Category Archives: history

Centennial of ANZAC Landings at Gallipoli

Today marks another significant centennial of the Great War.  (Yesterday marked the centenary of beginning of the Armenian Genocide.)  The ANZAC landings at Gallipoli took place on 25 April 1915.  It is a very special ANZAC Day.  From last year:

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Today is the 25th of April.  It is ANZAC Day, commemorating the 99th anniversary of the landings of 31,000 men of The Australian Division, and the Australian-New Zealand Division (reinforced with two batteries of mountain guns) on the crescent-shaped portion of beach known as Ari Burnu, forever after known as Anzac Cove.

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The ANZAC landing began before dawn on 25 April 1915, and was initially unopposed,  By mid-morning, however, Turkish troops under LtCol Mustapha Kemal had reacted strongly and taken the landing beaches and the precariously shallow Dominion positions under rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire.  Unable to move forward, and hanging onto hillside rocks and scrapes, ANZAC Commander MajGen Sir William Birdwood asked to have the beach-head evacuated.

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The Royal Navy argued that such an evacuation, particularly under fire, was impractical.   So Birdwood was ordered to stay, with the advice given by General Sir Ian Hamilton to “dig, dig, dig!”.  It is from this message, many conclude, that the ANZACs became known as the “diggers”.    Despite herculean efforts and near-suicidal courage, including the tragically costly landings at Sulva Bay in August of 1915, the stalemate was never broken.  Unable to advance, with no evacuation possible, the ANZACs remained locked in their initial positions, enduring conditions even more horrendous than those on the Western Front, until finally pulled out as a part of the general evacuation of the Gallipoli Operation in December of 1915.

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ANZAC Day has become a day of remembrance for all Australian and New Zealand war dead, but remains especially poignant for the nearly 13,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who gave their lives in the foothills of the Bari Sair Mountains, in the eight months of hell on Earth that was Anzac Cove.

At the going down of the sun,

and in the morning,

we will remember them.

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Filed under army, Artillery, engineering, guns, history, infantry, leadership, logistics, navy, Russia, ships, Uncategorized, veterans, war, weapons

General Mattis Speaks to Veterans

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From remarks at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco, April 16th, 2015:

Our country gives hope to millions around the world, and you – who knew that at one time your job was to fight well – kept that hope alive. By your service you made clear your choice about what kind of world we want for our children: The world of violent jihadist terrorists, or one defined by Abraham Lincoln when he advised us to listen to our better angels?

I searched for words to pay my respects to all of you here tonight and had to turn to others more articulate than I to convey what our service meant. Someone once said that America is like a bank: If you want to take something out, then you must be willing to put something in.

For the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – poorly explained and inconclusive wars, the first major wars since our Revolution fought without a draft forcing some men into the ranks – the question of what our service meant may loom large in your minds. You without doubt have put something into the nation’s moral bank.

Rest assured that by your service, you sent a necessary message to the world and especially to those maniacs who thought by hurting us that they could scare us.

No granite monuments, regardless of how grandly built, can take the place of your raw example of courage, when in your youth you answered your country’s call. When you looked past the hot political rhetoric. When you voluntarily left behind life’s well-lit avenues. When you signed that blank check to the American people payable with your lives. And, most important, when you made a full personal commitment even while, for over a dozen years, the country’s political leadership had difficulty defining our national level of commitment.

You built your own monument with a soldier’s faith, embracing an unlimited liability clause and showing America’s younger generation at its best when times were at their worst.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., arguably the most articulate justice in the Supreme Court’s history and himself a combat-experienced infantry officer in our awful Civil War, said: “As life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.”

You, my fine veterans, are privileged that you will never face a judgment of having failed to live fully. For you young patriots were more concerned in living life fully than in your own longevity, freely facing daunting odds and the random nature of death and wounds on the battlefield.

So long as you maintain that same commitment to others and that same enthusiasm for life’s challenges that you felt in yourself, your shipmates, your comrades and buddies, you will never question at age 45 on a shrink’s couch whether you have lived.

