Saturday, January 27, 2007
Lieutenant Harold Spire of Los Angeles was the oldest man to pose for Peter Hurd. In the Army Air Forces, a collection of young men, Spire was a gray-beard of 26. He was one of the most modest of his group, always praising a fellow flier for effiecient work or some act of bravery. But none of his fellows was braver than he.
In one of the first raids conducted by Americans in B-17's over France, the pilot and copilot of his plane were hit by German gunfire. Lieut. Spire and the engineer took over the controls, removing the dead copilot from his seat. The seriously wounded pilot gave them directions in operating the plane and and, by some miracle, the two novices brought the complicated bomber back over an English airfield and set her safely on the ground. For his act of heroism, Spire was awarded the Purple Heart.
"Shorty" Spire was painted in his service uniform, wearing his medal ribbon, against a background of windsock and runway. At each sitting, between flights, he kept asking Hurd to finish his portrait quickly so his mother might have a reproduction of it for herself. He must have had a premonition that something would happen for, on an operational raid, with one last sitting due, Shorty Spire and his Fortress were shot down over enemy-occupied France.
Life February 15, 1943
Mike's job is the coldest and most exposed one in a heavy bomber. He hangs in his ball turret (shown in the background) beneath the belly of his B-17 ready to deal with any fighter making an attack at the plane's underside. He is joined to his plane by three long umbilical cords--a wire which heats his blue flying suit by conducting current from the bomber's generators, an oxygen line from the plane's tanks and an interphone communications wire. From his strange position he looks down over the Channel and the fields of France, directing his power turret from side to side to better his aim. His two .50-cal. machine guns are a match for any German fighter.
To help Zuk and all ball-turret gunners keep their sense of direction in such an unnatural position, every Fortress has a red spot painted on the underside of the left wing and on the tail fin--a green spot on the right wing and right side of the tail fin. In the heat of battle, with commands from the pilot and other crew members coming thick and fast over the interphone, that is the only way the aerial gunner in the ball turret can be sure he knows which side is which.
When a Fortress squadron is tactically disposed by its commander in a defensive formation, its aerial gunners cover every angle of approach with deadly streams of cross fire. Their heavy machine guns usually outrange those of the enemy fighters and it is suicide for them to come too close. The secret of American high-level bombing success has been due to this fact, for even unescorted Fortresses can meet enemy fighters, hold them off until the bombs are accurately dropped and then fly safely back to their home bases, shooting down German planes on the way.
Life February 15, 1943
Lieutenant Thomas Borders was once an All-America tackle from the University of Alabama, now pilots the "Birmingham Blitzkrieg." One of his crew, Sergeant West, a gunner, shot down the first German plane credited to a member of the Air Forces. Lieut. Borders is famous for his store of humourous stories and always brings back vivid details of his exploits from his leaves in London. He was painted before a green field and a blue and brown camouflaged hangar of the station at which his squadron is based. His square jaw and large frame mark him as an athlete as well as an expert pilot.
Life February 15, 1943
Life February 15, 1943
Lieutenant Garl E. Schultz from Detroit, Mich. is the squadron's chief bombardier. This means that he is in the lead ship of the first flight of three bombers in his squadron and so is the first man over the target. He flew in this position in the first American heavy bomber raid over Rouen. In this series of portraits, Peter Hurd, like a Renaisssance painter, has included background details relative to his subjects' professions. For instance, in front of Lieut. Schultz with just a corner showing, is his bombsight, the delicate instrument with which he lays bombs exactly on the target from altitudes as high as 30,000 ft. Beyond him are the white clouds and greenish-blues skies found at his usual working altitudes.
Lieut. Schultz is not wearing heavy flying clothes in his Plexiglas nose as this part of the bomber is well heated. He may keep his warm suit near him for use in emergencies, in case gun fire damages or breakdown interferes with plane's heating equipment. To his right is a machine gun, somethines used by himself, at other times by a gunner on enemy fighters attacking the "Yankee Doodle" head-on.
Life February 15, 1943
Bottom: AERODROME CONTROL TOWER PROVIDED BACKGROUND NOTES FROM HURD'S PAINTINGS
Bottom right: INSIDE CONTROL TOWER HURD MADE SKETCH OF ANXIOUS RADIOMAN AWAITING REPORT
The pictures on this page are quick thumbnail sketches of the U.S. Air Forces from Peter Hurd's notebook. To catch these men in action, he always had this sketchbook with him and notes like these helped him make paintings shown in the preceding pages.
From the first sketch on this page he worked out the portrait of Captain Foster (page 67.) Note how, in finished picture, he added control tower from sketch on the bottom of this page (left). This same sketch came in handy when he did portrait of Lieutenant Spire (page 69) in which he included the windsock.
But when he began his final paintings Hurd, who mixes his colors with fresh egg yolks, found that eggs are rationed in England. Unable to get fresh eggs, Hurd hit on the idea of using dry egg powder, which he got from the Army canteen, and he set to work with some misgivings. The pictures on the preceeding pages prove that his inventive hunch was all right.
Life February 15, 1943
+++as the posts unfold, the page numbers will make a bit more sense. These are great paintings!
This is the final post for this World War II editorial from LIFE Magazine.
What was it that we promised ourselves at the war’s beginning? Did we not promise ourselves something called “total victory?”
Whatever anybody’s views had been before Pearl Harbor, after Pearl Harbor we all agreed that we would lick “those bastards” and Hitler too—lick them so thoroughly that the military power of their nations could never again threaten us.
And we promised ourselves more than that. We promised ourselves that this time we would so thoroughly finish the job that “this” could never happen again—not, at any rate, for a long, long time.
That is what we meant by victory. Remember? That is what we meant by victory—when all we were getting was defeat and more defeats.
And, now that we are getting some victories, what is it that could ultimately stand in the way of the total victory we promised ourselves? Obviously, it would be a falling out among the “victorious” Allies—it would be the failure of the Allies to achieve that degree of unity of policy and purpose which would be required to organize a “just and durable peace.”
But the very same thing—a falling out among the Allies—is the danger most to be feared in the picture we have just given of how we might not win the war.
And so, if we really want to know the score—the score of destiny—the thing to watch is not merely the lines of battle. The thing to watch is the relations of the Allies. Are the Allies really united? Or only superficially so? Only with polite and weasel words? Only for military expediency?
