Tag Archives: WWI

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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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

 

WWI Museum, KC

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Yesterday I rammed my way through physical therapy and came away feeling like a million bucks a hundred bucks.  When I arrived back at Jeanne’s house I had life left in me I hadn’t squandered yet, so we decided to brave the heat and visit the National WWI Museum.  The day was warm, but a lot cooler than the average first week of July would have a person expecting.

 Anyway, that museum is impressive.  Didn’t attempt to dream up any serious rationale for that war having been justified in any way.  On the part of any of the parties involved.  Didn’t do any more flag waving than old propaganda posters high enough on the walls so’s a person had to stretch the neck to view them.  And some were in French, German.

Sure, they did have a copy of the Zimmerman telegram on display, translated.  But nobody trying to keep a straight face saying it justified the US entering the blood bath.  Too much has happened since then to allow any rosy cheekism on that score.  Been far too many Zimmerman telegrams written in US English over the century since.

What they did do was display roughly a thousand small arms, hand grenades, field artillery, aircraft, mortars, vehicles and several thousand photographs.  Firearms were redundant and soon became a blur.  A home made reproduction of shell crater 20 feet deep with a lot of war debris in it was graphic, made for a nice demo.  Peep holes into trenches watching men doing war things in trenches also.  The kids visiting loved it, and I didn’t think it was the worst way to get across a concept that is WWI.

Reminded me vaguely of a cross between the Empirial War Museum in the old Bedlam Hospital for the mentally ill in London, and the Admiral Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War in Kerrville, Texas [before Texas Parks and Wildlife took it over and ruined it].  Which puts it up there head and shoulders above most museuems I’ve ever visited.

No RARARAH we’uns won flagwaving Hurray for the US patriotic idiosyncracies, no hint any lives given weren’t entirely in vain, was pleasant.  And there were maps on the walls allowing you to examine how many countries all over the world were dragged into the bloodbath by the mere misfortune of being part of the British Empire.  How many because they were part of the French Empire, etc etc etc [in the manner of the King of Siam].

Seems to me the yardstick that fit best serves is that repeatedly inside in front of displays and later as we left, Jeanne remarked.  “This was worth it.  I’m glad we did this.”  Jeanne has zero interest in wars, WWI, anything of that sort.

It was worth it.  I’m glad we did it, too.

Old Jules

 

WWI was NOT an unmitigated blessing

 Museum and Memorial Museum and Memorial Built By Kansas Citians, Embraced By the Nation Soon after World War I ended, Kansas City leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association (LMA) to create a lasting monument to the men and women who had served in the war. In 1919, the LMA and citizens of Kansas City raised more than $2.5 million in just 10 days. The equivalent of roughly $34 million today, this staggering accomplishment reflected the passion of public sentiment for the Great War that had dramatically changed the world. “The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial inspires thought, dialogue, and learning to make the experiences of the World War I era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations.” - Mission Statement, National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial    http://theworldwar.org/explore/museum-and-memorial

Museum and MemorialBuilt By Kansas Citians, Embraced By the Nation
Soon after World War I ended, Kansas City leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association (LMA) to create a lasting monument to the men and women who had served in the war. In 1919, the LMA and citizens of Kansas City raised more than $2.5 million in just 10 days. The equivalent of roughly $34 million today, this staggering accomplishment reflected the passion of public sentiment for the Great War that had dramatically changed the world.
“The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial inspires thought, dialogue, and learning to make the experiences of the World War I era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations.”
– Mission Statement, National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial
http://theworldwar.org/explore/museum-and-memorial      

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.   Janne, her son Michael, and I are going over to that WWI National Museum and Memorial on Wednesday.  Wednesdays, instead of it costing $16 to see it, a person can fork out $7 and still experience the full value of it.

Even though the coincidence of the 100th Anniversary of WWI beginning and the 4th of July, 2014, might leave a person thinking otherwise, WWI did have a downside.  The end of Russian rule by the Romanovs, for instance was mitigated somewhat by the rise of Communism, in the opinions of some scholars. 

And there was the 1918 Influenza epidemic, which arguably mightn’t have happened without WWI.  Sure, WWI gave us tanks, warplanes, better artillery and machine guns.  And we’d have had one hell of a time having WWII without having WWI first.

But it can still be argued that a lot of things about WWI could have been better.  Could have made WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Grenada, the Cold War, and the various Gulf Wars and Afghanistan adventures better.

The simple truth is nobody.  NOBODY won WWI.  Damned thing might as well not have been fought at all for all the good it did.  But acclimated everyone to the concept of fighting the bloodiest wars in human history, conceding the illusion of victory, and walking away losers. 

The USSR was briefly the big winner of WWII, along with West Germany and Japan.  The losers?  Britain, France and the US.  If you don’t believe it, take a look at the US economy, GNP and industry.  Then let your eyes gaze on a world map so’s you can examine the French and British empires today.  Compare that  to Germany, Japan, Korea, any AXIS power except Italy.

So while you’re celebrating the 4th of July and the beginning of WWI this week, do some thinking.  How can you do it better this time around?  How can you keep the losers from winning it?  Resign yourself you will repeat history.  And next time, try using your heads.

Old Jules

 

 

A century of bloodshed – Look what those lowdown stinking Muslims did!

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

You never-forgetters have something to remember and celebrate not forgetting it.

This time a century ago the sneaky lowdown stinking Muslim Ottoman Empire was withdrawing from the Balkans.  Territory ripe for the taking by devil-take-the-hindmost.

