Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Roads Classic: Who Was the First Ace?

A Jaunty-Looking Pégoud
The term "ace" was first used in World War I when French newspapers described Adolphe Pégoud (1889–1915) as l'as (French for "ace") after he shot down five German aircraft. After serving in the French Army he pursued a career in aviation and received his private pilot's license in March 1913.
While he was a test pilot for Blériot, he was credited with being the first aviator to fly a loop, although it was discovered much later that a Russian pilot had preceded him by 13 days and, also to be the first pilot to jump with a parachute from his aircraft. Joining the French Air Service he was assigned to fly a Maurice Farman over the Argonne sector, where he achieved his five victories.

After gaining a sixth victory, Pégoud was shot down and killed 31 August 1915 by one of his prewar students, Walter Kandulski. Pégoud's tomb is at Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris.

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Immortalized in Comics
Sources:  Tony Langley Collection, Wikipedia, and

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British Shell Failure at Jutland

After Jutland, Still Afloat

The German battlecruiser SMS Seydlitz (above) survived 24 large shell hits from Royal Naval dreadnoughts during the Battle of Jutland. How was this possible? 

The answer is that British naval armor-piercing shells proved to be utterly inadequate to the challenge. They were brittle and frequently simply disintegrated on contact without penetration. When the explosive content did activate, it proved to be too weak to ensure an effective impact explosion. The Germans shells, in contrast, had delayed action fuses that considerably improved their efficacy. (Source: WFA Website)

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"Mostest with the Leastest" in the Great War

One measure of distinguished generalship is the ability to find victory despite limited resources. As Bedford Forrest might have put it, "Doing the mostest with the leastest." An example from the First World War is British Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude, successor to defeated and subsequently disgraced General Charles Townshend in the Mesopotamian theater. Maude was appointed by Imperial General Staff Chief William Robertson, who thought he could be depended upon to hold the line and not request reinforcements from the Western Front. 

Maude, however, worked with what he had, carefully rebuilding his limited forces, outmaneuvering more than outfighting his German-commanded Turkish opponents—eventually regaining the strategic initiative. He recaptured Kut in February 1917 and took Baghdad less than a month later. His successes continued, but he was fatally struck down by cholera the same year in November. A year later, his successor, General William Marshall, accepted the Turkish surrender at Mosul. 

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Was There Such a Thing in the World's Great War as the Lost Battalion? Reviewed by Peter L. Belmonte

Was There Such a Thing in the World's Great War as the Lost Battalion? Memoir of Sgt Major Walter Baldwin, 308th Infantry.
Privately Published, Thomas J. Baldwin, 2016

The story of the Lost Battalion is well known to many students of World War I. There are several books that focus on the heroic stand of Major Charles Whittlesey's command in a dank ravine in the Argonne Forest almost a century ago. Firsthand recollections of the event, however, are rare. Walter J. Baldwin, who was a corporal in charge of the runners in Whittlesey's battalion headquarters, wrote his memoir in the 1930s. Now Baldwin's son, Thomas J. Baldwin, has transcribed his father's typescript and published it in this book. The book is arranged with Thomas's transcription placed opposite a facsimile of his father's original typescript, page-by-page. Thomas's chapter summary and his father's typewritten roster of men in the Lost Battalion precede the narrative. A few photographs, including one of Sgt. Baldwin in uniform and another depicting his medals, are appended after the narrative.
Walter Baldwin's memoir is a chronological presentation of his time in the army, from induction to discharge. He was drafted in the fall of 1918 and assigned to the 308th Infantry Regiment, 77th Division, and his memoir covers his time in training, shipment overseas, and combat in July and August 1918. The thrust of the memoir, however, is Baldwin's recollection of combat in the Argonne Forest. Baldwin entered the Argonne on the first day of the offensive, 26 September. By 2 October, Whittlesey's command (actually parts of two battalions and men from some other miscellaneous units) had become separated from the rest of the regiment and surrounded in a ravine, called "the pocket." In the ensuing five days, the men in the pocket endured a terrible ordeal. Baldwin recalled the horror of sudden death, in this case by improperly ranged American artillery:

We were moving slowly to our new rendezvous, with Ben Gaedeke, our Sergeant Major, not ten feet in front of me, when there came a blinding flash and terrific roar, as a shell burst just beyond me, then everything went black, while earth and rocks that had been tossed high in the air began to fall. I had not seen Ben hit and I never saw him afterward, nor could a vestige of his clothing be located. He was just blotted off the earth, by his own countrymen's shell. [p. 101]

Sgt. Major Walter Baldwin
Because of his position, Baldwin was close to Whittlesey throughout the ordeal. This allowed Baldwin to authoritatively refute one myth concerning the Lost Battalion and Major Whittlesey. At one point, several of Whittlesey's men left their position, without permission, in order to retrieve supplies dropped to the men by U.S. aircraft. One man, Private Lowell R. Hollingshead, was captured and coerced into carrying a surrender ultimatum back to Whittlesey. About this, Baldwin wrote (capitals in the original):

I WAS WITHIN FIVE FEET OF MAJOR WHITLESSLEY [sic] WHEN HE RECEIVED THE NOTE FROM HOLLINGSHEAD, and positively declare, he never made use of the world famed expression, by telling the German commander to "GO TO HELL," which is simply a myth, for as there was absolutely no recognition given to the Boche communication, therefore there was no necessity to answer it. [p. 109]

