Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Crossing the Line

US Army Signals Corps Photo

"So this is the Siegfried Line? Not as nasty as I'd thought it would be." The 1st Battalion commander had been around, he'd fought in the Great War as a Marine, got out, then re-enlisted when things went south in the Crash of '29. But not in the Marine Corps, they had shrunk to insignificance after the war. But his father, a banker in North Dakota, had many friends, one of whom was a colonel in the National Guard. He had transferred to the Regular Army when FDR started expanding the military in anticipation of going to war and brought the banker's son with him.

He'd made rank the hard way, taking command of his company in North Africa when all the officers had been hit, or were, as the major said, "Elsewhere on that day." The Army hadn't exactly covered itself in glory at Kasserine, but some individual units had fought well. The major had won his battlefield commission for that action.

By the end of the campaign he was a captain, commanding a company in what he liked to call, "The Finest Division to ever grace the Earth." The Big Red One of course. Now, for his actions in Normandy and beyond, he commanded a battalion in that division.

Captain Josephson had a great deal of respect for his commanding officer, but he had to point out, "Surely the S2 has pointed out that this is just the outer belt west of Aachen. The main line is to the east of Aachen. I guess they figured the city itself would stop us, I don't know about that, but cities are tough to fight in."

"I just hope the 9th Air Force doesn't blow it all to Hell and gone, I've heard stories of the fighting in Monte Cassino and at Caen. After the air blew those places to rubble, the Krauts had plenty of hidey-holes to shoot the attackers to bits. Probably better if they'd left 'em intact." The major shook his head and sighed, standing he turned to Josephson.

"You've done a top notch job with C Company, Alphonse," the major didn't believe in nicknames, "keep up the good work, I swear you'll have a battalion before long."

"Thanks Sir, I just don't want to fail my men, we started out on the wrong foot, but I think things have gotten better." The captain didn't want to think of his dead wife and son, months later and it still hurt beyond belief when he stopped to think about it. It had also made him angry and unpredictable in the aftermath. But the man walking next to him had done much to fix that, as did the company's First Sergeant, Mort Saeger.

"How's Paddock making out? I remember when he came to us, Hell, he wasn't but a few days out of the Point, Class of '44 only did three years and not the full four. I had my doubts."

"So did I, he seemed like a good enough officer but his senior NCOs were terrible, I hate to speak ill of the dead, but it was something of a blessing when Draper and Fortin were killed by that mine." Captain Josephson shook his head, "Sorry sir, I'm sure someone misses them."

"Fortin had a chance to be a good NCO, someday, but Draper ruined him. That fool had a godfather on the division staff, so I couldn't get rid of him, the Krauts took care of that, but we have to play the cards we're dealt, but about Paddock?"

"Damned fine officer, I'm submitting the paperwork for a Bronze Star, he's led his men from the front and I daresay they'd all march through Hell for the man. He's bright, he learns quick and, something which took me a long time to learn, he listens to his sergeants."

"Make sure that paperwork gets to battalion ASAP, I'll send it to regiment with my endorsement."

PFC Flavio Gentile was sitting with his back against an old tree stump. He was enjoying a last cigarette before it got dark and was savoring a cup of coffee. Where this platoon managed to get a guy who knew how to make such good coffee was a mystery. He drank it black and he liked it strong. Most outfits made it too damned weak. These guys knew how to brew.

"PFC Gentile, how you settling in?" Sgt Wilson was making the rounds before sunset, he'd been meaning to chat with Gentile but this was the first chance he'd had.

"Pretty good Sarge," he toasted Wilson with his canteen cup and continued, "youse guys know how to make a good cup of joe."

"Ah, that's Katz, ask him and he'll show you the secret. I don't ask, I probably don't want to know. I'm sure someone at battalion wonders where all the coffee gets to. I know he uses more beans than the battalion cook does, probably what makes it strong."

Both men sat back, Wilson lit a cigarette and asked Gentile, "So Philly, how is it you've been in combat since North Africa, was awarded a Bronze Star on D-Day, and you're still just a Private First Class?"

Gentile chuckled, "Well, I made corporal once, punched out a dumbass captain at Kasserine, and the battalion commander thought it'd be a good idea to let me start over again as a private, after 30 days in the stockade, of course."

"Of course." Wilson agreed.

"I think I'm just too feisty to be an NCO, can't keep my mouth shut, can't stand an idiot, you might notice that the Army has a few of those."

"That they do, that they do."

"So that's my story Sarge, I'm just a troublemaker from Philly who wants to kill enough Krauts so that they quit and we can all go home."

Sgt Wilson started to speak again but was interrupted when PFC Jack Leonard walked by, "Hey Sarge, why you talking to that tree stump? Oh, it's the new guy, didn't see ya there Philly, you kinda look like a tree stump, all short and hairy."

Gentile started to get up but Wilson pulled him back down, "Pay him no mind Philly, he thinks he's a comedian but as you might guess, he's no Joe E. Brown, in fact Hebert calls him the company jackass. Now there's a man who don't know when to shut up."

"Sorry Sarge, I don't mean nothing by it." In fact PFC Jack Leonard was desperately lonely, he had no family other than his mother back home, and she seldom wrote to him. He constantly sought the attention of his peers, even if most of what came out of his mouth wasn't particularly funny.

"Run along J.L. before I turn Philly loose on you."

Leonard moved off and Gentile spoke, "He is a little funny, but he seems kind of a sad guy, does he have any friends?"

"Him, Dickenson, and Kennedy all came to us after D-Day. They were in the division band together, came to us when we desperately needed replacements, somehow we turned them into decent soldiers, well, our old squad leader had a big hand in that. Leonard gets along with everyone okay, but friends? Not really. Our old squad leader kind of took care of him, before he got hit by a sniper in Belgium."

"Shit, did he get killed?" Gentile had lost a couple of good squad leaders in his time, one had died in his arms at Kasserine.

"Nah, wounded pretty bad, but we had a letter from him, he's okay, he'll probably recover, million dollar wound, he's headed home last I knew. With all his parts intact. Lucky man."

"Hey Sarge, I gotta answer the call of nature before it gets too dark. Talk to ya later?"

"Sure. Stump." Wilson smiled as he said it.

Gentile grimaced, but he liked the new nickname, he would never let anyone know of course. But a new nickname in his first week with a new outfit, that told him a lot about these guys. Time, and combat, would tell, but he felt lucky to be with this platoon. He wasn't sure he'd survive this war but he'd be serving with some good men.

As 'Stump' relieved himself, he could hear the thump of distant artillery, the thought of city fighting in Aachen made his blood run cold. It was beginning, maybe his regiment would stay out here in the woods. Though he was city born and bred, he didn't fancy fighting in one, too many places for the Krauts to hide.

Out here a fellow could see the sky and breathe the fresh air. An odd thought he smiled to himself as he slid into his foxhole. "Hey, Hank, get some sleep, I'll take the first shift. I got things I need to think about."

"Sure Philly, thanks." Pvt Hank Cambridge was asleep in seconds. Though he seemed to be terrified all of the time, he never had trouble sleeping.

As Cambridge snored, PFC Flavio Gentile thought of home. He missed it as he missed nothing else on this Earth. The letter in his pocket had come that morning, his older brother Giuseppe had been killed in action on some island in the Pacific called Tinian. His Mom had written the letter, his Dad was devastated, Giuseppe was supposed to take over the family business after the war.

He looked at the sky overhead as a single tear slid down his cheek, "G'bye Giuseppe. I'm gonna miss you big brother."

