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Saturday, July 28, 2018

The ‘Iron Deuce’ and the Allied Invasion of Sicily


By JIM PURCELL

Operation Husky” was the codename given to the Allied Invasion of Sicily in July 1943. Allied Forces were fresh off their victories against Germany and their Axis allies in North Africa during November 1942. So, with inexorable determination, the Allies moved closer to the European Continent with the invasion of the occupied island of Sicily.

   Throughout this campaign, Seventh Army commander Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr. would depend heavily upon the men and machines of the 2nd Armored Division to gain victory over German and Italian forces holding the island.

BORN TO BE BAD

   The 2nd Armored Division served the United States as one of its premier combat maneuver units between 1940-1995. The division was born at Ft. Benning, Georgia on July 15, 1940. Its first commander was Major General Charles L. Scott, with then-Colonel George S. Patton Jr. in-charge of the “Iron Deuce’s” training. Later, when MG Scott was promoted, Patton was promoted to brigadier general and placed in command of the division.

   The core of the 2nd Armored’s units included: the 41st Infantry Regiment, 66th Armored Regiment, 67th Armored Regiment, 17th Engineer Battalion and the 142nd Signal Company. For 55 years, these units were the heart of the 2nd Armored Division’s combat and maneuver capabilities. In Sicily, these units would be christened in blood and flames against a well-entrenched and determined enemy.

THE LANDINGS AT SICILY

   During the invasion of North Africa, the 2nd Armored Division did not play a key role. However, that changed substantially in Sicily.

A battle map for the Allied Invasion of Sicily in July 1943

   Operation Husky kicked off on the night of July 9, 1943. After more than a month of hard fighting, the operation would finally end on August 17, with the Allied liberation of the island.

   The invasion began with a large amphibious and airborne operation, which was followed up by a six-week land campaign by American, British, Canadian and Free French Forces.
"Iron Knights" from the 66th Armored Regiment in Sicily

   During theinv asion, the 2nd Armored Division served as the reserve force for the Western Task Force. The division came ashore on July 10th in support of the 1st Infantry Division at the Battle of Gela, so-named for the city of Gela that was nearby along the island’s southern coast.

   The beaches of Gela were defended by the Italian XVIII Coastal Brigade. The town itself was being defended by the Italian 429th Coastal Battalion. The defenses for Gela included barbed wire, pillboxes and anti-tank weapons. In addition, the beaches on either side of Gela were mined, covered by machineguns and had committed artillery battalions to support the defenders.
LTG George Patton confers with MG Hugh Gaffey

   The first armor to reach the shores of Gela were from the 67th Armored Regiment. However, the regiment’s Sherman tanks became stuck in the soft sand of the beachhead. Like everything that goes ‘sideways,’ the tanks eventually freed themselves to join the fight against German armored units that descended on the battlefield. The 2nd Armored, working closely with the 1st Infantry Division, held off a massive German counter-attack on July 11 and, on July 12, with the battle won, next went into action on July 21 in support of Allied landings at Licata, Sicily.

   At Licata, the 2nd Armored Division supported the 3rd Infantry “Rock of the Marne” Division, as it came ashore. Licata is situated between Agrigento and Gela on the island, which made Licata a strategic point in the campaign.

  Sadly, due to the intense firefights throughout the area, the town of Licata was left heavily damaged. With the war damage, combined with Sulphur industry declines, many of Licata’s resident population permanently left their town for mainland Italy after the war.

TAKING THE FIGHT TO THE NAZIS

   With both landings secured, it was time for the 2nd Armored to take its show on the road, fighting through to the Sicilian capitol of Palermo. Throughout the inland campaign, the 2nd Armored, commanded by Major General Hugh J. Gaffey, worked closely with paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division.

   The two divisions knotted quick results. One of the perennial problems plaguing airborne infantry units was that they lacked the punch of armored units. Meanwhile, armored units, at that time, moved far slower than airborne units could. As a consequence of their cooperation, the 2nd Armored and 82nd Airborne were among those units that liberated Palermo on August 17th, which also marked the end of the operation.

AFTER THE CAMPAIGN

G. Kisters
   Along the way, the Iron Deuce took thousands of Italian prisoners of war. During the campaign, the 2nd Armored also gained its first Medal of Honor recipient, Sergeant Gerry H. Kisters, a Utah resident who was assigned to the 91st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. At the time SGT Kisters was serving in Sicily, his unit was attached to the division.

