Gene Harrison: Mr. President, it’s time to go to War!

By email from “Gene Harrison”, who as the post indicates, is on travel. If this is any indication of the type of thing we can expect I can’t wait for him to get home and start posting more often. Any dumb sonuvabitch that uses the term “chickenhawk” in our comments will be summarily banned; that was your only warning. Read the bio, folks.

Mr. President, it’s time to go to War!

First of all War is not the resolution of conflict by threat or use of deadly force; that is police work. War is not the final stage of diplomacy. That is diplomacy. War is not establishing defenses against attack—there are no defenses that cannot be breached. Stronger defenses simply change the cost to the enemy of the breach.

War is a national response to a threat of death or destruction to the people or structure (in every sense) of a nation. The purpose of war is to eradicate and so completely destroy the enemy that the threat to the nation disappears. The destruction of an enemy by war includes destroying every asset of the enemy, political, social, religious, economic, psychological, biological, and human. You may choose not to destroy a hospital, but only because it uses the enemies resources that could otherwise be directed toward you.

Not only must you kill the enemy, you must render it incapable of recovery in any form that had led to the threat or deed that brought war on. The devastation the enemy faces must force complete compliance by the entire enemy polis; civil and military, to our demands that lead to total surrender.

I can’t count the number of Churches we shelled into oblivion in Germany. They were terrific artillery observation posts. I can hardly remember whether we killed 150,000 or 200,000 civilians in Dresden, and that was the work of the Greatest Generation. Nagasaki and Hiroshima demonstrated that in the face of overwhelming destruction, an Empire could be brought to heel.

We aimed to destroy every avenue of communication that fostered resistance by the civil population. My battalion alone would have silenced al Jazeera on the first day of an attack. No news reporter who had not been screened and whose reports had not been reviewed by censor were transmitted, either to our homeland or to the enemy. As one of my culture heroes, Winston Churchill said, “we will make them bleed and burn.” I wore that patch. My regimental motto was “Death before Defeat.”

I note, here in England where I visit my daughter and my five grandchildren, that none of the children have learned in their schools of the Battle of Britain. They find it hard to believe that children like them living in London, where sent away to the North to escape dying by the Blitz, the buzz bombs and V2s of 1940-41, so that a remnant of a great nation would remain. They thrill to hear me speak with praise and reverence of young British airmen, flying their Spitfire “kites,” against Messerschmitts and Heinkels.

That is War, Mr. President, and if you don’t think we are in one, you need to replace your advisors, and shape up your military. A good first step would be to return the name of the department responsible for war from the “Defense” Department back to its original title: The War Department.

Go get ‘em!

Keep Your Powder Dry

Prior to the rise of the Shia in Iraq, Hezbollah — as a radical Shiite Islamist organization — was Iran’s main asset in the Arab world. In fact, it likely will continue to be used by Tehran as a
key tool for furthering Iranian geopolitical interests in the region, until such time as Shiite power has been consolidated in Baghdad and Iran’s interests there secured.

In its earliest days, Hezbollah was a classic militant organization — the creation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the elite unit of the Iranian military. It was founded as a way to
export the ideals of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini’s Islamic revolution to the Shiite community of Lebanon, and served as a model for follow-on organizations (some even using the same name) in other Arab states. It did not take long, however, for Hezbollah to emerge in Lebanon as a guerrilla movement, whose fighters were trained in conventional military tactics.

In the mid-1980s, Iran’s premier intelligence agency, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), assumed the task of managing Tehran’s militant assets — not just in the Middle East but in other parts of the world as well. This allowed the Iranians, through a special unit within MOIS, to strike at Israeli interests in places as diverse as Latin America and Southeast Asia.

The relationship between MOIS and Hezbollah remains a subject worthy of study in light of the current situation in Lebanon. Of course, Iran has been Hezbollah’s chief source of funding and weapons over the years, and the Iranians continue to supply extensive training in weapons, tactics, communications, surveillance and other methods to the militant wing of Hezbollah in Lebanon. The relationship is sufficiently close that the Hezbollah branch in Iran proper recently declared it would unleash militant
attacks against Israelis and Americans around the world if given the order by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Tehran insists that Hezbollah is not an arm of official policy.)

We have previously discussed the possibility that Hezbollah might be moved to seize hostages or engage in other militant acts, given the pressure the Israelis now are bringing to bear. There is some
question, of course, as to whether Iran might be involved in future militant operations — and if so, what assets it might use and the modalities that would apply.

