Newsletter 5-1-23


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The Colonel’s Corner
~Comment by the Colonel ~


Subordination of Church to State:

Former Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has won a round in his efforts to avoid punishment for a court martial ruling against him for his desertion in Afghanistan.

However, Judge Reggie Walton of the US District Court in Washington, DC, rejected Bergdahl’s claims that comments made about him by former President Trump and the late Sen. John McCain amounted to “unlawful command influence.” Trump had called Bergdahl a “dirty rotten traitor,” while McCain said the deserter should be punished.

Bergdahl left his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban. He was freed in exchange for five Taliban leaders in a controversial swap orchestrated by then-President Obama in 2014. In 2017, Bergdahl was given a dishonorable discharge, demoted to private and docked $10,000 in pay.

Walton granted Bergdahl’s request for a summary judgment on his claim that he was denied a fair trial because the military judge who presided over his court martial did not reveal that he was seeking a civilian position with the Justice Department.

Walton’s March 31 order did not provide details of how his ruling would impact Bergdahl. He said a full ruling, complete with a rationale, will be issued in the next 60 days. In 2020, Bergdahl lost an appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to have his conviction overturned based on comments made about him by Trump. In his ruling, Judge Kevin Ohlson noted that “it is essential to note that the conduct Appellant engaged in, and the charges to which he pleaded guilty, were very serious offenses for which either a life sentence or the death penalty were authorized punishments.”

I vote for the death penalty for deserting his unit in combat.

The Smiling Ranger – This book is a series of short, mostly funny, stories of my time in uniform (it’s for sale at I thought it would be a real advantage that…as a Boy Scout, actually, to be more specific, as an Explorer Scout, I did a lot of rappelling—going down walls and cliffs on ropes. When I arrived at West Point, the summer after our Plebe Year they took us to Camp Buckner (a part of the West Point training area) for field training, and one of the first activities was rappelling. It was only a 40 or 50-foot cliff, so it was no big deal. I picked a spot about half-way down that I’d bounce off of and then to the ground—I’d done it hundreds of times before. So, they hooked me up, and I pushed off. Then I discovered that there was a difference; all the work I’d done with scouts was done on hemp rope. I was now on nylon rope—and that rope stretched. My feet hit exactly where I wanted them to, but my body kept moving. I crashed and burned and ended up up-side-down. Not a very impressive first rappel. I was very glad that I hadn’t mentioned to anyone that I was experienced at rappelling. I did have to do a lot of push-ups. Ah, the days of my youth.

If you don’t already have one, order your copy of ‘The Smiling Ranger’ today or one for a friend.


Military History

AA number of very significant things happened in early May; Germany surrendered in WWII, the first sea battle fought only by aircraft was fought, we declared war on Mexico, and the Womens Auxiliary Army Corps was founded.

On 1 May 1960, during the Cold War, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down while conducting espionage over the Soviet Union. The incident derailed an important summit meeting between President Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that was scheduled for later that month.

The U-2 spy plane was the brainchild of the Central Intelligence Agency, and it was a sophisticated technological marvel. Traveling at altitudes of up to 70,000 feet, the aircraft was equipped with state-of-the-art photography equipment that could, the CIA boasted, take high-resolution pictures of headlines in Russian newspapers as it flew overhead. Flights over the Soviet Union began in mid-1956. The CIA assured President Eisenhower that the Soviets did not possess anti-aircraft weapons sophisticated enough to shoot down the high-altitude planes.

On 1 May 1960, a U-2 flight piloted by Francis Gary Powers disappeared while on a flight over Russia. The CIA reassured the president that, even if the plane had been shot down, it was equipped with self-destruct mechanisms that would render any wreckage unrecognizable and the pilot was instructed to kill himself in such a situation. Based on this information, the US government issued a cover statement indicating that a weather plane had veered off course and supposedly crashed somewhere in the Soviet Union. With no small degree of pleasure, Khrushchev pulled off one of the most dramatic moments of the Cold War by producing not only the mostly-intact wreckage of the U-2, but also the captured pilot-very much alive. A chagrined Eisenhower had to publicly admit that it was indeed a US spy plane.

Eisenhower considered the “stupid U-2 mess” one of the worst debacles of his presidency. The pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was released in 1962 in exchange for a captured Soviet spy.

On 1 May 1972, North Vietnamese troops captured Quang Tri City during their ongoing offensive. As the North Vietnamese prepared to continue their attack to the south, 80% of Hue’s population–already swollen by 300,000 refugees–fled to get out of the way. Farther south along the coast, three districts of Binh Dinh Province also fell, leaving about one-third of the province under communist control.

These attacks were part of the North Vietnamese Offensive, a massive invasion by North Vietnamese forces designed to win them the war. The attacking force included 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, with over 120,000 troops and about 1,200 armored vehicles.

Initially, the South Vietnamese defenders were almost overwhelmed, particularly in the northernmost provinces. At Kontum and An Loc, the South Vietnamese were more successful. Although the defenders suffered heavy casualties, they managed to hold their own with the aid of US advisers and American airpower. Fighting continued all over South Vietnam into the summer months, but eventually the South Vietnamese forces prevailed, retaking Quang Tri in September. With the communist invasion blunted, President Nixon declared that the South Vietnamese victory proved the viability of his Vietnamization program, which he had instituted in 1969 to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so US troops could be withdrawn.

