(ALL) POW STATS
Died as POW
Alive Jan. 89
(ALL) U.S. DECLARATION OF WAR
Forwarded by p38bob
This is a good reference article [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_war_by_the_United_States ] on this subject. Bookmark it and save it in your files.
(ALL) U.S. WAR STATISTICS
Estimates compiled by DOD and VA
An interesting link to some brief data about all U.S. wars, dating from the 1775-83 American Revolution to the 1990-91Gulf War - a span of 216 years . The chart shows manpower totals, number of killed and wounded, and totals of living veterans of various wars, etc. Click on: http://print.factmonster.com/ipka/A0004615.html [http://print.factmonster.com/ipka/A0004615.html].
(GULF) COST OF THE GULF WAR
Participating nations' proportionate share of this amount is $48.3 billion.
(GULF) CULTURAL SHOCK
U.S. servicemen could find themselves in a “heap of trouble” with their Arab hosts if they are not familiar with local customs. Many things we take for granted in our society are taboo in Saudi Arabia. Here are some of the guidelines they must observe:
- Do not carry anything that could be considered by the Saudis as pornographic. Not even a photo of a female in a bathing suit;
- Do not ask a Saudi about female members of his family;
- Do not embrace or even shake hands with the opposite sex in public or in a Saudi's home;
- Women should not travel alone. They should avoid speaking to Saudi men except shopkeepers or salesmen they must deal with;
- Men should avoid speaking with or staring at Saudi women;
- Be courteous. Arabs in general value honor and dignified behavior;
- Do not use foul language or gestures, even if joking.
- Keep cameras out of sight and do not take pictures of government buildings, mosques or Saudis at prayer. Get permission of any Saudi before you take his photo;
- Do not carry or consume alcohol;
- Do not eat or carry any pork or pork byproducts;
- Use only your right hand to eat food with Saudis. Do not offer anything with the left hand. It is, according to local custom, used to clean oneself.
- Sit in such way that the soles of your feet do not face anyone;
- Do not take even the simplest historical artifact as a memento. Such is illegal and offensive.
General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a congressional panel recently of how Saudi custom agents scan all packages sent to American troops.
Anything considered offensive is obliterated with magic markers, such as pin-up pictures, scantily dressed women in advertisements, etc. They confiscate alcohol, pork and its byproducts, pornographic matter, and any religious items they consider contrary to the Islamic faith - even Bibles.
News reports about desert heat and other difficult conditions in Saudi Arabia sparked a desire by several American companies to do something special for morale of our troops there. Various offers were made, but some had to be denied due to transportation problems.
One that was accepted, however, was from Whitman's Chocolates of Philadelphia. In keeping with their tradition since WWII, the company sent 100,000 individual packages of their famous candy. Inside each was a note from home. The gifts were shipped in refrigerated transports along with other perishables.
Because of this home front support, the Defense Logistics Agency has established a GIFT HOTLINE to advise donors about acceptability and shipment to the Persian Gulf before they start collecting items. Interested persons or organizations should call this hotline number: 703-274-3561.
Comedians Jay Leno and Steve Martin were the first to schedule USO entertainment visits to troops in the Mid-East. Martin and his wife, actress Victoria Tennant, will not perform but will visit personally in impromptu sessions at Dharan and at remote outposts. Leno has arranged two Thanksgiving shows and other performers will be announced as their tours are committed. Bob Hope, who holds the all-time record for troop entertaining since WWII, may do a Christmas show.
With the restrictions of local cultural and religious differences, the USO will be specially sensitive in booking the type of entertainment that will not offend the host country.
In trying to find crews to man ships for transporting troops to the Mid-East, DOD called upon several seamen's unions for assistance.
Chief engineers and radio operators were in short supply so union representatives began calling its members to recruit those willing to return to sea.
One man in particular, after some hesitation, said he wouldn't mind as long as it didn't affect his insurance policy or pension check. Curious about the response, the caller inquired, “How old are you?”
“Eighty-one,” the old salt replied.
(GULF) MASSIVE WATER NEEDS
A sea going barge anchors in a Saudi port and pumps thousands of gallons of water through long pipes into shoreline storage tanks. From there, truck tanks and helicopters deliver the precious cargo inland to American troops.
That is only one facet of the diverse military effort to provide water for troops in the intense desert heat - where the minimum drinking requirements are four gallons per person per day. Washing, cooking, hospital use and other non-drinking functions increase that average use to 20 gallons per person.
Meeting these needs is a huge and expensive undertaking. The Army and Marine Corps have spent more than $432 million during the past ten years on the problem. Instead of trying to build a high-tech water system for deployment, however, they modified existing commercial equipment for special uses.
In addition to the water barges, the system includes:
- Rigs to drill deep enough into the desert floor to strike water near areas where troops will be located;
- Reverse osmosis water purification units to filter salt from seawater and mud from swamp water;
- Ten-mile lengths of 6” diameter hose to take water from tanks in rear areas to forward outposts;
- Bladder bags that can be filled with water and delivered to remote outposts by helicopter;
- Cooling machines attached to mobile tanks to reduce water temperature from 120 to 60 degrees.
- Bottled water for use while traveling between locations. The old adage that “The Army travels on its stomach” still holds true, but today's Army might add the words “…and canteen.”
(GULF) OLD-FASHIONED MORALITY
A recent network news program highlighted interviews with U.S. troops “out on the town” in Saudi Arabia. Except for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Baskin Robins and a few other American franchises with Saudi facades, there was little to remind them of home.
The taboo on alcohol, sex in advertising, obscenity, pornography, pin-ups and other cultural differences…not to mention fraternizing with the Arab women…makes this experience quite different from most other foreign duty. Because of these radical differences, service personnel are on strict orders to observe local customs and be on their best behavior.
Some of the soldiers complained on-camera of having “nothing to do but eat, sleep and work.” The media hype made it look as if the troops are being deprived of sin! Maybe such deprivation is not all that bad.
We in America obviously would not trade our freedom and customs for that of the Saudis - but we certainly could do without problems of alcohol, crime, drugs, pornography, obscene language, loss of the family structure and all the other dilemmas that plague our society today.
Perhaps this is an object lesson — in old-fashioned morality!
(GULF) SPY CRAFT ASSISTS INFANTRY
The Pointer — a small pilotless spy craft that can be carried in two 40-pound backpacks — has been developed by a California firm for remote-controlled use by infantrymen in combat.
Equipped with a video camera, the model airplane-like equipment can be assembled in two minutes. It is battery operated and can hover for a maximum of six hours.
Troops in the field can launch it to find targets for missiles or artillery, explore beach areas before amphibious attacks, look for mine fields, prepare for ambushes and various other uses.
During trials at the Naval Air Test Center, Pointer met all requirements in assembly time, range, speed and target acquisition. Two men carried it into the field, set it up and made a successful launch. The craft flew at 45 mph below 500 feet altitude, identifying people, roads and landmarks.
(GULF) WAR 10TH ANNIVERSARY
(KOREA) MEDALS TO U.S. VETERANS
WASHINGTON (AP) – Vice President Richard Cheney led a July 25 tribute when South Korea presented service medals to American veterans of the Korean War. Twenty-five veterans or their survivors were among the first to receive the award, which is being made available to millions of veterans on the 50th anniversary of that conflict.
Maj. Gen. Moon Young Han, defense attaché at the South Korean Embassy here, presented the service medals — each attached to a bright red ribbon.
Cheney, speaking at a ceremony organized by the Department of Veterans Affairs, called the recognition overdue. He said the Korean conflict has often been called a forgotten war and that its veterans “have seldom received the attention they really deserve.”
The vice president noted that more than 36,000 Americans were killed in the conflict, which began when North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950.
The significance of the war is made clear, Cheney said, by the contrast between North and South Korea a half-century later. North Korea is “the scene of merciless oppression,” he said, “while South Korea is an economically prosperous democracy.
The vice president restated the “unbreakable” U.S. commitment to maintain U.S. combat troops in South Korea as a safeguard against any renewed aggression by the north.
The medals were originally offered by South Korea in 1951. U.S. law at the time barred American service members from wearing medals issued by foreign governments. The law was changed in 1954 but by then most Americans who had served in Korea had returned home.
The medals are being offered again on the 50th anniversary of the conflict and eligible veterans are being asked to apply for them cost free. A certificate of appreciation from the Department of Veterans Affairs and a commemorative coin from the Defense Department also will be presented.
Those receiving the awards on Thursday were all drawn from the ranks of present and former VA employees, their families, and friends.
Some 1.8 million Americans served in the Korean combat zone between the beginning of hostilities and the signing of the armistice.
(KOREA) NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
An Internet pass-along from email@example.com
The following is from a monthly Choson magazine article (Jan Wolgan, Choson, pp 443-449) summarizing a conversation in a “third country” between a Republic of Korea (ROK) citizen and a senior Korean Workers Party official (KWP), reportedly his relative, who describes North Korea's (NK) desolate living conditions, and notes its arrogant and oppressive military.
Frankly, the Fatherland is out of medicine. If you get sick, there is nothing you can do about it. Hospitals are empty buildings, doctors don't bother to go to work, and the state has stopped paying them salaries. If you happen to need an operation, you are in big trouble. You can find a lot of what you need for an operation on the black market, including medications, saline solution, and even hypodermic needles, but the price is very high. You acquire this stuff, and then you approach a physician. You buy him a drink, and then you pay him an enormous amount to perform the operation.
If you take somebody to a restaurant for dinner in the Fatherland, it costs you 500-700 North Korean won, a huge amount that is necessary because the restaurant had to buy the food on the black market (yami sijang). You get your bed free if you're admitted to a hospital, but that's because you have to bring all your food from home. Nobody bothers to go to the hospital. I got hepatitis 20 years ago and have yet to receive treatment worthy of the term.
I think I got hepatitis because I drank too much. I got a lot of free industrial alcohol and mixed it with water and drank a lot of it. I don't think there is a single person in North Korean who doesn't have or hasn't had hepatitis. It's a miracle I'm still alive at my age. Most of my juniors in the KWP are already dead. I contracted tuberculosis 15 years ago, and almost everybody in NK has tuberculosis. I ate cat in the spring and fall because cat meat is good for tuberculosis. You can't find a cat in NK today because so many people have tuberculosis that they've eaten all the cats.
Hepatitis, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid fever, spotted fever, and malaria have reached epidemic proportions in NK today, but the Public Health Centers have no medications and can do nothing. Anyway, workers at the Centers don't get their salaries anymore, so they don't bother to go to work. We're at wit's end. It's been several years since the state stopped paying salaries. My salary is 260 NK won a month, but I haven't been paid in so long I can't remember. Laborers and office workers make at most 100 NK won per month, but the state can't even pay that. Nobody can trust a state or a government like this.
Everybody goes everywhere looking for food, and that has caused the de facto collapse of the system of controls on travel. NK proudly says it operates 170 free colleges and universities, but it costs a student 15,000-20,000 NK won to finish four years of college. College dining halls have been closed for years. They're filthy and vermin-ridden today. Regular lectures are not held, and few students attend those that are held because the students have left the schools in search of ways to make money to pay for school.
At final exam time at the end of a semester, the student leader of each class collects money from the students and gives it to the professor, along with their names and the amounts they paid. The professor grades them according to how much they pay. Three points is passing, four is outstanding, and five is most outstanding. That's why it costs so much to graduate. This practice is universal in NK. The professors don't get their salaries either, of course.
There are no jobs when students do graduate, and for the lucky few who manage to land a position, there is no salary. My son put in his 12 years in the military, came home, and went to college. He had paid 20,000 NK won to his professors by the time he graduated. He was assigned to a good position but there was no salary. He's in business now with smugglers who bring in stuff for the black market.
Black markets are active everywhere in NK. They set up shop outside the state-operated stores and throng with people. The price is high, but you can buy anything on the black market. Apples are 10 NK won each; eggs 10 won; rice 60 won per kilogram; a live chicken 300 won; a dog 1,500 won; a goat 1,600 won; a walleye (Alaska Pollack) 100 won; coal 50 won for a bucketful; and a bundle of kindling wood 10 won. You can exchange U.S. dollars anytime you want, at the rate of 20,000 NK won per $100. A hundred dollars buys the NK won what a laborer earns in 20 years. Everybody wants U.S. or Chinese money.
The NK people owe to Chinese smugglers the standard of living they have managed to preserve, and we are thankful to them for that. Everybody sells on the black market, professors and doctors included. They have no choice if they want to stay alive. There's worse. Young women put on makeup and dress as fancy as they can and crowd into back alleys to sell themselves for 10 Chinese yuan, or one U.S. dollar. They only sell their upper bodies, though. They make little, and live wretched lives. Crusty men ask the girls why they don't sell their lower bodies. The girls answer without a trace of embarrassment, saying that there is no piped water anymore, so they can't wash their lower bodies.
A walleye is 100 NK won, the amount a laborer should make in a month, but that's a good price. You can't get fish because the state can't supply the fishermen with fuel for their boats, so they can't go out. The fishermen are out of work, too, in other words. Many of them use rowboats to catch what they can, and they sell their catch on the black market. It's risky to go out to sea in those small boats, and that's why I say the price is reasonable.
The 50,000 tons of annual oil aid NK receives from the U.S. goes to a refinery in North Hamgyong Province's Hongi County. The plant can process one million tons a year. It refines the U.S. oil, and all the products are sent for use by the military. None of it gets to the fishermen. None of the 300,000 tons of petroleum that comes yearly from China via the pipeline across the Yalu to the Supung Power Plant ever reaches civilian hands, either. Rumor has it that NK gets 300,000 tons from the West (Yellow) Sea and even exports some of it, but that is ridiculous. Even if the oil were there, NK has no means to develop it.
A bucket of coal costs 50 NK won. That's half a month's salary for a laborer. In fact, the coalmines and the coalfields are insolvent, and the miners are out of work. To survive they're going back down in the pits as families and digging what coal they can to sell on the black market. Fathers tie ropes around their waists and lower themselves down crumbling shafts and dig the coal by hand. The whole family tugs up his coal on ropes, and at dawn every morning they hurry to the nearest community to sell their coal. It usually doesn't sell because the NK people are living cold. Our apartments are built with ondol floors that must be heated by a fire in the kitchen, on which the cooking is done simultaneously. People don't draw salaries anymore, they don't have any money, and they can't afford to buy coal.
Nobody lights fires in the kitchens anymore. We've grown accustomed to sleeping on cold floors. Cooking is done by everybody with stolen electricity. Junior KWP officials, senior KWP officials, it doesn't matter. Everybody, universally, steals electricity. The state puts out electricity three times a day, at meal times. The power is not provided for cooking purposes, but that's how it's used. People make simple and dangerous little electric cookers out of bricks and do a day's cooking when the electricity comes in at dinnertime. We get a little piped water timed to coincide with the arrival of the electricity. We've grown accustomed to living without lights at night.
The government provides a little electric power three times a day, and it does that because it wants the people to catch the day's propaganda on TV. TV fare everyday includes virtually identical scenes of “General Kim Chong Il” visiting some military unit. People turn off the TV, saying they've seen it all before. The people aren't taking in televised propaganda, they're stealing the TV electricity to hurry through a day of cooking.
NK launched the Kwangmyongsong 1 Rocket (Choson editor: Taepodong 1) one time, but replayed the launch day in and day out, the announcer solemnly saying that “The Dear Leader has sounded the roar of the guns of a great power state to all the world.” The people hated the scenes, hated the sounds. We spoke back to the TV, “Hey, stop! The roar of the guns is breaking our eardrums!”
The propaganda called the leader the “sun of the 21st Century,” so people said that was one sun too many. People don't speak out rashly, but everybody knows what everybody's thinking. We say that China lives 10 times better than NK, that the ROK lives 10 times better than China, and that the ROK, then, lives 100 times better than NK. We say that rumors which have no legs can leap great distances in a day. Well this one has spread everywhere.
As recently as the 1940s, Japan's Supung Power Plant on the Yalu provided the north all the electricity it needed and sent excess power not only to the south but even into northeast China. That plant is still there, but it's so old that only one generator remains in operation, and that requires daily maintenance. The NK government brags about the 400 small power plants it's built, hydro and thermal, but it's all a lie. f 400 were operating would we be wandering around in this dark country? It's a lie. Factories don't operate, including those meant to manufacture military goods. Special missile-related plants are the only ones operating, and they get electricity on a round-robin basis.
The NK People's Military today is arrogant and oppressive. General Kim Chong Il said in a directive, “The People's Military is the KWP.” That put the country under the thumb of the military. Military units in mountainous areas ambush trucks carrying food supplies, fire their weapons, and steal whatever food they want. This opens the door for escorts and drivers to help themselves to shares of whatever the military didn't take away. They share the booty with their superiors and then report that the food was stolen.
These reports make their way to the national level, and everybody in the chain knows the military did the stealing, but nobody dares say a word about it. He who would dare to do so would be charged and punished for breaking the law against profaning the National Defense Commission chairman.
Farmers hide their chickens, dogs, and goats from the military. Every farm family rounds up these animals as night falls and locks them in storerooms. That doesn't stop soldiers, who actually cut holes in storeroom roofs and let themselves down to get at the animals. A soldier is a professional thief by the time he completes his 12 year tour in the military. My own son spent his time in the military and came home a professional thief. It's so bad that people refer to the military as a “burglar training center.”
Farmers do their share of stealing. When the fall harvest is in, groups of farmers steal and hide underground large amounts of grain, and then underreport the harvest. We estimate that 30-40% of the total harvest is stolen in one way or another. I understand it is routine practice in the ROK for the president to steal money. Well, theft on this scale is routine practice in NK.
(KOREA) STRANGE UNDERGROUND ACTIVITY
By James Zumwalt
During my last trip to South Korea, I was taken to a location outside of Seoul, to a site where were some rather strange activities were underway. While I personally observed much of the evidence described below, it is difficult to assess whether or not the search will result in a successful conclusion (or even whether, in fact, what is sought really exists). In any event, I thought you might find this rather extraordinary story of interest — with the final outcome to be determined at some future date.
It all started in June of 1999. Strange things began occurring in Hwa Sung — a largely agrarian community located 70 kilometers northwest of South Korea's capital of Seoul. Residents experienced events bordering on the bizarre. Occasionally, a slight depression mysteriously appeared on the ground. A long-used spring, located at a depth of 100 meters, suddenly and inexplicably went dry for a few days. When the flow returned, it was intermittent and the water brownish in color from soil contamination. And, there was this strange but ever constant noise. Sounding miles away, it was faint and indistinguishable at first. But as weeks passed by, the noise became slightly clearer. Later, a definite pounding sound was discernible.
As the noise continued, local residents came to realize something else — the sound was not emanating from far off in the distance as originally thought, but rather from somewhere beneath them!
Alarmed, Hwa Sung residents reported their observations to the authorities who said they would investigate, but never did. So, they reported what they saw and heard to Nam Gul Sa (NGS), an organization similar to the UFO Society. Both organizations search for life of another world. But while the UFO Society's focus is on life of an extraterrestrial nature, NGS's is on finding life in the subterranean world. NGS felt confident it knew what was going on at Hwa Sung, for some of its members had long been involved in searches for subterranean activity of this nature.
Using heavy equipment, NSG, along with the help of local residents, began digging a large hole in the earth's surface, to a depth of eight meters. It then began drilling a series of smaller holes inside the larger one that were forty centimeters in diameter and an additional ten meters deep. These were dug in a straight line believed to parallel the axis along which the pounding noise was emanating. Listening devices were placed into the smaller holes and sound recordings made. Clear vibrations in the ground were detected.
Unable to discern the various sounds heard, however, NGS engaged an independent company to filter out the various noises. They made an audiotape of the sounds recorded on November 8, 2002. On this tape, human voices are clearly discernible. One of the speakers seemed to be suffering from a cold, as intermittent coughs and sneezes were heard. Another speaker made reference to the inability of the Internet to work properly. And the pounding noise, NGS determined, was as it had feared — an operational tunnel-boring machine (TBM).
But who — and why — was a tunnel being bored under Hwa Sung? To NGS, the answers to these questions were obvious. One had only to look at a map of the region. Access to Hwa Sung put one in close proximity to a number of strategic South Korean and US military bases, including one of the biggest air bases in the country. And, as to who would undertake such an activity, the answer to NGS was even more obvious — North Korea.
It is well established that North Korea is a firm believer in the use of tunneling as a means of achieving military surprise over an enemy. The late leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, is quoted as saying in September of 1971, “blitzkrieg-like tactics are the only means to enable North Korea to liberate South Korea, and one tunnel must be regarded as effective as ten nuclear weapons.” It is known North Korea has practiced what Kim Il Sung had preached, having already constructed a number of tunnels under the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas.
These tunnels start in the North and stretch into the South, far behind the DMZ — an open entrance on the North side and an unopened one on the South — with the latter to remain that way until war actually erupts. As to where the tunnels on the South end will open up and North Korean troops emerge, easily infiltrating the South, is unknown.
How is it known these tunnels exist? Evidence of North Korean tunneling activity first came to light in 1974. A joint US-South Korean patrol found just such a tunnel, originating from the north and extending into South Korean territory, about eight kilometers northeast of Korangpo, near the DMZ. The tunnel sloped down towards the north, so that underground water would flow in that direction, where it could be drained in North Korea, outside of the South's observation. The patrol also found several pieces of equipment of Soviet and North Korean origin, indicating the tunnel had been dug by North Koreans. Since 1974, three additional tunnels have been discovered, the last in 1990. It is feared many more are yet to be discovered.
Reports from defectors suggest perhaps as many as twenty such tunnels still exist, ready to serve as a covert conduit into the South for North Korean troops — many of whom will be dressed in uniforms of the South Korean army and police forces to confuse local citizenry and defense forces. And, while the US has sophisticated equipment for locating these tunnels, it appears the North Koreans have learned to dig them deep enough so as to foil such technology and avoid detection.
One North Korean defector shared with South Korean intelligence officers how he was trained in the construction of these tunnels. Using agents in South Korea, the North Koreans would have them map out an overland route, providing distances and directions so the tunnel diggers would not encounter problems in built-up areas with underground cables, etc. They were taught also to lay out a course, whenever possible, that closely paralleled railroad tracks or a river, so that the noise from these would drown out the noise generated by the TBM. The tunnel route apparently being dug at Hwa Sung was being constructed with this guideline in mind as its perceived axis appeared to parallel a railroad track situated nearby. However, unbeknownst to the North Korean tunnel architects, this particular track had fallen into disuse two years earlier. Therefore, local residents had been able to hear the faint sounds of what was now believed to be the TBM.
What was most surprising to NGS tunnel experts about the Hwa Sung tunnel, however, is that, if it in fact exists, it would represent the deepest known penetration by the North into the South — for Hwa Sung is located more than 60 kilometers from the DMZ. And, for the tunnel diggers to have taken the most direct route from North Korea, it is believed they would have had to bore under a relative shallow part of the nearby West Sea, whose waters are shared by both Koreas.
Despite concerns of North Korean tunnel activity, NGS and the local residents of Hwa Sung have received no help from the South Korean government on a project they started which is dedicated to exposing the existence of a tunnel. They believe they know why. For the term of his presidency, which ended in late February, South Korean president D. J. Kim has blindly embarked upon a foreign policy approach towards North Korea known as the “Sunshine Policy.” This approach seeks the peaceful, non-confrontational engagement of Pyongyang. Therefore, the discovery of such a long range tunnel being dug by North Korea at this particular time, under the very noses of the South Korean government so committed to a peaceful approach towards the North (a commitment now being continued under the country's new president as well), would demonstrate the abject failure of the policy.
The fact too that a South Korean government investigation is currently underway due to recently discovered evidence that ex-president D. J. Kim secretly paid North Korea millions — and possibly billions — of dollars to help promote this policy, further supports NGS's rationale for the lack of interest exhibited by the South Korean government in assisting in a project that might reveal the existence of such a tunnel. As a result, the responsibility for uncovering any tunnel that might exist in Hwa Sung, as well as the high costs associated with doing so, have fallen squarely on the shoulders of the NGS and the local residents.
The project these people have undertaken is a very ambitious one, as depicted by the landscape above the suspected North Korean tunneling activity in Hwa Sung. A battlefield, clearly bearing the telltale signs of subterranean warfare, has emerged as an above ground band of South Koreans have committed themselves to proving the existence of some allegedly very creative underground tunnel diggers. Large, gaping holes in the ground attest to the commitment of the South Koreans' resolve while, contemporaneously, their failure to uncover evidence of such a tunnel to date may be indicative of a corresponding resolve on the part of an as yet unseen enemy.
The battle began on October 14, 2002 with the digging of a large hole, initially eight meters deep. After identifying the underground activity through listening devices and recordings, the South Koreans continued to dig additional smaller holes in an effort to penetrate the tunnel itself. This process consisted of drilling a hole to a combined depth of eighteen to twenty meters and then inserting a steel pipe into it. As they endeavored to make a successful tunnel penetration in this manner, the South Koreans met with some strange results.
