Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Royal Navy captain accused of forgery

A high-ranking Royal Navy officer accused of bullying and harassment forged the signature of the officer complaining against him on documents he hoped would help clear his name, a court martial in Portsmouth heard today.

Captain Edwin Tritschler, of Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton in Somerset, is being tried at Portsmouth Naval Base charged with three counts of forgery.

It was sadly deliberate deceit quite out of character for a man holding the rank Captain Tritschler does

Prosecutor David Richards
The 48-year-old is accused of using a scanner and a computer to copy three signatures by his accuser, Lieutenant Commander Christopher Bovill, to place on documents he submitted to the service complaints process.
The false documents were designed to show that the defendant had provided clear management advice to his junior when they were serving on HMS Illustrious.
David Richards, prosecuting, said the defendant and Lt Cdr Bovill had a “difficult relationship” after the junior officer joined the aircraft carrier in 2007 having transferred to the Navy from the Army, where he had been a major in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (Reme).
Mr Richards said that as Lt Cdr Bovill “struggled” in his position as senior engineering officer, he accused Cpt Tritschler, who was ranked commander at the time and was head of air engineering, of bullying him.
Mr Richards said: “It is very clear the two men had a very difficult relationship. From Cdr Tritschler’s point of view Lt Cdr Bovill’s performance was substandard; Lt Cdr Bovill found Cdr Tritschler officious, abrupt and bullying.”
He added: “Lt Cdr Bovill made mistakes, however (he felt) these were dealt with in an unacceptable way by his superior, the accused, who he accused of humiliating and undermining him.”

Strategic Communications Wing 1 Commander Relieved

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (NNS) -- Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNAP), relieved the commander of Strategic Communications Wing 1 (SCW 1) and Task Force (TF) 124 at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., March 17, due to a loss of confidence in the commander's ability to lead. 

CNAP Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker relieved Capt. Heather E. Cole, commander, SCW 1 and TF 124, of her duties.

The action resulted from the initial findings of an investigation, which determined that Cole had not performed up to the high standards demanded of an officer in command.

Cole has been temporarily assigned to the CNAP staff pending the final adjudication of the case.

Capt. Brian McCormick, the former deputy commander of SCW 1 and TF 124, has been assigned as acting commander of the wing and task force.

SCW 1 is an administrative command, responsible to Commander Naval Air Forces (CNAF), for manning, training and equipping the Navy squadrons responsible for nuclear command and control communication to the nation's nuclear triad. TF 124 is an operational command, responsible to Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, which provides the airborne platform and aircrew for the U.S. Strategic Command Airborne Command Post, the Airborne Launch Control System, the Non-Strategic Nuclear Forces Theater Commanders and the "Take Charge and Move Out" (TACAMO) Emergency Action Message relay missions.

SCW 1/TF 124 has direct responsibility for Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 3; VQ-4; VQ-7; VQ-3 Detachment Travis Air Force Base, Calif.; SCW 1 Detachment Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; and VQ-4 Detachment Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

For more news from Commander, Naval Air Forces, visit

Leaks In The Department of State 1963

In recent years, the subject of leaks of classified information from U.S. Government agencies has received a great deal of attention.  This is not a new problem; I have seen references to such leaks as early as World War I.  In the early 1960s, however, the Department of State suffered a spate of leaks.  The problem was significant enough that President John F. Kennedy discussed the matter with Under Secretary of State George W. Ball (the Department’s #2 official).  In response, the Under Secretary personally prepared the following memorandum to the President discussing how to deal with the issue.

