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Genetic testing shows loggerhead families stick together

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

By Bill Rauch

The sea turtle nesting season is fully upon us now and hundreds of our friends and neighbors are up each morning before dawn going down to the beaches checking on known turtle nests and looking for new ones that might have been created the previous night.

The most common species of sea turtle, the loggerheads, have been endangered since the 1970s, so the stakes are high and every nest counts.

Although they are more widespread now, turtle watch projects have been going on since the 1980s on Hilton Head, Pritchard’s, Hunting, Capers, Fripp and Edisto islands, to name a few.

But there is a new excitement recently among the volunteers since a pair of University of Georgia researchers discovered they can track via their captured DNA turtle families. Now, instead of just trying to protect sea turtle nests from perils and predators (like high tides, dogs and raccoons), the volunteers are asked also to select one egg from each nest and send it – accompanied by a map that shows the location of the nest from which that egg was removed – to a UGA lab where analysts extract from the inner membrane of each shell a sample of the mother’s DNA.

The research,  now in its eighth year, is beginning to show surprising results.

It shows, for example, that many mature female sea turtles return to familiar beaches to lay their eggs. Because the genetic testing can also link mothers to daughters, the study is also showing that in some cases daughters nest faithfully on the same beaches their mothers prefer while other daughters hit the road looking for a better life elsewhere.

Egocentrics that we are, we cannot of course resist comparing the turtles’ behaviors to our own. Some mothers’ daughters stay close; others roam a little and then come home to have their babies; and then there are those who never come home. Some of us go to the same beach community all our lives. Others wouldn’t go back to that place on a bet.

Do any of us really know why?

As one might imagine, life moves at a slower pace in the turtlesphere, and the DNA testing confirms this. It takes for example, about 30 years for a female loggerhead to reach reproductive maturity. Then, for the next 70 years, the typical mother will nest every three or four years.

In a year when a mother is nesting she will lay four to seven nests which may be right next to one another on one beach, or on several nearby beaches.

Once in the nest it takes about eight weeks for the turtle eggs to hatch, after which time the defenseless little hatchlings make their perilous way down the beach, out into the Gulf Stream and east to the Sargasso Sea where tagging studies have shown the youngsters grow safely to maturity under the cover of the seaweed there.

What seems so unemotional as DNA testing has actually brought with it for the turtle-watch volunteers a personal and loving result. Now, after they have become familiar with the study’s results for their specific area, volunteers can begin to get to know the turtles whose nests they are watching.

Samantha Campbell is the DNR Marine Turtle Permit-holder for Land’s End and Coffin Point on St. Helena Island. Last week there were seven nests on the Land’s End beach and 15 at Coffin Point. Campbell and her volunteers know their beat. They patrol it every morning.

Because of the DNA test results, the Land’s End volunteers now know that one of the nesters there is a loggerhead they call “Agatha.”

Early in the study, tests in 2011 and 2013 showed that Agatha had returned to Land’s End those summers to nest. She was a regular, they knew, because she had laid six and four nests there respectively those two summers.

But when 2015 went by with no sign of Agatha, the Land’s End volunteers were despondent.

“We thought maybe she had died,” volunteer Nina deCordova says. “So when we got the test results back in June of this year that she had nested here again we turned handsprings.”

With a hand up from the turtle exclusion devices shrimpers now use, and while still endangered, the loggerheads seem to be making it.

The DNR’s website, for example, indicates volunteers on Hilton Head Island have identified 363 nests this year, more than double Hilton Head’s annual average of 150 … and the ladies are still coming ashore.

Permit-holder Samantha Campbell, shown here holding a typical mothball-sized loggerhead turtle egg, says, “I started because I wanted to help save an endangered species. But now it’s more than that. I’m pulling data. And you don’t know what that data is going to tell you.” Photo by Nina deCordova.
Permit-holder Samantha Campbell, shown here holding a typical mothball-sized loggerhead turtle egg, says, “I started because I wanted to help save an endangered species. But now it’s more than that. I’m pulling data. And you don’t know what that data is going to tell you.” Photo by Nina deCordova.