   With the campaign in Sicily won, the 2nd Armored Division was ordered to England, where it would prepare and train for the next Allied action, the Normandy Invasion of German-Occupied France. Though the division had sustained casualties during Operation Husky, it had proven itself as an invaluable asset to Allied plans for victory in Europe.

   Going forward in the war, the 2nd Armored Division would be a major force for Allied victory. The division would live up to its motto of "Hell on Wheels" against German Forces throughout mainland Europe. 

The Miracle Mets of 1969





The memory of the 1969 Mets is 'comfort food' for many of the New York faithful.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The legend of Bartolo: Does it lead to the HOF





Is Bartolo Colon a Hall of Fame candidate? I say, 'Maybe.'

Commentary: Soldiers' tattoos are a sign of the times


By JIM PURCELL

There are older people who would say that the Armed Forces, and specifically the Army, are institutions rooted in being conservative and backward in the case of societal change.  
Heavily 'inked' soldiers are a sign of the times

   I will have to disagree with that. The Army was among the first organizations to de-segregate soldiers, one of the first to give women equal pay and rank to men, based not on their sex but their abilities. The Army welcomes people who are rudderless and gives them direction. Whatever someone was before joining up is not as important as who they become in uniform.

   So, when I begin the conversation about tattoos soldiers are getting these days while they are in uniform, I am not coming out against it. The current Army standard states soldiers: 1. Cannot have tattoos placed above the T-shirt line, 2. Tattoos must be two inches above or one inch below the elbow, 3. Tattoos cannot appear on the wrist or hands, and 4. Tattoos must be two inches above or below the knee.
Soldiers of other eras weren't as inked as today

   I was a soldier during the 1980s. Myself and fellow soldiers got tattoos, but it was nothing close to the extent that happens today. Soldiers are getting full ‘suits’ of tattoos and I don’t see it as a bad thing. I see it as a sign of the times.  I think tattooing is now seen as accessible, portable, personal art far more than in my younger days. I would be lying if I said that I understand why soldiers, be they men or women, feel the need to fill up every possible area of permissible skin with a tattoo or a series of tattoos. 

   In my younger days in the Army, large and elaborate tattoos would sometimes be seen as unprofessional. In some units, if there were not formal sanctions against this, then there surely would have been informal ones (e.g. not getting boarded, assigned to certain public duties). Yet, I think understanding things generationally with the Army is a way of understanding society as a whole. This tattoo discussion is just a way to do that.

Body art is the 'new normal' in uniform
   In the 1980s, soldiers pressed uniforms, shined boots, were not covered head-to-toe in tattoos. But, they also had a far greater problem than today with alcohol abuse, unruly behavior, domestic violence and soldier-on-soldier harassment. Personally, I abused alcohol while I was serving, I sometimes got into physical altercations with other soldiers and when I wasn’t in uniform on duty then I was out of uniform partying somewhere. This is behavior that would not be allowed to exist today. Rather than making sergeant early, I would have been out of the service in a few years. But, the Army reflected society. Consequently, back then “boys would be boys,” I suppose. And, I was the beneficiary of that.

   I hear some old-timers saying the tattoos today are “unprofessional,” “low class” and “excessive.” However, in this ideation of the Army, alcohol abuse is monitored closely, unruly behavior doesn’t happen – or else, physical altercations between soldiers is a quick trip to being put out of the service and any nonsense like domestic violence turns a soldier into a civilian in a snap. Furthermore, harassment of any kind is taken very seriously. These are all substantial improvements to the Army. Oh, by the way, this Army has a lot of soldiers who like to get big tattoos.

The Army is still a reflection of society
   You know, time moves on for all of us. No, the soldiers from today’s Army would probably not get along very well in the Army I was a soldier in. They’re different. Different things are demanded from them. And, these people are the reflection of the society today. This has always been the way the Army rolls. So, if everything changes, the fact that there is always change is one of the oldest traditions in the Army. The society moves and changes, and so the Army changes with it. Things that were sacrilege in my day (e.g. un-shined boots, un-pressed uniforms) are the norm today.

   I do not compare the eras of soldiers who served in the Army to one another. It would quickly become a practice of me saying the Army of the 1980s was the best it ever got, just out of ego. Yet the truth of the matter is that the Army of any generation is the Army that the nation needs at that moment. This has been true since the Revolutionary War until today.