Veterans know the difference between being in a dangerous combat zone and being in close combat, seeking out and killing the enemy. Close combat is tough. Much of the rest of war is boring if hard work. Yet nothing is mentally crippling about hard work in dangerous circumstances, as shown by generations of American veterans who came thankfully home as better men and women.

Close combat, however, is an “incommunicable experience” – again quoting Holmes. Then there was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the Union general, who spoke of war’s effects, distinguishing the impact of close combat from military service in general. He said that such combat is “a test of character, it makes bad men worse and good men better.”

We are masters of our character, choosing what we will stand for in this life. Veterans today have had a unique privilege, that of having seen the tenacious spirit of our lads, like those young grunts preparing for a patrol by loosely wrapping tourniquets on their limbs so they could swiftly stop their own bleeding if their legs were blown off. Yet day after day they stoically patrolled. Adversity, we are told, reveals a man to himself, and young patriots coming home from such patrols are worth more than gold, for nothing they face can ever again be that tough.

Now, most of us lost friends, the best of friends, and we learned that war’s glory lay only in them – there is no other glory in warfare. They were friends who proved their manhood at age 18, before they could legally drink a beer. They were young men and women taking responsibility for their own actions, never playing the victim card. Rather, they took responsibility for their own reaction to adversity.

This was something that we once took for granted in ourselves and in our buddies, units where teenagers naturally stood tall, and we counted on each other. Yet it is a characteristic that can seem oddly vacant in our post-military society, where victimhood often seems to be celebrated. We found in the ranks that we were all coequal, general or private, admiral or seaman. We were equally committed to the mission and to one another, a thought captured by Gen. Robert E. Lee, saying his spirit bled each time one of his men fell.

Looking back over my own service, I realize now how fortunate I was to experience all this and the many riotous excursions I had when I was privileged to march or fight beside you. And a question comes to mind: What can I do to repay our country for the privilege of learning things that only you in this room could have taught me? For today I feel sorry for those who were not there with us when trouble loomed. I sometimes wonder how to embrace those who were not with us, those who were not so fortunate to discover what we were privileged to learn when we were receiving our Masters and Ph.D.s in how to live life, and gaining the understanding and appreciation of small things that we would otherwise have never known.

How do we embrace our fellow citizens who weren’t there? America is too large at heart for divisions between us. If we became keenly aware of anything at war, it was what is printed on our coins: “E Pluribus Unum” – out of many, one.

We veterans did our patriotic duty, nothing more, certainly nothing less, and we need to “come home” like veterans of all America’s wars. Come home stronger and more compassionate, not characterized as damaged, or with disorders, or with syndromes or other disease labels. Not labeled dependent on the government even as we take the lead in care of our grievously wounded comrades and hold our Gold Star families close. We deserve nothing more than a level playing field in America, for we endured nothing more, and often less, than vets of past wars.

For whatever trauma came with service in tough circumstances, we should take what we learned – take our post-traumatic growth – and, like past generations coming home, bring our sharpened strengths to bear, bring our attitude of gratitude to bear. And, most important, we should deny cynicism a role in our view of the world.

We know that in tough times cynicism is just another way to give up, and in the military we consider cynicism or giving up simply as forms of cowardice. No matter how bad any situation, cynicism has no positive impact. Watching the news, you might notice that cynicism and victimhood often seem to go hand-in-hand, but not for veterans. People who have faced no harsh trials seem to fall into that mode, unaware of what it indicates when taking refuge from responsibility for their actions. This is an area where your example can help our society rediscover its courage and its optimism.

We also learned the pleasure of exceeding expectations. We saw the power we brought when working together as a team. We learned alongside one another, in teams where admired leadership built teamwork, where free men and women could change the world.

Now having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world and having worked with others of many cultures, having worked in one of the most diverse teams on earth – that of the U.S. military – and having faced down grim circumstances without losing our sense of humor or moral balance under conditions where war’s realities scrape away civilization’s veneer, we have learned that nothing can stop our spirit unless we ignore Lincoln’s call to our better angels.