It was a very long night.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020


National Archives

1Lt Paddock was coming down the trail to where 1st Squad was bivouacked, he had a new man with him. Hebert was the first to notice, he nudged Gammell and said, "Check it out Charlie, new meat."

Gammell gave his buddy Bear an annoyed look, "We're all new at some point, but this guy doesn't look new, not even a little bit."

"Hey Bear, where's your squad leader?"

"He's over in that dugout we've been working on."

"Thanks, come on Gentile. Oh, yeah, this is Flavio Gentile, he's in your squad now. He's just getting back from hospital, he took one in the chest on D + 10. He's all better now."

The new man chuckled and said, "Two inches to the right I'd be dead, an inch to the left I'd be back in the States. But here I am, all better now."

Paddock and the new man found Sgt Jack Wilson deep in conversation with his assistant squad leader, Cpl Melvin Katz, "Cat" to his buddies. Cat was pissed off, Duck had managed to damage his B.A.R. and the company armorer had told them it was unsalvageable.

"Well, that's just wonderful, but hey, we're not supposed to have two..." Wilson noticed his lieutenant standing by, waiting. "Oh, hey L.T., what can I do you for?"

"Cuppla things, first, we received some new guys this morning, this one is yours, Private First Class Flavio Gentile." The lieutenant pronounced the new guy's name "gen tile," which immediately made Cat laugh.

"Hey, L.T., to me you're all gentiles!"

Before Paddock could respond, the new guy spoke, "Hey lootenant, it's pronounced 'gen tee lay,' come on, don't they teach youse guys Italian at West Point?"

"Where you from?" Wilson thought the accent sounded familiar.


Jumping back in so that the men didn't wander too far down the "old home week" path, the lieutenant said, "Okay, PFC Gentile," he pronounced it correctly this time, "was hit on D + 10, he's been in the hospital since then. He was in another battalion in the division, now he's ours. He's been a rifleman since day one, which was?" He glanced at Gentile.

"North Africa lootenant."

"So yeah, he's been around. I'll leave you to get acquainted. Oh, by the way, I have good news and bad news."

Wilson and Katz both sighed, Wilson spoke, "Tell us the bad news first L.T."

"You've got to turn in one of your B.A.R.s, sorry but you're only supposed to have one."

Katz started laughing, then stopped and said, "That's okay L.T., apparently Duck broke his, the armorer says it's a wreck. I'm gonna need another Garand now."

"So what's the good news L.T.?" Wilson chimed in.

"Gentile, hand me that bag I gave you to carry."

"No problem lootenant, it was gettin' kinda heavy anyways."

"Open 'er up Jack."

Wilson proceeded to do just that, inside were two Thompson submachine guns, new webbing for both weapons, and extra magazines, already loaded. "Damn. Who gets these?"

"You get one, Cat gets one. Cap'n wants his NCOs to carry these. Kraut sergeants all seem to have submachine guns, Cap'n felt we should too. So he traded for 'em."

"What did he trade?" Cat had to ask, he was the curious type.

"You didn't hear it from me, but he traded battalion's extra Jeep."

"Whoa, the major ain't gonna be happy." Wilson commented.

"I know, right now he thinks the Belgians stole it."

"Why would he think that?"

"Because our First Sergeant told him that. I have no intention of questioning that, I mean the First Sergeant knows everything, right?"

As Wilson and Katz were both examining their new weapons, they had been semi-ignoring the lieutenant. "Uh, right Sir, whatever you say Sir." Wilson grinned as he said it.

"So where is that B.A.R. that Duck broke?"

"The armorer, Tech Corporal Bastien kept it. Said we had too many anyhow. Bastard wouldn't give me another Garand though." Katz was still a little pissed at that.

"Well, you have two extra Garands now. Give him one of those." PFC Gentile offered that suggestion.

"There you go." the lieutenant said. "Your new guy is already fitting right in. I'll leave you gentlemen to it. Carry on."

"Yessir, L.T.!" Both Wilson and Katz barked that out.

After the lieutenant left, Cat looked at Wilson and said, "How 'bout that, we got ourselves a couple of Tommy guns!"

"Yeah, we'd fit right in in Chicago."

"Philly too." Gentile offered.

Both men laughed, then Wilson said, "Okay, Gentile, you're going to Cat's section, Cat send McWhorter over here, tell him he's Cajun's assistant on the B.A.R. seeing as how Duck is now just another rifleman."

As Katz and Gentile started to walk away, Wilson spoke up again, "One last thing, Gentile you gotta nickname?"

"The guys in my old squad called me Philly."

"All right, Philly it is, unless you earn a new one."

"Gotcha Sarge."

"Why did L.T. give you guys Thompsons?" McWhorter, one of the new recruits they'd received before getting into Germany, wanted to know.

"Well, Mac, Garands have the range, so does the B.A.R., but in these woods, range doesn't mean all that much. Sometimes you just want to bring down fire on the Krauts as fast as possible. Thompsons are good at that. The .45 round won't carry that far, but if it hits you, you're going down."

Pvt Virgil Kennedy chimed in, "They're good for city fighting too."

Having heard of the fighting in Aachen, which had just begun, everyone got real quiet.

"Wonderful, just wonderful. I hadn't thought of that Virg, but you're right. For now we're out here on the flank, but we could get drawn into the fight for the city."

"Yeah, wonderful."

The men all looked at each other, no one wanted to say a word. The loss of Red Thomas was still on their minds. They knew that Aachen would be tough. As Bear said, "Krauts will fight hard to hold that place, any bets on Hitler already promising to shoot anyone who quits?"

No one took that bet.

Sherman and M-10 in Aachen, October 1944

Monday, September 28, 2020

Movin', Movin', Movin'

Been a busy week at Casa Nueva de juvat.  The "leap of faith" I spoke of last week was for naught.  The glitch in the document generating software at the closing company wasn't a glitch.  It was human error involving the address.  Assigning a GPS specific address to the new house is the responsibility of the On-Site Sewage Facility Administrator.  

Beans, that would be the guy that we have to burn incense in front of so he'll approve an application to install a septic system.  Oh, and that approval costs money (but you knew that!).  

Because the septic is a relatively late part of the construction process and a lot of paperwork is completed very early in the process,  we didn't have a "correct" address for the new house in a lot of the forms we filled out in the beginning, so we were advised to and used our current address at the time.  

When we got the new address, we notified everybody we thought had a need to know.  The builder, and the loan officer.  Well, the closing company never got the word, and it took two weeks for them to look at why the computer was rejecting the application. (As an aside, and as anybody who's ever worked with data knows, the computer ALWAYS tells you what the issue is, the message it uses to tell you may be hard to decipher and find the specific incorrect data, but it can be done.  You may have to actually put some effort into the process though. An error message of  "address incorrect" shouldn't be that hard though.)

Been quite a bit of finger pointing going on in the financial world in our little burg.  Meanwhile, the end of the month is rapidly approaching, at which point, we will have to pay rent on the new house for October.

But...Tuesday rolled around, the boys from the moving company showed up on time.  A little over a thousand dollars and 3.5 hours later, our stuff is in the new house.  First priority was putting together the bed and figuring out how to turn on the oven to cook the pizza.  A nice Malbec from Argentina rounded out the first dinner in the place.

The rest of the week has been unpacking boxes, some of which have been sealed since we first moved into la vieja casa de juvat twenty years ago.  Most of the stuff in them went directly to St Vinnies or the trash, because if we haven't needed it in twenty years...

