Veteran’s Day

In 2012, as we gathered to salute our veterans, and the rest of the Anglosphere gathered to remember their war dead, there was no one to take our salute for the Great War. Florence Green, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, died on 4 February 2012 two weeks short of her 111th birthday, at King’s Lynne. She was the very last veteran of World War I. And so, while we remember them, never again will we see them on this side.

Maybe it’s just as well, they likely wouldn’t be impressed with the mess we have made on both sides of the Atlantic. But we have an advantage, we have their example for a guide. They were indeed our best, equal in every way to those who came a mere twenty years later, and even in the conflicts, hot and cold, that followed that war. Only a fool thinks there will ever be a war to end all wars.

But 101 years ago, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the war we still call the Great War came to end, first by an armistice and then by treaty. The things left undone in the negotiations would have much to do with the Second World War, but that is nothing to do with the warriors.

Interestingly, it is also Old Michaelmas Day, the day when St Michael the Archangel threw out Devil out of Heaven. St Michael the Archangel is, of course, the leader of the heavenly army that will defeat Satan at the end of days. He is also the Patron of Paratroopers, and some say the Infantry. So a very appropriate day, wonder if they thought of it in 1918.

The date of July 4, 1917 marks a watershed. It was the day that a battalion of the 11th US Infantry marched through Paris, proclaiming “Lafayette, we are here”. A recognition that we owed France much for their help in the Revolution.

It marked a watershed in the war, as the promise of new fresh troops, lifted the morale of the Allies, and hurt that of the Central Powers. But more than that, it was a watershed for America, too. For the first time, we put our soldiers in harm’s way to save other people. The world changed.

It took us till about 1942 before we realized that now we were the leaders of the free world, that the British and the Empire had impoverished themselves in the Great War, and could no longer control events. In 1945, we took that mantle, somewhat unwillingly, but decisively. And thus was born both the Pax Americana and “The American Century”.

And all through the century, our troops have been everything we could have wished, and the best ambassadors America could have wished for. A good many years ago now, Robert Leckie called them “Planetary Soldiers”. It was and is an apt description.

 

Admiral Nimitz rather summed up our armed forces when he said after Iwo Jima:

Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue

The Real Heroes Are Dead

One of the heroic men I often write about around 9/11 is Rick Rescorla. The man whose foresight saved all but thirteen Dean Whitter Morgan Stanley employees (he was lost that day, and his body was never found) on that dark day. So do others, Powerline, like here has a recurring post on him, and The Victory Girls often do, as well. But we all have something to add now. Colonel Rescorla, born in Cornwall, veteran of the British Paratroopers who served during the war in Cyprus and Rhodesia, and an American veteran of the 7th Cavalry in the First Battle of Ia Drang, in Vietnam. If you have seen the cover of We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, that man is Rick Rescorla. He was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously this week. Watch.

 

I really like the write up that Nina Bookout gave him at The Victory Girls.

There is so much more to Rick’s story. He was a British paratrooper who served with the British Army on Cyprus and then in Rhodesia. Not long after that he emigrated to the United States and joined the Army. This man, who had already been in battle, joined up in time to go to battle again. This time at the Battle of la Drang. The loss of the men he served with never left him.  It is his photo that is the cover of “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young.” 

“In 1965 Rescorla knew war. His men did not, yet. To steady them, to break their concentration away from the fear that may grip a man when he realizes there are hundreds of men very close by who want to kill him, Rescorla sang. Mostly he sang dirty songs that would make a sailor blush. Interspersed with the lyrics was the voice of command: ‘Fix bayonets…on liiiiine…reaaaa-dy…forward.’ It was a voice straight from Waterloo, from the Somme, implacable, impeccable, impossible to disobey. His men forgot their fear, concentrated on his orders and marched forward as he led them straight into the pages of history: 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry…’Hard Corps.’”

Years later, as head of security for Morgan Stanley, Rick found himself in another fight. One against terrorism. After the first attack on the Twin Towers, Rick instituted mandatory evacuation drills. He KNEW that another attack would happen. He wanted every person who worked in those offices to be prepared. He wanted every person in those offices to be able to react immediately.

On that day, that fateful day when terrorists tried to bring us to our knees, Rick Rescorla’s planning and training saved lives. 2,700 lives in fact. While building personnel were ordering people to stay at their desks, Rick bullied Morgan Stanley employees into moving out to safety.

THEN…he went back UP the stairs!

