Newsletter 7-3-23


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The Colonel’s Corner
~Comment by the Colonel~
On 4 July 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed the independence of a new United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually involve France’s intervention on behalf of the Americans.
The declaration was formally adopted by 12 colonies after minor revision. New York, the 13th colony, approved it on July 19. On August 2, the declaration was signed. The American War for Independence would last for five years. Yet to come were the Patriot triumphs at Saratoga, the bitter winter at Valley Forge, the intervention of the French and the final victory at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Britain, the United States formally became a free and independent nation.
And under our Constitution our nation is not a democracy. We are a Constitutional Republic—a nation of laws. In a democracy the majority does rule—and can vote to kill you or enslave you. In our nation the Constitution protects the minorities from being oppressed by the majority. Our Constitution is a legal document; it says what it says, and it doesn’t say what it doesn’t say. But it was written by men, most of whom were committed Christians, and the words they wrote are based on Judeo-Christian values.
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…one of the most useful classes I ever attended while in the Army. I was a company commander in the 101st Airborne Division and was sent to a week-long class on maintenance of vehicles and equipment. I was sent because one of the things we officers were often assigned to do was, in teams, be sent to inspect other unit’s maintenance and procedures.
Well, one day they wheeled this large trailer into the class area; it had a big collapsible tower on it; the tower had a propeller on it. No one had any idea what it was or what it did. We were then asked what we would do it we were sent to inspect a unit that had a bunch of these things. None of us had a clue. Then they opened our eyes. Yes, we all had trailers and knew how to inspect wheels, tires, hitches and the like. Good start. Then we were told to ask for the operator and ask him to get his whatever-it-was ready to operate. Finally, we’d ask him to operate it while we questioned him about how he maintained his equipment. He never had to know that we didn’t know what his thing-a-ma-jig was until he explained it.
I became a bit smarter that day. Another team of sergeants had made me a better officer. By the way, the thing measured wind velocity at airfields
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
A number of very significant things happened in early July: Most important was the passing of the Declaration of Independence by Congress. And several major Civil War battles, and the creation of the Medal of Honor.
On 1 July 1863, during the Civil War, the largest military conflict in North American history began when Union and Confederate forces collided at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The epic battle lasted three days and resulted in a retreat to Virginia by Robert Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
On the morning of July 1, advance units of the forces came into contact with one another just outside of Gettysburg. The sound of battle attracted other units, and by noon the conflict was raging. The battle lines ran around the northwestern rim of Gettysburg. The Confederates applied pressure all along the Union front, and they slowly drove the Yankees through the town.
By evening, the Federal troops rallied on high ground on the southeastern edge of Gettysburg. As more troops arrived, Meade’s army formed a three-mile long, fishhook-shaped line running from Culp’s Hill on the right flank, along Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge, to the base of Little Round Top. The Confederates held Gettysburg and stretched along a six-mile arc around the Union position. Lee’s forces would continue to batter each end of the Union position, before launching the infamous Pickett’s Charge against the Union center on July 3.
On 1 July 1898, during the Spanish-American War, as part of their campaign to capture Spanish-held Santiago de Cuba on the southern coast of Cuba, our forces engaged Spanish forces at El Caney and San Juan Hill.
In May 1898, one month after the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, a Spanish fleet docked in the Santiago de Cuba harbor after racing across the Atlantic from Spain. A superior US naval force arrived soon after and blockaded the harbor entrance. In June, our troops landed on Cuba with the aim of marching to Santiago and launching a coordinated land and sea assault on the Spanish stronghold. Included among our troops were the Theodore Roosevelt-led “Rough Riders,” officially known as the First US Voluntary Cavalry.
Our troops fought their way to Santiago’s outer defenses, and on July 1 General William Shafter ordered an attack on the village of El Caney and San Juan Hill. Some 8,000 Americans pressed forward toward San Juan Hill.
Hundreds fell under Spanish gunfire before reaching the base of the heights, where the force split up into two flanks to take San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill. The Rough Riders were among the troops attacking Kettle Hill. The Rough Riders, who had been forced to leave their horses behind because of transportation difficulties, led the charge up the hills. The Rough Riders and the black soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments were the first up Kettle Hill, and San Juan Hill was taken soon after. From the crest, the Americans found themselves overlooking Santiago, and the next day they began a siege of the city.
On July 3, the Spanish fleet was destroyed off Santiago by US warships, and on July 17 the Spanish surrendered the city–and thus Cuba–to the Americans.
On 2 July 1926, the US Army Air Service became the Army Air Corps. Then, after WWII, the Air Corps became the US Air Force on 18 Sept 1947.
On 4 July 1863, during the Civil War, the Confederacy was torn in two when General John Pemberton surrendered to Union General Ulysses Grant at Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Vicksburg campaign was one of the Union’s most successful of the war. Admiral David Porter had run his flotilla past the Vicksburg defenses in early May as Grant marched his army down the west bank of the river opposite Vicksburg, crossed back to Mississippi, and drove toward Jackson. After defeating a Confederate force near Jackson, Grant turned back to Vicksburg. On May 16, he defeated a force under John Pemberton at Champion Hill. Pemberton retreated back to Vicksburg, and Grant sealed the city by the end of May. In three weeks, Grant’s men marched 180 miles, won five battles, and took 6,000 prisoners.
