World War III

Today is the feast day of St. John Paul the second. As any of us old enough to remember he was one that triumvirate, including Reagan and Thatcher, who defeated the Soviet Union, and did it peacefully. Some friends of mine say that he was the greatest of them, I think it may be so. He surely had the most compelling story. For more on him, Chalcedon wrote about this today, here.

But it was a very close run thing, there were many alarms in the night, before that hateful wall came down, and it could easily have gone wrong. Here’s one way it could have. Today’s movie is a reminder of what and why we held the line all those years.


Thank God saner heads prevailed.

Hat tip to Weaponsman

Myths,legends and facts


I don’t know about you guys, but one of the greatest pleasures of this site for me, is going into the archives and reading what we have written, especially for me what Jessica has written. She has a gift, of drawing lessons for us from many things, and making them stick. And mind, there is a lesson here for us all. So let’s share one of my favorites.

“This is the West, sir, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” One of my favourite quotations from any film, and it is what the newpaper editor, Scott, says to Jimmy Stewart’s character, Ransom Stoddard at the end of The Man who shot Liberty Vallance. Even for the great John Ford, that’s some line. Stoddard, a Washington grandee, former Ambassador to the UK and likely Presidential nominee, has come back to the town of Shinbone for the funeral of a local rancher, a nobody called Tom Doniphon, and the local press want to know why: Jimmy Stewart’s character tells them a story which is not just about how the West was won, but how it became civilized.

The story began quarter of a century before, when what is now the State was a Territory – with men who wanted it to stay that way. The young Stoddard is held up by a notorious outlaw, Liberty Valance, and pistol-whipped. Doniphon, a tough local rancher, takes him back to town and sets him up with the family who run the local canteen – his love interest, Hallie helps the wounded lawyer recover, and he helps out at the canteen – eventually falling foul of Vallance – played by Lee Marvin at his brilliant best. In a scene packed with tension, Doniphon tells Valance to pick up the food that’s been spilled by him tripping ‘Ranse’ Stoddard up: it looks like there will be a shoot out – but Vallance backs away – Doniphon’s that sort of a guy.

So, we have there the old West, men are men and all that. It’s rough and tough, and if you haven’t got a gun – or don’t know how to use it – you’re not going to get far – or even live long. But Stoddard is the new order’s forerunner. He believes in the law, sets up an office in Shinbone and works with the local editor as the Territory moves towards statehood.

Doniphon tries to help Stoddard adapt to the ways of the West, but an attempt to teach him how to use a gun is a failure. But Valance and his type are not to be stopped by the law. They beat up the editor and burn down the newspaper offices, and Valance challenges Stoddard to fight him. The first two shots see ‘Ranse’ injured, and he drops his gun – Valance, wanting to rub it in tells him to pick it up – sure the next shot will be right between the eyes – but to everyone’s surprise, the next shot kills Valance. Hallie runs to help the wounded Ranse. Doniphon, who actually fired the shot, sees that he has, in saving Stoddard, lost Hallie – he goes back home, drinks himself into a rage and burns his house down – being saved by his faithful retainer.

At the convention where the vote for who should represent the Territory in Washington is to be taken, Stoddard is challenged by a rival, who says that he should not be trusted because he shot a man. Soddard hesitates, wondering if that is actually the case – should a gun fighter be a politician. Doniphon removes his doubts by telling him the truth about the man who shot Liberty Valance. The rest is history, Stoddard becomes Governor, Senator and Ambassador, marries Hallie and has the career which opened up to men of his type as the United States moved towards its manifest destiny. Now Doniphon is dead, it is time to tell the truth – but the press don’t want the truth – the legend does them just fine.

So Doniphon, who had saved Stoddard’s life and made his career possible, dies alone and unheralded – but not quite, Hallie and Ranse have not forgotten him, or who he was, and who he was was more important than what he did. He did what he did because of who he was. He was the sort of man who did the right thing because it never occurred to him to do the other thing.

This is Ford’s world at its best – there’s no one does the old world making way for the new better. He admires the values of the old West, and he sees them re-embodied in a different form in the new. Doniphon and Stoddard are two sides of the same coin. Their integrity shines through – and Doniphon is all the more believable for not behaving like a plaster saint when he knows he has lost Hallie. Plaster saints neither won, nor will the hold, the West. And now, as then, the media prefer the legend to the facts!

56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day


Then there is this attempt to denigrate the movie The Longest Day recounting the Overlord operation to liberate Europe.

The Longest Day, which was made in black and white, features a large ensemble cast including John Wayne, Kenneth More,Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Rod Steiger, Leo Genn, Gert Fröbe, Irina Demick, Bourvil, Curt Jürgens, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka and Arletty.

