75 Years: The Mighty Eighth and American Exceptionalism

Something we don’t talk about too much is that while almost any nation will defend itself, one of the ways that America is exceptional is our willingness to defend freedom for other people as well as ourselves. This has been quite evident in the last century. It was brought to my attention by this from Vassar Bushmills at Unified Patriots 

[…]

    Why is it conservatives never come right out and say that the willingness of American men and women to die for the cause of not just liberty, but other men’s liberty, is a defining characteristic of American spirit? I know Ron Paul doesn’t agree, nor do Libertarians, for that matter.

But I can say this…go tell Putin’s new generation of America-haters that those 250,000 white crosses in Europe are shoulders they stand on as well. While Europe bears even more Russian graves than American, no slander ever accused any Russian of dying for the liberty of the French. But the fact that Americans have, and have shown in recent history they are still willing to ensures that none of their generation will ever die trying to repeat what their forbears did so well.

For that you owe America, not Putin, moi priyatyel.

And because of that willingness to die for other’s freedom, we now have the amazing sight of Europe, for most of us, our homelands, becoming not proud countries as before, but willing colonists, no longer willing to stand on their own feet, for all their whingeing, they are simply a protectorate of the United States. All those famous names, with only a few exceptions like Britain and Poland, have sold their sovereignty to us, and increasingly to Brussels. Sad, but the truth.

Vassar is absolutely correct, in neither 1917 nor 1942 was there any essential American national interest in the European war. In fact, it’s is quite possible that if we hadn’t stood with China in the 1930s, Japan might not have attacked us at all, we probably would have lost the Philippines, which if I recall correctly, were scheduled for independence on 4 July 1942 anyway, but, not a lot else.

In other words, we made it our business. And when Americans do business, we damned well do business. Göring’s Luftwaffe had a propensity to bomb civilians, and there’s an old rule about that, it’s called

Dresden in 1945

Dresden in 1945

Sow the Wind: Reap the Whirlwind

and on 13 February 1945, it came true as the US 8th Army Air Force in combination with the RAF Bomber Command burned down (in the first man-made firestorm) the city of Dresden. It caused far more casualties than Hiroshima, by the way.

But that’s toward the end of the story, 75 years ago today, that same Air Force, the Mighty Eighth mounted the first of a series of strikes which have become known as Big Week. The targets included:  LeipzigBrunswickGothaRegensburgSchweinfurtAugsburgStuttgart and Steyr but, the real target was the Luftwaffe, all of these cities were crucial in aircraft production.

The time would come, on 4 June 1944 when General Eisenhower would be able to tell the forces assembled for Overlord that “if you see aircraft, they will be ours” and it was nearly true, anywhere in Europe that summer.

But it was expensive, many of those crosses that Vladimir spoke of above are here, in Cambridge, England. Most of these men were in the Mighty Eighth. And these were only the ones that made it back to base, many others were in those aircraft that blew up, or crashed, or just plain never got home. In fact 75 years ago today, we lost sixty aircraft, that is 600 hundred men, and many more were wounded and killed in aircraft that came home. To the point that 8th AAF took higher casualties than any other like size unit in Europe. And higher in World War II than the whole United States Marine Corp.

Cambridge American Military Cemetery, England

And so, it went until the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945.

And here is a clip from one of my all-time top five favorite movies Twelve O’Clock High, that speaks to what it took.

Little Easton St. Mary’s Church, Essex England

And interestingly, this story was supposedly based on the 100th Bombardment Group H, which came to be known as “The Bloody Hundredth” because of its losses. If you happen to be around Thorpe Abbotts in Norfolk, England, you will find that their control tower and some other buildings are now a museum dedicated to the 100th. This is how we and the British really established that special relationship that the politicians like to talk about, but it has much more to do with our peoples than our governments. For more about how the English remember the 8th USAAF go to The Eighth in the East.

But, you know the story doesn’t end on VE and VJ day does it. On VJ day America had 14,000,000 men in uniform, a navy far stronger than the rest of the world combined, an incomparable strategic bombing force, not to mention the world’s only atomic bomb, and over half of world domestic product. Never before or since has one country so dominated the world as on that September afternoon on the deck of the USS Missouri.

So what did America do?

It demobilized just as fast as it could, started making civilian goods and loaning giving money to Europe and Japan to rebuild their industries to be far more modern than American ones. It’s what we do.

