effect on production. As for other interesting AK products, how about an AK-47 guitar? Called La Escopetarra:

La Escopetarra, AK-47 Guitar

Or what about an over-paid Russian player, the forward Andrei Kirilenko (all 6-foot-9 of him), #47 on the Utah Jazz:

Andrei Kirilenko will be paid 487 million bills this season. OK, so that’s in rubles from his native Russia. In U.S. currency, it’s $16.452 million.

Andrei Kirilenko, AK-47 

Whatever source you’re reading, from a Russian newspaper to an American internet site, many stories about Kirilenko mention his contract.

He’s often dubbed the NBA’s most overpaid player.

And, yes, it can be burden on the Utah Jazz forward. “It definitely puts more pressure on you, but what can you do about it?”

Kirilenko, who will make $17.823 million next season to conclude a six-year, $86 million contract, said in an interview.

Enough of commie weapons, let’s discuss the good old-fashioned western pistol:

Vanessa Gibbs detained by TSA for gun purse at Jacksonville Airport

So obviously, the gun is not real. It is part of Vanessa GIbbs’ purse. Still the brilliant minds over at the TSA managed to detain her:

It’s not unusual for 17-year-old to find themselves in hot water with the fashion police. But on a flight from Virginia to Florida, Vanessa Gibbs found herself detained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) over the appearance of her purse. And just to be clear, it wasn’t the content inside the purse that the TSA objected to. No, agency officials took exception with the design of a gun on Gibbs’ handbag.

Your tax dollars at work. The gun appears to be a M1873 look-a-like: (Update: a smarter reader than me id’d it as a S&W M-28.):

M1873 Old West Six Shooter

AK-47 jewelry and M1873 (S&W M-28?) purses, the Mellow Jihadi rides the wave of fashion, yet again.