Extracting materials from one hole, rocks began coming up that were clearly not of local origin. They were different from the subsurface rocks known to be in the region and contained something nonexistent in a natural state — cement dust. Apparently, as the South Koreans were digging to expose the tunnel, the tunnel diggers, they believed, were backfilling the tunnel to prevent them from doing so. At one point, as the South Koreans attempted to insert a steel pipe into a pre-drilled eighteen meter deep hole, penetration inexplicably could not be made beyond a depth of sixteen meters, apparently due to blockage by a large solid object
Repeated efforts to lower the pipe were unsuccessful. It was believed further penetration into the tunnel was prevented by the diggers who had inserted an iron beam across the hole now located in the roof of the tunnel. At another location, a pipe was successfully inserted into yet another hole, but when efforts were made to remove it to use elsewhere, it could not be extracted by the South Koreans. As continued efforts proved unsuccessful, a 50-ton crane had to be brought in to try and extract the pipe.
The crane had better luck, finally extracting the hard steel pipe which, to the surprise of the South Koreans, came out badly bent. The hole was then enlarged enough to allow a man to crawl down. While a backfill of rocks blocked his advance beyond the eighteen meter point, he did find and bring back to the surface a broken piece of cable. An examination of the cable by NGS revealed it had not been manufactured in South Korea and was probably used by the tunnel diggers to secure the pipe in place in an attempt to prevent it from being extracted, thus causing the need for the 50 ton crane.
All the sounds that had been heard emanating from the ground in the previous months have now stopped. NGS believes this has occurred for two reasons: first, their efforts to uncover the tunnel has undoubtedly spooked any further activity; second, the tunnel diggers were probably very close to their termination point anyway as access to the Hwa Sung area would enable the North Koreans to achieve their objective of access to critical military targets in the South in the event of a surprise attack.
But NGS and Hwa Sung's local citizens have not lost their resolve in proving a danger to South Korea's national security lurks beneath them. They are continuing to dig at the initial site and have started a second dig less than a kilometer away. They are unsure as to when they will be able to penetrate the tunnel as a lack of funding has slowed down their operation. But at some point in the near future, they hope to be able to dig to a depth of twenty meters at the first hole. That will place them at the optimum depth from where they will then be able to start digging in a lateral direction into the side of the suspected tunnel.
If found actually to exist, this tunnel will reveal an incredible commitment by both sides — the North Koreans in digging it and the South Koreans in exposing it. And, also if found, it should cause South Korea to seriously reassess its Sunshine Policy; for discovery of such a tunnel would clearly demonstrate Pyongyang's manipulation of this policy to camouflage its true intentions as to the South.
(VIETNAM) A TRAITOR IS BEING HONORED
By Ronald D. Sampson, CMSgt, USAF
Forwarded by Allard Russell
This is for all the kids born in the 70's that do not remember, and didn't have to bear the burden that our fathers, mothers and brothers and sisters had to bear.
Jane Fonda is being honored as one of the “100 Women of the Century.” Unfortunately, many have forgotten and still countless others have never known how Ms. Fonda betrayed not only the ideals of our country, but specific men who served and sacrificed during Vietnam.
Among the many American Prisoners of War in Vietnam she dishonored were the following three that I know about first-hand:
F-4E pilot Jerry Driscoll was a River Rat. In 1968, this former Commandant of the USAF Survival School was a POW in Ho Lo Prison, better known as the “Hanoi Hilton.” Dragged from a stinking cesspit of a cell, cleaned, fed, and dressed in clean pajamas, he was ordered to describe for a visiting American “Peace Activist” the “lenient and humane treatment he had received.”
He spat at Ms. Fonda, and was clubbed, and dragged away. During the subsequent beating, he fell forward onto the camp Commandant's feet, which sent that officer berserk. Ten years later Driscoll still suffered from double vision (that ended his flying career) as the result of that commandant’s frenzied application of a wooden baton.
Col. Larry Carrigan spent 6 years in the “Hanoi Hilton”, the first three of which his family only knew he was “missing in action.” His wife lived on faith that he was still alive. Carrigan’s group also got the cleaned-up, fed and clothed routine in preparation for a “peace delegation” visit. They, however, had time and devised a plan to get word to the world that they were alive and still survived. Each man secreted a tiny piece of paper in the palm of his hand, with his Social Security Number on it.
When paraded before Ms. Fonda and a cameraman, she walked the line, shaking each man's hand and asking little encouraging snippets like: “Aren't you sorry you bombed babies?” and “Are you grateful for the humane treatment from your benevolent captors?”
Believing this HAD to be an act, they each palmed her their sliver of paper in the handshake. She took them all without missing a beat. At the end of the line and once the camera stopped rolling, to the shocked disbelief of the POWs she turned to the officer in charge and handed him all the little pieces of paper.
Three men died from the subsequent beatings. Colonel Carrigan was almost number four but he survived, which is one of the reasons we know of her actions that day.
I was a civilian economic development advisor in Vietnam, and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam in 1968, and held prisoner for over 5 years. I spent 27 months in solitary confinement; one year in a cage in Cambodia; and one year in a “black box” in Hanoi.
My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium in Ban me Thuot, South Vietnam, whom I buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border. At one time, I weighed only about 90 lbs. (My normal weight is 170 lbs.)
We were Jane Fonda's “war criminals.”
When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her. I said yes, for I wanted to tell her about the real treatment we POWs received and how different it was from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by her as “humane and lenient.”
Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees, with my arms outstretched, a large steel weights placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane.
I had the opportunity to meet with Jane Fonda soon after I was released. I asked her if she would be willing to debate me on TV? She never did answer me.
These first-hand experiences do not exemplify someone who should be honored as part of “100 Years of Great Women” - Such a list should never include a traitor whose hands are covered with the blood of so many patriots.
There are few things I have strong visceral reactions to, but Hanoi Jane's participation in blatant treason, is one of them.
She needs to know that we will never forget and the more people that forward this to everyone they think should know the truth about her, the higher the possibility that it will end up on her computer as well.
RONALD D. SAMPSON, CMSgt, USAF
Chief of Maintenance
716 Maintenance Squadron
(VIETNAM) AMERICA SUCCEEDED
By Jim McBride, April 28, 2005
From the San Diego Union, forwarded by Dick Blaisdell
McBride is vice president of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 472, in San Diego. In 1969 he served in Vietnam as a U.S. Army combat medic with a 5th Infantry Division tank company.
Thirty years ago on April 30, 1975, South Vietnam fell and a landslide of misinformation was set in motion. Communication critics of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, the antiwar movement, the media and those who demonized U.S. troops as “baby killers, rapists and murderers” unleashed and reinforced a barrage of half-truths, exaggerations and myths.
Today, many young people do not know why the United States was in Vietnam, how we got involved and what we accomplished while we were there. Perhaps it is time to revisit some of the basics and question the “common knowledge” that Vietnam was a defeat for America.
What may be the biggest myth of all was that the United States was defeated militarily in Southeast Asia. This myth, that “we lost the war,” is the easiest to debunk. Virtually all military experts agree that America was never militarily defeated.
From the build-up of military forces in 1965 to the final withdrawal of our troops in 1973, South Vietnam did not lose a square foot of land, Communists did not control one city or village, any hill the enemy “took” was quickly retaken, and neither the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), nor Viet Cong guerrillas ever won a major battle. In fact, the infamous 1968 “Tet” offensive, which many say turned U.S. public opinion against the war, was a crushing defeat for the NVA and Viet Cong forces.
What makes the U.S. military performance even more impressive is that the policies of President Johnson and military advisors such as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy did not permit our forces to defeat North Vietnam. The policy emerging from the Johnson administration early in 1965 was that the United States was coming to the aid of a friend, but not attempting to destroy or conquer North Vietnam. Yet, these same advisors urged President Johnson to escalate the war, thinking that more U.S. troops would destroy the NVA military assets faster than the North could resupply them, wear down the enemy and show the world that that the United States would not abandon its friends.
The resulting rules of engagement for military forces in Vietnam included layers of restrictions and limitations on what U.S. forces were permitted to do. A military advance on North Vietnam was not part of the military strategy, bombing and air attacks on enemy military sites and equipment were limited, U.S. forces could not cross the Laotian and Cambodian borders to interrupt enemy supply lines, and more.
While U.S. troops were able to successfully search out and destroy enemy forces in South Vietnam, North Vietnam was allowed to replenish its forces. Gen. Curtis LeMay, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force from 1961-65, said in 1968: “The only reason American soldiers are bleeding and dying in Vietnam today is because our leaders have tied their hands behind their backs.”
With those limitations placed on the U.S. military, why was America even involved in Southeast Asia? What was the goal? President Johnson repeated often that the U.S. goal was to guarantee the people of South Vietnam the right to determine their own future, without outside interference from Communist aggressors.
This goal was consistent with previous administrations, all of which agreed that the United States must make a stand in Southeast Asia to stop the spread of communism there.
By the mid-1950s, with logistical support from China and the Soviet Union, North Vietnam launched a campaign to impose a Communist government in South Vietnam. Believing that if one country fell to communism, neighbors would fall as well, like a standing line of dominoes, President Eisenhower increased financial support for South Vietnam.
President Kennedy subscribed to a limited advisory role, but still increased America’s troops in Vietnam from several hundred to more than 16,000. President Johnson, recognizing that retreat from Vietnam would mean the battle against Communist expansion would be replayed in another country, authorized the use of American troops in 1965.
“Our objective is the independence of South Vietnam and its freedom from attack,” Johnson said in 1965. “The task is nothing less than to enrich the hopes and the existence of more than a hundred million people.” In other words, the U.S. goal in Vietnam was to stop Communist aggression in South Vietnam. The goal was never to conquer North Vietnam.
For the eight years from 1965 to 1973, when U.S. forces operated in South Vietnam, the aggressive neighbor to the north was indeed stopped. And a democratic government in South Vietnam was allowed to grow.
After discussing a peaceful end to the war, the United States, North Vietnam and South Vietnam signed a cease-fire agreement in Paris in 1973. Having accomplished the stated goal of halting the spread of communism, the United States withdrew its military forces from South Vietnam.
In his book, AMERICA WON THE VIETNAM WAR, Robert Owens defined victory in two ways: (1) Prevailing on the field of battle; and (2) achieving the goals set for the military by the political leadership. In the context of these two definitions of victory, Owens concludes that America won the Vietnam War.
Although President Nixon assured South Vietnamese leaders that the United States would continue to support South Vietnam after American military forces left, both houses of congress essentially ended financial support. Unable to defend itself, South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese Communists two years later, on April 30, 1975.
(VIETNAM) ARCHIVES - TEXAS TECH
By Jug Varner
Texas Tech University now possesses the largest collection of Vietnam War articles outside the federal government, thanks to the efforts of history professor James Reckner, a 20-year Navy veteran.
Since its beginning in 1989, growth of the collection has required expansion from one small room to spaces equaling the size of Jones Stadium's football field. Reckner started the collection when he realized only one out of a hundred students knew the identity of General William Westmorland, Commander of American Forces in the Vietnam War.
Today it houses a collection of Westmorland's papers, along with many other items that lure scholars to the campus for research. Noted historian Douglas Pike has moved his Indochina Archive from the University of California at Berkeley to the Texas Tech Vietnam Center, bolstering an already extensive collections of books, diaries, doctoral dissertations, letters, maps, microfilm, etc. the number to call is 806-742-9010.
(You can now log on to their web site at www.ttu.edu/vietnam/ [http://www.ttu.edu/vietnam/].)
(VIETNAM) FACTS AND FICTION
By Nick D. Bacon, 1SGT, USA (Ret), BIO [http://www.homeofheroes.com/united/bacon.html ]
Forwarded by Charles Spicka, Col, USAF (Ret.)
Like many Vietnam veterans, for over 30 years I seldom spoke of Vietnam except with other veterans, when training soldiers, and in public speeches.
These past five years I have joined the hundreds of thousands who believe it is high time the truth be told about the Vietnam War and the people who served there. It's time the American people learn that the United States military did not lose the War, and that a surprisingly high number of people who claim to have served there, in fact, DID NOT.
As Americans support the men and women involved in the War on Terrorism, the mainstream media are once again working tirelessly to undermine their efforts and force a psychological loss or stalemate for the United States. We cannot stand by and let the media do to today's warriors what they did to us 35 years a go.
Below are some facts researched by Capt. Marshal Hanson, USNR (Ret) and statistical source by Capt. Scott Beaton istical Source that most will find interesting. It isn't a long read but it will, I guarantee, teach you some things you did not know about the Vietnam War and those who served, fought, or died there. Please share it with those with whom you communicate.
VIETNAM WAR FACTS:
Official Vietnam War era: August 5 1964 through May 7, 1975
9,087,000 American military personnel served on active duty during this time
2,709,918 of these served in Vietnam - 9.7% of their generation
245 received the Medal of Honor
58,148 were killed
Of those, 11,465 were younger than 20 years old
Five were only 16 years old
The oldest was 62 years old.
Average age: 23.1 years
17,539 were married
75,000 were severely disabled
23,214 were 100% disabled
5,283 lost limbs
1,081 had multiple amputations
1,875 were still unaccounted as of January 2004
97% were honorably discharged
91% say they are glad they served
74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome
87% of Americans hold Vietnam Veterans in high esteem
Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups.
Vietnam veterans' personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent. There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study)
Only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes.
85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.
“BEEN THERE” WANABEES:
As of the current Census taken during August 2000, the surviving U.S. Vietnam Veteran population estimate is: 1,002,511. During this census count, the number of Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country is: 3,853,027. By this census, 74 percent who claim to be Vietnam vets are not.
The Department of Defense Vietnam War Service Index officially provided by The War Library originally reported with errors that 2,709,918 U.S. military personnel as having served in-country. Corrections and confirmations to this erroneous index resulted in the addition of 358 U.S. military personnel confirmed to have served in Vietnam but not originally listed by the Department of Defense. (All names are currently on file and accessible 24/7/365).
Isolated atrocities committed by American Soldiers produced torrents of outrage from anti-war critics and the news media. Yet, Communist atrocities were so common that they received hardly any media mention at all. The United States sought to minimize and prevent attacks on civilians while North Vietnam made attacks on civilians a centerpiece of its strategy.
Americans who deliberately killed civilians received prison sentences while Communists who did so received commendations. From 1957 to 1973, the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499. The death squads focused on leaders at the village level and on anyone who improved the lives of the peasants such as medical personnel, social workers, and school teachers. - Nixon Presidential Papers
COMMON MYTHS DISPELLED:
- Myth: Common Belief is that most Vietnam veterans were drafted.
- Fact: Two-thirds of those who served in Vietnam were volunteers. Two-thirds of 2/3 of those who served in World War II were drafted. Approximately 70% of those killed in Vietnam were volunteers.
- Myth: The media have reported that suicides among Vietnam veterans range from 50,000 to 100,000 - 6 to 11 times the non-Vietnam veteran population.
- Fact: Mortality studies show that 9,000 is a better estimate. “The CDC Vietnam Experience Study Mortality Assessment showed that during the first 5 years after discharge, deaths from suicide were 1.7 times more likely among Vietnam veterans than non-Vietnam veterans. After that initial post-service period, Vietnam veterans were no more likely to die from suicide than non-Vietnam veterans. In fact, after the 5-year post-service period, the rate of suicides is less in the Vietnam veterans' group.
- Myth: Common belief is that a disproportionate number of blacks were killed in the Vietnam War.
- Fact: 86% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians, 12.5% were black, 1.2% were other races. Sociologists Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler, in their recently published book “All That We Can Be,” said they analyzed the claim that blacks were used like cannon fodder during Vietnam ” and can report definitely that this charge is untrue. Black fatalities amounted to 12 percent of all Americans killed in Southeast Asia – a figure proportional to the number of blacks in the U.S. population at the time and slightly lower than the proportion of blacks in the Army at the close of the war.”
- Myth: Common belief is that the war was fought largely by the poor and uneducated.
- Fact: Servicemen who went to Vietnam from well-to-do areas had a slightly elevated risk of dying because they were more likely to be pilots or infantry officers. Vietnam Veterans were the best educated forces our nation had ever sent into combat. 79% had a high school education or better.
- Myth: The common belief is the average age of an infantryman fighting in Vietnam was 19.
- Fact: Assuming KIAs accurately represented age groups serving in Vietnam, the average age of an infantryman (MOS 11B) serving in Vietnam to be 19 years old is a myth, it is actually 22. None of the enlisted grades have an average age of less than 20. The average man who fought in World War II was 26 years of age. (Not to be confused by the above statistics of those killed)
- Myth: The Common belief is that the domino theory was proved false.
- Fact: The domino theory was accurate. The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand stayed free of Communism because of the U.S. commitment to Vietnam. The Indonesians threw the Soviets out in 1966 because of America's commitment in Vietnam. Without that commitment, Communism would have swept all the way to the Malacca Straits that is south of Singapore and of great strategic importance to the free world. If you ask people who live in these countries that won the war in Vietnam, they have a different opinion from the American news media. The Vietnam War was the turning point for Communism.
- Myth: The common belief is that the fighting in Vietnam was not as intense as in World War II.
- Fact: The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter. One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. 58,148 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.7 million who served.
Although the percent that died is similar to other wars, amputations or crippling wounds were 300 percent higher than in World War II. 75,000 Vietnam veterans are severely disabled. MEDEVAC helicopters flew nearly 500,000 missions. Over 900,000 patients were airlifted (nearly half were American). The average time lapse between wounding to hospitalization was less than one hour. As a result, less than one percent of all Americans wounded, who survived the first 24 hours, died. The helicopter provided unprecedented mobility. Without the helicopter it would have taken three times as many troops to secure the 800 mile border with Cambodia and Laos (the politicians thought the Geneva Conventions of 1954 and the Geneva Accords or 1962 would secure the border).
- Myth: Kim Phuc, the little nine year old Vietnamese girl running naked from the napalm strike near Trang Bang on 8 June 1972 - shown a million times on American television - was burned by Americans bombing Trang Bang.
- Fact: No American had involvement in this incident near Trang Bang that burned Phan Thi Kim Phuc. The planes doing the bombing near the village were VNAF (Vietnam Air Force) and were being flown by Vietnamese pilots in support of South Vietnamese troops on the ground. The Vietnamese pilot who dropped the napalm in error is currently living in the United States. Even the AP photographer, Nick Ut, who took the picture, was Vietnamese.
The incident in the photo took place on the second day of a three day battle between the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) who occupied the village of Trang Bang and the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) who were trying to force the NVA out of the village. Recent reports in the news media that an American commander ordered the air strike that burned Kim Phuc are incorrect. There were no Americans involved in any capacity. “We (Americans) had nothing to do with controlling VNAF,” according to Lieutenant General (Ret) James F. Hollingsworth, the Commanding General of TRAC at that time. Also, it has been incorrectly reported that two of Kim Phuc's brothers were killed in this incident. They were Kim's cousins not her brothers.
- Myth: The United States lost the war in Vietnam.
- Fact: The American military was not defeated in Vietnam. The American military did not lose a battle of any consequence. From a military standpoint, it was almost an unprecedented performance - General Westmoreland quoting Douglas Pike, a professor at the University of California, Berkley - a major military defeat for the VC and NVA.
THE UNITED STATES DID NOT LOSE THE WAR IN VIETNAM, THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE DID
The fall of Saigon happened 30 April 1975, two years AFTER the American military left Vietnam. The last American troops departed in their entirety 29 March 1973.
How could we lose a war we had already stopped fighting? We fought to an agreed stalemate. The peace settlement was signed in Paris on 27 January 1973. It called for release of all U.S. prisoners, withdrawal of U.S. forces, limitation of both sides' forces inside South Vietnam and a commitment to peaceful reunification. The 140,000 evacuees in April 1975 during the fall of Saigon consisted almost entirely of civilians and Vietnamese military, NOT American military running for their lives.
There were almost twice as many casualties in Southeast Asia (primarily Cambodia) the first two years after the fall of Saigon in 1975 then there were during the ten years the U.S. was involved in Vietnam. Thanks for the perceived loss and the countless assassinations and torture visited upon Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians goes mainly to the American media and their undying support-by-misrepresentation of the anti-War movement in the United States.
As with much of the Vietnam War, the news media misreported and misinterpreted the 1968 Tet Offensive. It was reported as an overwhelming success for the Communist forces and a decided defeat for the U.S. forces. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Despite initial victories by the Communists forces, the Tet Offensive resulted in a major defeat of those forces. General Vo Nguyen Giap, the designer of the Tet Offensive, is considered by some as ranking with Wellington, Grant, Lee and MacArthur as a great commander. Still, militarily, the Tet Offensive was a total defeat of the Communist forces on all fronts. It resulted in the death of some 45,000 NVA troops and the complete, if not total destruction of the Viet Cong elements in South Vietnam. The Organization of the Viet Cong Units in the South never recovered.
The Tet Offensive succeeded on only one front and that was the News front and the political arena. This was another example in the Vietnam War of an inaccuracy becoming the perceived truth. However, inaccurately reported, the News Media made the Tet Offensive famous.
(VIETNAM) HEROES OF THE VIETNAM GENERATION
By James Webb
Forwarded by MGen Hank Stelling USAF (Ret)
Former Secretary of the Navy James Webb was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star medals for heroism as a Marine officer in Vietnam. His novels include THE EMPEROR’S GENERAL and FIELDS OF FIRE.
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 60s 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 incompetently 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 or 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 of for rank, but in simple obedience to duty, as they understood it.” Who suffered loneliness, disease, and wounds with an often-contagious élan. 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 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 alone, constitutes a conscious, continuing travesty.
(VIETNAM) LEST WE FORGET
By Rep Sam Johnson (R-TX), 3rd District.
Forwarded by RAdm Steve Barchet, U.S. Navy (Ret).
(U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson served in the U.S. Air Force 29 years, flying combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was a prisoner of war in Hanoi for nearly seven years.)
A fellow Prisoner of War once said, “There's no such thing as a bad day when you have a door knob on the inside of the door.” Those words rang true as my wife Shirley and I took our first tour of the infamous Hanoi Hilton since I left that dirty, dark, dank place over 30 years ago. Recently, Shirley and I returned from Vietnam and what follows are a few details of our emotional experience:
On February 12, 1973, I left Hanoi with the longest-held American Prisoners of War, Everett Alvarez. When I left, I doubted I would ever return; there were too many horrific memories of torture, pain, and loneliness.
When I ejected from my plane in 1966, I broke my back, dislocated my shoulder and broke my right arm in several places. It was these injuries my captors would use to try to push me to the breaking point. It was these injuries that account for my mangled right arm, my crumpled left hand, my stooped posture, and slower gait. How could I return to a land where they tried to break both my body and my spirit?
However, Speaker of the House Denny Hastert (R-Ill.) invited Shirley and me to go as part of an official delegation to visit with the leaders of Vietnam. This would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet with top Vietnamese officials and to press them face-to-face on the whereabouts of over 1,800 Missing In Action from Vietnam. For my friends who didn't make it home, Shirley and I knew we had to go.
Our delegation included a handful of Members of Congress and the Chaplain of the House. All were very aware of the abuse American POWs endured while in captivity. We all anticipated our tour of the Hanoi Hilton, but nothing could prepare us for it.
We flew into Hanoi's airport and the captain let me ride in the jump seat in the cockpit. Memories swept over me and I prayed to God for strength to get through this visit. Only God could get me through seven years in Vietnam. Only God could get me through this return visit.
Our bus slowly rolled up to the Hanoi Hilton and the next hour and half passed as if in a dream. What used to be my own hell-on earth for nearly seven years has now become a museum housing a shrine detailing the story of how the French mistreated the Vietnamese.
One room on our tour displayed a model of the entire Hanoi Hilton before it was bulldozed - but for the small portions used to house the current museum. The model showed the different rooms used to hold the POWs - the ones we named after Las Vegas hotels, like the Thunderbird.
Nearby a plaque on the wall read: “American pilots suffered no revenge once they were captured and detained. Instead, they were well treated with adequate food, clothing, and shelter according to the provisions of Paris Agreement.” We all took note.
In addition, our tour guide, a young, very on-message Vietnamese woman, detailed the very humane treatment of American Prisoners of War. As if reading straight from the Communist Party song-sheet, she noted how well American POWs fared while in captivity. What great meals we enjoyed….How we received excellent medical care. Of course it was all a bunch of lies. After she spoke, I would describe the way we really were treated.
Our docent then listed all of the horrors of the way the French abused the Vietnamese. My loyal wife, who didn't know if I was dead or alive for the first two years of my captivity, grew madder and madder listening to our guide.
Piling several people into small cells.
Abuse for no reason.
Starvation and then hours-long interrogations.
And then came the leg-stocks exhibit. Plaster miniature human mannequins reclined with their legs shackled in leg stocks like the pilgrims. The mannequins must have been barely 5 feet tall and even they looked uncomfortable propped up by only their elbows while their feet were held tightly to the ground. Imagine how it felt for a 6'2” American pilot left there for 72 days in a row.
That's when I lost it. That's when the whole group lost it. The look on Shirley's face said it all.
How could people do this to other human beings? How could people survive like that? How could people endure such horrible conditions - shackled down to a bed?
Shirley and I posed for a picture in front of the mannequin kept in leg stocks. I gave her a gentle hug and tried to muster the spirit to smile.