An Organizational Model

There is a division of labor of sorts in the way that Iran manages its foreign assets: The IRGC (which is led by a professional military officer with strong ideological credentials as an Islamist) oversees the Lebanese Hezbollah, while MOIS (which almost always is headed by a cleric) manages militant operatives and groups in other parts of the Muslim world — Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, India. Moreover, MOIS also maintains contacts among the Shiite immigrant populations in non-Muslim countries, including those in the West.

It also is important to note that radical Shiite Islamist ideology is only one factor that shapes Tehran’s decisions. Ethnicity and nationalism also play an important role in Iran’s dealings with Shiite allies of Arab, South Asian and other descent. The Persians claim a rich cultural heritage, which they view as superior to that of the Arabs. This attitude impacts the level of trust and cooperation between the Iranians and other Shiite groups — including Hezbollah — when it comes to sensitive international
operations. It is little wonder, then, that the Lebanese organization’s sphere of operations does not extend much beyond the Levant.

Semper I

Semper I is an old Marine Corps term applied to those selfish careerists who place their own success ahead of their men and the  wellbeing of  the Corps. Congressman John Murtha is a living example of that disgraceful term.

A bugle blows in Arlington,Lilting notes fill still sad air,An eagle’s tears a globe fall on,Trail an anchor with despair, For a man we’d wish had not to die, Brave youth among the best, A Marine, he lived for Semper Fi, And with Semper Fi he’ll rest.

So sadly is the contrast,Between those who talk and fight; Fat Pols for whom their war’s past, But now can’t see the light, Accusing brave young fighting men, Of crimes they can’t defend,Disgraceful fat old congressmen, Who’ve lost the will to win.

Yes there we see the difference,Between those who fight to win, And a congressman with no sense, Who’s committed grievous sin;He’s turned against his Corps, And no one knows quite why,Except he loves himself much more: Classic case of Semper I.

Semper Fi to all Marines everywhere from an old paratrooper who holds Murtha in as much contempt as you do.

Russ Vaughn
327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

[Webmaster’s note 2006.07.18.23:30:  Murtha portrait added, courtesy of BootMurtha.com. Click it to see their post, where they have a larger version.  Now’s a perfect time to visit Irey.com.]

What next?

My astute co-contributors have clearly defined several closely related parts of a larger problem.  Steve’s take is here. And Gene offers a positive solution here.  Others, here and elsewhere,  have offered even more perspective and possible solutions.

But, while the first step in solving a problem is to correctly identify it, I think there are still some pieces missing before we can be certain we have.

A clear Declaration of War would be a first step, but War against what?  One of the flaws in The Global War on Terror has been noted by the liberal/left; terrorism is an act, not a government.

I’m all for a pre-emptive strategy, I support the use of carefully targeted Nukes. North Korea’s launch site(s), Iran’s military and nuclear facilities, and a few more similar targets, but the list is, frankly, short.

And, for the record, I could care less about international reaction.

But even if we followed that path, we’re still left with the billions (externally) and millions (internally) that do not want  the U.S. to survive in any form most of us would recognize.

Those tactics won’t work in London or Dearborn anyway.

One real problem, and one only WE can solve, is that we, collectively, have no identity any more. I’m not certain we ever did! But that point is a bit off topic unless we address the politicians.

As much as I’d like to blame the congresscritters in D.C., they are only a symptom.

So I’m left asking ‘What Next’?

I willing to get off my ass and do something, helping dump Murtha, for example. But there are many more where he came from.

An armed revolt sounds interesting, but it would allow those on the sidelines (Islamists, anti-American illegal immigrants, etc.) to pick up the pieces at their leisure.

I’m armed, with a vote and a gun, give me target. I don’t have enough ammo to ‘spray and pray’ and only one vote.

Bill Faith; My Buddy

The following was forwarded to me from Russ Vaughn. It is difficult to separate, Bill and Russ, as to who did what first to give birth to Old War Dogs.

By Russ Vaughn

Bill Faith was my buddy, a term that has particular meaning for those who have worn a uniform in service to this country. And though I never met him, nor even heard his voice a single time, that’s how I will remember Bill, as my buddy, someone who served alongside me through victory and defeat, through thick and thin, but who always could be counted on to stand up and be counted when it counted most.