On 2 May 1945, during WWII, approximately 1 million German soldiers laid down their arms as the terms of the German unconditional surrender, signed at Caserta on April 29, came into effect. Many Germans surrendered to Japanese soldiers—Japanese Americans. Among the American tank crews that entered the northern Italian town of Biella was an all-Nisei (second-generation) infantry battalion, composed of Japanese Americans from Hawaii. Early that same day, Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov accepted the surrender of the German capital. The Red Army took 134,000 German soldiers prisoner.

On 3 May, 1942, during WWII, the first day of the first modern naval engagement in history, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, a Japanese invasion force succeeded in occupying Tulagi of the Solomon Islands in an expansion of Japan’s defensive perimeter.

The US, having broken Japan’s secret war code and forewarned of an impending invasion of Tulagi and Port Moresby, intercepted the Japanese armada. Four days of battles between Japanese and American aircraft carriers resulted in 70 Japanese and 66 Americans warplanes destroyed. This confrontation, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, marked the first air-naval battle in history, as none of the carriers fired at each other, allowing the planes taking off from their decks to do the battling.

Although Japan would go on to occupy all of the Solomon Islands, its victory was a Pyrrhic one: The cost in experienced pilots and aircraft carriers was so great that Japan had to cancel its expedition to other South Pacific targets.

On 5 May, 1864, during the Civil War, the forces of Union General Ulysses Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee clashed in the Wilderness forest in Virginia, beginning an epic campaign. Lee had hoped to meet the Federals, who plunged into the tangled Wilderness, the day before, in the dense woods in order to mitigate the nearly two-to-one advantage Grant possessed as the campaign opened.

The conflict quickly spread along a two-mile front. The fighting was intense and complicated by the fact that the combatants rarely saw each other through the thick undergrowth. Whole brigades were lost in the woods. Muzzle flashes set the forest on fire.

By nightfall, the Union was still in control of the major crossroads at the Wilderness. The next two days brought more pitched battles without a clear victory for either side. Grant eventually pulled out and moved south toward Richmond, Virginia, and for the next six weeks the two great armies maneuvered around the Confederate capital.

On 8 May 1792, Congress passed the second portion of the Militia Act, requiring that every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years be enrolled in the militia.

On 8 May 1945, both Great Britain and the US celebrated Victory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupied cities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazi war machine.

On 11 May 1961, President Kennedy approved sending 400 Special Forces troops and 100 other US military advisers to South Vietnam. On the same day, he ordered the start of clandestine warfare against North Vietnam to be conducted by South Vietnamese agents under the direction and training of the CIA and US Special Forces troops. Kennedy’s orders also called for South Vietnamese forces to infiltrate Laos to locate and disrupt communist bases and supply lines there.

On May 12, 1975, the US freighter Mayaguez and its 39-man crew was captured by gunboats of the Cambodian navy. Cambodia had fallen to communist insurgents, the Khmer Rouge, in April 1973. The Cambodian authorities imprisoned the American crew, pending an investigation of the ship and why it had sailed into waters claimed by Cambodia. The response of the US government was quick. President Gerald Ford called the Cambodian seizure of the Mayaguez an “act of piracy” and promised swift action to rescue the captured Americans.

On 13 May 1846, Congress overwhelmingly voted in favor of President Polk’s

request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas. After nearly two years of fighting, peace was established by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on 2 February 1848. The Rio Grande was made the southern boundary of Texas, and California & New Mexico were ceded to the US. In return, the US paid Mexico the sum of $15 million and agreed to settle all claims of US citizens against Mexico.

On 14 May 1955, the Soviet Union and seven of its European satellites signed a treaty establishing the Warsaw Pact, a mutual defense organization that put the Soviets in command of the armed forces of the member states.

On 15 May 1942, a bill establishing a women’s corps in the US Army became law, creating the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs) and granting women official military status.

The WAACs gained official status and salary—but still not all the benefits accorded to men. Thousands of women enlisted in light of this new legislation, and in July 1942, the “auxiliary” was dropped from the name, and the Women’s Army Corps, or WACs, received full Army benefits in keeping with their male counterparts.

The WACs performed a wide variety of jobs, “releasing a man for combat,” as the Army, sensitive to public misgivings about women in the military, touted. But those jobs ranged from clerk to radio operator, electrician to air-traffic controller. Women served in virtually every theater of engagement, from North Africa to Asia.

~ Humor/Puns ~

Never Squat With Your Spurs On!

Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash in Alaska with bush pilot Wiley Post, was one of the Greatest political country/cowboy sages this country has ever known. Some of his sayings:


  1. Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.
  2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
  3. There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither works.
  4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  5. Always drink upstream from the herd.
  6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
  7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.
  8. There are three kinds of men:
  • The ones that learn by reading.
  • The few who learn by observation.
  • The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
  1. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  2. If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.
  3. Lettin’ the cat outta’ the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back.
  4. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
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