Saturday, September 11, 2021
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
By JIM PURCELL
Since I was born, more than a half century ago, the notion that UFOs were real would usually draw a smile if not an actual laugh. UFO enthusiasts are considered odd by some, and I am one of those 'some.' Well, I have to swallow some Humble Pie on that one. According to the United States Navy, in a confirmed published report, UFOs are a real thing. And, with that confirmation, it's time for a public conversation.
I don't know if the UFO believers are wrong about the whole crashed aliens being kept in a bunker, or if they are right. I only bring it up because if that was our first contact with these UFOs then it's a pretty rotten way to start a relationship. And, whatever these things are, a relationship has begun whether we like it or not.
It strikes me that if aliens (yes, I said 'aliens') wanted a fight then they would have given us one by now. With that said, I think trying to make contact with these beings is a terrible idea. I can only judge things by human standards, so I may or may not be right about this line of thought. And, if a civilization can create aircraft that can travel in space and in our atmosphere then they are more scientifically advanced than anyone in our world. In human history, when more technically and scientifically advanced cultures came into contact with less advanced civilizations it went very bad for the lesser advanced cultures.
Maybe these creatures are better than those of us who are human...I hope so. Who would 'they' contact first? The U.S., the Russians, the Chinese...or some tribe in a rainforest? There is no way to know. This world is woefully unprepared to handle the people born on it. The 'better angels' of humanity are not winning the war for hearts and minds anywhere I am aware of in the world. And...last time I checked....we are a hot minute from nuking ourselves into extinction.
Why would aliens politely introduce themselves to us? People in power everywhere are ruled by greed, paranoia, self-interest and a near-total lack of 'doing the right thing.' On the upside, we also have nuclear weapons and people have additionally created biological and chemical agents to kill each other without so much as batting an eye. Not all people are terrible, but most people participating in any form of government anywhere in the world are. The most celebrated of human traits, like kindness, reason, good humor and fairness, among others, are rarely involved with public service (with notble exceptions, of course).
So what are people generally good at? Well, people are good at making other people angry. I cannot see how that could possibly help us with relating to an alien civilization. Why should people not seek to make contact with aliens? Well, we might actually contact them and I cannot see how that would help anyone. Maybe these aliens are smart enough to know that about people. Perhaps they keep people at a distance because they know how reckless people are.
At some point in the future, it is logical to believe that these flying objects will land and someone will get out: this will create chaos everywhere. Hopefully, one day, people are better and realize that it sends aliens a mixed message when we want to say hello to them, while at the same time preparing to kill other people. Humanity's house is not in order, and it's certainly no time to invite guests over.
I know I sound cynical. I do not know if people can ever be more than what they are now. And now -- aliens? I mean...aliens!? Something is clear, though. People have the capacity to change, some people at least. The idea that visitors from another civilization are, in fact, visiting our planet only makes our collective hyrpocracies and bad actions all the more clear.
Can people change? I hope so.
(Jim Purcell is a retired journalist, a veteran of the U.S. Army, and a former clergyman. He resides with his wife in Western North Carolina.)
Sunday, May 30, 2021
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (center) waged a campaign against
|President Ronald W. Reagan|
In the wake of social service cutbacks, the Reagan Administration
offered struggling Americans free cheese
Thursday, May 27, 2021
By JIM PURCELL
A fact can only be a fact.
There is such a thing as singular truth and editing such a truth will inevitably turn the result into a lie. Yet, there are things that are subjective (as science has yet to provide us with answers that would make opinions unnecessary). I am talking about the great subject that redefined the Republican Party beginning in the 1980s: the right of a woman to get an abortion.
At what point is a life a life with all the rights and protections any person is entitled to have? At what point does a fetus become a person? This is the great social and medical argument that opened the gates for change in the GOP. Well, it was that and a lot of money the Religious Right put together. Still, all the money in the world cannot make a cogent argument; such a thing is needed for any issue to become a platform issue for any political party (at least in the United States). The Religious Right had both money and an issue that could not be disproved by any opposition, be that opposition political or scientific.
Roe v. Wade was the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that abotion law was based upon. The 1973 decision by the justices was to "...[to protect] a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction." This issue became the battering ram that Conservative Christians used to force their way into a mainstream political party.
I do not believe there is a side in this fight that is either entirely right or wrong. I do not espouse one side dramatically over the other. I would feel uncomfortable, as a man, attempting to legislate a woman's body and what she can or cannot do with it. Similarly, I believe in the inalienable rights for persons to have laws that protect them from undo harm. And, scientifically and morally, no one has yet definitively defined the moment the eternal spark becomes flesh and blood, resulting in a human baby with what myself and my fellow Christians believe is a soul of its own. It may well be that such a finding is impossible to discern, and the moment life is given to so much genetic matter cannot be adequately answered ever.