I must first apologize to Bill’s family and all of you out there for being tardy in posting my thoughts on Bill’s passing. Two months ago my wife and I were abruptly thrust into the role of primary caregivers for her almost ninety-year-old parents, a responsibility which has kept both of us away from our computers and me from my blogging efforts. It was only through an email from The Gray Dog, Mike Connelly, that I learned belatedly of Bill’s death.

I don’t even remember precisely when Bill and I became acquainted, just that it was sometime after John Kerry became the Democrat frontrunner in 2004 and this old Vietnam vet, like millions of my brothers, swore to do everything in my power to prevent that traitor from ever becoming commander in chief. Scott Swett, at Wintersoldier blog, first began posting my anti-Kerry rants, which were then picked up by the Freepers and spread to other like-minded sites. Shortly thereafter I received an email from Bill, telling me he would like to post my pieces at his Small Town Veteran blog. As soon as I visited the site, I knew I had found an ally, one who quickly became a long-distance friend and a valued editor of my sometimes rough expositions.

When Kerry was defeated in November 2004, Bill and I, like all our Vietnam veteran brothers who had fought to keep Kerry out of the presidency, were exhilarated and felt that at last we had been exonerated. In sharing that victory, we became buddies, and the bond became even stronger in the summer of 2006 when Bill became webmaster of our new blog, Old War Dogs, which may have been my brainstorm but was Bill’s baby from the outset. He built the pen and the doghouse from scratch and fed and watered that pup every day. And like most proud papas, he could get quickly cantankerous if he felt like someone was mistreating his dog, including me.

Bill kept OWD up and running all through this last election fiasco even though, like me, he was never more than lukewarm to the idea of John McCain as our candidate. But, good soldier that he was, Bill fought the good fight right up until the bitter end. And as bitter as it was for the rest of us, his email telling me that he was going to back away from daily blogging at OWD, made me aware that my buddy was battle weary and in need of some respite. I regret not then realizing just how badly needed it was.

Michelle Malkin’s farewell post to Bill includes my poem, The Sheepdogs, and I thank her for that because there was never a more dedicated Sheepdog than Bill Faith. He loved his flock, both the immediate, his family, especially his new grandbaby, and that much larger flock, his countrymen.

Bill, I’m gonna miss you, Buddy.

Russ Vaughn

Taps for a Warrior

Frederick M. Burr, USA, retired, passed away today at 2:55 p.m. Mountain Time at age 91. He was my father-in-law.

He became acquainted with the Army while traveling as a very young man when he visited an uncle who was on Gen. MacArthur’s staff in the Philippines. When World War II broke out, he joined Patton’s Army, serving as a sergeant on the staff of his Regimental Combat Team Commander in Europe. After the war, he became a Warrant Officer in Military Intelligence; in that capacity, he served in Vietnam, bracketed in his wartime tour by two stepsons, also in the Army.

He later served with the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, in the early 1970s. CW4 Burr interviewed returning POWs from Vietnam and continued to serve in the Army until he was well-past retirement age, having been granted special dispensation due to his intelligence skills and knowledge.

When he did retire, he held the distinction of being the oldest, longest serving Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army. After retiring from the Army, he remained active in military and veterans affairs and national security organizations and even accomplished something he never had time for as a younger man–he finished college.

A couple of years ago, Fred joined my wife and my Father (along with a friend and my brother) on a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the new World War II Memorial. It was a gift my wife and I gave both our Dads, since both were World War II-Korea-Vietnam Veterans. We also visited the memorials from those two wars. For the occasion, we outfitted both Dads in caps conveying their triple-war service, and it was great to watch all their fellow veterans, young and old, as well as active duty personnel and civilians, come up to thank them for their service.

Fred was a proud man, an old school gentleman and as loyal an American patriot as anyone who ever lived. He lived a good, long life and will be fondly remembered by his large family and many friends. The nation and all of us who live in freedom, owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.

I salute you, Fred. It was an honor to be your son-in law. Rest in peace. You’ve certainly earned it.

Bill Faith – “Aim High” My Friend

*** Update Sunday January 18, 2009 ***

I should have added this link to Michelle Malkin’s article.

Also to Uncle Jimbo’s post at BlackFive.

Here are a whole bunch more:

The Rude News

Illusion or reality

WizBang

Another Voice

Confedrate Yankee

The Radio Patriot

Brutally Honest

Bookworm Room

 

Also, Bill’s sister has requested donations be made to Soldier’s Angels in lieu of flowers.