   Today’s soldiers want to express themselves, in this case through body art, in a way that their fathers and grandfathers didn’t want to do. So, I will chalk it up to generational prerogative and leave it at that. No, I do not understand it. It is not my ideal or something I think is cool. But, the older generation always gives way to the younger one, and that is how the world has worked since the first cavemen decided to put an army together.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Commentary: The Draft Should Never Have Been Stopped


By JIM PURCELL

The final lottery for the Selective Service Draft for the conscription of men into the military was held on March 12, 1975. On March 29th of that year, President Gerald Ford signed Proclamation 4360, eliminating the registration requirement for all males, ages 18 through 29. With his signature, the Draft was dead. Was this a good idea? In hindsight, I would say ‘no.’
The Draft was a good idea that was discarded

   The Draft served this country well since it was created, in 1917. The conscription of young soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines served not only the Armed Forces, but also the society.

   What are America’s problems today? Well, there is a long list, but perhaps the most pressing one is the polarization of citizens into camps, with labels like “conservative,” “liberal,” “pro-gun,” “anti-gun,” “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” to name just a few. Essentially, many Americans are divided because of their belief structures. And, many stay comfortably within their own biases and everyday experiences.

   Yet, conscription would give citizens a common experience of service that would be a common denominator for our collective cultural psyche. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and having opinions, people would be doing something about their patriotism.
The Draft brought Americans together in service

   Compulsory military service compels young people to get out of their ‘comfort zones’ and learn things like responsibility, teamwork and hard work. Frankly, these things are being lost today. The military molds young minds and bodies in a healthy direction, teaching lessons that will last a lifetime.

   Militarily, conscription makes sense as well. Not too long ago, soldiers were ordered to perform multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. While our soldiers on active duty today, both male and female, are no doubt committed and professional, is multiple tours (sometimes three or more) fair to those who have volunteered for military service? Let us not just think about the soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines, but let us also contemplate their families. Is losing a mother or father, son or daughter, husband or wife for years at a time truly fair? No. Not by a long shot. This practice of multiple tours (needed because of the lack of a steady stream of recruits) injures the fabric of American families. This leads to divorce among husbands and wives, estrangement between children and parents and asks service members to place their lives at risk for periods of time that is patently unfair.

   Military service is the thing that turns a resident of the United States truly into a citizen of our nation. In my opinion, no one who has failed to serve really understands this country and what it stands for.
The Draft would stabilize troop levels

   It has become quite acceptable for adult children to live at home with their parents through their 20s, 30s and even their 40s. There is a plague of young people who have ‘failed to launch’ into the world and stand on their own two feet. Compulsory military service would be that vital experience that changes the course of millions of young lives.

   Should both sexes be drafted? These days being what they are, I would say ‘yes.’ Both sexes should be drafted and serve.

   How long should a compulsory period of military service be? This issue could occupy its own commentary. Personally, I believe an active duty period of three years and a reserve obligation of four years seems fair. The Armed Forces would be strong. The American society would be stronger. Young Americans would have more direction to their lives and participate fully in national service. This would make them better people and more sound mentally, physically and perhaps even spiritually.
The majority of American lawmakers have never served

   Should anyone be exempted from military service? By no means. If someone is physically and mentally well, there should be no way for anyone to get out of serving their tour in their nation’s uniform. Those who are not physically or mentally well may not qualify for military service, but there are other organizations, which contribute to the public good, which they may be able to work in (and for the same amount of time others serve in uniform).

   What would someone against compulsory service see as the disagreeable point? Well, compulsory service would mean that young people would have no choice about their service to their country. Yet, this is not entirely true. Not every person is a future infantryman or tanker. There are many military occupations, from postal worker to personnel and medical specialists, to logistical experts and petroleum specialists who gain work experience and serve vital functions to keep their branches of service working.

   Military personnel can attend college, like anyone else. However, as a member of the Armed Forces, students would be more focused upon obtaining actual jobs after their service. The idea of going to college to ‘party’ would be finished. This would be good too. Going to college is a privilege and those who do so in the hopes of finding better paying jobs do well. Too many young people are unfocused in their studies and have no clue about what they will do with their educations beyond academia.

   Why will compulsory military service never happen, though? Where service in the military used to be a common rite of passage among young people, the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) mostly chose to remain in civilian life. The connection between society and the military was cut because generations of Americans from the 1960s forward simply did not participate in the military the same way their fathers and grandfathers did. So, where military conscription was once thought of as a patriotic duty, today it is seen by many young people as a court of last resort for a career.

