Newsletter 12-16-22


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The Colonel’s Corner
~Comment by the Colonel ~
Just before Christmas during the Revolutionary war, Thomas Paine published these words: These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
Our nation is again in a time that “try men’s souls.” We are divided as a people and we’re facing a number of hostile nations, including Russia and China, who can do us serious harm. We all must realize that we live in the best nation on earth; we have the most freedom, the most resources, and the least government control of any nation—and we’re losing it. We have to stand together, understanding and appreciating that our differences and diversity are our strength.
AND Merry Christmas to all. God Bless America.
*The Smiling Ranger – this book is a series of short, mostly funny, stories of my time in uniform: I was thinking about…our time in El Paso and snow. About two hours north of El Paso is Ruidoso, New Mexico. There’s a nice big mountain there and some very good skiing in the winter. Bob was stationed at the Army ROTC unit at UTEP; he and his wife, Jan, were among our closest friends. We all liked the idea of skiing; none of us were great skiers. On one occasion we were skiing at Ruidoso. We were at the top of the mountain and had selected a somewhat easy route to ski down. Bob led; Marilyn followed, then Jan; I was the tail gunner. We were skiing down a very narrow valley. The trail was maybe ten feet wide with vertical walls of snow on both sides. I was watching Jan—when she disappeared. I stopped, blinked, took off my goggles and looked again. I could see Marilyn and Bob well ahead of me, but no Jan. There was nowhere she could have gone. As I moved slowly down the trail I saw a, well, an irregularity. Jan had somehow made a 90 degree left turn and had penetrated about five feet into the snow bank. She didn’t know where she was and was quite shaken; I grabbed her and pulled her out. Needless to say, I was very appreciated that day. Further, needless to say, we relived that event on more than one occasion in the future. I like rescuing beautiful women.
*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.
Weekly WWII Poster
The Colonel was given a collection of images that were posters used by our country during WWII. We’ll share one of these in each edition of the newsletter. We can only imagine the posters that our country would use today, if any, compared to what was used less than 100 years ago.
Military History
A number of very significant things happened in the last half of December. The Boston Tea Party took place, as well as the Christmas truce during WWI, and the Battle of the Bulge. And Congress established our Navy.
On 16 Dec 1773, in Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded three British tea ships and dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor.
The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny.
When three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the “tea party” with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty, his underground resistance group. The British tea dumped in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was valued at some $18,000.
Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British. The result was war.
On 16 Dec 1944, during WWII, with the Anglo-Americans closing in on Germany from the west and the Soviets from the east, Adolf Hitler ordered a massive attack against the western Allies; this was the Battle of the Bulge.
The German counterattack out of the densely wooded Ardennes region of Belgium took the Allies entirely by surprise, and the German troops wrought havoc on the American line, creating a triangular “bulge” 60 miles deep and 50 miles wide along the Allied front. Conditions of fog and mist prevented the unleashing of Allied air superiority, and for several days Hitler’s desperate gamble seemed to be paying off. However, the embattled Americans kept up a fierce resistance even after their lines of communication had been broken.
Fighting was particularly fierce at the town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division and part of the 10th Armored Division were encircled by German forces within the bulge. On December 22, the German commander demanded that the Americans surrender.
US Major General Anthony McAuliffe prepared a typed reply that read simply:
“To the German Commander: Nuts! From the American Commander”
The Americans who delivered the message explained to the perplexed Germans that the one-word reply was translatable as “Go to hell!” Heavy fighting continued at Bastogne, but the 101st held on.
On December 23, the skies finally cleared, and the Allied air forces inflicted heavy damage on German tanks and transport. On December 26, Bastogne was relieved by elements of General Patton’s 3rd Army. A major Allied counteroffensive began at the end of December, and by January 21 the Germans had been pushed back to their original line.
Germany’s last major offensive of the war had cost them 120,000 men, 1,600 planes, and 700 tanks. The Allies suffered some 80,000 killed, wounded, or missing, with all but 5,000 of these casualties being American. It was the heaviest single battle toll in US history.
21 Dec 2003 – Time magazine named The American soldier, who bears the duty of “living with and dying for a country’s most fateful decisions,” as Person of the Year.