The whole problem of the global war—and of the Peace, if any, to come—can be summed up as a problem in the creation of enduring unity among the Allies. Strategy, policy, statesmanship should all be directed to the creation of genuine unity between Allies. To the extent that genuine unity is achieved, the Allies will stick together even through reverses and postponement of victory—and their togetherness will be the sufficient promise of a good peace.
To the extent that genuine unity is not achieved—with this ally or with that one or with all of them—to that extent they are likely to fall apart in the fluctuations of war and thereby encompass their own defeats.
The Editors of LIFE believe that America has still a great job to do in bringing the Allies closer together in fundamental and indestructible agreement. Let Americans remember the victory they promised themselves—a just and durable peace so that “this” will not happen again for a long, long time. That victory is, of course, inconceivable without fundamental unity of policies and purposes.
And it is not true to say that it will be easier tomorrow than today to take important steps toward unity. That is the merest wishful thinking. Tomorrow may be harder.
In sum it comes to this. Today, we seem to be winning—we are winning. Time is on our side now. Time may be on our side for a year or so. But time will not be on our side forever. In a year, or in two years, or perhaps three, time may only too likely turn against us—and will make impossible the winning of the total victory to which we pledged ourselves.
Therefore, this talk of winning the war in 1943 or 1944 ought to be very solemn talk. Let this talk not be used between us as the speech of comfort. It must be spoken in the accent of urgent and terrible challenge. For unity must be won now—or it may never be won. There is the challenge to American statesmanship. It is a challenge to the will of the American people—a challenge to their full part in bringing about the unity among the peoples of the earth which alone will ensure victory, no matter what the hazards, and which alone will ensure that victory will be what we Americans mean it to be.
This is the job yet to be done. And the time to do it is now.
Life February 15, 1943
We were attacked viciously by an enemy we did not know existed and now we have Jane Frigging Fonda leading the way with other celebrities. What is it with these old has-beens? Do they really feel they have the right to condemn anything about the defense of our country when this one in particular was famous for breaking a waterbed with her sexual escapades and has the blood guilt on her hands for betrayal of fighting forces during the Vietnam War? You can certainly tell who is in the majority once again. The Hollywood Liberals are out in full force, and she, the traitor to our military, is at it again.
She was at a book signing in Albuquerque about a year or so ago and she had a Marine spit tobacco juice in her face. He said he had waited a long time to let her know what she meant to him.
Who wants a speaker to lead that is a known and vicious betrayer of our country and of our military men and women? As I have said in the past and will repeat over and over again, this is so Un-American, but then what can you expect? She caused American prisoners in the hands of a cruel enemy to be tortured. Is this what we really want? Or do we, UNLIKE HANOI JANE ... SUPPORT OUR TROOPS?
This is a continuation of two previous posts with the same title, Part One and Part Two. This is the second and last post of the sub-heading:
To be sure, as long as Hitler is not defeated, Russia will not be able to demobilize, disarm and devote herself to the arts of peace. But ever since the establishment of the Soviet regime, Russia has maintained a very large military organization. So, it will not particularly bother Russia that she must continue to maintain a powerful armament—and even to replenish it. To maintain strong guards on the borders is infinitely less costly than to be fighting the biggest battles in history. Thus armed, Russia will wait to see what happens next, taking the military and political initiative as she may see fit.
Recognizing this situation, Germany might accept it as the best available to her. On the Russo-German border, Germany would post the necessary heavy guards and could then concentrate all her efforts on the Anglo-American threat. Her chief weapon is now the submarine. With this weapon she expects to keep a large part of the American military power from getting within striking distance. It will become impossible for us, she hopes, to transport the necessary 100 or 150 American divisions across the Atlantic. If the submarine can thus succeed in warding off full-scale American invasion, Germany’s two great fears must be 1) air bombardment, 2) blockade.
As for air bombardment, it may prove less than fatal to Germany. By concentrating our efforts on “the real bombing of Germany,” we could probably mutilate the German war machine this year. But our leaders have not chosen to adopt a policy of concentration—and presumably they have reasons.
And as for the blockade against Germany—there is simply no telling when it may prove finally effective. Similarly, with regard to the resistance of the conquered peoples—no one can accurately chart the curve of rising or falling resistance. Both the blockade and the resistance of conquered peoples are mighty allies for us when we move in toward victory. But they cannot be counted on as decisive factors in the struggle.
To summarize: Suppose that just for another 18 months, Germany is able to maintain the war economy of Europe; suppose that Russia is unwilling to march to Berlin at the cost of millions of lives; suppose the Nazi submarines do their worst and prevent an Anglo-American invasion of Germany—suppose, in short, Germany lasts another 18 months, then what?
The “then what” is that, in the meanwhile, too many bad things can happen for our side. China might be forced to yield to Japan—unless Russia intervenes. If we spend another year sending practically all our strength against Germany and fail to crack Germany; if we are unable or unwilling to launch a real campaign in Burma—then China, having received scarcely as much as an old shoe from the outside world, could only too understandably reach the end of physical power to resist. Japan then will be fighting only a one-front war—and that front a front with plenty of water between her and her enemies. Even with all our strength it would be a job to defeat Japan from over-the-water (and she with a subdued mainland behind her). But, with Germany still undefeated, we won’t be able to use our full strength against Japan.
And then the war becomes a long protracted war. And in long wars, when exhaustion sets in, when hope of victory is deferred, when the purposes of the war become obscured, and when friends and foes, true leaders and false, become hard to distinguish in the night—then in ways now almost inconceivable, dissension sets in among allies. Dissensions arising not merely from petty misunderstandings but serious divergences of interest and policy. And then—somehow—the war ends—or ends for a while—quite otherwise than we had promised ourselves at the beginning.
**One more future post will wrap-up this editorial from LIFE. We will end with ‘The Challenge.’
Life February 15, 1943
Apparently, there is a strong shaky gene in my dad’s side of the family. It was first brought to my attention in the seventh grade when a boy asked me if I was nervous about the math test we were about to take. When I told him no, and asked him why he would ask me such a question, he pointed out to me that my hand was trembling. This condition, not Parkinson’s, but some form of palsy or tremors seems to increase with age. It’s quite pronounced in me and my sister, and my dad … ouch, not good. I think Aaron had a little of it too, but I never told him that. The energy was definitely there in his hands. I know he hated the fact that his badge was a “pizza box” as he called it (which was the Marksman Badge; the lowest qualification when qualifying. It goes from Marksman to Sharpshooter and then to Expert, and the badge grows in its embellishment with each advancement of marksmanship.) But at least he did qualify, and since the machine gun was his weapon of choice, I never felt bad about it; though I know he wanted more from himself on the M-16.