But there were a few treasures that have been resuscitated.

A collage my Mom made for me, probably for Christmas 1980.  Top Center is my first flight in the mighty Tweet (T-37), below that is Dad administering my commissioning oath.  Below that on the right is me exiting the dunking pool after my first solo in the Tweet. To its left is a snowball fight outside the 80TFS (THE Juvats) building in early 1980. Bottom right corner is me playing pinball at the Kunsan O'Club.  I'm pretty sure it's Christmas 1980 as I had PCS'd home in early December of that year and spent Christmas with them.  After New Years, I reported in at Moody and met my Wife that day.  She's not in any of the above pictures.  Therefore...


Note the perfect fingertip formation in the top right.

My office is down to 3 boxes to be unpacked.  One is probably going to be tossed in the trash, another is waiting on some shelves to be put up.  One simply must chronicle one's military career, by displaying the unit coffee cup for each of one's assignments.  Picture to follow at a later date.

The last box is all the unfiled photos taken since Mrs J's arrival on the scene.  Got to go through them, cull some, and sort the rest into the appropriate preservation boxes e.g. pictures of Little Juvat, pictures of MBD, Family shots etc.  Adding some historic content on the back would probably be a good thing also.  Hasn't been done as of yet, because...Time.  Running out of validity for that excuse.

I've gotten pretty good at hanging curtains.  One of the things we love about the new house is its openness and the amount of light that comes in.  It is also very well insulated, however, around 3PM sitting in the dining room can get a tad warm.  So curtains are nice.

Did I mention the backyard Firepit was completed yesterday?  Mason recommended 3 week curing period before the first fire.  Mid-October should be cool enough to warrant one.

View from the Kitchen.

Still haven't gotten the large screen TV, but our Refrigerator and Washer and Dryer should arrive on Tuesday.  The Beer Refrigerator has been doing yeoman's work keeping the victuals cold.  It did request relief to return to duty as the beer and wine fridge only.  It is pretty old.


Great room from front entrance looking out at backyard and firepit

The next phase of the project is to screen in that back porch and add the petio (Patio for Pets aka "Petio") to the left.  Basically the view out the dining room window will be through the petio out to the back yard.  That will allow us to put a pet door through the wall which will allow the cats (and dogs) to go out at night, while still remaining safe.  A unexpected benefit of that will be uninterrupted sleep for Mrs J and I vs having to get up at Oh-dark-thirty and let them out.  

They are VERY vocal about that request.  I've heard quieter alert klaxon's.

And the following basically sums up my progress through the last few days.

This has been my "Honey-Do" combat station.  I start the day with the coffee maker on the left, progress through the day making tools useful and end it with a bit of Bruichladdich (Brew-Kuh-law'-dick, roll the first syllable) for to assist in sleeping through feline alert klaxons.

Front entrance is storage for emptied boxes.  The recycling guys are going to just "LOVE" us!


We have high hopes to take a bit of a vacation for Mrs J's birthday the end of October, meeting MBD and SIL at Lost Pines Resort near Bastrop.  Should be fun.

Peace to y'all and try and keep calm,  November 3rd will arrive pretty soon, here's hoping praying that both sides accept the outcome like completely peaceful adults.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Into the Reich

National Archives

"Roger, stand by." PFC John Myerson handed the radio handset to his lieutenant. "It's Captain Josephson sir."

"This is Charlie Two Leader, over."

"Charlie Six, Charlie Two, I need you to rotate up, switch with Charlie Three. How copy? Over."

"Solid copy Charlie Six, over."

"Make it happen, Nate. Charlie Six out."

1Lt Nathan Paddock handed the handset back to Myerson, then he turned to his messengers, "Herm, Bobbie, get the squad leaders back here, on the double." The two men headed out to gather in the squad leaders for the 2nd and 3rd Squads. As 1st Squad was traveling with the platoon command element, Paddock simply waved Sgt Jack Wilson over.

"What's up L.T.?"

"We're moving up to the front, 3rd Platoon will be falling back into reserve. Okay, hold on, here's Greg and Mike, I don't want to have to repeat myself."

The lieutenant briefed his squad leaders, they would be moving up to the right flank of the company, which was also the right flank of the entire battalion. After making sure the sergeants knew their assignments, they moved off. 2nd Squad would be on the flank, 3rd squad in reserve and 1st Squad maintaining the link to 1st Platoon on the left.

Sgt Jack Wilson briefed his men as they moved out, the closer they got to where they expected to meet 3rd Platoon, the more they increased their interval. Soon they were in a proper skirmish line.

Wilson saw his counterpart in 3rd Squad, Sgt Mike Peavey, "What's the scoop Mike?"

"The woods are mostly open ahead, mostly evergreens, very little in the way of underbrush. We've got pretty good sight lines, but then, so do the Krauts. Ya know buddy, I think we're about to enter Kraut-land."

PFC Jackson Hebert was in contact with a soldier from 3rd Battalion, a PFC Mike Brown. They had a quick word, then it was time to move out. "Be careful Hebert, we're in Germany now." PFC Brown pointed at a stone marker with the simple inscription - "Deutschland."

Hebert's eyebrows went up at that, he even felt the hairs go up on the back of his neck. "Man," he thought, "we're in Nazi f**king Germany."

They were indeed inside Germany, the company had crossed the border not too far north of the town of Roetgen, the first German town to be occupied by the American Army only a few days before. The men in the 2nd Platoon all seemed to walking on pins and needles, Germany, the land of the enemy, and they were entering it.

1Lt Paddock was near the front of the platoon's skirmish line, he was scanning the open areas beneath the pines and firs. "I guess the Krauts like to keep their forests tidy, huh Herb?"

SSgt Herbert Graves responded, "Just like the Krauts, everything neat and clean, except when it's somebody else's country, then they blow the shit out of it."

Paddock chuckled, his platoon sergeant had a point. He wondered how the Germans felt now that it was their country getting bombed and shelled. He hoped that the bastards would remember that the next time they wanted to start a war.

"Sarge, I don't like this, it's starting to get pretty dark under all these trees." PFC Fred Thomas had his B.A.R. at the ready, he was clearly nervous.

"Calm down Red, I'm sure that the boss will call a halt soon." He checked his watch, was surprised that he could barely see the face. Damn, it was only 1630. "These trees are pretty thick, keep your eyes open fellows."

At the startling sight and sound of tracers passing through the squad, each man went to ground, seeking what little cover there was. Now they heard the ripping snarl of a German machine gun.

"Christ! Anybody hit?" Sgt Wilson had felt the tug of an enemy round on his right sleeve, when he checked, the fabric had been torn by a bullet. He nearly wet himself thinking how close he'd come to getting hit.


Wilson turned to look, Red Thomas was down, there was a lot of blood, he wasn't moving. Cajun was checking his B.A.R. man, for whom he served as assistant gunner. "Jesus, Sarge, I think Red is dead. He ain't breathing, maybe I can..."

As Pvt Andre Tremblay, known to his squad mates as Cajun, started to get up, Wilson screamed at him to stay down. That slight movement brought a flurry of small arms fire in their direction, all of it over their heads. It seemed that the Germans couldn't see them very well either.

"Grab the B.A.R. Cajun, can't worry about Red right now, we've got to clear out these Krauts before we can help him." Even as Wilson said that, he figured Cajun was out of the fight, the shock of Red being hit had rattled the man.