Naval disaster led to Gallipoli landing - WWI

In a graveyard on the sea bottom sits the French battleship Bouvet - lost 100 years ago on Wednesday - a tragedy which led directly to the Australian landing on Gallipoli.
Bouvet struck a Turkish mine and was also hit by a Turkish shell, sinking in less than a minute and taking with her 600 crew.
Lost the same day were British battleships Irresistible and Ocean while Inflexible was severely damaged.
This was the final roll of the dice of a naval campaign which Britain's first lord of the admiralty Winston Churchill believed would be sufficient to force Turkey out of the war, a conference in Canberra heard on Wednesday.
The events of March 18, 1915 showed it wouldn't.
Eerie vision by Turkish film maker Savas Karakas and underwater researcher Selcuk Kolay shows Bouvet and many of the wrecks of this campaign lying just where they settled.
Canadian historian Christopher Bell said Churchill believed the naval campaign would be a low risk venture.
Using the might of the Royal Navy and French Navy to force passage of the Dardanelles seaway, Turkey, an ally of Germany, would be forced out of the war.
The campaign started on February 19 and despite a promising start made little progress against Turkish guns and minefields.
The final push launched on March 18 proved disastrous.
With a third of the fleet lost for no appreciable gain, Professor Bell said the campaign should have been called off but politicians in London believed it would be seen as a humiliating loss.
Churchill believed one more push would succeed, but British admiral John de Robeck concluded the only way it could was by landing troops to neutralise the Turkish guns.
From that grew the campaign to land Australian and New Zealand troops on Gallipoli, which proceeded on April 25.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

