Category Archives: US Army

Which US war had most bald-faced liars?

Empire of Japan finalizes surrender aboard the USS Missouri September 3, 1945. By Army Signal Corps – Naval Historical Center Photo # USA C-2719. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2684817

WWI had an Armistice Day… it celebrated the end of that particular horror.     WWII had VE [Victory in Europe] Day, and VJ [Victory over Japan] Days.   Celebrations to the end of two more horrors.   Then there was Korean Armistice Day, which nobody ever heard of, much less celebrated.   And, of course, there’s Veterans Day, just acknowledging all us veterans no matter when we were in the military.

The trouble with having undeclared wars and losing them is that nobody knows why they’re there in the first place, what it takes to win it, or how to know when it ends.    Maybe for Vietnam we should celebrate the day the last helicopter with people hanging off it lifted from the US Embassy in Saigon.

The last helicopter leaving the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon April 29, 1975. By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31234270

But now there’s this:

Honoring Vietnam Veterans Day, March 29, 2018

US landing craft 1945, Iwo Jima

Ever noticed [assuming you’re old enough] you never heard a WWI vet bragging about whatever it was he did during his time in the service?    Most I ever encountered never spoke of it at all.

And WWII veterans are pleased to tell you they spent the war burying bodies in the Solomon Islands, or in a Japanese POW camp, surrendered without firing a shot, or as a postal clerk in North Africa.   It’s always been surprising to me just how few guys actually were on the front lines ducking bullets [or saying they were during the decades afterward].

Same with Korean War veterans.     Nobody ever wants to tell you he was on a ridge with a bunch of other cold, hungry, scared GIs gunning down swaths of Chinese with a quad .50 machine gun.    In fact, Korean War vets hardly say anything at all.

That’s the reason I’ve wondered many times why the same is not and has never been true of Vietnam vets.     I’ve seen file clerks, supply clerks, mechanics,  and one particular logistics officer all claim to have been heroes, laying ambushes in the jungle.    More recently I even ran across a guy who was in Korea at the same time I was when there were few incursions and firefights on the DMZ a decade after the ceasefire.     Even knowing I was THERE the silly bastard began laying BS about how he and his unit were setting up ambushes on the DMZ… he was in the 8th Cavalry, which was on the DMZ…..   But nothing else he said held any water.    Maybe he was jealous of all those finance clerks in DaNang who’ve now become jungle fighters by hindsight.

vietnam era veteran

They’ve even got these ‘Vietnam Era’ caps so we can all get into the act. Yeah, I’m one of them Vietnam era vets….. spent my tour in Asia crawling through the jungle trying to get a dose of clap for my country. If I ware one of these I’d be what they used to call, “All hat and no cows”, same as all those REMFs on patrol.

But I’ve digressed.   My real question is this:   What was it about the Vietnam War that brought out the lies and the brags?    Why were WWII file clerks never tempted to pretend they were heroes, but the Vietnam War file clerks bought themselves ball caps proclaiming themselves brothers to the finance clerks, the supply clerks, and all the other rear echelon folks who discovered later they’d been combat vets.  Hell hundreds happily tell one another they’ve been troubled with PTSD.     Not more than two hours ago I was talking to one who was in personnel administration who is actually drawing a service-connected disability for PTSD.    A personnel admin clerk.

Vietnam never had an Iwo Jima.    No Guadalcanal or Midway.   No Bataan Death March.     When US troops landed on Guadalcanal August, 1942, they’d never seen any movies about jungle warfare.    Surprise!    They had no idea what they were in for.

Maybe that’s the distinguishing factor.    Maybe it was all those WWII movies, John Wayne pulling the pins out of grenades with his teeth.   Frank Sinatra drooling over Gina Lollobrigida between firefights in Burma.   Robert Mitchum outsmarting the Japanese while protecting a nun [Deborah Kerr].    Maybe that was the missing factor, the systemic flaw in the Vietnam War that caused all those non-combatants to spend all the remaining decades of their lives trying to correct it.

After all, shooting water buffalo out the door of a helicopter with a machine gun is a story that can be embellished with a lot more vigor than stories about typing a company morning report at the motor pool.