But think about this, if we had been the imperialists that everybody wants to call us today, well who exactly was going to stop us in 1945. The British, who came out of the war probably second best were exhausted, and everybody else was flat on their back, except maybe the Russians, and the German army was more than willing for a rematch backed by the United States.

And when the Soviet Union started threatening Europe, the old names came back, for the 8th United States Air Force is still here, still the premier strategic bombing (and now missile) force in the world, even now, after the defeat of communism, still on guard.

But the time is coming when the world is going to have to take care of itself when we have to concentrate on getting our own house in order, and that time may be coming soon. So if you’re one of those NATO countries that we’ve been defending for the last century, you might want to think about defending yourselves, America may not always be there to cover you.

Heed not the sighs and sermons,
Go, gallant lads, again.
Let some folk think of Germans—
We think of Pole and Dane.
March 19, 1944

 

Wednesday Video

Ennui has set in with me. I just don’t see anything I really want to write about today, so  let’s have a video. How about a complete change of pace? How about Victor Davis Hanson on World War II? Yeah, that works for me, and probably you, as well.

Enjoy!

Remember These Fighting, WWII, Hollywood Idols? “Hollywood’s greatest–Compare them to today’s simpletons.”

Well, you get another couple of days of short posts from my phone. This although a reasonably short article, highlights something we’ve spoken often of, as have our British counterparts. So enjoy, and I’ll find something for tomorrow, and see you Monday.

Remember These Fighting, WWII, Hollywood Idols? “Hollywood’s greatest–Compare them to today’s simpletons.” http://www.watcherofweasels.org/remember-these-fighting-wwii-hollywood-idols-hollywoods-greatest-compare-them-to-todays-simpletons/

Lady Lex

Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen announced something this week that amazed many of us. He found the USS Lexington (CV2), the legendary Lady Lex, which the Navy was forced to scuttle after the battle of the Coral Sea, a few weeks before Midway. This was the battle that blunted to forward thrust of Japan, that would end forever just a few weeks later as the Japanese lost four fleet carriers at Midway, some of the Lex’s aircrew were there.

This was the second US carrier, the first was the USS Langley called the covered wagon because it had no island, and while the Langley had been converted from a collier, the Lex was converted during construction from a Treaty Battlecruiser.

The ship (and some of the planes lost with it) appear to be in remarkable shape, all thing considered. and one of the pictures woke a lot of us up.

That is a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter belonging to VF -31 The Tomcatters, commanded by John “Jimmy” Hatch who created the combat tactic the Thatch Weave. But two other things caught our attention. the pilot of this plane had four Japanese kills by May of 1942 less than six months after Pearl Harbor, and right there is Felix the Cat, The sign of the Tomcatters.

And some people dug into the records and now we know whose plane this is. It was the plane of LT Ed O’Hare. And he was one heroic pilot.

His record is very impressive, in the course of defending the Lexington, he became the first Navy winner of the Medal of honor in the Second World War, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and went down without trace in 1943. Chicago O’Hare airport and the destroyer USS O’Hare are both named after him.

If you’ve ever wondered why when you fly to Chicago your baggage stub says ORD, now you know, the ORD is the old name, it was renamed after Commander O’Hare. It started out as a military field in World War II named Orchard Field, in a town that is now defunct Orchard Place.

B-Ball and the Chaos Before the Storm

In one of those unpredictable things, last night turned into movie night here, first with Hoosiers and then with Darkest Hour. It is an interesting pairing.

In the first, we have the eternal American story of the underdog, the Milan Huskers, overcoming the big city South Bend Central Bears, a quintessentially American story of the underdog overcoming the big city favorite. And all the better for being true.  See this post. But it carries over to the Darkest Hour as well.

Here we have Britain, holding firm alone amongst the Europeans against the Nazi Germans. When all the others buckled, there was Britain, standing alone, as it had against Napoleon. The nation of shopkeepers standing alone, waiting for the new world to step to its rescue.

And here again, a half-century later it becomes true again. The ruling class in the UK has sold out to the left and left the real conservatives without representation, but we know many proud Britons remain. And so. once again the New World prepares to rescue the Old World.

We know what they do not wish to acknowledge, and we are OK with that, but that is the situation. I always wonder if the situation would have worked out if Winston Churchill’s mother hadn’t been Jennie Jerome, an American. It’s an interesting point to ponder.

And we see it once again, the British establishment unable (or unwilling) to confront the leftist tide in their own society, the right taking their cue from their own daughter society, the United States. That is not a bad thing, when necessary we too have taken inspiration from our British forebearers. As I’ve said before, the difference is that we wrote it down.

