Newsletter 1-18-24

News & Updates


Keep up with host Lt. Col. Denny Gillem & never miss an episode
The Colonel’s Corner
~Comment by the Colonel~
On 5 Jan 2003, foreigners arriving at US airports were photographed & fingerprinted in the start of a government effort to keep terrorists out of the country.  This month the number of non-detained illegal aliens in our nation topped 6 million, up 1,500,000 from a year ago.  The number of detained illegals is now nearly 37,000; and about 142,000 have been deported.  Officially, our nation is a Constitutional Republic; the constitution makes us a nation of laws—not one subject to the feelings of those in power.  Yet, we have laws defining how someone from another country can legally enter our nation, and our current federal government is openly and blatantly ignoring this law.  What possible good is coming to our nation by allowing all these people of unknown health, values, abilities, and love for our nation into our nation?  And that’s ignoring the disease, drugs, and desire to commit crimes or terrorize our nation they may bring with them.  Even the very politically controlled FBI now admits that this open border is a possible threat for terrorism.  I encourage all US citizens to contact your member of congress and US Senators and demand that they first close our borders now—and then begin deporting all the illegals in our nation now.  Our nation, the nation that we military folks have defended, is at very serious risk. 
The Smiling Ranger – This book is a series of short, mostly funny, stories of my time in uniform (it’s for sale at I was thinking about… my time in Vietnam. I had little experience with a .45 caliber automatic pistol before arriving in country as a second lieutenant, but I quickly found one and carried it along with my rifle. The pistol was WWII vintage and badly worn. It jammed so often I really didn’t consider it reliable. When I’d loan it to a trooper who was going into a tunnel, I warned him that often it was good for only one shot.
After my first Vietnam tour I was assigned to Fort Campbell, KY, where I assumed command of an airborne rifle company. My assigned weapon was, yes, a .45 pistol. It might have been the same one I’d left in Vietnam. It rattled when I fired it, the parts were so worn. Then the division was ordered to deploy to Vietnam, so we all had to qualify with our weapons. For the life of me, I just couldn’t hit all those bulls-eyes with my old rattley weapon. When qualifying with a rifle, the shooter shot at a silhouette, but with the pistol it was a bulls-eye target. After about a hundred tries I finally barely qualified. I deployed with my company to Vietnam—wearing that old pistol. That’s why I own only revolvers today. (I have since been converted and own a Glock and a Sig Sauer today, along with my revolvers.)
If you don’t already have one, order your copy of ‘The Smiling Ranger’ today or one for a friend.
*We should all be proud Americans; despite our current challenges and differences, we live in the best and freest nation in the world. Let’s end all the name calling and appreciate each other and our nation, even if we don’t all agree on everything. Good Americans come in many flavors.
Military History
In the last half of January, our bombers flew their first bombing mission against Germany in WWII, several major events happened during the Vietnam War, including the Tet Offensive.  And the seizing of the USS Pueblo by the North Koreans occurred. 
On 20 Jan 1981, minutes after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as our 40th president, the 52 US captives held at the US embassy in Teheran, Iran, were released, ending the 444-day Iran Hostage Crisis. 
On 4 Nov 1979, the crisis began when militant Iranian students, outraged that our government had allowed the ousted shah of Iran to travel to New York City for medical treatment, seized the US embassy in Teheran. The seizing of an embassy is an act of war. The Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s political and religious leader, took over the hostage situation, refusing all appeals to release the hostages, even after the UN Security Council demanded it in an unanimous vote. Two weeks after the storming of the embassy, the Ayatollah began to release all non-US captives, and all female and minority Americans, citing these groups as among the people oppressed by our government. The remaining 52 captives remained prisoners for the next 14 months. 
