Later On

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Archive for the ‘Army’ Category

‘These Kids Are Dying’ — Inside the Overdose Crisis Sweeping Fort Bragg

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Why is it that so many organizations — corporations, banks, schools, Boy Scouts, the Catholic church, the Evangelical churches, the Southern Baptists, the army, police departments, and so many more — decide that when bad things happen within the organization, those things must be hidden and kept secret. I suppose the basic reason is fear. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with shame but rather a perversion of pride — that if people don’t learn about the bad, the organization can still stand proud (and not have to change anything, change always being the enemy when an organization’s ideal is static). At any rate, here we have yet another of myriad examples of the US military doing all it can to hide its failures. As I often observe, the military places a high value on honor, but what they mean by “honor” differs a lot from what most understand the word to mean. In the military, “honor” involves not acting honorably so much as concealing dishonorable actions.

Seth Harp reports in Rolling Stone:

RACHEAL BOWMAN, A single mother from Aberdeen, Maryland, was finishing up her shift as a postal worker the afternoon of June 11, 2021, when she got a worrisome call from her son’s girlfriend. Her son, Matthew Disney, a 20-year-old soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, wasn’t answering his phone. Neither his girlfriend nor his mom nor his little sisters could reach him. “It was very unlike him,” Bowman says. “Matthew’s sister has been incredibly ill her whole life” with a rare intestinal disorder. “When she calls, he answers.”

Her son was the child she never had to worry about, Bowman tells Rolling Stone. As a boy, he was well-behaved and supportive of his mom, who had been through a nasty divorce and struggled financially. He was “upbeat and passionate” about baseball, football, and video games. And for as long as she could remember, he’d had it in his head to join the military. “He had the very strong belief that if you were able-bodied, you should serve your country,” Bowman says. “Whether you like your president or not. He could tell you all about other countries where it was mandatory.”


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Disney considered all the service branches, and decided on the U.S. Army. He enlisted after high school, trained as a radar operator and, in March 2020, was assigned to an airborne artillery regiment at Fort Bragg. He had done nine parachute jumps, and the last time he spoke to his mom, he was excited to do his 10th. But that Friday in June, he had the day off. “Hours were going by and he was not responding to any of us,” Bowman says. “This was extremely out of character.”

Bowman and her daughters called up some of Disney’s friends, fellow soldiers at Fort Bragg, and they alerted the fire guard on duty, she says, who located surveillance footage of Disney and another radarman, Spc. Joshua Diamond, entering the barracks at 11 the night before. But when they knocked on Diamond’s locked door, no one answered. Neither the fire guard nor the military police would open Diamond’s door by force, because 24 hours hadn’t elapsed, meaning he and Disney couldn’t be considered missing persons. “Even though there were family members saying something is wrong,” Bowman says, “they would not open the locked door.”

Bowman was frantic. She contacted a family friend in Maryland, a colonel in the Army, and he made some calls that evidently spurred the military police into action. They called Bowman and asked her permission to track her son’s phone. “And then it was crickets,” she says. “Everything went silent. The second I gave my permission to ping his phone, the MPs wouldn’t talk to us.”

The Army follows a strict procedure for notifying the next of kin of casualties, and always sends a uniformed officer to deliver the bad news in person. But around midnight, Disney’s sister received an anonymous call. Bowman was standing on the front porch. “I just heard her scream,” she says. “And I went inside, and she was on the kitchen floor with Matt’s girlfriend, screaming ‘This isn’t fucking funny. Who the fuck are you? What kind of sick joke is this?’”

The caller would only tell them that Disney was “no longer alive.” Bowman placed phone call after desperate phone call and, at two in the morning, got through to her son’s battalion commander. He confirmed that Disney had been found in Diamond’s room, lifeless. “I’m so sorry,” she remembers him saying. “He was a good kid.” But he wouldn’t tell her what had happened, only that Disney “didn’t do anything to hurt himself.”

On top of the shock and grief of learning that her only son was dead, Bowman was confused. If it wasn’t suicide, then what had happened to Matthew? All she could think was that the other soldier, Diamond, must have done something to harm him.

That was not the case. In fact, Diamond was dead, too. His body had been found slumped over Disney’s on the floor, almost as if in an embrace. And many Fort Bragg soldiers have died recently under similar circumstances — quietly, in their barracks, in their bunks, in a parked car, or somewhere off-post, from no outwardly apparent cause. According to a set of casualty reports obtained by Rolling Stone through the Freedom of Information Act, at least 14 — and as many as 30 — Fort Bragg soldiers have died in this way since the start of 2020. Yet there has been no acknowledgment from the Army or reporting in the national press on any aspect of this phenomenon, nor word one from any member of Congress. Only the families of the victims have been informed — discreetly, and in private.

Disney’s memorial service was in July. “We were getting ready to go into the chapel,” Bowman says, and Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, came into the room and personally informed her that the results of a toxicology report were in. The cause of death was acute fentanyl intoxication.

Donahue, who has since been promoted to lieutenant general, did not respond to a request for comment sent to Fort Bragg. But Rolling Stone obtained Disney’s Defense Department Form 1300, a “report of casualty,” which essentially functions as a military death certificate. It confirms that he died accidentally from an overdose of fentanyl.

That only compounded Bowman’s confusion. “My son was not a drug user,” she insists. Under no circumstances would he have wittingly ingested fentanyl. Addiction ran in the fa mily, and  Disney’s little sister had endured dozens of surgeries, and periodically relied on or had to withdraw from opioids, so he was well aware of the risks they entailed. “Fentanyl, ketamine, Narcan, laudanum, Percocet, morphine,” Bowman says. “These are drugs that we talked about on a very regular basis.”

However, one conversation she never had with her kids was about counterfeit pills. Military investigators informed her that Disney had ingested an imitation Percocet, a prescription painkiller. “I had never in my life heard of a fake Percocet that looked legit from a pharmacy,” she says, “until my son took one and it killed him.”

A STAGGERING TOTAL of 109 soldiers assigned to Fort Bragg, active and reserve, lost their lives in 2020 and 2021, casualty reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show. Only four of the deaths occurred in overseas combat operations. All the rest took place stateside. Fewer than 20 were from natural causes. All the rest were preventable. This is a seemingly unprecedented wave of fatalities on a modern U.S. military installation.

Forty-one Fort Bragg soldiers took their own lives in 2020 and 2021, making suicide the leading cause of death. A spokesman for the Army, Matthew Leonard, confirmed that no other base has ever recorded a higher two-year suicide toll. There were also a shocking number of incidents of soldier-on-soldier violence. Since mid-2020, 11 Fort Bragg soldiers have been murdered or charged with murder, including one murder-suicide. Five Fort Bragg soldiers were shot to death, and one was beheaded. Rolling Stone has previously reported on the rash of violent crime at Fort Bragg and investigated several of the unsolved murders. The newly obtained documents shed light on another kind of killer stalking soldiers and go a long way toward explaining the record-setting death toll.

Fourteen of the casualty reports state explicitly that the soldier died from a drug overdose. Eleven of these identify fentanyl as the fatal agent. In five other cases, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 September 2022 at 3:15 pm

Twice Accused of Sexual Assault, He Was Let Go by Army Commanders. He Attacked Again.

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Vianna Davila, Lexi Churchill, and Ren Larson have an excellent (though infuriating) report in ProPublica that begins:

Christian Alvarado began to type as he sat alone in an interrogation room at Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army post in El Paso, Texas. He’d spent most of the previous seven hours hooked up to a polygraph, answering a military investigator’s questions about an allegation that he’d sexually assaulted a fellow soldier.

His story had changed several times during the interview in late July 2020. The investigator told Alvarado he’d already failed two polygraph tests, then left the room so that the young soldier could type up his account in a sworn statement. With his fingers on the keyboard, Alvarado began describing the night in December 2019 that he spent in the barracks with a female soldier he’d met that day.

“She was drunk and so was I,” Alvarado, an Army private first class, typed on the investigator’s computer. “We had sex, but she passed out.”

He wrote that he’d lied about the encounter being consensual in previous interviews with investigators because he wanted to protect his Army career.

When Alvarado was done with his written admission, the military investigator walked back in the room. He asked Alvarado why he continued to have sex with the woman after she passed out. “I was in the moment,” the 20-year-old soldier replied.

The investigator then asked Alvarado about another allegation against him. An Army chaplain’s assistant had accused him of sexually assaulting her in May 2020 after a house party. Sex with her was “wrong due to how intoxicated she was,” Alvarado said, but he would not agree to a sworn statement about the second allegation because it would just be “icing on the cake.”

Alvarado told the investigator that he’d had sex with 42 women in the past four years, about a quarter of whom were intoxicated at the time. His sexual experiences had become boring and they blurred together, he said, to the point that he struggled to remember specific details about his partners.

At the end of the daylong interrogation, Alvarado’s commanders didn’t place him in detention or under any restrictions beyond the orders he had already received to stay at least 100 feet away from the two women who had accused him of assault, according to records. He was free to leave.

A month later, he sexually assaulted another woman.