Dog day is time to celebrate our furry friends

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

There was an advertisement on social media recently about National Dog Day. Evidently, it’s observed on Aug. 26. (This is not to be confused with National Hot Dog Day which is July 23).

I had never heard of National Dog Day before, but having two spaniels in the house, I was interested in learning more about it.

It turns out that the reason for having a National Dog Day is to celebrate the important roles dogs play in American life. Not only are they great companions, they also serve as drug-sniffers, therapy dogs and military service dogs. It really is amazing to think about all the things dogs do for us.

There is another very important reason to recognize dogs on this day. It’s a time to remember all the dogs that are available to be rescued and encourage adoption of those dogs.

I have two dogs: Bailey is our 13-year old cocker spaniel and Brandy is our clumber spaniel. We actually don’t know how old Brandy is because she was a rescue. She came to us six years ago, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

I saw her picture on the local dog rescue webpage and my spouse went over to check her out. He called to say he liked her and we adopted her that day. We brought her home and she has been part of our family ever since.

Most people that have a rescue dog will tell you that they are the best dogs they ever had in their homes. I think the reason is because rescues are so grateful to be adopted.

I know that Brandy has been one of the best dogs I have ever brought home.  She is lovable and obedient and moved into our lives easily, although our older spoiled cocker spaniel would not share his toys initially. But it didn’t take long before even he accepted her in the family.

Although both are dogs are considered “senior dogs” now and sometimes it feels like having a couple of toddlers running around with toys lying all over the house, we are still very happy to have our two pups.

And we will celebrate National Dog Day and be thankful that we were able to rescue such a wonderful dog.

Manage finances as retirement looms

in Business/Contributors/Wells Fargo by

As your target retirement date gets closer, what was once an abstract concept may now feel more like a reality. This life event can provoke different feelings for different people. While some might feel excited about the possibilities the non-working years might bring, others may be anxious and fearful.

Regardless of your emotions, now is the time to stay focused on maximizing your retirement savings while also looking ahead to develop a retirement income plan that supports your vision of retirement. The following are some tips you may find helpful.

“Catch up”

If you are age 50 or older, one way to help maximize your retirement savings is to take advantage of “catch up” contributions. The “catch up” contribution provision allows you to make additional contributions to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you’re unable to do this, try to contribute at least as much as the employer’s match – otherwise, you’re leaving money on the table.

Open an IRA

If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan or you’re self-employed, consider opening an IRA. Even if you already participate in a 401(k) or other plan at work, an IRA can help supplement those savings and help you gain access to a potentially wider range of investment options. Keep in mind you are still eligible to contribute to an IRA whether you contribute to an employer-sponsored plan or not. You can also make catch up contributions to an IRA if you are age 50 or older.

Convert to a Roth IRA

An often overlooked retirement planning strategy is the Roth IRA conversion. A Roth IRA conversion occurs when you take savings in a Traditional, SEP or SIMPLE IRA, or employer-sponsored retirement plan, and move the assets into a Roth IRA.

You will owe federal and possibly state income tax on the before-tax amounts in your employer plan or IRA converted to a Roth  in that tax year, but not the 10 percent IRS early distribution penalty. Once you settle that bill, though, you’ll be able to withdraw all the money in your Roth IRA during retirement without owing any tax or penalty, provided: (1) the Roth IRA has been open for at least five years and you are age 59½ or older; or (2) the distribution is a result of your death, disability or using the first-time homebuyer exception.

The benefits of tax-free distributions in retirement may justify the conversion costs and allow for flexibility to manage taxable income in retirement. Converting to a Roth IRA is not appropriate for everyone. Some factors to consider include your tax bracket now and expected tax bracket in retirement, availability of funds to pay taxes due on the conversion and your time horizon.  Talk to your financial advisor and tax advisor to discuss your specific situation before you convert.

