Friday, December 31, 2010

What a War on the Korean Peninsula Would Look Like

When I started this blog I thought I could just focus on the 20th Century but there are now some issues in this century that have connections to the past that are just too important to ignore and a possible reawakening of conflict in Korea is one.  We have to remember the Korean War (or UN Police Action) has never officially been ended.  All we have is a very tense cease fire.
A fan of my blog has sent me some very interesting info from Popular Mechanics written by
Sharon Weinberger on this issue.  
Coming up with war scenarios involving North Korea has become something of a cottage industry among journalists, think tankers and politicians. It's even inspired a contest in Seoul. But there's a reason for the enduring popularity of this type of scenario building: with a standing army of over a million people, a conflict with North Korea has the potential to morph into full-scale war the likes of which hasn't been seen for decades.

Today, there's no shortage of sparks that could ignite a war: a naval clash that escalates out of control, or a new provocation, like an invasion aimed at an island close to the site of this week's artillery barrage against a South Korean island, or perhaps even something new, like a massive North Korean cyber attack against the United States.

The North Koreans' willingness to test the boundaries makes the situation tense. "Their general behavior is to test how serious their adversaries are," says Justin Hastings, an international affairs professor and Asia expert at George Tech's Ivan Allen Collage. "I think, given North Korea's leadership transition, it becomes more problematic precisely because there could be a miscalculation."

If a miscalculation happens, and war breaks out, the United States has a series of "OPLANs," or Operational Plans, that determine how it would respond. For example, if North Korea uses its thousands of pieces of artillery against Seoul, the United States would likely use its significant naval and Air Force assets to strike targets across the length of the DMZ.

Any campaign in North Korea would, early on in the conflict, likely include precision strikes on North Korea's nuclear facilities to ensure Kim Jong Il's regime never has the opportunity to use its small, but threatening nuclear arsenal. That would mean dropping precision weapons on facilities like Yongbyon, the recently revealed uranium enrichment facility, and other known and suspected WMD sites inside North Korea.

In that early stage of the conflict, the United States would likely use its arsenal of advanced precision weaponry, including (if it's ready), the new Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000-pound weapon that is designed specifically to penetrate and destroy deeply buried targets.

But after that, don't expect a precision-style shock and awe campaign like was seen in the early days of the Iraq invasion, when U.S. air power was able to drop guided weapons on key Iraqi government and military facilities while sparing much of Baghdad's infrastructure.

Back in 2006, in the midst of a another nuclear crisis on the peninsula, Peter Pace, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that any conflict today with North Korea wouldn't look like what it might have looked had it taken place in the 1990s. It would be "more like a World War II-Korean War campaign," Pace warned.

Why? Because so much of the United States' precision weaponry and platforms are tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pace says, leaving the U.S. military with more blunt options, particularly when facing North Korea's unsophisticated, but large, conventional force.

That's one reason why the United States and South Korea are proceeding with caution, experts say. "It would be a brutal, brutal war," says Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation and former chief of CIA's Korea branch.

"Even though instinctively we may want to punish North Korea with a military attack, both Washington and Seoul are facing the same constraints as in March, when North Korea sank a South Korean naval ship and killed 46 sailors," Klingner says. "Even a tactical level retaliatory attack could escalate into an all out conflict." Klingner argues that if Pyongyang doesn't get what it likely wants out of the current provocation—a return to the negotiating table—then it could try something more aggressive.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Heroes of the Vietnam Generation by former Secretary of the Navy-Senator James Webb

This is a terrific article which should be of special interest to all who served in Viet Nam . Former Secretary of the Navy, James Webb writes an outstanding article about the facts surrounding the Vietnam war. He articulates how the media elite have chosen to ignore (and slight) the role of real American patriots during the Vietnam years.

Heroes of the Vietnam Generation
By James Webb
          The rapidly disappearing cohort of Americans that endured the Great Depression and then fought World War II is receiving quite a send-off from the leading lights of the so-called 60's generation. Tom Brokaw has published two oral histories of "The Greatest Generation" that feature ordinary people doing their duty and suggest that such conduct was historically unique.

          Chris Matthews of "Hardball" is fond of writing columns praising the Navy service of his father while castigating his own baby boomer generation for its alleged softness and lack of struggle. William Bennett gave a startling condescending speech at the Naval Academy a few years ago comparing the heroism of the "D-Day Generation" to the drugs-and-sex nihilism of the "Woodstock Generation." And Steven Spielberg, in promoting his film "Saving Private Ryan," was careful to justify his portrayals of soldiers in action based on the supposedly unique nature of World War II.

          An irony is at work here. Lest we forget, the World War II generation now being lionized also brought us the Vietnam War, a conflict which today's most conspicuous voices by and large opposed, and in which few of them served. The "best and brightest" of the Vietnam age group once made headlines by castigating their parents for bringing about the war in which they would not fight, which has become the war they refuse to remember.

          Pundits back then invented a term for this animus: the "generation gap." Long, plaintive articles and even books were written examining its manifestations. Campus leaders, who claimed precocious wisdom through the magical process of reading a few controversial books, urged fellow baby boomers not to trust anyone over 30. Their elders who had survived the Depression and fought the largest war in history were looked down upon as shallow, materialistic, and out of touch.

          Those of us who grew up, on the other side of the picket line from that era's counter-culture can't help but feel a little leery of this sudden gush of appreciation for our elders from the leading lights of the old counter-culture. Then and now, the national conversation has proceeded from the dubious assumption that those who came of age during Vietnam are a unified generation in the same sense as their parents were, and thus are capable of being spoken for through these fickle elites.

          In truth, the " Vietnam generation" is a misnomer. Those who came of age during that war are permanently divided by different reactions to a whole range of counter-cultural agendas, and nothing divides them more deeply than the personal ramifications of the war itself. The sizable portion of the Vietnam age group who declined to support the counter-cultural agenda, and especially the men and women who opted to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, are quite different from their peers who for decades have claimed to speak for them. In fact, they are much like the World War II generation itself. For them, Woodstock was a side show, college protestors were spoiled brats who would have benefited from having to work a few jobs in order to pay their tuition, and Vietnam represented not an intellectual exercise in draft avoidance, or protest marches but a battlefield that was just as brutal as those their fathers faced in World War II and Korea.

