Archive for the “History” Category
0755, Sunday December 7th, 1941.
Another quiet Sunday, like today, 67 years ago.
Almost 1400 of them in the first 15 minutes when the USS Oklahoma, USS Utah, and the USS Arizona were hit.
The Arizona still weeps for her dead.
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There are times where one man’s fortitude and internal strength can carry him beyond the limits of human endurance, into a fatigued state where nothing keeps him going but sheer will, faith, and devotion to duty. When that man is at the right place and the right time, the results can be monumentally decisive. One such time was March 30, 1972, and the man was Capt. John Ripley, a US Marine adviser assigned to the 3rd Battalion of Vietnamese Marines, the Soi Bien, “Wolves of the Sea”.
With the draw down of US ground forces the NVA had launched a massive offensive to conquer the south. Called the Easter Offensive, the operation threatened to crush the ARVN forces in the Quang Tri province and drive to Saigon. Massive artillery barrages had indiscriminately slaughtered ARVN and civilians alike, and the roads south were choked with refugees and deserters in a confusing rout. NVA T-54 tanks and Soviet made APC’s rolled south in an unstoppable juggernaut. They faced only on major natural barrier, the Cam Lo-Cau Viet River.
Give us more, O Emperor! »« AIIIEEEE! My EYES!
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On May 24, 1941 a desperate battle was joined between massive behemoths of the British Royal Navy and the German Kriegsmarine in the Denmark Straight. The German battleship Bismark and the pocket cruiser Prinz Eugen had slipped out of the Norwegian fjords which had sheltered them and were making a run for the open sea. It was the Bismark’s maiden voyage, a commerce raid titled Operation Rheinubung, and the threat she posed to the ocean life line of Britain terrorized the British Admiralty. If the Bismark and Prinz Eugen made it into the Atlantic shipping lanes, they threatened to cut her supplies of food and war material, already strained to the breaking point by the u-boat menace.
Sortieing out to meet the threat were the British battle cruiser HMS Hood, battleship HMS Prince of Wales, and the heavy cruisers Suffolk and Norfolk. Named after Sir Horace Hood, lost at the Battle of Jutland, the Hood had already served the crown for 23 years, and was the flagship of the Royal Navy.
At 0552 the British force had finally closed the distance with the German ships after a long night of searching the high seas in a deadly game of cat and mouse. The Hood was the first to fire, and the Battle of the Denamrk Straight had begun.
The HMS Hood opens fire.
At 0559, seven minutes later, her decks racked with fire and explosions from several hits, the Hood was dealt her death blow. A round from one of Bismark’s eight 15 inch guns slammed into her deck and ignited one of her powder magazines. In a massive explosion the Hood began to slip beneath the waves by her stern. The defiant crew managed one last salvo from her main battery even as her bow raised at a 45 degree angle.
Prince of Wales passes Hood as she sinks
It was over in three minutes. All that was left of the Hood was a morass of debris floating amid a 4 inch thick oil slick. Of her 1418 man crew, only three survived. 1415 sailors of the Royal Navy went down with their ship.
The three survivors, Midshipman William Dundas, Able Seaman Robert Tilburn, and Signalman Ted Briggs fought hypothermia for three hours until finally being rescued. Under the battle cry “Avenge the Hood”, Bismark was chased down and sunk three days later. On May 26th a hit from a torpedo dropped by a Fairey Swordfish from the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Ark Royal had jammed her rudder. The Bismark steamed helplessly in circles only a few hundred miles away from the safe haven Saint Naizare, harassed by British and Polish destroyers. At 0847 she was attacked by a combined force of British ships led by the battleships King George V and Rodney and pummeled for nearly two hours. At 1039, after sustaining nearly 400 hits, including 80 from the 15 and 18 inch guns of the King George V and Rodney, Bismark sank, her ensign still flying. 2131 of her sailors went down with her. 115 survived. But there was no rejoicing for the survivors of the Hood. They knew what the German sailors had suffered.
Midshipman Dundas died in 1965. Able Seaman Tilburn passed in 1995.
This Saturday , October 4th, Signalman Ted Briggs joined his shipmates, passing away at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. He was 85 years old. 18 years old at the time of the Battle of the Denmark Straight, when asked about the Hoods sinking, he would say “I was not a hero, I just survived.”
Fair winds and following seas Signalman Briggs.
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We know that it’s “ancient history” to the Drooling Ungulates™, but let’s hop aboard with Sherman and Mr. Peabody and go all the way back to March, 2008 and see what Her Cankledness™ had to say about Teh One™, shall we?