   There is not the will, among a majority of young people, to serve. And, the majority of our lawmakers today have never served in uniform.  There is great distance, politically and culturally, between now and the last time the Draft was used. Quite likely, too much distance to re-establish it as the law of the land. Regardless of how conscription would help the economy, the military, young people and the country, it is an idea whose time has passed and now remains only in the history books.
  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Army Uniform Standards Have Changed For The Worse


By JIM PURCELL

Like a lot of soldiers from the 1990s and before, part of our everyday lives in uniform included polishing boots and pressing uniforms, even when it was applied to fatigues. Today, that isn’t a part of a soldier’s requirements. Soldiers do not press uniforms or polish boots.
There is no replacement for looking squared away.

   Certainly, many civilians will think that caring for boots and uniforms is superfluous to the important mission the Army performs. However, I would disagree with this.

   When conditions permit it, pressed uniforms and shined boots reflect not only professionalism but also the personal motivation of individual soldiers. I saw a soldier yesterday at the Veterans Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. He was a seasoned soldier, who held the rank of sergeant first class. On his left shoulder was the unit patch for the North Carolina Army National Guard, and on his right shoulder he displayed his 1st Infantry Division combat patch.
   This soldier had put in a lot of effort and work to become a senior non-commissioned officer. He has served his nation in times of war and peace. But, did he look the best he could? No, not by a long shot. But, it’s not his fault, that is how the Army goes these days.

   Why is that even important?
Shined Corcoran Jump Boots

   Well, when I see a police officer who has spent time on his uniform and boots or shoes, it tells me something about the character of the police officer. If a police officer takes his position seriously, then his shoes will be polished, his uniform will be pressed and he will be wearing his pistol belt correctly. Immediately, in one glace, I know that I am speaking to someone who is invested in his role as a police officer. And, it matters. Every reaction and interaction that happens with that police officer’s contact with me is colored by that initial impression.

   When I was a soldier in the 1980s and ‘90s, soldiers competed with one another to gain rank. One small part of that competition included how soldiers looked, on a day-to-day basis. How does a soldier represent themselves, their unit and the Army? What impression is being left?

   While I was a soldier stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany, between 1986-1988 with the 2nd Armored Division (Forward), our uniform standards were high. It just so happened that when my wife and I, as well as a few friends, traveled to West Berlin, we had to travel through then-East Germany to get there. Along the course of the trip, as happened regularly, the train was stopped by the Soviet military to check the identities of everyone who was on board. It was late, about 1 a.m. when the train stopped. It was a sleeper cabin, so my wife woke me up in expectation of showing my ID and papers to the soldiers climbing aboard the train.
Are these soldiers as sharp as they can be? Maybe not. 

    My wife and I could hear the soldiers going from cabin to cabin until they showed up outside our door. There stood a Soviet officer and two soldiers. And, they looked amazing. Their boots were highly shined, their uniforms were pressed perfectly and there was not a ribbon out of place. Meanwhile, the officer’s leather pistol belt was shined and the soldiers’ AK-47s positively gleamed. Do not forget, this duty of theirs was happening in the middle of the night, yet still these soldiers took the extra time to make sure they represented their unit, their Army and even their country in a professional manner.

   I was so impressed by the way these guys looked, I said automatically, “You guys look sharp.” Neither the officer or the soldiers acknowledged the compliment as they checked our paperwork.
So, what did I take away from that meeting? Alright, these border guards took their job very seriously. Not only was their manner efficient and crisp, but they looked like professional soldiers. It was evident that their equipment was good to go and that they had put the work in on maintenance. Their appearance told me the Russian soldier cared about his job and his service, and it earned a level of respect.

   A regular part of every soldier’s life is maintaining their vehicles, communications equipment, weapons systems and personal weapons. This much has not changed. This is done so that the Army can shoot, move and communicate. If an army cannot do any one of the three then it is not much of an army. While such maintenance is routine, it is also a testament to individual soldiers’ abilities to focus and pay attention to detail. How a soldier looks in garrison, or where it is practical, makes a potent statement about who that soldier is underneath the uniform.
These collars are pressed and starched

   I say ‘where it is practical’ because there are circumstances where care of a uniform and boots just doesn’t work out well. When a soldier is in the field, uniforms are going to get grungy, boots will be in mud and water or whatever. So, it is understandable that a standard for a soldier in garrison would not be applied to them.

   Yet, a soldier in garrison has no business whatsoever appearing no better than a soldier working in the field.  It is counter-intuitive that wrinkled uniforms and dull, dirty boots be the standard in the U.S. Army.