American colleges and businesses know your pedigree for commitment, reliability and loyalty. This is why so many corporations and startups aggressively recruit veterans. As San Francisco-based Uber sums it up: Veterans deliver higher value. Bellwether companies like Microsoft, Uber, Starbucks and more act on that premise.

I will close with words again borrowed from others.

From Alexander Dumas: You should be satisfied with the way you have conducted yourselves, “with no remorse for the past, confident regarding the present and full of hope for the future.” When you retire to bed you should sleep “the sleep of the brave.”

If Jackie Robinson, a sparkling ballplayer and veteran of World War II, could write his own epitaph on leadership by saying “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” then you who are fortunate to have learned so much living in the greatest country on earth while making an impact so young – you should recognize that our country needs your vigor and wisdom. It was gained at great cost to our comrades and to our Gold Star families, who need to see their sons’ spirits live on in your enthusiasm for life.

I am reminded of Gen. William Sherman’s words when bidding farewell to his army in 1865: “As in war you have been good soldiers, so in peace you will make good citizens.”

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Filed under Defense, guns, history, leadership, SIR!, veterans, war

A Theft a Half Century Ago

It was a game the Boston Celtics seemingly had in hand over the Philadelphia 76ers, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  Boston led by 9 with three minutes to play, but the Sixers, behind Wilt Chamberlain, Dave Gambee, and Chet Walker, clawed back into the game with a furious late rally.  Chamberlain scored on a dunk for the last of his 30 points with five seconds to play to cut the Boston lead to just one, 110-109.  On the ensuing play, Celtics center Bill Russell struck the support wire behind the basket as he went to throw an overhead inbounds pass.   Philadelphia would get the ball under their own basket with just five seconds to go, trailing by one.  To show how much sports have changed, Russell went to the Celtics huddle (Philadelphia called a time-out) and proclaimed to his teammates, “Someone bail me out.  I blew it.”

As Sixers guard Hal Greer threw the inbounds pass to Chet Walker on the right side, Boston Celtics six-foot five guard-forward John Havlicek made one of the great plays of anticipation in the history of the league.  Havlicek jumped up and knocked the ball away from Walker and over to Celtics guard Sam Jones, who dribbled out the clock.  The call of the play by gravel-voiced Celtics announcer Johnny Most is almost as classic as the play itself.

It was Most’s signature call.  The Celtics would go on to win the 1965 NBA Championship against the Los Angeles Lakers, defeating superstars Jerry West and Elgin Baylor once again.  They would win another in 1966, and two more before the decade was out, eleven championships in all, in Bill Russell’s thirteen seasons as a Celtic.  No sports team, not the Yankees, nor the Montreal Canadiens, or anyone in football, has ever had such a dynasty as the Boston Celtics of the Russell era.  And it was Havlicek’s steal that kept the dynasty intact for another four years.  Philadelphia would win the 1967 NBA championship with much the same team as played in this game, the only interruption of a string of Celtics banners in the 1960s.

John Havlicek, a magnificent athlete drafted in three sports, had had a tryout with the Cleveland Browns in 1962 as a wide receiver, even though he had never played football for Woody Hayes at Ohio State.  Havlicek was the last player cut in training camp.  The WR Cleveland chose to keep instead?  Ray Renfro, an all-time great for the Browns.  Havlicek, nicknamed “Hondo”, is the leading scorer in Celtics history with 26,395 points.  He won eight championships in his 16 seasons with the Celtics before retiring in 1978, at the age of 38.   In a career full of great moments, it is his steal of Hal Greer’s inbounds pass that perhaps is most remembered.  And it was fifty years ago today.