Had Alvarado’s case been handled by civilians and not the military, his written admission could have been enough evidence to quickly issue an arrest warrant, according to two lawyers who previously worked for the El Paso County district attorney’s office.

“I would have felt comfortable charging at that point,” said Penny Hamilton, who led the Rape and Child Abuse Unit at the district attorney’s office and later served as an El Paso County magistrate judge. “When you have the offender admitting the sexual act took place and you have the offender admitting that the alleged victim couldn’t have consented because she was passed out, then you have the elements” of a criminal charge.

In Texas’ civilian system, a person charged with sexual assault goes before a magistrate judge, who’d set a bail amount that experts said could easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Civilian magistrates and judges use bail to ensure suspects show up at trial. Suspects are released only if they can pay the bond.

The military justice system has no bail. Many decisions about who should be detained for serious crimes before trial are made not by judges but by commanders, who are not required to be trained lawyers.

Recent congressional reforms changed the system, which has long drawn criticism for the extensive discretion commanders wield. While the revisions stripped some of their authority, commanders continue to control various aspects of the judicial process, including deciding whether service members accused of crimes should be detained while awaiting trial, a process called pretrial confinement.

A ProPublica and Texas Tribune investigation into how commanders in the Army, the nation’s largest military branch, use pretrial confinement revealed a system that treats soldiers unevenly and draws little outside scrutiny. Over the coming months, ProPublica and the Tribune will explore how military justice operates, often in vastly different ways than the civilian system.

The news organizations obtained data from the Army on nearly 8,400 courts-martial over the past decade under the Freedom of Information Act. The resulting analysis, the first-of-its-kind, showed that soldiers accused of sexual assault are less than half as likely to be placed in pretrial confinement than those accused of offenses like drug use and distribution, disobeying an officer or burglary.

The analysis showed that, on average, soldiers had to face at least eight counts of sexual offenses before they were placed in pretrial confinement as often as soldiers charged with drug or burglary crimes.

That disparity has grown in the past five years. The rate of pretrial confinement more than doubled in cases involving drug offenses, larceny and disobeying a superior commissioned officer, but it remained roughly the same for sexual assault cases like Alvarado’s, the analysis found.

For instance, the Army opted against pretrial confinement for a staff sergeant who was accused of raping the wife of a soldier in his command at Fort Bliss, while at another post a 19-year-old Texas woman was placed in detention for more than three months for using drugs and mouthing off to commanders.

“Justice that’s arbitrary is not justice,” Col. Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor for the Air Force, said. “It shouldn’t come down to the whims of a particular commander.”

Army officials defended the system. They said  . . ..

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2022 at 4:02 pm

Leo Major and heroism in wartime

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Via Facebook:

Leo Major’s story is so preposterous that Hollywood still hasn’t made a movie about it.

A French-Canadian who saw action in the Normandy landings, Leo began his military career by capturing an armored vehicle full of communications equipment, providing the Allies with invaluable intelligence. He then single-handedly took out a group of elite Nazi SS troops, but lost his left eye after a dying enemy managed to ignite a phosphorus grenade. When a doctor tried to send him home,

Leo reportedly replied that he only needed one eye to aim.

He later broke several bones in his back, but again refused to be evacuated, returning to the battlefield to participate in the liberation of Holland. During an early-morning reconnaissance mission at the Battle of the Scheldt, he spotted a German contingent in a village, most of them asleep. A typical soldier would have returned to report to a superior, but for a guy like Leo this was an opportunity.

He captured the German commander, and after killing a few soldiers, the entire company of 93 men surrendered to him. He then escorted them back to the Allied lines. But Leo’s greatest feat was still to come.

In April 1945, the Canadians were tasked with liberating the Dutch city of Zwolle. Their plan was to bombard the German positions with artillery until they surrendered. Leo was once again sent on a reconnaissance mission, this time with a friend. His superiors really should’ve known better. Realizing that an artillery barrage would also kill innocent civilians, Leo and his buddy Willie decided to liberate the city all by themselves.

Unfortunately, around midnight, Willie was shot and killed. Enraged, Leo grabbed his friend’s weapon and gunned down two Germans, with the others fleeing in terror. He then proceeded to capture a different German vehicle and forced the driver to bring him to an enemy officer at a nearby tavern. Leo then informed the surprised officer that the town was surrounded by an overwhelming Canadian force and that an attack was imminent, before strolling out of the tavern and disappearing into the night.

The next step was to convince the Germans that what he had told the officer was true. Leo spent the rest of the night racing around the town, gunning down Nazis and throwing grenades like a one-man army.

After seeing their comrades gunned down by a mad Canadian in an eyepatch, most enemy soldiers made the smart choice and surrendered. As the night wore on, Leo kept appearing at the Allied lines with groups of confused German prisoners—before returning to the city.

His final feat was to clear out the local SS headquarters. By 4:00 AM, the Germans had abandoned the town. The artillery attack was canceled, the city saved by a single man. Leo received numerous medals for his deeds in World War II, and earned even more in Korea. Leo Major died in 2008, but his memory lives on in Zwolle, where he is regarded as a hero.

Written by Leisureguy

12 March 2022 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Army, Daily life, Military, War

The Massacre at Wounded Knee

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One incident among many in the genocidal campaign the US has waged against Native Americans. Heath Cox Richardson writes:

On the clear, cold morning of December 29, 1890, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, three U.S. soldiers tried to wrench a valuable Winchester away from a young Lakota man. He refused to give up his hunting weapon; it was the only thing standing between his family and starvation. As the men struggled, the gun fired into the sky.

Before the echoes died, troops fired a volley that brought down half of the Lakota men and boys the soldiers had captured the night before, as well as a number of soldiers surrounding the Lakotas. The uninjured Lakota men attacked the soldiers with knives, guns they snatched from wounded soldiers, and their fists.

As the men fought hand-to-hand, the Lakota women who had been hitching their horses to wagons for the day’s travel tried to flee along the nearby road or up a dry ravine behind the camp. The soldiers on a slight rise above the camp turned rapid-fire mountain guns on them. Then, over the next two hours, troops on horseback hunted down and slaughtered all the Lakotas they could find: about 250 men, women, and children.

But it is not December 29 that haunts me. It is the night of December 28, the night before the killing.

On December 28, there was still time to avert the Wounded Knee Massacre.

In the early afternoon, the Lakota leader Big Foot—Sitanka—had urged his people to surrender to the soldiers looking for them. Sitanka was desperately ill with pneumonia, and the people in his band were hungry, underdressed, and exhausted. They were making their way south across South Dakota from their own reservation in the northern part of the state to the Pine Ridge Reservation. There, they planned to take shelter with another famous Lakota chief, Red Cloud. His people had done as Sitanka asked, and the soldiers escorted the Lakotas to a camp on South Dakota’s Wounded Knee Creek, inside the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

For the soldiers, the surrender of Sitanka’s band marked the end of the Ghost Dance Uprising. It had been a tense month. Troops had pushed into the South Dakota reservations in November, prompting a band of terrified men who had embraced the Ghost Dance religion to gather their wives and children and ride out to the Badlands. But, at long last, army officers and negotiators had convinced those Ghost Dancers to go back to Pine Ridge and turn themselves in to authorities before winter hit in earnest.

Sitanka’s people were not part of the Badlands group and, for the most part, were not Ghost Dancers. They had fled from their own northern reservation two weeks before when they learned that officers had murdered the great leader Sitting Bull in his own home. Army officers were anxious to find and corral Sitanka’s missing Lakotas before they carried the news that Sitting Bull had been killed to those who had taken refuge in the Badlands. Army leaders were certain the information would spook the Ghost Dancers and send them flying back to the Badlands. They were determined to make sure the two bands did not meet.

But South Dakota is a big state, and it was not until late in the afternoon of December 28 that the soldiers finally made contact with Sitanka’s band, and it didn’t go quite as the officers planned: a group of soldiers were watering their horses in a stream when some of the traveling Lakotas surprised them. The Lakotas let the soldiers go, and the men promptly reported to their officers, who marched on the Lakotas as if they were going to war. Sitanka, who had always gotten along well with army officers, assured the commander that his band was on its way to Pine Ridge anyway, and asked his men to surrender unconditionally. They did.

By this time, Sitanka was so ill he couldn’t sit up and his nose was dripping blood. Soldiers lifted him into an army ambulance—an old wagon—for the trip to the Wounded Knee camp. His ragtag band followed behind. Once there, the soldiers gave the Lakotas an evening ration, and lent army tents to those who wanted them. Then the soldiers settled into guarding the camp.

And they celebrated, for they were heroes of a great war, and it had been bloodless, and now, with the Lakotas’ surrender, they would be demobilized back to their home bases before the South Dakota winter closed in. As they celebrated, more and more troops poured in. It had been a long hunt across South Dakota for Sitanka and his band, and officers were determined the group would not escape them again. In came the Seventh Cavalry, whose men had not forgotten that their former leader George Armstrong Custer had been killed by a band of Lakota in 1876. In came three mountain guns, which the soldiers trained on the Lakota encampment from a slight rise above the camp.