Finally, I am unable to approve any comments left for Bill at other posts.  Some of you already have posted elsewhere.  If you wish to leave a comment for Bill please do so at this article, for which I am able to approve comments for.  Thank You.

**********************************************

It is with a saddened heart that I just heard from another Old War Dog, Zero Ponsdorf, that Michelle Malkin reported the death of Old War Dog founder and webmaster Bill Faith.  I missed a couple of opportunities this year as I traveled through Southern Illinois, to stop and meet Bill in person.  This is a mistake I will regret for the rest of my life.

Through an electronic introduction from another Old War Dog, Jim Bartimus, I was introduced to Bill in July of 2005.  It was then that Bill extended the invitation to join the Old War Dogs Blog, and it was the first type of anything in my adult lifetime I had ever joined.

Bill could be cantankerous at times, often causing a bit of dissent among the ranks.  But, I know that Bill’s life centered around two things: Old War Dogs and his Grandson.  His Blogging and love of America, I can speak to.  His abundant love for his daughter and grandson I will leave for others.

Many years later, Bill and I discovered that I had preceded him into the Air Force by a mere week back in the summer of 1970, and that most of our time at Lackland AFB and afterward at Sheppard AFB, had overlapped.  That’s where the similarity ended.  Bill went on to serve in Vietnam, while I defended America from the frozen moonscapes of Alaska.  I think it was our same age, military branch, and the fact that we were both Illinoisans, that caused Bill to always favor my writing and give it a little boost in the Blog position each day.  In fact I was often embarrassed by the favoritism.

Others, such as Russ Vaughn, JD Pendry, George “Rurik” Mellinger, William “1st Cav” Page and Zero Ponsdorf knew Bill longer and perhaps better than I, although most of us have been strangers to Old War Dogs for a couple of years now.

A couple of years ago, Bill had entrusted the “keys” to the Old War Dogs Site with me and Russ Vaughn.  I haven’t been in contact with Russ for some time, and I’m not sure how to proceed.  Old War Dogs and Small Town Veteran were 100% Bill Faith.  There is a part of me that says we should keep OWD going as a tribute to Bill, yet another that says it would only be a cheap imitation.  As mentioned before, Russ and JD and perhaps a few others will have more to say on the topic.

In closing, I simply want to say that Bill was a patriot, a loving father and grandfather, and a clear voice for veteran’s causes throughout the blogosphere.  And for me personally, he was a friend and fellow Old War Dog.  I will miss him.

Mike Connelly
The Gray Dog

Classy Cussing for Disgraced Democrats

CAUTION: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE AND ADULT SITUATIONS!!
An example of just how difficult it is to be a woman in politics these days surfaced late this week when the Democrat Attack Machine, known here as the American Terrorist Media, ATM, went after Patti Blagojevich, wife of the embattled Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich.

Aside from the rampant misogynism that also launched the attacks on Hillary Clinton, and the ongoing character assassination on Sarah Palin, the reasoning behind the attacks on Mrs. Blagojevich is that she swears!

The government has wiretapped tape recordings of her husband allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama’s now vacant Illinois Senate seat to the highest bidder, and in the background a woman who allegedly is Patti Blagojevich is yelling obscenities. How dare she?

What gives with this woman? Swearing!?

I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. Back in the 60s one of the premier identity factors for the new, liberal, liberated, feminist-type woman was taking the shackles off their mouths, and cursing word-for-word, obscenity-for-obscenity with the guys. And not just any guys, because most educated and refined guys didn’t use four letter words and related curses, especially in the presence of women.

No, the sign of the liberated woman was using the worst type of gutter language in the presence of anyone, anywhere, to show that aged social conventions were no longer in vogue. But obviously times have changed and it no longer is a sign of the ultimate feminist to stand toe to toe with any man in the room and swear him under the table.

Considering that no one has claimed she has Tourette’s Syndrome, Patti Blagojevich apparently didn’t get the memo. Or maybe she was a journalist in a previous incarnation and is just trying to conserve words and get her point across in as few as possible. Interesting isn’t it that the only time a Democratic woman’s use of the King’s English becomes an issue is when the ATM decides she is no longer a useful tool for the prevailing political agenda.

Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai, India Reveal Tactical Shift in War on Terror; Look To Scottish History to Solve Afghanistan, Pakistan Dilemma

The death toll is still climbing in Mumbai, India where Islamo-fascist terrorists struck Wednesday, targeting American and British citizens, Jews and police. News reports say the carnage and chaos were well planned, and the targets were pre-selected.

