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.

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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.

Day of Infamy

uss_arizona_memorialWe often talk of World War II, it was a major series of events in American and world history, as long as those survivors were in charge, things were better than ever, as they leave the stage, we are seeming to come face-to-face with the fact that they went too easy on us, and the discipline to succeed in the real world appears to be lacking. We need to look back and take the lesson that America was taught starting today, 75 years ago.

76 years ago today, America was attacked at Pearl Harbor. We were thus thrust onto center stage of the 20th Century’s biggest conflict and the most clear-cut war for liberty in the history of the world. It’s a day to remember the sacrifices made by that generation, who are now leaving us at a very rapid pace. They saved the world for freedom, this would be a very good day to thank them. In this video, I want you to listen to the resolve of Franklin Roosevelt, in it, you will learn much about leadership in a free country.

This is how an American President responds to an attack on the homeland.

The forward magazines of the U.S. Navy battles...

The Arizona at Pearl Harbor: Image via Wikipedia

We all know (or should) that behind them the Japanese attackers left 2,403 dead, 188 destroyed planes and a crippled Pacific Fleet that included 8 damaged or destroyed battleships. One of them the USS Arizona is still there, minus her hull, still to this day leaking oil and designated as both an American Military Cemetery and the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

My old friend Mr. Mac over at The Leansubmariner has published the after action report of the Commander Battle Force, Pacific. It is both horrific and fascinating reading about brave men suddenly thrust into the fight of their lives. Here’s some, read it all.

On the occasion of the treacherous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, battleship ready guns opened fire at once. They were progressively augmented as the rest of the antiaircraft battery was manned as all battleships went to General Quarters with commendable promptness. This resulted in an early and great volume of antiaircraft fire. Considering all the circumstances, including the necessity for local control in the early stages of the attack, the control of fire was gratifyingly good as attested by the fifteen to seventeen enemy planes which were brought down. That such an antiaircraft fire could be inaugurated and sustained in spite of the difficulties resulting from early damage by torpedoes and bombs and great and menacing oil fires is a tribute to the courage, constancy, efficiency and resourcefulness of the officers and men. not only were they maintaining a sustained and aggressive fire whenever the enemy threatened, but they were engaged in valiant efforts to save the ships, prevent their capsizing and fighting large and menacing oil fires, enveloped in dense clouds of smoke. Severe structural damage and flooded magazines made replenishment of ammunition a serious problem, in overcoming which great courage and ingenuity was exhibited.

Great courage and ingenuity indeed. What could be done, was. Here is part of what happened.

    1. Personnel losses. (a) The following is a personnel table indicating the total officers and men attached to the ship prior to the attack, the number of casualties, the number of survivors, and the name of the senior surviving officer on each ship. The reports on which these figures are based are being corrected daily.
On Board 1 Dec. Killed Injured Missing Survivors Senior surviving officer
Ship Off Men Off Men Off Men Off Men Off Men
Maryland* 108 1496 2 1 0 14 0 1 106 1480 Capt. Godwin
W. Virginia 87 1454 2 25 0 52 0 130 85 1247 Cdr. Hillendoetter
Tennessee* 94 1372 0 4 1 20 0 2 93 1337 Capt. Reordan
California* 120 1546 3 45 3 58 2 56 112 1382 Capt. Bunkley
Pennsylvania 81 1395 2 17 0 30 0 6 79 1340 Capt. Cooke
Arizona* 100 1411 2 54 5 39 47 1059 54 259 Cdr. Geiselman
Oklahoma 82 1270 0 20 2 30 21 415 59 805 Capt. Bode
Total 766 11334  14  200  16  347  70 1685  674  9086
* Includes Flag personnel attached.
  • (b) The following named Division Commanders and Commanding Officers were killed:
  • Rear Admiral I.C. Kidd, U.S. Navy, Commander Battleship Division One.
    Captain F. Van Valkenburgh, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Arizona.
    Captain M.S. Bennion, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. West Virginia
  • Conduct of personnel. In separate correspondence Commander Battleships has submitted to the Commander-in-Chief a report of the distinguished conduct of various individuals, as well as the ships’ companies in general. Commander Battleships cannot, however, conclude this report without paying homage to the universal exhibition of courage and magnificent fighting spirit by absolutely all the personnel of the battleships. Their conduct was in accord with the highest traditions of the Service.