There wasn't a dry eye in the place.
After we exited the Hanoi Hilton, our hosts realized I failed to sign the “Guest Book.” How ironic. What kind of people would want a former Prisoner of War to sign a guest book? What should one leave in a guest book after being tortured and held there against one's will for nearly seven years?
There were lonely nights when I feared I would die there and now they wanted me to sign a guest book? I relented and wrote something to the effect of back where I was for seven years.
That wasn't important. What was important was that I could go when I wanted to and I had my wife at my side for strength. Believe me, it felt good to return home to America.
It's that same feeling I want to give to those still left behind - and their families. I won't rest until every American service member is released from his bonds or his remains are brought home. The war is long over, yet 1,800 souls are still out there. Their families want, need and deserve this peace of mind.
I will help find them and I will help bring them home. This is my charge and I will see it to completion.
God bless you and God bless America.
(VIETNAM) RELIVING FREEDOM FLIGHTS
By Master Sgt. Jason Tudor, Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OH 5/5/2006 (AFPN) — More than 120 former prisoners of war continued a 33-year layover of freedom by reliving the flights that carried them home from North Vietnam.
The Hanoi Taxi — the last C-141 Starlifter still serving in the Air Force — made two of its final three flights May 5. Former POWs gathered in Fairborn, Ohio, for a reunion and to take part in a weekend of activities created by the Air Force Reserve’s 445th Airlift Wing here that includes the retirement of the famed aircraft.
The Hanoi Taxi was the first of 18 C-141s into Hanoi that airlifted former POWs out of the country during Operation Homecoming in 1973. The aircraft has served as a flying legacy of those historical airlifts since 1993. The Hanoi Taxi is lined with photos of Homecoming events and 86 “rubbings” from the Vietnam Memorial of Ohio service members still missing in action.
The POWs were divided into two groups for the flights. The first flight included Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne and retired Col. George “Bud” Day, Medal of Honor recipient.
When the first flight lifted off, the men cheered, reenacting the moments as they left Hanoi. Once airborne, the retired officers and enlisted troops from all services immediately began to mingle — and remember.
Retired Lt. Col. Ben Pollard flew home March 4, 1973. As the C-141 soared over the Ohio landscape, he remembered those final moments in Vietnam and what reliving the flight meant to him.
“There are no words,” he said. “Most of the time — as we flew away — we wondered what was ahead.”
Retired Tech. Sgt. James Clark found a photo of himself in the plane. Sergeant Clark, a former B-52 tail gunner, was one of the first 40 people on the first aircraft out of North Vietnam. He said he loved every moment reliving those moments when he regained his freedom.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” Sergeant Clark said. “They’ve kept everything the way it was, except (the aircraft) is longer.”
Each flight was aloft for almost 90 minutes. When the Hanoi Taxi touched down, both groups were received by a large crowd of well-wishers, a military band, the media, friends and wives. The latter had lined up to meet their husbands, some as they had 33 years ago. When the former POWs stepped out the door, the crowd roared to life and spouses rushed forward to hug and kiss their husbands.
Lynn Smith has been married to her husband, retired Lt. Col. Gary Smith, for about two years. She said she’s been embraced by the POW family and continues to gain understanding of the POWs struggle.
“I have an inkling now of what that felt like,” Mrs. Smith said. “They (the POWs and their families) have a camaraderie you can’t believe. It’s very welcoming.”
In its final flight, the aircraft will touchdown at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, on May 6 and be retired from service.
(VIETNAM) SHE’S STILL HANOI JANE
By Robert J. Caldwell, April 10, 2005
Forwarded by p38bob
Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball takes on Jane Fonda Friday, April 15, 2005.
BGen Bob Clements, USAF (Ret.) wrote: “At the bottom of all this is Hanoi Jane trying to sell her book. From all reports she had a scarce show at the book signing venues. What would be most interesting would be a face to face with Robbie Risner! Even with all the makeovers, her broom cuts out on takeoff. Total arrogance.”
Colonel Dell Toedt USAF (Ret) added: I would like to include my friend, Swede Larson on that interview. Swede spent 6 years in the Hilton, and shared a torture chamber with Robbie. Robbie is one of my personal heros, as when his wingman, Joe Logan, got shot up in Korea in 1952, Robbie tried to push him home. Joe ejected over Cho Do and drowned, Joe was my best friend. Swede and I were having lunch at the Towers in SA at Christmas, and Swede went over to talk to a small, older man for several minutes. I didn't recongnize him, but it was Robbie Risner. In 1968 I was the head of intelligence for the FAA, and the reports we were getting was that Robbie was taking terrible torture because of his notoriety. Reading his book, makes it all come true. I will watch that program, and hope that Mathews nails her to the cross.
Jane Fonda was photographed in July, 1972 as she sat on the gunner's seat of a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun near Hanoi. The most famous - make that infamous - image of Jane Fonda from her years protesting the Vietnam War was a photograph taken during her wartime visit to North Vietnam in 1972. In the photo, Fonda is sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun clasping her hands, singing, a rapturous smile on her face, a North Vietnamese helmet on her head, surrounded by grinning North Vietnamese soldiers.
Fonda, out promoting her autobiography these days, now says she regrets that particular “betrayal,” and that is her word. In an interview with Leslie Stahl on CBS's 60 Minutes, Fonda said: “I will go to my grave regretting that… It was the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine.”
She expressed similar regrets in an interview in 1988 and again in 2000, when she called posing on the enemy's anti-aircraft gun “thoughtless.” Careful readers will note that “thoughtless” and “lapse of judgment” and even “betrayal” are not apologies. In truth, Jane Fonda has never apologized for eagerly lending herself and her celebrity to the wartime propaganda of an enemy state, a Stalinist dictatorship no less, that killed 58,000 Americans. And she's not apologizing today.
Fonda did a lot more in that 1972 visit to North Vietnam than demonstrate her solidarity with those who were shooting down American pilots. At her request, she made at least 10 broadcasts on Radio Hanoi that included calling American pilots war criminals and urging them to stop bombing North Vietnam. In a propaganda gesture heavily publicized by Hanoi, she also met with a group of coerced American prisoners of war to demonstrate, as the North Vietnamese intended, that the POWs were receiving “humane” treatment. In fact, as we know now, nearly all American POWs in North Vietnam were brutally tortured until 1969, when Hanoi's policy changed to more selective mistreatment. One American POW was strung up from a ceiling by his broken arm until he agreed to listen to Fonda's assertions that the prisoners were being well treated.
When the POWs returned from North Vietnam in 1973 and told of their torture, Jane Fonda declared, “the POWs are lying if they assert it was North Vietnamese policy to torture American prisoners.” For good measure, she also suggested that their recollections of torture were products of “racism” toward the Vietnamese.
Does Fonda regret her propaganda broadcasts for Radio Hanoi or her role in trying to persuade the world that tortured, brutalized American POWs were receiving humane treatment? Not a bit. Is she apologizing? No.
Here's what she told Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes [http://] “I don't think there was anything wrong with it. It's not something that I will apologize for… we'd been saying to Richard Nixon, 'stop this'… it needed what looks now to be unbelievably controversial things. That's what I felt was needed.”
During World War II, two equally deluded American women, dubbed by U.S. servicemen Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally, made propaganda broadcasts from the capitals of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Both were prosecuted for treason after the war, convicted and sent to federal prison.
Fonda escaped that fate partly, one assumes, because of the ultimate unpopularity of the Vietnam War and partly because a prosecution for treason would require that a formally declared state of war had existed between the United States and North Vietnam. Nonetheless, Fonda's treasonous folly speaks to larger truths about a war that inflicted grievous wounds on the American psyche. For millions of Americans, and for millions of America's South Vietnamese allies, those wounds have yet to heal completely, and perhaps never will.
The anti-war movement of the 1960s and early 1970s was, in fact, two parallel movements. The majority of anti-war protesters simply believed that American participation in the war was wrong. Their objective was American withdrawal from Vietnam. But a hard-core, hard-left minority in the anti-war coalition favored a communist victory by the Viet Cong and North Vietnam. However witlessly, Jane Fonda lent herself to that latter goal, a communist triumph in Vietnam.
When the Soviet-armed North Vietnamese army overran South Vietnam in 1975, Fonda's then-husband, the left-wing radical Tom Hayden, expressed his relief and approval. When the North Vietnamese, quite predictably, imposed their totalitarian system on South Vietnam - complete with concentration camps that imprisoned hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese and the extinguishing of all civil and political liberties - Jane Fonda said she couldn't object because the evidence of oppression was unproven.
When, by United Nations estimate, a quarter of a million South Vietnamese boat people perished at sea escaping their supposed liberators in the 1970s and 1980s, Jane Fonda was silent. When 2 million Cambodians were murdered or died of privation at the hands of the communist Khmer Rouge (originally Hanoi's allies), Jane Fonda had nothing to say. When the people of reunified Vietnam were denied basic human rights and continue to suffer today under Hanoi's one-party dictatorship, Jane Fonda apparently was too busy with her personal life to comment.
That's a lot to answer for, Hanoi Jane.
Robert Caldwell is the editor of the Union-Tribune Insight Section, and a Vietnam veteran. E-Mail [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org ].
(VIETNAM) STORY OF AGENT ORANGE
U.S. Veteran Dispatch Staff Report, November 1990 Issue
Forwarded by Captain Jack MacKercher, U.S. Navy (Ret)
This message has been sent to as many of my friends who served in Vietnam that I have addresses for, with an attached LINK [http://www.usvetdsp.com/agentorange.htm ] to the story to which I refer. Note the publication date was 1990.
I never gave a lot of credence to Agent Orange and its effects on us. I thought some GIs were trying to get disability. Some unusual things were discovered on my retirement physical which the doctors didn't discuss so I thought they were unimportant.
I never had pimples as a teenager. Lucky, I guess. Then in the full years of maturity plus 40 I began to break out in a rash on the legs, arms, behind the ears. Finally, five years ago I broke out every time I went into my swimming pool. I have had several squamous cancers removed and countless basals removed.
I was one of those fortunate fair haired blue eyed beasts who didn't sunburn. My dermatologist, whom I've been with for 13 years, when I finally asked him, he said he felt it was related to Agent Orange, based on his readings and studies.
No one in my family had my kind of cancer. I began to have neurological problems some time ago… right leg collapsing, heavy tremors in my right hand and wrist. I'm convinced that our friend Herb Hetu (another officer in our group) died as a result of Agent Orange.
What upsets me is that Dow Chemical and cohorts knew about the toxic effects of AO. Oddly enough, the heaviest concentration of its dispersal was in III Corps, particularly around Saigon. I remember on my arrival in June 66, being billeted in the Majestic Hotel - which, you will recall, was on the Saigon River. Every night flares would go up and the Ranch Hand CO-130s came along dispersing AO. Same for Danang and IV Corps.
The moral of this email: “Don't bet your life on higher authority protecting you, in or out of government.”
(VIETNAM) 30 YEARS AND COUNTING
(VIETNAM) 30 YEARS OF ONE MAN'S TRUTH
By Pat Conroy
The true things always ambush me on the road and take me by surprise when I am drifting down the light of placid days, careless about flanks and rearguard actions. I was not looking for a true thing to come upon me in the state of New Jersey. Nothing has ever happened to me in New Jersey. But came it did, and it came to stay.
When I visited my old teammate Al Kroboth's house in New Jersey, I spent the first hours quizzing him about his memories of games and practices and the screams of coaches that had echoed in field houses more than 30 years before. Al had been a splendid forward-center for the Citadel; at 6 feet 5 inches and carrying 220 pounds, he played with indefatigable energy and enthusiasm.
For most of his senior year, he led the nation in field goal percentage, with UCLA center Lew Alcindor hot on his trail. Al was a battler and a brawler and a scrapper from the day he first stepped in as a Green Weenie sophomore to the day he graduated. After we talked basketball, we came to a subject I dreaded to bring up with Al, but which lay between us and would not lie still.
“Al, you know I was a draft dodger and antiwar demonstrator.”
“That's what I heard, Conroy,” Al said. “I have nothing against what you did, but I did what I thought was right.”
“Tell me about Vietnam, big Al. Tell me what happened to you,” I said.
On his seventh mission as a navigator in an A-6 for Major Leonard Robertson, Al was getting ready to deliver their payload when the fighter-bomber was hit by enemy fire. Though Al has no memory of it, he punched out somewhere in the middle of the ill-fated dive and lost consciousness. He doesn't know if he was unconscious for six hours or six days, nor does he know what happened to Major Robertson (whose name is engraved on the Wall in Washington and on the MIA bracelet Al wears).
When Al awoke, he couldn't move. A Viet Cong soldier held an AK-47 to his head. His back and his neck were broken, and he had shattered his left scapula in the fall. When he was well enough to get to his feet (he still can't recall how much time had passed), two armed Viet Cong led Al from the jungles of South Vietnam to a prison in Hanoi. The journey took three months.
Al Kroboth walked barefooted through the most impassable terrain in Vietnam, and he did it sometimes in the dead of night. He bathed when it rained, and he slept in bomb craters with his two Viet Cong captors. As they moved farther north, infections began to erupt on his body, and his legs were covered with leeches picked up while crossing the rice paddies.
In the meantime, Al and his captors had finally arrived in the North, and the Viet Cong traded him to North Vietnamese soldiers for the final leg of the trip to Hanoi. Many times when they stopped to rest for the night, the local villagers tried to kill him. His captors wired his hands behind his back at night, so he trained himself to sleep in the center of huts when the villagers began sticking knives and bayonets into the thin walls. Following the U.S. air raids, old women would come into the huts to excrete on him and yank out hunks of his hair. After the nightmare journey of his walk north, Al was relieved when his guards finally delivered him to the POW camp in Hanoi and the cell door locked behind him.
It was at the camp that Al began to die. He threw up every meal he ate and before long was misidentified as the oldest American soldier in the prison because his appearance was so gaunt and skeletal. But the extraordinary camaraderie among fellow prisoners that sprang up in all the POW camps caught fire in Al, and did so in time to save his life.
When I was demonstrating in America against Nixon and the Christmas bombings in Hanoi, Al and his fellow prisoners were holding hands under the full fury of those bombings, singing “God Bless America.” It was those bombs that convinced Hanoi they would do well to release the American POWs, including my college teammate. When he told me about the C-141 landing in Hanoi to pick up the prisoners, Al said he felt no emotion, none at all, until he saw the giant American flag painted on the plane's tail. I stopped writing as Al wept over the memory of that flag on that plane, on that morning, during that time in the life of America.
It was that same long night, after listening to Al's story, that I began to make judgments about how I had conducted myself during the Vietnam War. In the darkness of the sleeping Kroboth household, lying in the third-floor guest bedroom, I began to assess my role as a citizen in the '60s, when my country called my name and I shot her the bird. Unlike the stupid boys who wrapped themselves in Viet Cong flags and burned the American one, I knew how to demonstrate against the war without flirting with treason or astonishingly bad taste. I had come directly from the warrior culture of this country and I knew how to act. But in the 25 years that have passed since South Vietnam fell, I have immersed myself in the study of totalitarianism during the unspeakable century we just left behind.
I have questioned survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, talked to Italians who told me tales of the Nazi occupation, French partisans who had counted German tanks in the forests of Normandy, and officers who survived the Bataan Death March. I quiz journalists returning from wars in Bosnia, the Sudan, the Congo, Angola, Indonesia, Guatemala, San Salvador, Chile, Northern Ireland, Algeria. As I lay sleepless, I realized I'd done all this research to better understand my country. I now revere words like democracy, freedom, the right to vote, and the grandeur of the extraordinary vision of the founding fathers.
Do I see America's flaws? Of course. But I now can honor her basic, Incorruptible virtues, the ones that let me walk the streets screaming my ass off that my country had no idea what it was doing in South Vietnam. My country let me scream to my heart's content—the same country that produced both Al Kroboth and me.
Now, at this moment in New Jersey, I come to a conclusion about my actions as a young man when Vietnam was a dirty word to me. I wish I'd led a platoon of marines in Vietnam. I would like to think I would have trained my troops well and that the Viet Cong would have had their hands full if they entered a firefight with us. From the day of my birth, I was programmed to enter the Marine Corps. I was the son of a marine fighter pilot, and I had grown up on marine bases where I had watched the men of the corps perform simulated war games in the forests of my childhood. That a novelist and poet bloomed darkly in the house of Santini strikes me as a remarkable irony. My mother and father had raised me to be an Al Kroboth, and during the Vietnam era they watched in horror as I metamorphosed into another breed of fanatic entirely.
I understand now that I should have protested the war after my return from Vietnam, after I had done my duty for my country. I have come to a conclusion about my country that I knew then in my bones but lacked the courage to act on: America is good enough to die for even when she is wrong.
I looked for some conclusion, a summation of this trip to my teammate's house. I wanted to come to the single right thing, a true thing that I may not like but that I could live with. After hearing Al Kroboth's story of his walk across Vietnam and his brutal imprisonment in the North, I found myself passing harrowing, remorseless judgment on myself. I had not turned out to be the man I had once envisioned myself to be. I thought I would be the kind of man that America could point to and say, “There. That's the guy. That's the one who got it right. The whole package. The one I can depend on.”
It had never once occurred to me that I would find myself in the position I did on that night in Al Kroboth's house in Roselle, New Jersey: an American coward spending the night with an American hero.
(VIETNAM) GENERATION OF HEROES
By James Webb
The American Enterprise Magazine, September 2000
(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. His novels include The Emperor's General and Fields of Fire.)
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 '60s generation. Tom Brokaw has published two oral histories of “The Greatest Generation” that feature ordinary people doing their duty and suggests 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 startlingly 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 sideshow, 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 fathers' service by emulating it, and largely agreed with their fathers' wisdom in attempting to stop Communism's reach in Southeast Asia. The most accurate poll of their attitudes (Harris,1980) showed that 91% were glad they'd served their country, 74% enjoyed their time in the service, and 89% 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 the Vietnam war, three million of whom went to the Vietnam Theater. Contrary to popular mythology, two-thirds of these were volunteers, and 73% 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 incompetently 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 it 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 or 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 or 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 spokesmen 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 the 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% 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 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% 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 in training that Marine officers in the rifle companies had an 85% 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 was wounded, the first platoon commander was killed, the second platoon commander was wounded twice, and I, commanding the third platoon, was wounded twice. The enlisted troops in the rifle platoons fared no better. Two of my original three squad leaders were killed, 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 for 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 that 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 with which they moved when coming under enemy fire. Their sudden tenderness 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.
(VIETNAM) VIETNAM HINDSIGHT
Forwarded by email@example.com
The following are excerpts from Stephen Young's Wall Street Journal Aug. 3, 1995 article, “How North Vietnam Won The War” - an interview of former ROK Colonel Bui Tin.
Bui Tin, who served on the general staff of the North Vietnamese Army and received the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, confirmed the American Tet 1968 military victory:
“Our loses were staggering and a complete surprise. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for reelection. The second and third waves in May and September were, in retrospect, mistakes. Our forces in the South were nearly wiped out by all the fighting in 1968. It took us until 1971 to reestablish our presence but we had to use North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. If the American forces had not begun to withdraw under Nixon in 1969, they could have punished us severely. We suffered badly in 1969 and 1970 as it was.”
And on strategy: “If Johnson had granted Westmoreland's requests to enter Laos and block the Ho Chi Minh trail, Hanoi could not have won the war…. it was the only way to bring sufficient military power to bear on the fighting in the South. Building and maintaining the trail was a huge effort involving tens of thousands of soldiers, drivers, repair teams, medical stations, communication units… our operations were never compromised by attacks on the trail. At times, accurate B-52 strikes would cause real damage, but we put so much in at the top of the trail that enough men and weapons to prolong the war always came out the bottom… if all the bombing had been concentrated at one time, it would have hurt our efforts. But the bombing was expanded in slow stages under Johnson and it didn't worry us. We had plenty of time to prepare alternative routes and facilities. We always had stockpiles of rice ready to feed the people for months if a harvest was damaged. The Soviets bought rice from Thailand for us. And the left:
“Support for the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by Jane Fonda and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and would struggle along with us… those people represented the conscience of America… part of it's war- making capability, and we turned that power in our favor.”
Bui Tin went on to serve as the editor of the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Disillusioned with the reality of Vietnamese communism Bui Tin now lives in Paris.
(WWII) AMERICAN INGENUITY
After carrying it for several days, 20-year-old Bruce Carr still hadn't decided how to cook it without the Germans catching him. But, as hungry as he was, he couldn't bring himself to eat it. In his mind, no meat was better than raw meat, so he threw it away.
Resigning himself to what appeared to be his unavoidable fate; he turned in the direction of the nearest German airfield. Even POW's get to eat sometimes. And they aren't constantly dodging from tree to tree, ditch to culvert. And he was exhausted.
He was tired of trying to find cover where there was none. Carr hadn't realized that Czechoslovakian forests had no underbrush until, at the edge of the farm field, struggling out of his parachute he dragged it into the woods.
During the times he had been screaming along at tree top level in his P-51 Angels Playmate, the forests and fields had been nothing more than a green blur behind the Messerchmitts, Focke-Wulfs, trains and trucks he had in his sights. He never expected to find himself a pedestrian far behind enemy lines. The instant anti-aircraft shrapnel ripped into the engine, he knew he was in trouble. Serious trouble.
Clouds of coolant steam hissing through jagged holes in the cowling told Carr he was about to ride the silk elevator down to a long walk back to his squadron. A very long walk. This had not been part of the mission plan. Several years before, when 18-year-old Bruce Carr enlisted in the Army, in no way could he have imagined himself taking a walking tour of rural Czechoslovakia with Germans everywhere around him. When he enlisted, all he had focused on was just flying airplanes… fighter airplanes.
By the time he had joined the military, Carr already knew how to fly. He had been flying as a private pilot since 1939, soloing in a $25 Piper Cub his father had bought from a disgusted pilot who had left it lodged securely in the top of a tree. His instructor had been an Auburn, NY, native by the name of Johnny Bruns.
In 1942, after I enlisted,” as Bruce Carr remembers it, “we went to meet our instructors. I was the last cadet left in the assignment room and was nervous. Then the door opened and out stepped the man who was to be my military flight instructor. It was Johnny Bruns. We took a Stearman to an outlying field, doing aerobatics all the way; then he got out and soloed me. That was my first flight in the military.”
“The guy I had in advanced training in the AT-6 had just graduated, and didn't know a bit more than I did,” Carr could't help but smile, as he remembered… “which meant neither one of us knew anything. Zilch! After three or four hours in the AT-6, they took me and a few others aside, told us we were going to fly P-40s and we left for Tipton, Georgia.”
“We got to Tipton, and a lieutenant just back from North Africa kneeled on the P-40's wing, showed me where all the levers were, made sure I knew how everything worked, then said ' If you can get it started, go fly it'. Just like that! I was 19 years old and thought I knew everything. I didn't know enough to be scared. They didn't tell us what to do. They just said 'Go fly,' so I buzzed every cow in that part of the state. Nineteen years old. and with 1100 horsepower, what did they expect? Then we went overseas.”
By today's standards, Carr and that first contingent of pilots shipped to England were painfully short of experience. They had so little flight time that today; they would barely have their civilian pilot's license. Flight training eventually became more formal, but in those early days, their training had a hint of fatalistic Darwinism to it: If they learned fast enough to survive, they were ready to move on to the next step. Including his 40 hours in the P-40 terrorizing Georgia, Carr had less than 160 hours total flight time when he arrived in England.
His group in England was to be the pioneering group that would take the Mustang into combat, and he clearly remembers his introduction to the airplane.
“I thought I was an old P-40 pilot and the P-51B would be no big deal. But I was wrong! I was truly impressed with the airplane. REALLY impressed! It flew like an airplane. I FLEW a P-40, but in the P-51, I was PART OF the airplane… and it was part of me. There was a world of difference.”
When he first arrived in England the instructions were, “This is a P-51. Go fly it. Soon, we'll have to form a unit, so fly.” A lot of English cows were buzzed.
“On my first long-range mission, we just kept climbing, and I'd never had an airplane above about 10,000 feet before. Then we were at 30,000 feet and I couldn't believe it! I'd gone to church as a kid, and I knew that's where the angels were and that's when I named my airplane Angels Playmate
“Then a bunch of Germans roared down through us, and my leader immediately dropped tanks and turned hard for home. But I'm not that smart. I'm 19 years old and this SOB shoots at me, and I'm not going to let him get away with it. We went round and round, and I'm really mad because he shot at me. Childish emotions, in retrospect. He couldn't shake me, but I couldn't get on his tail to get any hits either.
“Before long, we're right down in the trees. I'm shooting, but I'm not hitting. I am, however, scaring the hell out of him. I'm at least as excited as he is. Then I tell myself to c-a-l-m d-o-w-n.
“We're roaring around within a few feet of the ground, and he pulls up to go over some trees, so I just pull the trigger and keep it down. The gun barrels burned out and one bullet, a tracer, came tumbling out and made a great huge arc. It came down and hit him on the left wing about where the aileron was.
“He pulled up, off came the canopy, and he jumped out, but too low for the chute to open and the airplane crashed. I didn't shoot him down, I scared him to death with one bullet hole in his left wing. My first victory wasn't a kill - it was more of a suicide.”