Hollingshead, however, bore the wrath of Whittlesey: "Turning to the unfortunate Hollingshead, the Major berated him unmercifully, in a loud angry voice, for having left his post without permission, ordering him at once to report to his company commander. This incident had spread like wildfire through the ranks." [p.109] No doubt Whittlesey's handling of the situation reinforced the necessity to obey orders in their precarious position. After relief from the pocket and another brief stint in the lines, Baldwin became ill and spent most of the rest of the war in the hospital. He was promoted to battalion sergeant major and returned to the U.S. for discharge in the spring of 1919. Although he did not have much formal schooling, Baldwin wrote well, if floridly; his memoir is easy reading and enjoyable. Most of Baldwin's recollections of his time in the "pocket" are fairly general; one would have hoped for more descriptions of daily routine and of particular incidents. But Baldwin, of course, wrote precisely what he wanted to, and for that we should be grateful. And kudos to Thomas Baldwin for publishing his father's memoir; we hope more such "family memoirs" will come out of the woodwork and into print.
Marker and Memorial at the Lost Battalion Site
Rob Laplander (Mentioned Below) Was Primarily Responsible for the Memorial
(For an in-depth analysis of the Lost Battalion, see Robert Laplander's two excellent books on the subject: Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America's Famous WW1 Epic [724pp.,], and The Lost Battalion: Return to the Charlevaux [160pp. American Expeditionary Foundation])

Peter L. Belmonte

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Top Ten Military Justice Stories of 2017 – #8: Mens rea

"Wrongdoing must be conscious to be criminal," reiterated the Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2001, 2009 (2015), and military lawers took note. CAAF grappled with the mental state – the mens rea – required to violate the UCMJ in three cases in 2016.

But in 2017 the court addressed it again, issuing a decision that is likely to be a significant and lasting precedent on the issue. That makes mens rea the #8 Military Justice Story of 2017.

Things began with Anthony Elonis, who posted seemingly-threatening comments to his social media account and was indicted for transmitting threats in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). Elonis claimed he had no criminal intent, and he moved to dismiss the indictment because it didn't allege that he intended to threaten anyone. The District Court denied the motion after concluding that Elonis didn't need to have the intent to threaten; he need only have intended to make the communications themselves. The District Court also denied Elonis' request to instruct the jury that it had to find that he intended to threaten in order to find him guilty, and instead instructed the jury that it could convict Elonis if it found that a reasonable person making the statement would expect the listener to take it as a threat. Elonis was convicted.

The Supreme Court didn't reverse Elonis' convictions, but it did find that the jury instruction was erroneous. Explaining that predicating criminal liability on what a reasonable person might think without reference to the accused's state of mind is a negligence standard, the Court concluded that the statute requires more than mere negligence because "federal criminal liability generally does not turn solely on the results of an act without considering the defendant's mental state." 135 S. Ct. at 2012. It's not that Congress can't criminalize negligence; it just didn't criminalize negligence in this context.

Elonis prompted similar challenges to court-martial convictions, and CAAF issued three opinions in 2016 that addressed mens rea in the context of violation of an order, violation of Article 134, and abuse of authority.

First, in United States v. Gifford, 75 M.J. 140 (C.A.A.F. Mar. 8, 2016) (CAAFlog case page), CAAF held that an accused must have acted with at least reckless disregard for the true age of a person to whom he provided alcohol in order to be convicted of violating the order prohibiting providing alcohol to an underage person. CAAF rejected the Army CCA's conclusion that the order was a strict liability offense (where mens rea doesn't matter), and applied Elonis to hold that the Gifford must have acted at least recklessly. CAAF then remanded the case to the Army CCA for further review, and Gifford's conviction was affirmed when the CCA determined that he "provided alcohol to underage individuals for the purpose of consumption while consciously disregarding the known risk that those individuals were under twenty-one years old." United States v. Gifford, No. 20120545, 2016 CCA LEXIS 271, at *4 (A. Ct. Crim. App. Apr. 28, 2016), rev. denied, 75 M.J. 405 (C.A.A.F. Jul. 25, 2016).

Next, in United States v. Rapert, 75 M.J. 164 (C.A.A.F. Mar. 18, 2016) (CAAFlog case page), CAAF held that wrongfulness is a mens rea element for an offense under Article 134. Rapert was charged with communicating a threat against President Obama for offensive comments he made at an election-night party in 2012. Somewhat like Elonis, Rapert claimed his comments were not intended as threats. Unlike Elonis, Rapert did not litigate the issue of mens rea at trial. That mattered. CAAF determined that communicating a threat in violation of Article 134 – as enumerated by the President – includes the element that the communication was wrongful, and that element "is properly understood to reference the accused's subjective intent." 75 M.J. at 169. It then found "no clear evidence" that the military judge (Rapert elected trial by military judge alone) applied any different standard, and so affirmed the conviction. 75 M.J. at 170. But the court was deeply divided, with two judges dissenting from the conclusion that the term wrongful adds a mens rea element (and instead finding that the communication of the threat must be at least reckless).

Finally, in United States v. Caldwell, 75 M.J. 276 (C.A.A.F. May 16, 2016), cert denied, 137 S. Ct. 248 (Oct. 3, 2016) (CAAFlog case page), CAAF addressed the military-specific offense of maltreatment in violation of Article 93. Explaining that "the essence of the offense is abuse of authority," 75 M.J. at 280, CAAF concluded that maltreatment is a general intent crime (where an accused need only know certain facts to be guilty), and affirmed the conviction.

Like the convictions in Gifford, Rapert, and Caldwell, the convictions in Elonis were ultimately affirmed. The Court of Appeals found any error to be harmless because "the record contains overwhelming evidence demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that Elonis knew the threatening nature of his communications. United States v. Elonis, 841 F.3d 589, 598 (3d Cir. 2016), cert. denied, __ S. Ct. __ (Oct. 2, 2017).

But things were different in 2017.

CAAF granted review in United States v. Haverty, 76 M.J. 199 (C.A.A.F. Apr. 25, 2017) (CAAFlog case page), three months after it decided Gifford. Gifford provided alcohol to minors in violation of an order. Haverty was accused of hazing – also an orders violation – by wrongfully requiring a subordinate to consume alcohol. Neither challenged the mens rea required to commit the offense at trial.

CAAF specified an issue for review in Haverty that gave the appearance of a mundane Gifford trailer:

Whether the military judge committed plain error when he failed to instruct the panel on the mens rea required for an Article 92, UCMJ, violation of Army Regulation 600-20, which prohibits requiring the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol as an initiation rite of passage.