For their part, the Lakotas were frightened. If their surrender was welcome and they were going to go with the soldiers to Red Cloud at Pine Ridge, as they had planned all along, why were there so many soldiers, with so many guns?

On this day and hour in 1890, in the cold and dark of a South Dakota December night, there were soldiers drinking, singing and visiting with each other, and anxious Lakotas either talking to each other in low voices or trying to sleep. No one knew what . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

29 December 2021 at 6:48 am

The Republican Party is a clear and present danger to American democracy

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

Today, Katie Benner of the New York Times broke the story that former president Trump tried to use the Department of Justice to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Five emails provided to Congress show Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, asking the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, in December, to investigate rumors of voter fraud. One of the fantastical stories Meadows wanted investigated was the story that “people in Italy had used military technology and satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines in the United States and switch votes for Mr. Trump to votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr.”

The Department of Justice is not the president’s to command. It is supposed to enforce the laws of the United States and administer justice. The office of the president has its own lawyer—the White House counsel—and the president can also have their own personal representation. That Trump tried to use our own Department of Justice to overturn the will of the American voters is eye-popping.

But that was not the only news of the day. We also learned that the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, told Trump advisor Steven Bannon on a public show that had he not been able to block a great deal of mail-in voting in 2020, Biden would have won Texas.

We also learned that Oregon Representative Mike Nearman, who was already in trouble for opening the doors of the Oregon Capitol to anti–coronavirus restriction rioters on December 21, held a meeting beforehand, on December 16, to plot the event. An attendee filmed the talk, which set up “Operation Hall Pass.” That operation ultimately opened the Oregon capitol building to far-right rioters, who endangered the entire legislature. The video, which shows Nearman winking and nodding at setting up the invasion, has raised questions about whether other Republicans worked with insurrectionists in other settings.

It is an odd day for these stories to come to light. 

Seventy-seven years ago today, on June 5, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was preparing to send Allied troops, who fought for democracy, across the English Channel to France. There, he hoped, they would push the German troops, who fought for an authoritarian fascist state, back across Europe, securing a victory for democracy over authoritarianism. 

More than 5,000 ships waited to transport more than 150,000 soldiers to France before daybreak the following morning. The fighting to take Normandy would not be easy. The beaches the men would assault were tangled in barbed wire, booby trapped, and defended by German soldiers in concrete bunkers.

On the afternoon of June 5, as the Allied soldiers, their faces darkened with soot and cocoa, milled around waiting to board the ships, Eisenhower went to see the men he was almost certainly sending to their deaths. He joked with the troops, as apparently upbeat as his orders to them had been when he told them Operation Overlord had launched. “The tide has turned!” his letter read. “The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!”

But after cheering his men on, he went back to his headquarters and wrote another letter. Designed to blame himself alone if Operation Overlord failed, it read:

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

The letter was, of course, never delivered. Operation Overlord was a success, launching the final assault in which western democracy, defended by ordinary men and women, would destroy European fascism.

U.S. Army photograph, 1944, Library of Congress

Written by Leisureguy

5 June 2021 at 8:07 pm

A Scar on His Soul: A conversation with a Vietnam veteran

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Stephen Chamberlain has an interesting article on Medium, which begins:

Fifty years have passed and the trauma and memories of a 12-month hitch in Vietnam have not faded a bit.

John volunteered for the Army in 1969 when he was 19 years old. The war in Vietnam was raging and he knew it. Joining the Army was not something a kid did if he wanted to avoid combat. John knew he was signing up for trouble but did it anyway out of a sense of blind patriotism. There was no way a 19-year-old New York boy understood the politics or rationale for the war. Like so many of us he felt it was the right thing to do.

I wonder what he’d have done if he realized that although he’d survive the war, he’d carry the trauma with him for the rest of a long life. Would he still have signed up? Probably.

He was trained as a Combat Engineer, that is he drove a bulldozer, which served as a primitive method to remove landmines and clear roads.

John, now 71, enlisted in the army just before the Woodstock music festival and then requested a deferral until he could attend the event. The good old Army assented, affording him the opportunity to precede one life altering event with another. After seeing his favorite performer, Janis Joplin, on the stage he headed off to boot camp.

Woodstock to Saigon

Three months after Woodstock, shorn of his hair and his individuality, he was one of many young Americans about to be transported out of the world they had known to a violent, unfamiliar and bewildering world that would never leave them. Nothing that happened to John in the years prior to his tour in Vietnam or the decades after — including the loss of his son to a fentanyl overdose — would mark him more than 12 months in Southeast Asia — risking his life for unknown reasons, fighting people who were unknown to him in a place that was unknown to him.

Dozing for Mines

One of his duties was using the dozer to plow up potential landmines. He  . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 10:27 am

Posted in Army, Daily life, Military

Tagged with

“The Cursed Platoon”

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One of the many horrific acts of Donald Trump was to pardon a convicted war criminal. The way the US no longer heeds the rule of law is another sign of decline. Greg Jaffe has a feature report in the Washington Post:

Only a few hours had passed since President Trump pardoned 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and the men of 1st Platoon were still trying to make sense of how it was even possible.

How could a man they blamed for ruining their lives, an officer the Army convicted of second-degree murder and other charges, be forgiven so easily? How could their president allow him to just walk free?

“I feel like I’m in a nightmare,” Lucas Gray, a former specialist from the unit, texted his old squad leader, who was out of the Army and living in Fayetteville, N.C.

“I haven’t been handling it well either,” replied Mike McGuinness on Nov. 15, the day Lorance was pardoned.

“There’s literally no point in anything we did or said,” Gray continued. “Now he gets to be the hero . . .”

“And we’re left to deal with it,” McGuinness concluded.

Lorance had been in command of 1st Platoon for only three days in Afghanistan but in that short span of time had averaged a war crime a day, a military jury found. On his last day before he was dismissed, he ordered his troops to open fire on three Afghan men standing by a motorcycle on the side of the road who he said posed a threat. His actions led to a 19-year prison sentence.

He had served six years when Trump, spurred to action by relentless Fox News coverage and Lorance’s insistence that he had made a split-second decision to protect his men, set him free.

The president’s opponents described the pardon as another instance of Trump subverting the rule of law to reward allies and reap political benefits. Military officials worried that the decision to overturn a case that had already been adjudicated in the military courts sent a signal that war crimes were not worthy of severe punishment.

For the men of 1st platoon, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, the costs of the war and the fallout from the case have been profound and sometimes deadly.

Traumatized by battle, they have also been brutalized by the politicization of their service and made to feel as if the truth of what they lived in Afghanistan — already a violent and harrowing tour before Lorance assumed command — had been so demeaned that it no longer existed.

Since returning home in 2013, five of the platoon’s three dozen soldiers have died. At least four others have been hospitalized following suicide attempts or struggles with drugs or alcohol.

The last fatality came a few weeks before Lorance was pardoned when James O. Twist, 27, a Michigan state trooper and father of three, died of suicide. As the White House was preparing the official order for Trump’s signature, the men of 1st Platoon gathered in Grand Rapids, Mich., for the funeral, where they remembered Twist as a good soldier who had bravely rushed through smoke and fire to pull a friend from a bomb crater and place a tourniquet on his right leg where it had been sheared off by the blast.

They thought of the calls and texts from him that they didn’t answer because they were too busy with their own lives — and Twist, who had a caring wife, a good job and a nice house — seemed like he was doing far better than most. They didn’t know that behind closed doors he was at times verbally abusive, ashamed of his inner torment and, like so many of them, unable to articulate his pain.

By November 2019, Twist, a man the soldiers of 1st Platoon loved, was gone and Lorance was free from prison and headed for New York City, a new life and a star turn on Fox News.

This story is based on a transcript of Lorance’s 2013 court-martial at Fort Bragg, N.C., and on-the-record interviews with 15 members of 1st Platoon, as well as family members of the soldiers, including Twist’s father and wife. The soldiers also shared texts and emails they exchanged over the past several years. Twist’s family provided his journal entries from his time in the Army. Lorance declined to be interviewed.

In New York, Sean Hannity, Lorance’s biggest champion and the man most responsible for persuading Trump to pardon him, asked Lorance about the shooting and soldiers under his command.

Lorance had traded in his Army uniform for a blazer and red tie. He leaned in to the microphone. “I don’t know any of these guys. None of them know me,” Lorance said of his former troops. “To be honest with you, I can’t even remember most of their names.”

The 1st Platoon soldiers came to the Army and the war from all over the country: Maryland, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Indiana and Texas to name just a few. They joined for all the usual reasons: “To keep my parents off my a–,” said one soldier.

“I just needed a change,” said another.

A few had tried college but quit because they were bored or failing their classes. “I didn’t know how to handle it,” Gray said of college. “I was really immature.”