          Few who served during Vietnam ever complained of a generation gap. The men who fought World War II were their heroes and role models. They honored their father's service by emulating it, and largely agreed with their father's wisdom in attempting to stop Communism's reach in Southeast Asia .

          The most accurate poll of their attitudes (Harris, 1980) showed that 91 percent were glad they'd served their country, 74 percent enjoyed their time in the service, and 89 percent agreed with the statement that "our troops were asked to fight in a war which our political leaders in Washington would not let them win." And most importantly, the castigation they received upon returning home was not from the World War II generation, but from the very elites in their age group who supposedly spoke for them.

          Nine million men served in the military during Vietnam War, three million of whom went to the Vietnam Theater. Contrary to popular mythology, two-thirds of these were volunteers, and 73 percent of those who died were volunteers. While some attention has been paid recently to the plight of our prisoners of war, most of whom were pilots; there has been little recognition of how brutal the war was for those who fought it on the ground.

          Dropped onto the enemy's terrain 12,000 miles away from home, America 's citizen-soldiers performed with a tenacity and quality that may never be truly understood. Those who believe the war was fought incompletely on a tactical level should consider Hanoi's recent admission that 1.4 million of its soldiers died on the battlefield, compared to 58,000 total U.S. dead.

         *** Those who believe that it was a "dirty little war" where the bombs did all the work might contemplate that is was the most costly war the U.S. Marine Corps has ever fought - five times as many dead as World War I, three times as many dead as in Korea, and more total killed and wounded than in all of World War II. ***

          Significantly, these sacrifices were being made at a time the United States was deeply divided over our effort in Vietnam . The baby-boom generation had cracked apart along class lines as America 's young men were making difficult, life-or-death choices about serving. The better academic institutions became focal points for vitriolic protest against the war, with few of their graduates going into the military. Harvard College , which had lost 691 alumni in World War II, lost a total of 12 men in Vietnam from the classes of 1962 through 1972 combined. Those classes at Princeton lost six, at MIT two. The media turned ever more hostile. And frequently the reward for a young man's having gone through the trauma of combat was to be greeted by his peers with studied indifference of outright hostility.

          What is a hero? My heroes are the young men who faced the issues of war and possible death, and then weighed those concerns against obligations to their country. Citizen-soldiers who interrupted their personal and professional lives at their most formative stage, in the timeless phrase of the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery , "not for fame of reward, not for place or for rank, but in simple obedience to duty, as they understood it." Who suffered loneliness, disease, and wounds with an often-contagious elan. And who deserve a far better place in history than that now offered them by the so-called spokesman of our so-called generation. 
          Mr. Brokaw, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Bennett, Mr. Spielberg, meet my Marines. 1969 was an odd year to be in Vietnam . Second only to 1968 in terms of American casualties, it was the year made famous by Hamburger Hill, as well as the gut-wrenching Life cover story showing pictures of 242 Americans who had been killed in one average week of fighting. Back home, it was the year of Woodstock , and of numerous anti-war rallies that culminated in the Moratorium March on Washington . The My Lai massacre hit the papers and was seized upon by the anti-war movement as the emblematic moment of the war. Lyndon Johnson left Washington in utter humiliation.

          Richard Nixon entered the scene, destined for an even worse fate. In the An Hoa Basin southwest of Danang, the Fifth Marine Regiment was in its third year of continuous combat operations. Combat is an unpredictable and inexact environment, but we were well led. As a rifle platoon and company commander, I served under a succession of three regimental commanders who had cut their teeth in World War II, and four different battalion commanders, three of whom had seen combat in Korea. The company commanders were typically captains on their second combat tour in Vietnam , or young first lieutenants like myself who were given companies after many months of "bush time" as platoon commanders in the Basin's tough and unforgiving environs.

          The Basin was one of the most heavily contested areas in Vietnam , its torn, cratered earth offering every sort of wartime possibility. In the mountains just to the west, not far from the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the North Vietnamese Army operated an infantry division from an area called Base Area 112. In the valleys of the Basin, main-force Viet Cong battalions whose ranks were 80 percent North Vietnamese Army regulars moved against the Americans every day. Local Viet Cong units sniped and harassed. Ridgelines and paddy dikes were laced with sophisticated booby traps of every size, from a hand grenade to a 250-pound bomb. The villages sat in the rice paddies and tree lines like individual fortresses, crisscrossed with the trenches and spider holes, their homes sporting bunkers capable of surviving direct hits from large-caliber artillery shells. The Viet Cong infrastructure was intricate and permeating. Except for the old and the very young, villagers who did not side with the Communists had either been killed or driven out to the government controlled enclaves near Danang.

          In the rifle companies, we spent the endless months patrolling ridgelines and villages and mountains, far away from any notion of tents, barbed wire, hot food, or electricity. Luxuries were limited to what would fit inside one's pack, which after a few "humps" usually boiled down to letter -writing material, towel, soap, toothbrush, poncho liner, and a small transistor radio.

          We moved through the boiling heat with 60 pounds of weapons and gear, causing a typical Marine to drop 20 percent of his body weight while in the bush. When we stopped we dug chest-deep fighting holes and slit trenches for toilets. We slept on the ground under makeshift poncho hootches, and when it rained we usually took our hootches down because wet ponchos shined under illumination flares, making great targets. Sleep itself was fitful, never more than an hour or two at a stretch for months at a time as we mixed daytime patrolling with night-time ambushes, listening posts, foxhole duty, and radio watches. Ringworm, hookworm, malaria, and dysentery were common, as was trench foot when the monsoons came. Respite was rotating back to the mud-filled regimental combat base at An Hoa for four or five days, where rocket and mortar attacks were frequent and our troops manned defensive bunkers at night. Which makes it kind of hard to get excited about tales of Woodstock , or camping at the Vineyard during summer break.

          We had been told while training that Marine officers in the rifle companies had an 85 percent probability of being killed or wounded, and the experience of "Dying Delta," as our company was known, bore that out. Of the officers in the bush when I arrived, our company commander was wounded, the weapons platoon commander wounded, the first platoon commander was killed, the second platoon commander was wounded twice, and I, commanding the third platoons fared no better. Two of my original three-squad leaders were killed, and the third shot in the stomach. My platoon sergeant was severely wounded, as was my right guide. By the time I left, my platoon I had gone through six radio operators, five of them casualties.