But CAAF didn't treat Haverty as a Gifford trailer. Instead, the court returned to first principles, concluded that recklessness is the minimum mens rea required to commit the offense, and reversed Haverty's conviction.

Judge Ohlson wrote for the court in Haverty (having also written for the court in Gifford, Rapert, and Caldwell)His opinion began with a restatement of four principles of law:

[First,] the existence of a mens rea is the rule of, rather than the exception to, the principles of Anglo-American criminal jurisprudence." . . .

[Second,] silence in a criminal statute regarding a mens rea requirement does not necessarily prevent such a requirement from being inferred. . . .

[Third,] when construing an order – a violation of which underlies an Article 92, UCMJ, offense – commanders should be held to the same standard as legislatures when determining whether they intended to create an offense that does not require the government to prove an accused's mens rea. . .

[Fourth, where the order does not clearly intend to omit mens rea] we must decide whether the proper level of mens rea that we should infer is "general intent," "negligently," "recklessly," "knowingly," or "intentionally."

76 M.J. at 203-204. Then, considering the specific order at issue, Judge Ohlson concluded that recklessness is the minimum mens rea:

[T]he accused must have consciously disregarded a known risk that his or her conduct would unnecessarily cause another military member or employee to suffer or be exposed to an activity that is cruel, abusive, oppressive, or harmful.

76 M.J. at 207. But "the military judge did not instruct the panel that it needed to find any mens rea at all." 76 M.J. at 208. This narrowly won Haverty reversal under the plain error standard, at least in part because Haverty "contested the issue of intent in this case." Id. CAAF's opinion was unanimous on everything except the decision to reverse, with Judge Stucky dissenting from only this last part of the decision because he found that Haverty's "conduct was not only reckless, but also purposeful." 76 M.J. at 209 (Stucky, J. dissenting).

The deliberate thoroughness of Judge Ohlson's opinion for the court in Haverty is a good indication that CAAF intends it to be a significant precedent, and subsequent developments support that view. In August, CAAF granted review of an issue challenging a conviction of negligent dereliction of duty with reference to Haverty. And in May CAAF remanded a case for consideration in light of Haverty after summarily rejecting the Army CCA's published opinion that held that the Article 134 prohibition on disorders and neglects states a negligence standard. United States v. Tucker, 76 M.J. 257 (C.A.A.F. May 23, 2017) (CAAFlog case page).

There will be more cases challenging the mens rea required to commit offenses under the UCMJ. But the seminal nature of CAAF's decision in Haverty makes mens rea our #8 Military Justice Story of 2017.

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Flashback to Christmas 1942

The Australian Women's Weekly combined Santa Claus with an absent military father figure in 1942. Image via <a href="">Trove</a>.

The Australian Women's Weekly combined Santa Claus with an absent military father figure in 1942. Image via Trove.

This Christmas Richard Wood, USA Programs Manager, turns back time to 1942 when the festive season in Australia and the USA faced austerity measures and missing family members during World War II but the spirit of the season persevered. 

By Christmas 1942, the war had infiltrated every aspect of Australian life. The Christmas cover of the Australian Women's Weekly featured combined Santa Claus with an absent military father figure.

Care packages and austerity measures

In Alice Springs patients of the Australian Service Hospital might have received a Red Cross Christmas Bundle of treats and comforts including some Mottram's Strathmore biscuits, a fruitcake, a tinned Christmas pudding, 6 packs of cigarettes, a bottle of Waltham barley sugars, playing cards, Brookes lime juice cordial, a packet of Jaffas, some drinking chocolate and red napkins.

The contents of a Christmas gift parcel, presented by the Australian Red Cross Society to inmates of service hospitals on Christmas day. <a href="">AWM Collection</a>.

The contents of a Christmas gift parcel, presented by the Australian Red Cross Society to inmates of service hospitals on Christmas day. AWM Collection.

In Melbourne, kids were still kids. Despite their 'austerity' tree — glass for baubles and foil for tinsel were needed for the war effort  — the restrictions of war seem to have paled against the anticipation of Santa's visit.

Four little girls decorate their austerity Christmas tree at a suburban school. The tree branches are constructed of sticks hung with fringed paper and foil stars are used as decorations.<a href="">AWM Collection</a>.

Four little girls decorate their austerity Christmas tree at a suburban school. The tree branches are constructed of sticks hung with fringed paper and foil stars are used as decorations. AWM Collection.

Also in Melbourne, young US First Division Marines recovered from the hell of Guadalcanal, visiting the sights and smelling the roses, as Aussies offered the troops home cooked meals in the spirit of camaraderie.

Photographs of the USA Marine camp at the MCG, aka Tent City, during Christmas 1942. ANMM Collection 00055126, gift from John Berry.

Photographs of the USA Marine camp at the MCG, aka Tent City, during Christmas 1942. ANMM Collection 00055126, gift from John Berry.

Sydney's 1942 Christmas parade included this proud massed display of Owen Machine Guns fresh out of the factory. Designed by 26-year-old Private Evelyn Ernest Owen of Wollongong, the 9mm calibre gun was a mainstay of the Australian army throughout World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, favoured because it would keep shooting in the mud and moisture of the tropics.

A display of Owen sub-machine guns. <a href="">AWM Collection</a>.

A display of Owen sub-machine guns. AWM Collection.

Music and movies: Christmas pop culture

Released in 1942, 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas' was the hit of the season, staying at the top of the US charts for 11 weeks. It was also a hit in Australia where more than 1 million US personnel would eventually land during World War II. This sentimental song conjured up visions of a northern hemisphere Christmas for Americans sweltering down under.

Around the same time Jack O'Hagan's 'When A Boy From Alabama Meets A Girl From Gundagai' recorded by Joy Nichols was a romantic hit that reflected the growing number of marriages and flings between Australian girls and American doughboys.