Others joined right out of high school propelled by romantic notions, inherited from veteran fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, of service and duty. Twist’s father served in Vietnam as a clerk in an air-conditioned office before coming back to Michigan and opening a garage. In his spare time Twist Sr. was a military history buff, a passion that rubbed off on his son, who visited World War II battle sites in Europe with his dad. Twist was just 16 when he started badgering his parents to sign his enlistment papers and barely 18 when he left for basic training. His mother had died of cancer only a few months earlier.

“I got pictures of him the day we dropped him off, and he didn’t even wave goodbye,” his father recalled. “He was in pig heaven.”

Several of the 1st Platoon soldiers enlisted in search of a steady paycheck and the promise of health insurance and a middle-class life. “I needed to get out of northeast Ohio,” McGuinness said. “There wasn’t anything there.”

In 1999, he was set to pay his first union dues and go to work alongside his steelworker grandfather when the plant closed. So he became a paratrooper instead, eventually deploying three times to Afghanistan.

McGuinness didn’t look much like a paratrooper with his thick, squat body. But he liked being a soldier, jumping out of planes, firing weapons and drinking with his Army buddies. After a while the war didn’t make much sense, but he took pride in knowing that his soldiers trusted him and that he was good at his job.

Nine months before 1st Platoon landed in rural southern Afghanistan, a team of Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden.

Samuel Walley, the badly wounded soldier Twist pulled from the blast crater, wondered if they might be spared combat. “Wasn’t that the goal to kill bin Laden?” he recalled thinking. “Isn’t that checkmate?”

Around the same time, Twist was trying to make sense of what was to come. “I feel like the Army was a good decision, but also in my mind is a lot of dark thoughts,” he wrote in a spiral notebook. “I could die. I could come back with PTSD. I could be massively injured.”

“Maybe,” he hoped, “it will start winding down soon.”

But the decade-long war continued, driven by new, largely unattainable goals. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more and many photos.

I wonder when President Trump will take notice of the fact that Russia has placed (and has paid) a bounty for the killing of US soldiers in Afghanistan. Trump doesn’t seem to care.

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2020 at 9:54 am

The richest American family hired terrorists to shoot machine guns at sleeping women and children

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Meagan Day writes in Medium:

The bloody history of the American labor movement has never really been taught in schools. Its antagonists are powerful entities who’d rather be remembered for their visionary contributions and largesse. Take the Rockefeller family, some of the most celebrated philanthropists in American history, whose heirs and business partners would like to be known for financial contributions to medical science — not for being responsible for the deaths of the children of striking miners who worked for the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel & Iron Co.

The incident, known as the Ludlow Massacre, occured in April of 1914, and it sparked a 10-day battle in the coalfields of the American West. It was one of the bloodiest episodes in the history of American class conflict, and one of the closest things to war between compatriots since the Confederacy was defeated a half-century earlier.

The first labor unions arrived in Colorado nearly as quickly as the first coal miners. There were strikes in the Colorado coalfields in 1884, 1894, and 1904. But none rivaled the rebellion of 1914.

Between 1870 and 1910, Colorado’s non-Native American population had multiplied 20 times over. By then, Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. (CF&I) was the largest employer in the state. Its workers were a combination of American-born men of English and Scots-Irish descent and immigrants from places as far-flung as Greece and Japan. Working and living conditions for the thousands of miners were harsh and dangerous. Dynamite explosions, mine collapses, and premature death from work-related illness and injury were common. When an inspector visited the site of a mine explosion that had killed 56 in a coal town called Starkville in 1910, he was startled to see not just how the miners and their families had died, but how they’d lived, writing:

The residences or houses and living quarters of the miners smack of the direst poverty. Practically all of the residences are huddled in the shadow of the coal washers and the smoke of the coke ovens making the surroundings smutty with coal dust and coke smoke. Not all of the houses are equipped with water, and practically none have sewerage; they depend for their water upon hydrants on the streets. The people reflect their surroundings; slatternly dressed women and unkempt children throng the dirty streets and alleys of the camp. One is forced to the conclusion that these people must be very poorly paid, else they would not be content to live in this fashion.

They were not content. The miners agitated for better pay and conditions on their own, but they were repressed at every turn. In Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West, Scott Martelle writes, “They did not have a political voice. The courts and the local political structure in the south [of Colorado] were directly controlled by, or friendly to, the interests of mine owners. In elections, local mine superintendents often cast their workers’ ballots for them.” Companies like CF&I had undercover detectives and private security who would spy on union organizers and run them out of town. The mine operators would collude with one another, for instance sending letters with warnings like this one: “All superintendents: look out for Jack Nelson, commonly called the Big Swede. He has been working at Wooten and he is an organizer for the U.M.W. of A.” — that is, the United Mine Workers of America (UMW).

The company towns, writes historian Philip Foner, were “feudal domains with the company acting as lord and master. The ‘law’ consisted of company rules. Curfews were imposed, company guards — brutal thugs armed with machine guns and rifles loaded with soft-point bullets — would not admit any ‘suspicious stranger’ into the camp.” CF&I was the most restrictive of all, and its employees often lived 20 to a shack, in houses owned by the company itself.

In 1913, CF&I workers sought representation from the UMW, which had increased its presence throughout the region despite the attempts of company spies to drive them out. In September, after the company refused demands for an eight-hour workday and the elimination of company guards, the workers went on strike. The labor organizer Mother Jones gave a rousing speech in support of the strike, for which she was imprisoned for 20 days. In her autobiography she writes of her time in a Trinidad, Colorado, prison:

Day was perpetual twilight and night was deep night. I watched people’s feet from my cellar window; miners’ feet in old shoes; soldiers’ feet, well-shod in government leather; the shoes of women with the heels run down; the dilapidated shoes of children; barefooted boys. The children would scrooch down and wave to me but the soldiers shooed them off.

When she was released, she saw that the miners had been evicted from their shacks for attempting to strike. They were now living in tent colonies outside the towns of boarded-up shanties they had once called home. Not only that, but the company guards were arresting the newly homeless miners for vagrancy and forcing them to work for no pay as punishment. The miners were regularly beaten by the guards, but still they wouldn’t stop striking. They knew that the only way to get concessions from Rockefeller’s company was to hold out and watch the profits plummet.

utraged by the workers’ insubordination, CF&I gave its hired thugs — or “detectives,” working for a private security company called Baldwin-Felts — the liberty to try a new tactic: outright terrorism. The Baldwin-Felts detectives began to drive around at night and fire into the tents, terrifying, injuring, and on occasion killing the sleeping miners and their families. The miners organized armed patrols to ward off the detectives, but they were no match for the “Death Special.” That was the name Baldwin-Felts agents gave to the car, equipped with a machine gun, in which they roamed the coalfields at night.

In response to the terrorism of the agents, the miners and their families dug pits in the earth under their tents, in which they hid at night to avoid being sprayed by bullets. They endured this violence, living in their tents with their pits, all through the winter and spring. The few occasions they fired back at agents were used as justification for calling in the Colorado National Guard.

On April 19, the striking miners at Ludlow put on an Orthodox Easter celebration for the Greek families in their tent colony. On April 20, the Colorado Guardsmen came to Ludlow, claiming to be searching for a suspected criminal. It’s still unclear who fired the first shot, but a ten-hour gun battle between the armed striking miners at Ludlow and the Colorado National Guard ensued. Martelle described the scene, which would later come to be known as the Ludlow Massacre:

Seven men and a boy were killed in the shooting, at least three of the men — all striking coal miners, one a leader — apparently executed in cold blood by Colorado National Guardsmen who had taken them captive. As the sun set, the militia moved into the camp itself and an inferno lit up the darkening sky, reducing most of the makeshift village to ashes. It wasn’t until the next morning that the bodies of two mothers and eleven children were discovered where they had taken shelter in a dirt bunker beneath one of the tents. The raging fire had sucked the oxygen from the air below, suffocating the families as they hid from the gun battle. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Good photos at the link, including a heavy machine-gun aimed at the (US civilian) camp. I sense a continuity from then to the US today.

 

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2020 at 5:10 pm

Burgess Meredith tells GIs in 1943 how to behave in a pub

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Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2019 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Army, Military, Video

The Great War disillusioned and decimated a generation

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Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen – born March 18, 1893; killed November 7, 1918
(4 days before the Armistice)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2019 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Army, Art, Daily life, Military

Another Remembrance Day story: How an Overweight, Failed Victoria BC Real Estate Agent Won the Great War

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Tristin Hopper reports in The Capital:

Victoria’s Arthur Currie wasn’t charming, well-connected or well-educated. He got crippling stomach pains during periods of high stress, which had caused him to miss the Boer War. In an era of wiry men with distinguished moustaches, Currie was doughy and clean-shaven; few would encounter him without mentioning his enormous girth. In the words of one author, he was “embarrassingly unassuming in appearance and bearing.”

The 40-year-old had been a disastrous real estate developer; on the eve of the First World War he was so ridden by debt that he would embezzle the equivalent of $250,000 from the reserve militia where he was an officer.

Within only two years, however, this was the man picked to stand as the most powerful Canadian who had ever lived. Currie was placed in supreme command of the deadliest army his home country has ever assembled. And in one of the most meteoric ascensions in Canadian history, a man who had exuded little more than stable mediocrity in Victoria would become an unparalleled bringer of death and destruction to Europe.

