Celebrating the Fourth With Brits

 

Growing up, I read some military history. One book I remember, well the topic but not the title, was on north Atlantic convoys during World War II. One of the stories that stuck out was of a convoy celebrating the Fourth of July. It was, in today’s vernacular, a coalition convoy. I don’t remember details, if some allies were stationed on each others’ ships or if it was just a mixed fleet of protecting warships, but I remember trying to imagine myself amongst Americans celebrating the Fourth with the British. Twenty-five odd years later I was able to celebrate the Fourth with some RAF officers.

In May 2013, I deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia with its own Facebook page. None of my predeployment training mentioned that it was an undisclosed location. At the time, Al Udeid was practically Davis-Monthan Forward so everyone knew where you were going. It wasn’t until I arrived at the ‘Deid that I was told it was undisclosed and not to mention where I was. Then Secretary of Defense Hagel visited us in December 2013 and it was officially disclosed.

In my division, our deputy was an RAF officer and we had a NATO liaison who was RAF. It was a great experience to work with the British and learn from them. There was playful banter between us. The Christmas picture was hung in the office and the Brits enjoyed talking about their empire days.

Before July, one of the guys ordered a bunch of red, white, and blue decorations. They arrived in time and on the third, some of us stayed behind at the end of the day to decorate the deputy’s desk. It was glorious, with streamers, bunting, and little flags. He took it in stride the next day. I’m sure he was expecting something.

The boss let us off a little early that day. We met in one of the rec areas to eat pizza and watch a movie. The NATO liaison came in wearing a Union Jack as a cape. It felt like family members kidding with each other. All in good nature and at the end we went off to work together. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures of the day.

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  1. TRibbey Member
    TRibbey
    @TRibbey

    Bishop Wash: The NATO liaison came in wearing a Union Jack as a cape. It felt like family members kidding with each other.

    This is hilarious! Thanks @bishopwash 

    • #1
  2. Simon Templar Member
    Simon Templar
    @SimonTemplar

    Was there in 2006 as part of the security for the Asian Games held in Doha that year, and ‘bunked’ with ~6 of my newest friends.  I seem to recall it being hot.

    That poster is off the hook!

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Love it.

    • #3
  4. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    The UK’s favorite enemy is George Washington. When I pitched my book on Washington to Osprey, the editor loved the idea. He was a bigger Washington fan than I was. 

    • #4
  5. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Happy Birthday, USA!  Here’s a song.  I miss this lady more than I can say–most often during seventh inning stretches and every time the often indeterminately gendered pop-tart du jour turns the national anthem into a farcical “#LookAtMeeeee!” moment at one sports event or another.

    When my family moved here in the early sixties, I’m pretty sure we thought that Kate Smith and her signature move were born on July 4 1776 along with everything else, and that they’d been around ever since.  But I guess there’s a first time for everything, and there it was.  November 10, 1938.

    God Bless America!

    • #5
  6. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Married to a Brit who is now a red-white-and-blue-blooded, gun toting Republican.  Of course, he did start out in a Conservative family.

    • #6
  7. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    She: But I guess there’s a first time for everything, and there it was. November 10, 1938.

    Well, kind of. The song was actually “reborn” in ‘38. 

    It was born in 1918 for Irving Berlin’s all-soldier show, Yip Yip Yaphank. (Berlin was stationed at Camp Upton in Yaphank, NY) But it didn’t really seem to fit and he filed it away for later use. 

    With the Germans on the march in 1938 Kate Smith asked Berlin to write her “a peace anthem” for the nation, he pulled this out of his archive, tweaked the lyrics and gave it a prayerful introduction.

    The introduction would be largely forgotten as circumstances of war and peace changed until September 11, 2001 and was revived by Irish tenor Ronan Tynan when games resumed at Yankee Stadium. It was the San Diego Padres that first replaced Take Me Out To The Ballgame with the tune after 9/11 and the rest of MLB quickly adopted it. 

    Berlin’s recycling habits has made it difficult for musical historians to pin down the provenance of his songs. Around the time God Bless America was released, Berlin was said to be working on a Broadway revue based on the holidays. It never saw the stage but would later resurface as a Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire picture called Holiday Inn. Consequently, no one can figure out exactly when he penned White Christmas, either.

     

    • #7
  8. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    EJHill (View Comment):

    She: But I guess there’s a first time for everything, and there it was. November 10, 1938.

    Well, kind of. The song was actually “reborn” in ‘38.

    It was born in 1918 for Irving Berlin’s all-soldier show, Yip Yip Yaphank. (Berlin was stationed at Camp Upton in Yaphank, NY) But it didn’t really seem to fit and he filed it away for later use.

    With the Germans on the march in 1938 Kate Smith asked Berlin to write her “a peace anthem” for the nation, he pulled this out of his archive, tweaked the lyrics and gave it a prayerful introduction.

    The introduction would be largely forgotten as circumstances of war and peace changed until September 11, 2001 and was revived by Irish tenor Ronan Tynan when games resumed at Yankee Stadium. It was the San Diego Padres that first replaced Take Me Out To The Ballgame with the tune after 9/11 and the rest of MLB quickly adopted it.

    Berlin’s recycling habits has made it difficult for musical historians to pin down the provenance of his songs. Around the time God Bless America was released, Berlin was said to be working on a Broadway revue based on the holidays. It never saw the stage but would later resurface as a Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire picture called Holiday Inn. Consequently, no one can figure out exactly when he penned White Christmas, either.

     

    Thanks!  Fascinating stuff.  Looked up Yip Yip Yaphank, and see that Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning was also one of its songs.  Learned that one as a kid.

    • #8
  9. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Al Udeid has a reputation as Camp Cupcake. We are definitely REMFs, enjoying three drinks every eighteen hours and being able to go off base to Doha. Last weekend I saw S. Pellegrino on sale in the store and was reminded of my deployment. People in the office were buying it in Doha as a bubbly treat and it was the first time I tried it.

    • #9
  10. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    I visited the UK a lot in the 1970’s and 1980’s (in my teens and 20’s) and marveled at how positively the US was portrayed in British museums and media. The Brits seemed rather proud of what their rebellious colonies had become.

    • #10
  11. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    She: Thanks! Fascinating stuff. Looked up Yip Yip Yaphank, and see that Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning was also one of its songs. Learned that one as a kid.

    Berlin reprised his Yaphank role in another soldier revue, This Is The Army (made into a film in 1943), during WWII. The film version starred a future US President and Senator. Berlin proved two things with that show. One, he could really write songs. Two, he couldn’t sing a lick.

    • #11
  12. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Love that Christmas picture. It’s so… heartwarming :)

    • #12
  13. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Got this on wirecutter’s very CoC non-compliant blog. Click at your peril.

     

     

    • #13
  14. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    I acted as a tour guide for some British friends ( a couple) around the US in the late 70s. I took them to Yorktown. Both were from RAF families and liked Yanks. 

    Until then, I never realized how pivotal France was in securing our independence. The French fleet was key. Thank you, France.

    • #14
  15. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    My British parents-in-law (sweetest people in the world) were visiting one time and the subject of the American Revolution came up.  I said, “Well, God was on our side.”  My mother-in-law just blinked and said, “It’s interesting to hear things from another perspective.” Just like I said, very sweet!

    • #15
  16. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    What is the function of Camp ‘Deid?

    • #16
  17. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    JimGoneWild (View Comment):

    What is the function of Camp ‘Deid?

    It is home of the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC), where the air campaign for CENTCOM is controlled. The Combined means that coalition partners are participating. There are some air wings deployed there as well and missions are flown out of it.

    • #17

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