Courage Under Fire

Just read a fantastic post at Socialsense2 Be sure to drop by and read this post by a very good friend of mine

Posted in General

War and Remembrance

Image4579This is not about national news, partisan bickering, stupidity of government, comedy (oh, wait, is that the same thing?) or any other post I have done. This is about a boy and his dad. I’m was the boy and this is about one of my heroes, my Dad. Forgive me if the title is a little misleading for some, it’s not about the current war, but on the effect of war on a single man, one who is gone, but not forgotten. On the cusp of another Memorial Day, its important for me to put this down, and I hope it’s message is important to you, because my dad was one of the “Greatest Generation” so eloquently described by Tom Brokaw. A career Army Officer, a patriot, a deeply religious man and my hero.

re·mem·brance (P) Pronunciation Key (r-mmbrns)n. 1.The act or process of remembering. 2.The state of being remembered: holds him in fond remembrance. 3.Something serving to celebrate or honor the memory of a person or event; a memorial. 4.The length of time over which one’s memory extends. 5.Something remembered; a reminiscence. 6.A souvenir. 7.A greeting or token expressive of affection.

This is my remembrance of a man who fought in three shooting wars, so that his kids and grand kids and generations beyond would have a life better than his own.

Dad was born in McAlister, Oklahoma where his dad was an assistant warden at the Oklahoma State Prison. He used to say that he wasn’t born in Texas, but got here as soon as he could. Grand Dad was a career army officer who after WWI was assigned to “non-military” duties temporarily following a reduction in forces. Grand Dad was recalled to active duty the following year and stayed in the Army until his retirement in 1949. Growing up on a number of military bases, all Calvary units, gave dad an early inside look at the functioning of the Army. He decided in High School that he would be a career soldier like his dad, and his dad before him. Joining what would become ROTC in High School, Dad spent his summers training. He graduated from H.S. in 1939 and was off to the University of Texas to obtain a degree in Political Science. He enlisted in the US Army in 1940 recognizing then, even if few else did, that we would soon be involved in a growing war in Europe and possibly in the pacific. He was stationed at Fort Sam Houston as an EM and was commissioned in July, 1941 as a 2nd Lt.

Immediately following dad’s commissioning, his dad was ordered to take charge of a battalion of Philippine Scouts on Mindanao Island, Republic of the Philippines.

Dad met mom, got married in 1942 and in 1943 had their first child, my sister Pamela. In 1944 long after Grand Dad had been imprisoned in a POW camp by the Japanese, Dad was sent to England for the invasion of the mainland. I have written about some of the exploits of Dad’s unit, the 405th Infantry of the 102nd ID here, here and here.

I don’t remember anything about WWII having been born in Germany after the war, but I remember Korea and Vietnam.

We lived in former Army hospital housing in Fort Benning, Ga. where my two brothers Doug and Bert were born. In the fall of 1950. Dad was an instructor at The Infantry School at Fort Benning. The message came down via the routine channels. Ship out to Korea, assignment, communications officer for a Tank battalion, not a great assignment for an Infantry Officer and Dad recounts that he worried about the effect on his career as an Infantryman.

Moving to San Antonio, Texas for the duration of the war, we settled down in a house across the street from my Dad’s parents.

Dad landed in Korea where he took part in the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter. As allied forces pushed the PRK forces back Dad was there.

I don’t know all of the details of his time in Korea, I recall him talking about the push to the Yalu River with his troops and the “Frozen Chosin” and the battle with the Red Chinese in December 1950 when they crossed the Yalu river in force. One story related the fate of a rather selfish captain who, having received a bottle of booze hid it outside rather than share it with anyone. In the middle of the night, he decided to sneak out for a quick nip. The alcohol was unfrozen of course, but still below zero when the unlucky captain swigged a mouthful. The freezing cold liquid froze his esophagus and stomach and he died in severe pain. After being pushed back from the Yalu Dad given a chance to “volunteer” for a dangerous assignment, one more in keeping with his training in “The Queen of Battle” as the Infantry is known. The assignment? Training and taking Republic of Korea troops behind enemy lines and into North Korea.

In the following summer, Dad and a force of ROK commandos were “escaping” from a mission in North Korea on a powered junk with the North Koreans hot on their trail. The PRKA began lobbing mortar shells at the junk, one of them hitting it amidships and tossing dad and a couple of others into the water. Dad didn’t swim thanks to a real fear of water after nearly drowning as a child. Grand Mom wouldn’t let him “go back in the water” and he developed a phobia of water deeper than a coffee cup. Waking up on the deck of the destroyer or some other navy craft sent to pull them out, Dad looked up at an Ensign and asked who he had to thank for pulling him out of the water. The Ensign looked at him quizzically and said “Captain, you were the first to swim to the boat.”