          These figures were hardly unique; in fact, they were typical. Many other units; for instance, those who fought the hill battles around Khe Sanh, or were with the famed Walking Dead of the Ninth Marine Regiment, or were in the battle of Hue City or at Dai Do, had it far worse.

          When I remember those days and the very young men who spent them with me, I am continually amazed, for these were mostly recent civilians barely out of high school, called up from the cities and the farms to do their year in hell and then return. Visions haunt me every day, not of the nightmares of war but of the steady consistency with which my Marines faced their responsibilities, and of how uncomplaining most of them were in the face of constant danger. The salty, battle-hardened 20-year-olds teaching green 19-year-olds the intricate lessons of the hostile battlefield. The unerring skill of the young squad leaders as we moved through unfamiliar villages and weed-choked trails in the black of night. The quick certainty when a fellow Marine was wounded and needed help. Their willingness to risk their lives to save other Marines in peril. To this day it stuns me that their own countrymen have so completely missed the story of their service, lost in the bitter confusion of the war itself.

          Like every military unit throughout history we had occasional laggards, cowards, and complainers. But in the aggregate, these Marines were the finest people I have ever been around. It has been my privilege to keep up with many of them over the years since we all came home. One finds in them very little bitterness about the war in which they fought. The most common regret, almost to a man, is that they were not able to do more for each other and for the people they came to help.

          It would be redundant to say that I would trust my life to these men. Because I already have, in more ways than I can ever recount. I am alive today because of their quiet, unaffected heroism. Such valor epitomizes the conduct of Americans at war from the first days of our existence. That the boomer elites can canonize this sort of conduct in our fathers' generation while ignoring it in our own is more than simple oversight. It is a conscious, continuing travesty.
[Image]
Former Secretary of the Navy James Webb was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star medals for heroism as a Marine in Vietnam.=

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

USS FDR CV-42 photos taken during 1967 tour off of Vietnam- never seen before

I have acquired some very rare photos taken aboard the USS FDR CV-42 during her 1966-1967 tour off of Vietnam.  These pics have never been published any where before, both in print nor on line.
With much thanks to an unnamed ex crew member.

USS FDR CV-42 photos never seen before-very rare pics

A new website to replace this blog  http://militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury.com/

The photos are now on the Post War Photos page of the website.


























US Navy pics from USS FDR CV-42 never seen before

I have acquired some very rare photos aboard the USS FDR, CV-42  from 1967 tour off of Vietnam for my blog. They have now been posted on the Post War Photos page at http://www.militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury.com/   These were given to me personally by the one of the ship's photographers who served on her during the Vietnam War.
These pics have never been published any where before, in print or on line.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Storming Juno - Lest We Forget

Lest we forget all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in all the wars, past and present.
This post is about the docudrama on History.ca called Storming Juno.  A very well done program that stays as close to reality as possible.  Very graphic combat scenes interwoven with some combat footage done during the June 6th , 1944 Normandy invasion.
About 16,000 Canadians landed on D-Day at Juno suffering about 1,000 casualties.  They were the first units to seize their prime objectives and moved further inland then any other Army.  I highly recommend that we all watch this show and never forget.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How a ship's stoker helped win WWII

 A new website to replace this blog  http://militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury.com/

Seasickness can be devastating to some and hardly a bother to others.  Some people get their sea legs very quickly while others never can. This is a story of how one sailor, a stoker named Mahoney on the RCN Corvette, the Matapedia helped change the outcome of  The Battle of the Atlantic and of course it's direct effect on the outcome of the European theater of WWII.
He joined the ship's crew in December 1941 which was assigned to convoy escort duty between St. John's, Newfoundland and Iceland in the North Atlantic.
Because the Corvettes were so small and light they were totally at the mercy of the seas. Any bad weather would have these ships bouncing and twisting in every direction making all on board always feeling the effects from sea sickness; most got over it very quickly while some never could recover and would be unfit for combat for the entire trip. And unfortunately for Mahoney he was one of those rare sailors who could never find his sea legs.
In the little more than two weeks that this trip took he was never able to leave his hammock.  At port in Iceland the captain of the Matapedia sent Mahoney to be checked out by some doctors who returned him to the ship declaring that he was fit for sea duty and that he will overcome his seasickness soon enough.
But of course during the return trip Mahoney suffered from this acute form of seasickness. When the ship arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia he was sent to the base hospital but with the same results; it is just seasickness and he has to get over it. The ship's captain  could not believe that the doctors in the Medical Branch could not see the seriousness of  Mahoney's situation.
The only option left was to go over the heads of the doctors and make an appeal directly to Rear  Admiral George Jones, the Commanding Officer, Atlantic Coast. It was this admiral who realized that while there were plenty of navy doctors in Halifax most of them have never served aboard a ship and had no experience with this issue so he ordered them to get some sea experience by going on a short trip on a mine sweeper. A ship even smaller than a corvette and more likely to cause seasickness which it very well did.  The doctors were so sick they had to take turns heaving from the rails. After the ship returned the doctors all had a new feeling towards seasickness and the following day Mahoney was sent to the hospital to be the first in line for any treatments and this time he was not sent back to the corvette.
Now chronic seasickness  was accepted as a real medical problem and doctors and researchers began to study this problem.  Finally in 1943 from the laboratories of  Drs. Charles Best and Wilder Penfield, both very well known doctors they created Pill 2-183 made from a mixture of several different acids that effectively blocked the sensation of  Chronic Seasickness  which helped thousands of sailors get their jobs done in helping the escort of all those convoys heading to Britain to build up the invasion forces that would help end the war in Europe.
So thanks to Stoker Mahoney's condition the Normandy invasion of German occupied France was able to be planned and won by the soldiers who were shipped to England in safely guarded convoys  by the many brave sailors manning those little escorts.
While seasickness could never be eliminated there was now a cure that would allow the sailors to get the job done.





Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Secrets of MI6

The first, and only, official history of the Secret Intelligence Service, written by a Queen's University academic, will be published today (Tuesday 21 September).
Professor Keith Jeffery from Queen's School of History and Anthropology is the historian behind MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909-1949.
Having spent five years with full and unprecedented access to the agency's secret archives in London, Professor Jeffery's book will be launched in London today. He will be at a special event at Queen's on Thursday 23 September to celebrate its publication.
The 800 page book is the authoritative account of the best-known intelligence organisation in the world. Packed with fascinating stories about the extraordinary people who served in MI6 during two world wars and the beginnings of the Cold War, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of espionage and international relations in the first half of the twentieth century. More about this book and the author can be found at
http://www.molecularstation.com/science-news/2010/09/queens-university-historian-reveals-secret-history-of-mi6/
And I as some one with a life long interest in this subject believes this book will open up many secrets that were never revealed in Bodyguard Of Lies about Ultra.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

American Bumper Stickers Found On American Bases

While these bumper stickers can be seen today on vehicles on American bases they are equally appropriate for the 20th Century.
 
"When  In Doubt, Empty The Magazine"

 
"Marine Sniper - You can run, but you'll just die tired!" 

"Machine Gunners - Accuracy By Volume"

"Except For Ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism, WAR has Never Solved Anything."

" U.S. Marines - Certified Counselors to the 72 Virgins Dating Club."

" U.S. Air Force - Travel Agents To Allah"

"Stop Global Whining"

Naval Corollary: Dead Men Don't Testify.

"The Marine Corps - When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be Destroyed Overnight"

"Death Smiles At Everyone - Marines Smile Back"

"What Do I Feel When I Kill A Terrorist?  A Little Recoil"

"Marines - Providing Enemies of America an Opportunity To Die For their Country Since 1775"

"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Anyone Who Threatens It"

"Happiness Is A Belt-Fed Weapon"

"It's God's Job to Forgive Bin Laden - It's Our Job To Arrange The Meeting"
"Artillery Brings Dignity to What Would Otherwise Be Just A Vulgar Brawl"

"One Shot, Twelve Kills - U.S. Naval Gun Fire Support "

"My Kid Fought In Iraq So Your Kid Can Party In College"

"A Dead Enemy Is A Peaceful Enemy - Blessed Be The Peacemakers"

"If You Can Read This, Thank A Teacher..  If You Can Read It In English, Thank A Veteran"


...and finally

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world.  

But the U.S. ARMED FORCES don't have that problem."  
                                                                                        ..... Ronald Reagan

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Aircraft detection 12


Aircraft detection 11


Aircraft detection 10


Aircraft detection 9


Aircraft detection 8


Aircraft detection 7


Aircraft detection 6


Aircraft detection 5


Aircraft detection 4


Aircraft detection 3


Aircraft detection 2


Aircraft detection 1


Before Radar

Before RADAR was invented the armed forces of most nations needed a way of detecting approaching enemy aircraft before they got to the target area.  The only way was to listen for them and since the human ear has it's limitations then the hearing had to be amplified. America, Britain, France and Germany all came up with their own versions of these devices during WWI and worked on improving their ability before WWII and the late 1930s invention of RADAR. Here are 12 different such devices used by those countries.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Sand Pebbles-speech 2

Here is the 2nd of 2 speeches done by actor Richard Crenna in the movie The Sand Pebbles which still can be used today for all to see or hear.
video
Even though it is about US gunboat diplomacy of 1926 it is still important today.

The Sand Pebbles-speech 1

 A new website to replace this blog  http://militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury.com/
 
Here is the 1st of 2 speeches done by actor Richard Crenna in the movie The Sand Pebbles which still can be used today for all to see or hear.
video
Even though it is in reference to US gunboat diplomacy in 1926 it has never changed.



Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A unhappy anniversary

Sept.1 is a date that started not just WWII in Europe but it also brought about major advances in technology for both military and civilian/political purposes. Besides causing the death of over 50 million people it did introduce the world to jet aircraft, missiles/rockets and of course THE BOMB! And tomorrow Sept.2 would be a happy anniversary because 6 years and 1 day later the war was finally and officially over when the Japanese signed their surrender to the Allied Forces.

What's Roberto Reading These Days?: Operation Mincemeat: how a dead man and a bizarre plan fooled the Nazis and assured an allied victory

What's Roberto Reading These Days?: Operation Mincemeat: how a dead man and a bizarre plan fooled the Nazis and assured an allied victory

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Letter From A Marine but 21st Century War

 A new website to replace this blog  http://militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury.com/

Scorpions, Chiggers & Sand Fleas

Makes u proud to be an AMERICAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From a Recon Marine in Afghanistan




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From the Sand Pit it's freezing here.

I'm sitting on hard, cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains , along the Dar 'yoi Pomir River , watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave. Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles.


I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another scorpion sting. I've actually given up battling the chiggers and sand fleas, but the scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod. Hurts like a bastard.. The antidote tastes like transmission fluid, but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack.

The one truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water. That requires couriers and that's where an old bounty hunter like me comes in handy. I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the hand held, shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware. We bash some heads for a while, then I track and record the new movement.

It's all about intelligence. We haven't even brought in the snipers yet. These scurrying rats have no idea what they're in for. We are but days away from cutting off supply lines and allowing the eradication to begin. I dream of bin Laden waking up to find me standing over him with my boot on his throat as I spit into his face and plunge my nickel-plated Bowie knife through his frontal lobe. But you know me, I'm a romantic.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: This country blows, man. It's not even a country. There are no roads, there's no infrastructure, there's no government. This is an inhospitable, rock pit shit hole ruled by eleventh century warring tribes. There are no jobs here like we know jobs.

Afghanistan offers two ways for a man to support his family: join the opium trade or join the army. That's it. Those are your options. Oh, I forgot, you can also live in a refugee camp and eat plum-sweetened, crushed beetle paste and squirt mud like a goose with stomach flu, if that's your Idea of a party. But the smell alone of those 'tent cities of the walking dead is enough to hurl you into the poppy fields to cheerfully scrape bulbs or eighteen hours a day.

I've been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks, and Turkmen and even a couple of Pushtuns, for over a month-and-a-half now, and this much I can say for sure:

These guys, all of 'em, are Huns... Actual, living Huns.. They LIVE to fight. It's what they do. It's ALL they do. They have no respect for anything, not for their families, nor for each other, nor for themselves. They claw at one another as a way of life. They play polo with dead calves and force their five-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend the family honor.

Huns, roaming packs of savage, heartless beasts who feed on each other's barbarism. Cavemen with AK-47's. Then again, maybe I'm just cranky.

