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On Slack today, @exjon observed, “Condemning Nazis is the easiest political move in history. It costs Trump nothing.” I disagreed. There are a lot of ordinary people who fear that “Nazi”, at least these days, is chiefly a stick that elitists use to beat the proles. This fear, as many Trump voters like to put is, […]

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I just returned from watching Dunkirk with my eldest.  I refrained from reading any reviews of it in advance, just so I could form my own opinion.  Spoilers ahead, so be warned.

Actual photo of the beach at Dunkirk

The film is somewhat disorienting to watch.  You are following 4 different stories, set at different paces, as they all race towards their intersection.  The stories all begin at the start of the film, but one is set over a blurred week of attempted escapes, one picks up in the middle of the first, one a day before, and one begins a mere hour before the climax (the film informs you of this time difference in captions – 1 week, 1 day, 1 hour).  The stories all intersect at last in the arrival of the first small craft from the UK at Dunkirk, and mostly run contiguous until the end.

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I saw Dunkirk yesterday and found myself slightly underwhelmed. The people I was with thought it was great but to me there seemed to be no emotional core. I also found Nolan’s chronological playfulness somewhat confusing and/or unnecessary. Is it a problem that the “experience” of Dunkirk alone wasn’t enough to compel me? Preview Open

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Operation Dynamo


My paternal grandfather served in WWII. He regaled my father with stories of working in the RAOC (Royal Army Ordnance Corps) and later in REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers). He was a Motor Vehicle Fitter at various locations in England and later a REME instructor.  My grandfather met my grandmother when she, as a member of the ATS (Auxilliary Territorial Service), was his supervisor in a motor vehicle workshop. They married in 1946, both in their demob suits.

My grandfather died in 1974, before my parents were married. My grandmother died in 1987 when I was young. Recently my father applied for his parents military service records. They revealed some interesting information.

My grandmother had joined up in 1941 after working in a glass cutting factory as a civilian. She was posted with the Motor Transport Company in Edinburgh and drove ambulances during the blackout through 1941 and 1942. In February 1943 she was attached to REME and mustered as a Motor Mechanic in London and then York.

Sidebars of History: D-Day as It Happened


shutterstock_238061590It is 12:30 AM Eastern War Time. Outside of London, where the British have instituted “Double Summer Time,” it is 6:30. A German refugee working for the Associated Press is monitoring the shortwave transmissions of the Nazis. His ears perk up and he quickly sends out what he’s heard. By 12:37, it’s moved across the entire AP wire.

NBC is carrying dance music on its East Coast feed and on the West Coast, where it’s only in the 9 o’clock hour of June 5th, they’re airing a mostly forgotten weekly drama from San Francisco called Hawthorne House. The on-duty announcer in New York interrupts programming to read the AP bulletin.

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This post was inspired by the discussion in the post on Warplane Nose Art.  http://ricochet.com/433550/nose-art-and-the-spirit-of-our-military/ The following is an essay my father wrote for an English class in October 1946, during what I assume was his freshman year of college after he was discharged from the Army Air Corps. He was twenty years old at […]

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This is an interesting video I ran across on social media. From what I can tell it has been around for a while but it is interesting in that it puts deaths for WWII and all war deaths in perspective.  I don’t think may understand how many died during WWII or how few have died […]

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Nose Art and the Spirit of Our Military


The current establishment art world cultivates insularity and isolation as a means to prop up the vapid, dysfunctional art they favor. From sterile white box galleries to haughty elitist attitudes, lots of effort is poured into erecting barriers to separate the experience of art from the despised masses and the realities of life.

But art does not exist to be plaything for decadent crypto-Marxist hipsters. It is a vital outpouring of the human soul, a visual method of spiritual communication. Art can take on surprising and spontaneous forms in the strangest places to remind us of who we really are.

A species of folk art arose when we started taking our wars into the skies. In World War I, for a time the fighting aircraft were painted with bright colors and bold designs that evoked heraldry, like pilots were knights jousting in the air. This was abandoned once it was realized camouflage-type coloration increased survival rates.

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My Father-in-law made some remarks on Memorial Day, 2014 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts–the town that Norman Rockwell memorialized as quintessentially New England in his painting of Main Street at Christmas.  Chet died in April at the age of 91, outliving his combat buddies by many years.  I thought you might enjoy reading his remarks. Memorial Day […]

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George was 77, going on 78 when we met. He owned a firm that rather suddenly had become my client due to an emergency failure in their IT network – an emergency that lasted 20 years. A protégé of George’s at the firm would end-up becoming one of my best friends – a relationship that will last forever.

George was remarkable: full-bird Colonel on General Patton’s staff, DoD project manager for the implementation of the world’s first mainframe computer, editor of a military journal for decades, college teacher, business owner, founder of the Pachyderms – a group of folks with thick skins, a sense of humor, and a keen interest in politics and bourbon.