And remember that only includes the Battleships at Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese fleet also left behind it the most implacable foe there is: the determined and united people of the United States. ADM Halsey’s comment is an indicator: “When this war is over, Japanese will be spoken only in Hell”. It nearly came to that. The casualty projections for the invasion of Japan ran to over 1 Million American casualties only, the only other alternatives were for the Navy to starve the entire country while the Air Force burned it down. Every American (and Japanese) should thank their God for the Atom Bomb for this was the future it prevented. And as the Confederate Air Force has said: “There would have been no Hiroshima without Pearl Harbor”.

It probably should be noted that nearly the entire Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Australian Navy, as well as the US Atlantic Fleet, were in the process of joining the US Pacific fleet, which had long since become (by far) the most powerful fleet in the history of the world. Also transhipping were the Allied armies that had defeated Nazi Germany. Götterdämmerung had come for the Japanese as it had for the Germans before them. Every memoir of those men I have read states more or less explicitly that none (repeat none) of them expected to survive. The implacable free people of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, the Philippine Islands, and even Soviet Russia had made the world (mostly) free, again.

We live in a world shaped by tragedies inflicted on the United States, 9/11 has been very influential in our lives but, Pearl Harbor is even more so. It taught us again that freedom is never free, if we don’t defend it, it will pass as it did, for a time, for many of our allies. It also taught us that when America leads anything is possible.

English: General Douglas MacArthur signs as Su...

The Surrender in Tokyo Bay: Image via Wikipedia

The Pacific Campaign was marked by a series of terrible battles in some of the most inhospitable of climates. Who can forget the battles that followed Pearl Harbor: Guadalcanal, the Coral Sea, The Mitchell raid, Corregidor and the Bataan Death march, Midway, the Marianas, Tarawa, the Liberation of the Philippines, Iwo Jima and the flag, Okinawa, and that final scene in Tokyo Bay, where MacArthur and Wainwright accepted the Japanese surrender on the deck of one of the most powerful battleships ever built: The USS Missouri.  All of this happened in only 44 Months.

English: "Remember December 7th" US ...

Image via Wikipedia

People my age knew the men who fought all those battles, they were our heroes. Combat may not have been realistic but it fired our admiration. Ensign George Gay, the sole survivor of Torpron 8 at Midway, grew up about 10 miles from where I did. They deserve our memories today because 76 years ago they started the counterattack that built the free (and mostly peaceful) world we have known all our life. We seldom remember that the Pax Americana has mostly held since 1945, we owe a debt to those men (and women), our parents (and mostly grandparents now) that we will never be able to repay except by keeping the peace and freedom they won.

As we sit here in the world that these men and women bequeathed us, we need to remember that while those enemies of freedom were defeated utterly and at great cost, freedom still has enemies. North Korea and Iran have once again put us in the position that America (and the world) faces a nuclear Pearl Harbor. While we might survive such a thing, it is far from a given that we will, that is why we must prevent it. The survival of humanity itself depends on us this time.

Veteran’s Day

On 2012 for the first time as we observed Veteran’s Day, there was no one to take our salute. 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 Lynn. She was the very last veteran of World War I.

And now they’re all gone, the doughboys, Tommies, the Diggers, the Canucks, and the Kiwis. And the men of the Second World War are following swiftly.

These are the men that have kept us free. For this holiday is about brave men.