Naturally the web of inbred monarch cousins ruling Europe, Russia and Britain wanted a piece of what those Muslims were leaving behind.  And by 1913 they’d all decided which cousins were friends this time around, and which were enemies.

Those cousins had plenty of cannon fodder and they were all waiting for a spark to set them off so’s they’d have an excuse for their patriotic homeland worship-ridden peasantry to cut one another down with artillery, machine guns and bayonettes.

A few months down the road they got their excuse when their Austrian cousin got offed by a Serbian as he drove by in a motorcade on the way to laying down the law the Austrians were about to provide for the Serbians to march to.

Thoroughly pissed off the cousins running France, the Austrian Empire, the Russian Empire, the German Empire, the British Empire, and scattered cousins elsewhere.  Eventually even the cousins running the United States.

So naturally they sent their peasants out to slaughter one another for the homeland, protecting their motherlands from all the damned foreigners taking the ownership of the land, food, wealth and power from the cousins who were providing them their weaponry and telling them to “CHARGE!  Fight to the death!”

Gave us one hell of a 20th Century.  After that the Russian peasants on the front lines starving to death fighting Germans and Austrians decided, “Screw this shit!”.  Went home and chopped their ruling cousins to death instead of going after the intended target.

Damned British cousins were having distractions in Ireland where they were starving everyone to death, and Wales with the coal miners wanting to get paid and have safety standards in their mines where so many were getting killed in mine accidents.  Had to call in the cousins from the US to bail them out.

As if that weren’t enough, the cheeky bastard Turks whipped the socks off the British Navy and all the Australian and Indian peasants the British cousins sent to invade Turkey!

French cousins had some difficulties because the damned German cousins kept telling their peasants in the trenches to shoot the French peasants, and the French cousins having to shoot their own peasants when they tried to get the hell out of Dodge.

And all because of the damned Turks.  Those damned sneaky-assed Ottoman Muslim Turks.  They caused it all.  The end of the Russian cousins, the Austrian cousins having to hide a longish time, the British cousins having to let go their stranglehold on Ireland and pay their damned miners in Wales, give them air down in the holes and ways to fight fires.

Damned Muslim bastards caused the WWII and Cold War.  Civilization hasn’t recovered yet.   30-40 million people killed in that one war and all because of those lowdown sneaking no-go0d-for-nothing Moslems.

Not to mention all the damage it did all over the world by opening up the Pandora’s Box of unions springing up all over the place keeping factory and industry owners from making an honest living by having to pay wages, have safety enough on jobs to keep a lot of injured workers from drawing attention to themselves.

And now they’re trying to do it again.  Forcing the cousins in the United States into sending the peasants out with the new generation of weaponry.

Old Jules

Can’t go back to Constantanople

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

Last night Rich called and during the conversation he mentioned the Turks are trying to resolve differences of opinion he doesn’t know what are.  Evidently their methods of persuading one another have drawn some attention.

I swan.  Those Turks are always full of surprises.  One day they’re running around everyone wearing a fez, next day wearing a fez is a criminal offense.  They sit off there during WWI looking as though they’re just some little country getting in the way of progress, end up whipping the socks off the entire British Empire. 

Everything went so bad the history writers for WWI barely allowed Turkey into the history books because of them not getting the socks whipped off them the way they were supposed to.

So, what then?  City goes along being Constantanople 15 centuries or so, centerpoint for crusaders, Byzantine Empire, home of Janisaries [some of the more dedicated empire builders in human history] and the Cold War comes along, suddenly they’re Istanbul and more-or-less European. 

Best just leave the whole matter alone.  As the Four Lads observed in 1953, it’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

Book Review – Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

If any of you are bored, or maybe a bit ashamed hearing yourselves parrot to one another how much you hate Muslims, or Arabs, or one of the numerous other epithets you apply to people of Semitic ancestry without knowing a damned thing about them, you might find this a cleansing read.  [Long sentence, eh?]

I found it in a ‘free’ box in a thrift store held together by rubber bands, but there’s probably another read left in this copy.  If any of you can’t find a copy and want this one I’ll send it to you, rubber bands and all.

Lawrence was a young Englishman assigned early in WWI to go into the desert and try raising a rebellion among the Beduins against the Turkish Empire.  The allies were having an awful time with those Turks, getting themselves made monkeys of, their cannon-fodder reduced to cannon-fodder without seeing any positive results.  Someone got the idea a revolt in the background might help.

So young Lawrence found himself a camel and headed out to make friends of the tribes, to try arranging dissatisfaction among them.  To offer money, weapons, military advisors, explosives to weaken the back door to pesky Turkey.

Lawrence lived among them several years.  Became trusted by them, successfully stirred them into revolt, led them, came to respect and understand them.  Earned their trust, I should have said, to the extent any representative of a European power could be trusted.  And trusted them in a more-or-less realistic way.

These are his memoirs, his exploits, his observations about the people.  The events that came to be important as an influence on the future running right to the present.  And changed his entire perspective about loyalties, betrayals, patriotism and individual responsibility.

In some ways what happened to Lawrence is reminescent of what the Templars were accused of and slaughtered for by the European powers.  Becoming too familiar, dangerously understanding of the fabled, demonized enemy.

Lawrence could probably offer an Eighth Pillar of Wisdom if he’d survived until today and had a chance to offer his thoughts about what he’d see around him.

A worthy read, worth the rubber bands holding it together.  655 pages with introduction and remarks by his friend, George Bernard Shaw.

Old Jules