Among the dead in the initial moments of the assault were police officials who would have been in a position to direct a coordinated counter-assault. As a result the terrorists roamed freely, killing, taking hostages, and digging in for a protracted battle.

The attacks in India point out tragically just how simple it is to turn normal life into unthinkable horror. And they underscore the extent to which free societies must exert themselves if they are to deliver a death blow to terrorism.

Although security officials believe the attackers were members of an extreme Islamo-fascist organization based in Pakistan, and presumably had terrorist dollars and organizational capabilities backing them up, their weaponry was mostly small arms, grenades, and assault rifles. Mumbai, formerly Bombay, sits on the shore of the Arabian Sea and the attackers arrived aboard motorized rubber rafts.

Depending on the point of origin and the route taken, it is about 600-800 nautical miles from the shore of Pakistan to the water’s edge in Mumbai, far too long and uncertain for a voyage entirely by motorized rafts. Thus, Indian security officials surmise that the rafts were launched from a larger ship.

But even arranging for sea transportation is not that difficult in areas of the world where pirates roam. In short, although there was significant pre-planning and intelligence gathering to launch the assault on Mumbai, the level of organization necessary to do it was not that complicated.

With US forces victorious in Iraq, and the Iraqi parliament approving an agreement outlining responsibility for its own security, it is obvious that worldwide terrorist organizations are looking for softer targets. They also need some form of “victory” to draw attention away from their overwhelming losses in Iraq.

As the assault continued into its third day, international news organizations reported on the possible identity of the attackers.

Foremost among the organizations blamed was Lashkar-e-Taiba – which in the depth of hypocrisy means Army of the Righteous. Attempts were made to shift the blame to a heretofore unheard of domestic (Indian) terror group, calling itself Deccan Mujahideen, but evidence indicates that the attacks originated with Pakistan/Afghanistan based “traditional” terrorists.

Although the terrorists claimed to be citizens of India, analyses of tape recordings between the attackers and the media indicated they were speaking with Pakistani accents.

Lashkar-e-Taiba reportedly originated in Kunar, Afghanistan, on the border with Pakistan, adjacent to the wild and Taliban/Al Qaeda friendly Tribal Areas. Regardless of which splinter group actually did the shooting, it is obvious that with Al Qaeda defeated in Iraq, there is a shift in emphasis to targets closer to its last remaining stronghold on the Afghan/Pakistan border.

Herein lies the reference to Scotland. One of the saddest chapters in Scottish history is the brutal end of the clan system by which the Scottish Highlands were emptied of inhabitants, their way of life, the homes, their language, and their culture.

Scotland and England ceased to be separate countries beginning with the Union of the Crowns in 1603 – which actually placed a Scottish king on the throne of England – and their Parliaments united in 1707. Nonetheless, there was still animosity between and within both countries, based to a large degree on religious issues as well as politics and nationalism. Catholicism was favored by some, opposed by others, and wars were fought and monarchs toppled over the question of whether Scotland would accept Catholicism as its state religion.

(To this day the National Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, although it is not considered the “state” church.)

This animosity, and efforts to restore a Scottish monarch, led ultimately to the Battle of Culloden in 1746, in which the pro-government forces (backed by England) brutally defeated the outnumbered and significantly outgunned Scottish Jacobites. The loss on the battlefield was only the beginning, and the real impact came in the following years during the Highland Clearances, more than a century of unchecked brutality.

During this time land speculators from England, backed by the English Army, invaded traditional Scottish Clan lands, threw the inhabitants out of their homes and communities, shot many, hanged many, and forced others to the coasts where they lived in abject penury. Tens of thousands were forced onto ships heading anywhere else in the world.

To accomplish this the Highland Scots were ordered to disarm, a violation of which brought instant death. To facilitate the army’s access to the highland clans, many located in inaccessible areas where they had thrived for centuries, the English built roads and bridges to enhance the movement of troops.

But one of the most effective tactics used by the English in the Highland Clearances was not the brutality, which often has the affect of uniting the afflicted, but the practice of separating the clan chiefs from the clans.

The English did this by inviting the highest and most powerful chieftains to London, where they were assimilated into the English society. Their children, especially those born in England, were educated in English schools, taught English customs and within one generation any attachment to the Highlands was removed from their collective consciousness.