[fits Alexader's experience to a "T" -ecs]

I'm freezing my ass off on this stupid hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice, and I can't recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours. Oh yeah! You like to write letters, right? Do me a favor, Bizarre. Write a letter to CNN and tell Wolf and Anderson and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban 'smart.' They are not smart. I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is 'cunning' The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines. They are sneaky and ruthless, and when confronted, cowardly. They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else. Smart. Pfft.

Yeah, they're real smart. [Alex. again!]

They've spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil. They're still figuring out how to work a Bic lighter. Talking to a Taliban warrior about improving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen; eventually he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it.

OK, enough. Snuffle will be up soon, so I have to get back to my hole., covering my tracks in the snow takes a lot of practice, but I'm good at it.

Please, I tell you and my fellow Americans to turn off the TV sets and move on with your lives. The story line you are getting from CNN and other news agencies is utter bullshit and designed not to deliver truth but rather to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials.

We've got this one under control The worst thing you guys can do right now is sit around analyzing what we're doing over here, because you have no idea what we're doing, and really, you don't want to know.

We are your military, and we are doing what you sent us here to do.

Saucy Jack
Recon Marine in Afghanistan
Semper Fi

"Freedom is not free...but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share".


A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it 'From a Recon Marine in Afghanistan.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How the British Navy and Air Force Saved Malta - Defence Talk Forum

 A new website to replace this blog  http://militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury.com/

How the British Navy and Air Force Saved Malta - Defence Talk Forum

How the British Navy and Air Force Saved Malta

Since I last wrote about the importance of saving the island of Malta from Axis occupation and it’s importance to the defeat of the German/Italian forces in North Africa it is important to know how this was done by getting just enough supplies to keep the civilians and military alive and able to fight.
Malta contained a considerable civilian population, a large garrison drawn from all three Services and served as a very active operational base throughout the siege, it may be assumed that only the use of a considerable number of large merchant ships could support the demands for food, fuel and other supplies. Indeed, the great maritime/air battles that ensued around the convoys from east and west are usually seen as the means of supply. It is true that the failure of anyone of these operations would have made inevitable the surrender of the island, there was always a predicted but always changing date by which the island must capitulate due to starvation. However, lack of ammunition for the defenses, fuel for them and the population, and loss of aircraft could also have forced such an act prior to starvation itself. The support of Malta therefore took a number of forms. Firstly the passage of heavily escorted convoys conveying bulk supplies of food, fuel and ammunition. Secondly, the provision of very scarce ("high value") items such as vital spares, ammunition, medical stores and concentrated food by fast warships. Thirdly, the delivery of similar items by submarines, either as part of an operational patrol or a dedicated supply trip by a partly converted vessel. Fourthly, the provision of fighter aircraft by using Fleet carriers to take them within flying range of the Island and, finally, by clandestine voyages by independent merchant ships. The failure of anyone of these would have proved fatal to Malta.

Malta could be supplied either from the east or the west so far as convoys were concerned, the decision was based on tactical considerations. From Gibraltar, the passage only became subject to air attack in the second half of the voyage where enemy forces were in strength. From the east, unless the North African desert was temporarily in British hands, air attack became probable very shortly after sailing and surface attack easier due to shorter distance. The eastern route, after the complete failure of one attempt, could only really be attempted when the enemy had been driven west of Benghazi. Both routes required very heavy escort, another factor that inhibited the eastern series due to the steady attrition of the Mediterranean Fleet. The Germans operated a logical series of attacks that was directed at the main component of the escorts for if they were to be eliminated first the destruction of the escorted ships became easier, the heaviest attacks after the departure from Malta was directed first at the main Fleet and then at a detached cruiser force. Unlike the earlier attacks which were conducted by the Italian Navy and Air Force, these later, and most destructive efforts, were mounted principally by German aircraft. Most of these attacks were against convoys from Alexandria to the East of Malta that were under attack by Axis forces almost immediately. As an example were the results of the last Eastern convoy.

The Admiral in charge of the escorts then received firm information that the Italian fleet was retiring and accordingly ordered the convoy to turn once again for Malta. Unfortunately, the order was received at the peak of a heavy air attacks and it was nearly 1900 before the situation could be assessed and fuel and ammunition reserves discovered. It became clear that, with NESTOR damaged in the latest raid, fuel in the destroyers low and under 30% ammunition remaining, to press on to Malta was impossible. The C-in-C concurred and the whole convoy headed back for Alexandria. During that night the cruiser HERMIONE was hit by U 205 and sank, the damaged NESTOR had also to be sunk and the bedraggled convoy and escort returned to Alexandria and Port Said on the evening of 17.6. AJAX and BULKOIL were escorted to Port Said by FORTUNE, GRIFFIN, INCONSTANT and PAKENHAM, the remaining merchant ships entering Alexandria. CENTURION, damaged and with a deep draft had to anchor outside the Great Pass. This concluded attempts to supply Malta by convoy from the east, until the Army succeeded in clearing North Africa thus giving the RAF the ability to provide air cover during the voyage.

This was the situation in Malta at this time. The arrival of two supply ships from HARPOON convoy from the the west extended the supplies available in Malta by eight weeks. This seemingly reasonable statement must be read in the context that the entire population was already on starvation rations, serious illness were already afflicting rising numbers including even aircrew, that water and fuel for cooking could only be obtained with great exertion from specified distribution points, and that the reserves of essential supplies for defense, principally aviation fuel and ammunition, were extremely low. It was therefore essential to repeat the HARPOON operation on a larger scale and with arrival before the end of 8.42. It is of interest to quote comment by the then commander of 10th Submarine Flotilla in the island on a conversation with the people who were responsible for food distribution in Malta: "They said that the present island-wide soup kitchen arrangements are fully organized and working well. The tinned and dehydrated ingredients are issued daily to the organizers, prepared on field kitchens and distributed from fixed points. These ingredients are the ideal for control and orderly administration but the last issue - the absolute last issue from island reserves - occurs in five days, on 15 August. After that we are down to the slaughter of horses and goats, once considered adequate for six months......The present census of animals in the island is estimated to last from five to ten days. If in fact I chop and change between tinned supplies and slaughter WITHOUT CAUSING PANIC we might last until 25 August." That was the measure of desperation on the island.

