Talking Proud Archives --- Military

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Advanced Technologies

Bell X-1: The wonder of "competing ideas. The race to break the sound barrier." On November 15, 1987, the Buffalo Evening News published a story by Mike Vogel entitled, “Boom Town.” He wrote: “Forty years ago, Buffalo (New York) was at the center of the gutsiest experiment in aviation history: the race to break the sound barrier.”

Vogel went on to quote from a report signed by Capt. Charles “Chuck” E. Yaeger, USAF that said this: “The needle of the Machmeter fluctuated at this reading momentarily, then passed off the scale. Assuming that the off-scale reading remained linear, it is estimated 1.05 Mach was attained at this time.”

Yaeger was slightly off. Analysis showed he and his aircraft, the Bell X-1A “Glamorous Glennis,” hit Mach 1.07, about 700 mph, at more than 42,000 ft. above the dry California lake beds. This occurred on October 14, 1947. Yaeger and his aircraft were the first to break the sound barrier, once thought by some to be an impenetrable wall for manned flight.

Whenever new technologies and advanced technology systems begin to bubble up to the surface, there often is a scramble among brilliant people to advance their ideas about the course that ought to be taken. As a result, many competing ideas come to the fore and people will shoot off in multiple directions to advocate their approach. The debates about these competing ideas can become fierce. There is usually a lot at stake. There was a lot at stake here. The main purpose of this report is to address the development of the X-1 in terms of "competing ideas." November 20, 2017


FOB Kalagush: "The Dark Side of the Moon." "FOB Kalagush is a microcosm of the entire Afghan War," Michael Forsythe, Colonel, USA. This report focuses on US Forward Operating Base (FOB) Kalagush in Nuristan Province. Not a lot is known about Nuristan and less about FOB Kalagush. I had never heard about it until I started doing this research. Colonel Michael Forsythe, USA, commanded an artillery battalion that deployed forces to FOB Kalagush and elsewhere throughout northeast Afghanistan. I learned from him that FOB Kalagush was a “microcosm of the entire Afghan War,” all the way from the conspicuous valor of and sacrifices made by US forces stationed there to the debilitating corruption that dogged and often crippled the government, inhibited it from caring for its citizens, and impeded the ability of US forces to do what needed to be done. So here is my take. June 6, 2018.

Task Force K-Bar and Canada’s JTF2, the beginning of the Afghan ground war. No one in the US will forget the enemy air attack on the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001. But very few of us know or remember what happened very shortly thereafter on the ground, lasting from October 2001 through April 2002. This report covers the first six months of the war in Afghanistan, but with a special focus. This report focuses mainly on the war in southern Afghanistan, led by an outfit known as Task Force K-Bar. I also have chosen to place a special emphasis on one of Canada’s units participating with that task force, a very secretive military unit known as Joint Task Force Two, JTF2. This is a most intriguing military unit, not well known even in Canada, and certainly not in the US. May 21, 2013The USS Barb (SS-220), was a Gato-class submarine, the first ship of the USN to be named for the barbus, a ray-fined fish genus. During WWII in the Pacific, she was credited with sinking 17 enemy vessels totaling 96,628 tons including the Japanese aircraft carrier Unyo. And, she was the only submarine outfitted with rickets for shore bombardment. Further, members of the Barb's crew went ashore in Japan and blew up a train passing by. Her skipper while she fought in the Pacific, Commander Eugene "Lucky" Fluckey, also known to the crew as "Dead Eye Fluckey," received the Medal of Honor and four Navy Crosses for his service as the Barb's commander. He retired at the rank of rear admiral. Cmdd Fluckey was an aggressive submariner, unlike any of t others of that time, who saw their jobs as defense reconnaissance. Flukey liked it more on the surface at night, where he could attain max speeds and employ his torpedoes and guns and ultimately rockets. He and his crew are seen as having revolutionized submarine warfare. Incredibly, not one member of his crew even received a Purple Heart! January 9, 2016.

On patrol in Afghanistan: always “pushing out,” By Ed Marek, editor. “We’re playing big boys’ games ... What I’m interested in is getting the job done, and let’s face it, getting the boys back safely.” Lieutenant Colonel Carew Hatherley, Grenadier Guards, Britain. Most of us have not been in ground combat. That includes me. Though I am sitting here in the lap of luxury, I have tried to discover and understand what our men and women have gone through while exposed to ground combat, by reading their testimonials and memoirs, and by watching videos of them in action. I have selected the Afghanistan War as the setting. Our forces have been there over 11 years, many of them have been there several times, and this war continues on. I cannot replicate what it is actually like to be there. I can only convey what the men and women say it is like. January 13, 2013.

Afghanistan’s hell, the Sangin Valley: Why Sangin? An American Marine said this in a recent HBO documentary: “Marines do not fight wars. They fight battles.” This report will show that to be true, but it will also show a lot more. The focus here is on what I will call the Battles of Sangin, Afghanistan. These battles were many, and they remain many to this day, one of the most difficult and lethal aspects of the Afghan War. The Sangin District is in the Helmand River Valley, Afghanistan. British forces have called it “Sangingrad,” after the tortuous battle of Stalingrad in WWII. Others have called it the most dangerous place in the world. Others have called it “No Go Valley.” For purposes of my report, ferocious fighting has been in train there daily, often many times in one day, between the Allies and the enemy, largely the Taliban reinforced by fighters from other Islamic countries since 2006. I carry it through until October 2011, but have decided to continue updating it as I am able. November 7, 2011.

Fighting in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley --- A brief photo portfolio. Our fighting command in Afghanistan, known at present as Combined Joint Task Force 101 (CJTF101), has been operating recently in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley and provided us with some outstanding photography that on its own --- the command says they are "stand alone" --- gives us all insight to what our forces are experiencing over there. I want to present the photos that show soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, the 1-26 Infantry "Blue Spaders," operating in the Koreangal. But first, a brief introduction to the Korengal Valley and then a little history behind the 26th Infantry. April 25, 2009.

Special Forces ODA 3336 deep in the Hindu Kush, gallantry and courage. It is not until you dig into a furious battle in Afghanistan that you come to want to know more and more, not only about the men in the fight, the fight itself, and the lineage of the units to which they belong, but also the history of the area, the nature of the enemy target, and the environment of the target area. This is because we know so little about Afghanistan and the war to which we have sent our men and women. On April 6, 2008, there was a fierce battle fought in the Shuk Valley deep in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Nuristan Province. One Air Force combat controller would receive the Air Force Cross, and ten Army special forces would receive the Silver Star, all for unimaginable valor in the face of incredible odds. This six section report goes into each of the areas about which I knew too little, and attempts to weave inputs from a variety of sources to describe what these men faced and did. After you have finished this report, you'll underscore something said by Lt. General John F. Mulholland at the Army's award ceremony: "Imagine the Taliban commander thinking, 'What the hell do I have to do to defeat these guys?'" The short answer is, "You can't." By Ed Marek, editor. March 16, 2009.