War Numbers: Counting the Irish-born Dead in WWI

Detail of WWI memorial in Belmar, New Jersey. See below for full size. (Photo: Paul Goldfinger)
Megan Smolenyak delves into the archives and reaches the conclusion that many more Irish-born soldiers were killed in the U.S. Armed Forces in WWI than previous calculations have shown.
As a New Jersey resident with Jersey City Irish roots, I am constantly on the lookout for resources that can assist with Garden State genealogy, so was delighted when I first stumbled across an online database hosted by the State Archives called World War I Deaths: Descriptive Cards and Photographs.¹ Delving into it, I was captivated by the personal stories revealed of the 3,427 men who lost their lives during the First World War, and in many instances, I could gaze at them or read family correspondence as photos and letters were often included.
Some other states have similar databases, but rarely are they as search-friendly as New Jersey’s. In particular, this one has a field that curiously few provide: birth country. With a single inquiry, I was able to learn that 69 Irish-born individuals from New Jersey had died in WWI. The number 69 immediately brought to mind the “Fighting 69th,” the so-called Irish Brigade formed during the Civil War, and perhaps it was that thought that caused me to realize the even greater potential this database offered.
The centenary of World War I has ushered in a growing appreciation for the Irish who gave their lives in the war, but I knew from casual reading that much of the focus has been on those who served under the auspices of Britain and members of the then-Empire, now Commonwealth, such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The United States was invariably mentioned, but always given short shrift – a situation which is entirely understandable because records for the other countries are more readily accessible and better lend themselves to scrutiny and analysis.
By contrast, the lion’s share of America’s military personnel records from 1912 to 1960 were destroyed by a fire and associated water damage in 1973, and while other WWI record collections exist, they’re scattered (mostly at the state level) and uneven, both in terms of content and ease of access.
Tripping across this New Jersey gem leveled the playing field, though admittedly just for one state, but might it, I wondered, be possible to extrapolate from it to the national level to arrive at an estimate of native Irish who made the ultimate sacrifice as members of the American armed forces during World War I?
Contributions in Other Countries
I decided to dive in without further scouting as I didn’t want to risk introducing even an unconscious bias regarding the figures that might emerge, but it would be helpful here to share what I later discovered to give a sense of the roles played by the Irish who served in the military of other nations.
My eventual online exploration mostly revealed a fair bit of head-scratching about the United States as I was not the first to wrestle with this question, but the most thorough contemplation of the topic could be found in the work of Irish broadcaster and author Myles Dungan. Drawing from a variety of sources and conducting his own research, he wrote a piece in which he pegged Irish fatalities in the war as follows:²
Canada: 960 (with a caveat that closer study could increase this to as many as 2,000)
Australia: 860 (with a note that careful investigation had increased to this from 488)
New Zealand: 280
South Africa: 80
India: 13
Embarking upon his deliberation of America, he echoed what I had heard elsewhere, remarking, “The U.S.A. is proving, and will continue to prove, most problematic.” But Dungan rose to the challenge and developed a series of assumptions to postulate a figure for the United States of 350, one which he underscored was highly speculative.
Interior of World War I Memorial, in Atlantic City, New  Jersey, located at  O’Donnell Parkway, South Albany, and  Ventnor Avenues. Erected 1922, and  refurbished recently.
Interior of World War I Memorial, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, located at
O’Donnell Parkway, South Albany, and
Ventnor Avenues. Erected 1922, and
refurbished recently.
New Jersey-based Calculations
Initially and deliberately ignorant of these statistics, I jumped in with my own analysis. I apologize in advance for the number-crunching that’s about to come, but I want to spell out as much of my thought process as possible in the hope that it might provoke additional discussion. Being transparent will allow others to understand how I meandered my way to the outcome I’ll share, and build upon or correct what I have to say, ultimately reaching a more fine-tuned conclusion.
As mentioned previously, my starting point was the fact that 69 Irish-born soldiers from New Jersey had died in WWI. It should be stressed that these 69 were all born in Ireland, and not simply of Irish heritage (in which case, the count would have been substantially higher). Since 3,427 from the state had died, it was simple arithmetic (69/3,427) to determine that the native Irish were 2.01% of the total.
Overall, 116,708 Americans gave their lives in World War I, so if we assume that the percentage of Irish-born from New Jersey who died was fairly consistent across all of the United States, then approximately 2,346 (116,708 x .0201) Irish immigrants died countrywide.
To get a second take on this casualty-derived estimate, I turned to population data. Once again presupposing that the Irish fatality rate for New Jersey was typical across the land, I realized it would be possible to work out a nationwide appraisal, provided I had an idea of what portion of the American
people resided in New Jersey at the time. For this, I consulted the 1920 U.S. Federal Census (as found on, the one closest to the time of American involvement in the First World War.
The total population at the time was 107,634,003 while New Jersey’s was 3,157,851, so New Jerseyans constituted about 2.93% of the whole. If New Jersey’s experience was indeed representative, then there were roughly 2,355 (69/.0293) deaths in WWI of Irish immigrants across the U.S.
Given that the casualty and population-gleaned sums – 2,346 and 2,355 – are so close, it seems reasonable to use a middle figure of 2,350, but I pondered how I might evaluate the validity of this number. Perhaps it would help, I thought, to introduce another state into the mix as a bit of a check.
New York-based Calculations
I tried out several states, but none offered enough useful information until I investigated New York. While there is a somewhat similar, death-centric collection for New York – Newsday’s New York State’s World War I Dead³ – it is not searchable by place of birth, so there was no easy way to pluck out those born in Ireland. Still, it revealed the critical detail that 13,676 who served from New York died (though it’s suspected that this might be a slight under-accounting).
By examining the New York, Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919 database on, I learned that 514,859 from New York were called to arms. Moreover, it allowed me to search by place of birth, revealing that 9,751 of those who answered the call of duty were born in Ireland.
