Newsletter 2-01-24

News & Updates


Keep up with host Lt. Col. Denny Gillem & never miss an episode
The Colonel’s Corner
~Comment by the Colonel~
Col. Meghann Sullivan, the first female commander of the 5th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Joint Base Lewis McChord, has been relieved from command after allegations of sexual assaults against male subordinates and patterned sexual harassment.
Sullivan was investigated for incidents that allegedly include alcohol abuse, forcefully kissing one of the males, and grabbing another male below the belt without consent, according to Male victims make up 10% of military sexual assault cases, while women make up 6% of sexual harassment offenders, though these figures are believed to be underreported.
“I’ve been in the Army over twenty years as an engineer, diversity and inclusion makes us stronger,” Sullivan said shortly after the time of her assignment. “I am excited for young women to see that you can look and act different and be successful – I’d tell these women, don’t let anyone put a cap on you.”
Sullivan was fired from the position in October after investigations began in April.
Question: How does diversity and inclusion make us stronger? Just saying it doesn’t make it true.
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 February, Gen Grant provided the Union’s first major victory. The US battleship Maine sank in Havana Harbor. The US entered WWI. And the Stars and Stripes newspaper was founded.
On 3 Feb 1944, American forces invaded and took control of the Marshall Islands, long occupied by the Japanese and used by them as a base for military operations.
The Marshalls, in the western Pacific Ocean, had been in Japanese hands since WWI. The Treaty of Versailles, which concluded WWI, stipulated certain islands formerly controlled by Germany–including the Marshalls–had to be ceded to the Japanese, though “overseen” by the League. But the Japanese withdrew from the League in 1933 and began transforming the Mandated Islands into military bases. Non-Japanese, including Christian missionaries, were kept from the islands as naval and air bases–meant to threaten shipping lanes between Australia and Hawaii–were constructed.
During WWII, these islands, as well as others in the vicinity, became targets of Allied attacks. The US Central Pacific Campaign began with the Gilbert Islands; US forces conquered the Gilberts in November 1943. Next on the agenda was Operation Flintlock, a plan to capture the Marshall Islands.
Adm. Raymond Spruance led the 5th Fleet from Pearl Harbor on January 22, 1944, to the Marshalls, with the goal of getting 53,000 assault troops ashore two islets: Roi and Namur. Meanwhile, using the Gilberts as an air base, American planes bombed the Japanese administrative and communications center for the Marshalls, which was located on Kwajalein, an atoll that was part of the Marshall cluster of atolls, islets, and reefs.
By January 31, Kwajalein was devastated. Repeated carrier- and land-based air raids destroyed every Japanese airplane on the Marshalls. By February 3, US infantry overran Roi and Namur atolls. The Marshalls were then effectively in American hands–with the loss of only 400 American lives.
On 6 Feb 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant provided the first major Union victory of the war when he captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. Ten days later, he captured Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, which gave the Yankees control of northern Tennessee and paved the way for the occupation of Nashville.
On 6 Feb 1917, just three days after President Woodrow Wilson’s speech of February 3, 1917—in which he broke diplomatic relations with Germany and warned that war would follow if American interests at sea were again assaulted—a German submarine torpedoed and sank the Anchor Line passenger steamer California off the Irish coast. This blatant German defiance of Wilson’s warning about the consequences of unrestricted submarine warfare, combined with the subsequent discovery and release of the Zimmermann telegram—an overture made by Germany’s foreign minister to the Mexican government involving a possible Mexican-German alliance in the event of a war between Germany and the US—drove Wilson to take the final steps towards war. On April 2, Wilson went before Congress to deliver his war message; the formal declaration of US entrance into WWI came four days later.
On 7 Feb 1965, during the Vietnam War, as part of Operation Flaming Dart, 49 US Navy jets from the 7th Fleet carriers Coral Sea and Hancock dropped bombs and rockets on the barracks and staging areas at Dong Hoi, a guerrilla training camp in North Vietnam. Escorted by US jets,
a follow-up raid by South Vietnamese planes bombed a North Vietnamese military communications center. These strikes were in retaliation for communist attacks on the US installation at Camp Holloway and the adjacent Pleiku airfield in the Central Highlands, which killed eight US servicemen, wounded 109, and destroyed or damaged 20 aircraft.
The retaliatory raids did not have the desired effect. On February 10, the Viet Cong struck again, this time at an American installation in Qui Nhon, killing 23 Americans. Johnson quickly ordered another retaliatory strike, Flaming Dart II.
On 8 Feb 1918, the US Army resumed publication of the military newsletter Stars and Stripes.
