Newsletter 10-1-23

News & Updates


Keep up with host Lt. Col. Denny Gillem
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The Colonel’s Corner
~Comment by the Colonel~
16 Oct 1991 was a Wednesday afternoon in Killeen, Texas, and George Hennard drove his pickup truck through the plate-glass window of Luby’s Cafeteria and began firing indiscriminately into the crowded restaurant with a semi-automatic pistol. The deranged Hennard killed 22 people and wounded 20, one fatally, before turning the gun on himself. Present in the restaurant was Suzanna Gratia, who narrowly escaped being shot but whose mother and father were killed. Gratia had her own gun with her that day but had left it locked in her car as required by Texas state law. After recovering, Gratia became a fierce advocate of the right to carry concealed handguns in public places and led a popular movement that resulted in the approval of the Texas Concealed Handgun License Act in 1995. In 1996, she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives and continued to be a vocal proponent of the right to bear arms. You know, when honest citizens are prohibited from bearing arms in a place, then the only people there with guns are the criminals—and, if we’re lucky, the police.
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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 first half of October, Germany asked to end WWI, what we now call PTSD was identified, East and West Berlin came together on Unity Day, and a Cuban defector landed is MIG-17 at Homestead Air Force Base while Air Force One was there—the MIG was not detected.
On 2 Oct 1864, a Union cavalry column struck Saltville in southwestern Virginia, but was defeated by a force patched together from several reserve units. The Confederacy’s main source of salt, used as a preservative for army rations, was secured as the war entered its final phase.
On 3 Oct 1781, British Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas of the 80th Foot, leading 1,000 British troops, encountered French Brigadier General Marquis de Choisy, leading French troops and a battalion of the Virginia militia totaling 800 men. The action took place in Gloucester, Virginia, across the York River from British-occupied Yorktown, which was under Patriot siege.
The French and Americans cut off British supplies at Gloucester.
On 3 Oct 1990, less than one year after the destruction of the Berlin Wall, East and West Germany came together on what is known as “Unity Day.”
On 3 Oct 1942, German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun’s brainchild, the V-2 missile, was fired successfully from Peenemunde, as island off Germany’s Baltic coast. It traveled 118 miles. It proved extraordinarily deadly in the war and as the precursor to the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) of the postwar era.
On 4 Oct 1861, President Abraham Lincoln observed a balloon demonstration near Washington, DC. Both Confederate and Union armies experimented with using balloons to gather military intelligence in the early stages of the war, but the balloons proved to be dangerous and impractical for most situations.
On 4 Oct 1957, the successful launch of the unmanned satellite Sputnik I by the Soviet Union shocked and frightened many Americans.
On 4 Oct 1918, in the early morning hours, German Chancellor Max von Baden, appointed by Kaiser Wilhelm II just three days earlier, sent a telegraph message to the administration of President Woodrow Wilson in Washington, DC, requesting an armistice between Germany and the Allied powers in WWI. The armistice, or cease fire, was agreed on and took effect at 11 min after 11 am on the 11the day of the 11th month. 11 Nov was originally celebrated as Armistice Day in the US; it’s now celebrated as Veterans Day.
On 4 Oct 1944, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower distributed to his combat units a report by the US Surgeon General that revealed the hazards of prolonged exposure to combat; it was called shell-shock. “The danger of being killed or maimed imposes a strain so great that it causes men to break down. One look at the shrunken, apathetic faces of psychiatric patients…sobbing, trembling, referring shudderingly to ‘them shells’ and to buddies mutilated or dead, is enough to convince most observers of this fact.” This was the beginning of recognition of what we now know as Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
On 5 Oct 1969, in an embarrassing breach of our air-defense capability, a Cuban defector entered US air space undetected and landed his Soviet-made MiG-17 at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida. Air Force One was at the base at the time, waiting to return President Richard Nixon to Washington. The base was subsequently put on continuous alert, and it opened a new radar tracking facility to prevent the repetition of a similar incident in the future. Yeah, the pilot defected; we were glad to have a new MIG to look at.
On 7 Oct 2001, a US-led coalition began attacks on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan with an intense bombing campaign by American and British forces. Logistical support was provided by other nations including France, Germany, Australia and Canada and, later, troops were provided by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance rebels. The invasion of Afghanistan was the opening salvo in the US “war on terrorism” and a response to the 9-11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC.
On October 7, 1914, advancing German forces bombard the Belgian city of Antwerp, as Belgian troops and their British allies struggle to resist the onslaught. After the mighty fortress city of Liege fell to the Germans in the opening weeks of WWI, King Albert I ordered the Belgian army’s remaining 65,000 troops in the region to retreat to the city of Antwerp, protected by a ring of 48 inner and outer forts and some 80,000 garrison troops. From Antwerp, Belgian forces conducted sorties in August and September 1914 designed to distract the German 1st Army, led by General Alexander von Kluck, from its attacks against the British and French over the French frontier. After von Kluck was forced to send four divisions to repel an attack from Antwerp on September 9, German Chief of Staff von Moltke decided to send his men against Antwerp with the goal of capturing the city.