This essay is not intended to attempt to persuade anyone about how to believe in this matter, one way or the other. However, I do believe that this SCOTUS decision led to the creation of the Religious Right, and that this Religious Right found a home in the Republican Party because of this issue. Anti-Abotion supporters then made their way from the orbit of the GOP to the center of it over the ensuing years. It took time: years. It took money: billions of dollars. It took demonstrating the ability to win. But when Republicans started winning with the blessing of the Religious Right then it lent credibility to the argument of the Religious Right. And, after that credibility within the GOP was established, it gave the Religious Right a seat at the proverbial table within the Republican Party.
I remember the birth of the Religious Right because I was among those first people that mailed in their money to the then-newly minted Moral Majority, in 1979, and paid for my paper membership card. Following that, I received the appeals every other month for more money. Of course, I was 13 years old at the time and the money I used to send them was my allowance from my parents. Nevertheless, their mailers were unmistakable about their goals...to lobby for anti-abortion and Christian principles in American Government. In my own defense, I saw things very simply...loving God's principles was good and so that meant helping people who wanted to promote those things was also good. Of course, I was wrong.
The Rise of the Religious Right
There are people who will say that the creation of the Moral Majority was not the beginning of the Religious Right. However, I will respectfully disagree with them.
|Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.|
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
By JIM PURCELL
The New York Times published a quote attributed to President Abraham Lincoln. The Times printed this on August 27, 1887. The publishing date was 22 years after the Great Emancipator had passed on to the ages. But it sounded like him nonetheless. He said:
"You can fool all of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."
These are fine words from a good man. And, they ring true even into today, which is why anything is ever remembered.
Lincoln's "Grand Ol' Party" has been corrupted by so many social misfits and marginal personalities and groups that I cannot even recognize the Republican Party I have espoused since 1975. It was that year, when I was nine years old, when Miss Fleming volunteered myself and Narin Kaminski to debate for our favorite politicians in class. Back then, most kids were convinced, and were right, that politics is boring. So she tried to shake things up a bit. Well, Nain's favorite politician was the smiling and affable Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter and mine was President Gerald Ford, who was also smiling and affable.
Carter and Ford were more similar than dissimilar. They each wanted to: secure an unbroken oil supply for the country; rebuild the military after Vietnam; provide for America's poorest and oldest; strengthen Social Security; keep taxes low; support unions; fight terrorism, which was still in its early days for the U.S.; stay out of war, but be strong in peace.
There were differences between the two men about how to achieve these goals, but there was no question that this was what either man planned to address if they won the election. Both men recognized the need to have God in their lives, neither tried to force it down anyone's throat or sign the Almighty up for a political party mailer.
I do not believe that fans, if you will, of either of these men would say his opponent was evil or 'in league' with foreign powers, or that either did not truly love this country. Maybe it was the fact that both of these well-qualified men were well-educated, had served as U.S. Navy officers on Active Duty, and had long records of honorable public service. In fact, these men were so similar that perhaps it was the cult of personality of these candidates which tipped the scales and gave Governor Carter four years as our President of the United States.
For me, the days of Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford always seemed like the "Good Old Days," before abject insanity became a regular campaign issue. When California Governor Ronald Reagan came along, in 1979, I did not hate the new presence of the Christian Right within his Presidential Campaign. The infusion of some faith, I thought, would not nor could not be a bad thing. Of course, I would not have greeted such a presence in presidential politics had I known that the Republican Party would eventually become adled with a revulsion for all things scientific, all things provable by the scientific method, in favor of the radical screaming of frienge Christian separatists.
I do not see the Chrstian Right as either Christian or Right. The framers of our Constitution had a balanced approach to faith: God and faith to Him should inform the decisions of individual men and women (whether they are politicians or not) but not be the cause or substance or tenents of law in and of themselves. America is not, has never been, a "Christian Nation," but rather a nation that was created by Christians.
The Constitution is a living document: It does not bind us to a past (whether that past is real or imagined). There is a sentiment now with the Republican Party that the "Good Ol' Days" prior to the American involvement in Vietnam is idealized, something to attempt to return to, as a conscious decision. The subtext to this idea is a return of almost total white male autocracy as a standard of leadership throughout the nation.
In the next installment in this series, the needs of a modern society will be contrasted with the development of national policy (created by both Republicans and Democrats) during the past 60 years.
(Jim Purcell is a graduate of the NY Theological Seminary, was formerly the associate pastor for Stelton Baptists Church, in New Jersey, and was a journalist during the 1990s-2010s. In addition, he is a registered Republican.)
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
By JIM PURCELL
This column is almost preposterous to write. Why? Because most Whites see their heritage as being like those who are Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Arab, Semitic, etc. There is no race better than another. There is no race more deserving than another. God loves wondrous diversity, and that is what He created.