Air Force combat controllers "rockin' on the mike," making things happen. Most of us know very little about our Air Force special operations forces. Many don't even realize that our Air Forces have embraced the "every Airman is a warrior" culture, with many from its ranks fighting on the ground. On April 11, 2006, Technical Sergeant Bradley "Brad" Reilly, USAF, received the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his actions during a four hour fire-fight on the ground in Afghanistan the previous year. He was an USAF combat controller and, more important, an integrated member of an Army special forces alpha team inserted by Army helicopters and ultimately saved by Army helicopters, after dealing the enemy a lethal blow. We'll use his story to tell several others and to demonstrate yet again the intense courage of our fighting forces. August 6, 2006


Somalia: Why is the US in combat there? Advise, Assist, Train? More like Find, Target and Destroy. !In the last 17 months, two US military members, both special forces, have been killed in combat in Somalia: One a Navy SEAL, the other an Army Airborne Maroon Beret (airborne). Commonly held perspectives tell us our forces in Somalia are there to train, advise, and assist Somali forces, and hang back behind those forces should a combat situation develop.

The obvious question then is, why did these men get killed in combat in Somalia? Or, perhaps more clearly, Why were US ground forces positioned in Somalia such that they ended up in combat?

That is the question I’ll examine in this report.

We all should recognize the loss of two US military members in combat is enormously painful. Regrettably, however, this is a dangerous world filled with uncertainty. Perhaps more worrisome, the public does not question what the US military is doing there. And even if it did, it would find itself buried in circuitous language that hides the real nature of what is going on. By Ed Marek, editor, October 17, 2018

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Rooster Flight 73, ambushed during South Sudan evacuation mission. On October 6, 2015 the Air Force Magazine published an article by Aaron M.U. Church, “Blood over Bor.” On December 21, 2003, three USAF CV-22 Osprey aircraft from the 8th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) flew from Djibouti to Bor, South Sudan with 21 Navy SEALs aboard. Their mission was to evacuate approximately 20-30 Americans stuck in Bor amidst a freshly erupted civil war. Hostile forces on the ground ambushed the flight, heavily damaged all three aircraft, severely wounded at least four Navy SEALs, and wounded others aboard the aircraft. By feats of enormous courage, valor and superior airmanship all three aircraft made it to their divert field at Entebbe, Uganda, and all hands survived. This report will describe the events as best as I can discern them. I will also be critical of how this mission was planned and organized. By Ed Marek, Editor, October 29, 2015.

Cold War

Soviet Foxtrot Submarines: The Cuban Missile Crisis. I have read, "The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is probably the single most analyzed episode of the Cold War." Perhaps so, but until now, not by me. Many people certainly know about or are aware of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 in which tensions between the US and the Soviet Union were about as high as they could be, edging toward the possibility of nuclear war. But most of us are not familiar with the tense encounters with Soviet submarines. This photo taken by a US Navy (USN) anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft shows Soviet Foxtrot submarine Hull Number 945 nearing Cuban waters during that crisis, one of four that made the transit. It is B-130, Captain Shumkov in command. It is arguable when the US learned these submarines were on their way, as you will see later. For certain the US government did not know each of these submarines was carrying a single nuclear tipped torpedo that could destroy a Carrier Group. The Soviets called these "special weapons." May 3,2017.

Deep Sea 129: The price Silent Warriors pay. On April 15, 1969 a North Korean MiG-21 shot down a US Navy EC-121M electronic surveillance aircraft assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1) Atsugi, Japan. She was shot down over the Sea of Japan about 100 nm off the coast of the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea, over international waters. There were 31 American souls aboard, all lost, only two bodies recovered. The EC-121 was unarmed and had no escort. It was flying out there alone, just as so many others had and still do. The US, President Richard Nixon at the helm, did not retaliate. The purpose of this story is to try to understand why. February 15, 2017.

Airborne Peripheral Reconnaissance, Cold War losses --- “Silent Sacrifices.” The “Cold War” followed immediately after then end of WWII. The Cold War was a sustained state of political and military tension largely between the US as the leader of the West, which included the NATO Western European nations, and the Soviet Union (USSR), as the leader of the East, which included the Warsaw Pact nations. Each of the leaders had nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them. That we did not know what was going on behind the “Iron Curtain” to the east formed the foundation of the need to find out. From that grew almost immediately the requirement to fly airborne reconnaissance over the USSR and around the periphery of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. This report touches on those flights flown over the USSR, but is focused on those that flew along the periphery of the Soviet Union and were shot down by Soviet fighter aircraft. August 7, 2013.

Excellence, Tradition, and Valor

2nd Lt. Donald Matocha, USMC, Mission Complete Sir! "The reality is, no other country does this.” Bringing America's missing home. On February 9, 2006, The Military Channel presented the documentary, "An Ocean Away," which follows the return of US Marine 2nd Lt. Donald Matocha's remains from Vietnam to Smithville, Texas. While viewing this film, we were struck by the respect and honor given the remains of our returning military by those associated with the US Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii, JPAC. We have assembled a photo gallery that demonstrates this noble endeavor. February 10, 2006, republished on September 25, 2014.

Medevacs & Medics, Angels of Mercy. For the past 8-9 years, while running this web site as a hobby, I have written multiple stories about our military medevac and medical people in war. As an Indochina War veteran who flew aboard combat reconnaissance missions, mostly over Laos, I have always had a special spot in my heart for those who we all knew would come to our aid if we got into trouble during combat operations. In the Air Force, we knew it would virtually stop the air war to go in to save a downed crew. In researching Army and Marine operations, I have also learned what a massive effort is put into getting our wounded out of the killing zone and into medical hands. I have further learned the extent of this medical system available to our wounded from the medic working on a downed troop in the killing zone all the way to getting wounded soldiers to some of the most sophisticated medical facilities and capable medical hands available in the world. All of this is done with a level of professionalism that exceeds my command of the English language to describe. I have reassembled a group of these stories in an effort to give you a wide picture of what our medevacs and medics do on behalf of our men and women in combat. March 17, 2012.

Dignified transfer of the fallen: a solemn movement of respect and honor. This is not a ceremony and not a media event. Defense Secretary Gates decided to open up the return of our combat fallen to the media. He did this against the recommendations of many significant others who opposed changing the rule, including the families. All right, it's done. Given this decision, I want to be sure people know the solemn and dignified manner in which our forces treat our fallen on their way home. That they treat them with such respect and honor is heartwarming and a source of great pride. There is no political agenda here. You will see our forces do their very best to care for the remains of our fallen --- a solemn movement of respect and honor. By Ed Marek, editor. July 12, 2009.

“Men at war: We happy few,” the special brotherhood of men at war. Many people have written about the special bonds that tie men and women at war together. Bill Coffey, a retired Army officer, has assembled a marvelous presentation that tries to convey what those bonds really mean, matching photography with quotations from those who have tried to describe that bond. Having just returned from work in Kuwait, Bill comments, "Once again, I witnessed the power and inspiration of this thing which is referred to by many names, titles, nouns and adjectives." This is Bill Cofey's presentation. You'll not leave it dry-eyed. October 20, 2008, republished January 18, 2016

A Medal of Honor today: Michael Patrick Murphy, Lt., USN, SEAL, a son of America. Today, October 22, 2007, the family of Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy, USN, SEAL, will receive the Medal of Honor (posthumous) on behalf of their son in America's House, the White House. Lt. Murphy will be the first to receive the Medal for action in Afghanistan. These kinds of people come from our neighborhoods, from our churches and schools, from our families, our playgrounds, from our hearts and from our souls. God Almighty has blessed us with so many like him. It's time to pause and reflect. Be proud, America. Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy is one of our sons. And so are all those who tried to help his team, which included 16 who died in their effort, those who rescued a lone survivor, and those who recovered all the bodies, all together, nineteen. The editor. October 22, 2007, updated May 9, 2008 announcing naming of new DDG-112.