The top-grossing movie of 1942 in Australia was MGM's Mrs Miniver, the story of the trials and tribulations of a British family during the war. Going to the pictures was a welcome release for people working long hours, worried about friends and family 'at the front', and buckling down under wartime restrictions. The drama and propaganda of 'Mrs Miniver' was balanced by the other more upbeat movie successes of 1942, such as 'Yankee Doodle Dandy', 'Road to Morocco, 'Pardon my Sarong' and 'My Favorite Blonde'.

A British family struggles to survive the first days of World War II in Mrs. Miniver (1942). Turner Classic Movies.

Australian director Ken G Hall's iconic documentary short film 'Kokoda Front Line'  filmed by cinematographer Damian Parer for Cinesound Productions brought the horrors and closeness of the New Guinea campaign into the newsreel cinemas of Australia. The film won an American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 'Oscar' in early 1943. The statuette was cast in plaster-of-paris, rather than the usual bronze, to save copper and tin for American war machines.

The war continues

After their naval advance was frustrated by the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, Japanese forces invaded the north New Guinea coast at Buna, Gona and Sananda in mid-1942 to mount an overland assault on Port Moresby via the Kokoda Track. After their defeat at the Kokoda Track, the retreating Japanese fought tenaciously against Australian and American forces in the  Battle of Buna – Gona from 16 November 1942 until their defeat on 22 January 1943. These men at an advanced dressing station at Buna on 5 December managed to throw together a Christmas tree decorated with cotton wool and cigarette cartons.

American soldiers and their improvised Christmas tree. <a href="">AWM Collection</a>.

American soldiers and their improvised Christmas tree. AWM Collection.

News through the wireless

Wireless radio sets sat in the corner of many lounge rooms in 1942 bringing entertainment, songs and news of the war to Australian families. At Christmas, among the top rating variety and drama programs and soap operas, King George VI's Christmas message was essential listening. In America, it was President Roosevelt's Christmas broadcast.

— Richard Wood, USA Programs Manager

Explore more stories of War and Peace in the Pacific during World War II in our feature stories, including the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Bombing of Darwin and the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

War and Peace in the Pacific 75 - a series of programs to commemorate significant 75th anniversaries of World War II. Image: ANMM.

War and Peace in the Pacific 75 – a series of programs to commemorate significant 75th anniversaries of World War II. Image: ANMM.

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Top Ten Military Justice Stories of 2017 – #6: Baker confined, Bergdahl free

On November 1, 2017, Marine Corps Brigadier General John Baker was confined to his quarters (a room in a trailer) at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. Air Force Military Judge Colonel Vance Spath ordered the confinement after finding General Baker in contempt (for conduct that clearly did not meet the applicable definition of contempt).

Two days later, at about 11:30 a.m. eastern on November 3, 2017, Army Military Judge Colonel Jeffery Nance sentenced Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl to reduction to E-1, forfeiture of $1,000 pay per month for 10 months, and a dishonorable discharge – but no confinement – for Bergdahl's desertion with the intent to shirk important service and avoid hazardous duty in violation of Article 85(a)(2), and misbehavior before the enemy in violation of Article 99.

The facts as we know them suggest that General Baker was still confined at the time Bergdahl's no-confinement sentence was announced. The convening authority sua sponte deferred Baker's remaining confinement a few hours later, shortly before 1 p.m. eastern.

The incongruity – if not outright absurdity – of General Baker's confinement and Sergeant Bergdahl's liberty is the #6 Military Justice Story of 2017.

General Baker is Chief Defense Counsel for the Military Commissions and the head of the Military Commissions Defense Organization. His duties include supervising the defense of persons accused before military commissions. One such person is Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi accused of orchestrating the 2000 bombing of USS Cole. Al-Nashiri was captured in 2002, spent many years in CIA custody, and now faces the possibility of a capital sentence.

Al-Nashiri's defense team included civilians with experience defending capital cases. On October 6, 2017, they asked General Baker to allow them to withdraw from the case, and on October 11 General Baker approved their request. Colonel Spath (the military judge) disagreed with that approval, and ordered a hearing on October 31, ostensibly to sort out the issue. Colonel Spath called General Baker to testify as a witness during that hearing, but Baker refused (claiming various privileges).

There's plenty of room to debate the merits of General Baker's approval of the withdrawal of the civilians and his refusal to be a witness, but they don't really matter. What matters is that Colonel Spath responded with a problematic contempt finding and an objectively severe punishment. Of the maximum possible punishment for contempt of 30 days of confinement and $1,000 fine, Colonel Spath ordered General Baker serve 21 days and pay the full $1,000.

Baker ultimately served only 3 days confinement (and the rest of the punishment was disapproved by the convening authority), but that's 3 days more confinement than Bergdahl served.

In 2009 then-Private First Class Bergdahl walked away from his combat outpost in Patika Province, Afghanistan, and was captured by the Taliban and held in captivity for nearly five years. He was recovered in a May 2014 trade for – ironically – five Guantanamo Bay detainees. Ten months later, in March of 2015, Bergdahl was charged with the desertion and misbehavior offenses.

Bergdahl's case captured a lot of our attention. It made our top ten list two years in a row, as the #8 Military Justice Story of 2015 and 2016. But the processing of the case through the military justice system was bizarre: A protective order prohibited Bergdahl's defense team from releasing information to the press, Bergdahl confessed to desertion, his recorded conversations with filmmaker Mark Boal were the nucleus for season 2 of NPR's Serial podcast (and Boal sought to avoid a subpoena), Bergdahl's defense team went 0-7 at CAAF, and motions to dismiss were filed over and over and over again.

In the end, Bergdahl elected to be tried by a military judge alone, and he pleaded guilty without any promises from the Government. The prosecution asked for a sentence including confinement for 14 years, while the defense asked for no confinement and a dishonorable discharge. Bergdahl got almost exactly what his defense counsel suggested.

Maybe someday we'll learn how General Baker felt during the approximately 90 minutes when he was confined and Bergdahl knew he was free. But that dichotomy is the #6 Military Justice Story of 2017.

