“Any idea why we're here Mark?" " Not a clue. Got the same order-gram you did,” General Mark Milley snapped. He nodded to acknowledge the other joint chiefs-of-staff clustered nearby. “Don’t know who ‘Commander-in-Chief’ is, either. I checked with the White House and all the president’s gofers claimed Joe didn’t order this get-together.”
“Our CINC has no clue even what he downed for breakfast,” the Air Force chief-of-staff growled. “Suppose he fired out that order, then promptly forgot he’d done it?”
Milley shot the blue-coat a withering glance. “Keep those quips to yourself, general….” His admonishment was interrupted by the appearance of five translucent figures hovering behind a long table on-stage, at the front of a Pentagon auditorium. They didn’t walk in; they merely manifested in place.
“What the…?” the Air Force chief muttered. “You seeing this, Mark?”
Dumbstruck, Milley ignored his fellow four-star. He blinked and shook his head, but the specters remained. Silently, all but one seemed to take a seat at the table.
“At ease, generals and admirals,” the lone standing figure said, his right hand sweeping the sizable crowd of flag officers. “Be seated. These proceedings are now open.” The voice was clear but seemed to come from overhead. Several officers glanced up, searching for large speakers. None were visible.
Stunned, the many-starred officers shuffled into auditorium seats. But all eyes remained locked onto the ghostly figure. Nobody dared verbalize what he or she was seeing: the image of a long-gone military commander and America’s first president, George Washington.
“Gotta be some kind of hologram,” the USAF general whispered. “Somebody’s gonna hang for this sick….”
“Generals, you’re not believing your eyes, and you’re very confused. Let me assure you that we are certainly here, in your midst, despite your firm conviction that all of us are…well, dead,” Washington said. “Never mind how; you’re not capable of understanding. Rest assured we are all here. We had to return this way, because all of you have lost your way.
“Look to your left, then your right,” the apparition continued. “Of you three officers, only one may be living up to the oath you took upon commissioning. The other two fall into one of these categories:
• “Those who don’t really buy into the nonsense of ‘wokeism’ being imposed on the nation by a warped, hopelessly inept and corrupt Administration, aided and abetted by equally misguided legislators and bureaucrats. Nevertheless, you merely go along with what you know is poisonous, dangerous ideology, because getting promoted, landing a cushy assignment and becoming wealthy after retirement are your top priorities.
• “You of the second type actually believe the overtly Marxist propaganda that has manifested as ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’, as well as the equally noxious and blatantly false ‘Critical Race Theory’. Both are unsupported by facts and history, yet weak-minded officers have willingly succumbed to the depraved song of Far-Left sirens.
“Both types of officers are guilty of violating not only common sense, but a time-proven U.S. military tenet: remaining rigorously non-political.
“Therefore, this Court of Honor has been convened to examine the impacts of these serious issues and hand down sentences. General Grant, would you please inform our flag officers of the charges brought against them?”
A portly, bearded four-star appeared to stub out a thick cigar, before standing and tugging on a Civil War-era Union Army tunic. A murmur of disbelief rippled across the assembled room of officers from all service branches. Impossible though it seemed, standing before them was the spirit of none other than President and General Ulysses S. Grant.
“Attention to Orders!” Grant bellowed. “Most men and women in attendance here—whether in person or ‘Zoomed’ in from afar—are hereby charged with Dereliction of Duty for refusing to stand up and resist your civilian overlords’ unconstitutional dictums, which have destroyed the finest fighting force in modern history.”
Glaring at General Mark Milley, Grant continued, “And the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is hereby charged with one count of Treason for undermining his superior—the president of the United States of America—by collaborating with a known adversary.
“Most of you have violated an oath that you swore before God himself. Personally, I detest what has become of America’s military leadership. But I now defer to one of America’s finest battlefield warriors to summarize our collective sentiments. General Patton, the floor is yours.”
The phantom of General George S. Patton simply drifted through the table and “marched” into the crowd, slapping a riding crop against a gloved hand.
“Good Lord,” the wide-eyed USAF four-star breathed. “This can’t be happening!”
“Listen up, you yella-bellies!” Patton roared. “How in His name did the great nation we bequeathed to you produce such a sorry crop of gutless, tail-kissing, smarmy toads that dare to wear an American uniform and purport to lead America’s finest young men and women?
