Attack on carrier USS Franklin 19 March 1945

Reprinted with permission Mises Institute Martin George Holmes

It is a great tragedy that many modern military leaders and strategists do not understand economics. If they did, I suspect that there would be a lot less war, a lot less military spending, and a lot less wastefulness. Certainly, there would be greater awareness of the appalling human and economic costs of war in a capitalist age.

Ludwig von Mises, the great Austrian economist, understood this point well. In his 1927 book Liberalism, he noted that as late as the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815), the world was divided into self-sufficient economic blocks.1 This factor helps explain the failure of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Continental System, a blockade designed to ruin Britain by excluding it from Continental European commerce. The system was poorly run, but Mises emphasizes that even if it had been meticulously implemented, neither side would have starved for want of trade with the other. For example, Continental communities would have been able to rely on their own agriculture for necessities. Only certain luxuries, such as sugar, would have been unavailable or very difficult to obtain.

By the twentieth century, the situation had changed. The world had become more integrated; the division of labor, fostered by liberal ideals, meant that many territories were no longer self-sufficient. In particular, several industrialized countries relied on imported food and materials for food production. To deprive them of these goods would be catastrophic.2

Astonishingly, this economic shift – so plainly evident to Mises and other astute liberal economists – was lost on Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan of the United States Navy, the most influential naval strategist in modern times. Mahan became an international celebrity after the publication of the first volume of The Influence of Sea Power upon History in 1890, which proclaimed the geopolitical importance of maritime commerce and naval prowess. In an age of rampant imperialism, great powers across the world followed Mahan’s advice and constructed (or upgraded their existing) battle fleets of heavy ships to defend – and expand – their overseas interests.

Mahan has long been stigmatized as a proponent of big battleship battles aimed at seizing control of the sea. More recent scholarship has revealed that Mahan, a devout Christian and erudite thinker, was deeply concerned about waging war as ethically and decisively as possible.3 Seeking to minimize casualties in combat, he actually championed the neutralization of enemy seaborne commerce by establishing a close or distant blockade of enemy ports. This strategy would destroy the enemy’s economic base and compel their surrender. As he noted in 1899, “It has been the glory of sea-power that its ends are attained by draining men of their dollars instead of their blood.”4 He used a series of earlier wars to prove his point, such as the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the seventeenth century (when England strangled Dutch commerce) and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (when Britain strangled French commerce).

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One can appreciate Mahan’s humanitarian desire to lessen wartime casualties. However, Mahan should have learned from his study of maritime commerce that by the twentieth century, times had changed. Any serious blockade of an industrialized nation would wreak havoc not only on its economy but on its civilian population as well. Violence in battle would be replaced by violence on the home front. Astonishingly, Mahan never seems to have acknowledged this shortcoming in his thinking. As far as I can tell, scholars have not devoted sufficient attention to the issue either.

Mahan died in December 1914, shortly after the beginning of the First World War. It is tragic that Mahan did not live to see more of this conflict, because it illustrated the diabolical nature of his naval strategy. The British Royal Navy swiftly imposed a distant blockade on Germany, which relied on imported food as well as imported fertilizer for its agriculture. This blockade also affected Germany’s ally, Austria-Hungary. The consequences were catastrophic. It is estimated now that nearly one million civilians in these territories perished because of the blockade, not usually from direct starvation, but because malnutrition weakened their immune systems.5

Many more people in these countries experienced horrific health problems from eating ersatz products designed to replace basic staples like bread and sausage. These were concocted from a medley of ingredients that were frequently unsanitary, innutritious, and indigestible; some were downright poisonous.6 As if this suffering was not bad enough, the Germans’ anger toward the blockade influenced their pursuance of unrestricted submarine warfare and bombing raids against the British Empire, which caused numerous civilian and military deaths. It also influenced the manoeuvres of the German High Seas Fleet, which famously engaged the British Grand Fleet at Jutland in 1916 – a blood-spattered clash of the type Mahan had so desperately sought to avoid.

The historical lesson, in other words, is clear. Knowledge of economics is vital for understanding the world and acting ethically within it. Even military strategists ignore economics at their peril. Mainstream scholarly opinion of Mahan may have improved in recent years, but his support for blockades shows that despite his concern for ethics in wartime, he did not have a positive moral influence on world history.

Martin George Holmes is a historian with a PhD from the University of Otago, New Zealand.