“”Everybody said, ‘Rick your folks are out. You’ve done what you need to do,’ but he pointed up the stairwell and said, ‘You hear those screams? There’s more people up there. I have to help get them out,’” Lt. Col. Andrew Watson said at the conference room dedication, as reported by Military.com. He said he would run to safety only once he had gotten everyone in the building out.”

Probably the best write up from the time is by James B. Stewart in The New Yorker.

The title as you’ll find in the New Yorker article is a quote from Rick Rescorla.

“”Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming
Can’t you see their spear points gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready.
STAND AND NEVER YIELD!
– “Men of Harlech”
Sung by Rick Rescorla in the Ia Drang Valley 1965 and in the stairway of WTC Tower 2 on September 11, 2001″”

 

Sunday Funnies, Zero Bark Thirty

Well, another week, and we should all be an hour’s worth better rested. We’ve had worse weeks, but we’ve had better too. Life is like that.

 

 

 

From the Babylon Bee, of course

 

 

 

Worth Remembering

And, of course

Baghdadi Mission, Early Ramifications

What I’m going to do today is take two articles from The Federalist, one by Sumantra Maitra on US policy and one by Mollie Heminway on the media response, and see if there is any synergy there. Both are well worth your time to read and reflect on.

One of the things that struck me the most watching the events unfolding last night was the fact that President Trump knew about the ongoing operation to kill or capture ISIS founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for more than a week. This is significant, as it goes against all conventional wisdom about a man who’s extraordinarily loquacious on social media.

As the reports started to come in, it was apparent that this was an operation planned in exquisite details and the administration was kept abreast of the developments all the way.

“The president was taken options this week [meaning last week]. He reviewed them, asked some great questions, chose the option that we thought gave us the highest probability of success and confirmation that the head of ISIS would be there and either captured or killed,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.

That’s how it’s supposed to be done, a decapitation strike, and that’s what this was, always goes to the President. Although I suppose there could be exceptions, say if Jefferson Davis had suddenly stood on the defenses of Richmond, a Union sniper just might have taken the shot. But the point is, this type of strike can have ramifications far beyond what the captain or colonel on the ground knows.

This strike was meticulously planned and executed. Nobody can do that on the spur of the moment. That tells us there was pretty good operational (as opposed to strategic or tactical) intelligence – we actually do have a clue what’s going on. The other thing about that is that security held, from the President to the lowest ranking Ranger, we didn’t read about it in the press before it happened. In a city of leakers, that is remarkable and perhaps tells us that Trump’s team is coming together. I read a report yesterday, that the enemy knew about it when the helicopters came over the horizon. American power at its best, applying the right force at the right point. That matters, a lot.

Other powers who could be affected (or screw up our plans) Russia, certainly; Turkey possibly, and of course Assad and the Kurds were all told. Congress was not, nor should they have been. Nobody leaked the slightest bit about it.

And all this while the President was being roasted for the (I think, very wise) withdrawal from northeast Syria, and note both things were happening at the same time. All in all a very good operation, well planned and well-executed.

And my lord, as Mollie tells us, the press simply went crazy. I imagine you’ve all read the horrific headline in the Washington Post (and the Twitter response, if you haven’t, do, it’s the best comedy in America right now) but it was widespread

Legacy media outlets responded to President Trump’s announcement of the U.S. military’s successful mission against ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with their trademark hostility and anger. That’s because the inarguably good news threatens corporate media goals for shaping foreign policy, impeaching the president, and defeating Trump in 2020.

“Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death, has violently been eliminated — he will never again harm another innocent man, woman or child,” Trump told the nation on Sunday. “He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place.”

Note that for Mollie (who is one the half dozen best reporters in Washington) as for me, it is simply a given that the press will do anything to drive Trump from office. If they have any residual American patriotism, they’ve long since locked it in the vault, along with the memory of being a profitable business.

In The Lion and the Unicorn George Orwell wrote that:

England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God Save the King” than of stealing from a poor box.

That describes our press (and most of our establishment, especially on both coasts) to a T. That’s sad, but reality is real, and we have to deal with it. From Mollie, she supports her points in the article.

Instead, President Trump’s administration has been marked by success in the domestic and foreign spheres. The economy is humming, including job and wage growth the media had previously said was unlikely to impossible to achieve. This is due to tax cuts, tax reform, and unprecedented deregulation. No new wars have been launched, much less the apocalyptic nuclear wars the media predicted. A long overdue recalibration with China is taking place.