Today, if you travel north along Scotland’s east coast, and then inland from the town of Helmsdale, to the lands once populated by the most northern clans you will find … next to nothing.

If you go to the Helmsdale home page on the Internet you will find references to the emptiness of the land between the coast and the next inland settlement. Where the clans once thrived, now there are only scattered domiciles, and little to remind travellers of what once existed there.

I am not advocating using these tactics on the inhabitants of the Tribal Areas on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. I don’t advocate ripping people away from their homes, their families and their heritage.

But if the leaders of those tribes are going to conspire with extremists seeking world domination, then I do advocate separating the head from the body. One way or another, the leaders of these vicious attacks have to be separated from the people they are recruiting for their dirty work.

The Highland Clearances are a historical blot on the history of England, and a devastating era in Scottish history. But, from the standpoint of English rulers who wanted to ensure that they were never again threatened with invasion from the wild clansman of the Scottish Highlands, they were devastatingly effective.

The attacks in Mumbai have shown that no one in the free world is safe from terrorist attacks, launched by zealots who use murder, torture and mayhem as a means of imposing their will on everyone else.

But if free world forces can figure out a way to achieve the same level of effectiveness as the Highland Clearance, separating the head from the body and redirecting the energies of those doing the fighting – without brutalizing innocent civilians – there may still be some hope for the human race.

Who Are We?

Contributed by Bill Faith

It all started with an email from Russ Vaughn, which I posted here. That set off a flurry of emails which led to the creation of this site. I’ll let Russ explain more:

Through the magic of the blogosphere it is becoming increasingly evident that there are a lot of old dogs out there mastering the new tricks of this 21st Century phenomenon. While some are technically skilled enough to create their own sites, like your host Bill Faith, far more fall into my category: those who tenaciously hunt and peck out their opinions on war, society and life in general, and have only the basic computer skills requisite to sending those opinions into the ether of this wonderful thing called the Internet.

Old War Dogs is a site designed for these old dogs to practice their new tricks without having to compete with the fluid skills of younger, more technically savvy bloggers. While we may be too old to carry a gun in the ranks, we can still pound these keys. Mao’s dictum that political power flows from the barrel of a gun, while true, predates the blogosphere; and this old dog bets the Chairman would be truly stunned at the power that flows from the keyboard.

Blog on you old mutts!

Ronald Winter is an author, public relations executive, college professor and award winning journalist. He regularly writes and speaks on matters of public interest including the military, politics and the Vietnam War particularly as it relates to the ongoing War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ron is author of the book Masters of the Art, A Fighting Marine’s Memoir of Vietnam published by Random House, and regularly posts commentary on war and politics in his column Winter’s Soldier Story at his website www.RonaldWinterbooks.com.

He grew up in the farming country of upstate New York near Albany where he gave up an academic scholarship at the State University there in 1966 to join the Marines and fight in Vietnam. Ron was a helicopter crewman and machine gunner, flying 300 combat missions.

After Vietnam he returned to his studies earning undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering and English Literature. In a two-decade journalism career that included stints as investigative reporter, supervising editor and columnist, Ron was the recipient of several awards and a Pulitzer nomination.

He owns Spectre Communications where he specializes in marketing, media relations and political communications. He also is the Eastern Representative for Michael J. London & Associates public relations firm. Ron is an adjunct professor of communication at the University of Hartford.

The youngest of 4 sons, John Werntz turned 18 —choice draft-meat —11 weeks after Pearl Harbor. His eldest brother, Ted, a telephone technician in civilian life, was already in the Army, fated to find himself installing commo systems in Morocco in late 1942. Lest we forget, North Africa in’42 led to Palermo, then Messina, Salerno, Cassino, Anzio, Rome, Southern France, on up into Germany and all the way to Munich. But this is about John, not about Ted.

The middle brothers, Eugene and Howard, were already noncoms headed for action in the Pacific with the Fleet Marine Force. John’s dilemma: How to beat the draft without incurring the wrath and scorn of his dog-tagged and chevron-sleeved brethren. Just in time, the Army Air Corps lowered its standards to permit mere high-school grads to train as aircrew officers. After months of hard schooling relieved by PT and a modicum of Hup!Toop!Threep!Fawr, this gawky teenager found himself taking the President’s commission and with it a solemn vow of service to the nation. A soldier? Hardly. But a citizen in full.