The rest of Carr's 14 victories were much more conclusive. Being red-hot fighter pilot, however, was absolutely of no use to him as he lay shivering in the Czechoslovakian forest. He knew he would die if he didn't get some food and shelter soon.
“I knew where the German field was because I'd flown over it, so I headed in that direction to surrender. I intended to walk in the main gate, but it was late afternoon and for some reason I had second thoughts. I decided to wait in the woods until morning.
“While I was lying there, I saw a crew working on an FW-190 right at the edge of the woods. When they were gone, I assumed, just like you assume in America, that the thing was all finished. The cowling's on. The engine has been run. The fuel truck has been there. It's ready to go. Maybe a dumb assumption for a young fellow, but I assumed so.”
Carr got in the airplane and spent the night all hunkered down in the cockpit. “Before dawn, it got light and I started studying the cockpit. I can't read German, so I couldn't decipher dials and I couldn't find the normal switches like there were in American airplanes. I kept looking, and on the right side was a smooth panel. Under this was a compartment with something I would classify as circuit breakers. They didn't look like ours, but they weren't regular switches either.
“I began to think that the Germans were probably no different from the Americans… that they would turn off all the switches when finished with the airplane. I had no earthly idea what those circuit breakers or switches did, but reversed every one of them. If they were off, that would turn them on. When I did that, the gauges showed there was electricity on the airplane.
“I'd seen this metal T-handle on the right side of the cockpit that had a word on it that looked enough like 'starter' for me to think that's what it was. But when I pulled it nothing happened. Nothing.
“But if pulling doesn't work, you push, and when I did, an inertia starter began winding up. I let it go for a while, then pulled on the handle and the engine started.
“The sun had yet to make it over the far trees and the air base was just waking up, getting ready to go to war. The FW-190 was one of many dispersed throughout the woods, and at that time of the morning, the sound of the engine must have been heard by many Germans not far away on the main base.
“But even if they heard it, there was no reason for alarm. The last thing they expected was one of their fighters taxiing out with a weary Mustang pilot at the controls.”
Carr, however, wanted to take no chances.
“The taxiway came out of the woods and turned right towards where I knew the airfield was because I'd watched them land and take off while I was in the trees. On the left side of the taxiway, there was a shallow ditch and a space where there had been two hangars. The slabs were there, but the hangars were gone, and the area around them had been cleaned of all debris.
“I didn't want to go to the airfield, so I plowed down through the ditch, and when the airplane started up the other side, I shoved the throttle forward and took off right between where the two hangars had been.”
At that point, Bruce Carr had no time to look around to see what effect the sight of a Focke-Wulf erupting from the trees had on the Germans. Undoubtedly, they were confused, but not unduly concerned. After all, it was probably just one of their maverick pilots doing something against the rules. They didn't know it was one of our own maverick pilots doing something against the rules.
Carr had problems more immediate than a bunch of confused Germans. He had just pulled off the perfect plane-jacking; but he knew nothing about the airplane, couldn't read the placards and had 200 miles of enemy territory to cross.
At home, there would be hundreds of his friends and fellow warriors, all of whom were at that moment preparing their guns to shoot at airplanes marked with swastikas and crosses - airplanes identical to the one Bruce Carr was at that moment flying. But Carr wasn't thinking that far ahead.
First, he had to get there. And that meant learning how to fly the German fighter.
“There were two buttons behind the throttle and three buttons behind those two. I wasn't sure what to push, so I pushed one button and nothing happened. I pushed the other and the gear started up. As soon as I felt it coming up and I cleared the fence at the edge of the German field, then I took it down a little lower and headed for home. All I wanted to do was clear the ground by about six inches. And there was only one throttle position for me - FULL FORWARD!
“As I headed for home, I pushed one of the other three buttons, and the flaps came part way down. I pushed the button next to it, and they came up again. So I knew how to get the flaps down. But that was all I knew.
“I couldn't make heads or tails out of any of the instruments. None. And I couldn't even figure out how to change the prop pitch. But I didn't sweat that, because props are full forward when you shut down anyway, and it was running fine.
This time, it was German cows buzzed, although, as he streaked across fields and through the trees only a few feet off the ground, that was not his intent. At something over 350 miles an hour below tree-top level, he was trying to be a difficult target. However, as he crossed the lines, he wasn't difficult enough.
“There was no doubt when I crossed the lines because every SOB and his brother who had a .50-caliber machine gun shot at me. It was all over the place, and I had no idea which way to go. I didn't do much dodging because I was just as likely to fly into bullets as around them.”
When he hopped over the last row of trees and found himself crossing his own airfield, he pulled up hard to set up for landing. His mind was on flying the airplane.
“I pitched up, pulled the throttle back and punched the buttons I knew wuld put the gear and flaps down. I felt the flaps come down, but the gear wasn't doing anything. I came around and pitched up again, still punching the button. Nothing was happening and I was really frustrated.”
He had been so intent on figuring out his airplane problems, he forgot he was putting on a very tempting show for the ground personnel.
“As I started up the last time, I saw the air defense guys ripping the tarps off the quad .50s that ringed the field. I hadn't noticed the machine guns before, but I was sure noticing them right then.
“I roared around in as tight a pattern as I could fly and chopped the throttle. I slid to a halt on the runway and it was a nice belly job, if I say so myself.”
His antics over the runway had drawn quite a crowd, and the airplane had barely stopped sliding before there were MPs up on the wings trying to drag him out of the airplane by his arms. What they didn't realize was that he was still strapped into the cockpit.
“I started throwing some good Anglo-Saxon swear words at them, and they let loose while I tried to get the seat belt undone, but my hands wouldn't work and I couldn't do it. Then they started pulling on me again because they still weren't convinced I was an American.
“I was yelling and hollering; then, suddenly, they let go. A face drops down into the cockpit in front of mine. It was my Group Commander, George R. Bickel. He said, 'Carr, where in the hell have you been, and what have you been doing now?'”
Bruce Carr was home and entered the record books as the only pilot known to leave on a mission flying a Mustang and return flying a Focke-Wulf.
For several days after the ordeal, he had trouble eating and sleeping, but when things again fell into place, he took some of the other pilots out to show them the airplane and how it worked. One of them pointed out a small handle under the glare shield that he hadn't noticed before. When he pulled it, the landing gear unlocked and fell out. The handle was a separate, mechanical up-lock. At least, he had figured out the really important things.
Carr finished the war with 14 aerial victories after flying 172 missions, which included three bailouts because of ground fire. He stayed in the service, eventually flying 51 missions in Korea in F-86s and 286 in Vietnam, flying F-100s. That's an amazing 509 combat missions and doesn't include many others during Viet Nam in other aircraft types.
Bruce Carr continued to actively fly and routinely showed up at air shows in a P-51D painted up exactly like Angel's Playmate. The original was put on display in a Paris museum right after the war.
There is no such thing as an ex-fighter pilot. They never cease being what they once were, whether they are in the cockpit or not. There is a profile into which almost every one of the breed fits, and it is the charter within that profile that makes the pilot a fighter pilot - not the other way around. And make no mistake about it, Col. Bruce Carr was definitely a fighter pilot.
(WWII) CRASH OF NAVY BLIMP L-8
THE HOME FRONT
The tide of war in the Pacific was turning. The Doolittle raids on the Japanese home islands demonstrated the American resolve to fight and win and, in June of 1942, the naval battle at the Midway Islands dealt a crushing defeat. But, with the defense of the Pacific Coast of the United States as a chief priority, and with the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor still fresh in the national mindset, the need to identify and destroy the threat posed by enemy submarines was critical to preventing another ambush on American Soil.
Key to this defense was a strategy utilizing 'dirigibles', otherwise known to most as 'blimps'. Their ability to remain in one spot for longer periods, and their capability to go long periods without refueling, made them excellent observation posts to monitor for submarine activity in the coastal waters. The U.S. Navy purchased the Goodyear blimp Ranger in 1940. But, the United States entered the Second World War, and the airship built by Goodyear to replace the Ranger was also sold to the Navy, and commissioned the L-8 on March 5th, 1942. It became part of Blimp Squadron 32 (ZP-32), based out of Moffett Field, near Sunnyvale, California, under the auspices of Fleet Air Wing Five.
THE ‘EYE IN THE SKY’
Sunday, August 16th, 1942, started like any other summer day by the San Francisco. The cool fog of the summer morning had caused the fabric of the blimp's coverings to become inundated with excess moisture, adding additional weight to the aircraft. In response, the flight plan was amended to reduce the crew size from three down to two in order to save weight. Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd class James Riley Hill was turned away from the flight.
At 6:03 in the morning, naval blimp L-8 took off from Treasure Island, located in the center of San Francisco Bay, with its crew of two. The pilot of this sortie was Lieutenant Ernest DeWitt Cody. Cody was a 1938 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, and had arrived at Moffett Field only five months earlier in March with his wife, Helen. Having been promoted in the previous June, the 27 year-old was in charge of the safe operation and flight of the blimp.
As a matter of fact, on April 11th, 1942, Cody had been involved in a mission crucial to the success of the Doolittle raid on Japan. He departed San Francisco with a 300-lb. load of spare parts for the B-25 bombers to be used in the raid, and was ordered to rendezvous with USS Hornet (CV-8) off the coast of California. The freight was lowered by line to the deck of Hornet while the blimp hovered over the carrier. The transfer required careful maneuvering of the airship to enable Cody to land the cargo on a clear spot on the flight deck, since most of the flight deck space was occupied by the 16 bombers to be flown by the raiders. The blimp that Cody flew that day was also the L-8.
Joining Cody on the flight August 16th was Ensign Charles E. Adams. Having only been sworn in as a naval Ensign the day before, this was his first flight as a commissioned officer, despite having over 20 years of enlisted experience as a boatswain with lighter-than-air craft. The 38 year-old was thoroughly versed with the business of the balloon service - “Stay with the ship.” Originally from Lakehurst in New Jersey, he also lived in Mountain View with his wife.
The mission was a relatively simple one: Conduct an anti-submarine patrol of the coast of California, going from Treasure Island to the Farallones, a chain of small islands 30 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge, then to Point Reyes, and return the blimp back to Moffett Field.
To continue the story, click here [http://www.check-six.com/Crash_Sites/L-8_crash_site.htm ].
(WWII) DAYS OF OUR LIVES
By Jug Varner
The ranks of those of us who served in WWII are rapidly thinning. Relatively few remain who experienced certain major events: the Japanese sneak attack against Pearl Harbor… President Franklin Roosevelt’s radio address announcing the United States declaration of War the following day… raising the flag over Iwo Jima… D-Day…VE-Day… the atomic bombs that ended the war… VJ-Day… to name a few, including all of our own personal experiences, heroic and otherwise.
June 6, 2006 marked the 62nd anniversary of D-Day - the turning of the war when American and allied forces landed at Normandy and began the struggle for control of the war in Europe that eventually led to VE-Day… Victory in Europe.
Almost anyone who was serving on active duty at the time can still remember exactly where they were and what they were doing on that memorable day in 1944.
In my own case, I was in my final stage of training as a Naval Aviation Cadet at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, flying the OS2U Kingfisher seaplane, hoping to graduate in July and go to sea aboard a cruiser or battleship flying this scout-observation aircraft.
We were in the hangar area when a voice on the loudspeaker sounded ATTENTION ALL HANDS… and told us of the exciting news. In those days, television was only a dream and military news came either from newspapers or radio commentators.
There was no “immediate” news in those days, and I might add that few news people were anti-war or anti-administration. A “Liberal” media was practically an unknown.
(WWII) DOOLITTLE RAIDERS RETURN
By Jug Varner
In April 1942, Army Air Force Colonel Jimmy Doolittle led a 16-plane flight of B-25s from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to bomb Japan and crash land in China. The daring raid was the first U.S. air attack against the Japanese in WWII.
One plane landed in Russia and its crew was interned there for two years. The other B-25s crashed in the water off the China coast or the mountainous terrain of the Chinese mainland. All of the 80 crew members parachuted safely, although eight were captured by the Japanese, who executed three of them. Another airman died in captivity. Bad weather and low fuel prevented their plan to land the aircraft at a predetermined China destination.
The war mission was so secret, Potter said, that even President Franklin Roosevelt was not informed until the mission was successfully launched. The heroic flight was a great morale builder for the American public during the dark days following Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
Forty-four of the original raiders are still alive and meet annually. Doolittle is 93 and lives in California. Some members of the group had previously discussed trying to find their planes but the 1990 search was the first ever attempted.
Other members of the Doolittle aircraft search were photographer Arthur Gibson, publisher Joyce Olson, personal fitness trainer Heidi Olson and aviation buff Dr. George Weir.
Col. Potter was reunited with several Chinese who befriended him in 1942 after he and other crewmen bailed out and regrouped on the ground. He also met two Chinese men who helped rescue crewmen from the B-25s that landed off shore, and hid them from the Japanese military then occupying the area.
Potter and the search party found several of the sites, including Doolittle's, but found no actual remains of his aircraft. However, they located armor plating, miscellaneous aircraft parts, an American Army issue razor and other items identifiable as the authentic remains of American aircraft and personnel equipment at other sites.
(WWII) ETIQUETTE OF MODERN WARFARE
By Mark Steyne, The Jerusalem Post, Aug 3, 2005
Forwarded by MGen Hank Stelling USAF (Ret) via BGen Bob Clements USAF (Ret)
Note From Jug: Be sure to read Bob Clements’ comments and enclosure at the end of this article for a realistic historical perspective of then and now.
Until sixty years ago, all Nagasaki meant to most westerners was the setting for Madame Butterfly and a novelty pop song from the 1920s: Back in Nagasaki where the fellers chew tobaccy / And the women wicky-wacky-woo.
Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, the Mills Brothers, Benny Goodman, Django Reinhardt - there was no shortage of recordings of “Nagasaki” through the Thirties and early Forties, up to, oh, about two minutes past 11 on the morning of August 9th 1945. And since then, well, you don't hear the song too much anymore. Nagasaki joined Hiroshima as a one-word shorthand for events beyond the scale of Tin Pan Alley exotica.
Sometimes the transformative event comes in an instant, as it did out of the skies from a B-29 sixty Augusts ago. Sometimes the transformation is slower and less perceptible: The United States that so confidently nuked two Japanese cities is as lost to us as the old pre-mushroom cloud Nagasaki. In what circumstances would Washington nuke an enemy today?
Were we to re-run World War Two, advisors to the president would counsel against the poor optics of dropping the big one, problems keeping allies on board, media storm, Congressional inquiries, UN resolutions, NGOs making a flap, etc. And chances are the administration would opt to slug it out town for town in a conventional invasion costing a million casualties.
There's no doubt the atomic bomb wound up saving lives - American, Japanese, and maybe millions in the lands the latter occupied. The more interesting question is to what degree it enabled the Japan we know today. They were a fearsome enemy, and had no time for decadent concepts such as magnanimity in victory.
If you want the big picture, the Japanese occupation of China left 15 million Chinese dead. If you want the small picture, consider Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. It fell to the Japanese shortly after Pearl Harbor, when the 22 British watch keepers surrendered to vastly superior forces. The following year, the Japanese took their British prisoners, tied them to trees, decapitated them, and burned their bodies in a pit. You won't find that in the Geneva Conventions.
The Japs fought a filthy war - but a mere six decades later and America, Britain and Japan sit side by side at G7 meetings, the US and Canada apologize unceasingly for the wartime internment of Japanese civilians, and an historically authentic vernacular expression such as “the Japs fought a filthy war” is now so distasteful that use of it inevitably attracts noisy complaints about offensively racist characterizations. The old militarist culture - of kamikaze fanatics and occupation regimes that routinely tortured and beheaded and even ate their prisoners - is dead as dead can be.
Would that have happened without Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the earlier non-nuclear raids? In one night of “conventional” bombing - March 9th - 100,000 Japanese died in Tokyo. Taking a surrender from the enemy is one thing; ensuring that he's completely, totally, utterly beaten is another. A peace without Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been a different kind of peace; the surrender would have been, in every sense, more “conditional:” Japanese militarism would not have been so thoroughly vanquished, nor so obviously responsible for the nation's humiliation and devastation, and therefore not so irredeemably consigned to history. A greater affection and respect for the old regime could well have persisted, and lingered to hobble the new modern, democratic Japan devised by the Americans.
Which brings us to our present troubles.
Nobody's suggesting nuking Mecca. Well, okay, the other day a Republican Congressman, Tom Tacredo, did - or at any rate he raised the possibility that at some point America might well have to “bomb” Mecca.” Even I, a fully paid-up armchair warmonger, balked at that one, prompting some of my more robust correspondents to suggest I'd gone over to the side of the New York Times pantywaists. But forget about bombing Mecca and consider the broader lesson of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: an enemy folds when he knows he's finished. In Iraq, despite the swift fall of the Saddamites, it's not clear the enemy did know.
Indeed, the western peaceniks pre-war “human shields” operation proved to be completely superfluous mainly because the Anglo-American forces decided to treat not just Iraqi civilians and not just Iraqi conscripts but virtually everyone other than Saddam, Uday and Qusay as a de facto human shield.
Washington made a conscious choice to give every Iraqi the benefit of the doubt, including the fake surrenderers who ambushed the US marines at Nasiriyah. If you could get to a rooftop, you could fire rocket-propelled grenades at the Brits and Yanks with impunity, because, under the most onerous rules of engagement ever devised, they wouldn't fire back just in case the building you were standing on hadn't been completely evacuated. Michael Moore and George Galloway may have thought the neocons were itching to massacre hundreds of thousands, but the behavior of the Ba'athists suggests they knew better: they assumed western decency and, having no regard either for enemy lives or for those of their own people, acted accordingly.
Was this a mistake? Several analysts weren't happy about it at the time, simply because Washington and London were exposing their own troops to greater danger than necessary. But, with hindsight, it also helped set up a lot of the problems Iraq's had to contend with since: not enough Ba'athists were killed in the initial invasion; too many big shots survived to plot mischief and too many minnows were allowed to melt back into the general population to provide a delivery system for that mischief. And in a basic psychological sense excessive solicitude for the enemy won us not sympathy but contempt. Better Nagasaki than a lot of misplaced wicky-wacky-woo.
The main victims of western squeamishness in those few weeks in the spring of 2003 turned out to be not American or coalition troops but the Iraqi civilians who today provide the principal target for “insurgents.” It would have better for them had more Ba'athists been killed in the initial invasion. It would have been preferable, too, if the swarm of foreign jihadi from neighboring countries had occasionally been met with the “accidental” bombing of certain targets on the Syrian side of the border.
Wars fought under absurd degrees of self-imposed etiquette are the most difficult to win - see Korea and Vietnam - and one lesson of Germany and Japan is that it's easier to rebuild societies if they've first been completely smashed. Michael Ledeen, a shrewd analyst of the present conflict, likes to sign-off his essays by urging the administration, “Faster, please.” That's good advice. So too is: “Tougher, please.”
The writer is senior North American columnist for Britain's Telegraph Group.
Comments from BGen Bob Clements:
At one time I was one of two pilots assigned to the 8090th PACUSA detachment out of 20th AAF Headquarters. Our job was to fly as personal pilots to BG Fred Irving. On an inspection trip to Tinian, and then to Saipan, we had 14 flags on board our C-46F, tail number 8546, which included General Thomas C Handy. About half way up to Tinian from Guam I felt a tap on my shoulder and a full bird Colonel on General Handy's staff informed me the General would like to come up and ride the co-pilots seat. I told him, “Hell yes, sir. He can even fly the bird if he wishes to.”
He put the headphones on and we had a meaningful discussion all the way to Tinian. I remember thinking that, as a Lt, how would I ever have had the privilege of talking to a four star General if I had not held the job to which I was assigned? He was a very articulate, thorough, and soft spoken, gentleman. I had been informed that he was the General who signed the order to drop the atomic weapons while Truman was on his way home from the Potsdam conference.
Truman actually never signed the order but just approved the written order. I asked General Handy if he had ever had any qualms about dropping the bomb. He said, “Absolutely not. We would have lost a million lives on both sides.” I remember also thinking at the time that I was happy the bomb was dropped because the odds were heavily in favor that. I would have been one of the million that we lost.
As for the author’s comments about the Japanese beheading and then eating their prisoners, we hung a Japanese Admiral and Warrant officer on Guam for doing exactly that after a war crimes trial was concluded at COMMARIANNAS. I think Admiral Pownall (sp?) was the commander. He was actually one of the 14 stars aboard my aircraft during the above story I related about General Handy..
As you will notice, even then the politicians let the military take the guff and do the dirty work. Truman never offically signed the order. As a matter of fact the target date had been delayed purposefully to make sure he was at sea when the first explosion rocked the world..
The written order for the use of the atomic bomb against Japanese cities was drafted by General Groves. President Truman and Secretary of War Stimson approved the order at Potsdam.
The order made no mention of targeting military objectives or sparing civilians. The cities themselves were the targets. The order was also open-ended. “Additional bombs” could be dropped “as soon as made ready by the project staff.”
E.O. 11652, Secs 3(E) and 5(D) or (E)
By ERC NARS, Date 6-4-74
25 July 1945
TO: General Carl Spaatz, Commanding General
United States Army Strategic Air Forces
1. The 509 Composite Group, 20th Air Force will deliver its first special bomb as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki. To carry military and civilian scientific personnel from the War Department to observe and record the effects of the explosion of the bomb, additional aircraft will accompany the airplane carrying the bomb. The observing planes will stay several miles distant from the point of impact of the bomb.
2. Additional bombs will be delivered on the above targets as soon as made ready by the project staff. Further instructions will be issued concerning targets other than those listed above.
3. Discussion of any and all information concerning the use of the weapon against Japan is reserved to the Secretary of War and the President of the United States. No communiqués on the subject or releases of information will be issued by Commanders in the field without specific prior authority. Any news stories will be sent to the War Department for specific clearance.
4. The foregoing directive is issued to you by direction and with the approval of the Secretary of War and of the Chief of Staff, USA. It is desired that you personally deliver one copy of this directive to General MacArthur and one copy to Admiral Nimitz for their information.
(Signed) THOS. T. HANDY
THOS. T. HANDY
Acting Chief of Staff
copy for General Groves
The above declassified order is why we do not speak Japanese as our official language - mushi mushi.
(WWII) GOVERNMENT SUPPRESSED STORIES
By Jug Varner
There are thousands of cases of Japanese cruelty to their captured Americans and other enemies during WW II. Now, after some 60 years silence and most of these heroic Americans are in their graves, the stories are finally being publicized. Too little, too late!
Unfortunately (and retrospectively a totally misguided effort of Japanese appeasement by our government) the suppression of thousands of such reports went unnoticed by a population tired of war and wanting to get on with their post-war civilian lives. Author Peter Maas's excellent article on this subject, They Should Have Their Day In Court, appeared in the June 17 issue of the Sunday supplement Parade Magazine.
Not only did the Government purposely suppress stories of Japanese cruelty, and ordered the POWs not to talk about the atrocities they endured (supposedly to make easier its task of rebuilding the conquered nation into a democracy), it spent billions of dollars helping rebuild the new Japanese government and its industries. In the process, Japan gained a favored trade nation status and imported millions of automobiles that eventually cornered the market here, bringing near financial ruin to several of our nation's automakers.
Did our leaders of that time have a guilt complex from dropping the nuclear bombs that ended the war? Surely, the decision was a right one at the time, considering the staggering losses that could have occurred in the invasion of the Japanese homeland of fanatic do-or-die resisters. The story of Iwo Jima demonstrated that! Certainly Japan's induced death toll in China and other Asian atrocities from 1937 through 1945 caused far more casualties than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined!
So why are we still appeasing Japan, even in small ways - such as the filming a special Japanese audience version different from the recently released Pearl Harbor for the American audience? Not that the American version was all that accurate! Hollywood has never worried too much about accuracy, and grows progressively worse.
Why, over the years, has nothing been done about Japan's failure to allow several generations of their people to grow up without knowing the true story of their nation's imperialistic takeovers and atrocities?
History repeats itself. China now looms as the demon of the Orient, with the manpower and natural resources to become the most dominant nation in the world. The Clinton Administration supposedly aided and abetted them tremendously with its gift of many nuclear secrets, and the recent P3 landing gave them a few more. Congress doesn't seem to be very well attuned to history, so the beat goes on!
In any case, even 60 years after the fact, American should know the truth about Japanese POWs! Such stories about Korean POWs were more available, as were those about Vietnam POWs, although the mainstream press, being so against that war, seldom printed or telecast anything positive about the heroic efforts of our service personnel in that war.
With many liberal revisionist historians busily replacing what really happened with their own version, one wonders if future generations will even know the truth about 20th Century wars.
From Opinion Journal WSJ.com Aug 5, 2005
Forwarded by VAdm Harold Koenig USN (ret) via BGen Bob Clements USAF (Ret)
HIROSHIMA - NUCLEAR WEAPONS THEN AND NOW
Today — or August 6 in Japan — is the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which killed outright an estimated 80,000 Japanese and hastened World War II to its conclusion on August 15.