Dad returned to the US in 1952 and we moved back to Fort Benning where I entered the first grade. Moving to Germany in 1954, Dad was stationed at 7th Army Headquarters in 1956 when in October, ’56 the Hungarian people rose up against their Soviet Oppressors. On November 4, ’56 Soviet forces entered Hungry with a mind to crush the Hungarian Revolution. At the same time in Egypt, Israel, France and England invaded and took over the Suez Canal. Crisis on two continents, was World War III about to begin?

Our emergency travel bags were packed, and the possibility of war with the Soviet Union over the invasion of Hungry necessitating the evacuation of American Dependents was a real possibility. Dad worried about our safety, at the same time he had to plan for possible war.

War was averted and the intervention of Eisenhower forced Israel, England and France to withdraw from the Suez. In the summer of ’57 we headed home again and Arkansas was our next stop as Dad became the Adviser to the Arkansas National Guard.

More troubles, not long after we moved to Arkansas, the Governor called out the guard to prevent integration at Central High School in Little Rock. All of us had gone to school for years with children of other colors, other races, other religions; we didn’t understand the hatred we saw. Years later, Dad recalled the relief he felt when Eisenhower called in the 101st Airborne to protect the students, and Dad did everything he could to keep the Arkansas National Guard in check.

Summer of ’61 brought more problems. Despite growing up in a very much “Happy Days” environment in Arkansas, South East Asia was heating up. Our new President ordered American Advisers to Vietnam to assist the RVN forces, Dad received his orders in June and in mid August he landed in the RVN. The next 12 months were an agony for Mom and the four kids. Usually once a week there was a news cast about Vietnam, most of my fellow 10th graders had no idea where Vietnam was or why we were trying to help. That would change.

In March, we received a phone call from a friend who told us to quickly turn to CBS news; Dad was on! Quickly we changed channels, but were too late. I remember Mom crying that night, fearing that after surviving two shooting wars, Dad may not make it home from the third one. He did though and in late July, 1962 Dad returned home two weeks earlier than scheduled, his mom had died and the Army opted to let him come home early for the funeral.

Next assignment, the Pentagon and Washington D.C. Actually, Building T-7 one of the Temporary buildings built during WWII to last 5 years. At 20, this one was still going strong.

Missiles of October, Kennedy assassination, the Congo. I lived in fear that he would once again have to go somewhere and put his life on the line. But the next three years passes without major family disruption. I graduated from H.S. and headed for college. Dad was assigned to Panama. He returned to Fort Sam as Post IG for his final tour of duty. In May of 1972 Dad submitted his retirement papers. “I’m tired he said, I want to enjoy my granddaughter and spend time with your mom.”

In June he received a phone call from a Lt. Col. in the Pentagon asking for a copy of his medical records; he was being considered for promotion to Brigadier General. “Go to hell Col.” Dad said, “I’ve put in 32 years in this Army, I’m retiring in 20 days. Of course, the family was disappointed. Knowing Dad would have gone from Private E-1 to General without benefit of a college degree would have been quite an accomplishment, but Dad was adamant.

His retirement years were good ones, he and Mom spent the next 26 years sharing time with each other. He had a stroke in ’84 but substantially recovered though now he felt much “sicker”. He survived a bout of thyroid cancer. Mom had multiple mini-strokes over a years time and died in ’98. Dad was devastated

He never got over his love for mom though, each night he would kiss her picture and say “good night, I’ll be with you soon enough.” Dad’s cancer returned with a vengeance and he refused treatment. “I’m old and tired,” he said, “I want to be with your mom.”

On September 3, 2000 in mid afternoon, and in his sleep, he gasped one last time and “Slipped the Surly Bonds of Earth.”

I learned a lot from my Dad, and the older I got, the wiser he got. I learned to love my God, my family, my country. I learned that all men are created equal and though equal outcomes are impossible, if you try to be the best that you can, you never lose.

I learned that there are truly evil men out there, governments that trample on the rights of their citizens, governments that would love to crush America. I learned too that the American people are the most generous in the world, that we have a way of life that really is, as Ronald Reagan noted “The Shining City On The Hill.”

I miss you Dad, and I want you to know that you were really and truly a hero to me, and to others. You didn’t die in war, but you gave your life for your country in the best possible way, by living, but by also willing to put your life on the line. Thanks Dad, you will ALWAYS be my hero.