Airman Basic Paige Renee Villers, USAF, courage, honor, a patriot. Airman Villers served her Air Force at only one air base, Lackland AFB in San Antonio. She served most of her tour of duty as a trainee at Basic Military Training. She died shortly after graduation at Lackland. In the interim, she completed the requirements to graduate, she fought at death's door with an uncommon strain of a common virus for week after week, she mustered the awe and respect of some of this world's finest medical technicians, nurses and doctors, and of her training instructors and wing commander. America lost a courageous and dedicated patriot when God took Airman Paige Renee Villers. That such patriots rise up from babies to adults and serve our military is one of the great strengths of this nation. By Ed Marek, editor. September 7, 2008.T

Indochina War

Con Thien: The “Meat Grinder” "A miserable little series of 3 hill masses"
The story being told in this report focuses on the US Marines and their base at Con Thien, RVN. In his book Con Thien: The Hill of Angels, James Coan wrote:

“In some circles, Con Thien came to symbolize America’s failed military strategy of waging a high tech war of attrition against the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) … Con Thien also came to represent the US Marine Corps’ resolve to persevere, to stand resolute against a dedicated, well-armed, and highly trained enemy. For nearly three years, the Marines never wavered in fulfilling their mission to hold that piece of high ground at all costs. But the cost was high.” (082818)

UH-1H "Huey" down in Cambodia: Eight souls aboard. On May 2, 1970 a UH-1H “Iroquois” “Huey” helicopter similar to that shown here, tail nr. 68-16512 assigned to Company B, 229th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Air Mobile) (B/229 Abn) was shot down over Cambodia and crash landed there, eight souls aboard. This is their story. Theirs is a story not at all well known, probably know only to friends and family. One of many similar stories, it reflects the challenges of warfare in Indochina and the unbridled courage, valor, service and sacrifice of those eight American soldiers aboard. That's why I selected their story and want to tell it. February 12, 2018

LS-85, Airmen left out on the limb, a leadership failure.This is, frankly, a tragic story. My objective is to address events leading up to the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) attack on Lima Site 85 (LS-85) in northeastern Laos in March 1968 that put it out of commission and killed 13 Americans from the USAF. LS-85 hosted a CIA command center directing Hmong fighters against communist forces in northeastern Laos and a landing zone. It also hosted two navigation aids to help USAF fighter-bombers attack targets in North Vietnam and Laos. USAF technicians working as Lockheed employees operated the equipment. Twelve of them were killed. This was the largest ground combat loss of USAF people in the Indochina War. A thirteenth American was killed when his A-1E Sandy search and rescue fighter was shot down. As you read and learn the raw facts as they unfold, I ask you pay particular attention to the magnificent valor of those who fought against great odds, and also recognize those who attempted to thwart this tragedy long before it unfolded. The net result will be a recognition of monumental service and sacrifice about which we can and should talk proudly. That despite the terrible losses. September 10, 2017.

James Stockdale, "a giant of a patriotic American," a "real scrappy guy." Americans love heroes, that's for sure. One of our problems is we don't always appreciate who most of our real heroes are or were. Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale, USN (Ret.) died on July 5, and is one of those great American heroes of all time. At his funeral aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, Admiral Vern Clark, the Chief of Naval Operations, said, “Admiral Stockdale challenged the human limits of moral courage, physical endurance and intellectual bravery, emerging victorious as a legendary beacon for all to follow.” December 16, 2016.

The rescue of Capt. Roger Locher, Oyster 01 Bravo. Back in May 2012, I published a story entitled, “Loss of Oyster One: The “Bloodiest Day.” It highlighted events that began on May 10, 1972 involving Major Bob Lodge, USAF. On that day, he and his “back-seater” and Weapons System Officer Capt. Roger Locher, USAF flew their F-4 Phantom II jet fighter over North Vietnam on a MiG CAP (combat air patrol mission). They were the lead aircraft of Oyster Flight; a flight of four. Lodge’s personal call-sign was “Oyster 01 Alpha," verbalized as Oyster Zero One Alpha.” Locher’s personal call-sign was “Oyster 01 Bravo, verbalized as Oyster Zero One Bravo.” The North Vietnamese shot their aircraft down.

Locher successfully bailed out while Lodge was killed when his aircraft crashed into the ground. Locher (shown in this photo shortly after being rescued) was rescued on June 2, 1972 by American forces west of Hanoi in what was among the most harrowing rescue missions of the war. He was rescued on Day 23 after spending 22 days on the ground escaping and evading the enemy.

A former USAF navigator and pilot, Ross “Buck” Buchanan contacted me on November 25, 2016. He was the pilot of an A-1 “Skyraider” from the 1st Special Operations Squadron (SOS), Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, “NKP,” for the mission that would rescue Locher.

Buck later presented a briefing about the Locher rescue to a group of mostly “older” pilots, who were members of the Daedalians organization and their wives in Great Falls, Montana. He has been kind enough to provide the briefing to me so that I can present it to you on “Talking Proud”. My purpose here is to convey Buck’s briefing of the rescue of Oyster 01 Bravo, Capt. Roger Locher, USAF. It is presented here. This is his story. December 2, 2016

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Come fly with me over Laos - Major Gerald Taylor, USAF, 23rd TASS, NKP RTAFB. Major Gerald Keith Taylor, USAF, flew the O-1 Bird Dog, the "Dawg," out of Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base (NKP RTAFB) from about August 1966 to June 1967, mostly over Laos. Taylor flew with the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS), known as "The Crickets." In July 2016 John Taylor, Gerald's son, sent me the photos his dad used in a slide show program. I want to publish many of these photos. I want to show you the geography over which and through which these pilots flew. This will help you understand better what all our pilots experienced when flying over Laos, whether in a fighter, a transport, helicopter or prop job executing whatever mission they experienced. So take a flight along with Major Taylor, and thankfully you can relax and study the film. September 25, 2016

Hmong find F-105 pilot hanging from the trees. “The body bag held the contents of one Major Sanders, former F-105D pilot, whose remains had been retrieved and returned to (Lima Site 20) Alternate that very afternoon by a CIA case officer whose Hmong team cut them down out of the trees where he had been hanging for several weeks still in his ejection seat.” I have found precious little information about Sanders' loss. Therefore, I intend to use his loss as cause to explore several questions raised by this crash, as a means to educate ourselves about the aircraft and the environments in which the pilots flew them. To the extent I can, I want to first present facts as officially documented. Later on I will go over some of those facts and analyze what might have happened. June 28, 2016.