Develop a retirement income plan

Now may also be a good time to develop a retirement income plan. A retirement income plan helps make the transition from accumulating assets in your portfolio to determining how you will use all of your various sources of income to cover your living expenses when you’re no longer working.

It’s critical to start the retirement income planning process before you retire. If your planning process determines there’s a gap between your desired expense projections and your required income, you still have time to make some adjustments. These can include retiring at a later date, working part-time in retirement, increasing your current savings, or reducing expense projections. You may want to begin the process with the following:

Analyze your essential and discretionary expenses and create a realistic budget. This process will help you identify all of your sources of income, including Social Security, retirement savings, pensions, investments, etc. A financial advisor can help you determine when and how to take withdrawals and build an investment strategy that generates income in retirement while still giving your investments the opportunity to grow.

Consider Social Security. For married couples or divorced individuals, there are numerous options regarding when and how you elect to take your Social Security. Your choices can have a significant impact on the total benefits you receive over time. Your financial advisor can help you analyze the Social Security benefit options available to you and help you evaluate which one best fits your personal circumstances.

Think about longevity. Americans are living longer and more active lives, which can translate into two or three decades of living in retirement. This affects not only how much you will need to save but also how much you’ll need to budget for healthcare expenses.

You are eligible for Medicare when you turn age 65. If you retire before age 65 and don’t have healthcare through your former employer, you will have to purchase your own coverage. And, while Medicare will help cover hospitalization costs and doctor visits, you’ll probably want to secure supplemental coverage. Additionally, you should consider long-term care insurance – the younger you are when you purchase long-term care insurance, the less expensive it is.

Nearing retirement can bring excitement – and also anxiety. But some careful planning now can help ease any anxieties you might experience down the road.

You might want to enlist the help of a financial advisor to review your investments, help you develop a retirement income plan, navigate the complexities of evaluating your Social Security benefit options and plan for healthcare expenses.

Now is the time to evaluate where you stand financially and determine what steps you need to take to help ensure you’re able to live out your unique vision for retirement.

Wells Fargo Advisors is not a legal or tax advisor. This article was written by/for Wells Fargo advisors and provided courtesy of Katie Cuppia Phifer, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and financial advisor in Beaufort at 843-982-1506.

Protect your eyes from sun damage

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

The days are longer, the sun is hotter, the beach beckons and out comes the sunscreen.

But summer revelers looking forward to sizzling hot fun in the sun shouldn’t overlook their eyes when it comes to protecting themselves from damaging ultraviolet rays.

In support of UV Safety Month in July, Sea Island Ophthalmology joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in sharing information on how to keep eyes safe from sun damage.

Excess sun exposure can put people at risk of serious short-term and long-term eye problems. If eyes are exposed to strong sunlight for too long without protection, UV rays can burn the cornea and cause temporary blindness in a matter of hours. Long-term sun exposure has also been linked to an increased risk of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, cancer and growths on or near the eye.

Here are five things people can do to cut their risk of eye damage from the sun:

• Wear the right sunglasses: Look for those labeled “UV400” or “100 percent UV protection” when buying sunglasses. Less costly sunglasses with this label can be just as effective as the expensive kind. Darkness or color doesn’t indicate strength of UV protection. UV rays can go through clouds, so wear sunglasses even on overcast days. And while contact lenses and lens implants may offer some benefit, they cannot protect the entire eye area from burning rays.

• Don’t stare at the sun: Sun worshippers take note: directly gazing at the sun can burn holes in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells in the back of the eye needed for central vision. This condition is called solar retinopathy. While rare, the damage is irreversible.

• Check your medication labels: One in three adults uses medication that could make the eyes more vulnerable to UV ray damage, according to a sun safety survey by the academy. These include certain antibiotics, birth control and estrogen pills, and psoriasis treatments containing psoralen. Check the labels on your prescriptions to see if they cause photosensitivity. If so, make sure to protect your skin and eyes or avoid sun exposure when possible.