“I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. Sen. John McCain has a lifetime of experience that he’d bring to the White House. And Sen. Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.”
And that concludes our history lesson for today, boys and girls.
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Something a little different this week. A recent conversation with His Vileness™ brought up the subject of Tarawa, one of the bloodiest of the Marine Corps Pacific battles. Operation Galvanic, the code name for the invasion, was not the bloodiest battle in total numbers, 953 Marines and sailors KIA, 29 MIA, and 2,296 wounded, but when that casualty figure of 3,301 is out of a total landing force of 11,000, it’s one of the highest rates in the Pacific. Of the 4,707 Japanese Special Landing Force sailors (Jap marines, rikusentai), 4,690 were killed. Only 17 were captured alive, most all of them too wounded to carry on the fight or commit suicide.
Give us more, O Emperor! »« AIIIEEEE! My EYES!
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Today, in the United States, the people celebrated the anniversary of one of the greatest speeches of all time.
“Let people not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the strength of their character”.
On this same day, Barack Hussein Obama was declared the Democratic Presidential nominee by acclamation.
Not by the strength of his character….but by the colour of his skin.
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“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Thus wrote our Founders 232 years ago in the most revolutionary and radical document ever written by man, consisting of a mere 1,337 words. But what does the flowery rhetoric I emphasized above really mean. Were they just words artfully crafted together, or were they words that bore tragic, predictable consequences for those who signed their names to the document they were contained in? What did they cost the writers?
Give us more, O Emperor! »« AIIIEEEE! My EYES!
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Via Blackfive, we learn that the oldest ship in the Navy (other than the still commissioned USS Constitution), has returned from her last mission.
The USS Kitty Hawk, CV63, after 48 years of service, has returned to Yokosuka Naval Base. Her next voyage will be to San Diego where she will be decommissioned.
She is the last conventionally powered aircraft carrier in the US fleet. She was also the first of the super carriers that have for so long now carried the American flag to ports of both our friends and foes, demonstrating our strength, and our commitment to defend liberty and our nations interests. An awesome tool of force projection, a “great force for peace or war, which these mighty carriers and their accompanying escorts provide, helping to preserve the freedom of distant nations in all parts of the world.” as JFK described her and her sister ships to Chang Kai-Shek in 1963.
After several combat tours off Yankee Station during Viet Nam, she participated in search and rescue operations for the Vietnamese boat people fleeing communist tyranny, followed by supporting contingency operations during the Iranian hostage crisis. She also made three consecutive fatality-free deployments, no small feat as any one familiar with carrier operations can attest.
After several deployments enforcing the no-fly zones in Iraq, in 1998 she relieved the USS Independence as the only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier. In October of 2001 she demonstrated the carriers versatility by launching special operations forces off of her deck into Afghanistan, and a year and a half later she took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
She again made history on her last tour when the ChiComs refused entry for her and her battle group into Hong Kong so that her crew could celebrate Thanksgiving.
And she was a movie star, having portrayed the USS Nimitz in the 1980 movie “The Final Countdown”.
So much history contained in her sleek gray lines. The end of a long and distinguished career.
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Posted by: in Heroism, History
Today is the 145th anniversary of one the enduring legends of a legendary fighting organization. The French Foreign Legion has always had a reputation as being tough as nails warriors par excellence. This reputation was earned the hard way in the deserts of Algeria, Morocco, and in every war large and small the French ever fought. Many times the French government had no problems resorting to military force because they could simply send in the Legion and never risk any precious French blood. Frances military misadventures had a nasty tendency to lead to angry marshmallow roastings in Paris.
One of those misadventures was Napoleon III’s attempt to conquer Mexico. Benito Juarez had suspended payment on all foreign debts and old Napoleon used that as an excuse to invade. Since we were slightly preoccupied with the War of Northern Aggression at the time, the US allowed this violation of the Monroe Doctrine to slide. Apparently they had studied French military history and correctly figured Benito could handle it on his own.
After landing at Vera Cruz (Every army invading Mexico simply has to land at Vera Cruz, I think they even codified it in the Geneva Conventions. Al little esoteric there, but the history buffs will chuckle) the French Army of the Interior invested and laid siege to the city of Puebla. The French Army looked down their arrogant noses at the Legion, viewing them as nothing more than criminals (mostly true) and assigned them menial and degrading tasks. They also probably realized that the Legionnaires would actually fight and usually didn’t carry a white flag with them while in the field, a severe violation of French military protocol.