The Great War, of course, is when the United States made its debut as the great world power. From our entry in 1917 until today is fairly termed “The American Century” for as the Pax Britannica ended in 1914 and chaos ensued between the wars as we hid in our continent and from 1945 the Pax Americana has been in place.

It could be fairly said that the wars of the 20th Century were the “Wars of Freedom”, for more people have been freed from tyranny by the United States and our allies than at any other time in history.

The legend of American bravery is known worldwide, from the Marine sergeant, who lead the charge at the battle of Belleau Wood, who led the charge with the command, “Come on you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever.”( Noting that it is now “Bois de la Brigade de Marine“, in their honor) to General McAuliffe’s response to the German demand to surrender at Bastogne, “Nuts” to the Admiral Nimitz’s comment on Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Thus it has been remarked the common bravery of American troops in every case in all the wars of these Planetary soldiers.

As probably everyone reading this knows, the average American idolizes American soldiers, they have gone from being the unwanted stepchildren of the revolution, because of the mistrust engendered by the occupying British regulars, to by far the most trusted of American institutions, trusted by over  80% of Americans. They have earned it and earned it the hard way by blood, toil, tears, honor, integrity, and sweat from Lexington Green to Afghanistan they have become a legend, at one and the same time, “America’s Army” and the “Army of the Free”. The Armed Forces are the best of America. If you were to ask the common people of anyplace they have been, you will find their fans, maybe not the government, but the people remember.

If you don’t happen to know, those streamers on the service flags are called battle streamers, each of them remembers a battle going back to Lexington Green. It has been a contentious life we have lived, and freedom always has enemies.

But they have done other things, they are often the first humanitarian aid anywhere in the world after a natural disaster, the mapping of the United States was done by the Army, your GPS system is courtesy of the Air Force and the Internet you’re reading this on was started by the US Department of Defense.

But let us not make the mistake many do, it’s not technology that wins wars, it’s men, and now women as well, women like these:

What do you think goes through the minds of women in the parts of the world that don’t offer women equal rights when these women show up in their midst as American officers and warriors? Think maybe some get the idea that women are equal to men.

I’d say things like this have done more to advance women’s rights than all the feminists yelling in the last fifty years. It was the same when the military integrated in 1948, that’s where it was all proved, although we already knew it, really, blacks have served bravely and well ever since Crispus Attucks was killed at the Boston Massacre.

But you know, it’s always had a cost, often a very high cost and a wise people don’t forget, no matter the technology, it has to be operated by people and by brave people, from the rifleman to the man who may have to turn the key to unleash Armageddon itself. And in American history, the military has never failed us, even when we and our political leadership has not been worthy of them. Many of us use as a catchphrase a rewording of the last line of our national anthem, instead of  “the Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave”, we are wont to say “The Land of the Free because of the Brave.”

We are also quite content, while not resting in our quest, to be known by the friends we keep.

But sometimes the brave are lost and then we honor our fallen countrymen, as they deserve. Bill Whittle a few years ago had something to say about American Honor, and I’d like you to read it.

On October 7th, 2002, I returned to Los Angeles from Arlington National Cemetery where we’d interred my father, 2nd Lt. William Joseph Whittle, who died from what may have been sheer joy during a fishing trip in Canada.

My dad served in the US Army in Germany, from 1944 through 1946. He was an intelligence officer, and was responsible for recording the time of death of the convicted War Criminals at Nuremburg after the war. He saw them hanged — he stood there with a stopwatch. He was 21 years old.

My father spent two years in the U.S. Military. He spent a lifetime in the corporate world. After twenty years as a world-class hotel manager, turning entire properties from liabilities into assets, he was let go without so much as a thank-you dinner or a handshake. Twenty years of service. He was a four-star general in the corporate world for two decades, and that was his reward.

Monday afternoon, at 1 pm, I stood underneath the McClellan arch at ANC. There were 13 family members there. There were also 40 men in uniform. I was stunned.

