Newsletter 5-1-24

News & Updates


Keep up with host Lt. Col. Denny Gillem & never miss an episode
The Colonel’s Corner
~Comment by the Colonel~
In the early 1970s I helped close down the Army ROTC Department at Stanford University; we’d been ordered to leave the campus; I was there about 2 ½ years. In all that time, my office was only invaded once, and the kids left without even saying a nasty word. The leaders of the university had standards. I disagree with Stanford’s decision to yield to their radical faculty and students, but I admire the way they cared for we, America-lovers, too. It’s pretty clear that most places of higher learning today truly don’t really care about people, including students, who love America and are proud of our nation. I encourage you to not in any way support of to attend or send your kids to a school that openly hates our country—and as my mother used to say when I was trying to talk my way out of something, “your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
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 May the British ocean liner Lusitania was sunk by the Germans. During WWII the first modern naval battle was fought and the War ended. President Kennedy approved providing advisors to the South Vietnamese military. During the Vietnam War the battle of Hamburger Hill was fought—and won.
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 Zhukov accepted the surrender of the German capital. The Red Army took 134,000 German soldiers prisoner.
On 3 May 1942, during WWII, began the first modern naval engagement in history, called the Battle of the Coral Sea; a Japanese invasion force had 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. Among the casualties was the American carrier Lexington, which suffered such extensive aerial damage that it had to be sunk by its own crew. Two hundred sixteen Lexington crewmen died as a result of the Japanese aerial bombardment.
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 Port Moresby, Papua, as well as other South Pacific targets.
On 5 May 1864, during the Civil War, the forces of Union General Ulysses S. 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 west of Chancellorsville, Virginia, 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, as numerous attacks from both sides sent the lines surged back and forth. 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, and hundreds of wounded men died in the inferno. The battle may have been particularly unsettling for the Union troops, who came across skeletons of Yankee soldiers killed the year before at the Battle of Chancellorsville, their shallow graves opened by spring rains.
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 further south toward Richmond, Virginia, and for the next six weeks the two great armies maneuvered around the Confederate capital.
On 7 May 1915, during WWI, the British ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed without warning by a German submarine off the south coast of Ireland. Within 20 minutes, the vessel sank into the Celtic Sea. Of 1,959 passengers and crew, 1,198 people were drowned, including 128 Americans. The attack aroused considerable indignation in the US, but Germany defended the action, noting that it had issued warnings of its intent to attack all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain.
On 7 May 1945, the German High Command, in the person of General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender of all German forces, East and West, at Reims, in northwestern France. At first, General Jodl hoped to limit the terms of German surrender to only those forces still fighting the Western Allies. But General Dwight Eisenhower demanded complete surrender of all German forces, those fighting in the East as well as in the West. If this demand was not met, Eisenhower was prepared to seal off the Western front, preventing
Germans from fleeing to the West in order to surrender, thereby leaving them in the hands of the enveloping Soviet forces. Jodl radioed Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, Hitler’s successor, with the terms. Donitz ordered him to sign. So, with Russian General Susloparov and French General Sevez signing as witnesses, and General Walter Bedell Smith, Ike’s chief of staff, signing for the Allied Expeditionary Force, Germany was-at least on paper-defeated. Fighting would still go on in the East for almost another day. But the war in the West was over.
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.
This was the day when German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms: In Prague, Germans surrendered to their Soviet antagonists, after the latter had lost over 8,000 soldiers, and the Germans considerably more; in Copenhagen and Oslo; at Karlshorst, near Berlin; in northern Latvia; on the Channel Island of Sark–the German surrender was realized in a final cease-fire.
On 10 May 1968, during the Vietnam War, our 9th Marine Regiment and the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, along with South Vietnamese forces, commenced Operation Apache Snow in the A Shau Valley. The purpose was to cut off the North Vietnamese and prevent them from mounting an attack on the coastal provinces.
During the intense fighting, 597 North Vietnamese were reported killed; US casualties were 56 killed and 420 wounded. Due to the bitter fighting and the high loss of life, the battle for Ap Bia Mountain received widespread unfavorable publicity in the US and American media dubbed it “Hamburger Hill,” a name evidently derived from the fact that the battle turned into a “meat grinder.” Since the operation was not intended to hold territory but rather to keep the North Vietnamese Army off-balance, the mountain was abandoned soon after the battle and occupied by the North Vietnamese a month later.
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 13 May 1846, Congress overwhelmingly voted in favor of President Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas. Mexico, claiming that the boundary was the Nueces River to the northeast of the Rio Grande, considered our military’s presence there an act of aggression and in April 1846 sent troops across the Rio Grande. Polk, in turn, declared the Mexican advance to be an invasion of US soil, and on 11 May, asked Congress to declare war, which it did. 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.
The Warsaw Pact, which was signed in Warsaw, included the Soviet Union, Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria as members. The treaty called on the member states to come to the defense of any member attacked by an outside force and it set up a unified military command under Marshal Ivan Konev of the Soviet Union. The introduction to the treaty establishing the Warsaw Pact indicated the reason for its existence. This revolved around “Western Germany, which is being remilitarized, and her inclusion in the North Atlantic bloc, which increases the danger of a new war and creates a threat to the national security of peace-loving states.” This passage referred to the decision by the US and the other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on May 9, 1955’ to make West Germany a member of NATO and allow that nation to remilitarize. The Soviets obviously saw this as a direct threat and responded with the Warsaw Pact.
The Warsaw Pact remained intact until 1991.
On 15 May 1942, during WWII, 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 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.
It would take until 1978 before the Army would become sexually integrated, and women participating as merely an “auxiliary arm” in the military would be history. And it would not be until 1980 that 16,000 women who had joined the earlier WAACs would receive veterans’ benefits.
On the weekend of May 4, 5: Businessman and Vietnam vet Bob Parsons will share his story. Gen Michael Flynn will discuss his current movie project. And Navy vet Theresa Robinson will introduce another female veteran.
And on the weekend of 11, 12: Congressman and retired Gen Jack Bergman will discuss our nation’s biggest challenges. Vet Ray Lopez will present the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Steve Wilson will discuss And Gil and Skip will present the Border and a Book.
~ Humor/Puns ~
~ Humor/Puns ~
Undercooked steaks are a rare situation. Be careful or you will get a raw deal.
All of the riders for the old west mail service had to be small. That’s why they called it the Puny Express.
If you are too busy to fix a flat tire, you need to find some spare time.
A hair-raising experience sounds pretty good to a bald guy.
People who cry a lot have a wail of a time.
Geometry shapes my life.
They just found a sword swallower dead. The police suspect it’s an inside job.
What do you call inmates in prison who become friendly? Pen pals!
We all just want to belong. But some of us are short.
After three days of fishing, the musician hoped he would catch a bassoon.
Yesterday I accidentally swallowed some food coloring. The doctor says I’m OK, but I feel like I’ve dyed a little inside.
I wasn’t originally going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.
The Irish should be rich because their capital is always Dublin.
I’m writing a term paper on various types of golf courses. I have found many links on the computer.
When we learned literacy in elementary school, my teacher set up a metronome. We learned reading and writing to a rhythmic tick.
~ Interesting Quote ~
“I experience for the American officers and soldiers that friendship which arises from having shared with them for a length of time dangers, sufferings, and both good and evil fortune.” —Marquis de Lafayette
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