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Florida Retirement Home

Ezell Harris Jr. (‪@Ezell_Harris‬)

12/30/17, 3:59 PM

Security cam catches attack on 86-year-old at retirement home ‪@CNN‬

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Nimitz Celebrates Christmas

Nimitz Celebrates Christmas

NAVAL BASE KITSAP BREMERTON, Wash. (Dec. 25, 2017) U.S. Navy Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Taylor, from Richmondville, Ga., serves cake during a Christmas meal aboard Nimitz (CVN 68), Dec. 25, 2017, at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton. Nimitz is currently preparing for a planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility where the ship will receive scheduled maintenance and upgrades. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kennishah J. Maddux)

December 27, 2017

Nimitz Celebrates Christmas

NAVAL BASE KITSAP BREMERTON, Wash. (Dec. 25, 2017) U.S. Navy Fire Controlman 3rd class Jordan Morgan, from Glen Carbon, Ill., enjoys a turkey leg during Christmas meal aboard Nimitz (CVN 68), Dec. 25, 2017, at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton. Nimitz is currently preparing for a planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility where the ship will receive scheduled maintenance and upgrades. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kennishah J. Maddux)

December 27, 2017

Nimitz Celebrates Christmas

NAVAL BASE KITSAP BREMERTON, Wash. (Dec. 25, 2017) U.S. Navy Cmdr. J.W. David Kurtz, Nimitz's executive officer, left, Capt. Kevin Lenox, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Center, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Taylor, from Richmondville, Ga., Center, and Nimitz's Command Master Chief, Jimmy Hailey, right, cut a cake during a Christmas meal aboard Nimitz (CVN 68), Dec. 25, 2017, at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton. Nimitz is currently preparing for a planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility where the ship will receive scheduled maintenance and upgrades. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kennishah J. Maddux)

December 27, 2017

Nimitz Celebrates Christmas

NAVAL BASE KITSAP BREMERTON, Wash. (Dec. 25, 2017) U.S. Navy Cmdr. J.W. David Kurtz, Nimitz's executive officer, left, Nimitz's Command Master Chief, Jimmy Hailey, Center and Capt. Kevin Lenox, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), right, serve food alongside Sailors during a Christmas meal aboard Nimitz (CVN 68), Dec. 25, 2017, at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton. Nimitz is currently preparing for a planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility where the ship will receive scheduled maintenance and upgrades. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kennishah J. Maddux)

December 27, 2017

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Naval Base Guam Sailor Recognized for Pursing Christmas Thief, Helping Local Resident

HAGATNA, Guam (NNS) -- Master-at-Arms 1st Class Anthony Mugavero, assigned to U.S. Naval Base Guam Harbor Security, received a legislative resolution at the Guam Congress Building December 29, for his courageous efforts while pursuing a thief at a local mall in Dededo days before Christmas. "There aren't too many times in your life you get to meet a hero, but today I've met a hero and we're here to show our appreciation on behalf of the people of Guam," said local Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. "What Mr. Mugavero did was something above and beyond." On the evening of December 23, Mugavero, his wife and their children were walking in the mall's parking garage when a woman yelled that her purse had been stolen. "I just heard someone yelling, 'he took my purse,' and immediately ran after the guy, jumped over the wall and tackled him," said Mugavero. Once on the ground, he retrieved the stolen purse and returned it its rightful owner. The suspect fled the scene on foot. "A lot of (Sailors), we go out there and we want to do better for our community because we come from the same community," said Mugavero. "If we can show the military guys are out there helping the community, maybe it will foster our relationship more within the community itself. I feel like something like this encourages other people take a step to help out." Cynthia Manibusan expressed her appreciation to Mugavero for his efforts to retrieve her purse and ensuring she and her daughter were okay following the incident. "I was expecting someone else to help me out, not a military person," said Manibusan. "I was so blessed to have him there at the exact moment to assist us. I want to thank Tony and his family, and the military for all the training he's learned. It kicked in on him that evening and he did what learned and it helped out."

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The Hazards of Cold Shock — When It is Cold Enough to Freeze Sharks

It is brutally cold on the Northeast coast of the US right now. Temperatures are hovering around the 20s F (in negative digits measured when in Celcius) from Virgina to the Canadian border. It is so cold there are reports of sharks freezing. Two thresher sharks were found dead on a Cape Cod beach, believed disabled by cold shock, which led to their stranding and death. 

Cold shock response is a physiological response to sudden cold, especially cold water. Newsweek reports that the program director of the Cape Cod-based Atlantic White Shark Conservancy [says] that it's not uncommon for sea turtles to wash up on the beach after experiencing cold shock. However, sharks are water-breathing fish, so when they wash up on a beach, they can suffocate and die.

Cold shock is a leading cause of cold water deaths in humans, as well. When a person is immersed in cold water, there is an immediate, involuntary inhalation, which if underwater can result in drowning.  The cold also causes blood vessels to restrict, which put stress on the heart and raises blood pressure.  Cold shock can often induce heart attacks.

The RNLI notes that many deaths recorded by coroners are mistakenly attributed to either hypothermia, or drowning, when in fact the cause of death, or cause leading up to the death, is something different. One of the authors of the seminal work "Essentials of Sea Survival", Professor Mike Tipton, is quoted as saying "if you are lucky enough to survive long enough to die of hypothermia, you have done very well; most die in the first minute of immersion". It is cold water shock that tends to kill people around our shores.

We hope everyone stays warm and dry until the weather warms up. 

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Incident Photos: Panama-Flagged Cargo Ship Wrecks in Greece

A Panama-flagged cargo ship wrecked on the Greek island of Traganisi near Mykonos on Friday during a voyage from Russia to Cyprus.

The Hellenic Coast Guard says all 12 foreign nationals on board the MV Little Seyma were able to abandon ship in a life raft and scramble their way to shore. The vessel is carrying 2,700 tons sunflower seed.

Photos show the ship partially sunk along the rocky coastline. A local pollution response team has been activated.