While one learns to compensate in pretty much anything, a Private does not own the advantage to decide to stay out on the range and at their leisure, figure out how to compensate. I zeroed my weapon without too many snags, but it seems we zeroed one day and qualified the next. By the next day, no doubt, my shot pattern would’ve changed considerably. Stir in a little tension and increase the dosage with each bumpy trip to the range, daily, in the back of a deuce-and-a-half with four or five other depressed and jumpy females; it’s just not the mix for a good day, no matter what time of day the trip was. The trip and its promise or its punishment either hung over my head or the blow had already been dealt. Each day was thus.
I don’t remember how far into training we were when we went on some low-crawl and high-crawl obstacle course, but I lost my canteen of water along the way. All but totally dehydrated, I called out to the girl next to me, “Thorenson, give me a drink of your water!”
Thorenson, eighteen (I use that as some excuse), took the lid off her canteen, looked in and said, “No, I might want it later.”
Then and there, something exploded within me, maybe it was nothing more than dehydration kicking in, or maybe the endless and sleep-deprived nights from selfish bickering and hollering of so many females, maybe it was my age, tension, the fact that I’d not made many peeps throughout the weeks, which was entirely out of character for me, or perhaps it was just everything stored and salted away, bottled Irish blood that finally surged and spewed—but I bolted up from that pit we were low-crawling in and screamed, “Thorenson, I’m going to kick your ass!”
The Drill must have asked me something, shouted at me something from across the way, and after my loud explanation of Thorenson’s problem, he said, “At ease, Private. We’ll be taking a break soon.” And within a few minutes, he brought me his canteen.
Something changed after that day. There was not a magical qualification on the range. No, that was waived by the C.O. for a reason I’ll never understand, except to call it another God thing. The C.O. covered himself on the waiver and merely stated that I had never been around a weapon before and was afraid of it, and then mentioned something akin to “highly motivated” and I graduated the same day as the females I’d gone in with, and with the same badge as a Marksman, which embarrassed me some, but I was just so relieved that I wouldn’t be recycled or sent home, because I knew recycling wouldn’t do the trick for me.
But something did change. Maybe everybody wanted to kick Thorenson’s butt, because she was a major pain for all of us there, but many developed a respect for me that I don’t think existed before.
A couple of Drills from other platoons didn’t hold me in very high esteem because I was not only allowed to graduate, but I graduated with honor. One Drill was in my face at graduation practice, yelling and narrating on how ashamed I should be for even accepting the High PT award since I had not qualified with the weapon. Venom truly spewed from his eyes and his mouth. He’d lost a good soldier who’d had to be recycled.
I looked up and respected his rank as I asked him what one had to do with the other, which only infuriated him all the more. My Drill Sergeant told me later that the other Drill was out of line for talking to me that way and the situation would be dealt with.
I did graduate with the High P.T. award. I’m certain I was out of step as I marched with the Honor Graduates to be recognized.
I’ll not recount other comical or alarming tales such as arrival and fitting time for uniforms, being sent ahead in a line, with some lady hollering down the assembly of soldiers needing BDU’s that, “This one’s got some hips on her!” Or the fact that I was nearly held-over due to the M.O.S. I had enlisted for which required a ‘Secret’ clearance—that some ball had been dropped on, or the times I cried in my pillow where no one could hear, as quiet as possible upon my bunk that I kept made-up, tight, very tight except on Saturday nights, or the fact that I became addicted to Luden’s cherry cough drops since we couldn’t have candy, or that I threw my “rape-proof” glasses away on my second day in training. This was purposeful because I hated the little elastic band on the back which crumped up my hair and gave me a headache. The Drills had said if anyone wore glasses at all, they had to wear them all the time. Since they fogged up on me during P.T., I took them that night, before anymore time passed with anybody seeing me in glasses, and inside the latrine, in my own little stall, I wrapped them up in toilet paper and a sanitary packet and threw them in the metal sanitary dispenser, feeling certain that no one would search there for Private Austin’s glasses. (My eyes weren’t bad then.) All these little scenes that come to mind and make me smile now, could go on forever.
I caught a cab outside the gates, had the driver take me to the nearest gas station for cigarettes, and I chain smoked for as long as I could, which didn’t set well with me on the small plane I took out of there, but I made it fine and it wasn’t long until I was back in Texas, truly changed forever.
On the way home from the airport in Lubbock toward Littlefield, which is where Mom and I lived at the time, I pulled out the little book they gave the soldiers at the end of the cycle, something sort of like a yearbook with photos and what not, and I began to read to her some of the things the other soldiers had written to me. One had written, “To Austin, shaky on the outside, but ROCK HARD on the inside.”
I read a few more to Mom, and then I got to Thorenson’s. She’d drawn a picture of a canteen and had written, “Austin, you can have a drink from my canteen anytime!”
After a bit, Mom said, “I bet you’ll have ties with those girls the rest of your life.”
I looked up from the book, turned my head toward her, shook it and said, “I hope I never see a one of them again!”
I enjoyed the nine days leave I had before going to my A.I.T. at Fort Gordon, Georgia. I became acquainted with Fort Gordon over the phone during leave. I had had to call ahead, to find out how to proceed, because another thing I noticed in the little book was a picture of females boarding busses with large manilla envelopes in their hands. Large envelopes in every hand, and I hadn’t left with one. What was it?
I’d left Fort Jackson, South Carolina without orders.
In the military, orders are everything.
Eight-weeks and counting. I never quit learning.
Friday, January 26, 2007
KEEP your Spirit-Life calm and unruffled. Nothing else matters. Leave all to Me. This is your great task, to get calm in My Presence, not let one ruffled feeling stay for one moment. Years of blessing may be checked in one moment by that.
No matter who frets you or what, yours is the task to stop all else until absolute calm comes. Any block means My Power diverted into other channels.
Pour forth--pour forth--pour forth--I cannot bless a life that does not act as a channel. My Spirit brooks no stagnation, not even rest. Its Power must flow on. Pass on everything, every blessing. Abide in Me.
See how many you can bless each day. Dwell much in My Presence.