But the most dangerous threat to the United States is White Supremacists in this hour. In my life, I have always believed that the intergration of the races was the best thing to happen in our world. Why? Because no one, and no class of people, would be 'pure' anymore.
Both my daughters were half Hispanic and half White. And, they are both White. It is srictly a descretion of God. But that does not make them better than anyone else. It makes them more diverse than Whites or Hispanics. It makes them the best of both of their traditions.
I do not know what to tell Whites, other than there is no love like the love for all of God's people. Actually, the whole thing bores the heck out of me. Be kind to people, and you can expect that back. Be an evil person....well, you get that back too.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
DISCLAIMER: THIS REPORT FOCUSES ON THE ACTIONS OF A NAZI OFFICER DURING AND AFTER WORLD WAR II. THE NAZIS WERE A MURDEROUS BAND OF PUNKS AND THUGS THAT RAN GERMANY'S GOVERNMENT FOR SEVERAL YEARS IN THE ROUGHLY MID-20TH CENTURY. THEY R II AWERE BEATEN LIKE A DOG BY THE ALLIES DURING WORLD WAR II AND THAT'S THEIR STORY.
By JIM PURCELL
By the time that Otto J.A. Skorzeny closed his eyes for the last time, on July 5th, 1975, it marked the end of a life or murder and intrigue that reached back to 1939. Then, he was a civil engineer who decided to join the German Air Force following the Nazi occupation of Poland.
Skorzeny came from a military family. He was born in Vienna, Austria on June 12th, 1908. Aside from German, Skorzeny spoke French and English very well. While a university Student in Vienna he was also a well-known collegiate fencer. It was due to his fencing that Skorzeny endured a dueling scar on his cheek. In 1931 joined the Nazi Party's military arm, known as the SA.
While Skorzeny was a young man he cut a dashing, colorful figure. However, it would have been hard for anyone to envision him as Hitler's pre-eminent soldier and a life-long mercenary and assassin.
After the German "Blitzkrieg," or Lightning War, swept Poland Skorzeny was rejected from the German Air Force at 31 because he was 'too tall' to serve there, at 6-feet, 4-inches. Instead, Skorzeny went someplace where his height was not a detractor. And that post was as one of Hitler's bodyguards in the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.
The Eastern Front
Skorzeny's wish, however, was to take part in combat operations in the field. In October, 1941 he got his wish when he took part in the German invasion of the Soviet Union, codenamed "Operation Barbarossa." The invasion itself took place between June 22, 1941 and December 5, 1941. So, Skorzeny reached the Eastern Front with more than enough time to make his mark in his new unit, SS 2nd Panzer Division Das Reich.
|Crest for 2nd Panzer Div. Das Reich|
In Ocrtober, 1941, Skorezeny was placed in charge of a special operations unit that was intended to seize Communist Party buildings in Moscow. However, with the Germans being whipped at the gates of Moscow by the Russians, that plan never came to fruition. Instead, what happened was that Skorzeny was hit in the back of the head with shrapnel and was evacuated to the rear for treatment. Whatever the circumstances of that wounding was, it was good enough to garner the former civil engineer the Iron Cross.
Skorzeny: Creator of New Warfare
After being treated for his wound and convalescing, Skorzeny was given a staff role in Berlin. It was there that he developed what amounted to unconventional warfare tactics for German Forces. This included 'partisan-type fighting,' sabotage and espionage deep behind enemy lines.
Skorzeny's proposals made sense to his superiors. Consequently, Skorzeny was appointed head of Nazi schools to train German soldiers in sabotage, espionage and paramilitary tactics. Even though, by then, it was late 1943 and the Nazi Reich's continued existance was an open question, Skorzeny and his commandos ran a number of operations throughout the Nazi sphere of influence. Skorzeny's specialized soldiers were responsible for:
|Skorzeny rose to the rank of|
OPERATION FRANCOIS: Coordinating geurilla activities; OPERATION OAK The rescue of cornered Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, in September 1943; OPERATION LONG JUMP: A planned operation to assassinate Allied world leaders, which never came to pass; OPERATION KNIGHT'S LEAP: A failed plan to capture Josip Broz Tito alive; OPERATION ARMOURED FIST: The kidnapping of Miklos Horthy Jr. to force his father to resign as regent of Hungary; OPERATION GRIFFIN: A false flag operation to spread disinformation during the Battle of the Bulge and finally OPERATION WEREWOLF SS: A planned Nazi underground resistance against an Allied-occupied Europe.
|The Knight's Cross Ribbon|
The German Defeat
On March 17th, 1944 Skorzeny was leading German Army units in the protection of Schwedt Bridgehead, East Prussia and Pomerania when he was given orders to blow the bridge he was protecting, as well as the Bridge at Remagan. This ended up only delaying the inevitable.
|THE MASTERMIND: Otto Skorzeny|
Skorzeny and his commandos were charged with infiltrating Allied lines in American uniforms in order to produce confusion in U.S. Forces by an Allied Court at Dachau, in 1947. During Skorzeny's operation, about two dozen Nazi soldiers in captured U.S. uniforms and driving recovered U,S. jeeps sent U.S. troops in wrong directions and misled them whenever possible. This was in direct contravention of the Hague Convention of 1907. However, Skorzeny got away with it by saying that before any combat his men would change back into their German uniforms. This was apparently supported by a British agent that confirmed this story. And, this enabled Skorzeny and his men to edge past charges at the trial.