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Filed under Defense, history

USAF Manned Aircraft of 1954

Two clips, about 17 minutes each, showing the state of the art of manned aircraft at the end of 1954 for the USAF. It’s interesting to see which platforms were soon relegated to the dustbin of history, and which ones would go on to illustrious careers, and some even remain relevant today. It’s also amazing how ambitious some of the projects were, considering that the war in Korea had just closed, with the height of technology being the F-86, and much of the effort having been carried by such World War II stalwarts as the F-51 and C-47. At a time when going into combat in a piston engine plane was utterly unremarkable, the Air Force was looking at interceptors with a speed of anywhere from Mach 3 to Mach 5.

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Loss of USS Thresher (SSN-593)

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USS Thresher, among the most modern nuclear submarines in the world at the time, was lost on the morning of April 10th, 1963 off the New England coast, fifty-two years ago tomorrow.  No matter how many times I read about it, it makes the hair on my neck stand up.  This piece from Navy Times in 2013 is a haunting read.

The Thresher collapse event signal was detected by multiple SOSUS arrays as an extremely high-amplitude event at ranges as great as 1,300 nautical miles. The characteristics of that acoustic event confirmed that the Thresher’s pressure hull collapsed or “imploded” at 09:18:24 at a depth of about 2,400 feet (i.e., more than 400 feet below her predicted collapse depth).

The Thresher’s pressure hull and all sea-connected piping systems had survived well beyond their design specifications. The analysis of the SOSUS detection of the collapse event — the bubble-pulse frequency — also indicated that the pressure hull and all internal compartments were destroyed in about one-tenth of a second, significantly less than the minimum time required for perception of the event by the men on board.

Measurements made during the instrumented sinking of the discarded diesel-electric submarine Sterlet in 1969 are consistent with the conclusion that the water-ram produced by the initial breaching of the Thresher’s pressure hull at 2,400 feet entered the pressure hull with a velocity of about 2,600 mph. That force would have ripped asunder the pressure hull longitudinally and vertically, as verified by photographs of the Thresher wreckage.

The collapse of the bulkheads in the 280-foot SSN occurred in less than a tenth of a second.  One hundred twenty-nine souls died in service to our country.  Vigilance and preparedness to fight and win our nation’s wars has a price well beyond dollars.

H/T GPBW

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Filed under Around the web, budget, Cold War, Defense, engineering, history

“Bandini!”

Those who know, know.  Part III.

Oh, and it’s NEVER Black Flag out there.  When I say never, I mean ALWAYS.  ‘Cept when it’s freezing-ass cold.

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Filed under girls, history, Humor, leadership, marines, Personal, recruiting, stupid, training, veterans, war, weapons

Muslims Murdering Christians in Kenya

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Or, as this Administration would couch it, this is either another tragic college campus shooting that highlights the need for stricter gun laws, or just some folks shooting at other folks, in which no one religion is responsible.   NBC News has the story.

Al Shabab, an al Qaeda-linked terror group based in neighboring Somalia, claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attack. Sheik Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman, said many Christians were being held by the militants. “We sorted people out and released the Muslims,” he told Reuters.

Witnesses corroborated the Al-Shabab claims:

When the gunmen arrived at his dorm he could hear them opening doors and asking if the people who had hidden inside whether they were Muslims or Christians. “If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot,” Wetangula told The Associated Press. “With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”

Prayers for the lives of the Christians who are hostages to these muhammedan monsters.  And for the souls who died because of their faith.  It is likely too late to pray that our Islamist sympathizer of a Chief Executive would have a pang of conscience about the massacres perpetrated by the radical Islamists whom he refuses to name as America’s enemies.   Reverend Wright got his wish.  God did damn America, with lazy, media-brainwashed voters who twice elected the empty-suit charlatan whose “hope and change” has eroded liberty, alienated our allies, and emboldened our enemies.

By all means, however, let’s avoid calling these filthy animals what they are.  Let’s instead make a deal with Iran to facilitate their nuclear weapons efforts.   Understanding that some things are not negotiable.

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Filed under army, Around the web, Defense, guns, history, islam, nuclear weapons, obama, Politics, stupid, terrorism, Uncategorized, war, weapons