A scene taken from Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell's court-martial, 1925. (U.S. Air Force photo)

COL William “Billy” Mitchell resigned from the US Army in 1926. His rank was not commensurate with his courage and impact on the history of the US military and the United States, especially on World War 2. Enlisting as a private in 1899 in the Spanish-American War, he soon earned a commission. After serving in Cuba and the Philippines, he was stationed in Alaska where he began his lifelong love affair with aviation. A signal officer, he took private flying lessons in 1916 and soon became a leader among early Army aviators. In 1918, he commanded all American aviation assets at St Mihiel and led his 1,400+ airplane crews to victory in the air and additionally demonstrated how air power can decimate ground forces. After the war, he continued to clamor for rapid expansion of the size and capability of the air service, convinced that air power would be key to victory in the next world war. In the early 1920s, he sank a captured German battleship with American bombers during naval exercises. Instead of being hailed as a revolutionary and promoted, he was vilified as a heretic by short sighted Army and Navy commanders. He left service in 1926 but continued his public crusade to promote American military air power. Although he died in 1936, his predictions came to pass, and US military air power was undoubtedly decisive in winning World War 2. Tragically, his courage was not recognized until after his death.

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Today’s military is facing a very different crisis. Throughout history it has been shown that great military leaders in any venue can carry the day. Mitchell was unafraid to risk his reputation and career for the good of the military and the nation. Today’s DoD has no such hero amongst the ranks of its senior leaders on active duty. Some lower ranking generals bravely spoke out during the debacles in OEF and Afghanistan and were fired. There were no senior generals and admirals willing to make a similar stand on the status and prosecution of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The result was predictable and unfortunate.

Post-war DoD is failing due to self-inflicted mandates and social misadventures that are destroying recruiting and morale. As a profession, it should be expected to fix itself from within, but this would assume that military leaders have the backbone to take such action. Instead, the overturning of the ill-advised vaccine mandate only happened because politicians forced SECDEF Austin to end it. One general’s protest won’t right the ship. However, if enough generals and admirals collectively protested the politically engineered destruction of the best military the world has ever known, change would be forced. Unfortunately, brave creatures would have to be willing to sacrifice their careers for the greater good.

There are 620 active-duty flag officers authorized in the DoD. Since 2021 the number of active-duty flag officers willing to show such courage is 0. Billy Mitchell must be rolling over in his grave. Thank God it is not 1939. The second half of the 20th century would have turned out more darkly given the character of modern US generals.

John Hughes, MD

Emergency Physician

Veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan

Host L Todd Wood speaks with Maj Gen Richard Comer (USAF, Ret) on his role in the Mayaguez Incident in 1975 off Cambodia.

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507th Parachute Infantry Regiment Has Long Colorful History In Georgia, Activated At Fort Benning In 1942

The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) was activated on July 20, 1942 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Lieutenant Colonel George V. Millett, Jr was given command.  After jump-training at Fort Benning the regiment deployed to the Army Air Base at Alliance, Nebraska and became part of the 1st Airborne Brigade.  After arriving in North Ireland in December, 1943, the 507th was attached to the 82nd Airborne along with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.  Still under the command of Colonel Millett, the 507th moved to Nottingham, England in March, 1944 to prepare for the Allied invasion of Europe.

The 507th first saw combat during the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. The 507th and the 508th PIRs were to be dropped near the west bank of the Merderet River. The objectives of both regiments was to establish defensive positions in those areas and prepare to attack westward sealing off the Cotentin Peninsula.

In the predawn hours of D-Day the sporadic jump patterns of the 507th and 508th PIRs left troopers spread out over a twenty mile area. Some who overshot the Drop Zone (DZ) dropped into the Merderet River and its adjoining marshes. Many troopers who jumped with heavy equipment were unable to swim free and drowned. Others roamed the countryside until they encountered other units and joined their effort. Even Colonel Millett, the commanding officer of the 507th was unable to muster his troops and was captured three days after the drop in the vicinity of Amfreville. Only the 2nd Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles J Timmes was able to function as a team and began digging in around Cauquigny on the west bank of the Merderet River...