Life After the War
Even though Skorzeny had made it past the Dachua Trials, he was not out of the woods yet. Skorzeny was next interred at a camp in Darmstadt, and he awaited a decision by a denazification court. On July 27th, 1948, Skorzeny escaped from this camp with three other SS officers...dressed as U.S. Military Policemen. In his later life, Slorzeny insisted that U.S. officials assisted in his escape. Subsequently, Skorzeny hid out in Bavaria. Like a lot of people who hide out, Skorzeny was identified and was forced to flee to Salzburg. Eventually, he made his way to Madrid, in Spain.
Skorzeny's Next Career
So, what does an on-the-run ex-Nazi commando do to pay the bills? He goes with what he knows, I guess. In 1952, Egypt was taken over by Mohammed Naguib. The next year, Skorzeny was sent to Egypt to serve as Naguib's military advisor. But...who sent him? Well, that was former General Reinhard Gehlen, who was indirectly working for the American CIA at that time. Think about that for a moment, Skorzeny is literally on the lamb and he is given an assignment from a former German general officer indirectly on behalf of the CIA. I think that sentence begs more questions rather than answers many of them.
|Skorzeny filled up Mohammed Naguib's |
military staff with Nazis after the war.
Skorzeny recruited a staff for Naguib comprised of former SS and Wehrmacht officers and it was these men who went about training the Egyptian Army. And, by 'former SS officers,' I am not talking about all lieutenants or captains. No, Skorzeny recruited from the ranks of the former Gestapo, Most notably, he hired Oskar Munzel, who was head of the Nazi Department for Jewish Affairs, among others. As well as training up Egyptians, Skorzeny's rogues gallery also trained some displaced Palestinian geurillas, among them a young Yasar Arafat, future head of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
While all of this was going on, roughly during the mid-1950s, Skorzeny (and certainly some of his recruited staff) were actively wanted by the state of Israel to answer for their crimes during the war. Skorzeny stayed on in Egypt after Naguib was succeeded by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nassar. While doing this, Skorzeny was known to shuttle back and forth between Egypt and Argentina, where the ex-Nazi commando also served as a military advisor for Argentinian dictator Juan Peron, and as a bodyguard for Peron's wife, Eva. While Skorzeny was doing all of his military and bodyguarding he was also trying to help raise a "Fourth Reich" in South America.
The "Fourth Reich" was a pipedream hardcore Nazis had of resurrecting a Nazi army and reclaiming its lost glory and power, bbe it in South America or germany or anyplace else that might want a lot of Nazis (which is nowhere in the world). The Fourth Reich was a poor attempt at organizing to take over some government, somewhere to create this new Nazi state. But, this effort died not in flame and fire but in the whimpering of old Nazi war criminals on the run from due justice for decades. As they grew older, clinging to their canes and failing health, as well as their paranoia, the movement just disintegrated. The world had enough of Nazis, barring the occasional rogue state or mad dictator.
Skorzeny and his Mossad connection
The next part of this story is the craziest in Skorzeny's life, which had a fair amount of crazy to start with. The Mossad is basically Israel's C.I.A. The Mossad is a regular feature in the world intelligence community and they are there to represent the intelligene needs of the Jewish State, Israel.
Well, in a 1989 article published in Matara, an Israeli security and intelligence magazine (only the Israelis would have a magazine dedicated to intlligence and security, it was claimed Skorzeny was approached by Mossad to obtain information on German scientists who were working on an Egyptian project to develop rockets for use against Israel. The major Idraeli daily Yedioth Ahronot actually confirmed this story. And, in those days of the late 20th century, large print newspapers worldwide had a reputation for fact-checking that cannot be approached nowadays.
Journalists Ian Black and Benny Morris wrote in 1991 that Skorzeny may not even have known who he was working for at the time. But, in 2010, journalist Tom Segev wrote that Skorzeny sought to be removed from the list of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal's list of at-large criminals. This did not happen, though, and Skorzeny remained a criminal on the run.
|Otto Skorzeny died of cancer in 1975|
It is believed that Mossad, at first, planned to kill Skorzeny. However, Israeli handlers believed they had a better idea in Skorzeny assassinating German rocket scientist Heinz Krug because he was working with the Egyptian Government. Though Skorzeny was never directly linked to Krug's death, the German arms scientist did turn up dead around the time Mossad was allegedly dealing with Skorzeny.