Russell, A. J., ed., God Calling, Barnes & Noble, 2002
He needs our help with these projects.He is trying to get shoes, mittens, caps, coats and sweaters and other warm clothing to hand out to the children of Afghanistan - warm clothes for those without in the grip of winter. The clothes don't need to be new, but they do need to be clean. Toys are good, too!!!
Todd has also put together a cultural exchange program with some of the kids back home in Oklahoma and a school in Afghanistan. This is an excerpt from one of his posts on the project:
While I was looking through the papers and posters I came across one of the most perfect examples of why we are here and what we have done, here is what this wonderful little girl had to say. (Pardon the grammar but this is amazing English for an Afghan 6th Grader)
I am pleased on the arrival of the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. Because five years ago I and my sisters all sisters of our country couldn’t go to school. The Taliban were controlling all of Afghanistan. They didn’t wanted the girls to go to school and study. And now that we can go to school we are proud for all our sisters. After the collapse of the Taliban we were studying in ruined school buildings and now we are thankful to the Coalition Forces for building us a new school to study. And now all student can study in this new building we become very happy when some help and serve us.
I was pretty amazed and shocked to say the least, what amazing and inspirational words from such a little girl. She should be a perfect example of why we’re here and why we need to stay here.
If you can help him with his projects, please send to:
And, please visit his website for some wonderful stories and pictures! (which I borrowed/stole to put here - thanks, Todd!!!) Task Force Phoenix
And I confiscated it from Flag Gazer
This is a continuation of an earlier post regarding WWII. The prior post is Jan. 25, 2007. Here is where we left off:
Are we going to win the war? So far as we can see the answer is—may be yes and may be no. And what we’ll try define the two maybes.
The “maybe yes” is the simpler half. In one sense, there’s no maybe at all. In one sense the war has been won—because, as we said above, the threat of this country’s being overrun by our enemies is indefinitely postponed—(at any rate, so far as military probabilities are concerned).
But will we achieve the total destruction of the military power of our enemies? Maybe yes. And this picture is easily outlined. This is the picture which is pretty much in your mind and in all our minds. It runs, of course, like this: Germany has passed the peak of her power. Russia, having withstood the German onslaught, has now hurled Germany back on the defensive. Meanwhile, we figure, American power has been at last mobilized on a gigantic scale. The terrific bombing of Germany plus continued land and sea attacks from all sides plus internal exhaustion will bring Germany to her knees—perhaps this year, certainly next. At the same time, Japan is losing power, and once Germany is knocked out, Japan will quickly buckle up under full allied assault. The gigantic Allied forces to achieve this result are already in motion. It is almost beyond human power to stay their course.
Something like that is the pattern of inevitable victory which many Americans have in their minds. Now if the “inevitable” happens—that’s all. That’s what most Americans think is going to happen so far as the war is concerned—and most of us think that the only “problems” are “post-war” problems—which are, of course, very complicated but don’t have to be attended to just yet.
But suppose the “inevitable” doesn’t happen. Or, how might the “inevitable” not happen? Maybe we better take a look at—
The “maybe no” about winning this war is a whole lot harder to state than the “maybe or certainly yes.” In a way, that’s fine. If it’s so much easier to see how we are going to win the war than how we are not going win it—that may be a kind of proof that we are going to win it. There is a kind of good rough common sense in believing that what can’t be put clearly probably ain’t so. But then, of course, there is the Einstein theory. The point about the Einstein theory is that it is clear to people who understand higher mathematics.
Well, the problems of humanity are probably a lot more difficult than mathematics—and we certainly don’t pretend to have any Einsteinian grasp of them. But since the human situation is of desperate concern to us, it is some sort of duty to try to state the truth about what is by no means clear.
In trying to get at the truth, let us put down the chief factors which may develop to prevent us from winning the war. Some of the chief factors are:
1. The Nazi submarines may make it impossible for us to launch a big-scale offensive on Nazi Europe this year.
2. The failure to retake Burma this year may result in the final exhaustion of China and the elimination of China as an effective ally against Japan.
3. The Russo-German front may at some point develop into a stalemate.
4. The longer the war goes on, the greater becomes the danger of disagreement among the Allies. (The Allies, of course, are bound together by many agreements. But these are, almost without exception, agreements of military expediency. Even at this late date there is no real program binding them in a basic and enduring unity.)
These are some of the factors which may prevent us from achieving victory. To get a realistic sense of what these factors mean, let us try to weave them into a moving picture of events. Remember: we are not predicting; we are simply trying to get a clear picture of what we may be up against.
The picture, then, of how we may lose the war runs something like this:
Hitler sees he has failed to win the mastery of Europe in this round of war. So he goes on the defensive. Russia pushes the Nazis out of Russia—or out of most of it. Then Russia stops offensive warfare on the Russo-German front. And for the following very good reasons:
1. The war has been an exhausting ordeal for Russia as well as for Germany.
2. Russia is far from collapse—but so is Germany. (And the Russian food problem is acute.)
3. For Russia to drive straight on to Berlin would be terribly costly—in lives as well as in materials. (As Russia drives the Germans out, her supply lines lengthen, she runs into areas devastated by Germany, etc; i.e., all the factors militating against Germany on the Volga hit Russia between the Dnieper and the Danube).
4. Russia needs to recuperate.
5. And, if Russia recuperates, she will have relatively little to fear on her Western boundaries for a long time to come.
6. Further, Russia has to keep heavily mobilized in Siberia for whatever role she sees fit to play in the Far East.
to be continued in future posts.
Life February 15, 1943
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Sadr City is the slum around Baghdad and this is where the death squads lurk. If our military can cut down death by 50% for one week during an intense maneuver; 21,000 more troops might just pull the fat out of the fire. I hope and pray that it does. I think that it will be hard for Congress to stop the troops and I am sure they don’t dare not fund the troops. Some are asking that.
Cindy Sheehan talks a lot.
If it doesn't work by a great show of force in six months, I am truly afraid it is over for the United States. If Congress can possibly make this into a suicide mission, they will. I cannot understand the thinking behind it. Is political ambition more important than us being able to hold? More important than Our Boots on the Ground? You hate to go that far. But if it turns out that way, then it’s sickening.
No matter which party wins, they are in for four years. Four years is a lifetime in politics. The war issue is the only issue and the present majority in the House and Senate has no new ideas. Failure for our military is victory for them. It is so disheartening, but alas I see it in no other light. In the Democratic response to Bush's State of the Union address, a Mr. Webb lied when he said the military majority wants to come home. That’s a bald face lie and he knows it. He is a new one this year so I have not got him nailed down yet.