To read more visit

Guest post by Roy Martin, F-4 Phantom Combat Pilot

During a conversation with Bill Scott, he asked about my most memorable F-4 combat mission.  I immediately responded with a recounting of my first combat mission to a target over the heavily defended area of Hanoi, during Operation Linebacker I in 1972. It’s a story I was hesitant to relate, since it involved an inadvertent bomb release. But every combat story comes with a lesson-learned, experience that needs to be passed on to the next generation. Bill wanted to capture the story in a new book project. I agreed, then pointed Bill to several other Vietnam War pilots, each having fascinating combat experiences that needed to be told, as well. Many thanks to Bill Scott for his great efforts to collect these true and exciting stories and weave them into an excellent book, entitled “Combat Contrails: Vietnam”. From those of us who were involved in the Vietnam War, Thank You, Bill Scott, for sharing our memories! 

A message of hope - even when you fail in battle, maybe your failure enables success elsewhere.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett departs after being presented the Medal of Honor by President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


He was about 30 years older than I was, so he served in a different era. I knew that he had fought in the Korean War, and that was of interest to me because I had lived in Korea for two years when I was a boy. One day, another soldier told me that Ralph had done some remarkable things in that war.

Ralph Puckett was an acquaintance of mine. Nobody would call us best friends, but we did share some coffee over breakfast from time to time. He would also stop by my office on occasion to talk about army stuff. He was a retired army officer, and I was a chaplain.

In November 1950, Ralph had led a group of men on a dangerous mission on top of a mountain. The enemy was all around, and in order to see where they were, he deliberately made himself visible so that they would fire at him. This would enable his men to know where to fire back. For two days the far numerically superior enemy tried to overrun their position. For the good of his men, Ralph continually exposed himself to the gunfire of the North Koreans, directing machine gun fire at himself. He was wounded twice, the second time so severely he could not move. He then ordered his men to leave him behind and withdraw to safety. He did not want them to be slowed down by carrying him. He feared that would place his men in greater danger. The men did withdraw but disobeyed his order and dragged him down the mountain with them.

Clearly, Ralph had saved the lives of many of his men. When I first heard that story, I didn’t understand why his exploits so many years ago were not more well known. For such feats of bravery, the army has a medal, called the Medal of Honor. It comes with many honors for the recipient, and I always felt it was an injustice that Ralph was not awarded one.

About 20 years after first meeting Ralph, I was living in another state. I was watching the news on TV, and they showed an old man receiving the Medal of Honor from President Biden. It was Ralph Puckett. He was 94 years old and had to use a walker to come up to the stage and have the medal hung around his neck. Over 70 years after saving the lives of his men, the nation was giving him the honor he deserved.

This was the right thing to do, but we are left asking why it took so long. Maybe it was because his superiors in Korea did not put in the proper paperwork. Maybe somebody back then was jealous of what he did and kept him from receiving such recognition. I did not know Ralph well enough to ask him if he was bitter for not receiving the medal he deserved back in 1950. I assume that after 70 years he simply felt that the army had forgotten what he had done on that hill in Korea so many years ago.

The Bible tells us that believers are soldiers for the Lord. He asks us to do things in service to Him. He promises that He will honor those who faithfully serve Him. Often times, in the NT, these honors are pictured as crowns.

I think it is easy for the believer to fall into the trap of thinking he or she is like Ralph Puckett. Maybe the believer feels that he will never be honored for what he does for the Lord. Such labors will be forgotten. With the passage of time, often involving decades, people certainly forget or believe that such work does not merit anything special. Subconsciously, there may even be a temptation to feel that Christ has more important things to concern Himself with than what we do with our lives.

Of course, that is not the case. The author of Hebrews tells his readers that, “God is not unjust to forget your work” that they had done for Him (Heb 6:10). The whole book of Hebrews is about rewards and honors in the future kingdom of God. These readers had suffered for the Lord, and they are reminded that God has not forgotten.

The paperwork has not been lost. Any petty jealousies will not prevent the Lord from rewarding His children. I was so glad to see Ralph getting honored by the President. Somebody remembered what he had done and tried to correct the wrong done to him. But it was also a little sad. Harry Truman should have been the one who gave him his medal. At 94 years old, he does not have much time to enjoy the honor given to him. He also lost 70 years of being recognized for what he did.

How wonderful to realize that it won’t be that way for believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Not only does the Lord remember, but the rewards given on that day will be enjoyed forever.

Read more here: Grace Evangelical Society

George Washington gave a final goodbye to his soldiers at the close of the Revolutionary War on this day in history, Dec. 4, 1783.

Washington, then-commanding general of the Continental Army, rallied his military officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York City, according to

He then informed his troops that he would be stepping down from his commission to return to civilian life.