When Currie had first come to Victoria from Ontario in the 1890s, he had gotten work in Victoria and Sidney as a schoolteacher. He then left to get into real estate, following a path familiar to many modern Victorians: Effortless climbing a real estate bubble, only to be left overleveraged and in ruins when it burst.

But it was Currie’s extracurricular activities as a member of the local militia that would unwittingly place him in the limelight. Joining a Canadian militia in the 1890s was akin to joining a yacht club; it was mainly a good place to find business contacts and secure dinner invitations. But Currie ended up taking the militia far more seriously than most. He pored over military textbooks and absorbed every class or exercise the military could serve up. “When some of my associates were playing lawn tennis or swinging golf clubs, I was at the armouries or on the rifle ranges with the boys,” he would say later.

Under normal circumstances, Currie’s martial enthusiasm would have amounted to little more than an unusual hobby. But Currie lived in the early 20th century, just as Europe was descending into armed, mechanized chaos. As Canada scrambled for officers to command its rapidly swelling volunteer army for the Western Front, Currie found himself on a troopship in charge of the 2nd Infantry Brigade.

Once in Europe, the Victorian quickly rocketed through the ranks until he was commander of all Canadian soldiers in Europe. Not only did Currie keep orchestrating battlefield successes, including the legendary victory at Vimy Ridge, but in a war of tragically mediocre generals, fellow allies began to notice that the overweight Canadian seemed to be the only one who knew what he was doing.

“There was something great and terrible in his simplicity and sureness of judgment, and this real—estate agent … was undoubtedly a man of strong ability, free from those trammels of red tape and tradition which swathed round so many of our own leaders,” wrote the British war correspondent Philip Gibbs.

The British prime minister of the time, David Lloyd George, would call Currie “the only soldier thrown up by the British side who possessed the necessary qualifications for the position.”

n Victoria, Currie had been unable to hold together a minor real estate concern. But when thrown into the worst carnage humanity had ever seen, he thrived as a master of strategy, organization and calm.

“He has made war a business,” one British general would explain of the Canadian.  “He is the managing director; his working capital is the lives of 125,000 Canadians. He carefully watches his expenditure and mentally keeps a profit and loss account of each engagement, and his dividends are many.”

Currie was surrounded by fellow Allied commanders who refused to acknowledge the realities of modern war. Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, never abandoned the romantic notion that the war would be won with cavalry charges. French commanders had been so wedded to tradition that they had sent their soldiers into battle wearing bright red trousers. Even generals in the savvier German ranks had sent countless doomed infantry charges into machine gun fire.

But Currie approached war like a math problem. He had no military pedigree and hadn’t even attended Canada’s Royal Military College. His inexperience made him see the First World War for what it was; a completely new kind of war demanding a completely new kind of tactic.

He grilled fellow allied generals on strategy. He relentlessly picked apart prior battles and had a particular genius to determine what caused certain attacks to succeed and others to fail.

One of the most telling indicators of Currie’s eerie meticulousness came in the aftermath of the Battle of Passchendaele. Currie had attempted to resist Douglas Haig’s orders to capture the inconsequential Belgian village, arguing that it would cost 16,000 Canadian casualties. When he was overruled, he turned out to be almost exactly right; the battle ultimately cost 15,654 Canadian casualties.

Currie may have been fighting an analytical war, but it was no less brutal. He followed the cold calculus of killing as many Germans as he could – as often as he could – believing it the fastest way to restore peace to Europe and bring his men home. Under his leadership, the Canadian Corps became the most enthusiastic users of poison gas on the Western Front. Canadians shot at anything that moved, and bombarded rear German positions constantly. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 November 2019 at 11:42 am

Posted in Army, Military

One of D-Day’s most famous, heroic assaults seems to have been unnecessary

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Scott Higham reports in the Washington Post:

Pointe du Hoc, France — Seventy-five years ago Thursday, a battalion of elite U.S. Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot promontory here overlooking Omaha Beach, with nothing more than ropes and rickety ladders. As enemy gunfire and grenades rained down, picking them off as they climbed, the Rangers managed to secure the strategic high ground and silence a small battery of long-range German guns that had been moved inland.

The battle for Pointe du Hoc became one of the most heroic moments of the D-Day invasion. It was lionized by the legendary Hollywood film “The Longest Day” and by President Ronald Reagan, who stood on this hallowed ground to one of his most famous speeches, extolling the bravery of the “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” on the 40th anniversary of the largest amphibious assault in the world’s history.

But a little more than three miles down the windswept Normandy coastline, an archaeological dig on a vast swath of farmland is starting to tell another story about what took place that day. A World War II artifact collector and historian accidentally stumbled upon a massive German artillery installation that was buried after the invasion. His discovery, along with a trove of declassified U.S. and British military documents, threatens to alter the narrative of Pointe du Hoc and its importance as a military objective during the D-Day invasion.

Only now are historians beginning to reckon with the implications. Depending on which is talking, the discovery of what is known as “Maisy Battery” either calls into question the wisdom of the entire Pointe du Hoc operation or is simply one more footnote in a war full of footnotes.

One thing is certain: The mythology of Pointe du Hoc is firmly established. Those who challenge the story do so at their own peril.

“Historians always shatter the idol, but let me tell you, when they do, they get a lot of pushback and angry emails in the middle of the night,” said Rob Citino, the senior historian at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans who has written 10 books about the war and only recently learned about Maisy Battery. “Pointe du Hoc is such sacred ground, it’s like bringing someone to Gettysburg and saying, ‘Actually, there was a much bigger battle fought just a few miles away.’ ”

The artifact collector and historian, Gary Sterne, 55, has received nothing but pushback since he found a map at a military flea market 15 years ago that led him to the discovery of Maisy Battery, a complex that covers 144 acres one mile inland between Omaha and Utah beaches — the prime objectives of the U.S. invasion forces. He has published a two-volume, 1,160-page encyclopedia full of photographs, military documents and interviews with Army Rangers who climbed the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc.

His startling conclusion: The assault was unnecessary, the commander of the U.S. Army Ranger unit failed to follow orders, putting his men directly in harm’s way, and U.S. military leaders should have targeted Maisy and its battery of heavy artillery guns instead of Pointe du Hoc, which the Germans had largely abandoned by the time of the Normandy invasion.

“I have nothing but respect for the Rangers and what they did at Pointe du Hoc,” Sterne said in a recent interview from his home in England. “It was truly heroic. But the facts are the facts.”

‘A lightbulb moment’

Sterne has been collecting military memorabilia since he was child growing up near Manchester, England. It became a full-time pursuit after he purchased a home in Normandy. In 2004, he traveled to Louisville to attend one of the largest military flea markets in the world.

Beneath one of the 5,000 tables set up there, Sterne spotted a cardboard box. Inside was the complete uniform of a U.S. Army soldier who had fought in WWII. Sterne bought it for $180. Inside one of the pockets was a map of Normandy. The map was marked with hand-drawn circles, each with an “X” in the middle, and the words: “Areas of High Resistance.”

Sterne was confused. He knew the precise locations of those areas.

“I thought, ‘There’s nothing there. It’s just fields,’” Sterne recalled.

Back in Normandy, Sterne drove to the fields and started to walk through the tall grass. He came across a clearing and a large slab of concrete. At first he thought he had found the foundation of a building destroyed long ago. As he stepped off the slab, he tripped over a small chimney protruding from the concrete.

He was standing on the roof of a building, not the floor.

“I thought, hang on a minute,” Sterne said. “It was a lightbulb moment.”

Sterne and his brother grabbed some shovels and began to dig. They unearthed a perfectly preserved, bombproof German ammunition bunker. He and his son, Dan, have been digging ever since, uncovering bunkers and barracks and large concrete gun placements. They discovered a field hospital, a command and control center, evidence that an SS squad was embedded at the battery and the skeleton of a German soldier. All of it was buried by Allied forces after the invasion and Maisy was lost to history.

For nearly two years, Sterne kept his discovery a secret as he purchased dozens of tracts of land from their owners, quietly piecing together vast sections of Maisy for a World War II museum. When he went public with his findings in 2006 and opened the site to the public a year later, he said the backlash was ferocious. Other historians labeled him an opportunist, a fabulist, a “Mad Englishman.”

Sterne returned fire. He argued that Maisy, not Pointe du Hoc, should have been a primary target on D-Day. The guns at Maisy, he noted, were still firing three days after the invasion and capable of striking positions on Utah Beach, about five miles away. What he said next amounted to heresy in the military world.

Based on previously secret intelligence and field reports he obtained from military archives in the United States and Britain, Sterne said the 2nd Ranger Battalion commander of the Pointe du Hoc mission, Lt. Col James E. Rudder, knew that the Germans had removed their guns from Pointe du Hoc as the D-Day invasion neared. When Rudder and his men reached the top of Pointe du Hoc on June 6, 1944, the guns were gone, some of them replaced with long wooden telephone poles resembling artillery cannons. The real guns had been moved inland. The Rangers found five guns that had been moved from Pointe du Hoc that morning and disabled them with thermite grenades.