They took my dad’s ashes, in what looked like a really nice cigar box (what a little box for such a big man, I thought at that moment), and placed it in what looked like a metallic coffin on the back of a horse-drawn caisson. His ashes were handled by other twenty-one year old men, men as young as he had been, men whose fathers were children when my dad was in uniform. Everything was inspected, checked, and handled with awesome, palpable, radiating reverence and respect.

As we walked behind the caisson, the band played not a dirge, but a march… a tune that left me searching for the right adjective, which I didn’t find until the flight home. It was triumphal. It was the sound of Caesar entering Rome; the sound of a hero coming home. It was the only time during the service that I really began to cry.

Continue reading Honor

This is part of that Honor

We shall defend our Island

Churchill studies reports of the action that day with Vice Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, 28 August 1940, © IWM (H 3508)

I almost never, as you know, talk about current movies. That’s mostly because they don’t interest me, very occasionally I’ll watch one, although, in truth, it’s more often that I’ll try to, and either fall asleep or get bored out of my mind and give up.

But there is one opening today that I do want very much to see. You see, I was raised by the guys that fought World War Two, the ones we sometimes call ‘The Greatest Generation’ and not unjustly. That’s true in America, and it’s arguably even more true in the UK. Remember, their war started on 1 September 1939, ours not until 7 December 1941. For two years the Empire held the line, worldwide, pretty much alone.

During all this time until Barbarossa went in on 22 June 1941, Germany and the Soviet Union had the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact guaranteeing peace between them.

In April of 1940 the Germans executed  Operation Weserübung, the conquest of Norway, and then in May came the Battle of France. The Allies despite having numerical superiority were surprised terribly by the German tactics, often referred to as Blitzkrieg, a style of campaign first executed by General Sherman in the US Civil War and popularised by JFC Fuller and Basil Liddel-Hart. As executed by Guderian and Rommel it was devastating. As the campaign developed the British Expeditionary Force and elements of the French army were trapped in and around Dunkirk. In an epic of improvisation and sheer bravery the Royal Navy, covered by the Royal Air Force and with the assistance of hundreds of small civilian craft managed to extricate over 300,000 members of that force.

That’s what the movie opening today is about. It is titled Dunkirk and promises to be an epic. Here is one of the trailers

The Prime Minister famously said that wars are not won by evacuations, and he is, of course, correct. But in this case, it was a very great moral victory, and besides, without it, there would have been almost no regular forces to defend Britain itself.

I imagine you have heard as I have that a singularly stupid twit, named Brian Truitt writing a review in USA Today, has said this:

The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.

He also managed to conflate Dunkirk with D Day, I don’t know, maybe because they both have a ‘D’ in them.

About all I can say is that he apparently slept through history, if he took any, and for that matter doesn’t understand how to run Google. We may safely, going forward, completely ignore anything he says. He’s actually too stupid to live, but not smart enough to die, so he will, no doubt continue to waste oxygen and contribute his very own carbon footprint. Sad.

Here, from the International Churchill Society is Sir Winston’s speech, after Dunkirk.

The other film I very much want to see is connected viscerally to this, as well. Steven Hayward, writing in PowerLine tells us this:

Fortunately, another Churchill movie has finished production, Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Churchill, and focusing on the key period of the first weeks of Churchill’s premiership in 1940. Based on the trailer below, it looks not only that Oldman is a superior Churchill, but that it gets the key moment—the climactic events in the war cabinet of May 27-28 (which were unknown to the public until the 1980s)—exactly right. A couple of previous attempts, especially the HBO version of Finest Hour about ten years back, don’t get it right. (In addition to the brief evidence in the trailer, I’m pretty sure some sound friends of mine had significant input into the script.)

I haven’t heard from my friends that are Churchill experts about it, but maybe they will chime in as well. But judging by the trailer, this film, which opens in November, will be well worth our time. This trailer came out last week.

And so they did, in Churchill’s own words, ” until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

“Bless ’em all, the long and the short and the tall.”

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