Wilson was starting to maneuver his element when he heard a flurry of shots from the right flank of the squad. Had to be Corporal Melvin Katz's element laying down fire on the German position, the sounds of the American rifles and Duck Simpson's B.A.R. were distinctive.


Wilson recognized Cat's voice, "What do ya got Cat?"

"One MG 42, and maybe three riflemen in support, Charlie's gonna try and take 'em out. We can barely see the position."

"Alright, be careful."

"Really Sarge, be careful?" Somehow the squad's grenadier, PFC Jack Leonard, had worked his way over to Wilson's position. Where he had been, he couldn't see anything, now he thought he saw where the enemy gun might be.

In the next instant the sound of a .30-06 Springfield rang out, followed by a scream from the German position.

"Think Charlie nailed one of the bastards," turning to Leonard, Sgt Wilson asked, "think you could drop a rifle grenade on those Krauts from here?"

"I dunno Sarge, all these trees cut down the range, can't really drop it in, I'll have to try and shoot it straight into them."

Moments later Leonard fired a rifle grenade at the German position, which drew a flurry of tracer fire in their direction, all of it over their heads again. The grenade had flown over the German position. Leonard was right, they couldn't drop the round in, and they were too low to hit the Krauts directly.

"Might be the Krauts can't depress their gun low enough to get us?" Leonard was thinking out loud. "Just like we can't hit them directly."

"Right, let's crawl a bit closer, Cajun slide out to your right and lay down covering fire."

As the B.A.R. opened up, Wilson and Leonard low crawled as fast as they could until Leonard said, "Okay, I think I can hit them from here. Virg, where are you buddy?" Wilson was surprised, but pleased, that Cajun was back in the fight.

"Right on your ass Jack." Leonard's assistant grenadier, Pvt Virgil Kennedy, had followed his lead as he'd made his way over to Wilson, and then again as they'd low crawled forward. "I've got three grenades left, you?"

Leonard fired another grenade, "Had one, now I have none. Hand me up another."

At that time the grenade Leonard had just fired detonated, right beside the German machine gun position. From the right flank, Charlie Gammel saw through his scope that one man had stood up, one sleeve of his tunic starting to burn, the man was frantically trying to beat out the fire. Gammell put a .30-06 round into the man's chest, ending his worries about fire.

The German gun had turned to fire where they thought the grenade had come from, which they thought was from Katz's section. Wilson could see the tracers streaming through the forest, occasionally tracers would hit a tree and fly off in random directions. Abruptly the German gun stopped firing.

Katz yelled over to Wilson, "Hey Jack, I think their gun jammed, I can hear 'em swearing in German."

Wilson turned to the three men with him, "Let's go, move up, follow me. Cajun, covering fire! Aim high!"

When Cajun opened up, Wilson stood up, now he could see the Germans on the gun. There were two of them, both frantically trying to unjam their weapon. Cajun's tracers were keeping the two Krauts low. Before the Germans knew what was happening, Wilson and his men were on them.

A flurry of gunfire and the two Germans were down. Wilson thought that one of them had been trying to surrender, "A little late for that you f**king Kraut bastard."

"What's that Sarge?" Dickenson was standing next to him, covering Leonard and Kennedy as they made sure the Germans were all dead. They were.

"Nothing Howie, nothing. Just thought that maybe one of the Krauts was trying to quit."

"Yeah, Sarge, I guess he didn't want to play army anymore. F**k him."

1Lt Paddock had brought the reserve squad up when the firing had broken out. By the time they'd worked their way up, it was over. Paddock saw some of the men huddled around something on the ground, then he realized that Doc Milbury was one of those men.

"Ah shit." Paddock moved in that direction, feeling sick. SSgt Graves was right behind him, getting 3rd Squad up and into position to take over for the 2nd Squad.

Paddock stopped when he realized that he'd lost a man. "Who is it Doc?" He asked gently.

Before Doc could answer, Cajun spoke up, "It's Red L.T., Red got hit by that first burst, never had a chance." Cajun was nearly in tears. Red Thomas had been with the squad since Normandy, now he was gone, not a hundred yards inside Germany.


"Yes sir?" Wilson looked like someone had punched him in the gut, hard.

"Have your guys fall back into reserve, 3rd Squad can cover tonight. Cap'n says to dig in. You okay?"

"Not really sir, Red was a good man, we're gonna miss him. He's only the second man in the squad to die. First Ollie, now him."

Paddock patted Wilson on the shoulder, gave the shoulder a squeeze. "See to your other men, Jack. We'll get Red back to the rear."

Seven other men in 1st Battalion had been hit moving up to contact with the new German positions inside Germany. Two had been killed, five had been wounded, one seriously enough that the medics were worried he wouldn't survive the night.

The Germans had lost 73 men that day in front of the 26th Infantry Regiment, 27 killed, 34 wounded, and 12 had been captured. While the German Army in the East was being torn to pieces by the Soviet juggernaut, the German Army in the West was dying the death of a thousand cuts. Slowly bleeding men and equipment with each new day.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Advance to Contact

National Archives

"So that's the latest intel on the Krauts over across the way, battalion S2 says they've pulled back into the main portion of the Siegfried Line which skirts around Aachen to the west. Our job is to move up along this edge of this forested area until we locate the Kraut MLR¹. Once we make contact, the division has been given the job of fixing the Krauts in position so they can't pull troops in to defend the city. Aachen is a big deal gentlemen, first Kraut city in reach of the Allied armies. Any questions?"

Captain Josephson scanned the faces of his four platoon leaders. 2Lt Herman Jacobsen shifted uneasily which caught the captain's eye, "Problem Herm?"

"Yes and no, sir. I understand why you had my machine gun squads farmed out to Nate's 2nd Platoon and Kent's 1st Platoon, but when can I get them back?"

"Once we start to move up I'll have your machine gun squads rejoin your platoon. But be advised, I may attach them to other platoons as I see fit. You've got full control of your mortar section, I want them available to support the entire company. But I'll use the machine gun squads to provide extra punch to any platoon that might need it. My call, okay?" Josephson understood his weapons platoon leader's concern, but the men in that platoon were a major asset to the company. He needed to shift firepower to where it was most needed.

"Sounds good Cap'n." Josephson's answer seemed to settle Jacobsen's concerns.

"Alright, get back to your platoons, we move out in an hour."

1Lt Paddock and the platoon headquarters were moving behind the 2nd Platoon, which was in reserve, 1st and 3rd Platoons were up on line, leading the company advance. The day had turned warm but was still overcast from the rain the night before. Everyone was nervous, though reports had the Krauts pulling back, the veterans knew that the Germans liked to leave behind snipers, booby-traps, and the occasional light machine gun team.

"Jennings, you want to slide out to your right a bit, you're crowding the lieutenant. One man might not be worth a bullet, but a cluster tends to attract attention."

"Yes Staff Sergeant, sorry."

Robert Jennings was one of the new recruits in the platoon, he was one of two messengers assigned to each platoon. If messages needed passing and the radio was down, they would carry the lieutenant's words to whoever needed them. PFC Herman Shapiro was the other messenger and had taken Jennings under his wing, even though Shapiro thought that Jennings was one of the most naive kids he'd ever met.

"Keep your eyes up and on your sector Bobbie, we're far enough behind the main line that we're probably safe enough. But your average Kraut is pretty sneaky. It would be just like the bastards to hide from the rest of the guys just to pop up and blast whoever is bringing up the rear. Besides which, we've got two other platoons in front of us. Hell, we're almost as far back as the company headquarters element. Keep your wits about you Bobbie. "

"Right Herm, I'll try."