Congratulations to the new majority. I hope you are satisfied. It is heart lifting to me that McCain and Giuliani are the voter’s choice by far. Maybe we are not as dumb as some might have hoped. SUPPORT THE TROOPS!
Only as a matter of fact, most people don’t talk about the war very much. They talk about fuel oil or the meat situation or the Flynn case (cases). They also talk about battles and heroes—how the Russians are giving them hell and what a brave guy Eddie Rickenbacker is. But there’s not really a great deal of talk about the war. It’s not so simple. And there’s so much we just don’t know.
Now the editors of LIFE—like most news-editors and correspondents—work very hard to find out what’s what and then to make it as plain as possible. Editors don’t like to be confused any more than anybody else does. When we are, which is more often than we like to admit, we try not to confuse our readers by our own confusion. So the newspapers and LIFE try to make everything as simple as possible. But this doesn’t prevent the people from being confused. Of course it doesn’t. Because, of course, if something just plain isn’t simple, Associated Press dispatchers won’t make it so—nor homey editorials either. Nor fireside chats. Nor silence.
LIFE has no apology to make for the great volume of material about the war which it has given to its readers—nor for the editorial comments by which we have sought to point up the various issues and problems, great and small. But this article will attempt to balance up the accounts, as of this date, by a candid effort to summarize what is not clear in the situation.
We start with the basic question: are we going to win the war? “What!” you say. “Is there any doubt about that?” Probably 90% of the people—or even 95%--haven’t the slightest doubt about that. But how did they get so sure about such a big fact? From their leaders, of course—and from the news they read and hear. Besides, it isn’t patriotic to think anything else. If the British had been able to imagine defeat—in 1940—they might have been defeated. But there was something else that the British did imagine. They were brave enough to imagine their destruction—literally dying in their homes before surrendering. So for them it was Victory or—death. That was the measure of the courage that stood at the pass of civilization.
The Chinese, many of them, at the beginning of this war, actually thought they had no chance of victory—at least in their lifetimes. But, fighting on, they rose to ever more magnificent heights. They chose almost certain death rather than more appeasement, concession and compromise.
But it’s different for us Americans. The threat to our homes and shores, however great it may have been, is now indefinitely postponed. Beyond any reasonable doubt, Admiral Yamamoto will not dictate peace in the White House—neither he nor any other foreigner. So the alternatives before us are not Victory or total defeat. The alternatives before us are something else. What are they?
If we editors are partly responsible for the general belief that we are certainly going to win the war, it is time for us to correct the testimony so that opinions will not be based on any misunderstandings.
Are we going to win the war? So far as we can see the answer is—maybe yes and maybe no. And what we’ll try to do here is to define the two maybes.
Life February 15, 1943 (I originally had in November 30, 1942, which wasn't correct.)
to be continued in a future posting, possibly two or three postings.
George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905
US (Spanish-born) philosopher (1863 - 1952)
Please pick a date from the table below and leave it in the comments section. I'll tell you what we're going to do with it later, once all the comments are in.
On January 25th in ...
41 - After a night of negotiation, Claudius is accepted as Roman Emperor by the Senate.
844 - Gregory IV begins and ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1327 - Edward III becomes King of England.
1494 - Alfonso II becomes King of Naples.
1533 - Henry VIII of England secretly marries his second wife Anne Boleyn.
1554 - Founding of São Paulo city, Brazil.
1579 - Treaty of Utrecht signed, marks beginning of Dutch Republic.
1755 - Moscow University established on Tatiana Day.
1787 - American Daniel Shays leads rebellion to seize Federal arsenal to protest debtor prisons.
1791 - The British Parliament passes the Constitutional Act of 1791 and splits the old province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada.
1792 - The London Corresponding Society is founded.
1858 - The Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn becomes a popular wedding recessional after it is played on this day at the marriage of Queen Victoria's daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia.
1879 - The Bulgarian National Bank is founded.
1881 - Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company.
1890 - The United Mine Workers of America is founded.
1890 - Nellie Bly completes her round-the-world journey in 72 days.
1915 - Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service.
1917 - The Danish West Indies is sold to the United States for $25 million.
1918 - Russia declared a republic of Soviets.
1919 - The League of Nations is founded.
1924 - The 1924 Winter Olympics open in Chamonix, France (in the French Alps), inaugurating the Winter Olympic Games.
1941 - Pope Pius XII elevates the Apostolic Vicariate of the Hawaiian Islands to the dignity of a diocese. It becomes the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.
1942 - Thailand declares war on the United States and United Kingdom.
1946 - The United Mine Workers rejoins the American Federation of Labor.
1949 - At the Hollywood Athletic Club the first Emmy Awards are presented.
1949 - The first Israeli election -- David Ben-Gurion becomes Prime Minister.
1955 - Russia ends state of war with Germany.
1959 - Pope John XXIII proclaims Second Vatican Council.
1960 - The National Association of Broadcasters reacts to the Payola scandal by threatening fines for any disc jockeys who accepted money for playing particular records.
1961 - In Washington, D.C. John F. Kennedy delivers the first live presidential television news conference.
1969 - US-North Vietnamese peace talks begin in Paris.
1971 - Charles Manson and three female "family members" are found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
1971 - Idi Amin leads a coup deposing Milton Obote and becomes Uganda's president.
1971 - Himachal Pradesh becomes the 18th Indian state.
1981 - Mao's widow Jiang Qing sentenced to death.
1986 - The National Resistance Movement topple the government of Tito Okello in Uganda.
1990 - The Burns' Day storm hits Northwestern Europe.
1990 - Honduras becomes a member of the Berne Convention copyright treaty.
1993 - Mir Amir Kansi kills two employees outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
1995 - The Norwegian Rocket Incident: Russia almost launches a nuclear attack after Black Brant XII, a Norwegian research rocket, is mistaken for a US Trident missile by the Olenegorsk early-warning radar station.
1998 - During a historic visit to Cuba Pope John Paul II demands the release of political prisoners and political reforms while condemning US attempts to isolate the country.
1998 - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suicide attack on Sri Lanka's Temple of the Tooth, killing 8 people injuring 25 others.
1999 - A 6.0 Richter scale earthquake hits western Colombia killing at least 1,000.