   I spoke to a soldier who was in the Army recently, and he said that he was glad the Army didn’t go for “spit and polish” anymore. When it comes down to it, though, isn’t caring for one’s boots and uniform a mark of professionalism?

   I don’t care what the Army changes its uniforms too. I do not care what the latest military fashion is. All I am saying is that it would be a better reflection of the Army, and all the uniformed services too, if uniforms could be pressed (shall I go so far to say starched?) and boots be shined. Being a soldier is serious business and looking right is just one aspect of military professionalism.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Monday, July 16, 2018

A brief look at Roger's Rangers





Robert Rogers, a captain of infantry from New Hampshire, changed the course of history in creating his Rangers.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Commentary: The Role of Church and State, God and Politicians


By JIM PURCELL

The United States of America is my nation. It is my country, and I love it with all my heart. There is no other place I would rather be. My country introduced the world to so many ideas and concepts behind democracy and the rule of law that it makes me proud to think of it. I am also a Christian and believe in the God of my understanding. Like many people, I have my doubts about organized religion, but not about the fact that I am saved because of, and thanks to, the sacrifice of my Lord Jesus Christ.

   Can I automatically assume that God favors America more than any other nation? No, I cannot do this. By it own nature, politics are necessary but this is also a vessel of corruption: it is an institution innately grounded in corruption. And, I .am not just talking about in Washington, DC, but also in every government organized within the United States: From local and state to national. There is no government institution and no public servant, be they appointed or elected, that should be considered ‘beyond reproach.’ This means Republicans, Democrats, Green Party members, Independents or whomever else participate in the political process.

   The nature of politics, despite so many claims to the contrary, is quid pro quo. To believe this is somehow mitigated because this party or that is in office is, to me, not sound thinking.

   These days there are questions on the national stage about which party is more virtuous, Republicans or Democrats? Well, the true answer is neither. Yet governments must run, and political parties and candidates are going to be the river from where leaders are drawn. It is not a perfect system, but it is the best we have.

   Back to God: God should not be associated with any governmental institution, because God and government have separate jobs. G0od always acts within His divine will, and government does not take such a will into account in any way. God does not care about parties or partisan positions, who gets a public bid or not, who buys a gun or doesn’t buy a gun. Politicians who dare to evoke God as a patron of their party is offering sacrilege as their position. God is not American, or French, or African or North American. God sees people as individuals, as I see it. God judges virtues, or lack thereof, on the situation and the individual, in my humble opinion.


   I hear so often that “God loves America.” In a general sense, I am sure that is true. But, did God offer his patronage to America when there was slavery, or during the Native American genocide? No, the God of my understanding does not subscribe to slavery, murder or genocide. The United States is a study in contradictions: How could we be the ‘freest country in the world’ when we had one of the world’s largest slave populations in the 19th century? And, God had no part in it. It was not God who commanded whites to keep black people as slaves.

   Does God sanction the racial segregation that still exists in the United States? There are white people who will say there is no more segregation and no more civil rights issues to settle. Anyone with sense knows this is not true. Racial minorities were given rights begrudgingly and only when pressed by war or social unrest. If this nation was really a ‘city on the hill’ issues of racism would have been in the long dusty history of America. Rather, racism is alive and well today.

   Does this mean that the Great Experiment of the United States of America has come to nothing? No, there is good and there is bad among all peoples on this earth. Who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’ anyway?
There are those who are self-centered and care nothing for anyone else. There are those who believe they do well and do not. There are those who have the best intentions in the world, and their deeds create nothing but havoc. And, there are people who serve humanity, and do so reliably. Who is right and wrong? Well, if the poorest among us, the most vulnerable in our population, are targeted by government and the law then I would have to say that is wrong. If these same people are helped to learn to stand on their feet, or are cared for, then I must say that is right.

   There are animals that eat the most vulnerable among them. One hopes man has more conscience than that. Yet, in my experience, most animals are of better character than most people. Most importantly, they do not know how to lie. It took mankind to develop that art. 

   Years ago, I was active in local and county politics in New Jersey. The single piece of wisdom I took from those experiences are: Fight when you must, not when you want to. God does not believe in character assassination, elitism, bad behavior or poor intentions. For that matter, does anyone believe that God thinks the only way to fight the wars going on overseas right now is by using military force? Or, is God reportedly sanctioning these wars some way to gain public affirmation of them. Yes, I think that is the case.

   Wars must be fought, but they are not ordained or desired by the Creator. Governments must run, but it is a stretch to say that God favors corruption or has placed His hand on some office holder or other. All humans are born broken in some way. My late mother used to say, “There was only one perfect person made in this world, and he was killed for it.” She was referencing Jesus Christ, of course.

