My best to you, America, for the New Year.
Wonderful artwork, too…
It was 1966 in Chu Lai. Assigned to the 7th Motor Transport Battalion, we’d just come in from a four-day run. It was quiet and we were taking turns cleaning our weapons. One of the guys suddenly stopped what he was doing, sitting there with a dumb-ass look on his face. He said, “Hey, Christmas was two days ago.”
We all stopped what we were doing, and I remember that we all just looked at him for a long moment; nobody said a word.
And then we went back to cleaning our weapons.
Corporal, U. S. Marine Corps
On December 16th 1944 the German Army launched an assault in the Ardennes Forrest completely surprising the thinly spread American VIII Corps. The German 6th Panzer Army, 5th Panzer Army and 7th Army attacked and forced the surrender of 2 regiments of 106th Infantry Division, mauled the 28th Division in the center of the American line while battering other U.S. forces. To the north the 2nd and 99th Infantry Divisions were tenaciously defending Elsenborn Ridge while to the south the thinly spread 4th Infantry and 9th Armored Divisions resisted the 7th Army advance. As elements of the two German Panzer armies advanced west Eisenhower dispatched his only reserves the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions to meet the threat. The 82nd moved to the town of St Vith to aid the 7th Armored Division while the 101
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I’m sorry, nice-minded bloggers…
But this REALLY a prime-time sucky.
Worse than a twerky even.
It’s not just Obama approving a paltry 1% pay increase for our military… It’s that a military man or woman can’t support his or her family. Paltry pay. And it keeps getting worse.
Please view the related short news broadcast and news print by clicking on the image below… Hear the extent of the horrendous impact on our military and veterans – AND THEIR FAMILIES.
And remember, they got SEQUESTERED earlier this year. More cuts in household income.
You don’t need to be accurate to get your point across.
Congress people pay themselves somewheres over $150,000 a year – certainly no ILLICIT income, of course – and don’t get shot at or maimed. They take LONG recesses (i.e., vacations), too.
And Obama sends these poor guys and gals to get shot at? At less than a $20,000 salary? (And he takes vacations to Hawai’i costing us MILLIONS each time.)
But wounded or disabled vets? THEY should get lifetime pay.
Not the self-centered bozos in Washington, DC.
Today, I thought I’d visit with Old Man Jack for a while. I didn’t drive my supercharged and unmufflered Grabber Orange Mustang to visit him although he loved it so much. It looked like rain. But I did take a cigar with me.
I know he didn’t mind the cigar.
He said it “doesn’t smell much better than the stinkin’ islands…but anything smelled better than those stinkin’ islands”.
He would reminisce much more frequently about the war on those islands when it involved “fun memories” and I recalled one while chatting with him today at his grave. Believe me, whether it be a “fun” memory or not, a tear or two always tags along.
Old Man Jack always described the islands in the Southwest Pacific to be “those stinkin’ islands”. He had said that while things always stunk, “everything smelled like shit”. Pardon the French but those are the words expressed by the now old man who was back then a young boy of nineteen. Hell, put it into perspective. That spoiled young singer Justin Bieber is nineteen. I’ll leave it at that.
“When I got there, I wondered why things smelled like shit,” he said with his trademark grin. The one where the left corner of his mouth rises. “Well, I was a dumb shit punk myself back then.”
We had been touring the mock up of the CV-6 carrier deck (USS Enterprise) at the Chino Planes of Fame Museum back in 2003. Our friendship had begun solidifying by then. I had taken him there primarily to see his beloved F4U Corsair so this was a side trip at the museum.
On the “flight deck” was a Douglass SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber.
One thing he immediately spit out was after seeing the plane was, “That rear seat is just a metal plate. You sat on your parachute for a cushion…” He then continued, “…and those were twin .30’s back there.”
He told me once a Navy dive bomber pilot “grabbed him by the collar” early on and told him to get into the rear seat “quick-like”. I remember asking him why because at that time, I didn’t know he was certified to fly. In typical Old Man Jack fashion, he quipped, “‘Cuz I was the only one there.” Accent on the “there”, please.
“Well, we were flying up there. Man, that parachute made for a lousy cushion,” he said. “Then a Zero got on our six…and then I saw these little flashes. I figured out real quick he was shooting at us.” Jack’s still got that grin on his face.
