The Other P-38

It is Sunday and we are in the middle of celebrating Memorial Day so I thought since I am a history geek I would write about World War Two……

During that war there were couple P-38’s of distinction……

First, the P-38 Lightening from Lockheed…….

It was billed as a “Pursuit” plane….in today’s lingo that would be a fighter/bomber……and during the war it was a go to plane in the European as well as Pacific theaters.

Second P-38 comes from Germany……

It was a pistol from the Walther Guns company and issued during World War Two….

Finally, the P-38 that I am referring to is the piece of equipment that every soldier knew how to operate from WW2 to Vietnam……


Some us old farts still have one of them in our mementos……

Far down on the list of important inventions essential to victory in World War II is a modest gadget built of stamped metal called the GI Pocket Can Opener—commonly known as the P-38—which was used by American troops in the field to sever the lids off combat rations. Despite its small stature and relative obscurity, many consider it to be the most perfect tool ever developed by the U.S. Army.

Simple in design, efficient in use, and diverse in application, the P-38 was an ideal complement to the canned meat and bread components contained in C-Rations, a staple of military feeding for more than four decades. The little two-piece hinged device constructed of hardened steel never seemed to break, never lost its edge, and its rugged versatility always provided a quick solution in situations other than its original intent. Soldiers regarded the P-38 as their personal, government-issued Jack-of-all-trades.

“When we had C-Rations, the P-38 was your access to food, making it the hierarchy of needs,” retired Army Colonel Paul Baerman told the Army Times. “Then soldiers discovered it was an extremely simple, lightweight, multipurpose tool. I think in warfare the simpler something is and the easier access it has, the more you’re going to use it. The P-38 had all of those things going for it.”

This is a piece of history that is slowly being lost to innovation but deserves its place in the memories of our troops.

Have a good Sunday……be well be safe…..chuq


That Famous Midnight Ride

Yep I am a student of history and because of that interest I do have a tendency to force feed history to my readers.  I love me some history.

When I was in college I thought about a paper on Paul Revere and his famous ride……but instead I did a paper on the writing of the DoI and my theory on who actually wrote the document.

Then recently I read an article about Uncle Paul and his famous ride.

In the spring of 1860, Harvard professor and well-regarded romantic poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow began working on a poem about an otherwise obscure messenger ride by American patriot Paul Revere on the evening of April 18-19, 1775. Longfellow hoped to use the story of Paul Revere’s ride as a vehicle to warn the American Union that it was in danger of disintegrating (which it was). Even though there is good evidence that Longfellow knew the real story of Revere’s ride (from Paul Revere’s 1798 letter to Dr. Jeremy Belknap of the Massachusetts Historical Society, published in a magazine Longfellow had almost certainly read), Longfellow chose to simplify and re-arrange parts of the story in the interests of creating a better and more effective poem. In particular, Longfellow reversed the story of the famous signal lanterns hung in Christ Church tower to indicate that British troops had left Boston. According to Longfellow, Paul Revere was waiting “booted and spurred” in Charlestown across the river from Boston for the signal, whereas in fact Revere was still in Boston when the signals were shown. The signals were not “for” Paul Revere, but “from” Paul Revere to the Sons of Liberty in Charlestown, because Revere was apprehensive that he would be prevented from leaving Boston.

I did a little research for the paper that I wanted to write and tried to find some info that Paul might be a Brit spy…..he did not complete his ride for he was stopped by the British before he got too far….is it possible that he passed on info to them about Concorde and such?

1940–Was France Truly Doomed?

In 1939 the Nazis invaded Poland and thus began the last “great” war….WW2….then in 1940 Hitler decided to take over the rest of Western Europe and they began with Belgium, Holland and into France…..

Many observers say that France was doomed because it depended on the Maginot Line for its defense and the Germans basically just went around the fortifications and into the heart of France…..

So the question remains…was France doomed in 1940?

France holds a unique place in the collective military psyche. Once the military paragon of Europe, the French seem to have been doomed to an inexorable decline since Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.[1] France’s recent expeditionary achievements in Mali are praised, but within the range of small-scale operations. When it comes to major wars, many Americans remember France’s military collapse in 1940 and assume it was inevitable, since the French were stuck in the obsolete tactics of Verdun. This is not some kind of a post-2003 French non-interventionism bashing. Rather in Europe, the most severe critics are often the French themselves.

Surprisingly, it is seldom emphasized that the French could quite possibly have imagined something close to the Blitz if they had been not just one but two wars behind in 1939. Indeed, before 1914 they were the strongest advocates of the offensive, which had been taught for years at the Ecole de Guerre by future Marshal Ferdinand Foch, and theorized by the influential Colonel Louis de Grandmaison to the point of the offensive à outrance (attack with no limit). The latter was much criticized later for having inspired the bloody and failed offensives of 1914-1916. But that does not erase the fact that, in the dialectic of the cannonball and the cuirass, the advantage goes successively from one to the other. Hence, the concept of lightning war was really nothing new in 1940, especially to the French. Today, Western armies see the blitzkrieg as the quintessence of military art because it splendidly combined technological innovation with the culture of mission command.

Many stories have been told about the French in 1940 but the one that too many have overlooked is the heroism of the French army to hold off the Germans so that the English could be evacuated off the beach at Dunkirk.

Operation Eagle Claw

I will wait a moment for all those too young to remember anything past the release of the first Apple phone to dash to Goggle and get the answers they search….

Times up!

Yep it was an attempt to rescue the hostages held by Iran….the Right loves to belittle Carter for this failed attempt making him out as some sort of wimp…..well nothing could be further from the truth…

The meeting began with Jimmy Carter’s announcement: “Gentlemen, I want you to know that I am seriously considering an attempt to rescue the hostages.”