Don’t get me wrong.  Not all Vietnam veterans are lying.    If a guy tells you he was a Navy engineer, and upon questioning tells you he ‘poured concrete for the Navy’, he’s telling you the truth.    If he tells you he repaired field telephones, he’s telling you the truth.

And there’s always that one-out-of-ten, or one-out-of-twenty, who actually did serve in the jungle and participated in all that stuff you’ve seen in the same movies the file clerks with the Vietnam veteran caps got their stories from.

So how can you tell if a Vietnam veteran is lying to you?   Well one of the ways is to listen to his claim.     If he says he was a medic in a VD clinic he’s probably telling you the truth.

But if the US is going to carry on endless presidential wars without having to re-institute the draft they’re going to have to keep glorifying their warriors.  And  a person who spent a tour in Asia greasing and changing the oil on jeeps in Saigon loves being called a warrior.   Loves the feel when he pulls a straight face and announces, “Yeah, I fought in Vietnam.”

Old Jules

 

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Remembering the Fallen from All Eras who died for our property rights.

 

Kansas City VA Medical Center, Kansas City, MO.

Hi readers.    Thanks for coming by for a smile.

I was sitting in the Silver clinic waiting area at the KCVA Medical Center today and got some really good news!   Keep in mind that I was just a few dozen yards from the Hall of Heroes and fairly close to Valor Elevator.   So this guy doing all the talking really seemed appropriate.

He was a severely overweight old fellow with a lot of bends in the wrong places, hair coming out in patches.   Had the man next to me pinned to his chair as he went on bludgeoning the people of this country for not supporting the president more, for all the ‘snowflakes’ and cowards nowadays, and for the fact nobody is honoring our soldiers dying in these presidential wars.

Guy next to me, “I voted for Trump.   I don’t regret it yet.”

“They complain about him going to Florida!    Heck, Florida, at least, has a park where they honor the dead from all wars!”    He named the park, and I went back to trying to read my book.

But then I got to thinking.    All wars?   Wow!

Anyway, I looked it up.   He was right!

Field Of Honor Recognizes The Fallen From All Eras , Hillsborough Veterans Memorial Park.

By golly I think it’s about time someone honored all those fallen soldiers at Little Big Horn who got themselves killed trying to attack a lot more Sioux and Cheyenne than they thought were there.    And all those twenty-five soldiers killed when they massacred all those people at Wounded Knee.

Heck, when you  think about it, all those Indian wars have all sorts of fallen GIs who got themselves offed trying to kill Indians…… Apache, Navajo, Sioux, Cheyenne, Yuma, Ute, Comanche, Kiowa, Seminole.  I’ve never heard one solitary soul stand up in front of a podium and pronounce how those men died for our freedoms.   But without them we wouldn’t have farms and ranches scattered all over the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.   And condos and resorts all over Florida.  Those men died for our property rights.

And what about all the heroes who fell in the Mexican War when we were taking California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada away from the Mexicans?   Nobody ever stands over their graves, stares at the flag, gulps, and talks about how they fought for our Constitution, our freedom of speech, our property rights.

Then there was the Spanish American War, where we took Puerto Rico, Cuba, and all her other possessions away from Spain …… and the heroes who died in that war for our property rights.

There’s just no getting around it.    We’re falling down on the job honoring our fallen from all eras.   Good thing someone is at least remembering the guys who died for our freedoms in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq one and two, and various other places in the Balkans, the Middle East, Korea, and Africa.

In fact, probably having someone stand in front of a podium and explain how all those guys were protecting our freedom would be a good place to begin.   I’m inclined to think General Custer came about as close to protecting our freedom as anyone who died in a war after 1950.

Yeah, all those fallen heroes  killed by Geronimo and Cochise won’t rest until someone honors them by explaining how they died for our freedom.