Many of these actors played roles that were virtually cameo appearances and several cast members such as Fonda, Genn, More, Steiger and Todd saw action as servicemen during the war, with Todd being among the first British officers to land in Normandy in Operation Overlord and participated in the assault on Pegasus Bridge. So just for some fun here are some of the movie mistakes – we expect you spotted most of them anyway 🙂

When the ships are about to begin bombarding the beaches you see a group of planes fly by the camera these are Douglas Sky Raiders which did not see service until the late 1940s.

The currency notes in Schultz’s winnings are of a later issue than was in circulation in 1944.

Features LCM-8s, which weren’t built until 1954.

German General Max Pemsel says: “Wir haben starke RADAR-störungen” (We have strong radar interference). The word “radar” was not used, perhaps even not known in Germany in 1944. They used a somewhat similar system, but called it “Funkmeßgeräte” (radio measuring equipment).

General Gavin is wearing a Senior Parachutist badge in 1944.The Parachutist Badge was formally approved on 10 March 1941. The senior and master parachutists badges were authorized by Headquarters, Department of the Army in 1949 and were announced by Change 4, Army Regulation 600-70, dated 24 January 1950.

During the go/no go sequence, a jet can be heard flying overhead as the naval representative is speaking.

During a very early scene in France, the back end of a Citroen 2CV can be seen parked at the side of the street as the German soldiers march down it.

via 56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

And so on for three pages. Yes, it’s interesting and very likely true. But you know, it doesn’t matter a damn. Like the John Ford Trilogy, the story is the thing, and these warriors of America, Canada, Great Britain, France, Poland, and still others did something so heroic here, that all of these relatively picayune mistakes, while regrettable, just don’t matter. This is not a technical documentary, this is a commemoration of one of the greatest days in history, one of the first to try to be fair to all the participants.

I couldn’t find the whole movie on YouTube for you, but if you run the playlist in autoplay, it’ll be kind of like watching it on TV, which is where I fist saw it, long ago and far away.🙂

True Grit

Don’t know about you, but like our commenter Unit yesterday, I’m simply not gonna bother today. So, here you go! One of Jess’ and my favorites, the real one too.🙂


Top Gun – Still Flying High after 30 Years

w704Funny what gets out attention going on subjects sometimes. I fell in love with the American Civil War in elementary school, during the centennial celebration, especially the books by Bruce Catton. As someone said, you could feel the heat, the dust, the boredom, and the horrors of battle in his words. Those legendary armies still, all these years, later, march in my mind. That became an obsession with first military history and later history in general. If I’m troubled about most anything, you’re likely to find me with my nose in a book, and invariably it will be either history, or a historical novel, and some of them are very good.

Seems like I’m not the only one, either. My friend Dale, over at Command Performance Leadership, tells a similar tale about the opening of Top Gun a few days over thirty years ago. Well, OK, I admit it, I loved it then, and I still do today, as well. But like good history, Top Gun has some lessons to teach, and that’s Dale’s business, so listen up, we’re gonna sortie right into The Danger Zone.

One month before I left for boot camp, on May 16, 1986, the iconic movie, Top Gun, opened in theaters.  Starring Tom Cruise, playing the role of Lieutenant Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, Top Gun would become one of the most endearing military movies of all time.  From its opening scene (may I opine: The best opening scene to a movie ever!), to it victorious ending, this movie is jam-packed with great action and music.

If you don’t believe us, hook that video up to a good stereo, and crank it. This was the first movie I bought on videotape (Betamax stereo, in fact), and it’s hard to describe (in polite company) what my reaction was when I played it through my fairly adequate stereo.

In addition to its excellent music and its action-packed scenes, the movie’s dialogue is immortal.  Comical, hard-hitting and full of power and meaning, Top Gun is full of unforgettable lines, like these:

Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” ~ Captain Tom “Stinger” Jordan

“Top Gun rules of engagement are written for your safety and for that of your team.  They are not flexible, nor am I” ~ CDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf (Commander, U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School – Top Gun)

“A good pilot is compelled to evaluate what’s happened, so he can apply what he’s learned” ~ Viper

These, and many other lines, certainly capture the strict discipline and protocol that you would expect from the military.  And, then there arelines that you might use at work just to annoy your co-workers, such as the infamous, “I feel the need … the need for speed.”  Or, there are lines like the ones listed below that are suited for everyday use and have particular meaning (click on image to be taken to larger image via its web link ): [It won’t work here, but it will from CPL. Neo]

*Courtesy: The Further Adventures of Doctrine Man (Facebook), akaDoctrine Man (Twitter)*

Out of the movie also comes leadership wisdom.  Top Gun is referenced often when discussing leadership and team dynamics; a sort of leadership ethos.  This was extensively explored by Bob Jennings andJ. Israel Thompson in a series of posts that were written as fictional “interviews” with key characters from the movie.  Links to each of those posts are listed below:

Often in the movie, however, there are those times when a butt-chewingwas necessaryThe fine art of delivering corrective action is sometimes garnished with some colorful language.  As the movie evolves, you notice Viper’s style becomes the textbook example of how to deliver negative feedback.  There is, obviously, a right way and a wrong way.

