Newsletter 4-1-23


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The Colonel’s Corner
~Comment by the Colonel ~
I am a total supporter of our 2nd Amendment and the right of all Americans to be armed. There is much arguing now about banning certain types of firearms—especially in light of some mass shootings—including in a school. None of the anti-gun arguments are actual discussions where various solutions are considered. There are thousands of instances in our nation each year where armed citizens protect themselves and others—why isn’t that considered? And, how about allowing all school teachers and other staff who wish to do so, to be trained and armed? While I was teaching college, I’d ask my students if an armed criminal broke into the classroom and started shooting, would they prefer me to hide under my desk, or shoot back? Of course, I couldn’t shoot back because being unarmed was a condition of my employment. Did you ever notice that virtually all mass shootings take place in “gun-free zones?”
The Smiling Ranger – This book is a series of short, mostly funny, stories of my time in uniform: I was thinking about my time the year before I went to West Point; I was a cadet at New Mexico Military Academy (NMMI). At NMMI we were the Broncos—our logo was a bucking horse. Our uniform patches had NMMI and the bronco logo. Most of us who had to travel some distance to get to and from home and school traveled in uniform. One reason for the uniform was to attract the attention of young ladies. The standard story was to tell the sweet young thing that we were assigned to the New Mexico Missile Installation and that we employed the Bronco Missile. Sometimes the line worked.
If you don’t already have one, order your copy 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
umber of very significant things happened in early April including some major naval victories during our Revolutionary War, the beginning and ending of the Civil War, the Bataan Death March during WWII, and the founding of NATO.
On 1 Apr 1945, during WWII, after suffering the loss of 116 planes and damage to three aircraft carriers, 50,000 US combat troops of the 10th Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Simon Buckner Jr., landed on the southwest coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa.
Determined to seize Okinawa as a base of operations for the army ground and air forces for a later assault on mainland Japan, over 1,300 ships converged on the island, finally putting ashore 50,000 combat troops on April 1. The Americans quickly seized two airfields and advanced inland to cut the island’s waist. They battled nearly 120,000 Japanese army, militia, and labor troops under the command of General Ushijima.
The Japanese surprised our forces with a change in strategy, drawing us into the mainland rather than confronting us at the water’s edge. While we landed without loss of men, we would suffer over 50,000 casualties, including over 12,000 deaths, as the Japanese staged a desperate defense of the island, a defense that included waves of kamikaze air attacks. Eventually, these suicide
raids proved counterproductive, as the Japanese finally ran out of planes and resolve, with some 4,000 finally surrendering. Japanese casualties numbered some 117,000.
General Buckner, son of a Civil War general, was among the casualties, killed by enemy artillery fire just three days before the Japanese surrender.
On 3 April 1865, during the Civil War, the Rebel capital of Richmond fell to the Union, the most significant sign that the Confederacy was nearing its final days.
For ten months, General Ulysses Grant had tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate the city. After Lee made a desperate attack against Fort Stedman along the Union line on March 25, Grant prepared for a major offensive. He struck at Five Forks on April 1, crushing the end of Lee’s line southwest of Petersburg. On April 2, the Yankees struck all along the Petersburg line, and the Confederates collapsed.
On April 2, the Confederate government fled the city with the army right behind. On the morning of April 3, blue-coated troops entered the capital. Richmond was the holy grail of the Union war effort, the object of four years of campaigning. Tens of thousands of Yankee lives were lost trying to get it, and nearly as many Confederate lives lost trying to defend it.
One resident, Mary Fontaine, wrote, “I saw them unfurl a tiny flag, and I sank on my knees, and the bitter, bitter tears came in a torrent.” As the Federals rode in, another wrote that the city’s black residents were “completely crazed, they danced and shouted, men hugged each other, and women kissed.” Among the first forces into the capital were black troopers from the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry, and the next day President Abraham Lincoln visited the city. For the residents of Richmond, these were symbols of a world turned upside down. It was, one reporter noted, “…too awful to remember, if it were possible to be erased, but that cannot be.”
On 4 April 1949, the US and 11 other nations established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense pact aimed at containing possible Soviet aggression against Western Europe. NATO stood as the main US-led military alliance against the Soviet Union throughout the duration of the Cold War.
Relations between the US and the Soviet Union began to deteriorate rapidly in 1948. There were heated disagreements over the postwar status of Germany, with the Americans insisting on German recovery and eventual rearmament and the Soviets steadfastly opposing such actions. In June 1948, the Soviets blocked all ground travel to the American occupation zone in West Berlin, and only a massive US airlift of food and other necessities sustained the population of the zone until the Soviets relented and lifted the blockade in May 1949. In January 1949, President Harry Truman warned in his State of the Union Address that the forces of democracy and communism were locked in a dangerous struggle, and he called for a defensive alliance of nations in the North Atlantic. NATO was the result. In April 1949, representatives from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal joined the US in signing the NATO agreement. The signatories agreed, “An armed attack against one or more of them… shall be considered an attack against them all.” President Truman welcomed the organization as “a shield against aggression.”
On 5 April 1614, American Indian princess Pocahontas (d.1617) married English Jamestown colonist John Rolfe in Virginia. Their marriage brought a temporary peace between the English settlers and the Algonquians. In 1616, the couple sailed to England. The “Indian Princess” was popular with the English gentry.
On 5 April 2003, on the 18th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom US 3rd Infantry troops entered Baghdad for the first time. Coalition troops took several objectives surrounding the capital in the north and northwest. US warplanes hit Iraqi positions near the commercial center of Mosul. Up to 3,000 Iraqi fighters were killed as American armored vehicles moved into Baghdad.
