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April 20, 2005
Dick WintersBy Greyhawk
Dick Winters, of Band of Brothers fame recounts the experience of attacking a numerically superior foe. The events he describes happened along the Rhine River in October, 1944, and the attack prevented a German breakthrough of the American lines.
There was only one thing to do. I withdrew my men to an adjoining gully to assess the situation. I got in touch with company headquarters and told them to send up the reserve platoon. After I was joined by another platoon and some additional machine guns, I went off by myself a little way to assess the situation and decide what to do. My group was the only thing separating the Germans from the rear of my battalion. So I decided we must charge them. I returned to the gully where the rest of the platoon was, and after ordering fixed bayonets, which makes every man have a second thought, I signaled when to throw a smoke grenade. This was the order to charge. As I leap off and begin the charge I am pretty pumped up. In fact, I have never been more pumped up in my life. I ran faster across the field separating us from the Germans than I have ever run in my life. All the men in the company are behind me, but they seem to be moving so slow. Nobody seemed to be moving normally, only me. When I got up to the road where the Germans were, there was a German in front of me, so I shot him. I then turn to my right, and there I see a whole company of Germans. I began firing into them, and they seemed to be moving so slow and then the rest of the company joined me. As the boys said later, it was a duck shoot. They never had a target like that before. We had caught two companies of SS soldiers pinned to the dike, and as they retreated we poured fire into them, and then I called in artillery fire. We destroyed those two companies.Funny that after writing about military folks' demand for high degree of accuracy and low tolerance for spin I find proof that it's nothing new. They didn't need milbloggers in Ernie Pyle's day, but there's an example of the same motivation.
That's not his main point though. Read the whole thing - an American hero, a living definition of leadership, explaining leadership.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 20, 2005 8:23 PM | Permalink
I was re-watching Band of Brothers on DVD last night. And this morning came across this great article on Major Dick Winters. He provides some of the backstory you don't see in the movie and also some great insights on leadership. It's well worth t... Read More
Greyhawk links to a story about one of my heroes - Dick Winters - who led Easy Company after the invasion of Normandy. Read More
Greyhawk @ The Mudville Gazette (via Blackfive) links to a History Net page about Dick Winters of Read More
I'm a huge fan of Band of Brothers. I've read the book once and watched the mini-series many times (I even bought the soundtrack), so I'm always happy to read more of the story from Dick Winters. I always thought... Read More
If any of my half dozen regular readers have seen Band Of Brothers then you will recognize Major Dick Winters name. He led Easy company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from D-Day to the end of the war. His leadership... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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