President Jimmy Carter was unable to diplomatically resolve the crisis, and on April 24, 1980, he ordered a disastrous rescue mission in which eight US military personnel were killed and no hostages rescued. (I was a Mideast War planner then; the plan was done wrong from the beginning.) Three months later, the former shah died of cancer in Egypt, but the crisis continued. In November 1980, Carter lost the presidential election to Republican Ronald Reagan. Soon after, with the assistance of Algerian intermediaries, successful negotiations began between the US and Iran. On the day of Reagan’s inauguration, the US freed almost $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets, and the hostages were released after 444 days. The next day, Jimmy Carter flew to West Germany to greet the Americans on their way home. 
On 21 Jan 1968, during the Vietnam War, one of the most publicized and controversial battles of the war began at Khe Sanh, 14 miles below the DMZ and six miles from the Laotian border. 
Seized and activated by the US Marines a year earlier, the base, which had been an old French outpost, was used as a staging area for forward patrols and was a potential launch point for future operations. The battle began with a brisk firefight involving the 3rd Bn, 26th Marines and a North Vietnamese battalion. The next day North Vietnamese forces overran the village of Khe Sanh and North Vietnamese long-range artillery opened fire on the base itself, hitting its main ammunition dump and detonating 1,500 tons of explosives. 
An incessant barrage kept Khe Sanh’s Marine defenders pinned down in their trenches and bunkers. Because the base had to be resupplied by air, our high command was reluctant to put in any more troops and provided massive artillery and air strikes. During the 66-day siege, our planes dropped 5,000 bombs daily. The relief of Khe Sanh began in early April as the 1st Cavalry (Airmobile) and a South Vietnamese battalion approached the base from the east and south, while the Marines pushed westward to re-open Route 9. 
The siege was finally lifted on 6 April when the cavalrymen linked up with the 9th Marines south of the Khe Sanh airstrip. In a final clash a week later, the Marines drove enemy forces from Hill 881.  
There has been much controversy over the battle at Khe Sanh, as both sides claimed victory. The North Vietnamese, although they failed to take the base, said they had tied down a lot of US combat assets that could have been used elsewhere. This is true, but the North Vietnamese failed to achieve a decisive victory at Khe Sanh. We claimed victory because we’d held the base. It was a costly battle for both sides. The official casualty count was 205 Marines killed in action and over 1,600 wounded. The US military headquarters in Saigon estimated that the North Vietnamese lost between 10,000 and 15,000 men. 
On 23 Jan 1968, the US intelligence-gathering ship Pueblo was seized by North Korean naval vessels and charged with spying and violating North Korean territorial waters. Negotiations to free the 83-man crew dragged on for nearly a year, damaging the credibility of and confidence in the foreign policy of President Lyndon Johnson’s administration. 
The capture of the ship and internment of its crew by North Korea was loudly protested by the Johnson administration. The US government vehemently denied that North Korea’s territorial waters had been violated and argued the ship was merely performing routine intelligence gathering duties in the Sea of Japan. Some US officials were convinced that the seizure was part of a larger communist-bloc offensive, since exactly one week later, communist forces in South Vietnam launched the Tet Offensive, the largest attack of the Vietnam War. Despite this, however, the Johnson administration took a restrained stance toward the incident. Fully occupied with the Tet Offensive, Johnson resorted to quieter diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in North Korea. 
In December 1968, the commander of the Pueblo, Capt. Lloyd Bucher, grudgingly signed a confession indicating that his ship was spying on North Korea prior to its capture. With this propaganda victory in hand, the North Koreans returned the crew and captain to the US. 
On 23 Jan 1973, President Nixon announced that Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the chief North Vietnamese negotiator, had initialed a peace agreement in Paris “to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.” 
Kissinger and Tho had been conducting secret negotiations since 1969. After the South Vietnamese had blunted the massive North Vietnamese invasion launched in the spring of 1972,  
Under the terms of the agreement, which became known as the Paris Peace Accords, a cease-fire would begin on 28 Jan. All prisoners of war were to be released within 60 days and all US and other foreign troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam within 60 days. The Accords called for a National Council of Reconciliation and Concord, with representatives from both South Vietnamese sides (Saigon and the National Liberation Front) to oversee negotiations and organize elections for a new government. 