Grant made some attacks after bottling Vicksburg but found the Confederates well entrenched. Grant’s army constructed 15 miles of trenches and enclosed Pemberton’s force of 29,000 men. Attempts to rescue Pemberton and his force failed from both the east and west, and conditions for both military personnel and civilians deteriorated rapidly. Many residents moved to tunnels dug from the hillsides to escape the constant bombardments. Pemberton surrendered on July 4, and President Abraham Lincoln wrote that the Mississippi River “again goes unvexed to the sea.” The town of Vicksburg would not celebrate the Fourth of July for 81 years.
On 6 July 1964, at Nam Dong in the northern highlands of South Vietnam, an estimated 500-man Viet Cong battalion attacked an American Special Forces outpost. During a bitter battle, Capt. Roger Donlon, commander of the Special Forces A-Team, rallied his troops, treated the wounded, and directed defenses although he himself was wounded several times. After 5 hours of fighting, the Viet Cong withdrew. The battle resulted in an estimated 40 Viet Cong killed; 2 Americans, 1 Australian military adviser, and 57 South Vietnamese defenders also lost their lives. At a White House ceremony in December 1964, President Lyndon Johnson presented Captain Donlon with the first Medal of Honor of the Vietnam War.
On 8 July 1776, a 2,000-pound copper-and-tin bell now known as the “Liberty Bell” rang out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Four days earlier, the historic document had been adopted by delegates to the Continental Congress, but the bell did not ring to announce the issuing of the document until it returned from the printer on July 8.
On 9 July 1947, in a ceremony held at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, General Dwight Eisenhower appointed Florence Blanchfield to be a lieutenant colonel in the US Army, making her the first woman in US history to hold permanent military rank.
A member of the Army Nurse Corps since 1917, Blanchfield secured her commission following the passage of the Army-Navy Nurse Act of 1947 by Congress. She had served as superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps during WWII and was instrumental in securing passage of the Army-Navy Nurse Act. In 1951, Blanchfield received the Florence Nightingale Award from the International Red Cross. In 1978, the Army hospital at Fort Campbell, Ky, was named in her honor.
On 11 July 1798, President John Adams signed the bill that re-established the Marine Corps. The Continental Congress had disbanded the service in April of 1783 at the end of the American Revolution. The Marine Corps, however, recognizes its “official” birthday to be the date that the Second Continental Congress first authorized the establishment of the “Corps of Marines” on 10 November 1775. To add to the confusion of the Corps’ actual “historical” birthday, on 1 July 1797 Congress authorized the Revenue cutters to carry, in addition to their regular crew, up to
“30 marines.” Congress directed the cutters to interdict French privateers operating off the coast during the Quasi-War with France and thought the additional firepower of 30 marines would be needed by the under-manned and under-gunned cutters. It is unknown if any “marines” were enlisted for service with the Revenue cutters during this time.
On 11 Jul 1941, Congress reconfirmed the military “status” of the Coast Guard, stating: “The Coast Guard shall be a military service and constitute a branch of the land and naval forces of the United States at all times and shall operate under the Treasury Department in time of peace and operate as part of the Navy, subject to the orders of the Secretary of the Navy, in time of war or when the President shall so direct.”
On 12 July 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a measure calling for the awarding of a US Army Medal of Honor, in the name of Congress, “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” The previous December, Lincoln had approved a provision creating a US Navy Medal of Valor, which was the basis of the Army Medal of Honor created by Congress in July 1862. In 1863, the Medal of Honor was made a permanent military decoration available to all members, including commissioned officers, of the US military. It is conferred upon those who have distinguished themselves in actual combat at risk of life beyond the call of duty. Since its creation, during the Civil War, almost 3,400 men and one woman have received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions in US military conflict.
On 15 July 1943, Marine Captain Joe Foss bagged three Japanese planes for a record total of 26 kills. He was the Marines leading fighter ace during WWII and received the Medal of Honor, recognizing his role in the air combat during the Guadalcanal Campaign. In postwar years, he achieved fame as a General in the Air National Guard, the 20th Governor of South Dakota, President of the National Rifle Association, and the first commissioner of the American Football League.
~ Humor/Puns ~
How do moths swim? Using the butterfly stroke.
Do you know the story about the chicken that crossed the border? Me neither, I couldn’t follow it.
I made a pencil with two erasers. It was pointless.
How do you make a Kleenex dance? Put a little boogie in it!
What do you get from a pampered cow? Spoiled milk!
What do you call an illegally parked frog? Toad.
Where do baby cats learn to swim? The kitty pool.
Why are spiders so smart? They can find everything on the web.
How can a leopard change his spots? By moving.
Peruvian owls always hunt in pairs. It’s because they are Inca Hoots.
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