During his lifetime, Skorzeny married and divorced three times. He also had a daughter, whom I will not name because no one can help the parents they are born to.
Skorzeny's death: The end of an era
In 1970, Skorzeny was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on his spine. Two tumors were later removed while he was staying at a hospital in Hamburg (how he did not get caught there is conveniently miraculous). But, the surgery left him paralyzed from the waist down. Finally, Skorzeny's wretched existance was ended on July 5, 1975 when he died of lung cancer at 67 years old. He never denounced Nazism and he always thought Adolf Hitler was a great guy. His funeral was attending by several of his old SS colleagues and the rest of the world was too busy that day to show up to the event.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
By JIM PURCELL
Gen. Mark Clark (1896-1984) has a soldier's story that reaches back to his 17th birthday, when he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, in 1913. His career would span a half-century and take him from the trenches of World War I to the presidency of the Citadel, South Carolina's Military College, in Charleston, South Carolina.
|Then MG Mark W. Clark|
While Clark was a cadet at West Point, he would be a part of the Class of 1915 and went to school with later Army luminaies Dwight D. Eisenhower, Matthew Ridgeway and J. Lawton Collins, to name just a few.
During Clark's service in the Great War (later dubbed 'World War I' following World War II) Clark served as a captain and company commander in France as a 22-year-old. Like his father, Clark had chosen to be commissioned in the Army's Infantry Branch. Clark's first command was Company K of the 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment as part of the 5th Infantry Division.
|The 11th Inf. Regt.|
Clark's company was placed in the Voseges Mountains and practiced trench warfare against their German adversaries. While assigned in the Voseges Mountains, 3rd Battalion commander Major R.E. Kingman fell ill and Clark replaced him. Two days after taking command of the battalion. Clark was injured with shrapnel wounds during an artillery attack.
After convalescing in an Army hospital, Clark was judged by the Army to be unfit for further combat service and he was assigned to the Supply Section of the First Army. He held this post until the Armistice of November 11th, 1918 and briefly served as part of the U.S. Army of Occupation in Germany following the war.
An Army officer's career can be advanced significantly during a war. And, during World War I Clark had not only served as a combat leader at the company level but also on the battalion level. These things were significant when the Army next considered what to do with Clark during the Interwar Years of 1919-1941.
|World War I Victory Medal|
From 1921-1924, Clark was singled-out to serve as an aide in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War. This is an enormous opportunity that directly reflected Clark's wartime service. After this tour in Washington, DC, Clark was selected as a staff officer for the 30th Infantry Regiment, then stationed at The Presidio in San Francisco.
Finally, Clark was promoted to the rank of major after he was assigned as deputy commander of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Nebraska. After performing well at the CCC appointment, Clark was then elevated to the rank of lieutenant colonel when he was plaed on the staff of newly appointed Army Chief of Staff George Marshall.
World War II: America's Youngest General
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during December 7th, 1941 sent America crashing headlong into World War II. The Army, like the rest of the military services, were in desperate need of senior officers. In a small space of time the Army had to grow from a relatively small standing force to an Army large enough and strong enough to facedown not only Hitler's Nazi War Machine but also the Imperial forces of Japan. And, Clark was key to this expansion.
|World War II Victory Medal|
In April, 1942, Clark was elevated to the rank of Major General, two weeks shy of his 46th birthday. This made him the youngest Major General in the Army. He was then placed in command of II Corps. Along with Eisenhower, Clark was sent to England on temporary duty to estimate the possibility of a cross-channel invasion by the Allies during 1942. After surveying the situation, the two friends from West Point concluded that such an invasion was not possibile that year.
After the Channel crossing was ruled out, attention was turned to a North African invasion, codenamed "Torch," to baptize American soldiers into World War II. While Eisenhower was named as Supreme Allied Commander of all Allief Forces, Clark was then assigned to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations as deputy commander. However, in transferring between assignments, it was Clark's duty to prepare II Corps for combat in North Africa before giving up his duties at the unit. So impressed by Clark's efforts in this role, he promoted Clark to the rank of Lieutenant General on November 11, 1942, three days after the Torch landings.
Clark had begun a rapid ascent up the chain of command, which fostered some resentment by commanders who were formerly his superiors. One such commander was Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., who eyed Clark with some resentment.
Clark took over as the commanding general of British and American forces for the invasion of Salerno (codenamed "Operation Avalanche"). Initially the invasion went well, but, after initial success, the invasion stalled. Despite this frustration, Clark was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and given command of the Fifth Army, comprised of U.S. and British Forces.