Old Jules

The Bivouac of the Dead – [Thank you for your service wasn’t enough]

 

cemetery poem sign 6

cemetery poem sign 3

cemetery poem sign 1

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’ve visited a lot of National Cemeteries over the years, along with a lot of private and State cemeteries where the remains of military personnel and veterans who served over the past centuries are planted.   I used to attend Memorial and sometimes Veterans Day ceremonies at the National Cemetery at Santa Fe when I lived in New Mexico.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about National Cemeteries, even Arlington, was the tasteful, somewhat understated and even egalitarian approach by the caretakers to those burial sites.

But that was before the presidential wars of the 21st Century and the need to glorify the whole idea of those who served in the military.   Suddenly, post-9-11 a surprisingly large piece of the population was singing the song of the spanking new fad, “Thank you for your service!”    Pretending all those who served were heroes, had dodged bullets of some enemy who wished only to rob us of our freedoms.   We veterans ‘fought’ for the freedoms, rights, something else ambiguous, courageous, praiseworthy.   Although it’s between wars and the fad is declining somewhat, it’s still out there to a limited degree, waiting for the need that will come from the next presidential war to spark public outrage against some group politicians declare are enemies and need killing.

But I’ve digressed.    What I was going to write about are the signs that have appeared during the past couple of decades in the National Cemeteries.    It wasn’t enough to have the public beating the drums and parroting thankyouverymuch to veterans.   Some bright light in the National Cemetery management system decided to make us all Chargers of the Light Brigade by hindsight.

Evidently they couldn’t find any 20th Century poets who expressed mawkish enough sentiments to satisfy their needs.    So they rode their lofty mounts back to the times between the Mexican War and the Civil War to Theodore O’Hara and his poem, The Bivouac of the Dead.    And they sure as hell found a level of absurdity and theater there to bring the 90% of the dead vets who never saw a day of combat right up there with fixed bayonets and bloody comrades.

So, even though VA hospitals across the country appear to have a lot of difficulty providing services to veterans legally eligible to receive health care services and the historical buildings are falling apart, the residue of synthetic heroism still resides across the hill in the graveyard,  The National Cemetery managed to afford somewhere between 10,000 and 38,000 Christmas wreaths made of real pine to place on those stones.

National Cemetery background

National Cemetery Christmas

But at least they didn’t allow the affluent mothers of young men killed in the last couple of presidential wars to put their helmet-bayonet-fixed-rifle-and combat-boot memorials in the National Cemetery.    Nope, they made them put those up by the front gate to the Medical Center.

Levenworth med entrance6

There are seven of those up there to ponder, along with a couple of empty block of granite in place for more if the moms and pops lose one and want to remember their son in such a way.

We Americans are such patriots, we are.

Thanks for the visit..

Old Jules

 

 

 

If they wanted good health care they should have dodged the draft and gone to Canada

When I wrote this I was probably still carrying some bitterness about what happened to me when I tried to get diagnosed through the VA in Odessa/Big Spring and instead became one of the types of experiences that got a lot of terrible publicity for the Veterans Administration.

But the horror stories are still widespread, though no longer so pervasive. Living here and being over at the hospitals so frequently, I still listen to more of it than is right and proper for those legally mandated to provide health care for veterans.

So by golly, I’m reblogging this one.   To read the entire text….. 351 words that didn’t get on the reblog, you can click at the bottom where it says, “View original text 351 words.

 

So Far From Heaven

All over the US VA Hospitals/Medical Centers are under investigation for incompetence, waste, negligence, malfeasance and misfeasance, brutality and being a cruel farce.  Turns out the San Antonio VA Medical Center is under investigation for precisely the same [failure to treat patients in a timely manner] reasons I entered a private hospital in Kerrville, Texas in January after several weeks of non-treatment and non-diagnosis at the VA Odessa and Big Spring VA Medical facilities during November and December, 2013 All over the US VA Hospitals/Medical Centers are under investigation for incompetence, waste, negligence, malfeasance and misfeasance, brutality and being a cruel farce. Turns out the San Antonio VA Medical Center is under investigation for precisely the same [failure to treat patients in a timely manner] reasons I entered a private hospital in Kerrville, Texas in January after several weeks of non-treatment and non-diagnosis at the VA Odessa and Big Spring VA Medical facilities during November and December, 2013 Current VA Hospital investigation news videos:

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0LEVw85nG5TSFYAZTdXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0a3VnZmkwBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1NNRTQ4NV8x?p=VA+hospital+investigation

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’ve said before I don’t believe the US government owes veterans good health care for the remainder of our lives as an ethical matter.  Merely a legal one.