Posted in The Military

The Last Battle

102nd Infantry Division patchThe 102nd Infantry Division fought from Cherbourg, France through some of the roughest fighting, the Bulge , the Roer, the Rhine facing the German 2nd Paratroop Division, the atrocity at Gardelegen and on to the Elbe At a bridge in Northern Germany, the Tangermunde Bridge, elements of the 102nd Infantry Division watched the last battle between the Russians and the fleeing Germans. This is their story. Reprinted in its entirety from the 102nd Infantry Divisions Official History

DASH TO THE ELBE

On April 12th the Ozarks continued to press east toward the Elbe River, following the spearheading 5th Armored Division. From this point on no further enemy resistance of any magnitude was expected nor encountered. Without reserves, transportation, food or ammunition the enemy had little choice but to surrender. For the most part they either retreated north and across the Elbe or gave up. Those that were retreating didn’t take the necessary precautions to destroy bridges left in their paths. This only helped the pace at which the Allies advanced.

The 102nd, 84th and 35th Infantry Divisions were advancing so quickly that the only danger lay from by-passed German units that could not always be tracked down in the forests. Potential pockets of resistance and ambushes awaited around every turn. By days end the 405th Regiment405th infantry regiment crest, 3rd Battalion had traversed approximately 30 miles east to Meine. Their 2nd Battalion made it to Rotgesbuttel and the 1st occupied Rethen. The 406th Regiment was slightly north in Gifhorn.

The next day the 406th, 3rd Battalion after covering about 25 miles ran into a small but stiff pocket of resistance in the woods Northwest of Schwiesau. It would take them until the 14th to clear the woods and head south through Gardelegen to Erxleben. The 2nd Battalion of the 406th headed northeast from the Gardelegen Highway to Osterburg, a town just west of the banks of the Elbe. The 405th Regiment’s 1st Battalion advanced to the Elbe into Stendal, near Tangemunde. The 3rd Battalion of the 405th also made it to the Elbe this day. They were south of the 1st in Burgstal. The Ozarks had unequivocally reached the Elbe.

The 405th, 2nd Battalion advanced on Gardelegen from the West and met intense small arms fire. Paratroopers determined to protect a Luftwaffe airfield located within the moated town were soon overrun by two platoons of tanks. No sooner had the 2nd Battalion emerged from the town than they once again found themselves under heavy fire. Unbeknown to the Ozarks at the time, but the enemy was trying to delay the inevitable. The men of the 405th Regiment were about to discover one of the most horrific atrocities of the war.

The Russian Army was pushing the Germans west toward the Elbe. It was agreed upon by the Allied Command that they would take Berlin and the 102nd would hold the Elbe. This did not sit well with the GIs of the 102nd. They had fought their way across Germany and earned a much-deserved reputation as being a division to be reckoned with; only to be stopped short of grabbing the brass ring. But there was still plenty of work to be done on the Elbe. The next two weeks would be spent establishing control of all roads and villages on the west bank of the river. The 102nd relieved the 84th and 35th infantries and 5th Armored Division and set up a defensive position between Osterburg to the north and Burg to the south. A distance covering some 50 linear miles.

A final pocket of organized resistance existed along the Elbe east of Stendal. A town located roughly half way between the two aforementioned defensive perimeter boundaries. For nearly a week the Germans protected a demolished railroad bridge across the Elbe. On April 21st the 405th Regiment captured the trestle following a surprise attack. Sixty German soldiers gave their lives defending this tactically worthless piece of real estate. Perhaps they didn’t realize the end was so near for the Third Reich.

On April 25th as the Russian Army was attacking Berlin, just forty-eight miles east of the Elbe, German soldiers and civilians began surrendering en mass to the Ozarks. As far as they were concerned their war with the Allied Forces was over. Germany’s once proud army feared the Russians so much that an organized crossing to the west bank of the Elbe could not wait. Fear stricken hordes crossed on anything they could find; rafts, inner tubes, planks, and tubs. The once elite Panzer Troops stripped down and swam across the river naked. German soldiers fought each other for debris to swim across on. Thousands of Wehrmacht soldiers arriving in trucks surrendered to the 102nd in Tangermunde. Their generals and colonels argued as to who was there first to surrender.