• Put a lid on it: In addition to shades, consider wearing a hat with a broad brim. They have been shown to significantly cut exposure to harmful rays. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

• Don’t drive without UV eye protection: Don’t assume that car windows are protecting you from UV light. A recent study found that side windows blocked only 71 percent of rays, compared to 96 percent in the windshield.  Only 14 percent of side windows provided a high enough level of protection, the researchers found. So when you buckle up, make sure you are wearing glasses or sunglasses with the right UV protection.

At the end of the day, you want to retain fond memories and experiences during summer celebration, not skin cancer and blinding eye disease.

For more information, visit

Politics often meet Beaufort County traffic jams

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

By Bill Rauch

Government isn’t bad at making plans, but its plans rarely get implemented without a firm push from the outside. These pushes come most often from constituent groups, but reasonable requests from campaign donors and threats from lawyers sometimes work too.

Occasionally an elected official advances a pet project, but that’s rare. Mostly government runs by crisis management.

Another rarity is the roadway improvement project that isn’t opposed by one or more neighborhood groups.

We all drive cars. We all hate to wait. In places that are growing – like Beaufort County – the number of cars on the roads grows by two-plus for every residential building unit that is permitted.

Thus local motorists are a growing constituent group. And when they get fed up they easily outmuscle all but the most effective of opponents.

What follows here are three Beaufort County roadway improvement projects that are currently in limbo awaiting a strong enough road rage-inspired push from local motorists, from us. They are the Windmill Harbor crash zone entrance to U.S. 278 on Hilton Head Island, the wacky Buckwalter Parkway detour of the Bluffton Parkway in Bluffton and the embattled Third Crossing in northern Beaufort County.

Let’s start with Bluffton. Beaufort County’s engineers say the $45 million flyover that will facilitate off-island Hilton Head traffic getting onto the Bluffton Parkway will soon be open. This improvement will lift traffic from U.S. 278 and send it down the Bluffton Parkway.

But a couple of miles down the Bluffton Parkway the four-lane road stops dead at Hampton Hall’s doorstep and goes onto what feels like a detour before the Parkway resumes a mile or so later. A problem now, the Hampton Hall bottleneck will increase with the opening of the flyover.

Insiders say the town of Bluffton could have easily avoided this snafu had it been willing to impose its solution via a development agreement provision for Hampton Hall.

Hampton Hall wanted the Bluffton Parkway to stop at the development’s doorstep, and incredibly the town’s negotiators went along with his plan.

Fixing that “detour” faces opposition from Hampton Hall developer John Reed, Beaufort County Council member Cynthia Bensch and some residents of Rose Hill.

The project was on the previous penny sales tax that passed, but when needed matching money from impact fees came up short it was scuttled. The project is currently parked and out of gas.

The Third Crossing between Port Royal Island and Lady’s Island was on the last penny sales tax referendum too with a $5 million price tag. The money was supposed to buy a plan, and the beginnings of permitting and land acquisition. But after the half-million dollar plan showed that the bridge should be from Brickyard to Perryclear, the uproar from those who now live in peaceful seclusion along the proposed new corridor was loud enough – and the voices of Beaufort and Port Royal’s leaderships were faint enough – that the county stalled the project and spent the rest of the money elsewhere.

Now, however, rush hour traffic frustrations on the Woods and McTeer bridges will be increased by the coming Lady’s Island Walmart, as they are every day by the steady stream of building permits being issued for Lady’s, St. Helena and Coosaw Island projects.

Moreover, the construction on Boundary Street has caused the traffic counts on the Parris Island Gateway corridor to increase, giving Port Royal a glimpse of the future.

“When the Woods Bridge is down,” Town Manager Vann Willis said last week, “it’s chaos over here.”

With traffic increasing, and no other alternatives, the question is: When will the Third Crossing plans come off the shelf?

The U.S. 278 at Windmill Harbor intersection – long a hazard – is the subject of a $7 million allocation on the November capital improvements penny sales tax measure.