On 8 Oct 1968, Operation Sealords was launched in the Mekong Delta by US and South Vietnamese forces. This operation was ordered by newly appointed Commander Naval Forces Vietnam, Vice-Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., who established Task Force 194 to operate along the canals and less-traveled waterways of the Mekong Delta to interdict Viet Cong infiltration routes from Cambodia. Additionally, TF 194 was to harass Communist forces in the area and, with the assistance of ground and air forces, pacify the Delta region. Under Zumwalt’s direction, US and South Vietnamese naval forces worked together to secure the waterways of the Mekong Delta. When the Vietnamization program began in 1969, the US Navy instituted ACTOV (Accelerated Turnover to Vietnam), the Navy’s Vietnamization plan, and by April 1971, all Sealords operations had been turned over to the South Vietnamese Navy.
On 8 Oct 1918, during WWI, Corporal Alvin C. York personally killed over 20 German soldiers and captured an additional 132 at the head of a small detachment in the Argonne Forest near the Meuse River in France. The exploits later earned York the Congressional Medal of Honor.
On 10 Oct 1845, the United States Naval Academy opened in Annapolis, Maryland, with 50 midshipmen students and seven professors. Known as the Naval School until 1850, the curriculum included mathematics and navigation, gunnery and steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy, and French. The Naval School officially became the US Naval Academy in 1850, and a new curriculum went into effect, requiring midshipmen to study at the academy for four years and to train aboard ships each summer–the basic format that remains at the academy to this day.
On 10 Oct 1965, in the first major operation since arriving the previous month, the US 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) joined with South Vietnamese Marines to strike at 2,000 North Vietnamese troops 25 miles from An Khe in the Central Highlands. The 1st Cavalry Division was a new kind of division, which was built around the helicopter and the airmobile concept. The division contained 434 helicopters and had the capability to move one-third of its combat power at one time into terrain inaccessible to normal infantry vehicles. During its first major mission, faulty US-South Vietnamese coordination prevented their forces from entrapping the North Vietnamese Army 325th Infantry Division, but they managed to reopen Route 19, between Pleiku and An Khe, the main east-west supply route in the region. During the course of its employment in South Vietnam, the “First Team,” as the 1st Cavalry Division came to be known, would prove to be one of the most effective US combat units in the war.
On 11 Oct 1942, the American Navy intercepted a Japanese fleet of ships on their way to reinforce troops at Guadalcanal. The Navy succeeded in its operation, sinking a majority of the ships in the Battle of Cape Esperance
On 12 Oct 1960, in one of the most surreal moments in the history of the Cold War, Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev removed his shoe and pounded a table with it in protest against a speech critical of Soviet policy in Eastern Europe. During a debate over a Russian resolution decrying colonialism, a representative of the government of the Philippines charged the Soviets with employing a double standard, pointing to their domination of Eastern Europe as an example of the colonialism they were criticizing in their resolution. In response, Khrushchev took off one of his shoes and began to furiously pound the table. The chaotic scene finally ended when General Assembly President Frederick Boland (Ireland) broke his gavel calling the meeting to order, but not before the image of Khrushchev as a hotheaded buffoon was indelibly etched into America’s collective memory.
On 13 Oct 1775, the Continental Congress authorized construction and administration of the first American naval force—the precursor of the US Navy.
On 14 Oct 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis began, bringing the US and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear conflict. Photographs taken by a high-altitude U-2 spy plane offered incontrovertible evidence that Soviet-made, medium-range missiles were in Cuba—capable of carrying nuclear warheads—and, now stationed 90
This weekend George Lutz will present Honor and Remember.
Then AF vet Amanda Winter will discuss how to find the right pistol for you.
Quinton Roberts will discuss last weekend’s Service Academy Football games.
Diane Raver will review the Movie of the Month.
And on the weekend of Oct 7-8, Former Ranger John Lovell will present his book, The Warrior Poet War.
Then Steve Wilson will share about
Author Doug Giles will present his book Lionhearted—it’s about our need for Christian manhood in America.
Quinton Roberts will discuss last weekend’s Service Academy Football games.
And on the weekend of Oct 14-15, retired AF General John “Dragon” Tichert will discuss some of our nation’s challenges.
Ryan Purchase will discuss working with snipers in combat.
Quinton Roberts will discuss last weekend’s Service Academy Football games.
And Marines Gil and Skip will present Marine B & B.
~ Humor/Puns ~
If you ever get locked out of your house, talk calmly to the door lock, because communication is key.
He turned down a prison guard job to become a prize fighter. Later he moaned, ‘I could have been a con tender’.
The skeleton could not unlock the door, but then he realized he was the key.
“What do you get when you take a shortcut through a strawberry patch? You get a strawberry shortcut!”
Pasteurize: too far to see anything
I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
Cow 1:Who’s the new heifer?
Cow 2: Never seen herbivore.
The other day I held the door opened for a clown. It was a nice jester.
All the toilets in New York’s police stations have been stolen. The police have nothing to go on.
Energizer bunny arrested: charged with battery.
Velcro — what a rip off
I put my Grandma on speed dial: I call that Instagram.
Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?
Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!
I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest!
Acupuncture is a jab well done.
Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.
My tennis opponent was not happy with my serve. He kept returning it.
I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Typo.
I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down!

The Frontlines of Freedom Newsletter is published twice monthly;
the dates of publication each month depend on the events and history of that month.

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