As chaotic and unbelievable as things had appeared for the past week it got worse on May 7th. Morning light brought the Russian Army. Their infantry crossed a four-mile square meadow leading up to the rail/traffic bridge at Tangermunde. Some Wehrmacht, with the end of the war only hours away, refused to surrender. From the west bank the 102nd could only watch as the Russians fought those that refused to surrender. The Russians literally walked up to the bridge approaching the fleeing mob surging across. Map showing the Russian Army’s push west toward the Elbe.

Some German soldiers, who at first sight of the Russians crossing the meadow, had taken cover behind bushes and in tall grass. The Russians,in their haste to get to the bridge to stop the escaping enemy, bypassed the hidden soldiers. It was a mistake both sides would regret. The hidden Germans ambushed their enemy. The Russians fell back and the Germans made a mad dash for the bridge. The Russians opened up on the bridge area with an artillery barrage. Shells fell upon soldiers and civilians alike. The Ozarks, under military law, could only stand by and helplessly watch. In a short while the shelling stopped and the Russian Army once again advanced on the bridge and linked up with the 102nd. The war in Europe would officially end the next day, May 8th, on the banks of the Elbe River.

By war’s end, the 102nd suffered:

Killed in Action: 932
Wounded in Action: 3,668
Died of wounds:145
Prisoners taken: 147,358

Posted in The Military

Why I’m Leaving the Boy Scouts of America

I realize that just by posting anything in relation to the current organization and organizational decision, I will be branded and labeled everything from racist to homophobe to hate-mongerer. Of course none of that is true, and if you already think that of me, just stop reading, you are wasting your time. But for those of you who are interested, please read on so I may explain why I no longer wish to be affiliated, in any way, with the BSA.

It is with a great deal of sadness that I find myself writing this letter. The Boy Scouts of America has been a large part of my life, especially since my son joined scouting years ago. I have had good times with my son and with other scouts learning about the outdoors, leadership, and maturity from the Yukon of Canada to the sandy beaches of North Carolina and many, many places in-between. But for me, all that is now over. I will attempt to explain why:

Imagine that you are part of an organization. Let’s call it the DWWALD. That stands for “Don’t wear white after Labor Day.” Your organization decides that it doesn’t want to wear white after Labor Day. All the members agree that you should not wear white after Labor Day. They don’t try and tell anyone else what to wear. They don’t condemn anyone who wears white after Labor Day. They simply gather together on occasion, and they don’t wear white after Labor Day.

Then imagine there is another group called WWA. This is the “Wear White Always” group. They like to wear white clothes all year round. One day the WWA group realizes that they are not welcome as members of the DWWALD group because, well, they like to wear white after Labor Day. The DWWALD tells the members they’re not welcome because, well, the members of DWWALD don’t want to wear white after Labor Day.

So, instead of letting people gather as they will, the members of WWA bring lawsuits and do everything they can to shut down the DWWALD group. They boycott, convince others to oppose them, and so on. Much to WWA’s dismay, the DWWALD group just continues on, minding their own business. DWWALD just wants to not wear white (after Labor Day), but that’s not good enough for WWA. Finally, WWA manages to penetrate the leadership and cajole or convince the leaders of DWWALD to change their rules. Now the DWWALD allows its members to wear white all year round.

At this point, the members of DWWALD are left with two options: remain a member of DWWALD, and participate with those who wear white after Labor Day, or leave the group so they can continue to not wear white after Labor Day. By leaving the group, they are not condemning those who wear white after Labor Day, they just don’t want to be part of the group that does wear white after Labor Day.

It is similar with me. I have been associated with the Boy Scouts of America since I was a small boy. I was in Cub Scouts, Webelos, and Boy Scouts for many years. I was an adult leader from Den Leader to Scoutmaster that helped boys become men and leaders through the Boy Scout program. But now that the BSA has changed their rules, they have changed what they are and what they represent. I no longer wish to be affiliated with a group that caves to pressure from those who hold opposing opinions and values. At the end of this year, I will no longer associate with the BSA in any form. I will still work to find ways to help mold boys into men with Godly values, but the BSA is no longer a place where I am welcome to do that.

Posted in General

Thoughts on Gun Control

I didn’t writ this, it was written by an old friend Robert Bidinotto. I freely stole it from his Facebook post, but I thought it so important that it should be shared on my Facebook page and here as well. Robert, you done good kid, you done good.

THOUGHTS DURING THE GUN-CONTROL DEBATE: During my days doing investigative crime articles for Reader’s Digest, I had the (dubious) opportunity to saturate myself in case studies of various sociopaths and to read the studies of, and interview, a host of top experts on criminal psychology. After culling through all of it looking for answers as to why these people do what they do, I came to the conclusion that there are these universally present ingredients:

1. Low self-esteem, leading to a “social victim” self-image

2. Cultivating some excuse/rationale for violent retaliation against one’s “victimizers.” (These excuses can be simple and personal, or elaborate and even ideological.)