Those of us who belong to the postwar generations tend to regard the occasion as a somber, even shameful, one. But that's not how the generation of Americans who actually fought the war saw it. And if we're going to reflect seriously about the bomb, we ought first to think about it as they did.
In 1945, Paul Fussell was a 21-year-old second lieutenant who'd spent much of the previous year fighting his way through Europe. At the time of Hiroshima, he was scheduled to participate in the invasion of the Japanese mainland, for which the Truman Administration anticipated casualties of between 200,000 and one million Allied soldiers. No surprise, then, that when news of the bomb reached Lt. Fussell and his men, they had no misgivings about its use:
“We learned to our astonishment that we would not be obliged in a few months to rush up the beaches near Tokyo assault-firing while being machine-gunned, mortared, and shelled, and for all the practiced phlegm of our tough facades we broke down and cried with relief and joy. We were going to live.”
Mr. Fussell was writing about American lives. What about Japanese lives? The Japanese army was expected to fight to the last man, as it had during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Since the ratio of Japanese to American combat fatalities ran about four to one, a mainland invasion could have resulted in millions of Japanese deaths — and that's not counting civilians. The March 1945 Tokyo fire raid killed about 100,000; such raids would have intensified had the war dragged on. The collective toll from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings is estimated at between 110,000 and 200,000.
Nuclear weapons are often said to pose a unique threat to humanity, and in the wrong hands they do. But when President Truman gave the go-ahead to deploy Fat Man and Little Boy, what those big bombs chiefly represented was salvation: salvation for young Lt. Fussell and all the GIs; salvation for the tens of thousands of Allied POWs the Japanese intended to execute in the event of an invasion; salvation for the grotesquely used Korean “comfort women”; salvation for millions of Asians enslaved by the Japanese.
Not least, and despite the terrible irony, the bombings were salvation for Japan, since they prompted Emperor Hirohito to intervene with his bitterly divided government to end the war, thus laying the groundwork for America's beneficent occupation and the country's subsequent prosperity. To understand the roots of modern Japan's pacifist mentality, so at variance with its old warrior culture, one need only visit Hiroshima's peace park.
The same can be said about nuclear weapons in other contexts. America's nuclear arsenal helped thwart Soviet expansionism and provided the umbrella under which Western Europe and the Asian rim countries became — and remained — free throughout the Cold War. For embattled Israel, nuclear weapons have not only helped guarantee its existence, they have paradoxically provided it with the margin of strength it needs to contemplate territorial concessions unimaginable for other states its size.
Of course, for every Pershing missile that helped keep Western Europe free, a Soviet SS-20 helped keep Eastern Europe captive. In the hands of democracies, nuclear weapons safeguard liberty; in the hands of dictatorships, they safeguard despotism. It's doubtful the Soviet Union could have survived as long as it did had it never developed nuclear weapons. That's true for North Korea today, and it explains why the mullahs of Tehran seek to bolster their faltering regime with an atomic bomb.
Also true is that the threat nuclear weapons pose today is probably greater than ever before. That's not because they're more plentiful — thanks to the 2002 Moscow Treaty (negotiated by John Bolton), U.S. and Russian arsenals are being cut to levels not seen in 40 years. It's because nuclear know-how and technology have fallen into the hands of men such as A.Q. Khan and Kim Jong Il, and they, in turn, are but one degree of separation away from the jihadists who may someday detonate a bomb in Times or Trafalgar Square.
Reflecting on this history, there's a tendency to wax melancholic about the dangers of letting the proverbial genie out of his bottle, and to suggest we stuff him back in. Thus the reflexive opposition by Democrats and some Republicans to developing new nuclear weapons such as the “bunker buster” and to the resumption of nuclear testing. The Senate has even zeroed out of the President's budget funding for a high-powered laser that would help gauge the reliability of the U.S. arsenal without testing. We also frequently hear calls for the U.S. to lead by example by further reducing its arsenal, and for the Bush Administration to “strengthen” the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by agreeing to the useless Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Yet the notion that the nuclear genie can be willed out of existence through the efforts of right-thinking people is as absurd as it is wrongheaded. Just as guns and knives will be with us forever, so too will the bomb. We need bunker busters because North Korea and Iran are using underground facilities to build weapons that threaten us, and we must be able credibly to threaten in return. We need to have nuclear tests because the reliability of our principal warhead, the W-76, has been seriously called into question, and China must not be enticed to compete with us as a nuclear power. In neither case does the U.S. set a “bad example.” Rather, it demonstrates the same capacity for moral self-confidence that carried America through World War II and must now carry us through the war on terror.
Looking back after 60 years, who cannot be grateful that it was Truman who had the bomb, and not Hitler or Tojo or Stalin? And looking forward, who can seriously doubt the need for might always to remain in the hands of right?
That is the enduring lesson of Hiroshima, and it is one we ignore at our
Copyright C 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(WWII) ODD FACTS
Passed along by jay_at_iplusonline.com. Author, or source unknown.
The following “believe-it-or-not” type facts have not been validated for this article but, if true, they are indeed incredible!
- The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940), the highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps.
- The youngest U.S. serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by Act of Congress)
- At the time of Pearl Harbor the top U.S. Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced “sink us”), the shoulder patch of the U.S. Army's 45th. Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named “Amerika.” All three were soon changed for PR purposes.
- More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions the chance of being killed was 71%.
- Generally speaking there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.
- It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet, tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.
- When allied armies reached the Rhine the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).
- German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasn't worth the effort.
- German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.
- Among the first “Germans” captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.
- Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 US and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska (Alaska). 21 troops were killed in the assault. Military experts have said it would have been much worse if there had been any Japanese on the island.
(WWII) OKINAWA LANDING RECALLED
By Sarah Rohrs, Times-Herald staff writer, Vallejo CA.
Forwarded by 1stAdmPAO
April 1, 2005 - Sixty years ago today, a massive American military force invaded a small Japanese island called Okinawa and launched one of the fiercest battles of World War II. It's a day fewer and fewer veterans are around to remember.
One of those is Ken Barden, 82, of Vallejo, CA, who stood watch aboard an attack transport ship alongside the famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle, whose sensitive dispatches brought World War II home to millions of Americans.
Okinawa is often lost in the shadow of D-Day that launched the effort to defeat Hitler. “Many people don't realize Okinawa was the largest land and sea operation of the war - larger than Normandy,” Barden said.
Today's anniversary could very well go unnoticed. Local veterans organizations were unaware of activities, and a Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman said she was unaware of any national events.
The April 1 landing on Okinawa led to President Harry Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - an act which eventually brought about the end of World War II, historians say. Located 350 miles south of Japan, Okinawa was large enough to hold a base for staging the invasion. The battle lasted 82 days, resulting in the deaths of 120,000 soldiers, and more than 150,000 civilians.
Barden, who was 21 at the time, said luck was on his side 60 years ago. Anchored quite a distance from the island, Barden and his crew awoke to a dark, cold and windy day. “Love Day,” the code name for the invasion on Okinawa, had begun. The USS Charles Carroll saddled up to a large chunk of corral reef, and the Navy set up transporters and took troops onto the island.
Barden and a colonel stood on the deck with Pyle, watching hundreds of U.S. Marines clamor across the beaches. The famous correspondent said little. He took a few swigs from a metal flask, and then handed it to the young lieutenant. Believing the flask held coffee, Barden took a drink and then spat out what he thought was probably rum or brandy. Barden watched Pyle leave and follow the Marines. “He gave me a little wave and off he went,” he recalled. Pyle was a slight, thin man who seemed profoundly weary and sad, Barden said. While on the USS Charles Carroll, he spent his time below deck with the soldiers.
The sense of impending doom that gathered on Okinawa all morning gradually lifted. Snipers killed a few soldiers, but the day's death toll was considerably less than expected. “I felt a tremendous sense of relief that the Japanese had pulled off the beaches. I realized that I would survive,” Barden said. “Even though I was wet and cold, I was grateful.”
Barden never again saw Pyle, who died 17 days later. After landing on the island of Iea Shimma, a Japanese machine gunner fired on a Jeep carrying Pyle and four soldiers. The group took cover in a ditch. The curious Pyle looked up and a sniper shot him in the head. On the road where Pyle died, soldiers erected a wooden sign that read: “At This Spot the 77th Infantry Division Lost a Buddy - Ernie Pyle.”
Three weeks later, Germany surrendered, and on Aug. 14, 1945 Japan surrendered. World War II was finally
over. More than 16 million Americans fought in World War II, but their numbers are dwindling quickly. Dying at an average daily rate of 1,100, just 3.9 million are alive today, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Barden said this year's USS Charles Carroll reunion probably will be the last. A 1994 reunion drew 300 people, but ten10 years later, only 60 came and half of those were wives. “A lot of them are in walkers and canes. It's sad to see the demise of the crew,” he said. Barden is fit and alert for his age. He is the emcee for Veterans Day and Memorial Day events at Westlake Gold Country senior living center, and he stays physically and mentally sharp through volunteer work and daily exercise.
Sixty years after Okinawa, Barden is amazed that the younger generation of today knows next to nothing about World War II. “Most of this generation is completely oblivious to the war,” he said.
Barden's memories of Pyle are part of The Soldiers' Voice - The Story of Ernie Pyle by Barbara O'Connor, a biography for young adults published in 1996.
(WWII) ONE HELL OF A BANG
August 6th is Hiroshima Day, the anniversary of the first use of a bomb so powerful that it would come to threaten the existence of the human race. Only two such devices have ever been used. But now, more than a decade after the end of the cold war, the world faces new dangers of nuclear attack from India, Pakistan, Iraq, al-Qaeda, and even the U.S.
Launching a special investigation into nuclear weapons, Paul Tibbets, the man who piloted the Enola Gay on its mission to Japan, tells Studs Terkel why he has no regrets — and why he wouldn't hesitate to use it again:
Studs Terkel (ST): We're seated here, two old gaffers, me and Paul Tibbets, 89 year-old retired Brigadier General in his home town of Columbus, Ohio, where has lived for many years.
Paul Tibbets (PT): Hey, you've got to correct that. I'm only 87. You said 89.
ST: I know. See, I'm 90. So I got you beat by three years. Now we've had a nice lunch, you and I and your companion. I noticed as we sat in that restaurant, people passed by. They didn't know who you were. But once upon a time, you flew a plane called the Enola Gay over the city of Hiroshima, Japan, on a Sunday morning — August 6 1945 — and a bomb fell. It was the atomic bomb, the first ever. And that particular moment changed the whole world around. You were the pilot of that plane.
PT: Yes, I was the pilot.
ST: And the Enola Gay was named after…
PT: My mother. She was Enola Gay Haggard before she married my dad, and my dad never supported me with the flying. He hated airplanes and motorcycles. When I told them I was going to leave college and go fly planes in the Army Air Corps, my dad said, “Well, I've sent you through school, bought you automobiles, given you money to run around with the girls, but from here on, you're on your own. If you want to go kill yourself, go ahead, I don't give a damn.” Then Mom just quietly said, “Paul, if you want to go fly airplanes, you're going to be all right.” And that was that.
ST: Where was that?
PT: Well, that was Miami, Florida. My dad had been in the real estate business down there for years, and at that time he was retired. And I was going to school at Gainesville, Florida, but I had to leave after two years and go to Cincinnati because Florida had no medical school.
ST: You were thinking of being a doctor?
PT: I didn't think that, my father thought it. He said, “You're going to be a doctor,” and I just nodded my head and that was it. And I started out that way; but about a year before, I was able to get into an airplane, fly it — I soloed — and I knew then that I had to go fly airplanes.
ST: Now by 1944 you were a pilot — a test pilot on the program to develop the B-29 bomber. When did you get word that you had a special assignment?
PT: One day in September 1944 I'm running a test on a B-29, I land, a man meets me. He says he just got a call from General Uzal Ent, Commander of the 2nd Air Force at Colorado Springs; he wants me in his office the next morning at nine o'clock. He said, “Bring your clothing - your B4 bag - because you're not coming back.” Well, I didn't know what it was and didn't pay any attention to it — it was just another assignment.
I got to Colorado Springs the next morning perfectly on time. A man named Lansdale met me, walked me to General Ent's office and closed the door behind me. With him was a man wearing a blue suit, a U.S. Navy captain — that was William Parsons, who flew with me to Hiroshima — and Dr Norman Ramsey, Columbia University professor in nuclear physics. And Norman said: “OK, we've got what we call the Manhattan Project. What we're doing is trying to develop an atomic bomb. We've gotten to the point now where we can't go much further till we have airplanes to work with.”
He gave me an explanation, which probably lasted 45, 50 minutes, and they left. General Ent looked at me and said, “The other day, General Arnold [Commander General of the Army Air Corps] offered me three names.” Both of the others were full colonels; I was Lieutenant Colonel. He said that when General Arnold asked which of them could do this atomic weapons deal, he replied without hesitation, “Paul Tibbets is the man to do it.” I said, “Well, thank you, sir.” Then he laid out what was going on and it was up to me now to put together an organization and train them to drop atomic weapons on both Europe and the Pacific - Tokyo.
ST: Interesting that they would have dropped it on Europe as well. We didn't know that.
PT: My edict was as clear as could be. Drop simultaneously in Europe and the Pacific because of the secrecy problem - you couldn't drop it in one part of the world without dropping it in the other. And so he said, “I don't know what to tell you, but I know you happen to have B-29s to start with. I've got a squadron in training in Nebraska - they have the best record so far of anybody we've got. I want you to go visit them, look at them, talk to them, do whatever you want. If they don't suit you, we'll get you some more.” He said: “There's nobody could tell you what you have to do because nobody knows. If we can do anything to help you, ask me.” I said thank you very much. He said, “Paul, be careful how you treat this responsibility, because if you're successful you'll probably be called a hero. And if you're unsuccessful, you might wind up in prison.”
ST: Did you know the power of an atomic bomb? Were you told about that?
PT: No, I didn't know anything at that time. But I knew how to put an organization together. He said, “Go take a look at the bases, and call me back and tell me which one you want.” I wanted to get back to Grand Island Nebraska, that's where my wife and two kids were, where my laundry was done and all that stuff. But I thought, “Well, I'll go to Wendover [Army airfield, in Utah] first and see what they've got.” As I came in over the hills I saw it was a beautiful spot. It had been a final staging place for units that were going through combat crew training, and the guys ahead of me were the last P-47 fighter outfit. This Lieutenant Colonel in charge said, “We've just been advised to stop here and I don't know what you want to do… but if it has anything to do with this base it's the most perfect base I've ever been on. You've got full machine shops, everybody's qualified, and they know what they want to do. It's a good place.”
ST: And now you chose your own crew.
PT: Well, I had mentally done it before that. I knew right away I was going to get Tom Ferebee [the Enola Gay's bombardier] and Theodore “Dutch” van Kirk [navigator] and Wyatt Duzenbury [flight engineer].
ST: Guys you had flown with in Europe?
ST: And now you're training. And you're also talking to physicists like Robert Oppenheimer [senior scientist on the Manhattan project].
PT: I think I went to Los Alamos [the Manhattan project HQ] three times, and each time I got to see Dr Oppenheimer working in his own environment. Later, thinking about it, here's a young man, a brilliant person. And he's a chain smoker and he drinks cocktails. And he hates fat men. And General Leslie Groves [the general in charge of the Manhattan project], he's a fat man, and he hates people who smoke and drink. The two of them are the first, original odd couple.
ST: They had a feud, Groves and Oppenheimer?
PT: Yeah, but neither one of them showed it. Each one of them had a job to do.
ST: Did Oppenheimer tell you about the destructive nature of the bomb?
ST: How did you know about that?
PT: From Dr Ramsey. He said the only thing we can tell you about it is, it's going to explode with the force of 20,000 tons of TNT. I'd never seen one pound of TNT blow up. I'd never heard of anybody who'd seen 100 pounds of TNT blow up. All I felt was that this was gonna be one hell of a big bang.
ST: Twenty thousand tons — that's equivalent to how many planes full of bombs?
PT: Well, I think the two bombs that we used [at Hiroshima and Nagasaki] had more power than all the bombs the Air Force had used during the war on Europe.
ST: So Ramsey told you about the possibilities.
PT: Even though it was still theory, whatever those guys told me, that's what happened. So I was ready to say I wanted to go to war, but I wanted to ask Oppenheimer how to get away from the bomb after we dropped it. I told him that when we had dropped bombs in Europe and North Africa, we'd flown straight ahead after dropping them — which is also the trajectory of the bomb. But what should we do this time? He said, “You can't fly straight ahead because you'd be right over the top when it blows up and nobody would ever know you were there.” He said I had to turn tangent to the expanding shockwave. I said, “Well, I've had some trigonometry, some physics. What is tangency in this case?” He said it was 159 degrees in either direction. “Turn 159 degrees as fast as you can and you'll be able to put yourself the greatest distance from where the bomb exploded.”
ST: How many seconds did you have to make that turn?
PT: I had dropped enough practice bombs to realize that the charges would blow around 1,500 feet in the air, so I would have 40 to 42 seconds to turn 159 degrees. I went back to Wendover as quick as I could and took the airplane up. I got to 25,000 feet, and I practiced turning, steeper, steeper, steeper and I got it where I could pull it round in 40 seconds. The tail was shaking dramatically and I was afraid of it breaking off, but I didn't quit. That was my goal. And I practiced and practiced until, without even thinking about it, I could do it in between 40 and 42, all the time. So, when that day came…
ST: You got the go-ahead on August 5.
PT: Yeah. We were in Tinian [the U.S. island base in the Pacific] at the time we got the OK. They had sent this Norwegian to the weather station out on Guam [the U.S.'s westernmost territory] and I had a copy of his report. We said that, based on his forecast, the 6th day of August would be the best day that we could get over Honshu [the island on which Hiroshima stands]. So we did everything that had to be done to get the crews ready to go: airplane loaded, crews briefed, all of the things checked that you have to check before you can fly over enemy territory.
General Groves had a Brigadier General who was connected to Washington D.C. by a special Teletype machine. He stayed close to that thing all the time, notifying people back there, all by code, that we were preparing these airplanes to go any time after midnight on the sixth. And that's the way it worked out. We were ready to go at about four o'clock in the afternoon on the fifth and we got word from the President that we were free to go: “Use 'em as you wish.” They give you a time you're supposed to drop your bomb on target and that was 9:15 in the morning, but that was Tinian time, one hour later than Japanese time. I told Dutch, “You figure it out what time we have to start after midnight to be over the target at 9 a.m.”
ST: That'd be Sunday morning.
PT: Well, we got going down the runway at right about 2.15 a.m. and we took off, we met our rendezvous guys, we made our flight up to what we call the initial point, that would be a geographic position that you could not mistake. Well, of course we had the best one in the world with the rivers and bridges and that big shrine. There was no mistaking what it was.
ST: So you had to have the right navigator to get it on the button.
PT: The airplane has a bombsight connected to the autopilot and the bombardier puts figures in there for where he wants to be when he drops the weapon, and that's transmitted to the airplane. We always took into account what would happen if we had a failure and the bomb bay doors didn't open: we had a manual release put in each airplane so it was right down by the bombardier and he could pull on that. And the guys in the airplanes that followed us to drop the instruments needed to know when it was going to go. We were told not to use the radio, but, hell, I had to. I told them I would say, “One minute out…30 seconds out…20 seconds, and 10, and then I'd count, 9. 8, 7, 6, 5, 4,” which would give them a time to drop their cargo. They knew what was going on because they knew where we were. And that's exactly the way it worked, it was absolutely perfect.
After we got the airplanes in formation I crawled into the tunnel and went back to tell the men, I said, “You know what we're doing today?” They said, “Well, yeah, we're going on a bombing mission.” I said, “Yeah, we're going on a bombing mission, but it's a little bit special.” My tail gunner, Bob Caron, was pretty alert. He said, “Colonel, we wouldn't be playing with atoms today, would we?” I said, “Bob, you've got it just exactly right.” So I went back up in the front end and I told the navigator, bombardier, flight engineer, in turn. I said, “OK, this is an atom bomb we're dropping.” They listened intently but I didn't see any change in their faces or anything else. Those guys were no idiots. We'd been fiddling round with the most peculiar-shaped things we'd ever seen.
So we're coming down. We get to that point where I say “one second” and by the time I'd got that second out of my mouth the airplane had lurched, because 10,000 pounds had come out of the front. I'm in this turn now, tight as I can get it, that helps me hold my altitude and helps me hold my airspeed and everything else all the way round. When I level out, the nose is a little bit high and as I look up there the whole sky is lit up in the prettiest blues and pinks I've ever seen in my life. It was just great.
I tell people I tasted it. “Well,” they say, “what do you mean?” When I was a child, if you had a cavity in your tooth the dentist put some mixture of some cotton or whatever it was and lead into your teeth and pounded them in with a hammer. I learned that if I had a spoon of ice cream and touched one of those teeth I got this electrolysis and I got the taste of lead out of it. And I knew right away what it was.
OK, we're all going. We had been briefed to stay off the radios: “Don't say a damn word, what we do is we make this turn, we're going to get out of here as fast as we can.” I want to get out over the Sea of Japan because I know they can't find me over there. With that done we're home free. Then Tom Ferebee has to fill out his bombardier's report and Dutch, the navigator, has to fill out a log. Tom is working on his log and says, “Dutch, what time were we over the target?” And Dutch says, “Nine-fifteen plus 15 seconds.” Ferebee says: “What lousy navigating. Fifteen seconds off!”
ST: Did you hear an explosion?
PT: Oh yeah. The shockwave was coming up at us after we turned. And the tail gunner said, “Here it comes.” About the time he said that, we got this kick in the ass. I had accelerometers installed in all airplanes to record the magnitude of the bomb. It hit us with two and a half G. Next day, when we got figures from the scientists on what they had learned from all the things, they said, “When that bomb exploded, your airplane was 10 and half miles away from it.”
ST: Did you see that mushroom cloud?
PT: You see all kinds of mushroom clouds, but they were made with different types of bombs. The Hiroshima bomb did not make a mushroom. It was what I call a stringer. It just came up. It was black as hell, and it had light and colors and white in it and gray color in it and the top was like a folded-up Christmas tree.
ST: Do you have any idea what happened down below?
PT: Pandemonium! I think it's best stated by one of the historians, who said: “In one micro-second, the city of Hiroshima didn't exist.”
ST: You came back, and you visited President Truman.
PT: We're talking 1948 now. I'm back in the Pentagon and I get notice from the Carl Spaatz, the first Chief of Staff of the Air Force. When we got to General Spaatz's office, General Doolittle was there, and a colonel named Dave Shillen. Spaatz said, “Gentlemen, I just got word from the President. He wants us to go over to his office immediately.” On the way over, Doolittle and Spaatz were doing some talking; I wasn't saying very much. When we got out of the car we were escorted right quick to the Oval Office. There was a black man there who always took care of Truman's needs and he said, “General Spaatz, will you please be facing the desk?” And now, facing the desk, Spaatz is on the right, Doolittle and Shillen. Of course, militarily speaking, that's the correct order: because Spaatz is senior, Doolittle has to sit to his left.
Then I was taken by this man and put in the chair that was right beside the President's desk, beside his left hand. Anyway, we got a cup of coffee and we got most of it consumed when Truman walked in and everybody stood on their feet. He said, “Sit down, please,” and he had a big smile on his face and he said, “General Spaatz, I want to congratulate you on being first Chief of the Air Force,” [because it was no longer the Army Air Corps]. Spaatz said, “Thank you, Sir, it's a great honor and I appreciate it.” And Truman said to Doolittle, “That was a magnificent thing you pulled flying off of that carrier,” and Doolittle said, “All in a day's work, Mr. President.” Then the President looked at Dave Shillen and said, “Colonel Shillen, I want to congratulate you on having the foresight to recognize the potential in aerial refueling. We're gonna need it some day.” And Shillen said thank you very much.”
Then he looked at me for 10 seconds and didn't say anything. And when he finally did, he said, “What do you think?” I said, “Mr. President, I think I did what I was told.” He slapped his hand on the table and said, “You're damn right you did, and I'm the guy who sent you. If anybody gives you a hard time about it, refer them to me.”
ST: Anybody ever give you a hard time?
PT: Nobody gave me a hard time.
ST: Do you ever have any second thoughts about the bomb?
PT: Second thoughts? No. Studs, look. Number one, I got into the Air Corps to defend the United States to the best of my ability. That's what I believe in and that's what I work for. Number two; I'd had so much experience with airplanes… I'd had jobs where there was no particular direction about how you do it and then of course I put this thing together with my own thoughts on how it should be because when I got the directive I was to be self-supporting at all times.
On the way to the target I was thinking: I can't think of any mistakes I've made. Maybe I did make a mistake: maybe I was too damned assured. At 29 years of age I was so shot in the ass with confidence I didn't think there was anything I couldn't do. Of course, that applied to airplanes and people. So, no, I had no problem with it. I knew we did the right thing because when I knew we'd be doing that I thought, yes, we're going to kill a lot of people, but by God we're going to save a lot of lives. We won't have to invade Japan.
ST: Why did they drop the second one on Nagasaki?