One hometown's Fallen in Vietnam — "from someplace called Cheektowaga. "Death in Nam was just a heartbeat away" — Unnamed soldier. I have been operating this "Talking Proud Service & Sacrifice" web site for 15 years or so as a hobby. I concentrate on those who served and sacrificed, mostly in our military. Many of the stories I have done are at once heartbreaking yet the cause of spine chills filled with pride. While doing these stories, I have always asked myself: "Where do we get these people, so courageous, so strong? Why do they risk themselves to save others?" Every time I ask, I answer the question myself: "We get them from our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches, the house next door; they were the kids just down the street, our chums, or people we barely knew in school." And, I have found, their courage and valor are often a gut response. They are built to respond to crisis. They react in an instant, without considering the costs and benefits. They just do it. They take the risk, they take the consequences. They come in many forms. And they made a difference. I decided recently to find out who from my hometown, Cheektowaga, New York, was killed in action (KIA) in the Indochina War. I found we lost eight. I do not know any of them. One graduated from my alma mater, Cleveland Hill, and two from nearby Maryville High School, where I did a bit of student teaching. Two lived in Cheektowaga but attended schools in Buffalo. August 8, 2015 appended February 26, 2016 with the addition of an eighth loss about whom I did not know. On February 29, 2016 I added yet another, Sgt. Anthony J. Minotti, USA, now the ninth Cheetowagan to Fall in Vietnam.

Major L. Johnson’s HH-43 "Pedro" Log Book, Binh Thuy, 1967-68. This is a photo of Major Leslie Johnson, USAF, a HH-43 Pedro helicopter pilot assigned to Det 10, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARRS), Binh Thuy, RVN during 1967-1968. His son, Leslie Johnson III, a veteran of Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, provided us with a transcript of his dad’s log book from November 1967 - May 22, 1968. Leslie said, “Log ends abruptly. Dad made no further entries at Binh Thuy AB. I believe he had had his fill and concentrated on his duties, staying focused on the missions, and not re-living them in a log book. Dad was exhausted from missions and no sleep.” The log book interesting because it is first hand from a pilot who was there, and because it reflects his activity early in the war. June 25, 2015.

US Navy clandestine maritime operations, WWII China and early Vietnam. I must admit this is a crazy story. I began by wanting to talk about the “Brown Water” Riverine Navy during Vietnam. But before I knew it, I was studying US Navy clandestine maritime operations in China in WWII. And as I did, I became acutely aware of the relationships that developed between those operations in China in WWII and those that occurred in the early days of Vietnam, as early as 1954. Along with this, I learned how the Navy developed its capabilities all the way up to and including the launch of the US Navy SEALs, and their involvement in the early days of Vietnam.

This report will highlight how clandestine, covert US Navy maritime operations developed in WWII China. Then it will skip ahead to address US Navy covert maritime operations through the early days of US involvement in Vietnam, after the French gave up Indochina in 1954. I will walk you up to the Gulf of Tonkin Incidents involving, among others, the USS Maddox and Turner Joy. That is where I will stop, August 1964. I will not cover the Korean War.

This story is extremely complex, and often convoluted. I started it in September 2014. I have done my best to be accurate, even though the documented history is often conflicting and ambiguous. May 13, 2015.

Vietnam Veterans talking about their walk --- listen and hear. I belong to a social media group that enables Vietnam veterans to “swap their experiences” and voice their memories. No politics allowed, nor profanity, nor disrespect. I am a USAF veteran of the Indochina War, having flown aboard EC-47 electronic reconnaissance aircraft out of Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. Most of the men and women who share their experiences with this group fought on the ground. Since I was an Airman, I did not experience what these veterans saw on the ground. As a result I have found their comments to be stimulating, filled with passion, tears, pride and great sensitivity. I thought I should try to highlight the themes these men and women present. November 11, 2014.

HH-43 SAR pilot’s diary, 1964-1965, Vietnam. It is not often that we get access to a fairly detailed diary of a combat air commander from the Indochina War. We have such a diary written by Lt. Colonel (and earlier major) Archie Taylor, shown here with one of his HH-43 Huskie Search and Rescue (SAR) and Local Base firefighting and crash Recovery (LBR) helicopters. His diary comes in two parts. First, as commander, Det 4, Pacific Air Rescue Center (PARC) during October 1964-May 1965. He, his crews and his HH-43F Pedros were located at Bien Hoa AB, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), located outside Saigon. Second, we have his notes during the period May-October 1965 when he served at the Search and Rescue Center (SAR) located with Air Operations Center (AOC) at Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam, outside Saigon. He worked the SAR problem while there. Archie, while working in the SAR Rescue Center, kept notes, sometimes sketchy and filled with acronyms and call signs to capture segments of SAR missions worked from the TACC. I have had to work with just these notes. I have taken a different approach with these notes than I did in the first section while he was with Det 4, PARC. My vision here is that he was working the SAR problem in the TACC and taking very brief notes for himself to keep things straight in his mind while the SAR effort was or was not underway. Usually his notes do not describe a full and complete SAR endeavor, but they do give an insight into the kinds of things that occurred during a SAR, and these are interesting and history worthy. I decided to take the individual sets and try to correlate them with the official record of what happened in order to give more meaning to his notes. November 16, 2013

LS-36, “The Alamo” in Laos. This is a story about a place known as Lima Site 36 at Na Khang, Laos, LS-36, during the Indochina War. We all know there was a secret war in Laos that actually started before the war in Vietnam. What many of us do not know much about is the role of these “Lima Sites.” I selected LS-36 as a means to convey their importance. We are going to cover a lot of ground. I never heard of LS-36. So I decided to tackle the questions where was it, why was it there, and what happened to it. It turned out these were no easy questions to answer. November 19, 2012

Loss of Oyster One: The “Bloodiest Day.” Major Bob Lodge, USAF, Lynbrook, New York, a 1964 graduate of the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), and member of the 555th “Triple Nickel” Fighter Squadron (FS), 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (TRW), Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB), spent two tours in the Indochina War, flew 186 combat missions in fighters, and shot down three enemy MiGs. On May 10, 1972, his callsign Oyster One, flying an F-4 Phantom II jet, was shot down over North Vietnam by enemy MiG-19s and killed. His backseater and Weapons Systems Officer (WSO), Major Roger Locher bailed out and was rescued some 22 days later west of Hanoi in what was among the most harrowing rescue missions of the war. Lodge was lost on the Bloodiest Day for enemy MiGs, and the stories surrounding his loss and Locher’s rescue tell us a great deal about the kind of people we are. May 20, 2012

A look at the the Ban Laboy Ford, Laos, and Hwy 912, why did we spend so much on them? Jimmie Butler, an acquaintance of mine, a widely known writer and well known USAF Forward Air Controller (FAC), introduced me a few years ago to a place called Ban Laboy (also spelled Loboy) Ford, which during the Indochina War was on Hwy 912 in Laos. He like so many others who flew over it and around it came to see this location as the most bombed out area of the Indochina War. The Ban Laboy Ford and the immediate region around it were targets of unparalleled interest and action for the roles they played as part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. US air forces sustained heavy casualties attacking this area, and they caused enormous disruption to the flow of enemy men and supplies, and enormous enemy losses. My purpose here is to try to understand why this location was so important. July 4, 2011