3. Constant “rehearsal,” through fantasy, about (re)gaining power and control in one’s life, through violence and “revenge.”

4. In cases of serial crimes, a pattern of escalating acts of violence against select targets. In cases of sudden mass murders, a long-fantasized, rehearsed, and planned quasi-”military” strike of “righteous slaughter” against anonymous representatives of the hated “society,” or against some symbolic target group of tormentors, often touched off by some kind of “last straw” insult or failure in the perp’s life.

You see these elements again and again and again. That’s how criminal profilers can so accurately draw up a predictive portrait of some unknown perpetrator in these crimes.

Guns are not the cause of any of this. They are just one means to nihilistic ends. The spree attacker who stabbed 14 people with an Exacto-knife this week says he had fantasized about doing that since the age of eight. Serial killers like Ted Bundy lived in a fantasy world of sadistic porn, their crimes escalated from “peeping Tom,” to stalking, to breaking-and-entering girls’ residences, to violent assaults — then to kidnapping, rape, torture, strangulation, etc., ad nauseum. Neither of these losers used guns.

If you study violent repeat criminals, you’ll find that they are constantly losing themselves in a mental universe of violent role-playing. And violent role-playing games are MUCH more realistic in depicting scenes of carnage and bloodshed — and in stimulating violent fantasies — than shooting at some bland paper target in the controlled environment of a firing range.

Focusing on gun control is entirely beside the point. If these creatures don’t have access to guns, they’ll find another brutal way to strike. Serial rapists and murderers rarely use guns; they prefer more “personal” means of hurting. The worst mass murder in an American school took place many decades ago; the perpetrator was a farmer who used three fertilizer-based bombs to slaughter scores of kids, teachers, and administrators. Ditto, the Oklahoma City bombers.

Feel-good gun-control measures, which only deprive law-abiding citizens of their right to self-defense, are futile, because nihilistic killers, by definition, will NEVER obey any laws, including gun laws. They’ll find other means — bombs, poison, knives, automobiles, airplanes, or simple arson — to slaughter others.

What parents, families, friends, and co-workers should focus on instead are tell-tale signs of any of the behavioral characteristics I mentioned above. Only a small minority of people who exhibit the first three characteristics will finally “act out” their fantasies; but all of those who DO take such violent actions exhibit those first three characteristics.

Sadly, a subjectivist, morally relativistic society where people have been taught that “anything goes” and that the highest value is attaining instant fame and “celebrity,” is a breeding ground for such creatures. And a host of “progressive” intellectuals are only too eager to offer deterministic excuses and legal defenses for them, enabling widespread sociopathic conduct. A society without moral moorings, that encourages and rewards narcissism, is not up to the task of minimizing sociopathy — which is only one step removed from narcissism.

Posted in General | 3 Comments

“We The Incompetent -

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- do hereby promise to do everything in our power, as your duly elected officials, to screw up as much as we can, as fast as we can and as thoroughly as we can.”

This would seem to be the oath of office that far too many of our politicians take as soon as they have the power of whatever office they are elected to. Obama for example has decided to ignore the 10th amendment, Bloomberg wants to limit the size of your soft drink and believes that “government knows best.” The number of instances that can be cited regarding this are too numerous to mention in this short post, but doesn’t it strike you as odd that our leaders have quit leading, and started dictating instead? Time to vote all of the bastards out and it doesn’t matter what party they belong to.

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Where Are The Adults?

004-05This is a long overdue post, but I just have to know, where the hell are the adults in Washington D.C.? The old Punch drawing to the left shows a small child striking at the adult. I see the child as representing Congress and the Political Class and the adult as the rest of us. But even this supposes we are the adults.

Can this be so if we idly sit by and let the politicians pass, or in some cases, fail to pass reasonable and appropriate legislation? We have the White House posturing with threats of doomsday with the sequestered monies that the White House insisted be sequestered. We have Congressional Democrats making dire predictions about how the Republicans want to shut down the entire economy, starve kids, and foster dirty air and water. We have Congressional Republicans agree to ongoing resolutions on the spending that they say are breaking the bank. Where the hell are the adults?

I’m growing more and more disillusioned with the lot of them. This is what I think needs to happen -
spank
and soon.

Posted in Democrats, Republicans | 1 Comment