2002 - Wikipedia switches to the new version of its software ("Phase II") aka Magnus Manske Day.
2004 - Opportunity (MER-B) lands on surface of Mars.
2005 - A stampede during a pilgrimage in India kills at least 258.
2006 - Three independent observing campaigns announce the discovery of OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb through gravitational microlensing, the first cool rocky/icy extrasolar planet around a main-sequence star.
2006 - The Council of Europe passes a draft resolution that emphatically condemns the atrocities and human rights violations of totalitarian communist regimes
A South Plains family watched the State Of The Union Address with special interest. Will and Buffy Rattan have two son's serving over seas, and both say they support an increase in troops.
They watched Tuesday night's speech underneath a family portrait taken over Christmas. The picture has all five of their children, but right now, their two oldest sons Steven and Crosby are serving in the Marines over seas.
The Rattans say it's important that troops know the folks back home support them. They also say it's important to finish the job, and that's why they support an increase in troops. We asked what their sons would think of Bush's speech.
"I think they would be positive about it, because they like to see when the President comes out strong, when he says that we're not going to cut and run, when he says that we're going to finish this job, that's what they like to hear," Buffy Rattan said.
As for the rest of the speech, the Rattans say it's a time of change for both the House and the Senate, and that both Democrats and Republicans were very civil. They tell us they've also had the pleasure to meet Roy Velez, and that knowing he was in Washington D.C. Tuesday night made the speech even more special.
KCBD.com has them on video. Have you guessed who it is yet? I know Karen has, since she was the first to let us know. Lubbock Marine Parents. Buffy and her husband have two Marine sons serving overseas.
Buffy's voice is wonderful; she's from Texas and I bet no one asks her if she's from Georgia! Click here to see and listen to this family ... of seven!
FIRST OFFENSIVE: The Marine Campaign for Guadalcanal
by Henry I. Shaw, Jr.
September and the Ridge (continued)
On the morning of 13 September, Edson called his company commanders together and told them: "They were just testing, just testing. They'll be back." He ordered all positions improved and defenses consolidated and pulled his lines towards the airfield along the ridge's center spine. The 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, his backup on Tulagi, moved into position to reinforce again.
The next night's attacks were as fierce as any man had seen. The Japanese were everywhere, fighting hand-to-hand in the Marines' foxholes and gun pits and filtering past forward positions to attack from the rear. Division Sergeant Major Sheffield Banta shot one in the new command post. Colonel Edson appeared wherever the fighting was toughest, encouraging his men to their utmost efforts. The man-to-man battles lapped over into the jungle on either flank of the ridge, and engineer and pioneer positions were attacked. The reserve from the 5th Marines was fed into the fight. Artillerymen from the 5th Battalion, 11th Marines, as they had on the previous night, fired their 105mm howitzers at any called target. The range grew as short as 1,600 yards from tube to impact. The Japanese finally could take no more. They pulled back as dawn approached. On the slopes of the ridge and in the surrounding jungle they left more than 600 bodies; another 600 men were wounded. The remnants of the Kawaguchi force staggered back toward their lines to the west, a grueling, hellish eight-day march that saw many more of the enemy perish.
Edson's or Raider's Ridge is calm after the fighting on the nights of 12-13 and 13-14 September, when it was the scene of a valiant and bloody defense crucial to safeguarding Henderson Field and the Marine perimeter on Guadalcanal. The knobs at left background were Col Edson's final defensive position, while Henderson Field lies beyond the trees in the background.
Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 500007
Maj Kenneth D. Bailey, commander of Company C, 1st Raider Battalion, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroic and inspiring leadership during the Battle of Edson's' Ridge.
Department of Defense Photo 310563
The cost to Edson's force for its epic defense was also heavy. Fifty-nine men were dead, 10 were missing in action, and 194 were wounded. These losses, coupled with the casualties of Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo, meant the end of the 1st Parachute Battalion as an effective fighting unit. Only 89 men of the parachutists' original strength could walk off the ridge, soon in legend to become "Bloody Ridge" or "Edson's Ridge." Both Colonel Edson and Captain Kenneth D. Bailey, commanding the Raider's Company C, were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic and inspirational actions.
On 13 and 14 September, the Japanese attempted to support Kawaguchi's attack on the ridge with thrusts against the flanks of the Marine perimeter. On the east, enemy troops attempting to penetrate the lines of the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, were caught in the open on a grass plain and smothered by artillery fire; at least 200 died. On the west, the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, holding ridge positions covering the coastal road, fought off a determined attacking force that reached its front lines.
The victory at the ridge gave a great boost to Allied homefront morale, and reinforced the opinion of the men ashore on Guadalcanal that they could take on anything the enemy could send against them. At upper command echelons, the leaders were not so sure that the ground Marines and their motley air force could hold. Intercepted Japanese dispatches revealed that the myth of the 2,000-man defending force had been completely dispelled. Sizable naval forces and two divisions of Japanese troops were now committed to conquer the Americans on Guadalcanal. Cactus Air Force, augmented frequently by Navy carrier squadrons, made the planned reinforcement effort a high-risk venture. But it was a risk the Japanese were prepared to take.
On 18 September, the long-awaited 7th Marines, reinforced by the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, and other division troops, arrived at Guadalcanal. As the men from Samoa landed they were greeted with friendly derision by Marines already on the island. The 7th had been the first regiment of the 1st Division to go overseas; its men, many thought then, were likely to be the first to see combat. The division had been careful to send some of its best men to Samoa and now had them back. One of the new and salty combat veterans of the 5th Marines remarked to a friend in the 7th that he had waited a long time "to see our first team get into the game." Providentially, a separate supply convoy reached the island at the same time as the 7th's arrival, bringing with it badly needed aviation gas and the first resupply of ammunition since D-Day.
The Navy covering force for the reinforcement and supply convoys was hit hard by Japanese submarines. The carrier Wasp was torpedoed and sunk, the battleship North Carolina (BB-55) was damaged, and the destroyer O'Brien (DD-415) was hit so badly it broke up and sank on its way to drydock. The Navy had accomplished its mission, the 7th Marines had landed, but at a terrible cost. About the only good result of the devastating Japanese torpedo attacks was that the Wasp's surviving aircraft joined Cactus Air Force, as the planes of the Saratoga and Enterprise had done when their carriers required combat repairs. Now, the Hornet (CV-8) was the only whole fleet carrier left in the South Pacific.