But without an aggressive campaign behind it the measure will probably fail, and there is no sign now that any campaign will be run.

The Windmill Harbor intersection is another vestige from the days, as Council Chairman Paul Sommerville said last week, “when the developers ran the county.”

The intersection’s improvement has been hindered by opposition from, incredibly, Sea Pines, which has opposed it because it means another stoplight to hold them up drivers’ way to I-95.

All three of these projects have gotten in one form or fashion “the push,” but not as yet one strong and sustained enough to cause concrete to be poured.

Top photo: The westbound Bluffton Parkway as it dead ends into Hampton Hall is shown here. The cars shown here exiting to the right are following the “detour.” Photo by Bill Rauch.

Summertime desserts brings back memories

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

My freezer has taken on its own summertime look now. Instead of frozen banana bread and pumpkin pie, it is filled with assorted summer desserts.

There are boxes of popsicles and ice cream sandwiches sitting waiting to be opened. The vanilla ice cream is ready to be scooped out into the newly purchased cones. There is also some chocolate syrup sitting in the refrigerator, along with a can of whipped cream for ice cream sundaes.

Of course, as with everything, I have my own personal favorite: coffee ice cream in a traditional cake cone. But I always keep some of the sugar cones available for visitors with different tastes.

This change in desserts makes sense considering the heat and humidity around us. It begs the need for cold treats.

In the winter, the apple pies and cakes are popular. But in the summertime, it is normal to migrate to the frozen section in the grocery store and look for those long plastic strips of frozen juice, the ones where you cut off the end and start sucking on the frozen juice.

It was different when I was little. My mother would pour orange juice or red Kool-Aid into ice-cube trays and put them in the freezer. Presto, homemade flavored ice cubes. They were a great summer treat. It seems that this frozen art seems to have disappeared along with ice-cube trays. She also had Tupperware molds to make homemade popsicles.

Of course, it would not officially be summertime unless one started it out with an ice cream headache or brain freeze as we used to call them. They occur when you have that first Firecracker Ice Pop or hot fudge sundae of the summer and devour it too fast. All of a sudden you feel your head wanting to explode. My mother would always have us press our fist hard against our forehead. I am not sure if there is any science to this method or whether it just got our mind off of the pain. But once it happens, you suddenly remember to NOT eat anything cold too fast for the rest of the summer (although you will most likely do the same thing next year).

So enjoy your summer desserts and remember to slow down when you eat. That first bite of banana split can really hurt!

Our favorite scenes are windows into our souls

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By Lee Scott

A recent post by one of my friends on social media asked what people considered their favorite sight when looking out the window.

It was fascinating to read and see the favorite scenes that people revealed. Some of the examples included the ocean waves on the beach; a snow-covered mountain with ski slopes; the desert with mesas in the background; the New York City skyline.

As I went back through the posts and read the different comments, I realized that their windows were a reflection of them and revealed their own passions: the sailor who loved the water, the skier that longed for the slopes, the hiker who enjoyed camping out in the desert and the entertainer who loved the city.

It got even more interesting as the number of comments increased. While reading the posts, I discovered new insights about some of my friends.

For the couple who struggled for years to have children, the view was looking out of their kitchen window into their yard and watching their children running through the sprinkler.

For my friend that had always wanted to go to France, the sight of the Eiffel Tower from her hotel room was important.

Many people mentioned wanting to look out the window at the Magic Kingdom.

For a woman driving home from a tough day at work, looking out the car window at the sight of her own garage was enough for that day.

For many immigrants, looking out the ship’s window and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time is their favorite scene.

Then there are the soldiers returning home and looking out the airplane window, knowing family and friends are waiting for them.

I thought of the window scenes I have loved seeing during my own life. Looking out my hotel window in Hawaii and watching the sun set over Molokai; the view of the water out my cousin’s window in Galilee, R.I.; the sight of my husband pulling into the driveway when I went into labor with our first child.

