07 December 2010

The Twelve Days of a Large Family Christmas

Pearl Harbor Day Reflection

Pearl Harbor Day Reflection
COLUMBIA, SC, CAMP MCREADY– At roughly the halfway point of my Abbreviated Introduction to the Army course, along comes the Day That Will Live in Infamy. While in Hawaii in July 2010, my wife and I made some time to get down to Ford Island with the then-brand-new camcorder. One profound aspect of the memorials there is the juxtaposition of the USS Missouri museum with the USS Oklahoma memorial:
From Shaun Schafer:
The surprise raid on the U.S. Pacific Fleet and air bases at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor left 21 ships heavily damaged or sunk. The Oklahoma was one of only three not to return to service.The other two, the USS Arizona and USS Utah, remain on the floor of the harbor. The Arizona, which has a gleaming white memorial astride it midship, remains a tomb for most of its lost crew. The Utah rests on the harbor floor, largely forgotten.The Oklahoma wound up hundreds of miles from the harbor, resting in a grave of her own making, in the crushing depths of the Pacific Ocean.“The way she went down just proves that she had a mind of her own, and was a great lady right to the end,” Goodyear said.
While it’s a great thing that there is no lingering resentment over the Second World War, the neglect of the history bears review.
The rest of the story of BB-37 is the stuff of classical tragedy:“Sold for scrap, she was en route to the West Coast when she mercifully broke her tow and sank. . .” In the background of the shot of the Oklahoma memorial sits the flip side of the coin, USS Missouri:
Sometimes you’re the hero; other times, the footnote, per the Fickle Finger of Fate. I’ve met a few survivors of brushes with greatness. Most understand that the distance between hero and footnote is measured in tiny units of Fortune. Real heros often don’t take their heroism too seriously, grasping that much of it is pure circumstance. Not infrequently, it’s affixed after the fact by non-participants seeking to organize events.Should one’s turn come, one hopes that preparation and Destiny drives toward a Missiouri outcome. A reading of the Book of Job, however, instructs that, sometimes, Oklahoma will be the result.As has been noted:
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.–Job 1:20-21

05 December 2010

No Sheeples Here: They Lowered Their Guns On A Miraculous Christmas Eve In 1914

No Sheeples Here: They Lowered Their Guns On A Miraculous Christmas Eve In 1914
World War I had been raging for a year. One million souls had already perished in the conflict. On Christmas Eve 1914, British and German troops stood face to face in trenches divided by “No Man’s Land” along the Western Front.

The winter of 1914 was bitter. The soldiers, unequipped to face the rigors of the cold and rain, found themselves wallowing in a freezing mire of mud and the decaying bodies of the fallen.

The men entrenched there could not help but have a degree of sympathy for his enemy who was having just as miserable a time as they were.

On the eve of the “Truce”, the British Army was manning a stretch of the line running south from the infamous Ypres, a small Flemish market town, just over the border from France, for twenty-seven miles to the La Bassée Canal.

Numerous support associations on both sides flooded the front with gifts of food, warm clothes and letters of thanks. With their morale boosted and their bellies fuller than normal, and with still so many Christmas goodies on hand, the spirit of the season entered the trenches. A British Daily Telegraph correspondent wrote that on one part of the line the Germans had managed to slip a chocolate cake into British trenches. It was accompanied by a message asking for a ceasefire later that evening so they could celebrate Christmas.

Longing for the warmth of hearth and home, the story goes that German soldiers began singing “Stille Nacht” or Silent Night from their trenches. British troops began to sing Christmas carols too. Thus began the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Along many parts of the line the Christmas Day truce was initiated through sadder means. Both sides saw the lull as a chance to get into No Man's Land and seek out the bodies of their fallen brothers-in-arms and give them a decent burial.

It is comforting to believe that the legacy of the “Christmas Truce”, nearly hundred years later, soldiers and officers who were told to hate, loathe and kill, could still lower their guns and extend the hand of goodwill and the hope of peace on earth that Christmas Eve.

It was one of the few bright moments amid the slaughter of the Great War, in which fourteen million people were killed.

Read more:

02 December 2010

No Sheeples Here: Pressing The Local Population Into Unwilling Martyrdom

No Sheeples Here: Pressing The Local Population Into Unwilling Martyrdom

…and awesomely sending that insurgent to his 72 virgins. Star Trek, Star Wars....take your pick, ‘cuz here we come!

Just in time for Christmas, the U.S. Army has a new present for soldiers battling a fierce insurgency in Afghanistan.

After more than five years of development, American forces are using the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, a pinpoint accurate and programmable grenade launcher that the military expects to be a "game changer" in its counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan.

The ultra-lethal XM25, which looks like something out of a James Cameron sci-fi flick, is a "smart" grenade launcher that carries four small warheads and features an array of sights, sensors, lasers and a short barrel the size of a small cannon.

The weapon fires 25-mm. shells up to 2,300 feet, almost half a mile, and can program the shell to explode at a precise point in space, allowing troops to kill enemies hiding behind walls and rocks and inside trenches or buildings.

For example, if a group of insurgents is hiding behind a wall, a soldier can program one of the XM25's rounds to detonate a few feet past the wall to shower the insurgents with lethal fragmentation from behind.

"With this weapon system, we take away cover from [enemy targets] forever," Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, the project manager for the weapon, told Fox News. "Tactics are going to have to be rewritten. The only thing we can see [enemies] being able to do is run away."