With this army, Clark would attack German and Italian forces up the spine of the Italian mainland. Clark's army liberated Naples, Monte Cassino and even Rome during 1944. It was Clark who received the German surrender in Italy during Spring of 1945. After these victories, Clark gave up command of the Fifth Army to former 3rd U.S. Infantry Division commander LTG Lucian Truscott. He was then given command of the 15th Army Group and presided over surrendered Italy for the balance of the war. On March 10th, 1945, Clark was promoted to the rank of full general, which he would hold for the balance of his life.
|Gen. Mark Clark|
Following the war, Clark was named as Commander in Chief of US Forces of Occupation in Austria. He gained experience dealing with communist nations there. Hence, it was not a surprise when he was given the nod to serve as deputy to the US Secretary of State in 1947. Then, it was back to the Presidio in San Francisco, where he was named commander of Army Field Forces.
During the Korean War, Clark took over as commander of the United Nations Command from General Matthew Ridgway. Clark commanded Allied U.N. Forces until the armistice, which took place on July 27th, 1953.
From 1954-1955, Clark was head of the so-called "Clark Task Force," which examined all intelligence gathering operations throughout the Federal Government.
Clark retired from the military service in 1965. He would then become president of The Citadel, in South Carolina.
Clark and his first wife had a son and a daughter, Major William Doran Clark and Patricia Ann Clark-Oosting. Following the death of his first wife, he married Mary Dean. The couple did not have any children. After his tenure as president of The Citadel, Clark went on to reside in South Carolina until his death on April 17th, 1984.
Sunday, March 14, 2021
By JIM PURCELL
I was writing a post about World War II German General Heinz W. Guderian recently on this blog. And, I ran into a problem of perspective. In fact, I had previously never wrote about German military leaders from either World War I or II, despite studying about them a great deal when I was in college at Georgian Court University, in New Jersey, during my youth. In addition, most of the men in my family had served in the Army, during World War II, including my father and his brother (who was killed in action as a Navy Gunner's Mate 2nd Class piloting an LST during the Anzio landings in January, 1944).
Yet, historically speaking, can society forget whatever advancements the German Army made in modern warfare because Nazis, who riddled the German Army, were despicable people? Some part of me wants to say, 'Yes, we can.' Still, when we discuss the advent of modern military tactics, as reprehensible as Nazis were and are, the history should not be ignored. If we as a society do this then we edit history and that is not the place of anyone, any political party, government or historian. So, I decided to write about both Guderian's brilliance and his other face as well, the fact he was a Nazi stooge. And, both of these men inhabited the same person.
In Guderian's case, he basically created combined arms tactics in a way previously unheard of in warfare during his time. In modern vernacular, it would be said he created the concept of the contemporary "combat team." As part of this, a single commander (whether it is a company commander or an army group commander) has primary control over all of the assets on a battlefield for his or her army (air, artillery, infantry, armor, cavalry, special weapons, intelligence, signal, logistical, etc.). And, because of this control, modern commanders eliminate organizational bureaucracy necessary to accomplish missions on the ground.
Guderian knew that to fully bring his vision of "Lightning War" into being he would not only have to push for the creation of a modern tank force, but also armored infantry and artillery, as well as logistics, to be able to keep up with an army's advance. In addition, such a commander is going to need control of the air assets in his or her area because those assets play a key role in dominating enemy forces.
So, to some extent, the world still lives with Guderian's ruminations about modern armies. Most armies in the world today use his principles of command, whether they know it or not. And, I dislike Nazis as much as the next person, but I believe it is possible to credit the source of an idea without lionizing them, turning them into a hero or a role model or something like that.
The reluctance to credit Nazi leaders with anything happens because of all this rubbish they threw around about eugenics and race superiority. The terrible things the Nazi regime did were not among the most heinous things ever in history. They were the most terrible things one man or woman ever did to another man or woman. Further, I think this is true without exception.
We all ride a tenuous line when discussing Nazis. Their evil was almost supernaturally dark and their achievements, some albeit functional, arrive to us all from the most poisoned tree in the historical forest.
In today's world, Nazis seem to be making a 'comeback' among America's poor and uneducated. Politicians have applied their terrible gifts of deceit and persuasion upon history and actually found imaginary arguments that make Adolf Hitler's regime somehow palatable to youth and political outsiders now. I do not know how this came about exactly. One criticism of Americans by peoples throughout the world is that we, as a people, do not have long collective memories. Maybe that is true. For me, it was my father and uncles who were impacted so horribly by Nazis of the mid-20th century. But for younger people either their grandparents or great-grandparents were the ones who were involved in World War II. Over time, I suppose even the Devil might catch a break after being considered by weak minds.