//players.brightcove.net/2540076170001/rJV2FUU4G_default/index.html?videoId=5722737494001#t=2s

You know as I continue with these subjects, increasingly it strikes me that only Americans recognize the difference between good and evil as opposed to what sounds good, feels good, but is in reality not good at all.

As for the movie, Darkest Hour, I liked it. Yes, the scene in the underground that so many have talked about is jarring and unbelievable but is there to make the point about the differences between normal and those in the ruling class, who then and now, existed in a bubble.

But do see it, in truth since both are out, pair it with Dunkirk, they portray nearly the same week, and the difference between the calm of London with the chaos of the evacuation beaches is important itself.

No movie is really historically accurate, and that is true for all three we’ve mentioned here. But movies can make a point that is hard to convey in written words, and all three do here. Hoosiers remind me of much of what I loved about growing up in Indiana, some of which is lost forever, as it always is.

The other two speak of a time just a bit before mine, when the entire world was chaos, and a very few people took the duty to lead us through the storm and did it without thinking overly of the effects it would have on them. For all of us today, these are the people who built the world we live in, and it behooves us to try to understand them, as once again chaos threatens us.

In any case, see the movies, you’ll enjoy all three.

Tet

Fifty years ago, today, a great battle was engaged, all across South Vietnam, and the NVA and Viet Cong attacked all the cities, in the hopes of a general uprising. It was a battle on the scale of the Ardennes in 1944, and again the valor of American troops and their allies won the day, sometimes in very tough fighting. The battle in Hue, for example, has been compared to Bastogne, and with reason.

The battle was won and left the North with almost nothing to work with.

But…

America’s first major encounter with the Big Lie, with all its disastrous consequences, started 50 years ago today, when the American mainstream media — CBS and the other networks, plus the New York Times and the Washington Post — decided to turn the major Communist Tet offensive against U.S. forces and South Vietnam on January 30, 1968, into an American defeat, rather than what it actually was: a major American victory.

We’ve all lived in the disorder and chaos that campaign set in motion ever since.

By the end of 1967, the Communist cause in the Vietnam War was in deep trouble. The build-up of American forces — nearly half a million men were deployed in Vietnam by December — had put the Vietcong on the defensive and led to bloody repulses of the North Vietnamese army (NVA), which had started intervening on the battlefield to ease the pressure on its Vietcong allies.

Hanoi’s decision to launch the Tet offensive was born of desperation. It was an effort to seize the northern provinces of South Vietnam with conventional troops while triggering an urban uprising by the Vietcong that would distract the Americans — and, some still hoped, revive the fading hopes of the Communists. The offensive itself began on January 30, with attacks on American targets in Saigon and other Vietnamese cities, and ended a little more than a month later when  Marines crushed the last pockets of resistance in the northern city of Hue.

It not only destroyed the Vietcong as an effective political and military force, it also, together with the siege of Khe Sanh, crippled the NVA, which lost 20 percent of its forces in the South and suffered 33,000 men killed in action, all for no gain. By the end of 1969, over 70 percent of South Vietnam’s population was rated by the U.S. military as under government control, compared with 42 percent at the beginning of 1968.

The American public knew none of this, however. Almost from the moment the first shots were being fired, skeptics of the war effort in the mainstream media, including CBS News icon Walter Cronkite, would use Tet to prove that the war wasn’t being won as the Johnson administration was claiming. They went further, representing the failed attacks on the U.S. embassy in Saigon and other sites as symbols of Communist success.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/455881/tet-offensive-media-bias-50th-anniversary

In other words, they simply lied to us, then, and they continue to do so today. The main difference is that today we have alternative sources of news, and so their lies, their sedition, some would say treason, is caught out and debunked. Sadly not enough of us have caught on to completely kill the Propaganda Kompanies, but that day is coming as well.

This is where the anti-Americanism of the press came to the fore, and in fact, literally cost us victory in a war that we won on the battlefield. Valor and persistence won the Vietnam War. Lying and treachery cost us, that victory. That it cost an American president (Johnson) his job never mattered to them, the cause is all. But Johnson’s party was badly infected as well, as we would soon see as they refused to honor our treaty commitments to South Vietnam.

Nothing has changed, if it is good for the America we grew up in, one can expect the Democrats and the media (But I explicitly repeat myself) to oppose it (or simply bury it).

The conservative way is to learn from the past so that we may make new mistakes. Do so here.

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