On 6 April 1862, two days of bitter fighting began at the Civil War battle of Shiloh as the Confederates attacked Grant’s Union forces in southwestern Tennessee. Union commander Maj. Gen. Ulysses Grant, planning to advance on the important railway junction at Corinth, Miss., met a surprise attack by General Albert Johnston’s Army of Mississippi. The Confederates pushed the Federals back steadily during the first day’s fighting, in spite of Johnston’s death that afternoon (he was the most senior officer on either side to die in battle). Only with the arrival of Union reinforcements during the night did the tide turn, forcing the rebels to withdraw. The opposing sides slaughtered each other with such ferocity that one survivor wrote, “No blaze of glory…can ever atone for the unwritten and unutterable horrors of the scene.” Gen. Ulysses Grant after the Battle of Shiloh said: “I saw an open field… so covered with dead that it would have been possible to walk across… in any direction, stepping on dead bodies without a foot touching the ground.” More than 9,000 Americans died. The battle left some 24,000 casualties and secured the West for the Union.
On 6 April 1991, Iraq reluctantly agreed to accept UN conditions for ending the Persian Gulf War.
On 7 April 1776, during our Revolutionary War, Navy Captain John Barry, commander of the American warship Lexington, made the first American naval capture of a British vessel when he took command of the British warship HMS Edward off the coast of Virginia. The capture of the Edward and its cargo turned Captain Barry into a national hero and boosted the morale of the Continental forces.
On 9 April 1865, at Appomattox, Virginia, Confederate General Robert Lee surrendered his 28,000 troops to Union General Ulysses Grant, effectively ending our Civil War. Forced to abandon the Confederate capital of Richmond, blocked from joining the surviving Confederate force in North Carolina, and harassed constantly by Union cavalry, Lee had no other option.
On April 10, 1778, during our Revolutionary War, Commander John Paul Jones and his crew of 140 men aboard the USS Ranger set sail from the naval port at Brest, France, and head toward the Irish Sea to begin raids on British warships. This was the first mission of its kind during the Revolutionary War. Jones executed raids on two forts in England’s Whitehaven Harbor. Jones then continued to his home territory in Scotland, where he intended to abduct the earl of Selkirk and exchange him for captive American sailors. Although he didn’t find the earl at home, Jones crew was able to steal all his silver, including his wife s teapot, still containing her breakfast tea. Then, he sailed across the Irish Sea, where the Ranger captured the HMS Drake after delivering fatal wounds to the British ship’s captain and lieutenant.
In September 1779, Jones fought one of the fiercest battles in naval history when he led the USS Bonhomme Richard frigate, named for Benjamin Franklin, in an engagement with the 50-gun British warship HMS Serapis. After the Bonhomme Richard was struck, it began taking on water
and caught fire. When the British captain of the Serapis ordered Jones to surrender, he famously replied, “I have not yet begun to fight!” A few hours later, the captain and crew of the Serapis admitted defeat and Jones took command of the British ship.
One of the greatest naval commanders in history, Jones is remembered as a “Father of the American Navy,” along with fellow Revolutionary War hero Commodore John Barry.
On 10 April 1942, the day after the surrender of the main Philippine island of Luzon to the Japanese, the 75,000 Filipino and American troops captured on the Bataan Peninsula begin a forced march to a prison camp near Cabanatuan. During this infamous trek, known as the “Bataan Death March,” the prisoners were forced to march 85 miles in six days, with only one meal of rice during the entire journey. By the end of the march, which was punctuated with atrocities committed by the Japanese guards, hundreds of Americans and many more Filipinos had died.
On 11 April 1963, one hundred troops of the Hawaiian-based 25th Infantry Division are ordered to temporary duty with military units in South Vietnam to serve as machine gunners aboard Army H-21 helicopters. This was the first commitment of American combat troops to the war and represented a quiet escalation of the US commitment to the war in Vietnam.
On 12 April 1861, the bloodiest four years in American history began when Confederate shore batteries under General Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, US Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”
On 14 April 1918, six days after being assigned for the first time to the western front, two American pilots from the US First Aero Squadron engaged in America’s first aerial dogfight with enemy aircraft. In a battle fought almost directly over the Allied Squadron Aerodome at Toul, France, US fliers Douglas Campbell and Alan Winslow succeeded in shooting down two German two-seaters. By the end of May, Campbell had shot down five enemy aircraft, making him the first American to qualify as a “flying ace” in WWI.
The First Aero Squadron, organized in 1914 after the outbreak of WWI, undertook its first combat mission on March 19, 1917, in support of the 7,000 US troops that invaded Mexico to capture Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. Despite numerous mechanical and navigational problems, the American fliers flew hundreds of scouting missions for Brigadier General John Pershing and gained important experience that would later be used over the battlefields of Europe in WWI.
On 15 April 1952, President Harry Truman signed the official Japanese peace treaty.
~ Humor/Puns ~
It’s inappropriate to make a ‘dad joke’ if you’re not a dad. It’s a faux pa.
Did you hear about the circus fire? It was in tents.
Can February March? No, but April May!
How can you tell it’s a dogwood tree? From the bark.
How do lawyers say goodbye? We’ll be suing ya!
Wanna hear a joke about paper? Never mind—it’s tearable.
What’s the best way to watch a fly-fishing tournament? Live stream.
I could tell a joke about pizza, but it’s a little cheesy.
Don’t trust atoms. They make up everything!
When does a joke become a dad joke? When it becomes apparent.
I wouldn’t buy anything with velcro. It’s a total rip-off.
What’s an astronaut’s favorite part of a computer? The space bar.
I like telling Dad jokes. Sometimes he laughs
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