The future first president of the United States led his army through six years of warfare against the British ahead of the triumphant Battle of Yorktown in 1781, where British General Lord Charles Cornwallis formally surrendered.

This victory became known as the end of the Revolutionary War.

Most of the Continental Army was disbanded in 1783 after the Treaty of Paris was signed, according to the Fraunces Tavern Museum.

Once Washington was notified that the last of the British troops had sailed from Long Island and Staten Island, it was time for the war leader to bid his soldiers farewell.

George Washington's farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York City on Dec. 4, 1783, marked his resignation as commander of the Continental Army after the Revolutionary War victory.

George Washington's farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York City on Dec. 4, 1783, marked his resignation as commander of the Continental Army after the Revolutionary War victory. (PHAS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Although Washington had described his troops privately as undisciplined and unhealthy, his gratitude on the day of his departure was genuine, reports.

Observers described Washington as "suffused in tears" during the scene at the iconic Lower Manhattan tavern.

One complete account of the event comes from Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, recorded by the Fraunces Tavern Museum website.

American military leader George Washington (1732-1799) leaves Fraunces Tavern in New York City after bidding farewell to the officers of his army.

American military leader George Washington (1732-1799) leaves Fraunces Tavern in New York City after bidding farewell to the officers of his army. (Three Lions/Getty Images)

Tallmadge’s account reads: "We had been assembled but a few moments when his excellency entered the room. After partaking of a slight refreshment in an almost breathless silence the General filled his glass with wine and turning to the officers said, ‘With a heart full of love and gratitude I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.'"

Washington's farewell to his officers in 1783 from a painting by Alonzo Chappell, 1866, engraving by T. Phillibrown printed circa 1879 by Henry J. Johnson Publisher, New York.

Washington's farewell to his officers in 1783 from a painting by Alonzo Chappell, 1866, engraving by T. Phillibrown printed circa 1879 by Henry J. Johnson Publisher, New York. (Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The account continues: "After the officers had taken a glass of wine General Washington said, ‘I cannot come to each of you but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.’ General Knox, the closest officer to Washington, walked up to the General and the two hugged and kissed with tears running down their faces." 

"In the same affectionate manner every officer in the room marched up and parted with the general in chief. Such a scene of sorrow and weeping I had never before witnessed and fondly hope I may never be called to witness again."

Washington embraced about 30 of his soldiers one by one — and then left for Annapolis, Maryland.

George Washington is shown leaving New York City on Dec. 4, 1783.

George Washington is shown leaving New York City on Dec. 4, 1783. (Getty Images)

After nearly eight years of war and strife, this would be the last time many of these men would see each other again, according to the museum.

The general officially resigned his commission on Dec. 23 in front of the Continental Congress, delivering an emotional address.

He remarked that "having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life."

George Washington, portrait painting by Constable-Hamilton, 1794, from the New York Public Library in New York City. 

George Washington, portrait painting by Constable-Hamilton, 1794, from the New York Public Library in New York City.  (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Washington then returned to Mount Vernon, Virginia, with the expectation of retiring as a gentleman farmer.

But in 1789, Washington was persuaded back into politics — and was elected as America’s first-ever commander-in-chief.

He would remain president until 1797.

World War I Soldier

Reprinted with permission Mises Institute George Ford Smith

Commentaries about World War I frequently discuss causes and consequences but almost never mention the enablers. At best, they might mention them approvingly, as if we were fortunate to have had the Fed and the income tax, along with the ingenuity of the liberty bond programs, to finance our glorious role in that bloodbath.

Economist Benjamin Anderson, whose Economics and the Public Welfare has contributed greatly to our understanding of the period 1914–46 and is a book I highly recommend, nevertheless takes as a given that the Fed and the income tax had a job to do, and that job was supporting US entry into World War I. After citing figures purporting to show how relatively restrained bank credit expansion was during the war, Anderson writes:

We had to finance the Government with its four great Liberty Loans and its short-term borrowing as well. We had to transform our industries from a peace basis to a war basis. We had to raise an army of four million men and send half of them to France. We had to help finance our allies in the war, and above all, to finance the shipment of goods to them from the United States and from a good many neutral countries.

We had to do none of these things. Only the government made them necessary, and the government was not acting on behalf of its constituents when it formally entered the war in April 1917. The US was not under serious threat of attack. The population at large, Ralph Raico tells us, “acquiesced, as one historian has remarked, out of general boredom with peace, the habit of obedience to its rulers, and a highly unrealistic notion of the consequences of America’s taking up arms.” He reports:

In the first ten days after the war declaration, only 4,355 men enlisted; in the next weeks, the War Department procured only one-sixth of the men required.