Dividing 13,676 deaths by the 514,859 who were enlisted gives us a New York-wide fatality rate of 2.66%. If we posit that New Yorkers of Irish birth perished at the same rate as others from the state, 9,751 native Irish serving multiplied by .0266 leads to a ballpark of 259 Irish losses.
WWI Memorial, Leonard Gordon Park, Jersey City.
WWI Memorial, Leonard Gordon Park, Jersey City.
New Jersey and New York
Knowing that more data could only help with this conundrum, I decided to combine the counts for New Jersey (69 actual deaths) and New York (259 estimated deaths) to come to an approximation of 328 Irish-born heroes for the two states.
Using population statistics to convert 328 to the national level, I started by adding New York’s figures to those of New Jersey. Earlier, I had determined that New Jersey was home to 2.93% of those in the 1920 census. That same year, New York had 10,402,421 residents or 9.66% of the country’s people, so New Jersey and New York together held 12.6% of the U.S. population in 1920.
If it’s assumed that New Jersey/New York’s blended experience was in keeping with Irish-born fatalities in WWI on a national basis, this leads to a projection in the vicinity of 2,603 (328/.126) Irish deaths for the United States.
Reality Check
So New Jersey-based calculations suggested 2,350 Irish deaths, while combining New Jersey with New York inflated this to about 2,600. These were impressive numbers, but they naturally begged the question of how truly representative New Jersey and New York were for the nation as a whole.
It’s well known that both New Jersey and New York were popular destinations for Irish immigrants, so this nagged at me. Was the Irish-density in this pair of states sufficient to seriously skew my estimates? To address this question, it was necessary to somehow measure the “Irishness” of New Jersey and New York.
In an attempt to develop a barometer of sorts, I turned once again to the 1920 census and found that there were 1,060,294 residents who had begun life in Ireland. Of those, 289,172 were in New York and another 67,335 in New Jersey, for a total of 356,507. While New Jersey and New York contained 12.6% of the overall U.S. populace, they apparently accounted for about a third (33.6%) of the native Irish in the entire country.
Clearly, New Jersey and New York were significantly more Irish than most states, so if their “Irishness” is factored in, extrapolating from the reasonably solid 328 deaths for Irish-born in New Jersey and New York leads to an estimate of 976 fatalities (328/.336) for America, and while that’s considerably less than the earlier tally of 2,350-2,600, it’s also far more than widely thought.
WWI memorial in Belmar, New Jersey. (Photo: Paul Goldfinger)
WWI memorial in Belmar, New Jersey. (Photo: Paul Goldfinger)
Additional Complexities
There are, of course, other complexities to be mulled. Is it possible that certain states had higher fatality rates than others, and if so, would this apply to New Jersey or New York? Are there important differences in casualty counting among World War I combatants that need to be somehow incorporated or reconciled? Would using the 1910 census be more appropriate, and if so, how would that affect the math?
With regard to this last matter, I had played with 1910 data and was interested to note a drop-off in the percentage of Irish-born in the United States between 1910 and 1920, and then realized that I was observing the fading of Famine-era emigrants such as my own great-great-grandmother who was still alive in New Jersey, but only because she lived to 96. Irish were continuing to come, but not at the same pace as before. Still, I didn’t think that this would have had much impact on those I was researching, men of military service age, so opted for the 1920 census, but some might feel otherwise.
Yet Another Counting Challenge
Having arrived at a conclusion of 976, I now permitted myself to look for what others had said, eventually finding my way to Myles Dungan’s thoughtful ruminations and speculation of 350. While there’s plenty of room for debate and tweaking, I suspect that 976 is closer to the truth, if only because I had the luxury of starting from actual casualty data (albeit at the state level), while Dungan, seeking a nationwide source, had started from draft registration data, making several assumptions to come to his conjecture of Irish lives lost.
Obviously, only a fraction of those who registered for the draft actually served and many volunteered, but setting aside the matter of having to accommodate this reality, there’s a hidden issue concerning World War I draft databases. Dungan used the one at, but there’s another housed at Since they’re both based on the same collection of draft cards, they should be very similar even though they’re independently transcribed, but querying both by entering “Ireland” in the birth location field results in a count of 57,453 on Ancestry and 85,075 on FamilySearch.
Seeking the source of this unexpected discrepancy, I experimented with both and discovered that Ancestry has 25,467 more from Great Britain than Family-Search, while FamilySearch has 27,622 more from Ireland than Ancestry, so I suspect that the main factor involved may have been differences in instructions to indexers. In short, Ancestry has many of Irish nativity masked by a designation of Great Britain.
Dungan’s starting point of 65,025 (he had typed “Ireland” in the keyword field) split the difference between the two, but even so, was about 31% lower than FamilySearch which seems to be the most accurate. Using his own methodology, adjusting for this difference alone would bring his estimate to 459, which closes the gap, but also highlights the potential pitfalls that can lurk in the databases we often turn to.
New Names for the Roll of Honour
WWI Honor Roll, People’s Park,  Paterson, New Jersey. A quick look at the plaque reveals many Irish names among the soldiers who were killed in battle.
WWI Honor Roll, People’s Park, Paterson, New Jersey. A quick look at the plaque reveals many Irish names among the soldiers who were killed in battle.
In spite of these measurement complications, I believe that 976 is a fair reckoning for men of Irish birth who gave their lives in service to the United States in World War I. The true figure may be 900 or 1,000, but it’s likely somewhere in this neighborhood. This is more than previously thought, but consensus probably isn’t far off, and it’s worth aiming for.
What is certain is that there are names missing from the Irish National War Memorial (INWM) records. In fact, when I searched the almost 50,000 people included§, I could confirm only one of the 69 from the New Jersey database that sparked this inquiry. Acknowledging the sacrifice of the other 68 sons and brothers by adding them to the INWM Roll of Honour would be a fitting and well-timed contribution to on-going centenary commemorations, and remind us all that there are still more to be accounted for. ♦
¹ New Jersey resource which sparked this analysis and furnished photos, letters and service summary cards for soldiers: “Department of Defense, Adjutant General’s Office: World War I, Information Cards and Photographs of New Jersey Men Who died in Service, 1917-1918,” held by the New Jersey State Archives, Dept. of State, in Trenton,