“The pilot yelled, Shoot, you son of a bitch! Shoot! Shoot! So I did.”
“The pilot kept yelling, Shoot! Shoot!“. Then I yelled, “I did! I did!”
He wasn’t afraid to say it. Jack said he got so scared he just laid on the triggers and didn’t let go. There was only about 15 seconds worth of rounds. He had fired off all his ammo.
“Man, I heard every god damn cuss word from that pilot,” he chuckled, still with that trademark grin.
But then he ended it by saying, “…And whoo-ee, I crapped in my pants… And that’s how I figured out why everything smelled like shit.”
I never asked him what happened to that Zero…or if they successfully dropped their bomb…or what happened to that Navy pilot.
But one thing is for sure. I would have liked to have seen Justin Bieber in that back seat behind those twin .30s.
I’m sure his voice would get even higher…permanently…and would have needed a diaper change.
Real men don’t wear diapers. Jack sure as hell didn’t. He just shit in his pants and wasn’t ashamed to admit it.
I enjoyed our chat today, Jack.
And I’ll be sure to drive the Mustang next time so you can hear it.
Day after tomorrow – two years ago – Old Man Jack left us. He would be free of his nightmares of war which plagued him nightly for seventy years. While it is self-serving to reblog your own story, I am reblogging this for the sake of men like him who gave away their youth to serve in hell. People today need to KNOW and REMEMBER. I regret the huge majority of Americans today are ignorant of what people had to do so that we can enjoy – and complain – of what we have today.
Rest in peace, Jack. I will try to visit you today to say hi.
“Koji, don’t let anyone tell you different. War makes good boys do crazy things.”
That was the first time Old Man Jack shared something with me about the war in a voice of unfeigned remorse. In turn, it was one of my first journeys in his time machine in which he allowed me to ride along.
Front row seats. Free of charge.
It was in 2002 to the best of my recollection. It was just before my littlest firecracker was born.
KA-BAR. If you are a World War II US Marine who served on “those stinkin’ islands”, there is no explanation necessary.
A KA-BAR was a Marine’s most prized personal possession. It was always at their side.
They opened their C-rations with it. Dug foxholes with it. Chopped coconut logs with it. Hammered nails with it. Indestructible.
Most importantly, for killing. Designed for slashing and stabbing. Desperate hand-to-hand combat. To the death.
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I had begun reading “FixBayonetsUSMC” when I can; he is a fellow WordPress blogger and served in the United States Marine Corps for three decades. Recently, we exchanged comments about our sailors on his blog – the author has high admiration and gratitude toward the US Navy.
Also, it has now been two years since I was honored to have served as a pallbearer at Old Man Jack’s funeral. As some of you readers may know, Old Man Jack was a sailor in the USN during WWII and endured combat. He definitely fit the “stereotype” of a salty sailor but I loved him. And I think he loved me.
His neighbor, Mr. Johnson USMC, lived next door to Jack for about 60 years. He also endured combat during WWII. Mr. Johnson and I went to his funeral together.
Now, both have passed on.
I miss them both.
By coincidence, I received an email which contained random thoughts from sailors. Whether true or conjured up, I thought of Old Man Jack and Mr. Johnson fondly as I read them. I can almost hear Jack spitting these out while sitting in his departed wife’s blue wheelchair… in his garage complaining about my cigar. He especially liked talking about the fights they picked with the Marines.
“Most sailors won’t disrespect a shipmate’s mother. On the other hand, it’s not entirely wise to tell them you have a good looking sister.”
“Sailors and Marines will generally fight one another, and fight together against all comers.”
“Three people you never screw with: the doc, the paymaster and the ship’s barber.”
“Skill, daring and science will always win out over horseshit, superstition and luck.”
“Never walk between the projector and the movie screen after the flick has started.”
“A sailor will lie and cheat to get off the ship early and then will have no idea where he wants to go.”
“Sailors constantly complain about the food on the mess decks while concurrently going back for second or third helpings.”
“Contrary to popular belief, Chief Petty Officers do not walk on water. They walk just above it.”
Remember and honor our people that have served – or are serving – in our military.