As the group moved on, Jennings realized that this was the most scared he had ever been in his entire life. They were moving up to find the enemy, men who wanted to kill him. Why? What had he ever done to them?

On the forward edge of the company's advance, 2Lt Morgan Childreth's 3rd Platoon was on the right flank, they were supposed to stay tied in with another company from another battalion. As they entered a small clearing, Sergeant Cliff Davis signaled a halt.

Childreth and his platoon sergeant, SSgt Joe DuBois moved to Davis' position. "What's the hold up, Cliff?" the lieutenant was looking out to the flank and noticed.

"Jesus, where's 3rd Battalion?"

"That's why I stopped us sir, their guy was right there, then Ozzie looked away to check his interval, when he looked back, the guy was gone."

"Damn it, hold up here. Joe, hustle back and let the Captain know, our flank is in the air."

PFC Peter Hobart had been the Hotel Company flanker for 3rd Battalion as the regiment was advancing. He had felt a pressing call of nature, so he stopped and went into a small brushy area to do his business. He was new to the theater, having arrived with the latest batch of replacements in early September. He really had no clue how important it was for the units to stay in contact with each other. By stopping to take a crap, he had left his own battalion's and the neighboring battalion's flanks in the air.

Fortunately there were no Germans in the area to exploit those open flanks. But it did cause the entire advance to stop.

Sgt Cliff Davis had moved off to the right to see where the 3rd Battalion guy might be. He moved cautiously with one of his men right behind him. They encountered Hobart walking out of the brush, pulling his pants up and trying to get his gear back in place.

"What the Hell are you doing Private?" Davis snapped in his best Drill Instructor voice.

"I had to take a crap Sarge, I'm sorry, but..."

At that moment Hobart's own sergeant came on the scene. The two NCOs conferred briefly, both agreeing that having Hobart on the flank was probably not a good idea. It also earned Hobart a new nickname in his platoon, not a flattering one either.

Davis got back to his squad to find his platoon leader having an earnest conversation with the company commander.

"What was the problem Sergeant?" Captain Josephson wasn't happy, and it showed.

"Kid on the other battalion's flank stopped to take a shit, he thought it was no big deal. I talked to his sergeant, I think we won't have that problem again. F**king babes in the woods some of these kids."

"Alright, let's get this circus back on the move people!" Captain Josephson started to head back with his radio operator when he heard something...


The short artillery barrage was over nearly as soon as it had started. 1st Platoon was firing at something over on the left, things were quickly getting out of hand.

"Come on Jake, let's move!" Josephson yelled to his radio operator, Cpl Jacob Winters.

The two men moved in the direction of 1st Platoon, staying low. When they arrived at 1st Platoon's position, the excitement was over.

"Lieutenant Jackson, what were you people shooting at?"

"Kraut up in that pine tree Cap'n, see him?" 1Lt Kent Jackson was pointing and the captain looked in that direction, sure enough, there was a now dead German up in a pine tree. Tied to the tree by a length of rope around his waist.

"Spotter for the artillery?" The lieutenant asked.

"Unlikely L.T.," First Sergeant Morton Saeger answered, "probably just some dumbass kid left behind to take a pot shot at an officer. I'm thinking the arty was just a random fire mission, H and I.²"

"I think you're right First Sergeant." Captain Josephson looked at his watch, then at the position of the sun, just visible through the hazy cloud cover. "Pass the word, fall back one hundred yards, we'll dig in here tonight and move out at first light. No fires, no smoking after sunset. Let's go people, looks like we're camping in the woods again."

Some two hundred yards away and 30 minutes later, 1Lt Nathan Paddock's platoon was finishing up their foxholes and gulping down whatever rations they had at hand. SSgt Herb Graves slid into the platoon CP's hole and handed his lieutenant a tin mug.

"Careful L.T., it's hot."

"Herb, where did you find coffee out here?" The lieutenant asked as he took his first sip of the hot brew.

"Judd Maxwell over in Weapons Platoon had a fire started when the company stopped. While 3rd Platoon was getting shelled, he was making coffee. He's an old hand, he figured that after all the excitement, Tex would call it a day and dig in."

"Tex?" 1Lt Paddock looked askance at his platoon sergeant.

"Begging the lieutenant's pardon, sir, I meant Captain Josephson, our company commander. No disrespect intended, sir."

"I heard the captain's not from Texas, why does he go by 'Tex'?"

"He was born and raised in New Mexico, that's a fact sir. But Hell, he was just up the road from El Paso, that's in Texas, right? He likes being called 'Tex' according to the First Sergeant. Hey, it ain't a bad thing, right?"

"I suppose not, thanks for the coffee. Why don't you..."

"Get some sleep? Don't mind if I do sir." With that SSgt Herbert Graves wrapped his blanket around himself and promptly fell asleep.

"Man can fall asleep on command, I swear." Paddock finished his coffee, knowing that his platoon sergeant would sleep for a couple of hours then let his lieutenant sleep for most of the night.

Paddock had asked him about that once upon a time, "Well sir, tired officers can't think straight, officers who can't think straight make bad decisions, bad decisions get people killed. So..."

Paddock remembered that. He was thankful he had a good platoon sergeant.

Between the two of them, they tried awfully hard to keep the men alive.

Which was something that the men noticed.

Which was a good thing.

¹ Main Line of Resistance, the major defensive positions of an army.
² Harassment and Interdiction, artillery directed at a grid position on a map to annoy the enemy.

Friday, September 25, 2020

I Could Have You Shot For This...


"Hey Fritz, what's going on?"

"Did you hear about the incident over in 2nd Company's sector the other day?"

Quickly Josef "Sepp" Kleinschmidt pulled the younger man out of the line they were in. Once they were out of earshot he leaned in and whispered, "Be careful, I heard about it. The Feldpolizei are around as well as the Gestapo. Don't forget, we're back in the Reich now."

"Surely there can't be anything wrong with talking about..."

"I would not take any chances Fritz, there are informers everywhere."

Indeed there were, the captain commanding the 2nd Company had already been interrogated by the GFP, been stripped of his rank without benefit of trial, and sent to a penal battalion in Russia.

Leutnant Florian Neumann sat waiting for his interrogator to join him. Though it was supposed to be hush-hush and streng geheim,¹ he was already aware of his company commander's fate. Neumann was a very junior officer, he had been promoted from the ranks shortly after D-Day when he had personally destroyed three American tanks and led the remnants of his platoon in repulsing a very strong attack on an important position, he was also a holder of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, and proudly wore the Close Combat Clasp in Silver over the right breast pocket of his tunic.

Though junior in rank, Neumann was a tough combat veteran, after serving two years in Russia, he feared almost nothing. A little bird had whispered to him of the captain's downfall. Neumann had liked the man, but he was no combat soldier, having joined the division in late August from a supply depot well behind the lines. The door began to open, Neumann sat up straight.

The man who came into the room wore spectacles, had slicked back oily hair, and wore a rather rumpled suit. He looked like a clerk in an unsuccessful accounting office, a lesser man may have discounted the newcomer based on his appearance, but this was the very man who had sent Hauptmann Klaus von Hayek to the Eastern Front as Grenadier von Hayek, member of a Strafbataillon.

"So, Herr Neumann, you do understand that I could have you shot for the behavior of your men?" The seedy little man pulled no punches, going for the throat at the outset.