Electric Goons of “Naked Fanny”. This report is about the EC-47 electronic reconnaissance aircraft and crews of Detachment 3, 6994th Security Squadron (6994th SS), Nakhon Phanom (NKP) Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB), Thailand. The EC-47s were fondly known as the “Electric Goons” following in the footsteps of the C-47 being known as the Goonie Bird. NKP was also fondly known as “Naked Fanny.” The base was located in northeast Thailand right where the Mekong River turns south. Laos was across the river. The unit was set up in April 1969 in response to a push from the American Ambassador to Vientiane. The North Vietnamese began sending tens of thousands of troops into supposedly neutral Laos, the war there deteriorated rapidly, and the US ambassador and others urged the introduction of the EC-47s to fly mainly over Laos, hoping to prevent Laos from turning communist. The men and aircraft were also sent to NKP to work against the ever growing enemy logistics activity along the Ho Chi Minh Trail which extended from east-central Laos into Cambodia branching off multiple times into the Republic of Vietnam. The conditions in Laos for this kind of aircraft were unforgiving and hazardous. By Ed Marek, editor, March 28, 2011.

The “Walking Dead,” the 1-9 Marines in Vietnam. This will be a different kind of presentation than I normally provide. It is in honor of Pfc. Gregory Lawrence Martin, USMC, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment (C/1-9 Marines) who was killed in action (KIA) by friendly fire in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) on April 19, 1967. Cindy L. Taylor “Martin/Tatum,” the “baby sister” of Pfc. Martin, sent me an e-mail and asked if I could help her find specific facts with regard to Greg’s time in the RVN from approximately October 1966 - April 19, 1967. I was not of much help, but I told her I would explain the background to help her and her family better understand why her brother was there. This motivated me to tell this story. September 16, 2010.

“Find the bastards, and pile on,” the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Indochina. This report is about the US Army’s 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), the “Blackhorse” Regiment, in the Indochina War, to some also known as the “soul ponies.” The regiments’s roots go back to the post-Spanish American War when it formed in 1901 at Ft. Meyer, Virginia. It adopted its motto, Allons (“Let’s Go”) in 1920. This is a most interesting and instructive combat organization. It led the charge into Cambodia in 1970. July 17, 2010

The North Wall, Canada's Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. A significant number of Canadians fought for US forces in Vietnam, and over 100 gave their lives, even though Canada as a nation did not participate. These men joined the American military, either voluntarily or through the draft, and they fought with great valor and distinction, as Canadian military men always have. It took far longer for the Government of Canada to recognize their service and sacrifice than it did the US government, and it is arguable to this day how many Canadians respect what they did. This is about a memorial finally erected in Windsor, Ontario in 1995 to honor their service. More important, this is about some of those Canadians who fought in Vietnam, our salute to brothers in war. By Ed Marek, editor. July 5, 2008

America's "Happy Hooker," the CH-47 Chinook. If you want to talk about multi-tasking, you've found the right aircraft in the CH-47 Chinook. This story explores the CH-47 aircraft from the time of its first appearance in combat in Vietnam in 1965 to its present use in Afghanistan, including its emergency use responding to the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. We'll even give you an aircraft "walk-around."December 13, 2006

ROK Army and Marines prove to be rock-solid fighters and allies in Vietnam War. The United States did not fight alone in the Vietnam-Laos Wars. Six nations and many indigenous peoples from the region fought with her. One of those was the Republic of Korea (ROK). The Koreans started arriving shortly after the US Marines in 1965, they kept coming, and they stayed and fought until the end, in 1973. At their peak, they had close to 50,000 boots on the ground, the second largest foreign force to fight for the RVN. Over 300,000 served. About 5,000 died. This was the ROK's first military action abroad. It came only 17 years after the republic was formed, only 16 after its fledgling new constabulary was formed, and only 12 after the Korean War concluded. They fought hard. Their enemy, our enemy, paid a dear price for engaging them. July 12, 2006

RT Breaker Patrol, the Hill Battles of Vietnam. On May 9-10, 1967, seven men from Reconnaissance Team Breaker, Alpha Company, 3rd Marine Recon, ran into one tough fight on Hill 665 near Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam. Four died, three badly wounded were heroically rescued and survived. This happened a year before the better known 1968 Siege of Khe Sanh. Breaker was in the Hill Battles of 1967. What were these men doing on Hill 665? To formulate meaningful responses to this question, we reconstructed the history that brought these brave six Marines and one Navy medic to these battles, along with all those others who did the same. March 1, 2006

The F-105 Thunderchief, a legend flown by legends. The F-105 "Thunderchief," known as the Thud, the hyper hog, the lead sled, and a lot more to those who flew her "Downtown" in North Vietnam, is indeed a legend. Most remarkable, though, are the men who flew her. One pilot has said, "To go to Hanoi day after day not only took great courage, but more important, it took great loyalty to your country." One writer said this about these men: "Knowing what lay ahead, the best of men competed for a place on the toughest missions. They did it because they were fighter pilots." We need to take a moment to think about their sacrifices and what those mean to our nation. August 30, 2005.

Old "Herc" a pioneer in laser guided bombing, another Blindbat first. Not many know that the Blindbat was "zotting" targets in the late 1960s in Vietnam. We'll also pass on a few interesting war stories that highlight the important forward air controller roles played by the Blindbat crews during the late 1960s. July 13, 2005. January 2, 2010 Addendum: Memorial service held for SMSgt Gary Pate, whose dog tags were found at an excavation site in Laos in spring 2009.

Our Pedros, rotors of wood, men of steel. The sweaty business of searching for and rescuing (SAR) our downed pilots in the Vietnam-Laos wars produced acts of heroism that nearly defy articulation, unparalleled daring and valor is the best we can do. One SAR commander said, "They'll go anywhere and do anything, and they act like they're spring loaded to go down the line to aid a downed pilot." They faced a triple jungle canopy in wild terrain, hostile enemy fire, and a target with a bounty on his head, either evading being caught or too injured to move. Many brave souls flew a variety of helicopters, attack aircraft, transports and even amphibian aircraft to get their man or men. This report is about one group of them, callsign "Pedro," the men of the machines known as the HH-43, the USAF "Huskie." February 1, 2005. Updated June 14, 2009 to provide the correct photo of a B-58 "Hustler" bomber crash for which a Pedro provide firefighting support --- Section E, "The fire suppression and local base recovery mission." February 1, 2005

Blind Bat, Yellowbirds, Willy the Whale, on Uncle Ho's trail. That's one C-130A flareship, two B-57 bombers, and one Marine EF-10B electronic countermeasures aircraft flying to North Vietnam and Laos hunting down truck convoys on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. To learn their story, you are carried through fascinating history surrounding the Vietnam War --- secrecy, WWII vintage air power, complicated air interdiction, all at night over rough, often uncharted terrain, against an elusive enemy, nearly all by the seat of the pants. To get this job done, the crews involved were on their own. They built and installed the equipment they needed, made up their operating procedures as they wove their way through the flak, found ways to avoid crashing into and shooting each other, located their targets "by Braille", attacked them, and snuck back home to do it again the next night, every night. In the end, the enemy prevailed because it committed everything it had to the endeavor. The Americans, through the sheer determination of the air crews to get their job done, made the enemy's commitment very costly. With the right political commitment in Washington, that trail could have been shut down at a lower price to all involved. With the trail closed, that war was ours to win. December 15, 2004.


