The Hero From Shangri-La
On December 7, 1941 the Japanese Imperial Navy undertook a surprise attack on the American Naval base at Pearl Harbor Hawaii. With that America launched head first into World War 2. Up to that point most average Americans saw the events transpiring in Europe as something that didn’t concern them, sure people had opinions but that was an ocean away. Now however we had been attacked. Americans died. Japan steamrolled across the pacific. The shaken people demanded President Roosevelt do something.
He put the call out to the military. We had to strike back. That is where Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle came in. His plan was to launch a bombing mission against the Japanese Home Islands using B-25 Medium bombers, launched from an aircraft carrier. Something never attempted before. Sixteen aircraft needed retrofitted to allow them to be launched from the carrier, and the crews would need to be trained.
On April 18, 1942 the raid launched. All the planes reached their targets and dropped their payloads. They then headed for their landing sites in China. Unfortunately the planes did not have the fuel. The crews had no choice but to bail out. Most of the crews survived, assisted by the friendly Chinese and good dose of luck. The actual damage done to the Japanese was minimal. That was not the point, We had struck a blow in retaliation. We proved we would fight.
Doolittle was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His citation reads, “For conspicuous leadership above and beyond the call of duty, involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life. With the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea, Lt. Col. Doolittle personally led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland.”
What he did was brave beyond measure. It was also a little crazy, but in times of war we could use a little more crazy…
One thing was for certain during WWII, the Nazis were committing all sorts of war crimes in occupied areas throughout Europe. As early as 1942 the Allies began trying to figure a way to hold them accountable, so sure were they that the Nazis would be defeated.
By August 1945 the Allies all agreed to the London Charter that set out the legal argument for the military tribunals that were going to take place where the highest tanking and most foul offenders would be brought to justice. The limits the placed on themselves were that the tribunals would only deal with the European Axis powers and that they would not take into account any acts that occurred before September 1, 1939.
Where the trials would take place was the next consideration. The German city of Leipzig was considered as well as the country of Luxembourg, for a time Berlin itself was even considered. Instead the historic German city of Nuremberg was chosen for a number fo reasons. First was that the Palace of Justice was still standing, something not said for many German cities. This building was large enough to hold the proceedings and also had a prison attached to it, which was handy. Also Nuremberg was considered the birthplace of the Nazi Party. What more fitting place for the trials to take place?
The trials at Nuremberg opened on November 19, 1945 with its last official acts occurring on October 1st, 1946. During this time much was uncovered as to the origins of the war and the depths of the crimes committed by the regime. While the focus of the main tribunal was the 24 major criminals and seven organizations (including the Gestapo and the SS) it also set the stage for numerous smaller proceedings where hundreds of lesser criminals were brought to justice.
The picture above is of a visitor pass that allowed the hold to sit in and view the trial. Imagine how it would have felt to sit there during the trials and hear men justify their evil and the death of over 40 million people. On second thought, I think I will pass on the visitor pass.
Directed: David Ayer
Starring: Brad Pitt
The story of World War Two is one that has seen more than a few movies and books produced about it. One by-product of that is that is it not often that a new take is seen on the big screen for sure. Fury is a movie that is new, but also oh so familiar in dealing with the subject matter.
The film takes place in the last month or so of WWII. Germany is on the ropes and the hard fighting tankers have seen their share of combat through France and Belgium and now into Germany. These men are war-weary veterans that have seen so much death and destruction that they are almost immune to it, almost. In the dirt and grime of their routine a new crew member is introduced who is seeing it all for the first time. Is he the hero or are the men that make up the tank crew the hero? Honestly, are there any heroes left that close to the end of a war.
I don’t want to say that this is an anti-war movie but it sure is not pro-war. It is just a war movie. Dirty, bloody, horrible, terrible and at the same time glorious and honorable and full of bravery and sacrifice. Yes, the Germans are nameless faceless constructs out of a video game but in flashes you see that they too just want to go home. And to be totally honest the tank battles are top-notch, the best and are the highlight of the movie. The strange interlude in the middle probably wasn’t needed, but it fleshed out the two leads in away that may have been missed otherwise.