"Yes Herr Feldpolizeidirektor,² I am well aware of that. Which is why, you may note, that there was no second occurrence of desertion from my company."

The small man paced back and forth behind the small table and studied the lieutenant for a few long moments. "That was you who ordered the machine gun to fire upon the men attempting to desert to the enemy?"

"Yes sir."

"Those men were not even from your platoon, why would you..."

Neumann interrupted the policeman, for that is what he had been in civilian life, "Yes sir. After the three men of my platoon had deserted the night before, I ordered the platoon to be on highest alert. I posted myself at the machine gun position near where the deserters had gone over to the enemy. It was Hauptmann von Hayek's idea to be on a higher state of alert. I had already placed my platoon sergeant under arrest and..."

"Ah yes, Oberfeldwebel Krause I believe..."

"Yes sir, he has been..."

"Oberfeldwebel Krause was shot at regiment this morning. After his arrest he berated the Feldgendarmerie sergeant who took him into custody, called him a, hhmm, where is it?" The man looked through the papers he had brought in with him, "Ah, here it is. He called the sergeant an ass kissing Nazi stooge. So, we had him shot for defeatism."

Lieutenant Neumann shifted in his chair, he had expected the sergeant to be reduced in rank perhaps, but shot? Now he was getting nervous.

"I see that bothers you lieutenant, that we had your sergeant shot."

Neumann sighed, ran his fingers through his hair then nodded, "Yes sir. He was a good man in combat, though he had been slightly shaky lately, I thought his nerves were shot. I had no idea things were that far gone."

"He had no faith in the ultimate victory of the Reich! We could not let that attitude spread! You do understand that your Knight's Cross and your record in combat are the only things standing between you and a field court martial, yes?" The policeman had slammed both hands down on the table when he had said that, while Neumann was startled, he showed no sign of it, other than his pulse increasing somewhat. Having spent long periods of time under Soviet artillery bombardment, sudden noises didn't phase him. Much.

The policeman pulled out the chair on his side of the table and sat down, he pulled out a cigarette case and offered Neumann one.

"Thank you Herr Feldpolizeidirektor, it has been a long day."

"I should imagine so lieutenant. I must say, your regimental commander speaks highly of you, he has also directed your battalion commander to give you the 2nd Company. Can you make sure no more of your men seek to desert the Fatherland? Can you handle that?"

"I suspect my men will be too busy fighting the Amis in the days to come to worry about desertion. Their chief concern will be staying alive I would think."

"Very good lieutenant, you may return to your men." The policeman stood, as did Neumann.

As the policeman turned to leave, he paused, "Oh, by the way, lieutenant, Heil Hitler."

"Yes, Herr Feldpolizeidirektor, Heil Hitler!!"

The policeman chuckled and left the room.

Leutnant Florian Neumann discovered, much to his chagrin, that he was sweating like a pig. He had been completely unnerved by the little policeman.

"I'd rather face Soviet T-34s in a blizzard than sit down with that little bastard again." He muttered under his breath as he left the building where he had been questioned. He looked around to make sure no one heard him. He was learning that it paid to be careful what one said, and to whom.

During the First World War, only 18 Germans who deserted were executed. However, the Germans executed 15,000 men who deserted from the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. (Source)

¹ Top secret
² Equivalent rank to a major

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Administrative Down Day

Milton in Office Space
(As portrayed by Stephen Root)

It's been one of those weeks -

I'm not saying that the guys at work needed a flamethrower to calm me down, but it might have helped.

As le projet naval continues apace, I need to spend more time in the lab than I have over the past few months. I write procedures to test things, then I need to, ya know, test things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. When they don't is where we engineers earn our paychecks. Or not as the case may be...

Now I may (or may not) have been a little pissy in the comments over the past few days, don't sweat it, it's not you, it's me. Lack of sleep and an overactive brain tend to make me crabby. Also as the weather gets cooler, stuff that aches when it starts to cool, well, starts to, ya know, ache.

Getting old ain't for sissies.

I'm taking some time to binge watch some stuff on Amazon Prime (quit yer whinging, they provide a service which pleases me, doesn't have to please others). Such as Generation Kill, a most excellent HBO series about Marines in Gulf War 2.0.

Another series I found interesting (and just a bit weird) was Fortitude...

The new Blogger interface, for those who didn't know it, sucks beyond belief. It's cumbersome, gives me less control of the content, and (drum roll please) it's hard to use. You might see a post get published, then go away. That's me checking to see if the videos I included actually worked. Someone at Google (the people who own Blogger), thought that the Blogger way of doing videos was the best way. It's not. They also crammed a bunch of useless HTML code in on the dark side of the blog, stuff you don't see but which I do. And trust me, it sucks.

I'm getting used to it, but it takes time and more effort than is really necessary. I wonder which idiot at Google gets a promotion for this POS. (No, that doesn't stand for "Point Of Service," just in case you're wondering.)

See, I am crabby!

Anyhoo, no WWII post today, sorry. I'm just not feeling all that creative today.

Carry on...

(BTW, feel free to hijack this thread, but fair warning, in the future I might delete comments which have absolutely nothing to do with a post. Especially if there are links to, ya know, elsewhere. If you think something is peachy keen neato, email me. If I think it worth sharing, I will. End of rant...)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Stink of Defeat


"Hey Duck, you seeing this?" Corporal Melvin "Cat" Katz nudged PFC Woodrow "Duck" Simpson, he thought he saw someone on the Kraut side of the clearing waving something pale in color. Maybe a white flag?

"See what Corp? I didn't see anything."

"Do you see that small stand of birch? Just to the right of that, there! There it is again."

"Okay yeah, I saw it that time. Someone waving a white flag? What, the Krauts wanna quit now?"

For the past few days the Germans had been patrolling very aggressively. Battalion figured they were giving their new guys some front line experience and they were interested in what the Americans were up to. Aachen seemed to be ripe for the picking yet the American lines were thinly held. There was a lot of training going on behind the lines for the assault on the German city, a lot of new recruits were being assimilated while the veterans held the front line. The Germans were, needless to say, curious.

Yesterday a German patrol in platoon strength had advanced out of the tree line at first light, probing the American line. They had blundered into a very alert machine gun position. There were at least seventeen dead Germans in the field to Katz and Simpson's right. One guy had still been alive when his buddies had fallen back. He had screamed for his mother all night.

He had fallen quiet just before daybreak.

The white rag was waved again, so Cpl Katz, born and raised in Austria, shouted out, "Wollen sie sich kapitulieren?"

"What did you ask them?" Duck didn't know much in the way of German, other than "hands up" and "drop your weapon."

"I asked 'em if they wanted to surrender. Maybe I confused them by asking in German. Let's try English. Hey, you guys wanna surrender?"

From across the field they heard, "Ja, ja, surrender, don't shoot, we come out!"

Moments later three wretched looking Germans came out of the trees, one was holding the white rag on the end of the stick, all were unarmed, no other gear apparent, no helmets, and hands raised in the air. All three men looked exhausted.

"Alright, come over, move it! Schnell!¹"

The three men stumbled across the field and into the position which Katz and Simpson were manning, not much more than a deep hole scraped into the ground. While Simpson covered the men with his Garand, Katz had them sit at one end of the position. At that moment Sgt Jack Wilson came up.

"What the Hell ya got here Cat? Prisoners?"

"Yup, they came over all by themselves, voluntarily."

"Search 'em. Duck, if any of 'em twitches, shoot the bastards."