Begun as a newsletter for Union soldiers during the American Civil War, Stars and Stripes was published weekly during WWI from Feb 1918, until June 1919. It was distributed to American soldiers dispersed across the Western Front to keep them unified and informed about the overall war effort and America’s part in it, as well as supply them with news from the home front.
The WWI-era Stars and Stripes was largely the creation of Lieutenant Viskniskki, an AEF press officer. Featuring news articles, sports news, poetry, letters to the editor and cartoons, among other content, the eight-page weekly publication was printed on presses that had been borrowed from Paris newspapers. The staff was made up mostly of enlisted men and featured some prominent journalists. At its peak, Stars and Stripes reached a circulation of 526,000.
Stars and Stripes resumed publication during WWII, during which circulation reached 1,000,000. Serving as a daily hometown newspaper for service members, government civilians and their families stationed around the world, it has been in continuous publication in Europe since 1942 and in the Pacific since 1945. In these two regions, Stars and Stripes reaches 80,000 and 60,000 readers respectively. It also publishes a Mideast edition as well as an electronic edition on the Internet.
On 8 Feb 1862, Union General Ambrose Burnside scored a major victory when he captured Roanoke Island in North Carolina. The victory was one of the first major Union victories of the war and it gave the Yankees control of the mouth of Albemarle Sound, a key Confederate bay that allowed the Union to threaten the Rebel capital of Richmond from the south.
The Union now controlled a vital section of the coast. The victory came two days after Union General Ulysses Grant captured Fort Henry in northern Tennessee, and, for the first time in the war, the North had reason for optimism.
On 9 Feb 1965, a US Marine Corps Hawk air defense missile battalion was deployed to Da Nang. President Johnson had ordered this deployment to provide protection for the key US airbase there. This was the first commitment of American combat troops in South Vietnam and there was considerable reaction around the world to the new stage of our involvement in the war. Predictably, both communist China and the Soviet Union threatened to intervene if we continued to apply its military might on behalf of the South Vietnamese. Britain and Australia supported the US action, but France called for negotiations.
On 12 Feb 1973, the release of US POWs began in Hanoi as part of the Paris peace settlement. The return of US POWs began when North Vietnam released 142 of 591 US prisoners at Hanoi’s Gia Lam Airport. Part of what was called Operation Homecoming, the first 20 POWs arrived to a hero’s welcome at Travis Air Force Base in California on 14 Feb. Operation Homecoming was completed on 29 Mar 1973, when the last of 591 US prisoners were returned to the US.
On 14 Feb 1962, President John Kennedy authorized US military advisors in Vietnam to return fire if fired upon. At a news conference, he said, “The training missions we have in South Vietnam have been instructed that if they are fired upon, they are of course to fire back, but we have not sent combat troops in the generally understood sense of the word.” In effect, Kennedy was acknowledging that US forces were involved in the fighting, but he wished to downplay any appearance of increased American involvement in the war. The next day former Vice President Nixon expressed hopes that President Kennedy would “step up the build-up and under no circumstances curtail it because of possible criticism.”
On 15 Feb 1898, a massive explosion of unknown origin sank the battleship USS Maine in Cuba’s Havana harbor, killing 260 of the fewer than 400 American crew members aboard.
One of the first American battleships, the Maine weighed over 6,000 tons and was built at a cost of over $2 million. Ostensibly on a friendly visit, the Maine had been sent to Cuba to protect the interests of Americans there after a rebellion against Spanish rule broke out in Havana in January.
An official Naval Court of Inquiry ruled in March that the ship was blown up by a mine, without directly placing the blame on Spain. Much of Congress and a majority of the American public expressed little doubt that Spain was responsible and called for a declaration of war.
Subsequent diplomatic failures to resolve the Maine matter, coupled with US indignation over Spain’s brutal suppression of the Cuban rebellion and continued losses to American investment, led to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898.
Within three months, we had decisively defeated Spanish forces on land and sea, and in August an armistice halted the fighting. On December 12, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed, officially ending the Spanish-American War and granting the US its first overseas empire with the ceding of such former Spanish possessions as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
In 1976, a team of American naval investigators concluded that the Maine explosion was likely caused by a fire that ignited its ammunition stocks, not by a Spanish mine or act of sabotage.
On the weekend of Feb 3-4 Congressman and retired Marine Gen Jack Bergman will discuss some of our nation’s challenges. Chris Stone will present Gun Owners of America. AF vet Theresa Robinson will discuss women veterans.
And on the weekend of Feb 10-11, Mark Tapson will discuss DEI, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Gen Paul Vallely will discuss our southern border. Marines Gil and Skip will present the Border and a Book.
~ 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 were 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.
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