Then finally there was one last attempt to get the most needed supplies in to Malta with Operation Pedestal; a relief convoy from the west. This, the last heavily opposed supply convoy to Malta, was born of sheer necessity immediately following the arrival of HARPOON. The decision was hardly in doubt, any other would have been a total abandonment of the island, and very little time was wasted in commencing preparations. The chosen commander, Vice Admiral Syfret, was at sea on his way back to the UK from the invasion of Madagascar, he was ordered to land at Takoradi and was flown to London to commence planning on 13.7 together with Rear Admirals Burroughs and Lyster who were to be his deputies.

Basically, PEDESTAL was HARPOON without the eastern cooperation, and with greater resources, the Home Fleet being stripped for the operation. The plan followed the now familiar pattern the main force, Force Z, proceeding as far as the Narrows, Force X going through to the Malta approaches, a substantial mine sweeping force to sweep the ships in, a carrier operation to supply additional Spitfires to Malta (Operation BELLOWS), a refueling at sea force (Force R) and an adequate supply of spare destroyers to cover losses and any unexpected eventuality. The withdrawal of the two HARPOON merchant ships was also provided for, finally the Mediterranean Fleet was to carry out a dummy convoy deception in the eastern basin to divert attention and divide enemy resources. On 10.8 all ships having sailed and passed the Strait, the composition of the forces was as follows:

Force W battleships NELSON and RODNEY, carriers EAGLE, INDOMITABLE and VICTORIOUS, cruisers CHARYBDIS, PHOEBE and SIRIUS and destroyers ANTELOPE, ESKIMO, ITHURIEL, LAFOREY, LIGHTNING, LOOKOUT, QUENTIN, SOMALI, TARTAR, VANSITTART, WISHART and ZETLAND.
Force X cruisers CAIRO, KENYA, MANCHESTER and NIGERIA, destroyers ASHANTI, BICESTER, BRAMHAM, DERWENT, FORESIGHT, FURY, ICARUS, INTREPID, LEDBURY, PATHFINDER, PENN and WILTON and the tug JAUNTY. Force R oilers BROWN RANGER, DINGLEDALE and corvettes COLTSFOOT, GERANIUM, JONQUIL and SPIRAEA. Operation BELLOWS, referred to in the "Fighters to Malta" section, comprised the carrier FURIOUS and, when separated from the main body, destroyers from the "additional" force.
Additional destroyer force AMAZON, KEPPEL, MALCOLM, VENOMOUS, VIDETTE, WESTCOTT, WRESTLER and WOLVERINE. The mines weeping force which was to meet the convoy and sweep it into Malta would consist of four ships HEBE, HYTHE, RYE and SPEEDY and MLs 121, 126, 134, 135, 168, 459 and 462. Finally, Force Y, the merchant ships ORARI and TROILUS from Malta would be escorted by the destroyers BADSWORTH and MATCHLESS, all ships which had been detained at Malta after HARPOON. Three cruisers and 26 destroyers fueled from the oilers throughout 11.8 despite constant shadowing by enemy aircraft. FURIOUS left the main body at noon to commence Operation BELLOWS, half way through which EAGLE was torpedoed and sunk by U 73, 927 were rescued by LAFOREY and LOOKOUT and the tug JAUNTY. In the failing light a combined dive bombing and torpedo attack developed, but with no loss to the escort nor the convoy, which closed the events of 11.8. It was anticipated that 12.8 would be "busy" as from dawn onwards all forces would be well within range of enemy air bases from which it was estimated that some 600 operational aircraft could be launched, post war (conservative) figures indicate 334 bombers (90 of them torpedo bombers) and 273 fighters. Maximum operational strength at Malta was 36 Beaufighters (long range) and 100 Spitfires. The air defense of the convoy after the loss of EAGLE, comprised 34 Hurricane, 10 Martlet and 16 Fulmar fighters.
Air defense consisted of a constant air patrol of 12 fighters reinforced as needed, which commenced at 0600, the first air attack started shortly after 0900 and continued throughout the day finally scoring their first success after four hours when the freighter DEUCALION was hit and damaged. She was detached from the convoy escorted by BRAMHAM and routed towards Malta close to the Tunisian coast. Both ships were bombed during the afternoon without success but a torpedo attack shortly before dusk set DEUCALION on fire and she eventually blew up. During the afternoon the convoy was also subjected to submarine alarms and at 1600 a combined attack by PATHFINDER and ZETLAND resulted in ITHURIEL finally bring the Italian COBALTO to the surface and sinking her by ramming. A mass air attack, carefully co-ordinated, commenced at 1830 when almost 100 aircraft plus fighters approached from a number of directions. In the resultant desperate fighting the destroyer FORESIGHT was hit and disabled, later to sink, while INDOMITABLE was hit and her flight deck put out of action leaving VICTORIOUS as the only operational deck. When the attack ceased, the time had come for the main force to detach and Vice Admiral Syfret turned Force W westward at 1900 leaving Force X to continue to Malta.