One of the Germans looked in horror at Wilson and spoke, "No sergeant, we want no trouble, we want to surrender. We are losing the war, why die for Hitler?"

"Chatty sumbitch isn't he?" Duck chuckled, keeping his rifle trained on the men.

Sgt Wilson looked the Germans over, they looked defeated. "Take 'em back to the platoon CP. They'll probably go all the way back to battalion, but that's the L.T.'s call."

1Lt Paddock had Katz and Simpson take the Germans back to the company CP, he didn't want his guys away from the platoon any longer than necessary but he'd let the captain decide what to do with the Krauts. On the way back, the English speaking German engaged Katz in conversation.

"Your German is very good, you almost sound Austrian."

"I am Austrian, knock off the chit-chat, I have no use for you Kraut bastards." Cpl Katz spat on the ground as he said that.

"We're not all Nazis you know." The German continued.

"Shut the f**k up, I'm a Jew, you bastards made us flee from our home. F**k Germany and f**k you."

Simpson had never seen Cat so worked up. But at the mention of being Jewish he noted that the German wasn't as chatty as before. In fact one of the other Germans had perked up at the word "Jew." Simpson thought it best to let that go, Cat had probably noticed it as well, he didn't miss much.

"So, you boys don't like Jews do you? Ja, ich bin Jude und stolz darauf.²"

"We are not Nazis, we don't all hate the Jews." The German protested.

"Shut up Kraut, one more word and you get shot, ya know, while escaping. Auf der Flucht erschossen, keine schlechte Idee.³"

The German, understandably, stayed silent for the rest of the trip back to the company CP.

Back at the platoon, Simpson asked Katz, "What was up with that Corporal? I've never seen you so mad before."

"I'm just sick of all this shit Duck. Those Krauts have been fighting for Hitler for years now, the going gets tough and they just up and quit. They'll wind up in some POW camp while we have to keep fighting the ones who won't quit."

"Did you see that one guy when I told 'em I was Jewish. You could almost smell the hate and the fear on him. I'll bet they claim they know nothing about the camps, but they know, the bastards know."

Simpson looked puzzled for a minute before asking, "What camps? What are you talking about?"

Katz looked at his squad mate for a long minute, then he explained about the concentration camps and the murder of his people. It wasn't something that every GI knew, but every Jew in the U.S. Army knew, and wouldn't forget.

"Jesus Cat, I mean Corporal, I really didn't know. Man, I hate those Kraut bastards even more now."

PFC Simpson had the opportunity to see another facet of Nazi Germany the very next day. Once again he was on the line, with Pvt Chris McWhorter this time. He was carrying his Browning Automatic Rifle again instead of the Garand. His B.A.R. had been with the company armorer the day before, it felt good to have the big weapon in hand once more.

"Hey Duck, Krauts!" McWhorter called as he aimed his weapon, "Are they surrendering?" McWhorter seemed surprised.

"Looks that way, more Krauts who want the war to be over." There were five men this time, two of them waving pale colored rags on sticks. "Cover 'em."

The five Germans waited, hearing nothing from the American outpost line, they walked on, waving the rags and shouting, "No shoot! Comrade! No shoot!"

When they were roughly halfway across the field, the distinctive sound of an MG 42 ripped through the stillness.

"Holy shit!" McWhorter exclaimed, "The Krauts are killing their own guys!"

Indeed, the Germans who were crossing the field had been shot down by their own side.

"Man, ain't that something?" Simpson said to McWhorter, "I guess the Krauts have decided that no one else is going to surrender, eh?"

"Wow, I guess not..." McWhorter muttered to himself.

And the war raged on...

¹ Fast!
² Yes, I'm Jewish and proud of it.
³ Shot while escaping, not a bad idea.

Non Desistas, Non Exieris (Alt. title: Death, Dishonor, and Other Political Concepts)

Hitler greeting his child soldiers*

As I read Sarge’s Saturday post, I was struck by a thought brought on by the opening line-  

Unteroffizier Manfred Sauer looked at the new men in his platoon, the average age was seventeen. 

At that point in his story, the war wasn’t quite winding down, but the Germans were losing.  The allies had invaded France and pressing towards the German border.  The enemy had lost enough battles and enough men that they were using 17** year olds to replace the hardened soldiers that had been killed.  17!  Not even high school graduates.  The Germans had to know the war was lost when they turn to the nations boys to finish the fighting.  The Japanese did the same, younger and younger soldiers, fighter pilots, and at the very end of the war in the Pacific- Kamikaze pilots as a last-ditch effort.  There’s no honor in sacrificing their youth or saving face for an Emperor they’ve never even heard speak.*** 

Did they truly think they could win using children, that sacrificing their youth would turn the tide?  They refused to see that the loss was probably inevitable.   If they did know it was over, they still believed that continued fighting was far preferable to the loss of honor in giving up.

 The Germans probably knew the war was lost as early as the end of 1943.  They had shifted from committed loyalty to their Fuhrer, to fear of their government to keep soldiers fighting and the public supporting them.  Then again, the alternative wasn’t all that great.  

More than 20,000 German troops were executed by courts-martial during the war for varieties of defeatism. At home, people faced a similar escalation of terror from the Nazi party and the SS. Retreating into their private and family worlds, they began to focus increasingly on simply staying alive and waiting for the end.  Source

Inevitable defeat, yet they persist.  Where have we seen that before?  Wars we can’t win, or if we could, we don’t have the political will to do so.  How about the entire LCS shipbuilding program?  We heard the phrase “too big to fail” during the sub-prime mortgage crisis when Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley were bailed out by the taxpayer.  Again- a government worried more about some distorted idea of financial honor, over what’s right for the taxpayers on the front lines, never mind the fact that Bear Stearns failed in 2008 despite the infusion of our cash. 

Any other groups facing likely, if not inevitable defeat?  What about Biden and the entire left? Yes, I’m making a bold prediction, but one that really shouldn’t be that far off considering what I’m being offered.  I think the left lost the middle a long time ago, some of the left this past summer, and any Trump naysayers on the right around the same time.  But it’s been happening for years.   This past year is definitely one for the ages, between COVID and race riots, we’re fighting on all sorts of new battleground.  Racial tension isn’t new, but it seems to be being used more as a political cudgel than ever before.  COVID needed to be dealt with, which it was and continues to be, but it also continues to be politicized, sensationalized, and monetized, all of which are being used as additional cudgels against the current administration.

The hypocrisy from the left on various COVID responses is maddening.  The travel ban from Asia was countered as racist, but is now accepted as a vital defense against the virus, and yet they continue to claim Trump did nothing and/or had no national strategy.  The Defense Production Act was enacted to protect health and medical resources to prevent hoarding and price gouging.  It was also used to increase the number of ventilators available to the medical industry, however due to actual numbers being far less than predicted, those were never actually needed.  No national strategy is only an undefined and empty criticism of Trump.  A nationwide one-size fits all shutdown?  No, having the states direct their own response actions based on regional conditions is a far more equitable and fair decision that works.  A mask mandate by executive order might be the only action I’ve heard from the left that could possibly amount to a strategy.  

We see the same hypocrisy with regards to the administration’s position on border security.  Every high powered leftist is on record saying everything from the need for a fence, to upholding the rule of law with regards to immigration, to the unfairness of granting citizenship to those who are here illegally when the line of immigrants working through our system to become so is so long. 