MAR 13 Military Sealift Command and Innovation: New Platforms andAvenues for Meeting Navy’s Needs

By Rear Adm. Kevin C. Hayes, Deputy Commander, Military Sealift Command
Rear Adm. Kevin C. Hayes

This day in 1964, our Navy commissioned USS Sacramento (AOE 1) at Seattle, Washington. She was the first ship that combined the characteristics of an oiler, ammunition and supply ship. Anyone familiar with the current class of fast combat support ships can see the enduring value of fast, one-stop shopping for our combatant vessels at sea.
Sacramento (AOE-1), the first of a new class of underway-replenishment ships designed to provide fuel, ammunition, freight, and provisions to the fleet at sea. Bigger than most battleships of World War II, and comparable in size to many aircraft carriers of that period, her high speed makes it possible for Sacramento to operate as an integral part of a fast carrier task force. In one seven-month deployment to Vietnam, she provided rapid, versatile support to naval forces in that theater; cargo and passengers were transferred in alongside replenishments and by heavy-lift cargo helicopter on 583 different occasions.
Sacramento (AOE-1), the first of a new class of underway-replenishment ships designed to provide fuel, ammunition, freight, and provisions to the fleet at sea.
By Rear Adm. Kevin C. Hayes, Deputy Commander, Military Sealift Command
Rear Adm. Kevin C. Hayes

This day in 1964, our Navy commissioned USS Sacramento (AOE 1) at Seattle, Washington. She was the first ship that combined the characteristics of an oiler, ammunition and supply ship. Anyone familiar with the current class of fast combat support ships can see the enduring value of fast, one-stop shopping for our combatant vessels at sea.
Today’s Navy still puts a premium on the innovative design and use of new ship platforms, but it’s no secret that we operate in a tough fiscal environment. Budget realities mean leaders must provide the best possible bang for our nation’s buck while still meeting emergent requirements worldwide. As Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert outlined in his Sailing Directions, our number one priority is warfighting.
Military Sealift Command is a strong enabler for Navy and Marine Corps warfighting and this innovation mindset. In particular, the Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) platform represents one centerpiece of the seabasing concept that will permit our forces to operate away from the shore, ultimately supporting special forces missions, counter-piracy/smuggling operations, maritime security operations and mine clearance, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.
The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
Keeping with MSC’s emphasis on innovation, in early 2012, MSC converted USS Ponce from an amphibious transport dock ship to an AFSB-I (Interim) that deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet roughly six months after work began. Ponce’s work in the region – which included acting as a base for mine-sweeping MH-53E Sea Dragons in the Persian Gulf as well as serving as a test bed for the deployment of the Navy’s new Laser Weapon System – continues to the present. The ship’s success is a terrific example of looking beyond a ship’s original design to leverage new capabilities.
The recently christened USNS Lewis B. Puller, expected to deliver later this year, is the first of three permanent vessels specifically designed as AFSBs and are built on the same hull as our new mobile landing platforms. Together, with several other vessels that MSC operates, Puller will give the Navy and Marine Corps team fresh, forward-based options for these critical missions.
To be sure, Puller and its sister AFSBs are no replacement for amphibious warships. They are intended for relatively secure maritime environments, where they can perform tasks that free up amphibious ships for their intended purpose – high-end warfighting.
Despite this caveat, Puller is an impressive at-sea home for warfighters and their equipment. Our Navy and Marine Corps demand innovative, cost-effective platforms like Puller. MSC will continue to provide the proven, expert operation of these vessels so warfighters can do their jobs.