PT: Unknown to anybody else — I knew it, but nobody else knew — there was a third one. See, the first bomb went off and they didn't hear anything out of the Japanese for two or three days. The second bomb was dropped and again they were silent for another couple of days. Then I got a phone call from General Curtis LeMay [Chief of Staff of the Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific]. He said, “You got another one of those damn things?” I said, “Yes Sir.” He said, “Where is it?” I said, “Over in Utah.” He said, “Get it out here. You and your crew are going to fly it.” I said, “Yes Sir.” I sent word back and the crew loaded it on an airplane and we headed back to bring it right on out to Trinian and when they got it to California debarkation point, the war was over.
ST: What did General Lemay have in mind with the third one?
PT: Nobody knows.
ST: One big question. Since September 11, what are your thoughts? People talk about nukes, the hydrogen bomb.
PT: Let's put it this way. I don't know any more about these terrorists than you do, I know nothing. When they bombed the Trade Center I couldn't believe what was going on. We've fought many enemies at different times. But we knew who they were and where they were. These people, we don't know who they are or where they are. That's the point that bothers me. Because they're gonna strike again, I'll put money on it. And it's going to be damned dramatic. But they're gonna do it in their own sweet time. We've got to get into a position where we can kill the bastards. None of this business of taking them to court, the hell with that. I wouldn't waste five seconds on them.
ST: What about the bomb? Einstein said the world has changed since the atom was split.
PT: That's right. It has changed.
ST: And Oppenheimer knew that.
PT: Oppenheimer is dead. He did something for the world and people don't understand. And it is a free world.
ST: One last thing, when you hear people say, “Let's nuke 'em, let's nuke these people,” what do you think?
PT: Oh, I wouldn't hesitate if I had the choice. I'd wipe 'em out. You're gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we've never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn't kill innocent people. If the newspapers would just cut out the shit: “You've killed so many civilians.” That's their tough luck for being there.
ST: By the way, I forgot to say Enola Gay was originally called number 82. How did your mother feel about having her name on it?
PT: Well, I can only tell you what my dad said. My mother never changed her expression very much about anything, whether it was serious or light, but when she'd get tickled, her stomach would jiggle. My dad said to me that when the telephone in Miami rang, my mother was quiet first. Then, when it was announced on the radio, he said: “You should have seen the old gal's belly jiggle on that one.”
(WWII) OPERATION DOWNFALL
Note from Jug: This is a bit long, but eerily interesting, especially to WWII veterans who were part of it. Millions of us would not have survived had this invasion occurred.
AN INVASION NOT FOUND IN HISTORY BOOKS
By James Martin Davis
Reprinted from the Omaha World Herald, November 1987
Deep in the recesses of the National Archives in Washington, D.C., hidden for nearly four decades lie thousands of pages of yellowing and dusty documents stamped “Top Secret”. These documents, now declassified, are the plans for Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan during World War II.
Only a few Americans in 1945 were aware of the elaborate plans that had been prepared for the Allied Invasion of the Japanese home islands. Even fewer today are aware of the defenses the Japanese had prepared to counter the invasion had it been launched.
Operation Downfall was finalized during the spring and summer of 1945. It called for two massive military undertakings to be carried out in succession and aimed at the heart of the Japanese Empire.
In the first invasion - code named Operation Olympic - American combat troops would land on Japan by amphibious assault during the early morning hours of November 1, 1945 - (more than) 50 years ago. Fourteen combat divisions of soldiers and Marines would land on heavily fortified and defended Kyushu, the southernmost of the Japanese home islands, after an unprecedented naval and aerial bombardment.
The second invasion on March 1, 1946 - code named Operation Coronet - would send at least 22 divisions against 1 million Japanese defenders on the main island of Honshu and the Tokyo Plain. It's goal: the unconditional surrender of Japan.
With the exception of a part of the British Pacific Fleet, Operation Downfall was to be a strictly American operation. It called for using the entire Marine Corps, the entire Pacific Navy, elements of the 7th Army Air Force, the 8 Air Force (recently redeployed from Europe), 10th Air Force and the American Far Eastern Air Force. More than 1.5 million combat soldiers, with 3 million more in support or more than 40% of all servicemen still in uniform in 1945 - would be directly involved in the two amphibious assaults. Casualties were expected to be extremely heavy.
Admiral William Leahy estimated that there would be more than 250,000 Americans killed or wounded on Kyushu alone. General Charles Willoughby, chief of intelligence for General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific, estimated American casualties would be one million men by the fall of 1946. Willoughby's own intelligence staff considered this to be a conservative estimate.
During the summer of 1945, America had little time to prepare for such an endeavor, but top military leaders were in almost unanimous agreement that an invasion was necessary.
While naval blockade and strategic bombing of Japan was considered to be useful, General MacArthur, for instance, did not believe a blockade would bring about an unconditional surrender. The advocates for invasion agreed that while a naval blockade chokes, it does not kill; and though strategic bombing might destroy cities, it leaves whole armies intact.
So on May 25, 1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after extensive deliberation, issued to General MacArthur, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and Army Air Force General Henry Arnold, the top secret directive to proceed with the invasion of Kyushu. The target date was after the typhoon season.
President Truman approved the plans for the invasions July 24. Two days later, the United Nations issued the Potsdam Proclamation, which called upon Japan to surrender unconditionally or face total destruction. Three days later, the Japanese governmental news agency broadcast to the world that Japan would ignore the proclamation and would refuse to surrender. During this same period it was learned — via monitoring Japanese radio broadcasts — that Japan had closed all schools and mobilized its schoolchildren, was arming its civilian population and was fortifying caves and building underground defenses.
Operation Olympic called for a four pronged assault on Kyushu. Its purpose was to seize and control the southern one-third of that island and establish naval and air bases, to tighten the naval blockade of the home islands, to destroy units of the main Japanese army and to support the later invasion of the Tokyo Plain.
The preliminary invasion would began October 27 when the 40th Infantry Division would land on a series of small islands west and southwest of Kyushu. At the same time, the 158th Regimental Combat Team would invade and occupy a small island 28 miles south of Kyushu.
On these islands, seaplane bases would be established and radar would be set up to provide advance air warning for the invasion fleet, to serve as fighter direction centers for the carrier-based aircraft and to provide an emergency anchorage for the invasion fleet, should things not go well on the day of the invasion. As the invasion grew imminent, the massive firepower of the Navy - the Third and Fifth Fleets - would approach Japan.
The Third Fleet, under Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, with its big guns and naval aircraft, would provide strategic support for the operation against Honshu and Hokkaido. Halsey's fleet would be composed of battleships, heavy cruisers, destroyers, dozens of support ships and three fast carrier task groups. From these carriers, hundreds of Navy fighters, dive bombers and torpedo planes would hit targets all over the island of Honshu.
The 3,000 ship Fifth Fleet, under Admiral Raymond Spruance, would carry the invasiontroops.
Several days before the invasion, the battleships, heavy cruisers and destroyers would pour thousands of tons of high explosives into the target areas. They would not cease the bombardment until after the land forces had been launched.
During the early morning hours of November 1, the invasion would begin. Thousands of soldiers and Marines would pour ashore on beaches all along the eastern, southeastern, southern and western coasts of Kyushu. Waves of Helldivers, Dauntless dive bombers, Avengers, Corsairs, and Hellcats from 66 aircraft carriers would bomb, rocket and strafe enemy defenses, gun emplacements and troop concentrations along the beaches.
The Eastern Assault Force consisting of the 25th, 33rd and 41st Infantry Divisions would land near Miyaski, at beaches called Austin, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Ford, and move inland to attempt to capture the city and its nearby airfield. The Southern Assault Force, consisting of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 43rd Division and American Division would land inside Ariake Bay at beaches labeled DeSoto, Dusenberg, Essex, Ford, and Franklin and attempt to capture Shibushi and the city of Kanoya and its airfield.
On the western shore of Kyushu, at beaches Pontiac, Reo, Rolls Royce, Saxon, Star, Studebaker, Stutz, Winston and Zephyr, the V Amphibious Corps would land the 2nd, 3rd and 5th Marine Divisions, sending half of its force inland to Sendai and the other half to the port city of Kagoshima.
On November 4, the Reserve Force, consisting of the 81st and 98th Infantry Divisions and the 11th Airborne Division, after feigning an attack of the island of Shikoku, would be landed — if not needed elsewhere — near Kaimondake, near the southernmost tip of Kagoshima Bay, at the beaches designated Locomobile, Lincoln, LaSalle, Hupmobile, Moon, Mercedes, Maxwell, Overland, Oldsmobile, Packard and Plymouth.
Olympic was not just a plan for invasion, but for conquest and occupation as well. It was expected to take four months to achieve its objective, with the three fresh American divisions per month to be landed in support of that operation if needed.
If all went well with Olympic, Coronet would be launched March 1, 1946. Coronet would be twice the size of Olympic, with as many as 28 divisions landing on Honshu.
All along the coast east of Tokyo, the American 1st Army would land the 5th, 7th, 27th, 44th, 86th, and 96th Infantry Divisions along with the 4th and 6th Marine Divisions.
At Sagami Bay, just south of Tokyo, the entire 8th and 10th Armies would strike north and east to clear the long western shore of Tokyo Bay and attempt to go as far as Yokohama. The assault troops landing south of Tokyo would be the 4th, 6th, 8th, 24th, 31st, 37th, 38th and 8th Infantry Divisions, along with the 13th and 20th Armored Divisions.
Following the initial assault, eight more divisions - the 2nd, 28th, 35th, 91st, 95th, 97th and 104th Infantry Divisions and the 11th Airborne Division would be landed. If additional troops were needed, as expected, other divisions redeployed from Europe and undergoing training in the United States would be shipped to Japan in what was hoped to be the final push.
Captured Japanese documents and post war interrogations of Japanese military leaders disclose that information concerning the number of Japanese planes available for the defense of the home islands was dangerously in error.
During the sea battle at Okinawa alone, Japanese kamakaze aircraft sank 32 Allied ships and damaged more than 400 others. But during the summer of 1945, American top brass concluded that the Japanese had spent their air force since American bombers and fighters daily flew unmolested over Japan.
What the military leaders did not know was that by the end of July the Japanese had been saving all aircraft, fuel, and pilots in reserve, and had been feverishly building new planes for the decisive battle for their homeland.
As part of Ketsu-Go, the name for the plan to defend Japan, the Japanese were building 20 suicide takeoff strips in southern Kyushu with underground hangars. They also had 35 camouflaged airfields and nine seaplane bases.
On the night before the expected invasion, 50 Japanese seaplane bombers, 100 former carrier aircraft and 50 land based army planes were to be launched in a suicide attack on the fleet.
The Japanese had 58 more airfields in Korea, western Honshu and Shikoku, which also were to be used for massive suicide attacks.
Allied intelligence had established that the Japanese had no more than 2,500 aircraft of which they guessed 300 would be deployed in suicide attacks. In August 1945, however, unknown to Allied intelligence, the Japanese still had 5, 651 army and 7,074 navy aircraft, for a total of 12, 725 planes of all types. Every village had some type of aircraft manufacturing activity. Hidden in mines, railway tunnels, under viaducts and in basements of department stores, work was being done to construct new planes.
Additionally, the Japanese were building newer and more effective models of the Okka, a rocket-propelled bomb much like the German V-1, but flown by a suicide pilot.
When the invasion became imminent, Ketsu-Go called for a fourfold aerial plan of attack to destroy up to 800 Allied ships.
While Allied ships were approaching Japan, but still in the open seas, an initial force of 2,000 army and navy fighters were to fight to the
death to control the skies over Kyushu. A second force of 330 navy combat pilots were to attack the main body of the task force to keep it from using its fire support and air cover to protect the troop carrying transports. While these two forces were engaged, a third force of 825 suicide planes was to hit the American transports.
As the invasion convoys approached their anchorages, another 2,000 suicide planes were to be launched in waves of 200 to 300, to be used in hour by hour attacks.
By mid-morning of the first day of the invasion, most of the American land-based aircraft would be forced to return to their bases, leaving the defense against the suicide planes to the carrier pilots and the shipboard gunners.
Carrier pilots crippled by fatigue would have to land time and time again to rearm and refuel. Guns would malfunction from the heat of continuous firing and ammunition would become scarce. Gun crews would be exhausted by nightfall, but still the waves of kamikaze would continue. With the fleet hovering off the beaches, all remaining Japanese aircraft would be committed to nonstop suicide attacks, which the Japanese hoped could be sustained for 10 days. The Japanese planned to coordinate their air strikes with attacks from the 40 remaining submarines from the Imperial Navy — some armed with Long Lance torpedoes with a range of 20 miles — when the invasion fleet was 180 miles off Kyushu.
The Imperial Navy had 23 destroyers and two cruisers which were operational. These ships were to be used to counterattack the American invasion. A number of the destroyers were to be beached at the last minute to be used as anti-invasion gun platforms.
Once offshore, the invasion fleet would be forced to defend not only against the attacks from the air, but would also be confronted with suicide attacks from sea. Japan had established a suicide naval attack unit of midget submarines, human torpedoes and exploding motorboats.
The goal of the Japanese was to shatter the invasion before the landing. The Japanese were convinced the Americans would back off or become so demoralized that they would then accept a less-than-unconditional surrender
and a more honorable and face-saving end for the Japanese.
But as horrible as the battle of Japan would be off the beaches, it would be on Japanese soil that the American forces would face the most rugged and fanatical defense encountered during the war.
Throughout the island-hopping Pacific campaign, Allied troops had always out numbered the Japanese by 2 to 1 and sometimes 3 to 1. In Japan it would be different. By virtue of a combination of cunning, guesswork, and brilliant military reasoning, a number of Japan's top military leaders were able to deduce, not only when, but where, the United States would land its first invasion forces.
Facing the 14 American divisions landing at Kyushu would be 14 Japanese divisions, 7 independent mixed brigades, 3 tank brigades and thousands of naval troops. On Kyushu the odds would be 3 to 2 in favor of the Japanese, with 790,000 enemy defenders against 550,000 Americans. This time the bulk of the Japanese defenders would not be the poorly trained and ill-equipped labor battalions that the Americans had faced in the earlier campaigns.
The Japanese defenders would be the hard core of the home army. These troops were well-fed and well equipped. They were familiar with the terrain, had stockpiles of arms and ammunition, and had developed an effective system of transportation and supply almost invisible from the air. Many of these Japanese troops were the elite of the army, and they were swollen with a fanatical fighting spirit.
Japan's network of beach defenses consisted of offshore mines, thousands of suicide scuba divers attacking landing craft, and mines planted on the beaches. Coming ashore, the American Eastern amphibious assault forces at Miyazaki would face three Japanese divisions, and two others poised for counterattack. Awaiting the Southeastern attack force at Ariake Bay was an entire division and at least one mixed infantry brigade.
On the western shores of Kyushu, the Marines would face the most brutal opposition. Along the invasion beaches would be the three Japanese divisions , a tank brigade, a mixed infantry brigade and an artillery command. Components of two divisions would also be poised to launch counterattacks.
If not needed to reinforce the primary landing beaches, the American Reserve Force would be landed at the base of Kagoshima Bay November 4, where they would be confronted by two mixed infantry brigades, parts of two infantry divisions and thousands of naval troops.
All along the invasion beaches, American troops would face coastal batteries, anti-landing obstacles and a network of heavily fortified pillboxes, bunkers, and underground fortresses. As Americans waded ashore, they would face intense artillery and mortar fire as they worked their way through concrete rubble and barbed-wire entanglements arranged to funnel them into the muzzles of these Japanese guns.
On the beaches and beyond would be hundreds of Japanese machine gun positions, beach mines, booby traps, trip-wire mines and sniper units. Suicide units concealed in “spider holes” would engage the troops as they passed nearby. In the heat of battle, Japanese infiltration units would be sent to reap havoc in the American lines by cutting phone and communication lines.
Some of the Japanese troops would be in American uniform, English-speaking Japanese officers were assigned to break in on American radio traffic to call off artillery fire, to order retreats and to further confuse troops. Other infiltration with demolition charges strapped on their chests or backs would attempt to blow up American tanks, artillery pieces and ammunition stores as they were unloaded ashore.
Beyond the beaches were large artillery pieces situated to bring down a curtain of fire on the beach. Some of these large guns were mounted on railroad tracks running in and out of caves protected by concrete and steel.
The battle for Japan would be won by what Simon Bolivar Buckner, a lieutenant general in the Confederate army during the Civil War, had called “Prairie Dog Warfare.” This type of fighting was almost unknown to the ground troops in Europe and the Mediterranean. It was peculiar only to the soldiers and Marines who fought the Japanese on islands all over the Pacific — at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Prairie Dog Warfare was a battle for yards, feet and sometimes inches. It was brutal, deadly and dangerous form of combat aimed at an underground, heavily fortified, non-retreating enemy.
In the mountains behind the Japanese beaches were underground networks of caves, bunkers, command posts and hospitals connected by miles of tunnels with dozens of entrances and exits. Some of these complexes could hold up to 1,000 troops.
In addition to the use of poison gas and bacteriological warfare (which the Japanese had experimented with), Japan mobilized its citizenry.
Had Olympic come about, the Japanese civilian population, inflamed by a national slogan - “One Hundred Million Will Die for the Emperor and Nation” - were prepared to fight to the death. Twenty Eight Million Japanese had become a part of the National Volunteer Combat Force. They were armed with ancient rifles, lunge mines, satchel charges, Molotov cocktails and one-shot black powder mortars. Others were armed with swords, long bows, axes and bamboo spears. The civilian units were to be used in nighttime attacks, hit and run maneuvers, delaying actions and massive suicide charges at the weaker American positions.
At the early stage of the invasion, 1,000 Japanese and American soldiers would be dying every hour.
The invasion of Japan never became a reality because on August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Within days the war with Japan was at a close.
Had these bombs not been dropped and had the invasion been launched as scheduled, combat casualties in Japan would have been at a minimum of the tens of thousands. Every foot of Japanese soil would have been paid for by Japanese and American lives.
One can only guess at how many civilians would have committed suicide in their homes or in futile mass military attacks.
In retrospect, the 1 million American men who were to be the casualties of the invasion, were instead lucky enough to survive the war.
Intelligence studies and military estimates made 50 years ago, and not latter-day speculation, clearly indicate that the battle for Japan might well have resulted in the biggest blood-bath in the history of modern warfare.
Far worse would be what might have happened to Japan as a nation and as a culture. When the invasion came, it would have come after several months of fire bombing all of the remaining Japanese cities. The cost in human life that resulted from the two atomic blasts would be small in comparison to the total number of Japanese lives that would have been lost by this aerial devastation.
With American forces locked in combat in the south of Japan, little could have prevented the Soviet Union from marching into the northern half of the Japanese home islands. Japan today cold be divided much like Korea and Germany.
The world was spared the cost of Operation Downfall, however, because Japan formally surrendered to the United Nations September 2, 1945, and World War II was over.
The aircraft carriers, cruisers and transport ships scheduled to carry the invasion troops to Japan, ferried home American troops in a gigantic operation called Magic Carpet.
In the fall of 1945, in the aftermath of the war, few people concerned themselves with the invasion plans. Following the surrender, the classified documents, maps, diagrams and appendices for Operation Downfall were packed away in boxes and eventually stored at the National Archives.
These plans that called for the invasion of Japan paint a vivid description of what might have been one of the most horrible campaigns in the history of man. The fact that the story of the invasion of Japan is locked up in the National Archives and is not told in our history books is something for which all Americans can be thankful.
War means death, on whatever scale, and we all decry the loss of a single casualty. But the naysayers of the current struggle in Iraq should read the following article about WWII to gain perspective on war losses and realize that the long-range danger of an insurgent enemy makes it imperitive not to quit until our mission is complete. - Jug
VICTORY: COST AND VALUE
Forwarded by BGen Robert Clements USAF (Retired)
The price paid for Okinawa was dear. The final toll of American casualties was the highest experienced in any campaign against the Japanese. Total American battle casualties were 49,151, of which 12,520 were killed or missing and 36,631 wounded:
- Army losses were 4,582 killed, 93 missing, and 18,000 wounded;
- Marine losses, including those of the Tactical Air Force, were 2,938 killed and missing and 13,708 wounded; * Navy casualties totaled 4,907 killed and missing and 4,824 wounded.
- Non-battle casualties during the campaign amounted to 15,613 for the Army and 10,598 for the Marines.
- The losses in ships were 36 sunk and 368 damaged, most of them as a result of air action.
- Losses in the air were 763 planes from 1 April to 1 July.
The high cost of the victory was due to the fact that the battle had been fought against a capably led Japanese army of greater strength than anticipated, over difficult terrain heavily and expertly fortified, and thousands of miles from home. The campaign had lasted considerably longer than was expected. But Americans had demonstrated again on Okinawa that they could, ultimately, wrest from the Japanese whatever ground they wanted.
The cost of the battle to the Japanese was even higher than to the Americans. Approximately 110,000 of the enemy lost their lives in the attempt to hold Okinawa, and 7,400 more were taken prisoners. The enemy lost 7,800 airplanes, 16 ships sunk, and 4 ships damaged. More important, the Japanese lost 640 square miles of territory within 350 miles of Kyushu.
The military value of Okinawa exceeded all hope. It was sufficiently large to mount great numbers of troops; it provided numerous airfield sites close to the enemy's homeland; and it furnished fleet anchorage helping the Navy to keep in action at Japan's doors. As soon as the fighting ended, American forces on Okinawa set themselves to preparing for the battles on the main islands of Japan, their thoughts sober as they remembered the bitter bloodshed behind and also envisioned an even more desperate struggle to come.
The sequel to Okinawa, however, was contrary to all expectation. In the midst of feverish preparations on the island in August 1945, with the day for the assault on Kyushu drawing near, there came the almost unbelievable and joyous news that the war was over.
The battle of Okinawa was the last of World War II.
(WWII) PIGGYBACK HERO
Written on 12 Aug 2003 by Ralph Kenney Bennett [http://www.techcentralstation.com/081203A.html ].
Forwarded by Don and Beth Waterworth
Tomorrow morning they'll lay the remains of Glenn Rojohn to rest in the Peace Lutheran Cemetery in the little town of Greenock, Pa., just southeast of Pittsburgh. He was 81, and had been in the air conditioning and plumbing business in nearby McKeesport. If you had seen him on the street he would probably have looked to you like so many other graying, bespectacled old World War II veterans whose names appear so often now on obituary pages.
But like so many of them, though he seldom talked about it, he could have told you one great story. He won the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart all in one fell swoop in the skies over Germany on December 31, 1944. Fell swoop indeed.
Capt. Glenn Rojohn, of the 8th Air Force's 100th Bomb Group was flying his B-17G Flying Fortress bomber on a raid over Hamburg. His formation had braved heavy flak to drop their bombs, then turned 180 degrees to head out over the North Sea. They had finally turned northwest, headed back to England, when they were jumped by German fighters at 22,000 feet. The Messerschmitt Me-109s pressed their attack so closely that Capt. Rojohn could see the faces of the German pilots.
He and other pilots fought to remain in formation so they could use each other's guns to defend the group. Rojohn saw a B-17 ahead of him burst into flames and slide sickeningly toward the earth. He gunned his ship forward to fill in the gap. He felt a huge impact. The big bomber shuddered, felt suddenly very heavy and began losing altitude. Rojohn grasped almost immediately that he had collided with another plane. A B-17 below him, piloted by Lt. William G. McNab, had slammed the top of its fuselage into the bottom of Rojohn's.
The top turret gun of McNab's plane was now locked in the belly of Rojohn's plane and the ball turret in the belly of Rojohn's had smashed through the top of McNab's. The two bombers were almost perfectly aligned — the tail of the lower plane was slightly to the left of Rojohn's tailpiece. They were stuck together, as a crewman later recalled, “like mating dragon flies.”
Three of the engines on the bottom plane were still running, as were all four of Rojohn's. The fourth engine on the lower bomber was on fire and the flames were spreading to the rest of the aircraft. The two were losing altitude quickly. Rojohn tried several times to gun his engines and break free of the other plane. The two were inextricably locked together. Fearing a fire, Rojohn cut his engines and rang the bailout bell. For his crew to have any chance of parachuting, he had to keep the plane under control somehow.
The ball turret, hanging below the belly of the B-17, was considered by many to be a death trap — the worst station on the bomber. In this case, both ball turrets figured in a swift and terrible drama of life and death. Staff Sgt. Edward L. Woodall, Jr., in the ball turret of the lower bomber had felt the impact of the collision above him and saw shards of metal drop past him. Worse, he realized both electrical and hydraulic power was gone.
Remembering escape drills, he grabbed the hand crank, released the clutch and cranked the turret and its guns until they were straight down, then turned and climbed out the back of the turret up into the fuselage. Once inside the plane's belly Woodall saw a chilling sight, the ball turret of the other bomber protruding through the top of the fuselage. In that turret, hopelessly trapped, was Staff Sgt. Joseph Russo. Several crew members of Rojohn's plane tried frantically to crank Russo's turret around so he could escape, but, jammed into the fuselage of the lower plane, it would not budge. Perhaps unaware that his voice was going out over the intercom of his plane, Sgt. Russo began reciting his Hail Marys.