“General Brown,” Patton said, halting before the USAF Chief-of-Staff, “you publicly stated that the Air Force has too many white pilots. Do you honestly believe that crap, or is that merely ingratiating yourself to the demented puppet and waste of good oxygen now squatting in the White House? Just to snivel your way into the Chairman’s job? Let’s see; you counted up the number of senators who would blindly vote to confirm a ‘person-of-color’—regardless of qualification—and decided that a ‘too-many-white-pilots’ statement might add a few more votes as icing, right? Or do you honestly believe such hogwash?”
Patton reached out and tapped the USAF officer’s shoulder with the riding crop. “What dimwit wearing four stars could possibly utter such a moronic statement, intentionally driving a wedge between white and black Air Force pilots? Or have you lapped up the sicko Left’s insane propaganda for so long you actually believe it? Obviously, you slept through the War College lecture about Goebbels propaganda.
“Over here, the late-Ensign Jesse Brown, a bona fide hero shot down in the Korean War, was mortified by your stupid quip! Yeah, that Jesse Brown—the black naval officer who proved to be an outstanding combat pilot and was immortalized in the recent movie, ‘Devotion.’
“General, surely you know that one of Jesse’s closest friends, Navy Lieutenant Thomas Hudner, Jr., risked life and career by belly-landing his own fighter close to Jesse’s crash site. Hudner, you’ll recall, was white and received the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary efforts to save Jesse’s life. My point is this: Neither Brown nor Hudner gave a solitary whit whether there were ‘too many pilots’ of a given color. The only thing that mattered was skill, courage and absolute trust in a wingman. Both men earned their wings and mutual trust through excellent performance. What smart officers call ‘merit’. But you, general, negated ‘merit’ with your blatantly racist comment about white pilots. Trust me; Jesse and Tom are deeply offended and disgusted.
“I’d make a few more comments, but am constrained from using profanity. That’s all,” Patton barked. The wraith slapped the riding crop against his leg, swept a fiery gaze across the dead-silent room, pivoted on a heel and strode back through the table.
Slowly, a translucent figure of General Douglas MacArthur rose, clasped both hands behind his back and surveyed the assembled officers before him. “On our side of the veil,” he said, “millions of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Guardians and Coast Guardsmen are aghast, angry and extremely disappointed by today’s so-called leaders of America’s armed forces. Why, they wonder, did you dishonor their sacrifices, by failing to take a stand and prevent the deadly, most embarrassing military event in U.S. history—the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan?”
Shaking his head in disgust, MacArthur let a long silence hang in the air. Finally, “Any flag officer with a spine would have tossed his or her stars on the president’s desk rather than risk American lives with such a bone-headed retreat. And you, Milley, readily abandoned hundreds of American citizens, thousands of allies and billions of dollars in first-class American weapons. Good God, man! Have you absolutely no honor? Any senior American officer worth his stars would have resigned in protest!” Tight-jawed, the tall five-star legend shook his head again, then settled into a chair.
A stout four-star African-American general wearing Air Force blue and pilot wings slowly stood and glared at sheepish-looking mugs staring back. Many averted their eyes when those of General Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., locked onto them. The phantom’s dark orbs seemed to probe each officer’s very soul.
“People, I’m here to inform you that everything your political masters have been pounding into your brains is disinformation. It’s pure and simple Marxism coated in platitudes of Socialism. One: So-called climate change is not an existential threat to America. It’s a globalist hoax to cripple this nation and transfer wealth to chosen elites. Two: Diversity is not a source of American military fortitude. Merit is the foundation of warrior strength. Three: Equity is a perversion of ‘equality’ and is a cancer that must be excised immediately. Four: Inclusion has not one damn thing to do with what anybody ‘identifies’ as.
“No, your cute li’l DEI acronym is a perverted version of ‘DIE’ and that’s precisely what’s happening to your fighting forces,” James explained. “Each unit under your command is slowly dying, because you and your idiotic civilian masters keep preaching that troops are either victims or oppressors. You’ve destroyed morale, pride and unit cohesion through Division, Exclusion and Indoctrination—the real-world meaning of DEI.