Our favorite scenes outside our windows change throughout our lifetime, but my favorite scene now is the one in front of me: The South Carolina sun rising on Jenkins Creek. I do not have to imagine it.

Girls will be girls

in Cherimie Crane/Contributors/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

Growing up miles from what most consider civilization, time was often measured by the oddity of games played. Fortunately free of the restraints of purchased toys or threats of nefarious human interaction, games were created out of necessity governed only by imagination and hours of daylight.

Having no knowledge of our misfortune or lack of primary-colored plastic fun-makers, our surroundings became our game board and siblings our tribe. Blissfully ignorant of our simple upbringing, our days were full of magnificent, untainted adventure.

Facing the grandest of threats emerging in the Mississippi sun without lathering our freckled skin in sun-blocking salve, somehow we mustered the courage to brave Mother Natures matrix of mayhem. The fields were our summer school and the trees our playground.

Even at the young age of 7, I knew to prepare a first-aid kit before venturing into the wild blue yonder. The necessities were carefully considered and organized methodically in our trusted hand-painted coffee cans. Life-saving tools were needed, such as rusted fishing hooks, soon-to-sour mayonnaise slathered atop a tomato sandwich, blood-stopping, limb-saving duct tape and lastly, life-saving firecrackers, especially the kind that were clearly labeled dangerous.

Occasionally we would take extra precaution and grab one of Daddy’s pocket knives.

Girls will be girls, I suppose.

Each day began just after the sun made her appearance and ended with porch lights signaling the threat of missing dinner. No scheduled play dates, no lessons in Mandarin or cultivating discussion on art. Our deficiency became our greatest blessing.

Our dirty feet, briar-chastised hands and thorn-laden hair wandered throughout the woods fighting dragons, slaying demons and building fortresses amongst the pines. There wasn’t much talk of princess gowns or being rescued. There was epic battles waged as we learned to win, to lose and to get along.

Creatures were captured, healed and brought home; some went willingly while others taught us the complexity of cause and effect. Jeans were ripped, shirts were stained and character was sewn into each of us carefully covering all scrapes and bruises. As storms rolled in, cues were given and respected. When Momma honked the old truck horn, somebody’s bottom was about to meet a certain displeasure.

Girls will be girls, I suppose.

We had no idea we were supposed to behave. We had no idea how we were supposed to behave. We were too busy living, learning and learning to let live. We became capable by being country and confident by not being confined.

Not all little girls crave the adventures of the great outdoors, but not all crave the sweetly decorated indoors either. Now, raising a dragon slayer of my very own, I hope I am able to let her seek out adventure, run through a few briars and wage battles atop river banks.

The world has changed, but childhood remains. My porch light will shine and my dirt-familiar feet will run after her if needed.

One thing I know for sure is girls will be girls, when they are given the opportunity.

Women Marines simply don’t measure up to men

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

By Bill Rauch

This battle will probably not be fit in beside “the halls of Montezuma” and “the shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Corps Hymn, but it is another legend in the remarkable history of the United States Marine Corps.

From the onset of his presidency, President Obama has called for all units in the U.S. military — including training, the infantry and special forces — to be gender-neutral, which in the contemporary lexicon means not just men and women, but transsexuals too. The White House has passed that word down in no uncertain terms through its secretaries of defense.

In 2013, Secretary Leon Panetta ended the restriction that prevented women from filling nearly 200,000 combat military jobs, and called for a quota of women in the military. But that was nothing compared to the present secretary, Ash Carter, who is clearing the way for transgender troops.

But seven-and-a-half years into his eight-year presidency, in spite of the commander in chief’s ideologically-based commitment, the training of Marines is not yet integrated, nor are the Marine Corps’ combat forces.

Legendarily successful fighters on the plains of war to be sure, the Marines are an equally tough and legendary adversary in the halls of Congress and, as several presidents have learned at the White House.