On April 30th 1863 the 3rd Co. of the 1st Battalion of the Legion left Vera Cruz to escort a column to Puebla. The column included ammo, but more importantly it carried the payroll of the French Army of the Interior, some 3 million francs in gold bullion. Oh, there was some wine and cheese too, probably to pay the officers.
Only half of the 3rd Companies men were fit for duty, the rest being felled by dysentery and other diseases. Capt. Jean Danjou, the battalions adjutant general, volunteered to lead the column of approximately 65 men. An experienced combat veteran, Capt. Danjou had lost his left hand in Algiers and now sported a wooden prosthesis.
Give us more, O Emperor! »« AIIIEEEE! My EYES!
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God I miss this man.
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This one is gonna, leave a mark. (HT to LC Mrs. M-ITT™ for the linkage.)
A fine, heaping helping of exactly which party and ideology takes the All-Time Blue Ribbon for historic, institutionalized racism. I won’t detract from Col. Francis’ fine smackdown, but here’s a few nice snippets.
An Open Letter to the Democratic Party
Whereas the Democratic Party has never apologized for their horrific atrocities and racist practices committed against African Americans during the past two hundred years, nor for the residual impact that those atrocities and practices and current soft bigotry of low expectations are having on us today,
Whereas the Ku Klux Klan was the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party, and their primary goal was to intimidate and terrorize African American voters, Republicans who moved South to protect African Americans and any other whites who supported them,
Whereas Democratic Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman rejected anti-lynching laws and efforts to establish a permanent Civil Rights Commission,
Whereas Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, made a 14-hour filibuster speech in the Senate in June 1964 in an unsuccessful effort to block passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and was heralded in April 2004 by Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd as a senator who would have been a great leader during the Civil War,
Whereas when the 1964 Civil Rights Act came up for vote, Senator Al Gore, Sr. and the rest of the Southern Democrats voted against the bill,
Whereas in the House of Representatives only 61 percent of the Democrats voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act as compared to 80 percent of Republicans, and in the Senate only 69 percent of the Democrats voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, compared to 82 percent of the Republicans,
Now, therefore, for the above and other documented atrocities and accumulated wrongs inflicted upon African Americans, we demand a formal written apology and other appropriate remuneration from the leadership of the Democratic party.
The good Colonel swings for the bleachers and sends one into the parking lot.
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AUSTRALIA’S last surviving World War I soldier, Jack Ross, turned 109 today surrounded by his extended family and friends at a nursing home in Victoria.
He signed up in January, 1918, and never left Australia, never saw combat. He’s lived through many Prime Ministers, a second World War, the Depression, drought, and the turbulence and massive changes of the last century.
Known as “Pop” to the staff at Golden Oaks, Mr Ross is a life-long member of the Labor Party and insisted on registering a postal vote in last November’s federal election.
“He still has a sense of humour,” said Peggy.
“When I told him he didn’t have to tick every name on the ballot sheet, but just tick one box, he said, `Why not?’
(Photo removed owing to permission refused)
He had a brother, Harrie, who fought in France and sustained spinal injuries..he’s seen the best of times, and the worst of times, and still keeps soldiering on.
Happy birthday, Jack, the cake’s on me.
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On February 23, 1945 on the island of Iwo Jima a flag was raised, a photo taken, and history was made. Joe Rosenthal’s iconic image became the most famous photograph of all time and enshrined the Marine Corps in the pantheon of the worlds elite forces.
But that flag raising was almost inconsequential to the Marines fighting on “Sulfur Island”. You see, it was the second flag to go up atop Mt. Suribachi that day and went totally unnoticed by the grunts at it’s base. It had been ordered up to replace the actual first flag that went up, the one that had caused a cacophony of yelps and howls and ships claxons.
“…Marines on the ground, still engaged in combat, raised a spontaneous yell when they saw the flag. Screaming and cheering so loud and so prolonged that we could hear it quite clearly on top of Suribachi….”
When a platoon from E Company 2nd Bn, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division was ordered to reconnoiter to the top of the mountain, the Platoon Leader, Lt.Shrier, had been given a flag that had flown on a US Navy ship just over three years earlier at Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. They made it to the top and raised the flag, signifying to the rest of the Marines that the vital observation post that had allowed the Jap defenders to see their every move was now in US hands.
The words I quoted above are from PFC Raymond Jacobs. He was the radio man on that patrol, and one of the first flag raisers. That is him standing to the right of the flag in the above picture, with the radio on his back. PFC Jacobs passed away today. He was 83 years old.
“And when he gets to Heaven, to St. Peter he will tell, ‘Another Marine reporting Sir! I served my time in Hell’.”
Requiescat in Pacem
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