Royal Marines chef becomes first in 351-year history to ply his tradeon the ocean

A Royal Marines chef is set to be become the first in the force’s 351-year history to ply his trade on the ocean waves rather than on dry land.
Corporal Liam Eley is the first Royal Marines chef to join the crew of a Royal Navy warship since they were formed in 1664.
The 35-year-old, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, will join HMS Lancaster for its nine-month deployment across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans later this month.
His chance to join a ship is due to the recent merger of chef branches in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
Royal Navy chefs have already worked with Royal Marines across the country and overseas but Cpl Eley is the first to switch the opposite way.
Cpl Eley, from Cardiff, said: “I feel proud to be the first Royal Marine chef to join the crew of a warship – it’s brilliant.
“The language is different – the kitchen is called a galley on a ship. But the biggest difference of course is that the galley moves in rough weather – and that takes a lot of getting used to. But the camaraderie is great on board and I have the utmost respect for navy chefs – they set the highest standards and they work hard.
“And the Royal Navy chefs have lots of other duties beyond cheffing, such as first aid and firefighting. But I’m really enjoying the variety.”
Fellow chef Ash Squires, 23, said: “He cooks a mean curry and is great to have around as he’s good company. I’m looking forward to deploying with him. He has brought a different working style into the galley and we are just about getting used to the Royal Marines humour.”

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Monday, March 16, 2015


Adolf Hitler and staff and Wolfsschanze
Adolf Hitler and staff and Wolfsschanze
By Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.
The fate of history changed for the better 70 years ago this May 8 when the Allies celebrated the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. Victory in Europe Day followed by mere days the deaths of two dictatorial aggressors, Adolf Hitler of Germany and Benito Mussolini of Italy, and preceded by three months the conclusive defeat of Japan.
And so ended World War II, an unprecedented conflict that actually encompassed 17 different wars, included battles on every continent and led to three great holocausts.
“World War II permeates history in the 20th century, and it permeates the past, present and future of Western civilizations,” says historian Victor Davis Hanson.
Hanson should know. He has studied the war extensively and is the host of a six-part video series that takes viewers back in time to a momentous clash, one that began with the Polish cavalry pitted against tanks and ended with jet planes, guided missiles and atomic bombs. Available in the PJ Store, the streaming lectures cover everything from the causes of World War II to the winners and losers in the decades that followed.
The seeds of global war took root in Germany during the rule of the kaisers decades before World War I and sprouted again after that “war to end all wars.” Hitler took full advantage of Germany’s post-war bitterness to promote his fascist ideas and empirical dreams.
Mussolini in Italy and Hirohito in Japan had similar visions, but the three Axis powers had one insurmountable problem. “They could not work together because they were dictators,” Hanson said. “And as dictators, they were inveterate liars.” They made key strategic decisions, such as Japan attacking Pearl Harbor, without talking to each other.
World War II prison camp inmates
World War II prison camp inmates
Europe was the primary battleground in the early years of the war, which most historians generally agree began with Hitler’s Sept. 1, 1939, invasion of Poland. For the next two years, Hitler seemed destined to conquer every foe – Poland, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and even France, which resisted Germany’s advances in World War I.
“The fall of France was disastrous strategically, morally, emotionally and politically for the Allies, and it was a great boon for the Axis,” Hanson said.
But the momentum shifted almost as rapidly as Hitler’s ego grew. Although successful at first, Germany’s merciless aerial assaults on Great Britain inspired what Hanson called “one of the greatest comebacks in the history of warfare” in 1941. Then Hitler foolishly invaded Russia, turning a cautious friend into an angry foe and forcing German troops to fight a two-front war.
Add to that incendiary mix Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, which lured the United States into the war, and the dynamics of World War II changed dramatically. Hanson analyzes those decisions and the events that followed in a lecture dubbed “The New World War.” It includes a recap of the key battles of 1941-42 and their impact on the war’s outcome.
Mussolini, Hitler
Mussolini, Hitler
The next phase of the war, from 1943 to 1945, was marked by both the rapid decline of the Axis powers and the uneasy addition of Josef Stalin’s Russia to the Allies. Poland, Finland and the Baltic nations had suffered more at the hand of Russia than Germany, but war and politics have made stranger bedfellows than Russia and the Allies.
With new battle lines drawn, the Allies cranked up the assembly lines of what Eisenhower would later dub the military-industrial complex. Russia provided Katyusha rocket launchers, tactical aircraft and T-34 tanks, and the United States contributed B-17, B-24 and eventually B-29 bombers at a rapid pace – and the crews to fly them. The Allies scored victories against Germany by land, sea and air, and they employed an island-hopping strategy in the Pacific on their way to the Japanese mainland.
The Allies won the war on every front, both physical and philosophical.
Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill
Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill
“By the beginning of 1946, Japan, Germany and Italy were ruined,” Hanson says in the final video lecture. “You couldn’t find anybody in any of those countries who said they were a supporter of Tojo, Mussolini or Hitler. They had democracies in the process of being created. And they were de facto allies of the British and the Americans.”
But victory came at a price – namely a decades-long ideological Cold War between the United States and Russia that also made Germany relevant again. “In the long-term sense,” Hanson concluded, “it was a terrible price to pay.”


