Gryphon Fleet Stingers
February 2022

Article written by LCDR Patrick Giese, KDE, SC, OG, RMN, Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence, Bureau of Planning

As we bring Gryphon spirit to these conventions, keep an eye on your recruiting supplies! Make sure your recruiting materials are updated (see BuPlan for the latest stuff), review your con kits for any repairs or upgrades, and work on meeting and greeting people as representatives of The Royal Manticoran Navy. It’s important to help others find the fun we have in our fleet and our fan club, and make sure to check out events listed in ConStack for the upcoming months in 2022.

WorldCon leads and department heads are seeking volunteers to support the planning and resources around making WorldCon a landmark event. We still need additional funding to support resources for this event, and volunteers – use this link to help us make a deep and lasting impression for TRMN at this event:

Just a reminder – if you are serving as the TRMN point of contact (POC) for TRMN
convention attendees/participants, it’s a good idea to use our regular lines of contact like
the forums, Discord or social media to send out updates as needed to smooth the way for an enjoyable con experience for fleet attendees/participants.

And finally, in case you missed it in the Feb Gryphon’s Beak, 2nd Fleet is proud to sponsor, and the Imperial Andermani Navy (IAN) is happy to coordinate, an organization-wide Course Challenge from February 1, 2022 to April 30, 2022. Individuals can earn points for each participating fleet or can participate individually as part of the “Grand Reserve Fleet”. See the deets in the Beak!

Always with HONOR!

Wreaths Across America – A Gazala Tradition

by Lieutenant (SG) David Miller, HMLAC Gazala

Max Miller as a CAP cadet with (then) US Rep. Russ Carnahan in 2011. (Photo Credit: David A. Miller)

Long before the HMLAC Gazala formed, and continuing to this day, the Miller family has supported an outstanding continuing charity event  – Wreaths Across America.

Wreaths Across America is an annual national program that seeks to place remembrance evergreen wreaths at veterans’ cemeteries and memorials during the holidays to honor those who served the U.S. as well as current military members.  Started by the Worcester Wreath Company in 1992 with surplus holiday wreaths placed at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC, the event has grown since then and now includes events in all fifty states with the main event still occurring at Arlington.  The mission of WAA is to remember the fallen, honor those that serve and their families, and teach the next generation about the value of freedom.  WAA is also a charity event raising funds for non-profit organizations through the sale of remembrance wreaths to the public.  Last year, approximately 1.7 million wreaths were placed by tens of thousands of volunteers at more than 2,500 participating locations around the country simultaneously on Wreaths Across America Day (typically the second or third Saturday each December).

Location coordinator David A. Miller as guest speaker for the WAA ceremony in 2014. (Photo credit: Nikki Miller)

2020 marked the fifteenth consecutive year that the Millers made sure WAA at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, was part of their holiday tradition.  But they’ve done more than just participate and place wreaths on veterans’ gravesites – David and Nikki Miller actually ran the entire program at Jefferson Barracks for over a decade. 

Serving as the overall location coordinator from 2006 until 2017, David coordinating the efforts of thousands of volunteers in the placement of more than 70,000 wreaths, helped multiple groups raise tens of thousands of dollars in charity support, coordinated flyover events (including a B-2 bomber), personally placed over 500 grave-specific wreath requests, served as the annual guest speaker, and coordinated media coverage of the event with the distribution of over 500 media releases and articles, as well as a number of radio and television interviews, during this timeframe.  And his wife, Nikki, and their two sons, Christopher and Max, helped each year as well.

Location coordinator David A. Miller prepares for an indoor WAA ceremony in 2017 during inclement weather. (Photo credit: Nikki Miller)

In addition to his service as the Jefferson Barracks location coordinator, David has also served every year since 2006 as a group leader for the event specifically raising thousands of dollars in charity support for the Missouri Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, through the personal sale over the years of almost a thousand wreaths.  Finally, as a senior officer of the Missouri Wing, David served as the CAP point-of-contact for the event for many years assisting in the participation of multiple CAP units, from both the Missouri and Illinois Wings, including cadet color guards and CAP aircraft flyovers.

Typically, hundreds to thousands of volunteers are needed at every location to assist in placing wreaths on Wreaths Across America Day.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions last year limited the total number of persons in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at a time, section by section.  Nonetheless, through an extraordinary effort over several days, this smaller group of dedicated volunteers (Millers included) still placed more than 30,000 wreaths throughout the cemetery!  Despite obstacles, the mission was accomplished.

Always an impressive sight! (Photo credit: David A. Miller)

Looking for a community charity event for your members to get involved with – perhaps one that has a limited time-commitment?  Please consider volunteering with Wreaths Across America.  While the most volunteers are needed for the single-day Wreaths Across America Day event on a Saturday in mid-December, help is also needed year-round by local organizations supporting the event – so now is the time to find your local WAA event and volunteer!  Find more information at about events near you.