Like Dale, I too learned a lot about leadership from, “Those Magnificient Men in their Flying Machines”, but I’m nearly a generation older, I learned from Gregory Peck, General Savage in 12 O’Clock High. But you know we learned the same lessons, B-17s going to Germany, or F-14s in the Indian Ocean, the lessons are essential and timeless. And just as true in the civilian world, as in the Navy, or the Air Force.

But Dale also brought some fun.

Which ‘Top Gun’ Character Are You?

Quiz #1          Quiz #2          Quiz #3          Quiz #4


Call Sign Generator

via Top Gun – Still Flying High after 30 Years | Command Performance Leadership

Which character am I? well, if you must know, Maverick twice, Jester, and Iceman, once each. I think that’ll do.🙂

And remember: “The plaque for alternates is down in the ladies room“!

The Real Wayne

2E49CEE500000578-3311130-image-m-32_1447128028102Every once in a while, and it’s rare, one of those articles comes along, that one simply wants to reprint. But one can’t both because we have respect for the author and the original publisher, and because of the copywrite laws, which protect us all. So we excerpt and we link, and we urge you to ‘read the whole thing’™. This is one of those times, from Ron Capshaw writing on

On a movie set many years ago, actress Geraldine Page found herself seated between actor Ward Bond, an enforcer of the blacklist of communists then raging in Hollywood, and his friend, the conservative actor John Wayne. Page was only accustomed to being around her fellow show business liberals, so she listened to the two men’s conservative views with a sense of “horror.” But as the conversation went on, she developed a marginally more favorable view of Wayne, whom she called a “reactionary for all sorts of non-reactionary reasons.”

“I swear that if John Wayne ever got transplanted out of this circle of people that are around him all the time,” said Page, “he would be the most anti-reactionary force for . . . good.”

Such distinctions were not made by liberal lawmakers in Sacramento recently. The California legislature voted down a Republican lawmaker’s proposal for a “John Wayne Day” for the state of California, declaring Wayne beyond the pale because of his support for the House Un-American Activities Committee and the John Birch Society.

On the surface, they would seem to have a case. Wayne did support the blacklist against movie-industry communists, saying, for example, that he never regretted running screenwriter Carl Foreman out of the country. He did support Senator Joseph McCarthy’s (R-Wis.) sloppy and self-serving statements about communists in government. And he indeed was a member of the John Birch Society, a bookish (which is to say nonviolent) but undeniably zany group that entertained conspiracy theories about who controlled the levers of the U.S. government. He also supported the U.S. defense of South Vietnam, which was under siege by guerrillas supplied by the communist North Vietnamese.

The liberals in the California legislature also charged racism, citing a 1971 interview Wayne gave to Playboy magazine in which he said: “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

Well. A few other things also need to be considered…

– See more at: The Real Wayne

Sounds a lot like almost every American I’ve ever known and respected. Maybe why that’s after all these years, he’s still the favorite actor of many of us, as well as around the world. There wasn’t anything simple about him, and there isn’t about us either.

But also like many of us, including Jess, I rarely think of the Duke without thinking of Maureen O’Hara. Seems to me a strong character like Wayne, needs a strong co-star to play off, and that ginger Irish lass was about as strong as they come, and they worked so well together.

But when she died last fall, I missed something. Did you guys realize that she was buried next to her husband, Brigadier General Charles Blair, USAF, at Arlington Memorial Cemetary, the General and his Lady, still with the troops, as it should be? By the way, he died in an aircraft accident in 1978.

2E47407B00000578-3311130-She_was_buried_next_to_her_husband_U_S_Air_Force_Brig_Gen_Charle-a-33_1447113520697It is also reported that when she died, she was listening to the soundtrack of The Quiet Man. I like that, not least because it is one of my favorite movies, maybe my favorite. It’s also reported that amongst the mourners was Melinda Munoz, John Wayne’s daughter.

The Shannon Rovers from Chicago perform bagpipe music during the graveside service for Maureen O'Hara

The Shannon Rovers from Chicago perform bagpipe music during the graveside service for Maureen O’Hara

But she never forgot her Irish heritage either, saying, “My heritage has been my grounding, and it has brought me peace”. She also said, “Some people see me as a former screen siren while others remember me as the dame who gave as good as she got in movies with John Wayne, for example,’ she reflected.

‘Many women have written to me over the years and said I’ve been an inspiration to them, a woman who could hold her own against the world.’

And the Duke said this, “She’s a great guy. I’ve had many friends, and I prefer the company of men. Except for Maureen O’Hara.

From The Daily Mail

So it’s been a busy week, for me, for Jess, and for most of you, as well. So let’s sit back and remember the general’s lady when she was the colonel’s lady, in the last of the trilogy, Rio Grande.

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