Cpl Nick Ziolkowski: "The Angel on my Shoulder." "Operation Phantom Fury" was among the fiercest urban warfare battles in American history, fought in Fallujah, Anbar Province, Iraq. Cpl. Nickolas Lee Ziolkowski, USMC, shown here in battle, a Marine scout-sniper was one of the Fallen. He was was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), B/1-8 Marines for short. This report is in his honor. It is dedicated to him and to all those who fought in this hellish battle. It addresses Ziolkowski's background and importance to those with whom he fought, the character of the men who fought there with a focus on snipers and their mission, and a brief look at the challenges of urban combat. January 21, 2018.

Logistics in the Iraq War: "A herculean feat." “Good generals study tactics. Great generals study logistics.” Two weeks after US and Allied forces crossed the line of departure from Kuwait to Iraq, also known to the troops as "The Berm," headed for Baghdad in the Iraq War of 2003, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (OIF), Lieutenant General John P. Abizaid, Deputy Commander (Forward) of the Combined Forces Command/U.S. Central Command, observed: “I’m certain that when the history of this campaign is written, people will look at this move that the land forces have made in this amount of time as being not only a great military accomplishment, but an incredible logistics accomplishment.”

How does it all get there? The short answer is logistics, an incredible logistics machine, one I see as a Herculean feat. That is the focus of this story —- sustainment of troops in combat, at war. We will look at the 2003 US-British invasion of Iraq, known as Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Our look will be broad brush, and will only cover the first couple weeks — the complexity of all this is mind-boggling. December 16, 2015

Corpsman down, CPO Holly Crabtree's fight for life. I was drawn to this photo of Hospital Corpsman Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Holly Crabtree's retirement, shown here, taken at Naval Base Bremerton, Maine. She was medically retired on August 23, 2012 as she works to recover from a sniper attack in Iraq on April 15, 2010. Chief Crabtree is saluted by her colleagues as she departs the retirement ceremony, walking with the help of a cane. At the time of her retirement, she was a 14 year veteran, 32 years old. I will simply say here an enemy sniper shot her in the head. Incredibly, she survived, but not without a fight, a fight that continues to this day. There are, from my vantage, two main stories here. First, CPO Crabtree's fight to survive and endure. Second, her naval training and the kind of mission that put her in harm's way on that day. These are both very consuming. October 8, 2015

"Black Sunday" in Sadr City, April 4, 2004. April 4, 2004 was a bloody day for American forces in Sadr City, Iraq. Some of the troops call it "Black Sunday," sad, because it was Palm Sunday. What began as a routine patrol escorting sewage trucks, known as the "honey wagons," ended up in surprise ambushes that left eight US Army soldiers killed in action that day. We think about 50 were wounded, many of whom had to be taken back to the US. "Black Sunday" seems to have occurred at the confluence of various events. The city was and remains shamefully poor, but had been peaceful. Some political events were already in train that caused tensions between the city's independent-minded residents and American forces who were trying to improve the city's condition but were nonetheless increasingly seen as occupiers. Then some new political events emerged that made confrontation inevitable, all at a time when the US was finishing up a major troop rotation. At the end of the day, a routine patrol and patrols that would try to rescue it took the brunt of these and other converging events. As you will see, little in life is simple, little can be taken for granted, and one is always best advised to keep his or her guard up. Furthermore, every one of these kinds of fights has consequences, in Iraq, here, and around the world.

“Thunder Runs” and the drive from Kuwait into the center of Baghdad. I recall watching the US-led invasion of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the second Iraq War. It began on March 19, 2003 as US bombers pounded Baghdad and US and British forces crossed the line of departure in Kuwait. The US ground forces would drive all the way to downtown Baghdad. The image I retain in my mind is how quickly and seemingly easily US and British forces did the job bringing down the Saddam regime. I quickly learned how the planning effort was fraught with politics and new ideas for fighting war. I learned how complex an operation this turned out to be. This was no cake walk, and it was not easy. The entire operation ranks as among the first major joint and combined integrated combat endeavors involving all the US armed forces and forces of other nations. The choreography is something to behold, both planned and unplanned. This report focuses on the 3 ID, specifically its 2 Bde, from the time it prepared to leave Kuwait to the time it executed its two Thunder Runs into Baghdad. It also takea a look at the planning behind the overall Operation Iraqi Freedom invasion, and then the force movements and activities that led the 3 ID to positions outside Baghdad, and finally address the 2 Bde’s Thunder Runs into Baghdad. July 21, 2014. "Black Sunday" in Sadr City, April 4, 2004

Battle for Fallujah, our warfighters towered in maturity and guts. It was called "Operation Dawn - al Fajr." D-Day was November 7, 2004, 1900 hours (7 pm Baghdad time). The fighting that followed was to be among the fiercest urban warfare battles fought in American history. There is and has been a great deal of controversy surrounding this attack on Fallujah. This report will address none of that controversy. Our primary focus is on the American military people who participated in Operation Dawn. We want to help our readers understand the kind of environment our forces faced in this battle, what the strategy and tactics were, and what the fight was like. We are going to do this in as detailed a way as our resources permit. Know this. It all came down to that 18 -19 year old who led his fire team into battle. These young men "towered over their peers outside the military in maturity and guts." April 28, 2005.


Kapyong: Aussies - Canadians - New Zealanders beat back massive Chinese attack targeted at Seoul. If you were to study the Korean War in any depth, you would find yourself tracking one battle after another from the initial invasion to the regrouping at the Pusan Perimeter to the breakout from Pusan, the march to the Yalu on the Chinese border, the withdrawal below the 38th parallel, and then a push back above the 38th to the armistice that established a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) roughly following the 38th parallel as the border between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the former best known as South Korea, the latter as North Korea. Selecting a battle from all of them that ensued and labeling it as crucially important is a challenge indeed. We are about to look at one of those battles that was crucially important --- the Battle of Kapyong, also known as the Battle of Gapyong, April 22-25, 1951. It was fought, in the main, by the British 27th Commonwealth Brigade, led by the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment and the 2nd Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry, supported by the 1st Middlesex Regiment, the 16th Royal New Zealand Artillery, and the Indian 60th (Parachute) Field Ambulance platoon. Had the allies failed to hold at Kapyong, it is no too far fetched to say that there would have been a good chance the United Nations Command (UNC) would have folded its tent and left the peninsula. February 26, 2014.