What is good news for the country is bad news for the media and their political allies. […]

The death of Baghdadi, following a successful operation that required cooperation with Turkey, Syrian Kurds, Russia and others, at the very least complicates that narrative. That recent events with Turkey might have helped accomplish this goal complicates the narrative. That the Delta Force came in from troops stationed outside of Syria complicates the narrative. And the fact that all this happened at the very moment SNL was accusing the president of helping ISIS obliterates the narrative.

While the bipartisan foreign policy consensus promised ISIS’ growth and victory over the U.S., the U.S. military was actually planning Baghdadi’s capture or killing. The media are attempting to spin that this event happened “despite” Trump’s foreign policy approach, but that argument will have little persuasion outside of the Trump-deranged Resistance. […]

Yesterday’s Sunday Morning shows — no matter the outlet or the particular host — were all scheduled to throw more fuel on the impeachment fire. Instead, they were forced to cover a major success in the battle to defeat the Islamic State.

To repeat:

What is good news for the country is bad news for the media and their political allies.

That’s a fact of life, we have to live with and will destroy the media if we do, and that is a very good thing.

Remember what Andrew Breitbart said? “Fuck yeah, War!”

Monday Roundup

And so, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, serial rapist and the founder of ISIS, met justice Sunday morning, in the form of an American Ranger, who so frightened him that ran into a cave screaming and crying and there detonated a suicide vest killing himself and three of his kids.

Good! As they say, “You can run but you’ll only die tired.”

What was not good was the Washington Post’s response. First, they got it right, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief,’ dies at 48.” But the Bezos Bulletin couldn’t have that, so they changed it to this, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48,”. They took so much flack on Twitter (not only from conservatives) that they changed it again, to, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48.”   Better, but not as good as what the headine writer originally wrote.

But that was the tone of it anyway, they didn’t get around to his keeping of sex slaves until paragraph 40. The Washington Post, all the fake news that is unfit to print. More at The Federalist and everywhere else.


A lot of very good stuff showed up over the weekend, so let’s take some quick looks, shall we?

From John Eidson at American Thinker comes Hong Kong’s Freedom Protestors are Making Democrats Grimace.

During his farewell address from the Oval Office, Ronald Regan referred to the country he loved as “that shining city upon a hill … a magnet for all who must have freedom.” A century and a quarter earlier, Abraham Lincoln, on the verge of signing the Emancipation Proclamation, sent a letter to Congress in which he referred to America as “the last best hope of earth.”

Now threatened by the kind of ironfisted crackdown common to every communist nation in history (no exceptions), the people of Hong Kong see the great United States of America as that shining city upon a hill.

In the days since China threatened harsh action against the growing protest movement, freedom-loving Hong Kongers have defiantly waved U.S. flags at massive demonstrations in the city that finds itself in the crosshairs of the world’s most heavily armed communist nation.

Not everyone sees America as that shining city on a hill, the last best hope of mankind. China certainly doesn’t see America that way, nor do other totalitarian countries, such as Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela. And neither does the modern Democratic Party, which decades ago stopped seeing their country as the greatest land of freedom the world has ever known.

Keep reading, but I think he might be incorrect here. I think the Democrats do indeed see the United States that very way. That is why they hate it (and us) so. We are almost the last impediment to their totalitarian dream. A hundred million or so armed people who still believe in what the Founders said, wrote, and did.


Also at American Thinker, Diana Mary Sitek tells us how to, How to Bring Down the Ideology of the Left.

The great Roman orator, Cicero, advised that there are always two sides to every dispute. Both sides justify their claims using chains of reasoning (not necessarily in accordance with objective data) against which logical argument, he stated, cannot carry off victory. Vanquishment can be achieved only by an appeal to the emotions — and here, Democrats have been winning hands down, except in the area of popular national patriotism championed by the president.

She has some very good ideas, I think.


Our subscriber and new friend, The Portly Politico has some thoughts on The Dirty Pierre

If only I had a shadow Twitter account, from which I could give myself an emotional boost whenever I’m having a rough-and-tumble, post-recovery morning.

That’s my clumsy segue into today’s topic—Senator Mitt Romney’s latest pathetic act of perfidy, the Twitter account with the hysterical, outrageous nom de plume “Pierre Delecto.”

It’s excellent and I agree wholeheartedly.


Maybe a couple of videos to round this off.