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Explosion Kills One at Argentine Grain Port

File Photo: Ships used to carry grains for export are seen next to a dredging boat (L) on the Parana river near Rosario, Argentina, January 31, 2017. Picture taken January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

By Hugh Bronstein and Maximiliano Rizzi BUENOS AIRES, Dec 27 (Reuters) – An explosion at a grains terminal in Argentina owned by China's COFCO International on Wednesday killed one employee, injured others and affected shipping activities from one of the world's top food suppliers, the conglomerate said.

The cause of the blast is not yet known but it could have an outsized impact on the flow of food exports from Argentina as unions representing grains inspectors and crushing workers said they would go on strike on Thursday to demand better safety conditions.

Television images showed thick black smoke billowing from what COFCO described as a 52,000-square-meter grains processing plant. The facility is part of Argentina's shipping hub of Rosario, on the Parana River in Santa Fe province.

"COFCO International can confirm that an explosion occurred at the loading area of its facilities at Puerto General San Martin in Rosario," the Chinese state-run conglomerate said in a statement.

One employee died in the blast, the statement said, and eight others were taken to hospital for treatment.

"The cause of the incident is not yet known," the statement said. Police, firefighters and other authorities provided no additional details.

"The affected site has been shut down," it said, adding that COFCO had launched "a full internal investigation." The storage and crushing facility received 27,000 tonnes of grain per day.

It has grains warehousing capacity of 295,000 tonnes and soymeal storage capacity is 105,000 tonnes.

The plant was previously owned by Dutch grain trader Nidera, which COFCO agreed to buy in 2014. This acquisition and other mergers projected COFCO into some of the world's top grain, vegetable oil, sugar and coffee producing regions.

Argentina is the world's top exporter of soymeal livestock feed as well as a major supplier of corn and raw soybeans. Soy is in high demand in China from a growing middle class eating meal-fed beef and pork.

Some 80 percent of Argentina's agricultural exports are sent from Rosario. Cargo ships loaded at the hub sail down the Parana on their way to the shipping lanes of the South Atlantic. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein, Maximiliano Rizzi and Luc Cohen; Editing by Tom Brown, James Dalgleish and Grant McCool)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

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Trump Administration Rolls Back Offshore Safety Rules Put In Place After Deepwater Horizon

President Donald Trump in April ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review a raft of Obama-era safety rules that sought to curb accidents and pollution by oil and gas drillers operating in U.S. waters. The agency on Thursday proposed several changes to those regulations, including scrapping a requirement that operators certify through a third party that their safety devices are functioning properly.

The changes will save companies at least $288 million over 10 years, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Related Story: U.S. Issues Tough New Safety Rules for Offshore Drilling (2016)

"By reducing the regulatory burden on industry, we are encouraging increased domestic oil and gas production while maintaining a high bar for safety and environmental sustainability," agency Director Scott A. Angelle said in a statement.

President Obama put the safety rules in place late last year, after six years of analysis following the 2010 BP Plc oil spill, in which a well blew out in the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed changes include revisions to safety system design requirements and equipment failure reporting requirements.

Environmentalists blasted the move, saying it put oceans and wildlife at risk.

"By tossing aside the lessons from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Trump is putting our coasts and wildlife at risk of more deadly oil spills," Miyoko Sakashita, director of the oceans program at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "Reversing offshore safety rules isn't just deregulation, it's willful ignorance."

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GAO-18-158, Columbia Class Submarine: Immature Technologies Present Risks to Achieving Cost Schedule and Performance Goals, December 21, 2017

What GAO Found

Additional development and testing are required to demonstrate the maturity of several Columbia class submarine technologies that are critical to performance, including the Integrated Power System, nuclear reactor, common missile compartment, and propulsor and related coordinated stern technologies (see figure). As a result, it is unknown at this point whether they will work as expected, be delayed, or cost more than planned. Any unexpected delays could postpone the deployment of the lead submarine past the 2031 deadline.

Further, the Navy underrepresented the program's technology risks in its 2015 Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) when it did not identify these technologies as critical. Development of these technologies is key to meeting cost, schedule, and performance requirements. A reliable TRA serves as the basis for realistic discussions on how to mitigate risks as programs move forward from the early stages of technology development. Not identifying these technologies as critical means Congress may not have had the full picture of the technology risks and their potential effect on cost, schedule, and performance goals as increasing financial commitments were made. The Navy is not required to provide Congress with an update on the program's progress, including its technology development efforts, until fiscal year 2020—when $8.7 billion for lead ship construction will have already been authorized. Periodic reporting on technology development efforts in the interim could provide decision makers assurances about the remaining technical risks as the Navy asks for increasing levels of funding.

Columbia Class Submarine Critical Technologies

Columbia Class Submarine Critical Technologies

Consistent with GAO's identified best practices, the Navy intends to complete much of the submarine's overall design prior to starting construction to reduce the risk of cost and schedule growth. However, the Navy recently awarded a contract for detail design while critical technologies remain unproven—a practice not in line with best practices that has led to cost growth and schedule delays on other programs. Proceeding into detail design and construction with immature technologies can lead to design instability and cause construction delays. The Navy plans to accelerate construction of the lead submarine to compensate for an aggressive schedule, which may lead to future delays if the technologies are not fully mature before construction starts, planned for 2021.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Navy's Columbia class ballistic missile submarines will replace the 14 Ohio class that currently provide the sea-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, slated to begin retiring in 2027. The first Columbia must begin patrols in 2031 to prevent a gap in deterrent capabilities; the class will ultimately carry up to 70 percent of the nation's strategic nuclear capability. The program is a top Navy priority with an expected cost of $267 billion over its life cycle, including $128 billion to research, develop, and buy 12 submarines.

House Report 114-102 included a provision for GAO to examine the Columbia class program. Among other things, this review examines (1) the status of key Columbia class technologies; and (2) potential risks with the Navy's planned approach for design and construction.