Bored with peace they may have been, but it was hardly reflected in the number of volunteers.

Winners and Losers

While the war industries were poised to rake in record profits, Marine major general Smedley Butler, who was awarded his second Congressional Medal of Honor in 1917, provides details on the fighting men’s share in this bonanza:

It was decided to make [the soldiers] help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.

All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones behind, give up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get it) and kill and kill and kill … and be killed.

But wait!

Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon his community. Then we made him pay what amounted to accident insurance—something the employer pays for in an enlightened state—and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month left.

Then, the most crowning insolence of all—he was virtually blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days.

We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we bought them back—when they came back from the war and couldn’t find work—at $84 and $86. And the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!

The “bonuses” awarded the veterans were silver certificates that came with a catch—although the men could borrow against them, they couldn’t redeem them until 1945(!). The Depression deepened in 1932; the so-called Bonus Army of veterans, family members, and friends marched on Washington to demand immediate payment of their promised compensation. After a clash with police that left two protestors dead, General Douglas MacArthur led a tank assault that drove the Bonus Army out of Washington.

In 1936, the government decided to replace the silver certificates with Treasury bonds that could be redeemed immediately.

The Cunning Enabler

One could argue that states are the true enablers of hell on earth, since only states have entrenched systems of wealth predation and can employ kidnapping (conscription), propaganda, and other means to create a world war.

But is working toward a stateless world a worthwhile use of one’s time? If 2.5 million veterans of the war to end all wars couldn’t get the government to pony up a bonus until nineteen years after they paid stay-at-home bureaucrats, how can we possibly get rid of government itself?

Given that states have the power to wipe out all life on the planet, we should at least consider them an alien presence. That they haven’t reduced the world to ashes already is not a sign of caring and careful leadership. Combine their monopoly on legal force, nuclear arsenals, a rabid foreign policy, monumental bureaucratic bungling, and the steady hum of printing presses and withholding taxes, and you have a formula for turning the earth into a moonscape.

If we can’t rid the earth of states, we can at least try to disempower them. Whatever belligerent aspirations US and other world leaders may have, these would be mere pipe dreams without the wealth-sucking arms of the state. States that can’t get money for war can’t go to war, or as Pat Buchanan might put it: no money, no war.

And if we had avoided World War I, what might the world look like today?


In a footnote to Rights of Man, Thomas Paine wrote: “It is scarcely possible to touch on any subject, that will not suggest an allusion to some corruption in governments.”

Given his proposals for government involvement in our lives, modest though they were, Paine seems to have forgotten his own profound observation.

We would do well never to forget it.

George Ford Smith is a former mainframe and PC programmer and technology instructor, the author of eight books including a novel about a renegade Fed chairman (Flight of the Barbarous Relic), a filmmaker (Do Not Consent), and an advocate of stateless market government. 

On November 11, 1918 an armistice was signed between the Germans and the Allies, ending World War I.

We now call it 'Veterans Day' that honors all those who have worn the uniform.

Conceived in January 1942 in the wake of the devastating Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the “joint Army-Navy bombing project” was to bomb Japanese industrial centers, to inflict both “material and psychological” damage upon the enemy. Planners hoped that the former would include the destruction of specific targets “with ensuing confusion and retardation of production.” Those who planned the attacks on the Japanese homeland hoped to induce the enemy to recall “combat equipment from other theaters for home defense,” and incite a “fear complex in Japan.” Additionally, it was hoped that the prosecution of the raid would improve the United States’ relationships with its allies and receive a “favorable reaction [on the part] of the American people.”

Originally, the concept called for the use of U.S. Army Air Force bombers to be launched from, and recovered by, an aircraft carrier. Research disclosed the North American B-25 Mitchell to be “best suited to the purpose,” the Martin B-26 Marauder possessing unsuitable handling characteristics and the Douglas B-23 Dragon having too great a wingspan to be comfortably operated from a carrier deck. Tests off the aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-8) off Norfolk, and ashore at Norfolk soon proved that while a B-25 could take off with comparative ease, “landing back on again would be extremely difficult.”  