Sterne went further. He said Rudder jeopardized the lives of his men by disobeying orders. The declassified orders show that the 2nd Ranger Battalion was tasked with attacking Pointe du Hoc, moving inland and knocking out the German artillery batteries at Grandcamp and Maisy. The orders, issued March 26, 1944, directed Rudder’s Rangers to “capture enemy batteries at GRANDCAMP and MAISY” after taking Pointe du Hoc.

Instead, Rudder attacked Pointe du Hoc, despite the reports documenting that the guns were being moved, and he remained in the area without advancing to Maisy. He later said he was ordered to hold the Grandcamp-Vierville Highway to prevent a German counterattack. But Sterne said he could find no orders in the thousands of records he has reviewed directing Rudder to remain at Pointe du Hoc and hold that highway. Of the Rangers who served under Rudder during the invasion, 77 were killed, 152 were wounded and 38 were listed as missing in action.

Rudder, who died in 1970, went on to become a war hero, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross, and was later appointed president of Texas A&M University. One of the Rangers who said he fought under Rudder, Lt. George G. Klein, went on to become a world-famous narrator of the Pointe du Hoc story.

Klein frequently lectured about the assault, telling audiences that he was wounded by a German bayonet and had to be evacuated. During the 73rd anniversary of the invasion, Klein traveled to Normandy, where he was feted as “one of the great celebrities of the battle.” He signed autographs. He posed for pictures. He planted trees in Normandy villages.

But there was a problem: Klein never fought at Pointe du Hoc.

Sterne said Klein visited Maisy during one summer and told Sterne that “you have your history all wrong.” Sterne had written a book by then called “Cover Up at Omaha Beach.” It was a based on interviews Sterne had conducted with Rangers who fought at Pointe du Hoc.

Sterne said he asked Klein about the role he played that day. Klein told him he had destroyed a gun pit at Pointe du Hoc. But records show that the gun pit had been destroyed months earlier. Klein said he was a lieutenant in F Company of the 2nd Ranger Battalion. But F Company already had a full complement of lieutenants. Klein could not recall details of the battle. The Rangers Sterne had interviewed could never forget. Klein said he returned to his original artillery unit after he was wounded.

Sterne and other historians found the papers documenting the activities of that artillery unit during D-Day. Klein and his unit were in Ireland on June 6, 1944.

Klein eventually admitted that he had fabricated his military past and the tales he told about the attack. The story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

Klein, like Maisy, faded into history. Now 98 and living in Illinois, he did not return calls for comment.

‘The fog of war’

Each year, nearly 1 million tourists descend upon Normandy, many of them from the United States. Tour guides escort them to Omaha and Utah beaches, the American Cemetery and historic military sites, such as the town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise.

The piece de resistance of any tour is Pointe du Hoc.

Adrian Ridley-Jones, 63, a top-rated battlefield guide in Normandy, has recently added a new site to his tour: Maisy Battery.

The former signal officer in the British Army said he has come to appreciate the significance of the Maisy discovery and the documents Sterne has obtained. It has become increasingly clear to him that as D-Day approached, the need to take Pointe du Hoc diminished. The guns were gone, the Germans were changing their positions, and the Pointe du Hoc mission would be perilous. He wonders why Rudder didn’t alert his commanders that the guns were being removed from Pointe du Hoc and urge them to make Maisy and Grandcamp the primary targets instead. Rudder never told his men that the guns had been removed, either.

“As archaeological evidence becomes clearer, history gets rewritten,” Ridley-Jones said. “Problems come as you do this. You upset preconceived ideas and entrenched positions. Instead of people looking at this dispassionately, it becomes a political hot potato.”

Ridley-Jones is careful to note the bravery of the Rangers at Pointe du Hoc. . .

Continue reading. The original article has quite a few interesting photos.

Written by Leisureguy

5 June 2019 at 11:03 am

Posted in Army, Military

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The general who went to war on suicide

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Ben Hattem reports in Politico:

On the evening of July 19, 2010, Major General Dana Pittard, the new commander of Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, got a call from the base’s 24-hour duty officer. A SWAT team had been sent to the house of a young sergeant named Robert Nichols. Nichols was inside with a gun, threatening to kill himself.

Pittard arrived at the soldier’s home just in time to see the soldier step out of the house, put the gun to his chest and fire. Neighbors and police crowded the street, but Pittard was the only officer from the Army base at the scene. He went home, where his boxes were still packed from his move 10 days before, feeling disturbed and helpless.

Nichols was the first of Pittard’s soldiers who died under his command at Fort Bliss. Others followed. A soldier from Fort Bliss’ 11th Air Defense Artillery brigade, which had recently returned from a tour in the Middle East, committed suicide. Another from the same brigade soon overdosed on prescription drugs.

The rash of deaths caught Pittard off guard. He knew that suicide was a growing concern for the military, which had spent millions of dollars to tackle the crisis and had issued dozens of reports—including a 350-page study that called suicides and deaths linked to high-risk behavior an “Army-wide problem.” But going in Pittard hadn’t planned to focus on the issue. That changed quickly. With suicides mounting at his base—a sprawling complex of 30,000 personnel, larger than Rhode Island—he realized he wanted to make stopping what he saw as preventable deaths a top priority.

He conferred with the brigade commanders. Then, he told his sergeant major, only half in jest, that they should put a moratorium on death at the base. “People laughed,” says Pittard, “but I said, ‘no, seriously, let’s look at the roots and causes and do all we can to make it preventable.’”

His solution had the hallmarks of a commander confronted with a stubborn enemy: decisive action and situational adaptability. Pittard aggressively expanded mental health services at the base. He increased the number of mental health staff, created new social spaces and nighttime services, treatment for substance abuse and post traumatic stress disorder. And Pittard made the services available to all soldiers—whether or not there was any reason to believe they were at risk of killing themselves—because he believed everyone was vulnerable to suicide. It was a position that put him at odds with commonly held views in the Army, which tends to regard suicide as something that only a small number of abnormal soldiers are at risk of trying.

His belief was rooted in a personal struggle. He later made public, in a radically un-Army-like moment, something that could have seriously jeopardized a career that some say was destined for the upper echelons of the military: that he had sought mental health care for depression. People who worked at the fort say Pittard’s openness made it easier for soldiers to seek treatment. “I admired him sharing that story,” said Jamie Spanski, a staff sergeant who was stationed at Fort Bliss from 2012 until she left the Army in 2015. “No matter who you are or what rank you are, we’re all just human beings and sometimes you need help.”

And his efforts seemed to work. In 2010, Fort Bliss had 12 suicides, according to published media reports. The next year there were seven. In 2012, when the suicide rate for the Army as a whole peaked at 29.9 deaths per 100,000 people—Fort Bliss had five. It was the lowest suicide rate of any major Army installation in the world. The Defense Department touted Pittard’s accomplishments in news releases and internally; the Pentagon still highlights Fort Bliss’ example as one of the military’s most successful prevention programs.

Experts say the initiatives Pittard implemented at Fort Bliss demonstrate exactly the types of programs required for the Army to turn back its high rate of suicide. But four years after Pittard was transferred, many of the reforms he installed at Fort Bliss have been discontinued, and the base’s suicide rate has climbed again. And the high-ranking officials who pronounced suicide an Army-wide crisis—and who recognized Pittard for his success—haven’t adopted his approach.

Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, called Pittard’s services a “model program.” But, she added, “these things have to be continued to be effective.”

Military suicides used to be rare. Throughout the 20th century, the suicide rate among active-duty service members was lower than the population at large. But after the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, the numbers began to climb. In 2006, for the first time, the Army’s suicide rate, routinely the highest among the branches of the armed services, surpassed that of the national population. By 2010, suicide had become a military crisis. That year, there were 163 suicides in the Army, an 87-percent increase from five years before.

It is a population that is especially vulnerable: Many service members return from combat with some degree of post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury, both of which can contribute to depression and suicidal thoughts. Easy access to guns, which prove fatal much more often than other means of attempting suicide, may exacerbate the problem.

The Army struggled to respond to the surge in suicides. [But obviously it did not struggle very hard at all, since it effectively ignores and then cancels programs that work. – LG]

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

20 March 2017 at 1:57 pm

3,500 US veterans ‘to put bodies on the line’ in pipeline protest

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Two interesting things about the Dakota Access Pipeline protest: First, it’s growing. Second, the NY Times and Washington Post are giving it very little coverage. I did a search of the NY Times, for example, and it seemed that most reports were secondhand: from Reuters or Associated Press. The Times apparently doesn’t think it’s worth sending their own reporters there. The mission of the Times seems increasingly to protect power.

PressTV has a report, with photos. From their report:

According to reports, as many as 3,500 veterans are joining protests against the multibillion-dollar oil pipeline project near a Native American reservation.