Marine slain by friendly fire in Vietnam to be awarded Purple Heart

A Marine who was one of three killed when their helicopter was shot down by friendly fire during the Vietnam War will soon be awarded a Purple Heart, culminating a decades long effort by the only survivor to secure the recognition for his crewmates, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Dan Jones, a Marine first lieutenant in 1968, was co-piloting the helicopter, which was carrying supplies to troops, when it was shot down accidentally by an American howitzer. The howitzer had been “firing continuous rounds in support of heavily engaged Marines,” according to an affidavit written last year by Capt. James T. Butler, another pilot from the squadron, who investigated the crash, The Times reported.
Jones was informed while recovering from severe injuries that his three dead crewmates — 1st Lt. Glenn J. Zamorski, who was in command on the flight; Sgt. Raymond W, Templeton, the crew chief; and Cpl. Conrad Lerman, who was manning a .50-caliber machine gun — would not be awarded Purple Heart medals, the Times reported. Jones twice asked the Marines to issue the medals for his dead comrades, but was told that victims of “friendly fire” were excluded.
“I dropped it, thinking there was pretty much no hope,” Jones, now 70 and living in Arizona, told the Times.
In 1993, Congress expanded eligibility after learning some victims of friendly fire in the first Gulf War had been awarded Purple Hearts but others had not, Fred L. Borch, a retired Army colonel and historian of American medals and decorations, told the Times.
Jones learned of the change and his crew’s eligibility for the medal after he and other veterans began sharing records and memories of the incident in 2013. Nevertheless, Jones feared the awards would not be issued. “I’ve been hauling around these letters and such for forty-some years,” the Times said he wrote in an email from the time.
But last year, George Ross, another fellow pilot from the squadron, called Jones after submitting documents to the Marine Corps to tell him the entire crew would be awarded Purple Hearts.
“My reaction to that call was pretty much the same as it is now,” Jones told The Times. “I cried. I was at a loss for words.
“They were my buddies,” he told the paper. “I felt their deaths needed to be honored, and as the surviving crewmember it was my responsibility to make sure that occurred.”
Jones and two of his crew have since been awarded the medal, the Times reported. Lerman’s medal is likely to be presented during a family reunion in the summer, the Times quoted Maj. Rob Dolan, a Marine Corps spokesman, as saying.
“The Purple Heart is absolutely an appropriate recognition of their courageous service and sacrifice to our nation,” Dolan said, according to the Times. “This is closing a tragic story from the Vietnam era.”

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dallas Congresswoman leads Medal of Honor push for Pearl Harbor hero