Up in the cockpit, Capt. Rojohn and his co-pilot 2nd Lt. William G. Leek, Jr., had propped their feet against the instrument panel so they could pull back on their controls with all their strength, trying to prevent their plane from going into a spinning dive that would prevent the crew from jumping out. Capt. Rojohn motion left and the two managed to wheel the huge, collision-born hybrid of a plane back toward the German coast. Leek felt like he was intruding on Sgt. Russo as his prayers crackled over the radio, so he pulled off his flying helmet with its earphones.
Rojohn, immediately grasping that crew could not exit from the bottom of his plane, ordered his top turret gunner and his radio operator, Tech Sgts. Orville Elkin and Edward G. Neuhaus to make their way to the back of the fuselage and out the waist door on the left behind the wing. Then he got his navigator, 2nd Lt. Robert Washington, and his bombardier, Sgt. James Shirley to follow them. As Rojohn and Leek somehow held the plane steady, these four men, as well as waist gunner, Sgt. Roy Little, and tail gunner, Staff Sgt. Francis Chase, were able to bail out.
Now the plane locked below them was aflame. Fire poured over Rojohn's left wing. He could feel the heat from the plane below and hear the sound of 50 machinegun ammunition “cooking off” in the flames. Capt. Rojohn ordered Lieut. Leek to bail out. Leek knew that without him helping keep the controls back, the plane would drop in a flaming spiral and the centrifugal force would prevent Rojohn from bailing. He refused the order.
Meanwhile, German soldiers and civilians on the ground that afternoon looked up in wonder. Some of them thought they were seeing a new Allied secret weapon — a strange eight-engine double bomber. But anti-aircraft gunners on the North Sea coastal island of Wangerooge had seen the collision.
A German battery captain wrote in his logbook at 12:47 p.m.: “Two fortresses collided in a formation in the NE. The planes flew hooked together and flew 20 miles south. The two planes were unable to fight anymore. The crash could be awaited so I stopped the firing at these two planes.”
Suspended in his parachute in the cold December sky, Bob Washington watched with deadly fascination as the mated bombers, trailing black smoke, fell to earth about three miles away, their downward trip ending in an ugly boiling blossom of fire.
In the cockpit Rojohn and Leek held grimly to the controls trying to ride a falling rock. Leek tersely recalled, “The ground came up faster and faster. Praying was allowed. We gave it one last effort and slammed into the ground.”
The McNab plane on the bottom exploded, vaulting the other B-17 upward and forward. It slammed back to the ground, sliding along until its left wing slammed through a wooden building and the smoldering mess of came to a stop. Rojohn and Leek were still seated in their cockpit. The nose of the plane was relatively intact, but everything from the B-17 massive wings back was destroyed. They looked at each other incredulously. Neither was badly injured.
Movies have nothing on reality. Still perhaps in shock, Leek crawled out through a huge hole behind the cockpit, felt for the familiar pack in his uniform pocket pulled out a cigarette. He placed it in his mouth and was about to light it. Then he noticed a young German soldier pointing a rifle at him. The soldier looked scared and annoyed. He grabbed the cigarette out of Leak's mouth and pointed down to the gasoline pouring out over the wing from a ruptured fuel tank.
Two of the six men who parachuted from Rojohn's plane did not survive the jump. But the other four and, amazingly, four men from the other bomber, including ball turret gunner Woodall, survived. All were taken prisoner. Several of them were interrogated at length by the Germans until they were satisfied that what had crashed was not a new American secret weapon.
Rojohn, typically, didn't talk much about his Distinguished Flying Cross. Of Leek, he said, “In all fairness to my co-pilot, he's the reason I'm alive today.”
Like so many veterans, Rojohn got unsentimentally back to life after the war, marrying and raising a son and daughter. For many years, though, he tried to link back up with Leek, going through government records to try to track him down. It took him 40 years, but in 1986, he found the number of Leeks' mother, in Washington State.
Yes, her son Bill was visiting from California. Would Rojohn like to speak with him? Some things are better left unsaid. One can imagine that first conversation between the two men who had shared that wild ride in the cockpit of a B-17. A year later, the two were re-united at a reunion of the 100th Bomb Group in Long Beach, Calif.
Bill Leek died the following year.
Glenn Rojohn was the last survivor of the remarkable piggyback flight. He was like thousands upon thousands of men, soda jerks and lumberjacks, teachers and dentists, students and lawyers and service station attendants and store clerks and farm boys who in the prime of their lives went to war.
Capt. Glenn Rojohn, AAF, died last Saturday after a long siege of sickness. But he apparently faced that final battle with the same grim aplomb he displayed that remarkable day over Germany so long ago.
Let us be thankful for such men.
Forwarded by p38bob
This is worth reading several times in order to understand what really happened during World War II. You might pass this on to a teacher or professor of American History - as well as your kids and grandkids.
As the world commemorated the 60th anniversary of the end of the European Theater of World War II, revisionism was the norm. In the last few years, new books and articles have argued for a complete rethinking of the war. The only consistent theme in this various second-guessing was a diminution of the American contribution and suspicion of our very motives.
Indeed, most recent op-eds commemorating VE Day either blamed the United States for Hamburg or for the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, or for our supposed failure to credit the Russians for their sacrifices.
It is true that the Russians paid a horrendous price. And perhaps two out of every three soldiers of the Wehrmacht fell on the Eastern Front. We in the West must always remember that such a tragic sacrifice allowed Hitler to be defeated with far less American, British, Canadian, and Australian dead.
That being said, the Anglo-Americans waged a global war well beyond the capability of the Soviet Union. They invaded North Africa, took Sicily, and landed in Italy, in addition to fighting a massive land war in central Europe. We had fewer casualties than did the Russians because we fought more wisely, were better equipped, and were not surprised to the same degree by a treacherous former ally that we had supplied.
The Soviets invaded the defeated Japanese only in the last days of the war; the Anglo-Americans alone took on two fronts simultaneously. Submarine warfare, attacking the Japanese and German surface fleets, conducting strategic bombing over Berlin and Tokyo, and sending tons of supplies to Allied forces - all this was beyond the capability of the Red Army.
More important, Stalin had been an ally of Hitler until the Nazi invasion of 1941, and had unleashed the Red Army to destroy the freedom of Finland and to carve up Poland.
Do we ever read these days that when the Luftwaffte bombed Britain, Russia was sending the Nazis fuel and iron ore? When Germany invaded Russia, however, Britain sent food and supplies.
Yes, World War II started to free Eastern Europe from fascist totalitarianism, and ended up ensuring that it would be enslaved by Soviet totalitarianism.
But Roosevelt and Churchill were faced with an inescapable reality in 1945 that to keep the Russians out of Eastern Europe they would have had to restart the war against their former ally that possessed it - a conflict that might well have gone nuclear in two or three years.
The latter had been in great part armed and supplied for four years by their own taxpaying democratic citizenries. The Red Army was near home in Eastern Europe; the American 3rd Army was 5,000 miles from the United States.
Of course, we bombed German civilian centers. But in a total war when 10,000 a day were being gassed in the death camps, and Nazi armies in the Balkans, Russia, and Western Europe were routinely murdering thousands a week and engaged in breakneck efforts to create ballistic missiles, sophisticated jets, and worse weapons, there were very few options in stopping such a monstrous regime. This was an age, remember, before computer guidance, GPS targeting systems, and laser-guided bombs.
When the lumbering and often unescorted bombers started out against Europe and Japan, the Axis infrastructure of death - rails, highways, communications, warehouses, and decentralized production - was intact. When the bombers finished their horrific work, the economies of both Axis powers were near ruin. Armies that were systematically murdering millions of innocents in forgotten places like Yugoslavia, Poland, the Philippines, Korea, and China were running out of fuel, ammunition, and food.
Revisionism holds a strange attraction for the winners of World War II. American textbooks discuss World War II as if a Patton, Le May, or Nimitz did not exist, as if the war was essentially the Japanese internment and Hiroshima.
That blinkered and politically correct focus explains why so many Americans under 30 are simply ignorant about the nature and course of World War II itself. Similarly, the British have monthly debates on the immorality of their bombing Hamburg and Dresden.
In dire contrast, even the post-Soviet Russian government will not speak of the Stalin-Hitler non-aggression pact, the absorption of the Baltic states, the murder of millions of German citizens in April through June 1945 in Eastern Europe, and the mass execution of Polish officers. If we were to listen to the Chinese, World War II was about the gallant work of Mao's partisans, who in fact used the war to gain power, and then went on to kill 50 million of their own citizens - about the same number lost in all of World War II.
Japan likewise has never come to terms with the millions of Asian civilians its armies butchered or its systematic brutality waged against American POWs.
The truth is that the supposedly biased West discusses the contribution of others far more than our former enemies - or Russian and Chinese allies - credit the British or Americans.
The German novelist Gunter Grass - who served in the Wehrmacht - recently lectured in the New York Times about postwar “power blocs,” in terms that suggested the Soviets and the Americans had been morally equivalent. German problems of reunification, he tells us, were mostly due to a capitalist West, not a Communist East that caused them.
Grass advances the odd idea that Germany was not liberated from American hegemony (“unconditional subservience”) until Mr. Schroeder's recent anti-Bush campaign distanced the Germans from the United States. To read this ahistorical sophistry of Grass is to forget recent European and Russian complicity in arming Saddam, their forging of sweetheart oil deals with the Baathist dictatorship, and the disturbing German anti-Semitic rhetoric that followed Schroeder's antics.
Unmentioned are the billions of American dollars and years of vigilance that kept the Red Army out of Western Germany, or the paradox that the United States is ready to leave Germany on a moment's notice - which might explain the efforts of the Schroeder government to keep our troops there.
There is a pattern here. Western elites - beneficiaries of 60 years of peace and prosperity achieved by the sacrifices to defeat fascism and Communism - are unhappy in their late middle age, and show little gratitude for, or any idea about, what gave them such latitude. If they cannot find perfection in history, they see no good at all.
So leisured American academics tell us that Iwo Jima was unnecessary, if not a racist campaign, that Hiroshima had little military value but instead was a strategic ploy to impress Stalin, and that the GI was racist, undisciplined, and reliant only on money and material largess.
There are two disturbing things about the current revisionism that transcend the human need to question orthodoxy. The first is the sheer hypocrisy of it all. Whatever mistakes and lapses committed by the Allies, they pale in comparison to the savagery of the Axis or the Communists.
Post-facto critics never tell us what they would have done instead - lay off the German cities and send more ground troops into a pristine Third Reich; don't bomb, but invade, an untouched Japan in 1946; keep out of WWII entirely; or in its aftermath invade the Soviet Union?
Lost also is any sense of small gratitude. A West German intellectual like Grass does not inform us that he was always free to migrate to East Germany to live in socialist splendor rather than remain unhappy in capitalist “subservience” in an American-protected West Germany - or that some readers of the New York Times who opposed Hitler might not enjoy lectures about their moral failings from someone who once fought for him.
Such revisionists never ask whether they could have written so freely in the Third Reich, Tojo's Japan, Mussolini's Italy, Soviet Russia, Communist Eastern Europe - or today in such egalitarian utopias as China, Cuba, or Venezuela.
Second, revisionism requires knowledge of orthodoxy. One cannot dismiss Iwo Jima as an unnecessary sideshow or allege that Dresden was simple blood rage until one understands the tactical and strategic dilemmas of the age - the hope that wounded and lost B-29s might be saved by emergency fields on
Iwo, or that the Russians wanted immediate help from the Allied air command to take the pressure off the eastern front in February 1945.
But again, most Americans never learned the standard narrative of War II - only what was wrong about it. Whereas it is salutary that an American 17-year-old knows something of the Japanese relocation ordered by liberals such as Earl Warren and FDR, or of the creation and the dropping of the atomic bomb by successive Democratic administrations, they might wish to examine what went on in Nanking, Baatan, Wake Island, Guadalcanal, Manila, or Manchuria - atrocities that their sensitive teachers are probably clueless about as well.
After all, this was a week in which thousands of the once-enslaved Dutch in Maastricht were protesting the visit of a president of the nation that once liberated their fathers, while thousands of neo-Nazis were back in the streets of Berlin.
A Swedish EU official recently blamed the Second World War on “nationalistic pride and greed, and international rivalry for wealth and power” - the new mantra that Hitler was merely confused or perhaps had some “issues” with his neighbors. Perhaps her own opportunistic nation that once profited (“greed”?) from the Third Reich itself was not somehow complicit in fueling the Holocaust.
How odd that Swedes and Spaniards who were either neutrals or pro-Nazi during World War II now so often lecture the United States not just about present morality but about the World War II past as well.
If there were any justice in the world, we would have the ability to transport our most severe critics across time and space to plop them down on Omaha Beach or put them in an overloaded B-29 taking off from Tinian,
with the crew on amphetamines to keep awake for their 15-hour mission over Tokyo.
But alas, we cannot. Instead, the beneficiaries of those who sacrificed now ankle-bite their dead betters. Even more strangely, they have somehow convinced us that in their politically-correct hindsight, they could have
done much better in World War II.
Yet from every indication of their own behavior over the last 30 years, we suspect that the generation who came of age in the 1960s would not just have done far worse, but failed entirely.
God Bless America
Saepius Exertus, Semper Fidelis, Frater Infinitas: Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever.
(WWII) SOLDIERS SIEZED DISNEY STUDIOS
When Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States was drawn into the World War 2, 700 U.S. soldiers seized the Disney Studio in California.
Their purpose was to help protect the nearby Lockheed aircraft plant — an installation that was vital to the nation's security. For the next eight months, until other arrangements could be made, the soldiers ate, trained, and lived in Walt Disney's Burbank, California studio.
During that war, the Disney Studio created hundreds of insignia for various military units, and produced a variety of films for training, recruitment and support of the war effort. In 1942-43 alone, Disney turned out more than 204,000 feet of film, 95 percent of it for government contracts.
Notable was “The New Spirit,” a cartoon aimed at convincing Americans that it was their responsibility to pay income taxes. Sixty million people saw the film; a Gallup poll indicated that 37 percent of them were more willing to pay taxes afterward.
(WWII) THEY LANDED BEFORE MACARTHUR
September 2, 2002 is the 57th anniversary of the Japanese surrender and end of WW II. An unusual remembrance of that occasion is detailed in the following vignette from a Seattle newspaper feature of September 1945 — which I have rewritten to include corrected information provided through a recent telephone interview with one of the participants, Navy dive bomber pilot J. D. Stanlake, of Kalamazoo, Mich. There are thousands of untold stories about that war, and I would never have known about this one except for a mutual friend of Stanlake's, Harley Koets of Sarasota, FL, who gave me a copy of the old newspaper clipping about the aircraft carrier Essex's return from the war and the exploits of the officers and men of its Air Group 83.
Seattle, Wash., September 1945 – Lt. Joseph Breslove, 29, Pittsburg, Pa., and Ens. J. D. Stanlake, 22, Duluth, Minn., can boast that they landed at Atsugi airport near Tokyo two days before Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrived there to accept the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri. But their unusual landing wasn't initially planned.
They were compelled to land somewhere after the engine of Stanlake's SB2-C Curtiss dive-bomber developed a bad oil leak during a reconnaissance flight on August 28. Typical of all pilots in such an emergency, they immediately looked for a place to set it down, spotted an airport just below, and decided to take the risk of landing there rather than ditch at sea and lose a valuable aircraft. Even though the Japanese had unofficially surrendered, and there was no air opposition or antiaircraft fire, neither pilot knew what to expect from the enemy.
After their landing, a black '37-Ford arrived (powered by a charcoal burner in its trunk) and a Japanese Army Colonel got out, approached them, and asked, “Why are you here?” He had word that MacArthur would soon arrive there and he came to see if these aircraft were part of that event. However, the oil that covered most of Stanlake's Helldiver made it quite obvious that this was an emergency situation, not an official meeting. The Japanese at the airfield were courteous and showed no intention of attack, but had no supplies, parts, or even gasoline — thus explaining the charcoal-burning contraption. The war damage to production, and shrinking imported supplies, had taken its toll.
The above AP news photo after the ship's arrival in Seattle in September 1945, shows (from left to right) Ens. J. D. Stanlake, Lt (jg) V. T. Coumbe, of Lombard, Ill., and Lt. Joseph Breslove.
The above AP news photo after
the ship's arrival in Seattle in September
1945, shows (from left to right) Ens. J. D.
Stanlake, Lt (jg) V. T. Coumbe, of
Lombard, Ill., and Lt. Joseph Breslove.
A DC-3 with General McArthur's advance party did arrive at Atsugi later that day, 28 August 1945. The Japanese hosted a banquet for all of the Americans, including the Essex group that evening. They had gathered the staff from the pre-war U.S. Consul to provide for McArthur. The Essex “guests” then returned to the ship with an enviable “sea story” of their adventure.
Coumbe had the distinction of being the first American pilot to land on Honshu and get back to his ship. Japanese anti-aircraft flak knocked down his plane and he drifted to the island after three hours in his inflatable life raft.
The following morning Coumbe's Very pistol shot signaled two OS2U Kingfisher seaplanes searching from Battleship North Carolina, and one landed to pick him up. Japanese artillery then started firing at the rescue plane. As the seaplane pilot crawled out of the cockpit to get on the main float and throw a line to Coumbe in the raft, he accidentally brushed against the throttle, causing the plane to lurch and toss him into the water. Ordinarily, the Kingfisher had a backseat gunner-radio operator, but during searches, the pilot flew alone to make room for the rescued airman. On its own the aircraft began circling on the water surface in a widening arc, drawing the shore fire away from the pilots. The other OS2U landed, picked up both men, squeezed them in the backseat, and returned them to safety.
A fighter pilot in that Air Group, Milton M. Truax, of Ft. Worth, Tex., was a personal friend of mine from our Navy flight training days. During his first combat mission off the Essex he shot down six Japanese aircraft within 90 minutes, and later added several more kills to his total. After his death in the 1990s, the Navy renamed the air station at Corpus Christi “Truax Field” in his honor.
(WWII) WAKE ISLAND FALLS TO THE JAPANESE
From E Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division website, WWII
Forwarded by p38bob
There is a reference to “primitive walkie talkies” in the official Marine Corps history of the battle of Wake. I have a vague memory of Gunner McKinistry and a fellow Marine trying out two of these contraptions and tossing them back into the storage bin in disgust when all they could get was static.
They were primitive, indeed, and to my knowledge were never used on Wake Island, probably because of their “primitiveness.” The only communication the Island Commander had with his troops and outlying outposts were telephone land lines, inexplicably strewn atop the coral and sand for all to see, including the invading Japanese. When the Japanese cut these lines in the early morning of December 23, 1941, they effectively ended any coordinated defense of Wake.
Very early on that morning, we heard the rattle of machine gun and small arms fire and the booms of five inch and three inch guns coming from the direction of Wilkes and the south shore of Wake. We had moved to the north shore of Wake several nights before and, cursing our ineffectiveness, lay low in our gun pit while several Japanese dive bombers zoomed almost as ineffectively overhead, waiting for the “word,” as Marines always do, in combat or elsewhere. (A traditional greeting between Marines begins, “Hi, Ol' Buddy, what's the word?”)
Our land lines had not yet been cut, so the “word” finally came from Major Devereux - Deploy the AAA gun crews as infantry to participate in the last-ditch defense of the island. On Wilkes and the south shore of Wake the Japanese had landed and the fighting was fierce. Our last fighter plane had crash landed on the beach and our aviators were now infantrymen and artillerymen. Fighter pilot Captain “Hammerin' Hank” Henry Elrod would receive a posthumous Medal of Honor for his nearly single-handed exploits against Japanese landing parties with a three inch gun that had been converted into a beach defense weapon.
Marines defending Wilkes had won their part of the war. They had successfully fought off, killed, or captured all members of the Japanese landing force who had landed, or tried to land, on Wilkes. When Major Devereux crossed the channel separating Wake from Wilkes with his white surrender flag, it took several minutes of intense negotiation to convince Captain Wesley “Cutie” Platt, the senior officer on Wilkes, that he and his men should lay down their arms and surrender to the Japanese, because on Wilkes they were winning their war with the Japanese!
Down the line a bit on Wake Island proper, Second Lieutenant Arthur A. Poindexter led a roving beach patrol consisting of mess cooks, supply clerks, sailors, and civilians which under his leadership managed to inflict numerous casualties on the landing force. One of his troopers later referred to him as “either crazy as a bedbug, or the bravest guy alive.” Why he only received a Bronze Star for his “deeds of derring-do” on this fateful day is still a good question, 64 years later.
Enter Dr. Shigeyoshi Ozeki. Dr. Ozeki was a Japanese medical officer who participated in both the successful landing and its aborted predecessor. His recently discovered testimony raises questions about the nature of the assault on Wake.
Here is how he recalls the final battle: “Of the entire force which was to go ashore on that morning, only the officers and a few men with LMGs would be issued ammunition. The remainder of the assault group would be going ashore with empty ammo pouches, empty chambers, and nothing between them and the enemy but fixed bayonets.
“There were two reasons for taking away the men's ammunition. The first was that if the men had bullets they would lay down in the sand and attempt to shoot at the enemy instead of closing in. The attack would stall and we would be driven back into the surf. The second reason was that the command didn't want the enemy to know they outnumbered us 2 to 1“. (This miscalculation probably resulted from counting the 1100-odd civilians as members of the island's defense force. Only the Marines were armed, and there were only 449 of them.) “One did not doubt the wisdom of one's superiors in the Imperial Japanese Navy, where independent thought and reasoning were not cultivated. Besides, the NLF was trained using proven battle techniques time-tested through years of combat in China. The bayonet charge was sure to turn even the most stubborn enemy to terror-stricken flight.”
Unfortunately, none of Wake's defenders seemed to have ever been to China! If true, Dr. Ozeki's assertion that Japanese charged the beaches on Wake with fixed bayonets and no ammo does much to explain the relatively small number of casualties inflicted upon the defenders. At the end of the final day of battle, Major Devereux counted just 26 dead, including 12 civilians, compared to an estimated 350 enemy KIA.
There are two small mentions of Dr. Ozeki in the 725 pages of Greg Urwin's Facing Fearful Odds, neither of them relevant to his statements about the Japanese landing force. Bill Sloan, in the most recently written book about Wake (2003) Given Up For Dead, places Ozeki on the island and describes his activities there, almost word for word as I have done, but not one word about the Japanese Landing Force not issuing ammunition to its riflemen. I assume that Sloan has the same testimony by Dr. Ozeki that I do, because he has used some of it that is identical with mine, but has chosen for whatever reason to omit this controversial item from his book.
When I asked retired Colonel Poindexter several years before his death about Dr. Ozeki's account, he wrote me that it was “quite astounding, but thinking back on it, the part about the Jap riflemen not having ammunition for their weapons adds up. I have often wondered how our people avoided being annihilated.”
While Lieutenant Poindexter and his men were avoiding being annihilated on that final day, across the island we anti-aircraft crewmen were being mustered in a clearing next to the lagoon in response to Major Devereux's order to become infantry and help repel the Japanese attack. We formed into ranks as skirmishers under the leadership of Sergeant Raymon Gragg, a former sea-going Marine with the heavily-muscled neck and shoulders of an Olympics-level wrestler, which he had been. We knew that Japanese were on the island, but had yet to see one, but each of us had our Springfield rifles and sufficient ammo to give the invaders some headaches and most of us were eager to get into the action, some more so than others.
As we were forming into skirmisher squads and waiting for further “word,” Private Rufus B. Austin, perhaps in emulation of fire-breathing Civil War predecessors from the great state of Alabama, decided to single-handedly attack the invasion force. We sat on him for a while until he cooled off. Rufus had followed another southern tradition in lying to the recruiting sergeant about his age. He and several other southern lads with us on Wake had yet to discover which end of the safety razor was the business end. I think Rufus had just turned 16.
Just as we were beginning to advance towards the fire fight we could see and hear going on across the island, the final “word” came, and it was not good. Surrender? Marines don't surrender! At first we didn't believe it, but it was confirmed, and then confirmed again. Surrender. Infamy. Disgrace. Some of us wept. I took the bolt out of my trusty 1025827 Springfield and threw it one direction into the lagoon and the rifle itself in another direction. My fellow Marines followed suit.
Sergeant Gragg tried to blow up the nearest three inch gun by stuffing blankets down the tube and firing a shell, without success. The blankets flapped skyward like awkward misshapen birds and finally settled in the lagoon. Sergeant Gragg then tried to disable the gun by tossing live hand grenades down the elevated barrel, but that didn't work either. The three inch guns were still in basic operating order when the Japanese finally rounded us up later in the day, but completely useless as anti-aircraft weapons without a fire control system, which we managed to destroy.
Someone in the three inch director crew decided that the best way to incapacitate the director was to fire several rounds from a .45 caliber pistol into it, which destroyed the director but also wounded by ricochet Sergeant Robert Box, one of our “more civilized” younger NCO's in my humble private's estimation. Fortunately, his wounds were not serious.
The reality of our situation really hit home when Major Devereux, escorted by Japanese troops, appeared at our position in a vehicle flying a white flag. It was all over. Or was it just beginning? Or both?