But the thing I remember most about George was his gentle, humble laugh. We sat for many conversations over the years in his glass office on Kirby Drive – always quiet, private, and interesting. Until just a couple years ago, George came to the office everyday … wearing a tie and a smile, with a pipe in one hand and a newspaper in the other. He was a classic gentleman, old school. Every time we talked I learned something about life, the military, history, WWII, women, politics, the original mainframes, bourbon, or pipe tobacco. We never once talked business – his or mine. He had other things on his mind and I was interested in hearing about them. Making George laugh was a special treat for me – I’ll always remember that gentle sound.

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I came across this video of VJ Day in Honolulu. It’s not the anniversary of VJ Day, it’s not Veteran’s Day. Maybe it’s because I started watching The Man in the High Castle, a counterfactual account of the post WWII era. This three-minute home movie showing how ordinary people responded to VJ Day cheered me […]

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Remembering D-Day


shutterstock_238057456June 6 marks the anniversary of that Day of Days in 1944 when the Allies began the historic invasion of Nazi-occupied France. At great cost in blood and treasure, and with no certainty of victory, the armies, navies, and air forces of the free world concentrated their efforts in a heroic attempt to get a foothold in coastal France from which to repel the Nazi invaders.

We all know how that ended but on the eve of the invasion things looked grim enough that General Dwight D. Eisenhower prepared a statement for release in the event the invasion failed. Here is a roundup of some excellent links to remind us of the bravery, heroism, and sacrifice of those men — mostly very young men — who laid it all on the line on this day 72 years ago so that others might live free.

Order of the Day issued by Gen. Eisenhower on D-Day. It reads in part:

So Many Heroes


My father was considered a war hero. He was presumed dead and had a liberty ship named after him, but my grandmother refused to believe it and would not attend the ship’s christening. Intuition or denial? I can’t say. Right before the end of the war, he was almost killed by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. He had been a prisoner of war there but was transferred two weeks before the bomb was dropped. After the war, he was discovered alive in the Ōfuna Prisoner of War Camp.

But he was almost killed many times before that.

Late Glory, Late Justice


When I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, finding someone of the WWII generation was as easy as calling my grandmother. Veterans of either the European or the Pacific wars regularly marched in county parades, and it wasn’t too uncommon for one of them to come and speak to our class. I recall one gentlemen in particular who flew bombing missions over Germany, and who told us about the time they came under attack by the Luftwaffe. It isn’t surprising that there were so many veterans around, 50 years after the war: More than 15 million Americans served in and survived the Second World War, and they had an outward influence on the country for decades.

Give Me 50 Marines Not Afraid to Die


John-Keith-WellsHe thought it was a suicide mission. A full frontal attack on Mount Suribachi without supporting fire? He would not order his men up the mountain, but he would lead them. Raising his rifle above his head he climbed out of the foxhole and his men followed.

First Lieutenant John Keith Wells did not make it to the top, but his Marines did two days later. The leader of 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines died on February 11th in Denver. He was 94.

The citation on his Navy Cross reads thus:

On the Passing of a Leader: David C. Richardson


VADM_David_C_Richardson_USNI ordinarily confine my contributions here on Ricochet to law enforcement matters, about which I feel qualified to offer opinions. But permit me to stray from that realm for the moment and tell you just a bit about David C. Richardson, who passed away in June at the age of 101. I had the honor of attending his memorial service in San Diego on July 16.

In the late summer of 1942, Richardson was a young Navy pilot assigned to VF-5, the “Fighting Five,” a fighter squadron aboard the USS Saratoga. Flying a Grumman F4F Wildcat, Richardson flew missions during the Guadalcanal campaign, downing four Japanese planes and becoming one of the Navy’s first combat pilots in the Second World War.

When the Saratoga was torpedoed and unable to recover her aircraft, the squadrons that were airborne at the time were directed elsewhere. Some went to the Enterprise and other carriers, but the pilots of VF-5 were directed to Henderson Field, a Marine air base on Guadalcanal. Richardson and some other members of VF-5 remained there for several weeks, flying combat missions during the day and enduring regular bombardment from Japanese warships at night.

Ending The War With Japan

Truman, Marshall, and King

Truman, Marshall, and King

Today is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. We are already seeing the usual retrospectives about the ending of the war with Japan, and whether the use of the atomic bomb was necessary. Let’s consider a surprising counterfactual: If the A-bombs had not been dropped and had Japan not surrendered in August 1945, the US might not have gone through with the planned invasion of the Japanese homeland.

“The Highlight of My Life Was Serving My Country”


For five of the best minutes you’re likely to spend anytime soon, watch this interview with Jerry Yellen, who flew P-51 Mustangs off Iwo Jima in the last days of the Second World War. He speaks here from that speck of an island where so many of his countrymen lost their lives in the great struggle. Among other remarkable observations, Yellen speaks of his wingman, who was killed over Japan during the last combat mission of the war.

On Monday, I took my daughter to a Memorial Day observance at a cemetery in Westlake Village, California, where we were honored to meet a man who parachuted into France as a “pathfinder” ahead of the D-Day invasion. Try to imagine it: you’re 18 or 19 years old, and in the dead of night you’re jumping out of an airplane into a countryside infested with enemy soldiers.