Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Doing It Right...

American infantrymen seek shelter from German shells in the town of Geich, Germany. December 11, 1944.
(Source)

As I spend time with family by the shores of Chesapeake Bay, working on my novel (and yes, that sounds somewhat pretentious to me, but it is what I'm doing), I do stay somewhat in the loop on what's happening in the world. I've even stayed in the loop with work, though my boss has told me to lay low and enjoy my time off. I'm trying George, really, I am.

But the world situation just pisses me off, especially the events in Afghanistan. We should have never gone in there, some bright boy thought, no doubt, that we would succeed where so many others had failed. A pipe dream.

But politicians have ever been assholes and will always be, pretty much doesn't matter what party they belong to. Yes, yes, there are exceptions, but not enough to be worth a bucket of warm spit. There's a reason I stay away from politics on this blog. It's like wrestling with a pig, you get mud all over you and the pig likes it.

Anyhoo. The book, let's talk about the book.

I remember the day I decided to stick with the Americans and the Germans as the major protagonists in the book and left the Scots and the Poles out in the wilds of Belgium somewhere. Quite frankly, I knew more about the American campaign in Western Europe than I did of the other participants. I wanted to focus more on the story than on the history behind it all. I could do that with the Americans and their German opponents.

After all, I had two relatives who had been in the ETO as combat infantrymen. The character of Charlie Gammell is loosely based on my Uncle Charlie (63rd Infantry Division) and my Great-Uncle John (4th Infantry Division), last name Gammell. I wanted to focus on my impressions of what they might have gone through and seen during their time in combat. Both were wounded, both received the Bronze Star.

I still have Uncle John's helmet, bullet hole through the top, which he'd been wearing in the Hürtgenwald when he was wounded. I also worked with a German whose father had been captured in that area during the same battle. So there are some strong connections there.

I really want to continue on with the stories of Sgt. Billy Wallace, Cpl. Kowalski, and Sgt. Fitzhugh and his Sherman VC (aka Firefly). I left them dangling (so to speak), so I'll be adding more to the book during this editing session to continue their stories. Kowalski will probably get his own tank at some point, I mean my buddy Paweł in Poland actually wrote one episode and promoted Kowalski to corporal! So I need to follow up with those chaps.

Going back through the book, I'm remembering why I wrote things a certain way. Also, not to blow my own horn, but the story flows nicely in spots. Very riveting, lots of action but there are the poignant moments as well which make the characters more human. I have to say, I'm enjoying rereading this tale while I edit it.

I also recall how when I introduced Charlie Gammell's character, I had him relating his part of the tale in the 1st person. I stopped doing that after a while. I'm not sure why I stopped that, perhaps it was to signal that Gammell was no longer "the new guy" but a valued and talented soldier in his own right. Remember, when he was introduced he was "only" 17 years old. I'll be revisiting that device to see if what I did makes sense. It certainly seems to flow.

To me at any rate.

Thanks for all of the tips as regards Word, style sheets, and getting rid of hidden formatting characters. I knew all of that setting out on this journey. Word is a tool which I've been using for a very long time. It has its strengths and it has its weaknesses, like most tools. The advice reminded me that I don't know everything. Keeps me humble it does.

Most of all, I want to do this right. Since 1945 our nation has fallen into "Great Power" status, something which, no doubt, has our 1st President spinning in his grave. Avoiding great power entanglements and trying to be the world's policeman is all well and good. But we sometimes stick our noses in to places where it really doesn't belong. We also tend, since 1945, to do so half-heartedly. If you're going to fight, then fight goddamn it. Blow things up, kill people, and let the devil take the hindmost.

Or stay out of it.

World War II was perhaps the last time we "did things right."

So the book is intended to be a tribute to those ordinary men and women who rose up, did the job, then went home.

We could learn from that.




50 comments:

  1. Fingers crossed for the book Sarge, looking forward to it. Appears we're in for a rerun of the Jimmy Carter years.....ugh.

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  2. The only thing wrong with the Carter years was the Regan team creating the civil wars in central America. That wasn't Carter, and our first Iran Contra problems, were created by the Regan bunch, to get elected. So much for Russia being the first to interfere in our elections.

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    1. Jim,
      If you can't put enough effort into your comment to spell the President's name correctly (once could be a typo, twice is deliberate or ignorance), why should we listen to a thing you say?

      You may actually want to read/study history, rather than listen to your "woke" brethren.

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  3. Re: Afghanistan. The REAL problem is that the ROE under which our military operated therein were more restrictive than the ROE for "Law Enforcement" in the US. In ALL the sandboxes.

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  4. Sarge, I think your proposal for the continuation of your novel sounds great to me - and not pretentious at all! I'm gonna stay out of the politics, amazingly enough, except to say I really hurt inside for the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our mission in Afghanistan (and their families who share their pain). And concur deeply with your opinion on politicians! Especially the DoD politicians in the flag ranks that spent way more time worrying about pronouns and "right wing extremists" than in defeating our real enemies.

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    Replies
    1. I'm gonna second that Amen.
      Looking forward to the book. I though first-person for Charlie's intro was effective and apropriate.
      Boat Guy

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    2. It seems to work as I reread the book while editing.

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  5. I shall be requiring a copy, when it is out!

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  6. Doing it right in afghanistan, at least as far as our exit, would have been far more orderly and conditions based. Not this absolute, absolutely no security force, absolutely no contingency force, or even a B.S. force we claim to have to possibly keep the Taliban at bay.