Thousands of veterans have already arrived at the Oceti Sakowin Camp near the small town of Cannon Ball in North Dakota.

The veterans, organized under the banner “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock,” said on Saturday they will put their bodies on the line to assist thousands of activists who have spent months demonstrating against plans to route the pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Invoking the nonviolent protest tactics of Mohandas K. Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the veterans pledged to peacefully support the unarmed Native American protesters.

“In the ultimate expression of alliance, we are there to put our bodies on the line, no matter the physical cost, in complete nonviolence,” wrote the group’s in its “operations order.”

“Our mission is to prevent progress on the Dakota Access Pipeline and draw national attention to the human rights warriors of the Sioux tribes,” the group added.

The Army has warned that it would close the camp and force out the protesters, who have been staying there in the region’s freezing cold temperatures.

When the Army is mobilized against American citizens, it’s always a bad sign—and generally indicates that the Powers That Be feel threatened.

But click the link to see the photos.

Written by Leisureguy

4 December 2016 at 10:53 am

A pipeline fight and America’s dark past when immigrants committed genocide against Americans

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The crimes that Donald Trump claims that Mexican immigrants commit are absolutely nothing compared to what earlier immigrants did to Americans: the great genocide of Native Americans is a national crime on a level with institutionalized slavery.

Bill McKibbben comments in the New Yorker:

This week, thousands of Native Americans, from more than a hundred tribes, have camped out on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, which straddles the border between the Dakotas, along the Missouri River. What began as a slow trickle of people a month ago is now an increasingly angry flood. They’re there to protest plans for a proposed oil pipeline that they say would contaminate the reservation’s water; in fact, they’re calling themselves protectors, not protesters.

Their foe, most directly, is the federal government, in particular the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has approved a path for the pipeline across the Missouri under a “fast track” option called Permit 12. That’s one reason the Dakota Access Pipeline, as it’s known, hasn’t received the attention that, say, the Keystone XL Pipeline did, even though the pipe is about the same length. Originally, the pipeline was supposed to cross the Missouri near Bismarck, but authorities worried that an oil spill there would have wrecked the state capital’s drinking water. So they moved the crossing to half a mile from the reservation, across land that was taken from the tribe in 1958, without their consent. The tribe says the government hasn’t done the required consultation with them—if it had, it would have learned that building the pipeline there would require digging up sacred spots and old burial grounds.
In fact, the blade of a bulldozer cut through some of those burial grounds on Saturday—during a holiday weekend, days before a federal judge is supposed to rule on an emergency petition filed by the tribe which would slow the project down, and immediately after the tribe identified the burial grounds’ locations in a filing to the court. The company building the pipe—Energy Transfer Partners—has already constructed more than half the pipeline, which, when completed, would stretch from Stanley, North Dakota, near the Canadian border, to Patoka, in southern Illinois. It apparently wanted to create facts on the ground in North Dakota—wanted to do so badly enough, it seems, that it was willing to employ a private security force, which used dogs to confront the Native Americans who tried to prevent the desecration of old graves. Tribal officials said that the dogs bit six protesters, including a small child. (The company did not respond to requests for comment, but had previously stated that demonstrators “attacked” their workers and the guard dogs. It has stressed in the past that it has been “constructing this pipeline in accordance with applicable laws, and the local, state and federal permits and approvals we have received.”)
Pictures from that confrontation recall pictures from Birmingham circa 1963. But the historical parallels here run much deeper—they run to the original sins of this nation. The reservation, of course, is where the Native Americans were told to live when the vast lands they ranged were taken by others. The Great Sioux Reservation, formed in the eighteen-sixties, shrunk again and again—in 1980, a federal court said, of the whole sad story, “a more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history.” In the nineteen-fifties and early sixties, the Army Corps of Engineers—the same Army Corps now approving the pipeline—built five large dams along the Missouri, forcing Indian villages to relocate. More than two hundred thousand acres disappeared beneath the water.
Sioux history, and Native American history, is filled with one massacre and battle after another. Most of us have never heard of some of those encounters—the Whitestone, or Inyan Ska, massacre, for instance, not far from the present encampment, where at least three hundred Sioux lost their lives when Brigadier General Alfred Sully attacked men, women, and children feasting after a buffalo hunt. Some we do remember, albeit differently: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2016 at 11:51 am

How many terrorists does the U.S. itself create? ISIS leader was held in Abu Ghraib prison

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When the U.S. uses a drone-fired missile to kill an entire wedding party, how do you think the surviving family members feel? I suppose in part the answer depends on how you feel about your own family members and how you would feel if a foreign power fired a missile into a group of them. But I think many would take it hard.

And how would feel about being imprisoned and tortured by soldiers from a foreign nation, and being humiliated in your own country? Or what would you feel if that happened to a relative or friend? Again, you might accept that such things happen, but I can easily imagine that some might carry a serious grudge.

Joshua Eaton reports in The Intercept:

In February 2004, U.S. troops brought a man named Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry to Abu Ghraib in Iraq and assigned him serial number US9IZ-157911CI. The prison was about to become international news, but the prisoner would remain largely unknown for the next decade.

At the time the man was brought in, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba was finalizing his report on allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib’s Hard Site — a prison building used to house detainees singled out for their alleged violence or their perceived intelligence value. Just weeks later, the first pictures of detainee abuse were published on CBS News and in the New Yorker.

Today, detainee US9IZ-157911CI is better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. His presence at Abu Ghraib, a fact not previously made public, provides yet another possible key to the enigmatic leader’s biography and may shed new light on the role U.S. detention facilities played in the rise of the Islamic State.

Experts have long known that Baghdadi spent time in U.S. custody during the occupation of Iraq. Previous reports suggested he was at Camp Bucca, a sprawling detention facility in southern Iraq. But the U.S. Army confirmed toThe Intercept that Baghdadi spent most of his time in U.S. custody at the notorious Abu Ghraib.

Baghdadi’s detainee records don’t mention Abu Ghraib by name. But the internment serial number that U.S. forces issued when they processed him came from the infamous prison, according to Army spokesperson Troy A. Rolan Sr.

“Former detainee al-Baghdadi’s internment serial number sequence number begins with ‘157,’” Rolan said, describing the first three digits of the second half of Baghdadi’s serial number. “This number range was assigned at the Abu Ghraib theater internment facility.”

The details of Baghdadi’s biography have always been murky, and his time in U.S. custody is no exception. In June 2014, the Daily Beast reported that the United States held Baghdadi at Camp Bucca from 2005 to 2009, citing Army Col. Kenneth King, the camp’s former commanding officer. However, King backtracked after U.S. officials told ABC News that Baghdadi was out of U.S. custody by 2006.

Days later, the Pentagon confirmed that Baghdadi was only in U.S. custody for 10 months, from February to December 2004. The Department of Defense told the fact-checking website PunditFact in a statement that Baghdadi was held at Camp Bucca. “A Combined Review and Release Board recommended ‘unconditional release’ of this detainee and he was released from U.S. custody shortly thereafter. We have no record of him being held at any other time.”

In February 2015, the Army released Baghdadi’s detainee records to Business Insider, in response to a records request. They showed that . . .

Continue reading. There’s more worth reading.

Later in the article:

. . . In the occupation’s first few years, U.S. facilities like Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca developed a reputation as “jihadi universities” where hard-line extremists indoctrinated and recruited less radical inmates. Analysts have long suspected that Baghdadi took full advantage of his time at Bucca to link up with the jihadis and former Iraqi military officials who would later fill out the Islamic State’s leadership.

In November 2014, the Soufan Group, a private intelligence firm, published a list of nine Islamic State leaders it said had been detained at Camp Bucca. The list included Baghdadi and Hajji Bakr, a former Iraqi military official who became head of the Islamic State’s military council and is widely reported to have spent time in Bucca. . .

Written by Leisureguy

25 August 2016 at 2:43 pm

Army Apologizes for Handling of Chemical Weapon Exposure Cases

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And yet no officer will suffer any sort of accountability, I am sure. C.J. Chivers reports in the NY Times:

The under secretary of the Army on Wednesday apologized for the military’s treatment of American service members exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq, and announced new steps to provide medical support to those with lingering health effects and to recognize veterans who had been denied awards.

Under Secretary Brad R. Carson acknowledged that the military had not followed its own policies for caring for troops exposed to old and abandoned chemical munitions that had been scattered around Iraq, and vowed improvement. He also said that the Army had reversed a previous decision and approved a Purple Heart medal for a soldier burned by sulfur mustard agent, and that he expected more medals would be issued to other veterans after further review.

To me the scandal is that we had protocols in place and the medical community knew what they were, and yet we failed in some cases to implement this across the theater,” he said. “That was a mistake, and I apologize for that. I apologize for past actions and am going to fix it going forward.”

Mr. Carson was appointed last fall by Chuck Hagel, then the defense secretary, to lead a Pentagon working group to identify service members who had been exposed to chemical weapons and offer them medical screening and other support. The effort was in response to an investigation in The New York Times that revealed that the American military had secretly recovered thousands of old and often discarded chemical munitions in Iraq.

