Contributor Post Created with Sketch. 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.

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. 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.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Late Glory, Late Justice

National WWII Memorial by Lipton sale at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0.

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.

But now, some 71 years after the end of the war, those people are mostly gone, and those who remain probably won’t be with us much longer. In 2013, CNN estimated that there were about 1.7 million WWII veterans left. That number is significantly smaller today. Some actuarial estimates suggest that the world might still have a couple of WWII veterans kicking around into the late 2030s, but I doubt many of them will be marching in parades or speaking to students. To the children of my generation, those folks will be as knowable as veterans of the First World War were mine: technically possible, but only just.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. 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.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. 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.

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. 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.

On June 18, 1945 at a White House meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of War, and the Secretaries of the Army and Navy, President Harry Truman approved plans for the invasion of Japan. The key participants were the President, General George C. Marshall, and Admiral Ernest King. In 1999, using documents that had only been declassified in the past decade, Richard B. Frank published Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire. It reshaped our understanding of the final months of the Second World War and the endgame that culminated with the Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945. (The formal ceremony took place on the USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay, on September 2.)

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. “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.

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Has Google Informed the Veterans of the Okinawa Campaign that the War Ended on May 8th, 1945?



So, I was going to add, maybe someone should Google “date WWII ended” but, um……

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Sidebars of History: Radio, War and a Man of God


Modern communication covers the globe so thoroughly these days that Tinder even works in the vast wastland of Antarctica and with the proper amount of internet bandwidth it’s possible for just about anyone to produce a broadcast-acceptable audio feed from just about any place in the world.

Of course that wasn’t always the case. Just 34 years ago when ABC’s Sam Donaldson broke the news of John Hinckley Jr’s attempt on the life of President Reagan, he did it by yanking someone off their call at a phone booth across the street from the Washington Hilton.

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. In Thanks to Those Who’ve Killed for Their Country


Seventy years ago today, my father and his buddies hit the beaches on Iwo Jima. They had been told that the battle would last a handful of days. The Army Air Corps had bombarded the island for weeks. The Navy, which had amassed an enormous armada, had pounded Iwo with the big guns. The Marines were told that, although it would be a tough fight, the Japanese were so outnumbered that the worst part would be over quickly.

It didn’t go down as predicted. Instead, the 22,000 Japanese defenders had spent years building a honeycombed fortress beneath the rock, which offered not only protection from the bombs and shells but a means by which to attack the Marines up top, then disappear back into the underground safe haven. There was little cover for the advancing Marines. As my dad explained to me, Iwo was black with volcanic ash. There was almost no vegetation and the ash on the beach made it nearly impossible to dig in. The rocks that could have provided cover were far away and to venture out into the open was a deadly business. I remember pop telling me that those first hours “were something else.” My dad was a master of understatement.

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We in the English speaking democracies are often faulted for our supposed ill motivations in going to war. At this Christmas Season, and at a time we continue to be under the attack of monstrous forces who would destroy everything that we hold dear, it is important to recall why we do at time have […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Hatred Dies Hard


ToraToraTora1970When I was a young man, my hometown in the Midwest was introduced to pay television. Warner Cable introduced Star Channel, the direct precursor to The Movie Channel. It offered 10 movies a month, with just one offering a day, shown six times in a row, starting at 9 AM. It changed my family’s life.

Dad was a steelworker and money was always tight. If we were going to pay for something as extravagant as cable TV we were going to watch. So, on many nights, dinner moved to the living room and we watched movies while we ate. It was the first time I had ever heard the F-bomb come through the television (Chinatown) and also the first time I ever heard it pass the lips of my mother.

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Late in 1944, OSS sent my Dad and his buddies in Field Photo to Washington, D.C, to spend several weeks with Signal Corps, learning to use their serious cameras. After that would come Catalina and then CBI, but at this point they had photography lessons on the Mall, and practiced all over town. Here are […]

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I know it is a cliché, but sometimes being a hero means being a stubborn man with an unpopular opinion in the right place at the right time. General Lucius Clay was just this sort of man. Due to antics at West Point, when his class skipped its senior year to serve in WWI he […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Country Club Sues WWII Vet over Petty Property Dispute


Virgil Wesley has lived in his modest Kansas City area house since 1995. Now, a posh county club is suing the 86-year-old World War II veteran over the placement of his garage. According to the Brookridge Country Club, a corner of Wesley’s small garage crosses onto their property and Something Must Be Done.

Family members say Brookridge Country Club is suing Wesley for $75,000, because they allege 60 square feet of his garage is on country club property, according to a survey. “I thought somebody was crazy!” Wesley said, “I’ve been maintaining it all these years!” “He’s a WWII veteran, he’s 86 years old, he’s wheelchair bound, he has no money, no ability to hire an attorney, and they know that!” said Virgil’s daughter, Louanna Davis.