As the ships that brought the 7th Marines withdrew, they took with them the survivors of the 1st Parachute Battalion and sick bays full of badly wounded men. General Vandegrift now had 10 infantry battalions, one understrength raider battalion, and five artillery battalions ashore; the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, had come over from Tulagi also. He reorganized the defensive perimeter into 10 sectors for better control, giving the engineer, pioneer, and amphibian tractor battalions sectors along the beach. Infantry battalions manned the other sectors, including the inland perimeter in the jungle. Each infantry regiment had two battalions on line and one in reserve. Vandegrift also had the use of a select group of infantrymen who were training to be scouts and snipers under the leadership of Colonel William J. "Wild Bill" Whaling, and experienced jungle hand, marksman, and hunter, whom he had appointed to run a school to sharpen the division's fighting skills. As men finished their training under Whaling and went back to their outfits, others took their place and the Whaling group was available to scout and spearhead operations.
Vandegrift now had enough men ashore on Guadalcanal, 19,200, to expand his defensive scheme. He decided to seize a forward position along the east bank of the Matanikau River, in effect strongly outposting his west flank defenses against the probability of string enemy attacks from the area where most Japanese troops were landing. First, however, he was going to test the Japanese reaction with a strong probing force.
He chose the fresh 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, to move inland along the slopes of Mt. Austen and patrol north towards the coast and the Japanese-held area. Puller's battalion ran into Japanese troops bivouacked on the slopes of Austen on the 24th and in a sharp firefight had seven men killed and 25 wounded. Vandegrift sent the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, forward to reinforce Puller and help provide the men needed to carry the casualties out of the jungle. Now reinforced, Puller continued his advance, moving down the east bank of the Matanikau. He reached the coast on the 26th as planned, where he drew intensive fire from enemy positions on the ridges west of the river. An attempt by the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, to cross was beaten back.
About the time, the 1st Raider Battalion, its original mission one of establishing a patrol base west of the Matanikau, reached the vicinity of the firefight, and joined in. Vandegrift sent Colonel Edson, now the commander of the 5th Marines, forward to take charge of the expanded force. He was directed to attack on the 27th and decided to send the raiders inland to outflank the Japanese defenders. The battalion, commanded by Edson's former executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel B. Griffith II, ran into a hornet's nest of Japanese who had crossed the Matanikau during the night. A garbled message led Edson to believe that Griffith's men were advancing according to plan, so he decided to land the companies of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, behind the enemy's Matanikau position and strike the Japanese from the rear while Rosecran's men attacked across the river.
Japanese Model 4 (1919) 150mm Howitzer
The Japanese the Marines had encountered were mainly men for the 4th Regiment of the 2d (Sendai) Division; prisoners confirmed that the division was landing on the island. Included in the enemy reinforcements were 150mm howitzers, guns capable of shelling the airfield from positions near Kokumbona. Clearly, a new and stronger enemy attack was pending.
As September drew to a close, a flood of promotions had reached the division, nine lieutenant colonels put on their colonel's eagles and there were 14 new lieutenant colonels also. Vandegrift made Colonel Gerald C. Thomas, his former operations officer, the new division chief of staff, and had a short time earlier given Edson the 5th Marines. Many of the older, senior officers, picked for the most part in the order they had joined the division, were now sent back to the States. There they would provide a new level of combat expertise in the training and organization of the many Marine units that were forming. The air wing was not quite ready yet to return its experienced pilots to rear areas, but the vital combat knowledge they possessed was much needed in the training pipeline. They, too—the survivors—would soon be rotating back to rear areas, some for a much-needed break before returning to combat and others to lead new squadrons into the fray.
Series copied from source.
The President of the United States
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty as Officer in Charge of a group of twenty-four Higgins boats engaged in the evacuation of a battalion of Marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal, on September 27, 1942. After making preliminary plans for the evacuation of nearly five hundred beleaguered Marines, Munro, under constant strafing by enemy machine guns on the island and at great risk of his life, daringly led five of his small craft toward the shore. As he closed the beach, he signalled the others to land and then in order to draw the enemy's fire and protect the heavily loaded boats, he valiantly placed his craft, with its two small guns, as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese.
When the perilous task of evacuation was nearly completed, Munro was instantly killed by enemy fire, but his crew, two of whom were wounded, carried on until the last boat had loaded and cleared the beach. By his outstanding leadership, expert planning, and dauntless devotion to duty, he and his courageous comrades undoubtedly saved the lives of many who otherwise would have perished. He gallantly gave up his life in defense of his country.
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. From The Book of Common Prayer.
Dear Lord: Please comfort all who mourn, give them beauty for ashes. The oil of joy for mourning. The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness. The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3
and at my wonderful mother's suggestion, which the Bible instructs us to do:
For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. From The Book of Common Prayer.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
YOU pray for Faith, and you are told to do so. But I make provision in the House of My Abiding for those who turn towards Me and yet have weak knees and hearts that faint. Be not afraid. I am your God. Your Great Reward. Yours to look up and say "All is well."
I am your Guide. Do not want to see the road ahead. Go just one step at a time. I very rarely grant the long vista to My disciples, especially in personal affairs, for one step at a time is the best way to cultivate faith.
You are in unchartered waters. But the Lord of all seas is with you, the Controller of all Storms is with you. Sing with joy. You follow the Lord of Limitations, as well as the God in whose service is perfect freedom.
He, the God of the Universe, confined Himself within the narrow limits of a Baby-form and, in growing Boyhood, and young Manhood, submitted to your human limitations, and you have to learn that your vision and power, boundless as far as spiritual things are concerned, must in temporal affairs submit to limitations too.
But I am with you. It was when the disciples gave up effort after a night of fruitless fishing, that I came, and the nets brake with the over-abundance of supply.
Russell, A. J., ed. God Calling. Barnes & Noble, 2002.
*pronounced 'rare.' This building is vacant now. Walter Reed Army Hospital, or WRAMC (pronounced ramsee) is not a part of the same command as WRAIR, though at one time, they were on the same grounds. For several years, WRAIR has been located in Silver Spring, MD. WRAIR falls under the command of Research and Development at Ft. Detrick, MD.
Politics is the hardest ballgame in the world and I would never be cut out for it. I would never want fame because I value privacy almost obsessively. I would hate cameras and all the questions shouted from everywhere, but then I could never be the reporter who shouts at them. I find them so rude.