GAO reviewed the Navy's technology readiness assessment, technology development plan, and the status of key prototyping efforts, and compared efforts with GAO's identified best practices for shipbuilding programs and technology readiness assessments. GAO also assessed the status of design maturity and the Navy's acquisition strategy and interviewed relevant officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO had suggested a matter for congressional consideration related to additional reporting on the Columbia class technologies, but removed it because of recent legislation that implements this requirement. Department of Defense comments on the draft were incorporated as appropriate in this report.

For more information, contact Shelby S. Oakley at (202) 512-4841 or

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From Entente Cordiale to Triple Entente

While diplomat/historian George Kennan dramatically labeled the French-Russian arrangements "The Fateful Alliance", it would be the British-Russian convention that set in place some subtle structural elements, the importance of which was not universally understood at the time. First, although relations among the three powers would always be prickly and sometimes icy, the Ententes provided a "talking circle" through which they discussed, evaluated, and responded to the prewar diplomatic confrontations with the Triple Alliance over crises from Bosnia to Morocco to the naval competition. Second, the three dual-understandings completed the dim outline of a new power arrangement, unthinkable in the 19th century when France and Russia were either enemies or competitors of the British Empire. Recall that Germany's Schlieffen Plan of 1905 was based on opposing a Russian-French coalition. Adding Great Britain and her empire's population, vast financial resources, and industrial potential to the list of enemy assets made that plan riskier to the point of in-feasibility. But this potentiality of a Triple Entente opposing the Central Powers did not become evident until very late in the July Crisis of 1914. The framework of the Triple Entente, however, was constructed in 1907 due primarily to a new Liberal British government.

British Foreign Minister
Sir Edward Grey
A detente with Russia was of the highest priority for the Liberal government of Henry Campbell-Bannerman that took office in [Great Britain in] December 1905. On 13 December Foreign Minister Edward Grey assured Benckendorff, the Russian ambassador, that he was in favor of an agreement with Russia. Sir Arthur Nicolson arrived in St. Petersburg as the new British ambassador on 28 May, having "talked entente in and out, up and down" with Grey, Chancellor of the Exchequer Herbert Asquith, and Lord John Morley, secretary of state for India, before leaving London. Formal negotiations were launched on 7 June.

The speed with which Grey inaugurated negotiations with the Russians, at a time when Russia was still in a turmoil of revolution and the Russo-Japanese War a recent memory, bears witness to his own convictions in this direction as well as his desire to maintain continuity of foreign policy with his predecessors. The ground had been prepared by the Conservatives and tentative discussions had taken place in 1903, but although the Liberals were committed to uphold the Anglo-French entente, they were not committed to continue negotiations to extend it. However Grey had spoken in favor of an agreement with Russia as early as 1902, and in his City speech in October 1905 he declared that the "estrangement between us and Russia has. . . its roots not in the present but solely in the past."

The Foreign Minister saw an agreement with Russia partly as an extension of the French entente. "We could not pursue at one and the same time a policy of agreement with France and a policy of counter-alliances against agreement with Russia was the natural complement of the agreement with France." The entente with France, however, was recent and by no means cordial between the fall of Delcassé and the Algeciras Conference. Enough was known in London of the meeting between the tsar and the kaiser at Bjorko for English diplomatists to be apprehensive of a possible Russo-German alliance and worried about the loyalty of France.

Grey had pledged himself to improve relations with Germany as well as with Russia, but there seemed little possibility of this early in 1906 and Grey saw a need to check the growth of German power by both preserving and extending the French entente. When sanctioning the military conversations with France he argued that if Britain remained neutral in a future Franco-German war "the French will never forgive us...Russia would not think it worth while to make a friendly arrangement with us about Asia...we should be left without a friend and without the power of making a friend and Germany would take some exploiting the whole situation to her advantage." Hardinge added that "an agreement or alliance between France, Germany and Russia in the near future" would be a "certain" consequence. Thus re-establishing Russia as a factor in European politics on the side of France and England was crucial to Grey's aim of maintaining a balance of power in Europe. "An entente between Russia, France and ourselves would be absolutely secure. If it is necessary to check Germany it could then be done." Fear of Germany—German sea power, German encroachment in the Middle East; a possible Russo-German rapprochement—was evident throughout the negotiations.

Russian Foreign Minister Aleksandr Izvolskii

Grey's attitude marked a change in emphasis from the Conservative policy of seeing Russia basically as a potential or actual menace to the Empire and especially India, to one of regarding her as a potential ally in Europe. "If Russia accepts, cordially and wholeheartedly, our intention to preserve the peaceable possession of our existing Asiatic possessions," declared Grey before taking office, "then I am quite sure that in this country no government will make it its business to thwart or obstruct Russia's policy in Europe. On the contrary it is urgently desirable that Russia's influence should be reestablished in the Councils of Europe."

The urgency came not only from the international situation but also from the realities which were revealed to the Liberals of Britain's military and naval position. These affected both her potential role of holder of the balance of power in Europe against Germany and more immediately her ability to defend her Empire against possible Russian aggression. It was brought home to the government that Britain was no longer able to meet all her commitments. By January 1907 the General Staff and the Admiralty had agreed that it was no longer possible to hold the Straits alone against Russia. Grey urged the necessity of keeping this information strictly secret. The Anglo-Japanese alliance had been welcomed by the navy as a means of reducing the Far Eastern fleet, and the Russo-Japanese War had reduced the Russian fleet, but the growth of the German Navy was putting such strain on naval resources as to increase reluctance to risk a military conflict with Russia in Asia. This was bound to have political repercussions.

The Anglo-Russian Convention was signed on 31 August 1907 in St. Petersburg. The convention solidified the boundaries that identified respective control in Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet. It delineated spheres of influence in Persia, stipulated that neither country would interfere in Tibet's internal affairs, and recognized Britain's influence over Afghanistan. The framework of the future Triple Entente had been erected.

Source:  Beryl Williams in the November 2007 issue of OVER THE TOP.