On 22 Dec 1775, the Continental Congress created a Continental Navy, naming Esek Hopkins,
Esq., as commander in chief of the fleet. Hopkins’ first assignment was to assess the feasibility of an attack on British naval forces in the Chesapeake Bay. After sailing south with his meager force of eight ships, Hopkins decided that victory in such an encounter was impossible. He sailed to the Bahamas instead, where he attacked the British port of Nassau, a decision for which he was relieved of his command upon returning to the continent.
On 22 Dec 1862, during the Civil War, Union General William T. Sherman presented the city of Savannah, Georgia, to President Lincoln. Sherman captured Georgia’s largest city after his famous “March to the Sea” from Atlanta. Savannah had been one of the last major ports that remained open to the Confederates.
After Sherman captured Atlanta for nearly six weeks, nothing was heard from him. Finally, just before Christmas, his army arrived outside Savannah. Sherman wired Lincoln with the message, “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”
On 23 Dec 1968, the crew and captain of the US intelligence gathering ship Pueblo were released after 11 months imprisonment by North Korea. The ship, and its 83-man crew, was seized by North Korean warships on January 23 and charged with intruding into North Korean waters.
President Lyndon Johnson strongly suspected that the incident with the Pueblo, coming just a few days before the communist Tet Offensive in South Vietnam, was a coordinated diversion. At the time, however, Johnson did little. The Tet Offensive, which began just a week after the ship was taken by North Korea, exploded on the front pages and televisions of America and seemed to paralyze the Johnson administration. To deal with the Pueblo incident, the US urged the UN Security Council to condemn the action and pressured the Soviet Union to negotiate with the North Koreans for the ship’s release.
After 11 months the Pueblo’s men were freed. Both captain and crew were horribly treated and later recounted their torture at the hands of the North Koreans. With no help in sight, Captain Lloyd Bucher reluctantly signed a document confessing that the ship was spying on North Korea. With this propaganda victory in hand, the North Koreans released the prisoners.
On 25 Dec 1914, during WWI, just after midnight on Christmas morning, the majority of German troops engaged ceased firing their guns and artillery and commenced to sing Christmas carols. At certain points along the eastern and western fronts, the soldiers of Russia, France, and Britain even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.
At the first light of dawn, many of the German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.
The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. In 1915, the bloody conflict of WWI erupted in all its technological fury, and the concept of another Christmas Truce became unthinkable.
On 25 Dec 1776, during the American Revolution, General George Washington crossed the Delaware River with 5,400 troops, hoping to surprise a Hessian force celebrating Christmas at their winter quarters in Trenton, New Jersey. The unconventional attack came after several months of substantial defeats for Washington’s army that had resulted in the loss of New York City and other strategic points in the region.
At about 11 pm on Christmas, Washington’s army commenced its crossing of the half-frozen river at three locations. The 2,400 soldiers led by Washington successfully braved the icy and freezing river and reached the New Jersey side of the Delaware just before dawn. The other two divisions, made up of some 3,000 men and crucial artillery, failed to reach the meeting point at the appointed time.
At approximately 8 am on the morning of December 26, Washington’s remaining force reached the outskirts of Trenton and descended on the unsuspecting Hessians. Trenton’s 1,400 Hessian defenders were groggy from the previous evening’s festivities and underestimated the Patriot threat after months of decisive British victories throughout New York. Washington’s men quickly overwhelmed the Germans’ defenses, and by 9:30 am the town was surrounded. Although several hundred Hessians escaped, nearly 1,000 were captured at the cost of only four American lives. However, because most of Washington’s army had failed to cross the Delaware, he was without adequate artillery or men and was forced to withdraw from the town.
The victory was not particularly significant from a strategic point of view, but news of Washington’s initiative raised the spirits of the American colonists, who previously feared that the Continental Army was incapable of victory.
On 28 Dec 1945, Congress officially recognized the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
30 Dec 1959 – Commissioning of first fleet ballistic missile submarine, USS George Washington (SSB(N)-598), at Groton, CT.
~ Humor/Puns ~
Some Dad jokes:
  • War does not determine who is right. It determines who is left.
  • When my ice house falls apart igloo it back together.
  • Marine biologists never make mistakes on porpoise.
  • The surgeon really did not know how to perform quick surgeries on insects, but he did one on the fly.
  • Man who lives in glass house should change clothes in basement.
  • I tried to sell the antique string instrument because I needed the lute.
  • To be arrested without a visa is a borderline infraction.
  • I’ve been having issues with the roof leaking into the storage space below it. It’s being very problem attic.
  • The Loch Ness monster eats fish and ships.
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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