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May 20, 2010
What would Patton do?By Greyhawk
Eeek - according to anonymous sources our boys in Afghanistan are in danger - because of the rampant political correctnessism. Or something.
Some soldiers are being ordered to conduct patrols without a round chambered in their weapons...
Damn. Once again, I wonder: what would Patton do? (A lot of people respond that way to stories like these.)
First, because it's important: if you're a bad guy who's heard this, don't test this idea that troops are vulnerable or easy. In many ways this really isn't that much different from the bad ideas you used to get from the moveon.org crowd - that if you'd just keep killing Americans we'd eventually go home. It might be best for you to think of both claims as arguments put forth for political reasons on the homefront, justified (by those who made them) with explanations that they're really just supporting the troops. The troops, on the other hand, can and will kill you if you fall for either line. Then, when America does go home (and that will happen), you will be dead.
Okay, my conscience is clear on that point. Now for a story.
Once long ago, a bright young cavalry officer was stationed at Ft Bliss, Texas - back when the wild wild west was still a place where sudden gunfights occurred... okay, they still do today - but this was the old west, cowboys, indians, cavalry on horses, six-shooters in holsters, etc. Our story (as later told by their daughter) begins with the young lieutenant and his wife having been invited to dinner with some of the town's leading citizens...
What a pansy, you might think. Back to our story.
When he calmed down enough to explain, it appeared that he had tried wearing his pistol in his trouser-fly - the way all the local gunmen did when dressed up for an occasion - and that in sitting down or moving around he had somehow triggered it off and it had shot a hole right through his trouser leg and into the floor.
"Pa" was George Patton, of course. In her book his daughter actually refers to him as "Georgie" - the rest of her account above is unchanged.
Other biographers approach the topic with a bit more discretion. Here's one describing Patton's deployment to Mexico the following year - his first 'combat zone' experience...
After nearly doing himself significant anatomical damage with a "hair-trigger" Colt .45 automatic pistol at Sierra Blanca the previous year, Patton had exchanged it for an ivory-handled Colt 1873 single-action .45-caliber revolver. To ensure that there would be no embarrassing repetition, Patton kept only five shells in the gun and left the chamber opposite the hammer blank.
A big part of his image, those .45's.
Posted by Greyhawk / May 20, 2010 12:04 PM | Permalink
"I have at last succeeded in getting into a fight." - Lt George S. Patton letter to his father 14 May 1916 U.S. Army Signal Corps aircraft landing near American troops in Mexico. George Patton described the land in a letter to his father in law: "This ... 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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