MiG Alley Korea War, the first jet vs. jet aerial warfare. When I was a young guy, I recall hearing reports on the radio about how many North Korean MiG fighter aircraft our guys shot down every day. Killing MiGs was a big deal in those days. I heard a lot about “MiG Alley.” But as I look back, I did not know where MiG Alley was. I knew it was over the Korean peninsula, I knew it was MiG-15 against F-86 Sabre, but had no idea it was so far to the northwest and that it crossed into China. This report will summarize the historical context of why MiG Alley was so far to the northwest, on China’s border, highlight the role of the B-29, focus on the debut of the MiG-15 and F-86, the advent of fighter vs. fighter aerial warfare, and pass on a few F-86 pilot stories. February 19, 2012


“Nobody kicks ass without a tanker’s gas ... nobody.” Back in January 2008, I received an e-mail from Lori T. Davis, maiden name Elwood, “Wood” for short, shown here in a 1984 photo. She was an Inflight Refueling Specialist on the KC-135 tanker for the USAF, known as “the boomer,” and among the first women to get such a job. She remarked she had plenty of war stories. I held on to her e-mail for all this time wanting to do a story on our strategic air-to-air refueling. October 6, 2010

Blended Wing X-48B has flown. The big difference between a blended wing body and a tubular-wing body for an aircraft is that the former has no tail, and the latter uses its tail for stability and control. New composite materials, computer networking, and design techniques have meant that multiple control surfaces can be designed into the blended wing body to give the stability and control you need. Boeing, working with NASA and the USAF, has developed a flown a subscale blended wing body aircraft, the X-48B. The idea has a long way to go, but its good to see dreamers are still dreaming and working to make their dreams come true, step by careful step. October 29, 2007.

Look mom, I lost my tail! We gotta bring this Buff in anyway. On January 10, 1964, Boeing civilian test pilot Chuck Fisher and his three man crew lost their tail, the tail of their B-52H Stratofortress that is, at about 14,000 ft. over northern New Mexico's Sangre de Christo Mountains. Their mission was to shake, rattle and roll this big beast at high speed and low altitude to record sensor data on how such a profile affected the B-52's structure. They did their job. The vertical stabilizer blew off. Six hours later and after a lot of engineering on the ground and in the air, Fisher brought his B-52 home, with the coveted data. Many crews put their lives on the line to make this aircraft be the threat it was and is. Those who lost their lives must be looking down from Heaven in wonderment that the old beast is still one of the most feared weapon systems in the world. April 28, 2007

The Falcon is coming, hypersonic attack from the US. Based on "allied" refusals to allow US military forces access to their air bases and air space over the past decades, US military planners are now preparing to go it alone, in a “friendless” environment, if that's what's required. Considerable research and development have been underway to enable US air forces to attack multiple targets almost anywhere on Earth from the US in less than two hours using unmanned and remotely controlled hypersonic aircraft, aircraft that can be recalled if required. The "need for speed" is paramount; fast response is the by-word. This in turn will enable us to substantially reduce our reliance on overseas airfields and bases. This evolution supports our long-held desire to bring our military forces home, except those afloat, and employ our advanced technologies to defend the homeland from the homeland. One defense expert says this capability will be able " crush someone anywhere in the world on 30 minutes' notice with no need for a nearby air base." March 21, 2005.

World War II

Kriegies of Oflag 64. Oflag 64 was a German POW camp in Poland exclusively for American Army officers captured in Europe during World War II. The first to arrive came from Tunisia. The Germans had many camps throughout Europe for POWs, some better, some far worse than this one. When you study even just this camp, however, you learn a great deal about what all our POWs endured under German captivity. You also learn much about WWII in Europe and the genesis of the Cold War. Most important, you absorb some inner meanings of what the phrase "American soldier" is all about. They served as they ought, "with pride and dignity, continually on the alert for the opportunity to seize hold of beloved freedom." September 17, 2006 and republished April 17, 2018

The "Ghost," Matt Urban, Medal of Honor. “The Greatest Soldier in American History,” President Jimmy Carter. I came across a man, wearing the Medal of Honor, and learned his name was Lt. Colonel Matt Urban, a WWII veteran. I looked him up. His name is Lt. Colonel Matt Louis Urban. He was known as “the Ghost.” He was nicknamed “The Ghost” by German soldiers because he just kept coming back no matter how many times or how seriously he was wounded in battle. He was assigned to and fought with the 60th Infantry Regiment, “The Go-Devils,” of the 9th Infantry Division (ID) in North Africa, Sicily, France, and Belgium. At the time he was a first lieutenant and then captain. He was awarded seven Purple Hearts. He also received the Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster (which means two Silver Stars), Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters (three Bronze Stars), Croix-de-Guerre, Presidential Unit Citation, and American Campaign Medal.

The surprises kept on coming. His full name was “Matthew Louis Urbanowicz.” He was the son of Polish immigrants, born in 1919, grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Why did this surprise me? My father was born in 1919 of Polish immigrants, he grew up in Buffalo, and I too grew up in Buffalo and graduated from the University of Buffalo. Yet I had never heard of Matt Urban, the hero. This was a story I simply had to do. I've learned so much that I am blessed to have done it. (092416)

Evacuation from France and the march to occupy Germany. Patrick Wilson, writing “Dunkirk: Victory or defeat” published by History Review in September 2000, cautioned people not to underestimate the importance of the mass British military evacuations from Dunkirk, France, writing this:

“Dunkirk was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.”

Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt, the opposing force German commanding general said something similar. He called Dunkirk “one of the great turning points of the war.”

German Generals Erich von Manstein and Heinz Guderian as well as Admiral Karl Dönitz considered the failure of the German High Command to order a timely assault on Dunkirk and eliminating the BEF as one of the major mistakes the Germans had made on the Western Front.

They are talking about the fact that the British force in France, and their French and Belgian allies were virtually surrounded by robust German ground forces and vulnerable to the German Air Force (Luftwaffe). Yet the British managed to evacuate them from the French port of Dunkirk, across the English Channel. As it turns out, the British had to evacuate over 500,000 forces from multiple French ports during May 1940, Dunkirk being the one that is best known. The forces at all the French ports used for evacuation faced annihilation by a German ground and air invasion force many times their size with many times their capability. Yet they made it out.

So the question comes to mind, how could these evacuations from France in 1940, which many say was the result of a military disaster, lead to the fall of the Third Reich?

This report will at a top level walk you from those evacuations from France through to the Allied occupation of a defeated Germany. Indeed, I will conclude by telling you how the Allies trapped German forces in Dunkirk and forced them to surrender, in 1945. The evacuations can be viewed as the first step. I will do so primarily by highlighting important policy decisions and policy planning, many of which at the time were kept secret. This is not so much a report about the fighting and the battles as it is about policy. April 8, 2016.

Operation Downfall: The Planned Invasion of Japan. "How to" end the war against Japan: Invasion or A-bombs, or both? A lot of people these days talk about ending the war in Iraq, as though these things can be done "just like that." No one knew how to end the war with Japan in 1945, no one. At a top level, there were three options. Invade. Employ atomic weapons, more than two. Occupy immediately should Japan collapse internally or surrender by surprise. There was also a combo scenario to employ many atomic weapons and invade, either separately, or at the same time. The invasion was set and it was a "Go." Units were identified, many were training. We'll discuss the three options, and provide relevant background. By Ed Marek, editor December 10, 2007, republished January 16, 2016.