WASHINGTON — Doris “Dorie” Miller was an unlikely hero — a mess attendant, second class, from Waco whose race precluded him from serving in a combat assignment.
But when the Japanese hit the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor, he manned a machine gun he’d not been trained on and ended up pulling the ship’s captain and many others to shelter.
His acts of courage earned him the Navy Cross, the Navy’s second-highest honor. But for decades, admirers have believed Miller deserved the top award: the Medal of Honor.
Now Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a fellow Waco native, is mounting a fresh effort to rectify what she sees as a historical slight.
Johnson, D-Dallas, is building a national committee of 500 community leaders, elected officials and historians, and a smaller committee of about 30 that will work closely with her office as part of her most recent efforts to secure the nation’s highest military award for Miller.
They will seek support for the effort, and, starting this summer, members will be asked to write letters to the White House requesting that President Barack Obama award the Medal of Honor to Miller. She’s aiming for at least 5,000 letters.
Miller was killed in action in 1943, when the ship he was serving on in the South Pacific was struck by a torpedo.
The senior surviving officer, Cmdr. R.H. Hillenkoetter, noted in the West Virginia’s action report on Dec. 11, 1941, that Miller and Lt. F.H. White had been instrumental in “hauling people along through oil and water to the quarterdeck, thereby unquestionably saving the lives of a number of people who might otherwise have been lost.”
Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox issued an official commendation for Miller for his actions at Pearl Harbor but recommended against the Medal of Honor.
But Adm. Chester Nimitz saw value in giving Miller an award, not just a commendation, said Reginia Akers, a historian at the Naval History and Heritage Command.
“President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt approved that, but it was intervention on [Nimitz’s] part that that happened,” Akers said.
In early May 1942, Roosevelt approved the Navy Cross for Miller, and Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet, pinned the medal on him later that month, making Miller the first African-American awarded the Navy Cross.
But advocates say he deserves the Medal of Honor.
70 years later
Getting the Medal of Honor for someone after more than 70 years takes time, though.
“One of the provisions is that each branch of service that they served with has to clear them to be considered when you’re going to get it congressionally. I have never been able to get that done. And it’s not just me,” Johnson said.
The father of recently retired Rep. John Dingell of Michigan attempted to get the Medal of Honor for Miller in 1942, and Reps. Jake Pickle, Barbara Jordan, Craig Washington and Mickey Leland, also of Texas, tried after him.
The Medal of Honor usually goes through a recommendation process in the military chain of command. But that has to happen within three years of the heroic act.
After that, getting the Medal of Honor requires several extra hurdles.
First, a member of Congress must ask the secretary of the Navy, or other appropriate military branch, to review the case. If the secretary finds a serviceman deserving, Congress can pass a bill creating an exemption from the time limits. Then the secretary can ask the president to grant the Medal of Honor.
According to a statement from Navy spokesman Lt. David Bennett, Miller’s Navy Cross citation has been reviewed multiple times.
During 1988 and 1989, the Navy conducted a review of awards to African-Americans during World War II to determine whether racial discrimination had played a part in the level of awards approved.
“The 1988-1989 study concluded there was no evidence of racial discrimination in the Miller case and the heroic acts of Petty Officer Doris Miller did not rise above the line between the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. In 1996, a second study came to the same conclusion,” Bennett said.
In Miller’s wake
W. Marvin Dulaney, a professor at the University of Texas in Austin, is leading a committee of historians as part of Johnson’s efforts. He said Miller was instrumental in changing the way African-Americans serve in the Navy.
“Prior to World War II, most African-Americans were required to be cooks and messmen. They couldn’t join the Navy and become a seaman,” Dulaney said. Miller showed that they could do more.
After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Office of War Information published a poster featuring Miller to encourage African-Americans to join the war effort.
“His valor and his heroism sort of set the tone for the new approach the United States Navy was going to start taking after that point,” Dulaney said.
The West Virginia’s captain, Mervyn S. Bennion, was awarded the Medal of Honor after he was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. His Medal of Honor citation said, “As commanding officer of the USS West Virginia, after being mortally wounded, Captain Bennion evidenced apparent concern only in fighting and saving his ship, and strongly protested against being carried from the bridge.”
Bennion was one of 17 people who received the Medal of Honor for actions during Pearl Harbor. Of those, 11 were awarded posthumously.
No African-Americans received the Medal of Honor for actions during World War II until 1997 after a review of African-Americans who had received the Distinguished Service Cross. At that time, seven — only one of whom was still living — were upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
Retired Army Colonel Fred L. Borch, president of the Orders and Medals Society of America, said the Medal of Honor is for extraordinary heroism in combat.
“The actual words are ‘conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty,’” Borch said. “You just have to be unbelievably heroic.”
The citation for Miller’s Navy Cross said it was for “distinguished devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and disregard for his own personal safety.”
Miller wasn’t forgotten.
Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, got legislation passed last year to rename the Waco VA Medical Center for Miller. The Navy named a ship for Miller in 1973. The USS Miller, a Knox-class frigate, was decommissioned in 1991. And in 2001, Cuba Gooding Jr. portrayed Miller in the movie Pearl Harbor.

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