The actual document was entitled “An Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” and it was formally signed on January 27.  Of course, once we left, the North Vietnamese ignored all of it—except the releasing of prisoners. 
On 27 Jan 1943, during WWII, our 8th Air Force bombers, dispatched from their bases in England, flew the first American bombing raid against the Germans, targeting the Wilhelmshaven port. Of 64 planes participating in the raid, 53 reached their target and managed to shoot down 22 German planes—and lost only three planes in return. 
The 8th Air Force was activated in February 1942 as a heavy bomber force based in England. Its B-17 Flying Fortresses, capable of sustaining heavy damage while continuing to fly, and its B-24 Liberators, long-range bombers, became famous for precision bombing raids, the premier example being the raid on Wilhelmshaven. Commanded at the time by Brig. Gen. Newton Longfellow, the 8th Air Force was amazingly effective and accurate in bombing warehouses and factories in this first air attack against the Axis power. 
On 30 Jan 1968-during the Tet holiday cease-fire in South Vietnam-an estimated 80,000 troops of the North Vietnamese Army & National Liberation Front attacked cities and military establishments throughout South Vietnam. The most spectacular episode occurred when a group of NLF commandos blasted through the wall surrounding the American embassy in Saigon and unsuccessfully attempted to seize the embassy. Most of the attacks were turned back, with the communist forces suffering heavy losses. 
Battles continued to rage throughout the country for weeks–the fight to reclaim the city of Hue from communist troops was particularly destructive. American & South Vietnamese forces lost over 3,000 men during the offensive. Estimates for communist losses ran as high as 40,000. 
While the communists did not succeed militarily, the impact of the Tet Offensive on public opinion in the US was significant. The American people, who had been told a few months earlier that the war was successful & that US troops might soon be withdrawn, were stunned to see fighting taking place on the grounds of the US embassy. 
Despite assurances from the Johnson administration that all was well, the Tet Offensive led many Americans to begin seriously questioning such statements, and to wonder whether American military might could truly prevail over the communist threat on foreign shores. In the 1950s, Americans had almost unconditionally supported a vigorous American response to communism; the reaction to the Tet Offensive seemed to reflect the growing skepticism of the 1960s, when Americans felt increasingly doubtful about the efficacy of such Cold War tactics. In the wake of the Tet Offensive, support for the US effort in Vietnam began steadily to decline. 
On the weekend of Jan 20-21, Army veteran Sam Theissen will discuss STARRS, a movement to get our service academies and our military back to judging people by merit.  
Veteran Gabe Evans will discuss his past service to our nation and his plan to continue serving.    And Gen Chris Petty will present the Battle of the Month. 
And on the weekend of Jan 27-28, Aland Dershowitz will discuss Israel. 
Ambassador John Bolton will discuss China and the Middle East. 
And Diane Raver will discuss the Movie of the Month 
~ Humor/Puns ~
*Peruvian owls always  hunt in pairs.  It’s because they are Inca Hoots. 
*An old man thought his wife was going deaf, so he came up behind her and said, “Can you hear me, sweetheart?”  No reply.  So, he came closer and said it again. No reply. So, he shouted in her ear, “Can you hear me now, honey?”  “For the third time, yes.” 
*Two penguins were standing on an iceberg.  One said to the other, “You look like you’re wearing a tuxedo.”  The other replied, “Who says I’m not?” 
*Sometimes age brings wisdom.  Other times it comes alone. 
*Carrots really are good for you eyes.  Have you ever seen a rabbit with glasses? 
*One college student to another, “My professor talks to himself; does yours?”  “Yes,” was the reply, “but he doesn’t realize it.  He thinks we’re listening.” 
*Dad, can you explain what a solar eclipse is?  No sun. 
*A weasel walks into a bar.  The bartender says, wow, I’ve never seen a weasel here before; what can I get you?  Pop goes the weasel. 
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The Frontlines of Freedom Newsletter is published twice monthly;
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