Hamilton Jordan, the White House chief of staff, knew immediately that the president had made a decision. Planning and practice for a rescue mission had been going on in secret for five months, but it had always been regarded as the last resort, and ever since the November 4 embassy takeover, the White House had made every effort to avoid it. As the president launched into a list of detailed questions about how it was to be done, his aides knew he had mentally crossed a line.

If one would like a more detailed description of this operation then this is a good source…..

Jimmy Carter has been made a failed presidency by so many on the Right over the past decades…..but if he had won his re-election there would have been a good chance that a peace could have been negotiated between Israel and Palestine….but the election of Reagan crapped on his attempt at a peace.

Personally, the world would have been a better place if he won re-election.

Your history lesson is complete…..for today…there is so much more to come….

Ken Burns’ Vietnam War

By now most Americans interested have watched Ken Burns’ documentary of the Vietnam War…..I have read many critiques both pro and con….me?  I was there and do not need to be reminded of the stupidity or the insanity…..

But I read a peace in the New Statesman about the film……..

In his own remarks, Mac Owens mentioned an essay by Jim Webb, the decorated Vietnam combat veteran, writer, and former US senator. That essay, “Heroes of the Vietnam Generation,” pairs well with an earlier essay, “Peace? Defeat? What Did the Vietnam War Protesters Want?,” which was also published by the American Enterprise Institute, in 1997. Both are very useful, especially for those who didn’t live through the Vietnam era, for understanding some of that generation’s dynamics.

Webb discusses how it was really the first time in US history when a lot of people argued not going into the military was actually a good thing, and this sentiment has guided how a lot of people look at the Vietnam War. In order to justify not serving in the military at that time, many described the war as unjust, unnecessary, and unwinnable. While I can’t read Ken Burns’ mind, if you look at his documentary The Vietnam War, it certainly seems to support this mentality.

Of course when Vietnam is mentioned or debated there is always the subject of who won that war…..

To bring with that would nice to know what those asking and answering the question what their definition of winning and losing in war really means.

In order to know whether the U.S. lost the Vietnam war or not, it’s wise to go back and see why the Vietnam war started in the first place. Domino theory or containment was usually used as a  justification for the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The fact is the U.S. failed to stop the spread of Communism throughout Vietnam which led to its spread to Laos and Cambodia in 1975. However, it is arguable that the effects of the war in Korea and Vietnam that the U.S. had involved in did help the rest of South-East Asian countries such as Thailand and Singapore stay free of communism.

Military-wise, the U.S. arguably never lost any major battles. However, it could not stand the constantly increasing loss of American lives and the economic burden the war carried on its people and was eventually forced to leave Vietnam before the war ended. Without its direct support, South Vietnam surrendered to the North Communists and disappeared from the world map not long later.

In short, in the picture of Vietnam, the U.S. failed to defend South Vietnam against the North Communists and probably lost the war politically rather than militarily as Vietnam was far from the war of major battles. In the bigger picture of containment, the U.S. did achieve their initial goals to a certain extent.

This is a good piece for those interested in a by-gone war that most Americans had sooner forget

Hill 397

Hill 397?…..maybe if I give a movie reference (movies that I will not watch….. I was there I do not need to remember the insanity) Hamburger Hill…… exercise in futility.

Sorry children time for your history lesson so that maybe you will not make the same mistakes as your elders….

The battle was the result of a renewed effort in early 1969 to neutralize the North Vietnamese forces in the A Shau, a 45-kilometer-long valley in southwestern Thua Thien Province along the border with Laos. The A Shau sheltered enemy Base Area 611 and had long provided a major infiltration corridor for Communist forces from the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos to the coastal cities of northern I Corps Tactical Zone.

The valley’s formidable terrain was dominated at its northern end by what local Montagnard tribesmen called the “mountain of the crouching beast,” Dong Ap Bia. On military maps it was simply Hill 937, so labeled for its height in meters. Several large ridges and fingers ran out from its summit, one of the largest extending southeast to a height of 900 meters and another reaching south to a 916-meter peak. The steep slopes of Dong Ap Bia were cloaked by a heavy undergrowth of sawtooth elephant grass, thick stands of bamboo, and double-and-triple canopy jungle. It was an area long occupied by the NVA and it was fortified with bunkers, spider holes, deep tunnels and trenches.

Made for a good movie for Hollywood but war is anything but a source for entertainment.

I want my readers to remember the men and women that fought and died in Vietnam do not let them be removed to the dust bins of history.

Fascists To The Right…….

World War Two and we fought the great Satan of fascism….Germany and Italy……but during that war there were more fascist in the world than you can imagine….

These are the little known fascists that prayed on their populations….

Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy, was murdered by a mob on April 28, 1945, after 23 years of fascist governance in Italy. Mussolini, his mistress, and many of the fascist party’s top leaders were murdered in cold blood without trial. That’s no way to bring down a government. Even Saddam Hussein, the Nazis and the Japanese were given trials. So, as bad as Mussolini was, his end was not fair in any sense of the word. It would be wise to remember that even tyrants and despots, along with murderers, rapists, terrorists, and pedophiles still have a right to a fair trial in free countries. This long-observed law is often misconstrued as a weakness by many non-Western observers, but make no mistake: A fair trial is a cornerstone of Western civilization.

Mussolini’s vulgar end is the inspiration for this weekend’s Top 10 list: Fascist governments you  may not know about. Fascism is a complicated system of governance and ideology, and one that, in part because its adherents lost World War II, is often used as pejorative by the victors of the same war (the liberals and the socialists). I mentioned some of the best contemporary essays on fascism at the Historiat last month, which you can read for yourself here

Your knowledge of World War Two has been expanded… are welcome.