We were herded by Japanese soldiers towards the airstrip, where we were stripped of outer clothing, including boots, and had our hands tied behind our backs with communications wire looped around our necks so that any downward pressure on our hands choked us. We were then marched towards a revetment that had been previously gouged by civilian bulldozers in the coral and sand next to the airstrip. We were forced to kneel on the bank of this big ditch while several Japanese machine gun crews spaced a few yards apart behind us chattered excitedly as they locked and loaded their weapons.
I had read about Japanese atrocities against Chinese in Asia, and I had no doubt that we Americans were about to be added to the list. We waited for the inevitable under the hot sun. My blood had run too cold for me to sweat.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an apparition that seemed to live up to the caricatures of Japanese men that had been appearing in American magazines and newspapers for the past several years. I turned to get a better look and saw a diminutive but stocky Japanese man dressed in white shorts, knee-length white socks and white shoes, with eyeglasses, of course, bow-legged, of course, caparisoned with an appropriate gold-filagree-billed white cap, and armed with a ceremonial sword, who had just begun a loud and seemingly furious argument with the Japanese officer in charge of the detachment manning the machine guns.
I turned halfway around to get a better look without arousing any opposition from the guards, who seemed as interested as I was in the ongoing dialogue. I could not understand a word of it, but realized that my life, and every other American's on the island, depended upon the outcome. The commander of the landing party was going to do what all good Japanese soldiers did to surviving enemies defeated in combat, massacre them. It was not necessary to understand the Japanese language to understand that. But apparently someone higher up in the chain of command had decided that we were worth more alive than dead for propaganda purposes, and that it was time for the Japanese to be seen as merciful winners. The only obstacle was the landing force commander, who had other plans for us.
Several eternities passed during the fifteen minutes or so that it took for the landing force commander to back down and agree to spare our lives. The white-clad Japanese officer returned to his vehicle and was driven away, the machine gunners behind us muttered what sounded like curses as they began packing up their weapons, and I started breathing normally again. I discovered many years later that the “angel in white” who saved our lives was Rear Admiral Kajioka Sadamichi, commander of the invasion fleet.
We were marched back to the airstrip and herded into the ammo bunkers alongside, still hogtied with comm wire. Here we had a chance to loosen each other's bonds, some to the point that we were not really tied up at all. A few hotheads wanted to overpower the few Japanese soldiers who were guarding us. Wiser heads prevailed with the argument, “OK, then what?”
We were soon marched out again, this time to the airstrip where we joined the rest of the 1600 survivors of the battle of Wake. We were untied and herded onto the landing field, where we sprawled on the white coral to toast, half naked, in the sub-tropical noonday sun, no water, no food, no heads, our “encampment” ringed with barbed wire and machine guns. We grouped ourselves together by unit or profession; civilians at one end of the strip, Marines at the other.
When the sun went down we exchanged one discomfort for another and huddled our semi-naked bodies together for warmth against the cold winds blowing in from the sea. It was not until noon the next day that water came, in unrinsed fifty-five gallon drums that had originally contained gasoline. It was awful stuff, but by this time we were thirsty enough to drink from a hog wallow, so we swilled down as much of it as we could stand.
For days afterward, everything tasted or smelled of gasoline, including the meager rations of gruel and bread that we received before we were moved into the former civilian barracks on Christmas day, where the Japanese allowed our Marine and civilian cooks to get back into action, and we began receiving two meals a day.
Just before the move, the Japanese had gathered up all the discarded clothing they could find and dumped it at the airstrip. None of us found our original clothing. I wound up in civilian khaki with shoes that almost fit, and there was no longer any way to tell who was civilian and who was Marine by their attire. We were a motley crew, indeed. At least 350 civilian members of this motley crew had actively participated in the defense of Wake, and dozens of them had died or been wounded in the act. Many of them begged Major Devereux to enlist them as Marines, a request he denied on the grounds that he had no authority to do so. As far as the Japanese were concerned, we were all “horios,” prisoners of war, civilian, soldier, sailor, or Marine alike. After the surrender,
Dr. Ozeki had assisted the American Naval doctor and civilian surgeon in tending to the wounded on both sides. His compassionate treatment of American patients is recalled with gratitude by Marines who were under his care. Former Marine Wiley Sloman, recovering from a serious head wound, recalled before his recent death that Dr. Ozeki granted his request for American food to replace the rice and seaweed that he couldn't eat. Wiley had been left for dead on Wilkes until a “clean-up crew” after the surrender found him and brought him to the hospital.
The Americans on Wake were not what Dr. Ozeki expected: “The Americans who surrendered to us were not the savage brutes we had expected to encounter. We had been instructed that in hand-to-hand combat to never allow an American ‘gorilla’ to come within arm's length as they were all trained boxers and one solid punch was enough to break a man's neck.” It made me laugh to hear from one of the POWs that they were told to stay clear of US because we were all black belts in Judo and Jujitsu. Many of the Americans with whom Dr. Ozeki conversed were undoubtedly civilians, who outnumbered the Marines three to one. Marines and civilians had been stripped and reattired willy-nilly in each other's clothing and Dr. Ozeki's remarks indicate that he considered all Americans on Wake to be Marines.
Shortly after the surrender, Dr. Ozeki selected then PFC Edwin Borne to drive a truck around the island picking up wounded Japanese soldiers, later collecting wounded Americans. For the next several hours, Borne ferried the doctor around the island on various other errands. The selection of POWs to drive vehicles was a necessary evil. In pre-World War II Japan most lower-ranking Japanese soldiers or sailors had never ridden in a motor vehicle, let alone operated one. American POWs captured in the Philippines, where Japanese army discipline was notoriously poor, would watch in grim satisfaction as Japanese soldiers mangled captured vehicles and themselves in “kamikaze” attempts to master the mysterious enemy machines.
In a rare post-war reconciliation, Dr. Ozeki met several years ago with his former part-time chauffeur, Eddie Borne and two of his former patients, Wiley Sloman and Walter T. Kennedy in Nagoya, Japan. This event apparently received a lot of “good press” in Japan, but has divided the dwindling ranks of Wake Island Defenders. Some believe that it is time to let bygones be bygones with the Japanese; others are adamant that it can never happen in their lifetime.
Regardless of the policies of his government, past and present, Dr. Ozeki proved himself to be a humanitarian on Wake Island. To revile him merely because he is Japanese is no different than the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki reviling all Americans, and they do not. We should also forgive, but not forget. As time marches on, it is beginning to be a moot point. Dr. Ozeki is no longer with us and there are only a few Wake Islanders left on both sides of the debate, so perhaps the issue will soon fade away into the sunset, as it should.
After we were crowded into the civilian barracks on Wake by the Japanese, the Japanese soldiers became much more amiable and willing to try out their few English words. Along with Dr. Ozeki, they had discovered that Americans were human after all and not the “gorillas” they had feared to find on Wake Island. In an amazing display of naiveté, Japanese “technicians” took our three inch gun crews, including me, back to our gun positions and requested instructions on their operation. There were con-artists among us, including me, so in short order, small integral mechanisms such as firing locks wound up buried in the sand or in the depths of the lagoon.
I have wondered about this for more than 60 years. Did the Japanese really believe that we would cooperate with them? One explanation for this apparent simple-minded trust may lie in the Japanese Bushido attitude towards surrender. Death before surrender, says Bushido. Surrender is such a despicable act that once one surrenders, one loses all honor and becomes so depraved that moral scruples are out the window, so why not betray one's country's secrets to its enemies? I can think of no other explanation for the Japanese technicians' strange belief that we would show them how our weapons worked.
On January 12th, most of us embarked on the Nitta Maru, a former passenger ship that had been converted into a troop ship. We left behind the seriously wounded and about 350 civilians. The Naval Landing Force which had taken Wake was an elite assault force, the Japanese equivalent of American Marines. They appeared to respect the courage and military skill of the defenders, even though we had violated the warrior code of Bushido by surrendering, and there had been no serious mistreatment of POWs on the island. This would soon change.
As we came over the side of ship up the Jacob's ladder from the landing barge below, we ran a gauntlet of kicks, blows and screaming epithets from members of the ship's crew. The small bundles of possessions that some of us carried were confiscated or thrown overboard. We were shoved and kicked down the ladders into two large cargo holds which measured less than four feet from top to bottom. Except at the hatchways, it was impossible to stand up straight. Guards were posted at the hatchways. We soon discovered that attracting their attention in any way was a drastic mistake.
Newly posted guards asserted their authority by testing judo throws or punches on the handiest prisoners. For the remainder of their watch they randomly cuffed and whacked prisoners who caught their eye. Since we were forbidden to change positions or move about under pain of death, those nearest the guards received more than their share of punishment. I had foresightedly scuttled as far away from the hatch as I could and missed my share of the fun. It took some of us longer than others to learn the first rule of survival in a prison camp: Be as inconspicuous as possible. Notice that in the REGULATIONS FOR PRISONERS reproduced below, death sentences are prescribed for such dire crimes as “individualism” and “egoism.” The Japanese sure knew our weak spots.
We spent the next 12 days miserably huddled in the cargo holds of the Nitta Maru. Twice a day we received a bowl of watery rice gruel, garnished occasionally with bits of pickled daikon (Japanese radish) or small half-rotten fish, heads and all. By the time the trip ended we no longer turned up our noses at our Oriental menu and had begun to consider fish eyeballs a delicacy. As we moved into the colder waters of the northern Pacific, our thin cotton blankets were no longer adequate, and we shook and shivered and huddled together for warmth.
The thirty officers making the trip fared somewhat better in a small compartment that had once been used for a mailroom. They, too, received their share of beatings from sadistic guards. On 18 January, the ship arrived in Yokohama, where thirty of the prisoners, including the squadron commander of VMF 211, Major Paul Putnam, were removed and taken to a prison camp at Zentsuji, where they would join their fellow POWs from Guam. Most of them were officers or men who for one reason or another the Japanese apparently believed possessed more technical information than other prisoners.
The Yokohama layover provided a propaganda bonanza for the Japanese. Senior officers were interviewed and photographed by Japanese reporters, who insisted that they smile for the cameras. An article in a Japanese newspaper boasted that the prisoners “were admiring the bushido treatment they received on the boat” and that “the Japanese exerted every effort to thresh out American individualism. Now they are very cooperative with the Japanese.” These pictures eventually made their way back to America, where they appeared in Time Magazine. Down in the hold, we had no idea what was going on and had no chance to smile for the cameras.
On January 20 the ship set sail for Shanghai and further lessons in bushido. Two days out of Yokohama, the commander of the fifty-man prisoner-guard detachment, Captain Toshio Saito, mustered his men and available ship's company on the main deck and called for five prisoners, apparently selected at random, to be brought forward. One of the Japanese crewmen present recalled the scene in post-war testimony to the War Crimes Commission:
Captain Saito took his position on a box or a barrel which was approximately three feet in width. He drew his sword and held it at his right shoulder to indicate that the executions were to begin. Saito took a piece of paper from his pocket. the following message was read by Saito to the five prisoners of war (who were blindfolded) in front of him in Japanese and was substantially as follows: “You have killed many Japanese soldiers in battle. For what you have done you are now going to be killed - for revenge. You are here as representatives of your American soldiers and will be killed. You can now pray to be happy in the next world - in heaven.” After reading the death warrant Saito folded the paper and I believe he placed it in his pocket. Each of the victims was made to kneel by the guards standing sentry over them. They were blindfolded with hands tied behind them.
I recall of the five victims, two of them had their heads completely cut from their bodies. Their heads rolled to one side. Three of the victims were not totally decapitated. At Saito's orders, a different warrant or petty officer “stepped up to the plate” for each prisoner. The ship's crew enthusiastically applauded each blow, even when botched and the head was not chopped off properly, requiring the swordsman to make a second chop or even a third. When all five heads were finally chopped off, other men were handed the swords for the sport of trying to cut the corpses in two with a single stroke, samurai style. But none of them were samurai; they were just hackers, slashing away in a welter of blood.
When they had had enough, Saito had the bodies propped against a sake barrel so that his guards could stick them for bayonet practice. When the bayoneters had had enough, the carcasses and the chopped-off heads were thrown overboard. That night, Saito invited some guests to celebrate the satisfactions of the occasion. (Gavan Daws, Prisoners of the Japanese, p. 49)
From the testimony of Japanese witnesses and participants, it is clear that Saito acted without authority in the time honored tradition of gekokujo, which can be loosely translated in this case to mean a “heroic” act by a subordinate in defiance of higher authority. He could be reasonably certain that if and when his actions became known to higher authority, reproof, if any, would be mild, completely eclipsed by admiration for his warlike Bushido spirit. The beheadings were obviously not meant as a warning to other prisoners, who may have suspected the worst, but did not discover what happened until after the war.
Saito's apparent motive was to “harden” his men for combat by forcing them to participate in a bloody slaughter. This was common practice in the Japanese army, which had access to Chinese prisoners, but uncommon in the Navy due to the lack of available victims. Retired Commander Glenn Tripp, USN, then a third class petty officer, was a close friend of two of the sailors executed on the Nitta Maru. He claims that a Japanese warrant officer who spoke a little English told him that the five men had been beheaded and that the story was common knowledge among the prisoners.
General Devereux does not mention the incident in his book, published immediately after the war. It seems inconceivable that he would have left this event out of his book had he known about it. In his 1961 memoir, Admiral Cunningham states that he did not learn of the atrocities until after the war. It is also inconceivable that the admiral's yeoman, Glenn Tripp did not pass on his knowledge to the admiral while they were together in prison camp. Sorry Glenn, your memory is playing tricks on you.
Four of the five petty officers involved in the Nitta Maru massacre were tried and sentenced to life at hard labor by the War Crimes Tribunal after the war; a fifth was acquitted. After about nine years of imprisonment, they were paroled. Saito, who survived the war, strangely enough could not be found and was never brought to justice. Commander Cunningham has remarked, “How [Saito] could remain uncaptured through all these years in an island kingdom noted for its effective police control is a final mystery well worth pondering.” (W. Scott Cunningham, Wake Island Command, p. 161, 162))
We arrived in Shanghai in the middle of a winter drizzle. We were marched off the ship onto the Whangpoo River docks and then several miles to our new home at the Woosung prison camp. The route was roundabout and longer than necessary, apparently to impress as many Chinese citizens of the occupied city as possible with the spectacle of once proud American Marines reduced to misery and degradation by the conquering forces of Japan.
Upon arrival at the Woosung barracks, we stood at a semblance of attention for several hours in the frozen mud, shivering and shaking in our bits of summer clothing as the Camp Commandant, interpreted by a barely intelligible interpreter, made an interminable speech followed by an interminable interpretation tabulating the multitude of camp rules and regulations and the dire punishments for infractions thereof, the most common of them being, “you will be shoot.” We were also informed that all camp activities, from reveille to taps, would be governed by the “voice of the cornet.”
The Woosung camp was an abandoned Chinese cavalry camp, consisting of seven unheated wooden barracks which had been hastily surrounded by an electric fence. Already interned there were a handful of British and American servicemen who had been rounded up in Shanghai in the early days of the war. The food was of slightly greater quantity, but no better quality, than our fare aboard the Nitta Maru. A bowl of rice now appeared along with the watery soup that was a staple of the POW diet. We were warned not to drink the water, but there was abundant green tea. It was weak, but it was hot, and helped to diffuse the cold. I drank nothing but green tea during my entire time in Shanghai.
We each received two flimsy blankets, but they were insufficient to counteract the icy drafts blowing through the cracks in the walls of the unheated barracks. We tried to keep warm at night by sharing blankets and sleeping three or more together spoon fashion. We soon developed the skill of rolling over together in unison in order to keep our blanket cover intact when one of us developed a cramp and had to change position.
In early February the North China Marines arrived, bag and baggage, decked out with full uniforms, overcoats and fur-lined hats. To them we raggedy-ass survivors of Wake must have looked like fugitives from a hobo camp. No such thing as a uniform, everybody needed a haircut, and because we had to share the few razors among us, many of us were unshaven since surrender. To us, the newcomers looked like visitors from another more hospitable and barely remembered planet. One of the Wake Island civilians shouted out, “Hey, are you guys Russians?”
This was the beginning of a quandary which, because it had no satisfactory resolution, led to hard feelings on all sides that in some cases have persisted to this day. Two hundred North China Marines arrived with a full issue of winter clothing. Four hundred Wake Island Marines and eight hundred civilians had none. It would have required the judgment of a Solomon to decide, first, what exactly could be considered surplus in the baggage of the North China Marines, and second, how to distribute that insufficient surplus to twelve hundred needy men. In the absence of Solomon, no action was taken by either Japanese or Marine Officers to resolve the disparity. In the end, there was indeed some voluntary sharing, not nearly enough from the standpoint of the Wake Islanders; all that could be expected in the view of the North China Marines.
Our chief interpreter at Woosung was Isamu Ishihara, whose activities soon earned him the sobriquet, “Beast of the East.” One of my first encounters with this completely humorless martinet occurred outside the barracks, where several of us were taking our daily exercise with blankets wrapped around our shoulders to ward off the cold. Ishi came marching around a corner of the building and immediately exploded, “You stupid individualists! (His supreme insult) How come you wear blankets?”
One of us replied, “But Mr. Ishihara, because it's cold!.”
Ishi's reply: “It's winter time! You supposed to be cold!”
Originator Link [http://www.E27Marines-1stMarDiv.org ]
AMERICA - OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY!
Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever. United States Marines
(WWII) WASPS: PIONEER MILITARY WOMEN
Modern day women who aspire to fly military aircraft can thank some hardy ladies of another era for putting a large dent in the barrier. They were members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, better known as WASPS. During the darkest days of WWII, they proved in no uncertain terms that women could fly!
In May 1993, about 200 veterans of that organization gathered at the airport in Sweetwater, Tex., where they had trained, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the WASPS.
From Feb. 1943 to Dec. 1944, some 25,000 women applied for the training, 1830 were accepted and 1074 won their wings. Approximately 65% of those graduates are still alive today.
Recruited to relieve men needed for combat service early in the war, WASPS graduates flew more than 60 million miles hauling cargo, delivering personnel, ferrying aircraft, and towing targets for aerial gunnery. Although they never saw combat themselves, they flew every type of combat planes in frequently dangerous missions. Thirty-eight of them died in that service.
There was no legal way to commission women pilots at that time, but they were promised that would change. Unfortunately, when enough male pilots were available to do these jobs, the Army Air Force canceled the WASPS program and sent the women home, with little fanfare and none of the benefits received by their military counterparts. Eventually — some 35 years later — they became eligible for veteran's benefits and also received the Victory medal and American Theater medal.
Today, most of the remaining WASPs bristle when they read or hear about women finally being able to fly combat aircraft. They say, “We were the first. We flew combat planes and just about everything else they had back then. And we'd have become military pilots if they'd have let us!”
So, to all of you latter day female military pilots: The next time you raise your glass, give a toast to the WASPS.
Check out their Web site at
(WWII) WEB GEMS
Here are some items that have floated around the web until the original source is unknown. I was unable to verify the authenticity, but they make interesting reading, if true.
LITTLE KNOWN HISTORY OF WWII
Forwarded by Airburd.
The first German military casualty of WWII died in China, 1937, at the hands of the Japanese. The first American military casualty of WWII died in Finland, 1940, at the hands of the Russians. LtGen. Lesley McNair was the highest ranking American killed in WWII, at the hands of the U.S. Army Air Corps.
The youngest U.S. serviceman was 12-year-old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. Congress later restored his benefits.
At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top U.S. Navy command was CINCUS (pronounced “sink us”). The shoulder patch of the U.S. Army's 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named “Amerika.” All three were soon changed for PR purposes.
More U.S. servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions their chance of being killed was 71%.
Generally speaking there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. He was either an ace or a target. For instance, Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down more than 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.
A common practice on fighter planes was loading every 5th round with a tracer bullet to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics, so (at long range) if one's tracers were hitting the target 80% of the rounds were missing it. Worse yet, tracers instantly told the enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to alert the pilot he is out of ammo. This was definitely not something one wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw the success rate nearly double and the loss rate go down appreciably.
When allied armies reached the Rhine the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. George S. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).
German ME-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City, but the military strategists didn't think it was worth the effort.
Its own malfunctioning toilet caused the sinking of German submarine U-120.
Among the first “Germans” captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until captured by the U.S. Army.
Following a massive naval bombardment 35,000 U.S. and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the firefight. It would have been worse if there had been any Japanese on the island.
(WWII) YOU HAD TO BE THERE (1995)
As a high school senior when that occurred, I can tell you the news on that December 7th Sunday was a shock. And it didn't get any better during the early months of 1942, when all of our outposts in the South Pacific suffered tragic losses and our valiant servicemen were killed or captured. For those who survived that onslaught, it meant spending the duration as prisoners of war — if they lived through the unbelievably cruel treatment inflicted upon them by their ruthless Japanese captors. I'm not sure if the general public has ever known, or cared to know, the true stories of those inhumane Japanese prison camps. The trend of those times was to “forgive and forget.”
I still recall the bleak outlook of that era and my feeling of concern and solemn resolve that led to joining the Navy to “help win the war.” I remember, too, how those on the “Home Front” did without so that all materials could be diverted to the war effort. Those fearful times inspired courage and resolve and solidified the American people, military, and civilian alike.
They endured strict rationing of coffee, sugar, butter, meat, automobiles, tires, gasoline, women's nylon hose, and many other items. And they bought War Bonds to help finance the war. Women came to the forefront by manning factories and performing defense work previously done only by men. Studs Terkel described it like this, in his book, The Good War: “It was the only time in our history when practically everyone was completely behind the war effort.”
Were they glad when the bomb ended the war and brought loved ones home? You bet they were, but you had to be there to know the feeling!
These WW2 Home Front Posters
are typical of thousands displayed
in defense plants, post offices
and other places, to instill patriotism
and elicit public support of the war.
I take strong exception to modern-day historians who would make the United States the “aggressor nation” for dropping the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It is easy for those who did not live through the experience to put a hind-sight slant on history. The problem is that they are judging what happened 50 years ago by today's standards and politics. You had to be there!
Now we are the leader of the free world. Then, we were an isolationist nation. Congress passed the Selective Service Act by a single vote only two years before Pearl Harbor, and draftees trained with wooden rifles. The effect of the great 1930s economic depression left our military forces undermanned, poorly armed, and militarily impotent. Our fleet had neither the fuel nor the ammunition for proper training cruises. We were totally unprepared to cope with a Japanese war machine that began its ultimate goal of conquering Pacific nations and island fortresses by invading China four years before their Pearl Harbor surprise raid.
No matter how you slice it, Japan was the aggressor in the war in the Pacific, just as Germany was in Europe, and don't think for a minute their leaders would not have used an atomic bomb to their advantage had either nation possessed such a weapon. You had to live during those times to appreciate the trauma of the experience — rather than simply judge it in retrospect.
If any of these revisionist historians had been among the troops preparing for the long and bloody battle expected in the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands, they might have a better perspective. They would have been grateful for the A-bombs sparing their lives and the lives of untold thousands of Japanese and Americans alike — instead of rebuking this nation for a “dastardly deed” fifty years later.
Before the Japanese officials signed the surrender document on board the Battleship USS Missouri (shown above), thousands of Americans had fought and died as a direct result of the Japanese War Lords' long-planned mission of conquer and control.
Without those two A-bombs, the world might be a different place today. Had the Japanese realized how vulnerable we were after Pearl Harbor, they might easily have taken Hawaii and possibly invaded the West Coast of America. Had Hitler invaded England instead of Russia, he might have won the war in Europe and developed the A-bomb before we did.
The fact is, however, we dropped the bombs, ended the war, and the “what-ifs” don't count. Neither does 20-20 hind sight about what happened 50 years ago. You had to be there!
Historical Footnote: A unique symbol of victory — on September 2, 1945, when Japanese officials arrived on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to sign the WWII surrender documents, the ship was flying the same stars and stripes that had flown over our nation's Capitol on December 7, 1941 — the day Japanese bombers made their sneak attack against Pearl.
LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT WWII
I ran an article similar to this two or three years ago… which goes to show that “old” things keep surfacing on the Internet that are “new” to those who haven’t seen them:
- The first German serviceman killed in WW2 was by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was by the Russians (Finland, 1940), the highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies!
- The youngest U.S. serviceman was 12-year-old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress.)
- At the time of Pearl Harbor the top US Navy command was Called CINCUS (pronounced “sink us”), the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named “Amerika.” All three were soon changed for PR purposes.
- More U.S. servicemen died in the Air Corps than in the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, one's chance of being killed was 71%.
- Generally speaking,there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You either were an ace or a target. For instance, Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down more than 80 planes. He died while a passenger in a cargo aircraft.
- It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracer ballistics were different, so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target, 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down considerably.
- When allied armies reached the Rhine, the first thing men did was urinate in it. This seemed a universal ritual , from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).
- German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City, but it wasn't deemed worth the effort.
- Its malfunctioning toilet sank German submarine U-120.
- Among the first “Germans” captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until the U.S. Army captured them.
- Following massive naval bombardment, 35,000 U.S. and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the firefight. It would have been worse if there had been any Japanese on the island. Bad intelligence, what?