“And how about recruiting? Nobody out there in Flyover Country buys your ludicrous reasons for massive recruitment shortfalls. Smart kids and their parents want no part of Marx’s DEI, CRT and political correctness drivel. Until every one of you flag officers gets back to being the epitome of a warrior and ensuring America’s fighting forces are the best trained, best equipped and most feared on Earth, you’ll never fill the ranks with our nation’s finest young men and women.”
The general turned and nodded to the sole remaining officer. The handlebar mustache and jaunty flight cap bearing a single star was recognized by all blue-suiters in attendance. And they feared the maverick fighter pilot, Brigadier General Robin Olds, was about to rip everybody a new one.
“Here’s how this is goin' down,” the gravel-voiced phantom growled. “Very soon, America will elect a new commander-in-chief, and the current CINC’s clown-show Cabinet will be booted. The new lawman in town will be cleaning up Joe’s gawdawful mess, which includes America’s rotting military forces. This Honor Court has already identified the cowards and political wusses, those who’ve bent a knee to the Deep State and international elites. They’ve all been found guilty as-charged.
“Unless each of you takes precise actions—which I’ll outline in a few—you will soon be retired at your current rank. Post-retirement, you are hereby banned from serving on corporate and other boards of directors, or accepting any role with entities doing business with the federal government.”
Olds paced before the gathering, hands on hips. “Furthermore, having been found guilty of egregious dereliction of duty, flag officers in both categories previously described can look forward to a post-life posting: Your name engraved in the Hall of Shame over here.
“No big deal, you say? Well, it is. That means your earthly name and illustrious careers will be ‘cancelled’. No military bases, streets or bronze statues will bear your names. You will not appear in academy or war college texts, documentaries and military histories. Instead, your name will be lumped with those of smarmy politicians and Deep State bureaucrats collectively known as ‘Disloyals’. In short, you will be thoroughly disappeared!
“Now, here’s your saving grace—if you have the integrity and intestinal fortitude to honorably perform your duties:
• “Take a solo walk among the crosses and headstones in Arlington or any other military cemetery. There, you will apologize for breaking faith with the brave warriors who rest there. You will raise your right hand and recite the Oath of Office you took decades ago—aloud! And you’d better be sincere. We’ll be watching and listening.
• “Commit to purging every DEI, CRT and moronic PC text, PowerPoint and order from your command. Make it absolutely clear that you will not tolerate these toxic ideologies being foisted on troops at any level. And fire the political commissars embedded in your units.
• “Eliminate all Covid-19 vaccination mandates on the books. Recall every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Guardian and Coast Guardsman harmed in any way by those absurd, unconstitutional vaxx mandates. Give those honor-bound troops written apologies and award them back pay.
• “Reinstate serious, real-world training to prepare for combat. War clouds are gathering in the Far East, so you don’t have much time. Get on with it ASAP!
“How you perform these mandatory tasks will determine your future, both here and on the other side—our side.”
Halting in front of the other four specters, Olds snapped to attention. “ROOM, ten-hut!” he bellowed. Every human responded in unison. Behind Olds, the translucent figures, all legends of American military history, rose as one….and simply faded away.
Seconds later, the specter of BG Olds barked, “Dismissed!” and slowly disappeared.
Across the globe, stunned American officers turned to each other, but said little. It had been years, since most of them had been berated like they’d been for the last thirty minutes or so.
Today, average citizens wait, watch and wonder. Will America’s military leadership take action, as ordered? Or will they continue to go along to get along with feckless civilian “masters” who are unilaterally gutting U.S. fighting forces? Millions of active-duty, Reserve and Guard personnel stand ready, anxious to be led by officers they can respect and trust.
More importantly, will today’s myriad generals and admirals rise to the challenges and dictates of that Honor Court convened from the other side? Washington, Grant, MacArthur, James, Olds and the ghosts of millions of warriors are watching…and hoping.
William B. (Bill) Scott is a full-time author and consultant. He retired as the Rocky Mountain Bureau Chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology, following a 22-year career with the international magazine. He also served as Senior National Editor in Washington, and in Avionics and Senior Engineering Editor positions in Los Angeles. He covered advanced aerospace and weapons technology, business, flight testing and military operations, wrote more than 2,500 stories for the magazine, and received 17 editorial awards.