I can not recommend this enough, especially if you are a WWII fan. Actually here is my suggestion. Watch Saving Private Ryan, watch the Battle of the Bulge episodes of Band of Brothers, then finish off the war with Fury. That is the Machete Order for WWII.
This the monumental 100th post on this blog. That means we have reached almost a year of telling stories and sharing some of the military of this great nation. Thank you all for your support.
Flags have been in the news a lot lately, and oddly enough if you look back through you will see that we have been talking about flags before it became fashionable. See, flags have meaning, they are symbols. The problem is that sometimes the symbols don’t mean the same thing to everyone.
The flag in this photo above should be very familiar to you. Take a close look though and you will that it is a little different.
Did you see it?
There are 48 stars. See this flag is from the WWII era and for the most part during that time if you saw this flag it meant one of two things.
To our friends it was a symbol of hope, it was a symbol that the big dog had entered the fight and we were going to be doing everything possible to win the war. For ourselves, for our friends and for the sake of the world. Many Americans and our allies died for that flag and many more since have for the very same reasons.
To our enemies it was a symbol of dread. They say the flag and knew that the fight was on. We would not quit, we would not stop until they were defeated. Early in the war our enemies underestimated us and that was to their detriment. Many enemies died in the shadow of that flag, and they still do today.
So same flag different meanings. Weird how that happens, eh?
Thanks for the first 100. Stay tuned for the next 100.
That is a Nazi armband. It was worn by an actual Nazi soldier during an actual war. Very seldom in the course of writing for this blog have I allowed much in the way of personal feelings, but there is something going that just needs stopped. People here and elsewhere are going through an unbelievable amount of effort to pretend that the Nazis never happened and by doing so allowing them to be swept under the rug.
Last summer a 93-year-old man in Germany was charged as an accessory in 300,000 murders for his role as a prison guard at Auschwitz. That trial is currently under way. but it is getting less press, especially in the United States than the Apple iWatch (or whatever they are calling it). This man was a Nazi, this country went to war to stop them from carrying out their plans. That man, even at 93, is only coming to justice because what we did to end the war and end the regime that he was a part of. and this story gets barely a mention.
This is the thing. What they did was terrible and that sort of thing, not just in terms of the Holocaust, not just in the number of Jewish, Romanian, Polish, Russian, and all other races they felt unclean must never be allowed to happen again. The way to stop it i not through laws, nothing international agreements, not through erasing part of our collective history, but through remembering what they did. As each generation gets farther and farther from that truth, from that evil, it will take work to remember.
See that symbol in the picture above. That is the Nazi symbol. That armband was real and was worn by a real person that carried out their evil. we must never forget.
CV-1 USS Langley First of Her Kind
The above is commemorative print of the USS Langley or as the picture shows, the U.S. Aeroplane Carrier. Yep, the Langley was our first official aircraft carrier.
In 1920 she was converted from the USS Jupiter, a collier and was one of several planned conversions. These took a different path as the Washington Naval Treaty (Hey! Didn’t we talk about that?) lead to several partial constructed battle cruisers becoming carriers instead, the Lexington and the Saratoga.
She had a carrier pigeon-house built on her stern. While this was not highly unusual as pigeons were used by seaplanes at the time. Of course things did not go as planned. If the pigeons were released one or two at a time, they would always come back as they were supposed to, but once the entire flock was released they went home to Norfolk and never came back to the ship. The coop was eventually turned into the Executive Officers quarters. (Please commence jokes now.)
Early on in WWII she ferried airplanes around the Southeast Asia theater and served as part of anti-submarine patrols. She was not going to be able to avoid danger forever though. In February 27, 1942 the Japanese had their way with her, causing so much damage that she had to be scuttled. A twenty-two year career and she went out with a bang.
In a tragic foot note, after being scuttled most of her surviving crew was put aboard the USS Pecos for the trip back to Australia. Unfortunately the ship sunk on the journey back.