The attack planners decided upon a carrier transporting the B-25s to a point east of Tokyo, whereupon she would launch one pathfinder to proceed ahead and drop incendiaries to blaze a trail for the other bombers that would follow. The planes would then proceed to either the east coast of China or to Vladivostok in the Soviet Union. However, Soviet reluctance to allow the use of Vladivostok as a terminus and the Stalin regime’s unwillingness to provoke Japan compelled the selection of Chinese landing sites. At a secret conference at San Francisco, Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, USAAF, who would lead the attack personally, met with Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., who would command the task force that would take Doolittle’s aircraft to the very gates of the empire. They agreed upon a launch point some 600 miles due east from Tokyo, but, if discovered, Task Force 16 (TF-16) would launch planes at that point and retire...

To read more visit Naval History and Heritage Command.

The last casualties of the final battle of the Vietnam War were 3 Marines left behind on Cambodia’s Koh Tang Island.

In his new book When the Center Held, Donald Rumsfeld calls the “successful handling” of the Mayaguez Incident, the last battle of the Vietnam War, “a turning point” for President Gerald Ford because it forced him “to demonstrate his command at a time of international crisis.” Not all share this rosy and revisionist view of the disastrous and unnecessary search and rescue operation that left 41 American servicemen dead.

Foremost among the skeptics is Mayaguez survivor and decorated Marine Scout Sniper Fofo Tuitele whose conspicuous and overlooked heroism during the battle is now the subject of a congressional investigation. “We lost 41 and saved 40. What kind of trade is that?  That’s what bothers me still,” said Tuitele. “It didn’t have to happen like that. It all sounded good on paper, but it was a disaster.”

Rumsfeld goes on to make a Freudian slip and erroneously claim that only three Americans died during the operation (41 American servicemen died). Is he referring to the three Marines — Joseph Hargrove, Gary Hall, and Danny Marshall — who were left behind and survived for days before they were captured and killed?

To read more visit The Diplomat.

by Capt Jerry Coffee, USN (Ret) [a Vietnam POW] 

(h/t Tailspin Tales)

One night during a bombing raid on Hanoi, I peeked out of my cell and watched a flight of four F-105s during their bombing run.

As they pulled up, it was obvious that lead was badly hit. Trailing smoke, he broke from the formation and I watched the damaged bird until it disappeared from sight. I presumed the worst. As I lay there in my cell reflecting on the image, I composed a toast to the unfortunate pilot and all the others who had gone before him.

Jerry Coffee

On New Year's Eve 1968, Captain Tom Storey and I were in the Stardust section of Hoa Lo (wa-low) Prison. I whispered the toast under the door to Tom. Tom was enthralled, and despite the risk of terrible punishment, insisted that I repeat it several more times until he had it committed to memory. He then promised me that when the time came, and we were again free men, he would give the toast at the first Dining-In he attended.

Tom Storey

For you civilians, a Dining-In is a dreary formal affair with drinks, dinner, and forced joviality and comradeship where officers get to dress up like the head waiters in "The Merry Widow" -- that's the American version; I've heard that the Brits, who created the damn things, have a rollicking good time.

Tom's first assignment following release in 1973 was to the U.S. Air ForceAcademy. During that same year the Academy hosted the Annual Conference for General Officers and Those Associated Dining-In. The jovial clinking of glasses accompanied all the traditional speeches and toasts. Then it was Tom's turn. Remembering his promise so many years earlier, he proposed Jerry's "One More Roll." When he was finished there was total silence.

We toast our hearty comrades who have fallen from the sky, and were gently caught by Gods own hands to be with him on high.
To dwell among the soaring clouds they have known so well before, from victory roll to tail chase at heavens very door.
And as we fly among them there, we're sure to hear their plea: Take care, my friend, watch your six, and do one more roll for me.

A toast to all our comrades -- POWs, missing in action, living or dead, whatever their duty, whatever their war, whatever their uniform.

