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June 3, 2011
The best information availableBy Greyhawk
(A bit of talk about the weather originally posted on June 6th, 2010...)
June 6, 1944, was a day like no other in history. But somewhere in Afghanistan - a land of snow and desert, cold and heat, dust storms and thunderstorms - today and every day a repeat of the process that lead to the forecast that won the war goes on...
Whether an option or not, a June 6, 1944 failure would not have been an orphan.
That memo never became an official statement, but the man responsible for Overlord had every reason to be concerned. Critical among them, the weather forecast. Less than optimal, but good enough probably sums it up, with other considerations adding an element of urgency to the cause.
But that was the news that wasn't, and this was the news that was:
And nothing about it was easy.
"Three things are certain concerning the Forecasts for D-Day," writes James R. Fleming: "1) the invasion was postponed on June 5, 1944; 2) the invasion occurred under marginal weather conditions on June 6; and 3) the German meteorologists decided that the weather conditions were too poor to permit an invasion attempt. That is about all that is certain."
Regardless of the forecast, the actual weather was good enough. But success, of course, has no shortage of fathers - more from Fleming:
"Chaos" is probably the best single-word definition of the job of the military meteorologist, and "consensus" the best description of their output. But if there's a lesson learned from the D-Day forecast, it's one that applies far beyond the small group of people tasked with making weather a force multiplier: you don't have to be perfect, just better than the enemy.
Epilogue: for at least some American weather forecasters, the effort was personal:
"The death of Captain Losey, who is the first American official to be killed in this war, was reported today to Frederick A. Sterling, United States Minister to Stockholm," recorded the New York Times on its front page on April 23, 1940. Captain Robert M. Losey, America's first military casualty in World War II, would not be its last.Cpt Losey was was killed on April 21, 1940 during a German bombardment in Norway, where he was assisting with the evacuation of the American diplomatic legation. He was a U.S. Army meteorologist.
A young and brilliant officer, Losey had taken two master's degrees from the California Institute of Technology while serving as a meteorological officer at March Field in California.
Other milblogs on D-Day, 2010:
Remembering D-Day (Cassy Fiano/Hard Corps Wife)
At Point du Hoc, June 6th (Jonn Lilyea/This ain't Hell)
The Saga of Sgt Richard E. Owen (Mitch "Taco" Bell/The Sandgram)
D-Day - We weren't the only ones there, we had Allies (The Armorer/Argghhh!!!)
D-Day: Currahee! The Airborne goes in (The Armorer/Argghhh!!!)
Eyewitness to D-Day (Assoluta Tranquillita )
Omaha (Laughing Wolf/Blackfive)
Previously in Mudville: MilBlogs, Midway, and D-Day
Posted by Greyhawk / June 3, 2011 1:00 PM | Permalink
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our ongoing roundup of information on war and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world. Always updating - refresh for updates. Support Our Troops, Read Their Stories ---------------------------- ... Read More
"Somewhere in Afghanistan..." BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- Maj. Ken Burton, 19th Expeditionary Weather Squadron director of operations, participates in a 10-kilometer road race here May 30 to honor the memory of Capt. Nathan Nylander, a fellow Air F... 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...)
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