Old Ted Kennedy was not anymore pleasant than ever. Same old computer flatulence that he always is. Is it just that in my mind the vision of the girl on the bottom of the lake is always there with me when I look at him? Truthfully, I don't think so. I am sure that it would influence negatively in that regard, but to me the line you absolutely do not cross is treason. What he did to the mother of his children in exposing her drunk to the press was outside of any compassion I would ever feel for him. I really believe that could be the unpardonable sin. If Ted had any spirit, he sinned against it.
Power has to be the most corrupting force on earth. You know the quote in the Bible about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to get into heaven? When one gets to be my age, you have an eye out for what comes next. The hereafter becomes the most important part. Truly it becomes the desire of one’s heart. I have such a hard time managing to be a decent human being.
I am really glad that wealth and power are not things that were thrown into my life. So it is the little things that count to me, of what I ask for in a candidate for president. I also do not like the idea of a president backing down in the midst of a war. If the guy prays and has overcome a drinking habit, these are a couple of big plusses to me. Bush seems a sincere man and his wife and daughters seem to be his delight. Big old plus. I also appreciate that he delegates work to others, and yet is not afraid to go with his own judgment. I guess you could say he’s a good guy. I leave anything more than that to God.
I haven't a clue how many times my heart has beaten or just how many breaths I have taken. But it is the same as it always was, day and night for 70 years. To me that is an absolute miracle. In closing I would like to pass on another quote from the Book of Life to my grand daughter. ”Friendship with the world is enmity to God." Popular is not important. Self respect is the only wealth that counts if you have good values. I really would like everyone to pray for our leader right now, his new plan for more troops is very important. It may be that our last heartbeat and final breath we take depend on it. I do see where there is a rapture written within the Bible. It may just be that within that perfect sinless wisdom, that every heart and breath is counted and has been forever. I also believe that it will occur before the end. I believe that we will truly go when the trumpet shout "Come up here" takes place. So I guess I would have to admit that I don't require too much in a president, but then I trust him with my life, at least my time on this side of eternity. SUPPORT THE TROOPS and pray for our president.
But if you need me, I am LIVE and kicking. And ready to write. Right after I brush my teeth and put the leftovers in the fridge. Greg's lunch I should say.
Love, love and love,
What is there to smile about? Really.
Oh sure, I was around plenty of young females who did enjoy it. They loved competing and stripping down and putting back together an M-16, they loved to march and to get screamed at, and I guess all that screaming wore off on them, because they would scream at each other all night.
There have been very few things in my life worse than Basic Training.
For starters, Otto, my step-dad that I was very close to, passed away my first week in Basic Training. My first letter from home gave me the news. I just wanted to talk to my mom. The first week in training, soldiers are so locked down and so into the “buddy system.” We each got to use the phone for three minutes, to let our families know we were alive, but then, "the buddy" was right there beside me. And all the screaming females lined up behind her. Too bad about your bad news; "IT’S MY TURN TO USE THE PHONE!"
Females are ruthless.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Right after I first arrived, the Drills had us all lined up, giving us our bunks, our lockers, and there to take our civvies. For some reason, the guy training to be a Drill (aren't they just the worst? All bad....) decided to dump my bag and all of its contents out across the length of the barracks floor, and only after he held up my bikini panties to everyone and said, “You won’t need these!” Toss. Down the aisle. The curling-iron next, “You won’t need this!” Toss. Down the shiny-tiled aisle.
“Not this, not that.” After he tired of the game, he just dumped the whole bag out, and way-way across. Make-up, tampons, tangerines, all. Then I had to pick it all up, stick it all back in the bag, yes, the tangerines too, and carry it to lock-up where I would not see it or its contents for two months.
I joined February 16, 1988. In October 1987, Basic Training became smoke-free.
I put on my Big Girl panties (literally). We had to wear big huge cotton briefs. My grandmother’s were more flattering. I put on my Big Girl panties, stuck my cigs in the contraband box, and went to work learning to be a soldier.
I stuck out like a sore thumb in more ways than one. I was from the nice generation. When people screamed at you, you divorced them.
No one wanted me on their side for anything. I was the slowest at everything, the clumsiest at all things. And I was quiet. I was so shocked. Really, I had no clue as to what I’d let myself in for. I really did believe that the Army would enjoy having someone to type for them. Not all this!
I was slow at everything. Everything but P.T., or Physical Training for you civilians out there. My P.T. scores saved my backside more than once. I got high PT for the company, and it wasn’t due to my old age either (PT scores factor in female/male and age.) Only one other female in a company of 450 could touch me.
With the weapon, I was a total failure. Out of 40 targets, I think the most I ever hit was 27, and it took 29 to qualify. Some days I hit nine or seven or thirteen, but never the magic number.
Some females hit 40. nah, nah, nah, nah nah. One was my squad leader that I despised. She was just that type to hate, you know. She knew everything; her family bled red, white, blue and bullets, and according to her, had friendly relations throughout the entire military world. “Oh, yes, my brother….” Oh yes, my dad….” Oh, yes, we lived right by the Secretary of Defense … my cousin, blah, blah, blah …”
I got the 'Little Hawkeye' pretty good with the pugel stick* though, and loved every last sweaty and breathtaking moment of it!
They tried everything to make me qualify. “Austin, a chimpanzee can shoot better than you!” hollered the LT.
They threatened … they bribed …”Austin, you’re up for the High PT award!” hollered the 1st Sergeant.
“AUSTIN! If you don’t qualify today, you’re not getting the High PT award! You’ll be recycled!” hollered the 1st Sergeant when he called me back five minutes later.
Start over? Oh, my God.
But nothing worked. Those who did not qualify had to wear their BDU’s to chapel while everyone else went in their snazzy green Class B’s with the smart bow tie.
They took me out everyday. Everyday I cleaned my weapon. My right thumb still has a callous that comes from cleaning the M-16. Or, our “weapon” is what we had to call it. Of course, the cigarette lighter I spark up on occasion now hasn’t helped it much
One day, I stood up in chapel, one of maybe five others in BDU’s while hundreds of others sat tall and proud in their smart Class B's; I stood up to give a testimony as the chaplain had called upon us to do, and I said, “I don’t know if I’ll ever qualify, but I know I’m not going home.”
I would not accept defeat. Regardless, I thought, I am not going home.