USS Barb — Pacific killer sub par excellence. Her mission: "help tighten the steel belt around Japan." The USS Barb (SS-220), was a Gato-class submarine, the first ship of the USN to be named for the barbus, a ray-fined fish genus. During WWII in the Pacific, she was credited with sinking 17 enemy vessels totaling 96,628 tons including the Japanese aircraft carrier Unyo. And, she was the only submarine outfitted with rockets for shore bombardment. Further, members of the Barb's crew went ashore in Japan and blew up a train passing by. Her skipper while she fought in the Pacific, Commander Eugene "Lucky" Fluckey, also known to the crew as "Dead Eye Fluckey," received the Medal of Honor and four Navy Crosses for his service as the Barb's commander. He retired at the rank of rear admiral. Cmdr. Fluckey was an aggressive submariner, unlike many others of that time, those who saw their jobs as defensive reconnaissance. Fluckey liked it more on the surface at night, where he could attain max speeds and employ his torpedoes and guns and ultimately rockets. He and his crew are seen as having revolutionized submarine warfare. Incredibly, not one member of his crew even received a Purple Heart! January 9, 2016.

The “Flying Dudleys” of Wausau, WWII. I want you to meet a special group of men, the four Dudley brothers of Wausau, Wisconsin, tagged by some as “The Flying Dudleys.” Left-to-right, Lauren Charles “Laurnie” Dudley, 20; Jefferson James “Jay” Dudley, 24; Richard David “Dick” Dudley, 18; and Robert Lee “Bob” Dudley, 22. It is unusual for four brothers serve in war at the same time, though it did happen. All four of these guys wanted to, and did. When we read and hear about the American warrior, we often ask the question, “How do we get such men and women? Where do they come from that they could do these things?” The answer lies with “the invisible obvious.” These men and women come from our families, from our neighborhoods, from our schools, from being with friends and colleagues. They are in many respects us, at our best. By Ed Marek, editor, March 26, 2013.

Kamikaze attacks USS Comfort hospital ship, more than 700 souls aboard, WWII. Lts. Dorris "Dorrie" Gardner and Mary Rodden, both Wisconsin girls, both Army nurses, were aboard the USS Comfort hospital ship when she was struck amidships by a Japanese kamikaze during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. They both survived, but 28 died, including six nurses, and 48 were wounded. Some say the numbers were higher. These two courageous women represent many thousands, some 59,000 Army nurses who served in WWII, abroad and in the US. This story is dedicated to all those American military nurses, then and now, who cared for their "boys," their "guys" in combat the world over. By Ed Marek, December 25, 2007.

Burma Banshees, "Angels on our Wings," the call of death to the enemy.The 80th Fighter Group of the 10th Army Air Force (AAF) had a motto, "Angels on our Wings," because its primary mission was to escort and conduct combat air patrols for transports "Over the Hump" in WWII. But the group's nickname, the "Burma Banshees," sent a message to its Japanese enemies in the China-Burma-India Theater that when they heard the wailing sound of a Banshee's machine, death and destruction were coming their way. The first AAF fighter squadron to this theater, during the two years it fought (1943-1945), it launched 18,873 planes on 4,719 missions, destroyed more than 200 bridges and destroyed 80 enemy planes in the air or on the ground. It received the Distinguished Unit Citation for a most remarkable defense of a critical Indian oil refinery. This fighter group kept the supply lines open to China and helped Allied bombers and ground troops defeat a Japanese onslaught that at one point in this war seemed unstoppable. Like so many other Americans in this war, the Banshees made a difference, stepping up to defend freedom, putting their lives on the line for a cause. February 22, 2005

The 459th Twin Dragon Fighter squadron, Burma Banshees. We have done one in-depth story on the 80th Fighter Group Burma Banshees in the China-Burma-India Theater of WWII. We have also published a set of photos provided us by the son of one of the group's pilots. We have now received a historic set of photos from the daughter of a master sergeant in the group, MSgt. Herb Walker. This set is special, as it deals with the 459th Twin Dragons, who flew the P-38 Lightning. The other three squadrons flew the P-40 Warhawk. This will be mainly a gallery of the Walker Collection of photos, with some limited commentary. The P-38 was fighter most feared by Japanese pilots, and the 459th knocked down and destroyed its share of Japanese to earn that respect. June 1, 2008

The 761st Black Panthers, they came out fighting. It’s an amazing ride through our history to look back at World War II and see that we fought with segregated units, and these units, black and white, fought with incredulous gallantry and courage, together, side by side, often so intermingled that the word "segregated" during battle had little meaning. Many of our leaders at the time openly argued that black-Americans could not fight in modern warfare. Of course, they were wrong. Many of us are well aware of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, but how many of you know about the 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion, part of Patton's vaunted 3rd Army that bolted from Normandy to Germany virtually overnight? There is a great deal of history tied up with the 761st, and a great deal of bravery far beyond the call of duty. The story of the 761st is a story about black-American valor. It is also an American story of service, sacrifice, tenacity and resolve. And, it is a story about an alliance that took down an evil German empire, piece by piece. August 10, 2004.

World War I

Miss Linnie Leckrone, "the heart of a true nurse," WWI. This story will highlight Miss Linnie E. Leckrone, Army Nurse Corps (ANC), WWI, at the Battle of Château-Thierry, France, in July 1918. But the story is not just about her. Miss Leckrone was one of the many heroines of this war, caring for so many of the soldiers whose daily companions were death, stench, rot and futility. I can only give you a taste of these horrors, and supreme valor, backbone and spirit. She has been a lightning rod for me to better understand better what she and so many others might have endured during one of the most brutal wars in history. My objective here is to try to imagine what they experienced, and therefore what Miss Leckrone might have experienced. So I am going to focus a lot on WWI as it affected her and her colleagues, and we'll try to better understand some of the major medical challenges they faced. November 24, 2016.

The birth of a nation, the Canadian Corps captures Vimy Ridge. The "Trench Line" of World War I was surely hell on Earth. Stagnant, many failed charges across "no man's land," artillery fire, sniper fire, smoke, gas, rain, sleet, snow, cold, wind, malnourishment, disease, no end in sight to the agony and death from November 1914 until April 1917. What had the Germans inflicted on mankind by splitting Europe in two and committing millions of fine young men to terror and death deserved by no man? On April 9, 1917, after many months of planning, training, and digging, a Canadian Corps, the Canadian Corps of four Canadian Infantry Divisions, supported by intensive British and Canadian artillery, lurched out of their holes and tunnels and captured the previously impregnable Vimy Ridge in France, in just one day. The Huns were defeated, the Canadians held the Ridge, the Allies saw they could win. Perpetual hellish stalemate was not inevitable. The Canadians? Well, they among many endured an enormous sacrifice, but they also saw the birth of their nation, a prize every Canadian and American should cherish forever. May 30, 2004

American Civil War

Corps d'Afrique - a painful evolution to prove valor. This story centers on the Corps d’Afrique, black soldiers who fought for the Union in the American Civil War. That war was and remains a central event in American history. The Corps did not develop overnight. Theirs is a complex story, an evolutionary story that began in Louisiana. It will expose you to a great deal of American history, good and bad. Emancipation and military service in this war were woven together, much done through experimentation, and much a reflection of the complexities of society and government. January 21, 2017