Barely an hour later the first serious damage was inflicted on the convoy when the Italian submarine AXUM fired four torpedoes damaging the cruisers CAIRO and NIGERIA and the tanker OHIO. NIGERIA had to withdraw to Gibraltar and CAIRO had to be sunk thus depriving the escort of the only ships fitted for fighter direction. In consequence, with the convoy thrown into some disarray by the sinkings, when an air attack commenced about 30 minutes later the six Beaufighters overhead were powerless to intervene in the dusk. During this attack EMPIRE HOPE was bombed and abandoned, her survivors being picked up by PENN, CLAN FERGUSON was torpedoed and blew up, she was loaded with 2000 tons of aviation petrol and 1500 tons of explosives amongst other items, however 96 survivors reached the Tunisian coast to be interned by the French. The BRISBANE STAR was torpedoed and fell out from the convoy, she will be referred to later. Finally, to complete the evening's chaos the Italian submarine ALAGI fired four torpedoes at KENYA just after 2100, the cruiser almost avoided all of them, only one striking her on the forefoot so that she was able to remain with the convoy capable of 25 knots. Hearing of the loss of two thirds of the cruiser force, Vice Admiral Syfret ordered CHARYBDIS, ESKIMO and SOMALI to rejoin the convoy but they were unable to do so until 0330 the following day.
At midnight, MTBs lying in wait off Cape Bon commenced their attacks and just after 0100 on 13.8 two Italian boats torpedoed the cruiser MANCHESTER. Stopped, it was subsequently decided that she should be scuttled which was done at 0500, most of her survivors reaching the Tunisian coast and internment. Within an hour, the scattered merchant ships of the convoy, a number of which were straggling and trying to rejoin, were picked off by the small, fast MTBs ALMERIA LYKES, GLENORCHY, SANTA ELISA and WAIRANGI being sunk. Only ROCHESTER CASTLE, hit right forward, survived rejoining the convoy making 13 knots. The situation at dawn on 13.8 was therefore that the convoy had as an escort the cruisers CHARYBDIS and KENYA, destroyers ASHANTI, ESKIMO, FURY, ICARUS, INTREPID, PATHFINDER and SOMALI with MELBOURNE STAR, ROCHESTER CASTLE and WAIMARAMA in company. The tanker OHIO escorted by LEDBURY could be seen astern overtaking the convoy, DORSET was afloat but unescorted somewhere astern, PORT CHALMERS with BRAMHAM and PENN was some ten miles off and BRISBANE STAR was hugging the Tunisian coast.
Meanwhile the surface threat from Italian cruisers had greatly diminished; lack of fighter cover (precedence being given to the bomber force) resulted in its withdrawal eastward and being harassed by reconnaissance aircraft from Malta. The final blow for the cruisers came when submarine UNBROKEN (Lieutenant Alastair Mars) damaged the heavy cruiser BOLZANO and blew the bows of the light cruiser MUZIO ATTENDOLO. No further threat was posed by Italian surface warships.
Events on 13.8 for the convoy commenced with air attacks just after 0800 when a bomb hit WAIMARAMA causing such an explosion that it destroyed not only the ship but the bomber responsible, LEDBURY rescued no fewer than 45 men from her. This was followed ninety minutes later by a most determined dive bombing attack by Stukas directed principally at the tanker OHIO now back with the convoy. She was near missed several times and actually struck by a Ju 87 which she shot down, her steering gear being disabled, an hour later more attacks further damaged and stopped her. At the same time DORSET was hit and stopped and PORT CHALMERS set on fire though she continued with the convoy. The final air attack came at 1130, with no further effect on the convoy; at 1230 the convoy came under short range air protection and proceeded without further problems. BRAMHAM and PENN remained with the two crippled ships, LEDBURY was sent to search for MANCHESTER which was thought still to be afloat, while Force X went on toward Malta meeting the Malta minesweepers who had swept their way out and met the rump of the convoy at 1430 and took over MELBOURNE STAR, PORT CHALMERS and ROCHESTER CASTLE to bring them in to Grand Harbour at about 1800 on 13.8. Meantime, RYE and two MLs went out to search for OHIO while BRAMHAM, LEDBURY and PENN were ordered to join Force X at a rendezvous at 2030 while the force turned westward and commenced the passage back to Gibraltar.
One further air attack was carried out before dark in which DORSET was sunk and OHIO hit yet again. BRAMHAM, PENN and RYE, ordered back to the convoy, spent the rest of the night in futile efforts to tow the OHIO and were joined by LEDBURY at dawn. Efforts to tow were resumed on the hulk of the slowly sinking tanker with slightly more success, and the cortege (for one can call it little less considering its slow speed and the state of OHIO) was joined later in the forenoon by SPEEDY and two MLs. After a traumatic twenty four hours under the direction of Commander M/S Malta, OHIO was berthed in shallow water inside the Malta breakwater, and settled on the bottom with the majority of her fuel cargo intact and available. BRISBANE STAR meanwhile had also arrived at Malta, hugging the Tunisian coast during 13.8 the Master intended to make a night dash for Malta. During the day, while not attacked he had to cope with intervention by French shore signal stations, a boarding by French officers who tried to persuade him to go into port and surrender, and a good deal of pressure on board from survivors and his Medical Officer who also wished to enter port due to the condition of the wounded. Nevertheless the Master stuck firmly to his intentions, and brought his ship into Malta during the afternoon of 14.8. The ships which arrived in Malta landed 32,000 tons of cargo and 15,000 tons of fuel, sufficient to supply Malta until 12.42 other than for aviation fuel. Force X meanwhile continued its journey back to Gibraltar, suffering submarine attack in the early morning of 14.8 and two air attacks during the day. No damage was caused and the Force met Force Z at 1800 and arrived at Gibraltar at 1800 on 15.8. The damaged ships of Force Z, sent home earlier in the operation, also all reached Gibraltar safely except the destroyer FORESIGHT which had to be sunk by TARTAR who had tried to tow her in. Force R also returned safely to Gibraltar on 16.8, final arrivals were the three Hunts BRAMHAM, LEDBURY and PENN who had stopped briefly at Malta after their triumphal entry towing the OHIO. And the main reason for this success on the ground in North Africa was through the efforts of the RAF attacks from Malta on the German re-supply efforts to their forces in North Africa. Helped in large part by the Ultra secret readings of the German codes the British knew where and when to look for German ship and/or air supply efforts.
No further operations from the west were attempted in 1942, the sudden clearance of Egypt and Cyrenaica of the enemy by the Army rendered the eastern passage much the safest option after the end of October, and the siege of Malta was effectively over.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Airman jumped about 18,000 feet with no parachute and survived.

 A new website to replace this blog  http://militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury.com/

This is an incredible but true WWII story of survival.  It is one thing to have to face a choice of  life or death but to be forced to choose how you will die in a combat situation is completely beyond the norm.

This is the story of Warrant Officer Nicholas Stephen Alkemade, RAF.
 

He was a rear turret gunner on a Lancaster bomber 18,000 feet over the Ruhr valley in Germany on the night of March 24-25, 1944 when his plane was attacked by a German night fighter that hit and exploded one of the fuel tanks on the Lancaster.  When the pilot ordered every one to bale out the rear gunner in a Lancaster had to crawl back into the plane to get his parachute because there was no room in the turret.  But when he did this he saw to his horror that  his chute had started to burn. At this point he had a choice of staying with the plane that was going to blow up any moment or when it hit the ground or to jump with no chute!