Give Them Blood

Commodore Marcela Holečková donating to the cause at BloodCon 16

by Flight Operations Chief Petty Officer Dominika Janečková, HMS Ishtar (BC-487)

03.10.2021 CE / 350.01.17 AL — Eleven years ago, the tradition of donating blood in Honorverse uniform emerged. The first ever Bloodcon took place in Prague in September 2009 and was organized by Johnak (Jan) Kotouč, our chief commander at that time. First, “sessions“ were quite jolly, as the staff in the hospital had not only never heard of the Honorverse, but certainly never met several people dressed in costumes and wanting to help!

Back in January 2014, ten people arrived, six of them in uniforms… including Captain Blanca – who, as per tradition, arrived earlier as the vanguard, and whose blood was separated for plasma. Since then, the tradition has grown – more than 40 events have been held. They are no longer thing “just“ for Prague or one organizational group, as our fanbase itself has expanded in numbers. Bloodcons now take place every three or four months in bigger cities across Czech Republic.

We are honored that several members of our Fleet have been awarded medals for donating blood – so called “Jan Jánský” medal. Jan Kotouč, who started this Bloodcon tradition, was awarded the golden medal in 2019. In the rest of the fleet, the wound stripe has been authorized for those who document that they’ve given blood to assist their communities in need. With the COVID epidemic, blood donation has been down, due to the added difficulties with the precautions. So I encourage everyone to get out and donate today!

Rising to the Challenge

Members of 2nd Fleet lined up for attention (March 2016)

by LCDR Patrick Giese, 2nd Fleet Ops Officer — 2021.01.19 PD / 349.18.15 AL

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the last year and a sizable chunk of 2021 offer huge challenges for our ships, groups and personnel. We’ve had to shelter in place, mask, avoid social situations, and large gatherings – which are considered by many to be the lifeblood of fan organizations. Some of us in fact either suffered directly from the pandemic, either contracting COVID, looking after someone else who came down with it, or worse case, watched as some parted company with us too soon and soared off into the void. Jobs, family members, friends, and shipmates all impacted in strongly negative ways.

Nonetheless, rising against the challenge is part of the 2nd Fleet character, and once again, we lifted off under heavy fire and still managed to pull together in fun and unique ways. Out on the Discord servers we planned and schemed fun in ways that kept us safe and let us continue to (virtually) gather to game and socialize. Socially distanced Geocaching hunt early in the year, later, contributing to virtualized cons like CDRE Justin Grays at vConvergence for the panel on POC in fandom, HMS Vixen’s Blood Drive challenge, and the HMS Havoc Theater watch events to name a few. It might be that given the challenges of upper Midwest winter living prepared us for hunkering down and still having fun!

On the relief front, the Gryphon’s Wings was there time and again to help those adversely impacted from among us, with donations rolling in to support those less fortunate from among our shipmates. No doubt more will yet be required of us until we can be together and celebrate meeting the challenge. So we still do the necessary, follow guidelines, help our shipmates when needed, and plan for the return of gatherings.

Looming on the horizon of 2022 is our part in delivering WorldCon in Chicago. The fleet has offered to assist with the event, and RADM Geoff Strayer is assembling the fleet support team for that event. And the big one this Fall of course, the Matter of Honor LARP on the USS Edson in Bay City, Michigan! But most important, please remember to stay safe, and respect the guidelines that are in place to mitigate the scourge, until we can gather again!

Stop the Bleed

2020.05.31 CE / 349.11.16 AL (MNB)

A bleeding injury can happen anywhere, and even on one of Her Majesty’s ships, there’s not always a Corpsman available to immediately respond to an emergency. Which is why Commander Brian Lee Gnad, commanding HMS Bravery (CL-21), decided to take advantage of the Defense Health Agency’s “Stop the Bleed” classes that they’ve been offering in their operating area of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Heading out to grid reference Broken Arrow on 6 March 2020, Gnad and four of his crew arrived to learn how to recognize life-threatening bleeding, and active quickly and effectively to control that bleeding using three quick techniques.

The class was free and taught by two licensed paramedics from the Defense Health Agency’s command staff (who did not wish to be identified). This first aid procedure involved first, calling 911 to get assistance quickly, applying pressure with your hands, packing the wound and pressing down, and then finally, applying the tourniquet. They got into greater detail, which involved teaching the students how to use of the combat tourniquet, hemostatic agents, and various forms of dressings and techniques to stop life threatening bleeding.

Obergefraiter Joy Wandrey, proudly wearing her Clan Fraser shirt, said, “Learned a lot…, many thanks to Paul and to Brian, as well as the whole Devlin clan. Then spent today learning a little about stormspotting including how and what to report! Very educational weekend indeed!” Even those who couldn’t be there, such as Senior Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Koch, said, “Awesome opportunity! This is some real useful knowledge to have. If you are on the fence I recommend you go for it!”