The Navaho Code Talkers
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Chester Nez recieves an American flag from Pfc. Tiffany Boyd, at Code Talker Hall, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., April 4, 2014. The flag was flown over the Marine Corps War Memorial, on the first day of spring in honor of Cpl. Nez's attendace at the Platoon 382 Hall rededication. Cpl. Nez is the last of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers of World War II. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kathryn K. Bynum/Released)

What is a code talker? A code talker is the name given to American Indians who used their tribal language to send secret communications on the battlefield. Most people have heard of the famous Navajo (or Diné) code talkers who used their traditional language to transmit secret Allied messages in the Pacific theater of combat during World War II. But did you know that there were at least 14 other Native nations, including the Cherokee and Comanche, that served as code talkers in both the Pacific and Europe during the war? The idea of using American Indians who were fluent in both their traditional tribal language and in English to send secret messages in battle was first put to the test in World War I with the Choctaw Telephone Squad and other Native communications experts and messengers. However, it wasn’t until World War II that the US military developed a specific policy to recruit and train American Indian speakers to become code talkers. The irony of being asked to use their Native languages to fight on behalf of America was not lost on code talkers, many of whom had been forced to attend government or religious-run boarding schools that tried to assimilate Native peoples and would punish students for speaking in their traditional language.

The US Army was the first branch of the military that began recruiting code talkers from places like Oklahoma in 1940. Other branches, such as the US Marines and Navy, followed a few years later, and the first class of 29 Navajo code talker US Marine recruits completed its training in 1942. Apart from basic training, these men had to develop and memorize a unique military code using their mostly unwritten language, and were placed in a guarded room until this task was completed.

The first type of code they created, Type 1 code, consisted of 26 Navajo terms that stood for individual English letters that could be used to spell out a word. For instance, the Navajo word for “ant,” wo-la-chee, was used to represent the letter “a” in English...

To read more visit The National WWII Museum.

One of the darkest days in Special Forces history occurred on a summer morning in 1968 in Vietnam. In the early hours of Aug. 23, the Da Nang MACVSOG camp known as FOB4 was attacked by approximately 167 soldiers from the combined units of the 22nd VC Sapper Battalion and members from the 23rd NVA Regiment operating in the local area. They managed to infiltrate from the seaside (East) and from the Village side (South) at the base of Marble Mountain. They met at the Vietnamese mess hall to receive their final instructions from the cook, who was a VC colonel. 

By design or luck, RT-Rattler was on top of Marble Mountain. At the same time, SFCs Cecil Ames and Larry Trimble were monitoring the observation post. At approximately 0215, an enemy recoilless rifle destroyed the adjoining Marine outpost known as Little Marble. That was the signal for the attack.

In groups of twos, the enemy roamed at will throughout the camp, throwing satchel charges and grenades into the various barracks, killing many Americans as they slept. They succeeded in blowing up the senior NCO barracks, various recon hooches, and the old TOC causing the first of many American casualties. An attempt to blow up the new concrete TOC was prevented by a lone communications sergeant. The main supply depot was blown up when the fire reached the LP canisters. Now, it was raining 82mm mortar fire from an unknown position. Confusion, chaos, and the unseen enemy ruled the first part of the night. A group of VC/NVA attempted to blow up the motor pool but were stopped in their tracks by a Filipino civilian and motor pool sergeant...

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Troop A, Ninth U.S. Cavalry -- Famous Indian Fighters 1898
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

In 1866, an Act of Congress created six all-black peacetime regiments, later consolidated into four –– the 9th and 10th Cavalry, and the 24th and 25th Infantry –– who became known as "The Buffalo Soldiers." There are differing theories regarding the origin of this nickname. One is that the Plains Indians who fought the Buffalo Soldiers thought that their dark, curly hair resembled the fur of the buffalo. Another is that their bravery and ferocity in battle reminded the Indians of the way buffalo fought. Whatever the reason, the soldiers considered the name high praise, as buffalo were deeply respected by the Native peoples of the Great Plains. And eventually, the image of a buffalo became part of the 10th Cavalry's regimental crest.

Initially, the Buffalo Soldier regiments were commanded by whites, and African-American troops often faced extreme racial prejudice from the Army establishment. Many officers, including George Armstrong Custer, refused to command black regiments, even though it cost them promotions in rank. In addition, African Americans could only serve west of the Mississippi River, because many whites didn't want to see armed black soldiers in or near their communities. And in areas where Buffalo Soldiers were stationed, they sometimes suffered deadly violence at the hands of civilians.

The Buffalo Soldiers' main duty was to support the nation's westward expansion by protecting settlers, building roads and other infrastructure, and guarding the U.S. mail. They served at a variety of posts in the Southwest and Great Plains, taking part in most of the military campaigns during the decades-long Indian Wars –– during which they compiled a distinguished record, with 18 Buffalo Soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor. This exceptional performance helped to overcome resistance to the idea of black Army officers, paving the way for the first African-American graduate from West Point Military Academy, Henry O. Flipper.

To read more visit Smithsonian.

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