I am only one writer considering one Nazi historical figure and weighing the pros and cons of doing so. Yet, this argument can be applied to all of Hitler's 'rogues gallery' of innovators and leaders. Yes, there were Germans who were pressed to join the Army, forced to do Hitler's bidding for fear of their lives or those of their families. Let us not forget, though, that there were plenty of bright people in Germany of the '20, '30s and '40s who acccepted Nazi ideals and all of the monstrosities that accompanied them.
I do not know what the answer is. I see youthful Americans today, running around and being confused about if they are Neo-Conservatives, Q'Anon, Nazis, or Nationalists or "Proud Boys," among so many other groups. So many people who are totally berift of any actual historical study are literally making up history according to what they want. I suppose this is true of modern religious personalities as well. Most frightening of all is the nexus these groups may find.
We live in a world today that is less literate than the one our grandparents lived in. It is an America that has forgotten things like mathematics and science. The political theory of the mob has replaced logic in the minds of many Americans. And, the notion of celebrity, the cult of personality, has in many cases supplanted that tried-an-true American institution of common sense.
So, how do we intelligently and reasonably discuss history in the context of World War II and its personalities and yet not whet the appetites of modern day modern fringe personalities? Now there is a good question.
|Adolf Hitler congratulates Guderian after the Polish invasion. Guderian was a |
staunchadvocate for Hitler and Nazism during his wartime service and after.
Saturday, March 13, 2021
By JIM PURCELL
The weapon that transformed modern armored warfare? That is easy: the Soviet T-34. It was the next generation of ground warfare during World War II and it could be argued it was the best tank of the war.
I’m a sports fan, and root for both the New York Mets and the New York Jets in Major League Baseball and the National Football League, respectively. If anyone is familiar with the stories of these teams then they would know that their histories of making decisions about players are lacking. The fans that follow these sports franchises could lament with the most-disappointed of people anywhere.
Yet, one of the worst American mistakes did not happen on a playing field. In fact, one of these mistakes occurred when New Jersey native and noted American inventor John Walter Christie pitched his idea for a new main battle tank to the U.S. War Department in 1928. It was then that the military bureaucracy of the time passed on Christie’s design, which then allowed the inventor to ‘shop’ his idea to foreign powers.
The first interested nation-state in Christie’s design was Poland. In 1929, on behalf of his government, Polish Captain Marian Rucinski, who was assigned to the Polish Military Institute of Engineering Research, was sent to the U.S. to evaluate Christie’s armored invention. At the time, Christie was building his M1928 at his company, The U.S. Wheel Track Corporation, of Linden, New Jersey.
|T-34 inventor John W. Christie|
So impressed was Rucinski that a special Polish acquisition commission was dispatched to the U.S., led by the chief of their engineering department, Colonel Tadeusz Kossakowski. What resulted was that the Polish Government prepaid Christie for production models of his concept. Later, Christie would return the deposit after reconsidering a contract with the Polish Government. However, word of the revolutionary new tank Christie had envisioned was out, so to speak, and the espionage community knew all about it. This development aroused interest in the Soviet Union, and it was spies of this country that ended up acquiring plans for the chassis of the tank in 1930.
After this compromise, on April 28, 1930, Christie’s company ended up selling two Christie-designed tanks to the Soviet company Amtorg for $60,000. A separate agreement was made whereby the inventor sold spare parts for the tanks at a cost of $4,000.
Thus was born the Soviet Union’s greatest weapon of the war, the T-34 Main Battle Tank.
|NY Mets pitcher Nolan Ryan|
The T-34 was considered a medium tank when it was deployed in 1940, during World War II. It possessed a 76.2mm (3-inch) main gun; 360-degree sloped armor (providing good protection against anti-tank weapons); the unique Christie suspension system (more efficient than the T-bar system used by the tanks of other nations); and an efficient, aerodynamic design that made its silhouette more difficult for enemy tankers to acquire it from a distance.
The T-34 was impressive during field operations, so much that German Army General Paul vonKleist called it “the finest tank in the world.” Kleist’s mentor, and armored theory expert, General Heinz Guderian also noted that the “Soviet” tank was “vastly superior” to German tanks.
Well, you might ask yourself how the Mets and Jets analogy comes into play here. Well, it was the Mets who passed on signing their own starting pitcher, Nolan Ryan, in 1972. As most fans know, Ryan went on to have a Hall of Fame career with other clubs during the years following the trade, while the Mets languished somewhere near the cellar of the National League East. As for the Jets, it was the decision of that organization’s front office to draft neither prospects Dan Marino or Jerry Rice when they had a chance to acquire these players. Unlike the Mets, the consequence of that failure was that the team did not languish near the bottom of their division. No, they retained sole possession of the bottom of their division.
|NFL legend Dan Marino|
Poor decisions at the highest levels cost lives. It has always been that way, and it will always remain that way. In sports, winning and losing does not take on the dimensions of life and death. However, in choosing weapons systems for the military, it certainly does.