As for the race riots and BLM efforts, those are based on an argument that doesn’t actually pan out.  From fantastic claims that blacks are being hunted on the streets by cops, to the rate at which unarmed blacks are killed in the act of being arrested, the statistics don’t support the narrative.  How about people stop resisting arrest?  That might help.  The left gave up the middle when they refused to acknowledge facts, that violence and destruction are wrong, essentially condoning it.  They lost when they turned a blind eye to rioting, looting, and burning federal buildings.  They lost when they demanded police departments be disbanded and defunded.  They lost when they unbelievably said the protests were peaceful, yet in the same breath, claimed any violence and looting was understandable and even excusable.  So are they peaceful or violent?

The Biden loss I believe is inevitable.  There’s nothing the left is offering other than continued propping up of the racial narrative, identity politics, perpetuating victimization- that you don't have to accept any personal responsibility for your lot in life.  They also only offer a path towards socialism and chaos.  So what is the left doing despite the inevitability of them losing?  I heard it called kitchen sink politics- they’re throwing out everything including the kitchen sink to attempt to stop Trump’s reelection.  Recently this has included unsubstantiated and debunked claims that Trump called vets losers, that he's trying to stop voting by mail by cutting USPS funding, and that he will not accept the results of the election.  Like the Nazis, they are leaning on fear.  Like the Soviets, they are using propaganda and censorship to hide the truth.  This election cycle have you heard a reporter ask any liberal tough questions about the destruction of businesses, about the shooting statistics, or how they can offer a counter to Trump’s economic numbers?  They can't, because there is no opposing viewpoint to the low unemployment (pre-covid) numbers for women and minorities.  So they flip the script, claiming what’s good is actually bad, that what you’re seeing isn't how it really is.  They are using a tactic called gaslighting.  I had heard the term, but didn't quite understand it until I read the following:

“Have you ever asked yourself, ‘am I crazy?’ If you have ever asked yourself that, you’re not crazy. You’re most likely being gaslighted. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse aimed at controlling a person by altering reality to the point where the person will doubt their own sanity.

The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1930’s play called Gas Light. The main character in the play literally tries to drive his wife crazy by gradually dimming the gas-powered lights in their home. When she notices the lights dimming, her husband not only denies that the lights are dimming, he convinces her that she is imagining it to the point where she questions her own sanity.

We are living in a perpetual state of gaslighting.

The reality that we are being told by the media is at complete odds with what we are seeing with our own two eyes. And when we question the false reality that we are being presented, or we claim that what we see is that actual reality, we are vilified as racist or bigots or just plain crazy. You’re not racist. You’re not crazy. You’re being gaslighted.

We see mobs of people looting stores, smashing windows, setting cars on fire and burning down buildings, but we are told that these demonstrations are peaceful protests. And when we call this destruction of our cities, riots, we are called racists. So, we ask ourselves, am I crazy? No, you’re being gaslighted.

We see the major problem destroying many inner-cities is crime; murder, gang violence, drug dealing, drive-by shootings, armed robbery, but we are told that it is not crime, but the police that are the problem in the inner-cities. We are told we must defund the police and remove law enforcement from crime-riddled cities to make them safer. But if we advocate for more policing in cities overrun by crime, we are accused of being white supremacists and racists. So, we ask ourselves, am I crazy? No, you’re being gaslighted.

The United States of America accepts more immigrants than any other country in the world. The vast majority of the immigrants are “people of color”, and these immigrants are enjoying freedom and economic opportunity not available to them in their country of origin, but we are told that the United States is the most racist and oppressive country on the planet, and if we disagree, we are called racist and xenophobic. So, we ask ourselves, am I crazy? No, you’re being gaslighted.

Capitalist countries are the most prosperous countries in the world. The standard of living is the highest in capitalist countries. We see more poor people move up the economic ladder to the middle and even the wealthy class through their effort and ability in capitalist countries than any other economic system in the world, but we are told capitalism is an oppressive system designed to keep people down. So, we ask ourselves, am I crazy? No, you’re being gaslighted.

Communist countries killed over 100 million people in the 20th century. Communist countries strip their citizens of basic human rights, dictate every aspect of their lives, treat their citizens like slaves, and drive their economies into the ground, but we are told that Communism is the fairest, most equitable, freest and most prosperous economic system in the world. So, we ask ourselves, am I crazy? No, you’re being gaslighted.

The most egregious example of gaslighting is the concept of “white fragility”. You spend your life trying to be a good person, trying to treat people fairly and with respect. You disavow racism and bigotry in all its forms. You judge people solely on the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. You don’t discriminate based on race or ethnicity. But you are told you are a racist, not because of something you did or said, but solely because of the color of your skin. You know instinctively that charging someone with racism because of their skin color is itself racist. You know that you are not racist, so you defend yourself and your character, but you are told that your defense of yourself is proof of your racism. So, we ask ourselves, am I crazy? No, you’re being gaslighted.

Gaslighting has become one of the most pervasive and destructive tactics in American politics. It is the exact opposite of what our political system was meant to be. It deals in lies and psychological coercion, and not the truth and intellectual discourse. If you ever ask yourself if you’re crazy, you are not. Crazy people aren’t sane enough to ask themselves if they’re crazy.

So, trust yourself, believe what’s in your heart. Trust our eyes over what we are told. Never listen to the people who tell you that you are crazy, because you are not, you’re being gas-lighted.”

They may have lost the middle ground, but there still is a middle ground.  Nothing is perfectly black and white, but there are perfectly valid differing opinions that don’t align consistently to one party or another.  Unfortunately, their hatred of Trump has attempted to force everyone into a either a “deplorable” bin or a “woke liberal” bin.  You don’t have to like Trump to vote for him, and doing so isn’t a vote for accepting his flaws, but the game of politics has been so polarizing, much of the rhetoric coming from the left, that they demand a lock-step viewpoint.  They claim that any positive take on anything from the right is an immediate litmus test failure.  I was told by an old high school friend that I was "too smart" to vote for Trump, and by another- called a traitor to my country for supporting him, and that a condition of my retirement pay should an acceptance of liberal ideals.  I didn’t “unfriend” this supposed friend of mine for the Ad hominem attack, but only because I once read Sun-Tzu and realize the value of knowing my enemy.


I don’t know who wrote this but someone finally put into words what many of us have been thinking and I couldn't agree more.

I’m sick of Covid-19.

I’m sick of blacks vs. whites.

I’m sick of Democrats vs. Republicans.

I’m REALLY sick of the media.

I’m really sick of the wearing a mask debate.

I’m sick of no one being allowed to think what they want & feel how they do without offending someone.

I am sick of the people who are out there jumping on the bandwagon just to spread hatred. And start riots, looting & destroying others properties.

I am sick of blaming the world for the sins of a few.

You want to support Trump? You do it! It’s your choice!

You want to support Biden? You do it! It's your choice!

You want to believe in God? You do it! It's your choice.

You want to believe in magical creatures that fly around & sprinkle fairy dust to make life better? Awesome... you do it!!

BUT how about being MATURE enough to be able to deal with the fact that everyone doesn’t have the same exact mind-set as you. Having our own mind-set is what makes us all individuals and beautiful. If you can’t handle that fact....oh well!

I don’t have to agree with everything you believe in & YOU don’t have to agree with me.

It's your choice! It's our own choice!

So be a decent human being.

Have some respect.

You don't have to like it or agree. It's your choice!

*Alternate caption:  DNC greeting Antifa                                                                                                                                      **Even younger boys were used, pulled from the Hitler Youth.                                                                                    **Hirohito only spoke to the common people on the eve of their surrender