We don’t particularly deserve it any more than Native Americans deserve cradle to grave health, dental and eye care because they happen to be descendants of aboriginals.  Merely…

View original post 351 more words

A damned old veteran to John Wayne: “Thank you for your service.”

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’ve been thinking a lot about us veterans lately, possibly because of the recent VA fiasco including my own healthy part of it.  Which put me into close proximity with a lot of other old model vets.

I’m going to start this off with what General Smedley Butler had to say to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in possibly the most honest address in history by a general-grade officer:

Old Confederates trying to recall the rebel yell:

Spanish American and Civil War veterans trying to remember how much fun it was.

Then there’s WWI:

I couldn’t find any veterans of the American Indian Wars being interviewed, though there were plenty of them still alive long after the movie camera and recording was invented.  I suppose John Wayne will have to do.  We veterans all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude anyway.

Thank you for your service, John Wayne.

Old Jules

 

Miss World 1967 visits the troops

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Bob Hope used to do those USO shows every year.  In fact Al Jolson died in the aftermath of returning from a USO show in Korea.  Fact is, any Christmas entertainment that includes John Wayne jokes and nasty jibes at draft dodgers burning their draft cards is probably worth a rerun anytime anyone is singing songs about Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.

Ms. Welch, at least, is about reality, which every USO show should include a taste of.

As an aside, a lot of you probably didn’t know Clint Eastwood’s real identity was Andy Williams.  Here he is singing something I thought of as a favorite in 1963.

No Christmas is complete without Clint Eastwood singing Old Bilbao Moon.

Here’s wishing everyone a merry little war.

Old Jules

 

 

 

 

Japanese Bonsai Charges Onto Good American Machine Guns

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Most of you probably are celebrating the return to the Philippine Islands this day in Nineteen-hunnerd and forty-four today.  Or in the instance of my charming ex-wife, Caroline, merely being born in Nineteen-hunnerd and forty-seven.  Both events teetering the scales of the human  balance in the Universe somewhat in the direction of ‘good’.

The US Military experience in the Philippines was ‘good’ mostly because contrary to previous behavior on other islands the Japanese didn’t come storming out of caves with fixed bayonets pruning trees as they ran down onto US machine guns.  Those damned trees remained intact for the most part if they weren’t hit by good US bullets and shells.  No damned bonsai forests of fancy trees for the Filipino population to deal with after the surrender.

That, and there wasn’t a problem with Death Marches the way happened the last time the US military ran up against the Japanese military in the Philippines.  That Bataan Death March was evidently most unpleasant, both for the GIs being forced to walk shoeless and hungry across the island, and for the Japanese having to shoot or stick them with bayonets for lollygagging.  Nothing of that sort in 1944.  The Japanese were perfectly well behaved, though uncompromising.  And the GIs resisted the entirely justified impulse to kill every last man of them.

The harbor at Manilla ended up being a great place for US sailors to put in and get drunk and whore.

All in all everything worked out well in the end.  Seemed almost no-time at all the US was fire bombing Tokyo and nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Then rebuilding the Japanese steel and other industries bombed to rubble during the war so’s everyone made a pile of money.  And another great place for GIs to get drunk and whore!

Heck, guys were still getting drunk and whoring in Japan all the way up into the Vietnam War.  When I was in Korea almost all the GIs took two weeks ‘rest and recuperation’ leave to Japan sometime during their tours.  The Japanese whores were generally more cosmopolitan, it was believed, than Korean ladies.

So for those of us alive December 16, 1944, it was the first day of the rest of our lives and it all turned out good.  Except for a few Japanese troops hiding in the jungles who wouldn’t listen to reason.

Think of it!  If Japan had surrendered December 16, 1944, it could have avoided having Tokyo firebombed and Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuked.  And I’d have been able to celebrate it with this blog entry.

Old Jules