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
There is a 2nd edition of the book out there called "Call Sign Dracula," by Joe Fair. It was released by Sunbury Press on Nov. 2, 2020. It is about Fair's tour as an infantryman with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. Fair focuses on his experiences with the unit in the Republic of Vietnam from April, 1969 to March, 1970.
|Joe Fair, author of the book "Call Sign Dracula"|
According to Fair, the 2nd Edition allowed him to make corrections, improve sentence structure and flow of the stories he tells. He also added more names even more stories than were in the 1st Edition. In addition, Fair found more photos of his days with the 1st Infantry Division.
The book is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Sunbury Press and other fine outlets. Call Sign Dracula can be purchased as a paperback book, e-book or audio book. The author noted that if anyone wants a signed paperback to let him know and he would be happy to do it.
Call Sign Dracula is a first-hand account of a one-year combat tour that begins with a naive, 18-year-old soldier facing the test of combat in war-torn Vietnam. The 1st edition of the book was released in March, 2014.
Friday, March 5, 2021
The big bithdays in my life, as I remember it, were my 17th, 21st and 40th. Yet, none of those compared to today, when my lovely wife brought me to a local restaurant here in town. Unlike so many other birthdays, 55 feels like a graduation of sorts. My working life has been over for several years now, my marriage is very good, I have no more enemies or even poor relations with anyone in my life, my debts are paid, my children are grown and are prosperous and I have found peace after all these years.
Finding peace is a hard thing to do in this life. There are so many factors to it: financial security, liking where you are and who you are with, liking one's self, your setting and your place in this world. And, that just scratches the surface. Peace is also about reconciling one's past and being ready for the journey ahead as much as saying farewell to the journey behind and having no regrets left about the old days. Well, everyone has regrets of some kind after a lifetime, but people can find peace with it after much introspection and prayer. God readily forgives us. It is us learning how to forgive ourselves that is perhaps the most important thing we each take into old age. For me, it was the hardest lesson to learn and the longest to work through. But, I'm good now. Religious or spiritual people might say that peace comes at the point where someone reconciles their failures, sins, regrets, achievements and wishes with the God of their understanding. I would not argue against this. I am happy about where I am at today.
It took long enough: years.
So, today I celebrated my 55th birthday and it feels not like the closing of some chapters of a book, but the opening of new ones. And, I am ready for them. This, in itself, is something I am glad about.
In some ways, 55 years have flown right by and, in other ways, it has seemed to be a very long time. Like most things, I believe the truth might be somewhere in the middle.
Sunday, February 21, 2021
By JIM PURCELL
The 2nd Armored Division (Forward), in Garlstedt, Federal Republic of Germany, was a task organized brigade from the 2nd Armored Division (Main), which was headquartered at Fort Hood, Texas. Today, right now, there are veterans of the 2nd Armored Division (Forward), as well as family members of those who served there, who are in the process of building a monument to the Division (Forward) at Fort Hood.
The 2nd Armored Division (Forward) was originally sent to Germany during the Carter Presidency, in 1976. Once there, the Division (Forward) would serve under British leadership from Germany’s Northern Army Group. During its tenure in Germany, like so many units, its ongoing mission was to discourage the Soviets from attacking Germany and to fight and beat them if they did.
In 1990, the 2nd Armored Division (Forward) was among those units that deployed for Desert Shield, later Desert Storm and the Liberation of Kuwait. Some of those brothers and sisters in the Division (Forward) family were injured, and some paid the ultimate price for the American victory.
Finally, the 2nd Armored Division (Forward) was deactivated at Fort Hood, Texas, ending an era of honorable service to its nation.
Even though the 2nd Armored Division’s colors have been struck and are now retired from service, the 2nd armored Division (Forward) family of soldiers and family members are seeking the monument to remind today’s soldiers, and today’s Army, of those who came before and did every job they were assigned to, regardless of cost to its soldiers and officers.
Consequently, the 2nd Armored Division (Forward) Monument Committee, which assembled about nine months ago, is seeking to complete its fundraising drive to emplace its marker at Fort Hood. There are three initial organizers of the committee, who served at the Division (Forward): LTC Paul Dulchinos (Ret.); a former officer at the 17th Armored Engineers Regiment; and former NCOs Ken Tabony and Jim Purcell, who both served in the 41st Infantry Regiment.
Please go to the Facebook page “The 2nd Armored Division (Fwd) Memorial Project,” or go to https://2adfwd.org/ for more information. The monument project has a special, one-of-a-kind commemorative coin that supporters can also purchase there for $25.00 per coin. Should anyone wish to purchase the coin or to donate to the project, they can do so at https://2adfwd.org/.
Jim Purcell is a former S-2 NCOIC and Intelligence Sergeant for the 4th Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Division (Forward).