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Tony Fokker's Three Masterpieces

Anton Herman Gerard Fokker (1890–1939) is the most renowned aircraft designer of the Great War.  Had designed his first airplane at age 20, and by 1912 he opened a small aircraft factory near Berlin. At the outbreak of war, he offered his designs to both sides, but the Allies all declined him.  Germany didn't. Fokker took German citizenship and became their leading designer and manufacturer.

His company was controlled by the German military in the war, but he remained in charge. His engineers designed the first interrupter gear, allowing machine guns to fire straight ahead through the propeller. His works turned out three of the most remarkable airplanes of the war: the E.1 "Eindecker," the Dr.1 Triplane, and the D.VII, recognized as the outstanding fighter plane of the Great War.

E.1 "Eindecker"
Dr.1 Triplane
Sources:  Who's Who of WWI, Photos from USAF National Museum, Phil Makanna, and Tony Langley

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The Centennial at the Grass Roots: North Dakota and the Great War

The uncertainty felt by Americans as they entered the Great War 100 years ago was nowhere more evident than in the upper Great Plains state of North Dakota. After favoring neutrality from the European conflict, North Dakota met the U.S. declaration of war in 1917 with mixed feelings, political uproar, and social discord along with the same patriotism that was sweeping across the country. 

The ambivalence in this predominantly agricultural state placed it slightly out of step with the rest of the country in 1917. But as the troops were assembled, North Dakota rallied strongly to support the American cause. 

All of this is brought home vividly in an exhibition, "North Dakota and the Great War" (, now installed at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum on the grounds of the state capitol in Bismarck. 

The exhibition motif shows a Doughboy silhouetted against an artillery explosion.
Through this exhibit, which will continue through fall 2018 we learn that:

•Neutrality was advocated strongly by prominent elected officials, some of North Dakota's major newspapers, and its political organizations. The state's congressional delegation led the isolationist movement in Congress, arguing that the struggle for power in Europe was not America's fight and that corporate interests in the U.S. were pushing profits above peace. Both of the state's U.S. senators were disparaged as "Senatorial Germans" for advocating neutrality. Senator Porter McCumber called vainly for a delay in the U.S. declaration of war, and Senator Asle Gronna was one of six senators who voted against the declaration, arguing that the war did not confront American citizens. 

•A factor in the state's desire for neutrality was based on an increasing population and rising prices for crops that were being shipped overseas. Twelve million acres of farm land was added between 1900 and 1920, and land values tripled. Both wheat acreage and wheat prices more than doubled by the end of the war. North Dakota's citizenry was strongly in favor of "family farming" and consequently disparaging of corporate influences. Although it had its detractors, the politically potent Nonpartisan League (NPL) criticized war profits going to large corporations and argued for higher taxes on the wealthy. 

 On the home front, women and men in towns and rural communities worked for the Red Cross. This group at Valley City, ND, wear hats that identify them as volunteers for the Red Cross. North Dakota chapters of the Red Cross rolled bandages that

were used to treat soldiers' wounds. 

•Questions of loyalty were raised concerning German-speaking residents who made up 20 percent of the state's population. Some North Dakotans with German (or German-Russian) backgrounds were suspected of disloyalty, lack of patriotism, or trying to undermine the U.S. through political rhetoric. The State Board of Education was reported to have asked local school boards to abolish German language courses because it gave students the "wrong impression regarding the facts about the German government." Many German language newspapers ceased publication, immigrant clubs dissolved, and German-sounding names were changed. 

•The Espionage and Sedition Acts suspended freedom of speech and opened the door to governmental prosecution of those who spoke against the government's war effort. With 103 prosecutions, North Dakota had the largest per-capita number of cases filed under the Espionage Act of any state. For instance, a minister for an evangelical church was found guilty of singing songs and praying for a German victory. A woman was convicted for vocal and active opposition of the war. Some officers of the left-leaning Nonpartisan League were disparaged, threatened, detained, or even jailed for comments concerning military enlistments or the conduct of the war. Federal judge Charles F. Amidon, who presided over the espionage cases, sometimes found juries too eager to show their loyalty by convicting the accused. Judge Amidon sometimes had to direct a jury to return a "not guilty" verdict.

This cartoon image was publicized by the North Dakota Nonpartisan League in support of enlistments while deploring profiteering and opposition to wartime taxation by the wealthy.

•The negativity and controversy that divided North Dakota before 1917 ended in a surge of patriotism once war was declared. Two former state governors volunteered, one of them as a colonel with the 41st Division in France and the other on the state Liberty Loan committee and as a captain with the American Red Cross, for which he was honored by France. More than 200 doctors and 148 nurses from North Dakota served in the Army Medical Corps with others volunteering with the Red Cross. Dr. Eric P. Quain, a Swedish-born doctor practicing in Bismarck, organized a hospital in France staffed by doctors and nurses from North Dakota. Dr. Quain later was chief of surgical services for Army hospitals in France. Eventually, more than 30,000 North Dakotans served in the Great War. 

•Some of the earliest patriotic response in North Dakota came from people who were not even considered citizens―the Native American population. Even before the U.S. entered the war, several Native American young men crossed the border to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. None of the men at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation asked for deferment or exemption from the draft. Some Lakota soldiers became "code talkers" who specialized in converting secret military codes into Native languages that the Germans could not break. When Lakota soldiers returned home in late 1919, a victory dance was held honoring returning soldiers and those killed. It reportedly was the first Lakota victory dance since the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. A speaker was reported to have stated: "For the sake of humanity we will give (the Germans) food to keep them from starving till they can produce food for themselves, according to the old Indian custom." When French marshal Ferdinand Foch, supreme commander of Allied Forces, visited Bismarck in 1921 he met with Native American representatives and honored one Native American soldier as "the bravest soldier in France." Native Americans who served in the Great War were granted U.S. citizenship in 1919, and citizenship was extended to all Native Americans born in the U.S. in 1924.

State Historical Society of North Dakota.
North Dakota Studies, Vol. 9, Issues 1, 2, 3. (

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