Lloyd Marcus at American Thinker is finding that Young Adults Fed Up with SJW and LGBTQ Tyranny, As usual with Lloyd, the article is worth your time. He’s also touting a film by conservative filmmaker Robert Kirk. Here is the trailer. It’s funny!


Mark Steyn is not funny, but he is right. Here he answers the mail.


My Sunday earworm was this so I’ll pass it on.

Thus was built that great shining city on the hill to be dreamed of by all the world’s people. It’s still worth fighting for.

Yes, I know the film was not real history, but as Jess used to tell us, it is our myth and this is how we, and the world too, see us. Not a bad thing, either.

St. Crispin/Crispians Day

Well, it’s St Crispin’s Day again, and that makes it a day to talk of the bravery of English and American armed forces, not that there is ever a bad day for that. St. Crispin’s Day is a pretty good encapsulation of our military histories though, always brave, sometimes badly led, and more often than not, victorious.

From Wikipedia: “Saint Crispin’s Day falls on 25 October and is the feast day of the Christian Saints Crispin and Crispinian , twins who were martyred c. 286.” That’s where the day gets its name. What it’s famous for is the battles of the English-speaking peoples that have been fought on it. The fact that we have fought some of our most famous battles on a day name for twins, I find interesting.

The first we will look at took place during the “Hundred Years War”. Henry V of England with a small army was on his way to Calais, getting chased all over northern France by Constable Charles d’Albret of France. The French King (Charles VI) was mentally incapacitated. Henry was heavily outnumbered and decided to arouse his exhausted army before the battle by giving a speech.

The English won the battle with ridiculously low casualties while wreaking havoc on the French forces. The reason for this was the English (and Welsh) longbowmen, making this the first battle since Roman times when infantry was anything but a rabble for the knights to ride down.

For this reason, Agincourt is often cited as a victory for the freemen of England over the aristocracy.

Battle number two for the day wasn’t so kind to the British.

This one was a cavalry charge against Russian Artillery. It was commanded by Lord Raglan (Yes, the sleeves are named for him). The orders he issued were vague and Lord Cardigan (Yes, he designed the sweater) executed the worst possible interpretation of them. The charge was carried out by the British light cavalry brigade which consisted of the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, and the 8th and 11th Hussars, whose bravery we have never forgotten. It was too well immortalized.

Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

—Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Here’s a visual version.

It should be added that Great Britain didn’t do a great job of taking care of their veterans (neither did the U.S.) in those days.  Rudyard Kipling had this to say:

The Last of the Light Brigade

There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”

They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant’s order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

They strove to stand to attention, to straighten the toil-bowed back;
They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and “Beggin’ your pardon,” he said,
“You wrote o’ the Light Brigade, sir. Here’s all that isn’t dead.
An’ it’s all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin’ the mouth of hell;
For we’re all of us nigh to the workhouse, an’ we thought we’d call an’ tell.

“No, thank you, we don’t want food, sir; but couldn’t you take an’ write
A sort of ‘to be continued’ and ‘see next page’ o’ the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an’ couldn’t you tell ’em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.”

The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with “the scorn of scorn.”
And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

They sent a cheque to the felon that sprang from an Irish bog;
They healed the spavined cab-horse; they housed the homeless dog;
And they sent (you may call me a liar), when felon and beast were paid,
A cheque, for enough to live on, to the last of the Light Brigade.

O thirty million English that babble of England’s might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children’s children are lisping to “honour the charge they made – ”
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

OK, that’s two, only one more to go, 90 years later, to the day, halfway around the world

The Battle of Leyte Gulf

This time it’s the US Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The Japanese realized that losing the Philippine Islands meant losing the war put everything they had left into this battle. Here a chart that shows the relative strengths.

Navy Large carriers Small Carriers Aircraft Embarked Battleships Cruisers Destroyers
United States 8 24  1712 12  24 141 
Japan 1 117 9  20 34

from: http://www.angelfire.com/fm/odyssey/LEYTE_GULF_Summary_of_the_Battle_.htm

From the chart, you can see how amazingly the USN had recovered from Pearl Harbor and the early battles of the war. You should also note that if the ship is not engaged in the battle it doesn’t count for much, so here we go.

The Japanese had a complicated plan depending on close timing between forces coming from various ports and operating under what we call EMCOM now. Essentially radio silence; meaning they couldn’t coordinate their attacks.