Seeking to grapple with how to implement the women-in-the-infantry order, the Marine Corps ordered a “Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force” study that was conducted from July 2014 to July 2015. The study tracked all-male units and co-ed units doing what a Marine Corps infantry battalion reinforced by a battalion landing team might be expected to do in combat situations.

To the great disappointment of the White House, the study found that carrying the heavy packs that Marines in combat situations must carry caused the women in the study to suffer more occupational injuries than the men; that the co-ed units accomplished their tasks more slowly as a result of “moving under load”; and in what is most central to their mission, the co-ed units were less able to “achieve timely effects on target” than their all-male counterparts.

An example of a task that women Marines accomplished more slowly than their male counterparts was the dragging to safety of a wounded and incapacitated 200-pound Marine.

Nonetheless, the results of the study were attacked by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus — on orders from a relentless White House no doubt — and the results of the study have been ordered reviewed. That review is due in by the end of this month.

On the co-ed boot camp front, on Jan. 1 Malbus ordered the Marine Corps to develop a plan for making the Marine Corps’ boot camp co-educational. No women are trained at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. All are trained at Parris Island. The order would have made both facilities co-ed.

In the immediate aftermath of his having received Malbus’ order, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller invited the secretary to Parris Island so that he could see firsthand how men and women were being trained there.

The meeting occurred in mid-January, and people familiar with how it went say that the secretary had his mind changed when he saw the contrast between how the men handled the pugil sticks and how their female counterparts did so. It is easy to imagine, those familiar with the exercise say, male recruits in the exercise injuring female recruits, and that while helmets are worn in the training, it would take a lot more than helmets to prevent such injuries. Pugil stick training is the equivalent of bayonet training, where instead of bayonets a padded stick is used.

After visiting Parris Island, the secretary rescinded his order saying, “The way it’s done now sets both men and women up for greater success.”

But those who believe integrated training at the Marine Corps has been put to rest would be mistaken. They should be reminded that the secretary also said, “It made sense to me to do it in a more deliberate way.”

Time will tell what exactly that means. But time is running out for the Obama Administration.

Meanwhile, on requiring that combat units become integrated, the commandant has developed a merit-based approach that is based on the premise that the Marines will — blind to sexual identity — produce the most “combat-effective force by capitalizing on the knowledge, skills, abilities, demonstrated performance and full potential of every Marine.”

Hats off to mermaids

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

Somewhere in the deep sea is a mermaid with a beautiful hat collection. I know because her hats are the ones that I have lost through the years while riding on boats.

Most of them are baseball caps, but there are others too. There have been straw hats, woolen hats, floppy beach hats and also some visors.

These hats were not given to the mermaid on purpose. They just seem to take off when I am out on the water. I have used straps and catches and all kinds of clasps to try to keep the hats connected to me. I even tried using those little mitten clips that mothers use to connect their child’s winter mittens to the coat. But any mother who has greeted a gloveless child at the door will tell you that even those are not fool-proof.

My spouse has turned our little center console boat around numerous times as I scream, “Hat overboard!” It’s then that I have to leap for my boat hook in an attempt to sweep up my sinking hat. But I swear, there are dolphins swimming around just waiting to scoop up my latest contribution and deliver it to the new owner. Nine times out of 10, the hat is just gone.

There was one yellow Pier One hat that I had for years. I tried not to wear it on the boat so I would not lose it. But even that one took off one day just as I was reaching into the cooler to grab a bottle of water. A puff of wind snatched it off my head and it was gone.

There was also a beautiful straw sunhat I wore one day when my spouse said we were just going on a leisurely ride and would not be going fast. It wasn’t his fault that a couple of jet-skiers went flying by, pushing up some waves and me. You guessed it. Bye-bye cute sunhat!

But I think I have discovered a solution for my hat problem. It came to me when I retrieved my two dogs from the groomer. They had cute little scarves tied around their necks that looked like babushkas (short headscarves). So if my spouse will stop laughing at me, I think I might be wearing one the next time we go out boating. Sorry Little Mermaid.

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