The report found that insurgents had used some of the weapons in roadside bombs, that most of the episodes had never been publicly acknowledged and that many troops who had been wounded by the blister or nerve agents had received substandard medical care and denied military awards.

Mr. Carson said the working group’s new instructions, which were distributed to the military services in recent days, would ensure that hundreds of veterans identified by the services, or who have called a hotline set up at Mr. Hagel’s order, would be screened and properly treated. The steps, Mr. Carson said, would also cover troops exposed to chlorine, which insurgents repeatedly used as a makeshift chemical weapon.

“My ambition, and what I am committed to, is to make sure that any person who was exposed to a weaponized chemical or a chemical weapon is addressed through this process,” he said. . . .

Continue reading.

Bottom line: The Army did everything in its power to cover up the problem and to let the victims simply suffer on their own, offering no help, but when the story began to get out, the Army (VERY belatedly) responded and said it would help. This is what the military means by “honor”: cover up problems and let the troops suffer, but if you’re about to get caught apologize. No one will be punished.

Related coverage, with links in the sidebar of the main article.

The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons   OCT. 14, 2014

More Than 600 Reported Chemical Exposure in Iraq, Pentagon Acknowledges  NOV. 6, 2014

A Veteran’s Chemical Burns Expanded Military Doctors’ Knowledge, but His Care Faltered  DEC. 30, 2014

Thousands of Iraq Chemical Weapons Destroyed in Open Air, Watchdog Says   NOV. 22, 2014

Reporters’ Notebook: Examining a Rare Nerve-Agent Shell That Wounded American Troops in Iraq   DEC. 4, 2014

C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons FEB. 15, 2015

Written by Leisureguy

25 March 2015 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Army, Medical, Military

Jailed US Army officer brings back memories of SS officers

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It’s notable that the officer has no support from the men in his own platoon. Whatever the cause, his actions and words are strongly reminiscent of what we know of SS officers in WWII. Dave Philipps writes in the NY Times:

Nearly two dozen soldiers from an Army platoon were on patrol in a dangerous valley in southern Afghanistan when a motorcycle sped toward them, ignoring commands to stop.

As he tells it, First Lt. Clint Lorance, the platoon leader, ordered his men to fire just seconds before the motorcycle bore down on them that July day in 2012. But the Afghans were unarmed, and two died. The next year, Lieutenant Lorance was found guilty at a court-martial of second-degree murder, one of the few times an American soldier has been convicted of a crime for actions in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. He is serving a 19-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

But the case is far from over. Mr. Lorance, who was dismissed from the Army, has become a cause célèbre for conservative commentators, including Sean Hannity of Fox News, who say the Obama administration punished a soldier for trying to defend his troops. Three Republican representatives — Duncan Hunter of California, Matt Salmon of Arizona and Ryan Zinke of Montana — have asked the secretary of the Army to review the case. And more than 124,000 people have signed a petition to the White House demanding a pardon.

“The warfighter doesn’t always have the benefit of time, given lives are always at risk in a war zone,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter, sent in January, saying the case “deserves a high level of attention and scrutiny.”

That chorus of supporters, however, is notable for what it lacks: members of the platoon itself.

Though many members of the platoon have never publicly expressed their views of the case, nine came forward to testify against Mr. Lorance at his trial, and in interviews several of those soldiers have contradicted Mr. Lorance’s account of a split-second decision to protect his troops. The picture those soldiers paint is of a young lieutenant who, during just three days in command, ordered soldiers to fire repeatedly on unarmed Afghans, tried to falsify reports in order to cover up his actions and so alienated and outraged his troops that they refused to follow orders and turned him in.

“War is hard, there is collateral damage. I get that — I’ve got my own stories,” Staff Sgt. Daniel Williams said in an interview. But Sergeant Williams, who was on his third tour in Afghanistan and was a squad leader in the platoon, added, “That’s not what this was; this was straight murder.”

Mr. Lorance’s lawyers have cast doubt on the platoon members’ accounts, noting that the nine soldiers who testified against him were granted immunity. The lawyers also point to newly uncovered evidence suggesting that the men on the motorcycle may have had ties to enemy bomb makers — a detail that was not revealed to the defense before the trial.

“If the entire evidence had been turned over, this case would be decided differently,” said John Maher, Mr. Lorance’s lawyer. He is appealing the conviction and asking the Army to grant clemency.

Mr. Lorance is barred by the Army from speaking to reporters. But he denied any wrongdoing in an August 2014 letter to the general presiding over his court-martial, saying, “My sole purpose during my tenure as a platoon leader was to bring my men home safely.”

The events of that day continue to haunt many members of the platoon. Some, stalked by anger and regret, say they have trouble sleeping. One cried while talking about how the episode tore apart the platoon. One recently checked into a clinic for post-traumatic stress disorder, saying the calls to free Mr. Lorance had revived disturbing memories.

In 2012, the platoon — part of the Fourth Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment — was based in an outpost overlooking a mud-brick village amid fields of grapes in Kandahar Province. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

28 February 2015 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Army, Law, Military

Finally! Good riddance to bad rubbish…

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Megan McCloskey reports for ProPublica:

The longtime scientific director of the problem-ridden Pentagon agency charged with identifying the remains of service members missing from past wars is out of a job.

At a recent Korean War family update meeting in Washington, Tom Holland announced he would soon be leaving as head of the laboratory at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or J-PAC.

“You’ve heard about the reorganization, and I found out last week that I’m not a part of the reorganization,” Holland told the group in August.

Holland’s impending departure is the first leadership change to come to light as part of the major overhaul of the mission announced by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last spring in response to increasing criticism. J-PAC and a second agency involved in the effort will be consolidated starting Jan. 1 in an effort to streamline the inefficient process. An investigation by ProPublica and NPR in March found the agency’s efforts to be rife with outdated science, duplicative bureaucracy and poor leadership.

Holland, who led the lab for nearly 20 years, was the focus of ProPublica’s story, which found he served as an arbiter of identifications and established procedures that set an exceedingly slow pace at the lab. With 9,400 service members still buried as unknowns around the world, his restrictive policies were seen as overly cautious.  Under his leadership, only one out of every 10 cases considered was ever approved for disinterment to attempt identification.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost wouldn’t comment on personnel moves. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 October 2014 at 3:22 pm

Oh, wow: the Medal of Honor scandal just took a turn decidedly for the worse

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You can search this blog on “medal of honor” and find previous stories. Basically, what seems to have happened was that a command decision was made that this Medal of Honor was for the Marines to get, and so the Army nominee’s paperwork was destroyed and they (quite successfully) pushed him aside, until news started to leak. I would imagine that there remains a cadre of officers to whom such conduct seem dishonorable and unbecoming, and I imagine some of those contacted McClatchy. As the publicity mounted, the stalled paperwork was found and, much later, Cpt. Swenson gets the MoH: an honor but the toll opretty much wrecked his life. At any rate, now we get more information from McClathcy in a report by Jonathan Landay (who surely must be going to write a book on this), including video:

In his memoir of the 2009 battle in Afghanistan that brought him the Medal of Honor, Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer describes how he reflexively switched from his machine gun to his rifle and back to his machine gun as he mowed down a swarm of charging Taliban from the vehicle’s turret.

“My mind was completely blank. I fired so many thousands of rounds I didn’t think what I was doing,” Meyer, then a corporal, wrote in his 2012 book, “Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War.”

But videos shot by Army medevac helicopter crewmen show no Taliban in that vicinity or anywhere else on the floor of the Ganjgal Valley at the time and location of the “swarm.” The videos also conflict with the version of the incident in Marine Corps and White House accounts of how Meyer, now 25, of Columbia, Ky., came to be awarded the nation’s highest military decoration for gallantry.

The videos add to the findings of an ongoing McClatchy investigation that determined that crucial parts of Meyer’s memoir were untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated, as were the Marine Corps and White House accounts of how he helped extract casualties from the valley under fire. The White House and Marine Corps have defended the accuracy of their accounts of Meyer’s actions. The Marine Corps declined to comment on the videos.

Army National Guard Sgt. Kevin Duerst, the helicopter crew chief whose helmet camera recorded one of the videos, confirmed the absence of insurgents on the valley floor as the aircraft flew in on a first run to retrieve casualties.

“We totally flew over everything. . . . There was nothing going on down there,” Duerst said in a telephone interview Friday. “There was no serious gunfight going on.”

Former Army Capt. William Swenson, who’s to receive a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on Tuesday for gallantry in the same battle, declined in an interview Sunday to directly address questions about the purported swarming of Meyer’s vehicle. . .

Continue reading.

UPDATE: Ah, here’s why Swenson was the target of such underhanded treatment. From later in the story:

A nearby U.S. base failed to provide air support or adequate artillery cover to the Afghan and U.S. forces for 90 minutes. Two Army officers later received career-ending reprimands, while Swenson – in an interview with military investigators – accused senior U.S. commanders of imposing politically driven rules of engagement that were getting U.S. troops killed.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2013 at 5:17 pm

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