The Japanese carriers which had essentially no planes or pilots were used as a decoy force to try to pull Halsey’s 3d fleet away to the north. This worked, although it took them a long time to attract the American’s attention. When they were finally spotted Halsey went charging off after them until he was almost in gunshot and then turned around to help 7th fleet (which we are coming to). This also ended up being too late, so America’s premier naval force mostly sailed around burning oil and accomplishing not much of anything.

The Japanese Centre Force was first spotted in the Palawan Passage by the submarines Darter and Dace. Darter sank the Heavy Cruiser Atago which was Admiral Kurita’s flagship and Dace sank the Takao and severely damaged the Maya, which was forced to withdraw.

Halsey’s force made 259 sorties against the Centre Force eventually sinking the battleship Musashi with her 18.1-inch guns. They also did damage to some other ships. But Kurita made for the San Bernadino Strait at night with 4 battleships and 6 heavy and 3 light cruisers all fully operational.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Southern force including two elderly battleships under Admirals Nishimura and Shima were spotted on the morning of the 24th and Admiral Kincaid who realized they would attempt to attack the landing through the Surigao Strait was preparing to meet them. Kincaid’s 7th fleet had plenty of power for this.

The Battle of Surigao Strait

Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf had 6 old battleships (5 of which had been sunk at Pearl Harbor), 4 Heavy and 4 Light Cruisers, 26 destroyers and 39 PT Boats. He deployed his lighter ship along the side of the strait and formed his battle line. PT 131 made the first contact and for 3 and a half hours the squadron attacked the Japanese force without a hit but, providing contact reports to the force. As Nishimura’s forces entered the strait the American destroyers attacked; hitting both battleships, the Yamishira was able to continue but, Fuso blew up and sank. Admiral Shima with the 2d Striking Force was much discouraged when he came upon the burning halves and other wreckage of the destroyer attack and decided to withdraw. So as Admiral Nishimura emerged from the strait to engage Oldendorf’s battle line, he had 1 Battleship, 1 Cruiser, and 1 Destroyer. Oldendorf crossed his “T”. Parenthetically this is what Lord Nelson risked with his battle plan at Trafalgar that we talked about a few days ago. The American Battleline started firing as they got range information (some had radar rangefinders and some didn’t) at about 30,000 yards. The Battleship was sunk, the Cruiser wrecked and somehow the Destroyer escaped. This was the last surface gun action in history.

The battle off Samar

7th fleet had 18 escort carriers divided into thee task units. They were equipped for fighting submarines and providing air cover to the landing, not for a full-on naval battle. These are usually referred to by their radio call signs Taffy 1, Taffy 2, and the most northerly, Taffy 3 under Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague. It was a routine morning until at 0647 Ensign Jensen from the Kadashan Bay sighted (and attacked) a force that he accurately reported as 4 Battleships and 8 Cruisers. The surprise was complete. A few minutes later heavy shells began falling around the carriers.

Admiral Sprague was in trouble. He was being chased by heavily armed warships which were considerably faster than his escort carriers and were already in range. He also had very few weapons that could hurt them. He started chasing shell splashes, making smoke, running away, and yelling for help, from 3d fleet, 7th fleet, a merciful God, or somewhere. At 0716 he also ordered his three destroyers, the Hoel, the Herrmann, and the Johnston, to counterattack the Japanese which they did with incredible bravery. At 0750 the Destroyer escorts also attacked. Remember these are anti-submarine ships with 5-inch and 3-inch guns going on the attack against Battleships and Heavy Cruisers. Not terribly different from charging the Russian guns 90 years before. They attacked with torpedoes and guns and managed to disrupt the Japanese formation enough to give Sprague a chance to get away. All the available aircraft also attacked even though they weren’t carrying the proper (if any) ordnance for this work, they strafed and buzzed and annoyed the Japanese though.

By 0945 the Johnston, the Hoel and destroyer escort Samuel B. Roberts had been sunk. and the escort carrier Gambier Bay was hit repeatedly by 8-inch shells and sank at 0907.

But Kurita had lost control of his formation (and was probably worrying about when 3d fleet would turn up) and broke off the action at 0911.

While Taffy 3 was doing all this, Taffy 1 was subjected to the first organized use of that new weapon: the Kamikaze, Taffy three would be so attacked in the afternoon.

And so we have St Crispin’s Day, a day of mostly victorious battle for the English-speaking peoples. The English win one with a “Band of Brothers”; the British lose one heroically and gloriously, and the Americans win one part easily, live through a terrible nightmare, while the American varsity is off hunting empty carriers.

 

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