He chose to jump backwards from the turret of his flaming bomber knowing he will die a quick death on impact. During his drop he passed out and to his great surprise he woke up under a bunch of fir trees and lying on top of some snow covered bushes.  Part of his uniform was gone and he had 3rd degree burns on the upper parts of his body and arms.  Needing help to stay alive rather than worrying about being captured he used his distress whistle (issued for water bale outs for the crew to find each other) until he heard some people shouting as they looked for him.

After his capture he was taken to a hospital where he was treated for all his wounds and burns before he was questioned by the Germans as to where his chute was because only spies usually buried their chutes.  All he could tell them was that he did not use a chute.  Of course he was not believed but since he was captured in what remained of his uniform he was sent to a POW camp near Frankfurt.  Here the Germans started to question him again and again about his missing chute.  All he could do was tell the Germans to find the wreckage of his plane and look for the harness for his chute that would still be there.

The Germans did find the remains of his chute and now believed his story and announced it to the rest of the prisoners who now thought of him as some sort of hero  for his survival and the German account of this story and his own were witnessed by Flight Lt. H.J. Moore the senior British officer and two others and has been recorded in the official records of the RAF.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Exploits of my dad (2nd Infantry (Indian Head) Division) at Normandy from a 82nd Airborne Division veteran.

 A new website for this blog  http://militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury.com/
 
This is a true story of George W.Tompkins Sr. by his son George W.Tompkins Jr.(82nd Airborne Division) and a personal note of interest by George Jr. about the British 6th Airborne Division.
When my dad  was still alive he described to me his first 5 or 6 hours on Omaha. They were pinned down by heavy German fire coming from the pillboxes. My dad said most of the guys arriving in the second and third waves were sitting ducks as soon as the gates dropped on the landing craft they were just cut down. He described the water at high tide as being a shade of crimson stained by the blood of fallen Americans. It took a few hours of heavy Naval gunfire to level some of the pillboxes before his unit could advance to the first series of hedgerows. He landed on the beach on June 6th a buck Sergeant.
On the second day he was promoted to 1st Sergeant H Company 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry (Indian Head) Division when his 1st Sergeant was killed in action. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with 2 oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart with 5 oak leaf clusters for his actions and a battle field commission to 2nd Lieutenant during the "Battle of the Bulge".

One story he did tell me was after his unit liberated the village of St.Lo. They captured almost a complete infantry regiment. The Nazi CO was a full Colonel. He kept insisting that he ride in a vehicle instead of having to march along with his men because he was a German officer and demanded to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. My father told him twice that only wounded men get to ride, Americans first Germans second. The Colonel insisted one more time so my father shot him in the leg and said OK now you can ride in accordance with the Geneva Convention.


Another interesting story is regarding the British 6th Airborne Division.  It was not until I got to the 82nd that I encountered a very small handful of legit WW2 veterans still on active duty amongst whom was my battalion Sergeant Major Harry S. Tompkins (no relation but in the Army we used to call the First Sergeant or the Battalion Sergeant Major TOP, an affectionate name for TOP KICK or senior most enlisted man.   I used to call the Sergeant Major POP. He never corrected me and would just smile at me. It was on Harry Tompkins that I saw for the first time a pair of Master Jump wings with 4 stars. The 4 stars were for his 4 combat jumps in WW2, that included Sicily, Salerno, Normandy (St. Mere Eglise), and Nijmegan (Holland.)  I engaged him in a conversation about WW2 and in particular I asked about the British 6th Airborne Division. In the US Army our maximum height for jumping was 20,000 feet and the only way you could go above 20,000 feet was to balloon jump. Of course the US Army does not permit balloon jumping however every year that I was in the 82nd two men from every unit were allowed to go to England to get their British Paratrooper Wings and to balloon jump with the British 6th Airborne perhaps the most notorious allied unit to ever hit France. According to POP you could always tell a British 6th trooper because he usually had no front teeth or was missing an ear. Amazed I inquired to find out that while US troops would exit C-47 aircraft via the two rear doors the British 6th would exit via an escape hatch in the floor near the tail of the aircraft. Most of whom would either knock out their front teeth or catch their ear on the hatch on the way out. POP said they were the craziest bastards he ever fought along side of.

WWII Air Gun camera

video
Here is an amazing video of some air gun camera video by P-47 pilots.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Normandy-Then and Now

Here is the link to download the PPS that has these pics and many more for you to watch.  There is also a sound track with the show.
http://rapidshare.com/files/407692768/Normandy_-_1944___now.pps                                                 

Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now


Normandy-Then and Now

Here are 12 pics from a PPS (PowerPoint) that show scenes of Normandy from 1944 and a modern day scene of same place.  Then after the 12 pics I will post a link for those who want to download the PPS for themselves.


WWII quiz-which battle is this? - Defence Talk Forum

WWII quiz-which battle is this? - Defence Talk Forum

The famous church at St. Mere Eglise and a 82nd Airborne Division vet remembers

The famous church at St. Mere Eglise. The second combat jump of the 82nd Airborne Division. I can not remember the name of the movie but actor/comedienne Red Buttons portrayed the paratrooper that got hung up on the church.(The Longest Day-John Wayne and a cast of thousands).  It is a true story and is part of what I was forced to learn as a member of the 82nd. Airborne Infantry.  In addition to Parachute Infantry Regiments some units were designated Glider Infantry Regiments. Thank God they did away with gliders. At the 82nd Airborne Museum at Ft. Bragg they have a C-47 and several gliders in original condition. Some of the gliders still have original German antiaircraft bullet holes in them. It was not uncommon for glider infantrymen to have been shot in the ass. Hell of a way to get a purple heart and a brief stay at an Army hospital in England. One things for sure my predecessors  in the 82nd were some tough sons of  bitches.
Lastly I almost forgot the reason for the guys getting hung up in trees and on church steeples. Some general (probably Matthew B. Ridgeway the first division commander of the 82nd Airborne Division) decided to lower the altitude for combat jumps from 10,000 feet to 600 feet. What he didn't realize is that it takes almost 1000 feet for your chute to fully deploy when jumping from a static line. Thus the poor bastards that jumped into St. Mere had chutes that were barely opened and obviously although not as maneuverable as current chutes it became impossible to maneuver away from obstacles especially in the dark of night. Funny how we learn from serious mistakes. A lot of 82nd and 101st troopers bought the farm at St. Mere Eglise.