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    Replies
    1. Put idiots in charge, get idiotic (and chaotic) results.

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  7. After Viet Nam I THOUGHT the lesson was to not go into these things without a plan... the old "we'll accomplish this then go home" thing.

    I think that the Viet Nam lesson others saw was different....it had to do with a war making money for some but it didn't really need to accomplish much, it just needed to keep going.


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    1. There's the crux of the matter right there. It's always been "follow the money."

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    2. And making a career-building check-box thing for officers climbing in the ranks. "I was in Afghanistan (on a secure base, far from any action, the worst was having sand blow into my room, the horror, the horror.)" And then get 'credit' for being in a 'combat zone.'

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    3. That's been going on for centuries.

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  8. "World War II was perhaps the last time we "did things right."
    So the book is intended to be a tribute to those ordinary men and women who rose up, did the job, then went home.
    We could learn from that."

    Yes, we could learn from that. But I fear not. We have ceased teaching history, and what little is taught is a twisted view advocating fantasies about gender and race, not facts. Your fictional book (and excellent colonial series, which is much desired...) is better history than what people are exposed to today.

    THANK YOU for the huge amount of work you put into these.
    John Blackshoe

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  9. OH, and GREAT photo. Is that Willy on the left and Joe on the right, or vice versa?
    JB

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    Replies
    1. You're right, could be either!

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    2. Wonder if that's where the cartoonist got his characters. Same angle on the cigs if I recall correctly.

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    3. It does almost look like a Mauldin cartoon, doesn't it? But Mauldin's Willie and Joe cartoons predate the photograph by at least a year as I recall.

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    4. (Don McCollor)...Willie and Joe (and Mauldin) kept slogging along right to the end. One cartoon shows Willie finally turning in his rife "Please try to find her a good home"...

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    5. Mauldin knew the troops well.

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  10. World War II, curiously enough, was the last time the Rules of Engagement were "YES, DEATH, MORE DEATH, MANY MORE DEATH TO YOU!" After the horrors of WWII, our country kind of got weak-kneed over death, especially 'collateral' death. And the commie infiltration of the news agencies, the education system and the State Department was such that the USSR could use 'collateral' deaths to push their agenda (no, not a conspiracy theory. Proven when we got access to KGB files and actually listened to, you know, real KGB agents.)

    Afghanistan was won when it was all special forces only war. When it went to endless war, not so much. And then President Trump set up a sensible withdrawal plan, including getting a lot of the war material out of there, and then Biden screwed that up, so now I am sure we are totally ruined on the international scene. Taiwan and the Philippines and maybe even Japan and South Korea are most likely looking quietly elsewhere for help against the ChiComs.

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    1. Even Obama said to never underestimate Xiden's ability to eff things up.

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    2. There also was that litle thing called nuclear balance. There was no way to directly fight Soviets, and Chinese offering safe havens and mouintains of material - and often troops - in Korea and Vietnam. Or, for that matter, Pakistan lately...

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  11. As to the book, is there going to be an afterword section dealing with a brief view of where all the survivors are and what happened to them, maybe 2-3 years down the road right before the Iron Curtain fell? It would be nice, from my standpoint, to know if everyone is okay or not.

    Who stays in the military, who gets their pig-farm back, does Kowalski go back home to Soviet oppression, things like that.

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  12. One thing that jumps to my mind, is the tougher, well organised, indistrious is the enemy, the easier it is to rebuild him as an ally. It took almost 4 years to bring down Japanese and Germans. After decade or so both were up and running as fledgling democracies and market economies. Thats because these nations were hard working, smart and well organised. What made them formidable enemies, also made them great allies. Taleban folded in a month. What was made from tribes of AFG, also folded in a month.

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    1. It's a nation of tribes and tribal feuds, the only thing which unites them is an invader.

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    2. Which, interestingly enough, aptly describes ancient Greece pre-Macedonian times...
      Strange connections flow thru my mind. Damned overabundance of historical knowledge!

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  13. Sarge, in all fairness you have written a novel. You can right justify a bit of pretentiousness.

    I am admire your ability to handle multiple characters. I have only ever written with two, or maybe three, and I could very easily get confused. Cheers to having a great many more and keeping track of all of them.

    (Not pushing you to try an alternate history book, but, well, you know, the American and the Brits and Germans against a resurgent Soviet Union circa 1947 might be entertaining...)

    On Afgahnistan: There is nothing but bad from this, and just seems to be getting worse and worse. And there are so many facets to the worse that it boggles the imagination.

    A great many people seem unconcerned at the moment - "A strange far away people we know little about". I wonder how they feel 10 years from now.

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  14. This is the second one of these debacles I have lived through in my life. The first was 1975 and the Fall of Saigon, which I watched as a civilian after having done my year in the beautiful yet sad country called South Vietnam. Maybe it's three if you count that debacle in the Iranian desert misnamed Eagles' Claw. It should have been called Operation Ruptured Duck! And now Afghanistan. It should be noted some of the people ( looking at you Biden) were in government in all three occasions. Our best and brightest need to be gotten rid of and maybe give the stupid and ordinary a chance, they cannot do worse.

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  15. "...they cannot do worse." DON'T get me started.. (: Enough to make even the proverbial MAD MAGAZINE Jackal wretch!!!

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  16. And Sarge, you Just KNOW it takes one HELLUVA LOT to make a Jackal wretch--live or Mad Magazine version--so when you've done THAT..

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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