That was early August of ‘43. Two months later John’s outfit, which was the first Troop Carrier Group to arrive in England, began to train for the assault on occupied Western Europe. Please note that John’s official MOS was Aerial Observer (Navigator). Prior to D-day he racked up well over 1000 hours of air time. Much of that was spent observing two sweating pilots wrestling with the controls, trying to stay on an even keel and keep proper distance in close formation while wallowing in rotten turbulent air exasperated by propwash and wingwash. A neat trick, formation flying in an aircraft that was designed to look serene while soaring over the Grand Tetons in lonely splendor.

The rest is history, and John had ample opportunity to observe some of it. The chaos that ensues when you release gliders, dozens of them in the air all at once, competing for a safe place to set down. The silent menace of that huge invasion fleet lurking in the pre-dawn mist off the coast of Normandy. The foreboding when the invasion seemed bogged down in the hedgerows six weeks after D-day. The euphoria after the breakout. Loud cheers in the Quonset hut when Patton’s tanks overrun the LZs and DZs of planned airborne ops. Why ramble on? We all know what happened. For John Werntz, it all comes down to a tale of 3 first weeks of August.

1943: Newly hatched shavetail, wet behind the ears.

1944: Breakout at St. Lô. Paris soon liberated. Rehearse French.

1945: Enola Gay does its thing. Tear up orders for Okinawa. Get smashed.

John has mentioned to me in the past that his unit flew C-47s and C-53s similar to the one in the above picture, which he told Small Town Veteran readers more about here, and that he himself flew one mission on that particular aircraft. STV readers first met John in this post.

The members of the Old War Dogs pack were saddened to learn that John Werntz passed away due to complications following a fall on 22 June 2008. Please see this post for more information.

I was tempted to just write “Russ Vaughn is widely known as the Poet Laureate of the milblogosphere,” but I guess I’ll go ahead and post what he sent me as well:

Russ served in the 101st Airborne Division in varying assignments including combat MP, infantry RTO/driver, fire team leader, and battalion CBR NCO from 1959-1962/1964-1966. He served in Vietnam with the 2d Bn, 327th PIR of the 101st Airborne. Russ was serving as brigade staff CBR NCO of the 2d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division when he left the Army in 1969. He obtained his B.S. degree from Texas El Paso on the G.I. Bill in 1971 and then entered the health care marketing field, specializing in military medicine. Retiring in 2000, he now travels frequently as a consultant in military medical marketing.

Small Town Veteran has been privileged to post frequent examples of Russ’s writings over the past several months. Click here to see the entire STV Russ Vaughn collection.

*** Update: The STV Russ Vaughn index has been updated and moved here.

Back in the day, the stage just barely shy of “heap highly pissed” was “torque-jawed.” Jaw muscles tight, jaw sticking out just a shade, somewhere between “If you weren’t wearing those freakin’ stars I’d tell you what I think” and “Dead man walking.”

TorqeJaw, A Proud Veteran-American

TorqueJaw don’t say much about his past, sorta gives the impression it’s safer not to ask. We’re not sure if he was a Gray Beret or maybe just a Mafioso or some such thing. TorqueJaw gets his way a lot.

TorqueJaw was created by Mr. and Mrs. Gray Dog.

“Zero Ponsdorf” was born and raised in West Virginia. He joined the Navy Reserves between his Junior and Senior year in high school (1963). Since his father was KIA in Korea he wouldn’t have been drafted, but wanted to ‘see the world’ anyway.

Following high school he went to FT/A school at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and then to the USS England DLG-22, the first of four ships on which he served. Others were the USS Parsons DDG-33, USS Worden DLG-18, and the USS Mahan DLG-11.

“Zero” made 4 visits to the Gulf of Tonkin, each about 6 months long. The duty while there was varied, from picking up downed aircrew to firing shore bombardment. During rescue missions it was not unusual to exchange fire with North Vietnamese shore batteries.

He was discharged in May, 1969 as an E-5.

After his discharge Zero held many jobs, from driving a cab in San Diego to working for NASA at the tracking station on Kauai. While with NASA he worked on the first nine Shuttle missions.

Now Zero has settled in on his piece of ridge in central West Virginia. He does a little consulting work with computers, and some minor web work for friends.

Zero has been Blogging since 2004, and recently migrated (mostly) from Live Journal to Blogspot [Click here — BF.] He participated in the Kerry Lied rally in DC and is preparing to help Larry Bailey unseat Murtha this fall.

Zero has resigned from Old War Dogs effective 2007.01.21
and now posts at Veteran-American Voices.