   Where does all this leave us?

   Well, I suppose it means that people love their country for all of its faults and excesses, and to be a citizen of a country there should be a goal of seeing one’s nation do the right thing. This might sound na├»ve and disregards “real politik,” but if we are to be a nation worthy of God’s attention, it must be a place where compassion and reason rule in the stead of elitism and partisanship. Further, citizens should do all of the socially acceptable things they can to make their country a better place. God does not love countries, as much as He does people.

   Next, God does not favor terrible things done by governments simply because they fly a certain flag. God is separate and apart from politics, governments – and maybe even organized religion. Has organized religion bent the Word of God to their respective interests? I don’t know but I think it is one heck of a conversation to have.

  To believe in God is to put Him above nationalism. I could use the ‘good people’ who thought God was with the Third Reich during the mid-20th century as an example. ‘Good people’ do not advocate harm or outcomes specifically rebuked by the Word of God. Nowhere in any credible religious text does it say that any people should be visited with slavery, harm or death.

   The concepts I am discussing really make people more accountable than they are right now. A citizen might argue that their church or religious sect made them believe something or other. Since they were Baptists or Catholics or what have you, they do not have their own deliberation on a subject. No…’God’ spoke to them through a priest or pastor.’ This is a lame answer to supporting wrong actions. Yet, it is an immensely popular argument these days.

   Let us be a nation that seeks the better version of itself, ruled by its strength, compassion and vision, rather than by its insecurities, fears and petty hatreds. In this way, our country comes as close to a divine will as any organized government will. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Thursday, July 5, 2018

U.S. Army Airborne School (2013)



The United States Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia is an institution rooted in tradition. Far from being a relic of the past, it continues to produce some of the best soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the armed forces.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Gen. James J. Lindsay Began His Career At OCS




Gen. James J. Lindsay: A Soldier’s Life

By JIM PURCELL

It was May 1985 and I was 19 years old when I was assigned to Alpha Company, 319th Military Intelligence Battalion, in the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade (CEWI) (ABN). The 525th was the primary organic intelligence element to the XVIII Airborne Corps and the U.S. Rapid Deployment Force at that time. After a few months working in my company’s Supply Room waiting for my clearance to come through, I was finally assigned to the Corps’ Counter-Intelligence Analysis Branch, within the Directorate of Security.  

Gen. James J. Lindsay

  
Ft. Bragg, North Carolina was the home of the XVIII Airborne Corps and several of its major subordinate units, which included: the 82nd Airborne Division, 525th MI Brigade, 20th Engineer Brigade, 35th Signal Brigade, 16th MP Brigade, 1st Special Operations Command and the 1st Corps Support Command (COSCOM).

   There was an enormous intelligence infrastructure within the Corps at that time, representing all the military intelligence disciplines: human intelligence, electronic intelligence and signal intelligence. And, the primary purpose of all this was to provide timely intelligence to the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, then-Lieutenant General James J. Lindsay, and his deputy commanders, major generals Hugh Shelton and Bernard Loefke.

   As a soldier, it was an environment where you wanted to give your best, do your best work and give it everything that you had. There was a real sense that the Corps’ leadership was in the hands of the best leaders in the U.S. Army. And, to just be there was an honor that a soldier had to live up to every day. This had a lot to do with LTG Lindsay and the leaders beneath him.

   I don’t think I heard LTG Lindsay say more than a handful of words during my tenure there. But, he was an extraordinary leader anyway. When he talked, people listened – and not just because of his rank (though there was that) but also because he knew what he was talking about. 

Gen. Shelton

   Interestingly, MG Shelton would often ask soldiers on the staff their first names and where they were from and, amazingly enough, he would remember them after the first hearing. He was a positive leader, enthusiastic and dynamic. He was also a bona fide legend to most of the troops, myself included.

GEN. LINDSAY’S ‘HALL OF FAME’ CAREER

   James Joseph Lindsay was born on October 10,1932, in Portage, Wisconsin. He went on to become an outstanding officer throughout his 38-year service career (1952-1990) and retired at the rank of general. Among his accomplishments are that he served as commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, was the first commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, earned a place in the Officer’s Candidate School Hall of Fame and the Ranger Hall of Fame, among other laurels.

Master Parachutist Badge

   General Lindsay did not enter the ranks of commissioned officers through any of the college academies. Instead, Gen. Lindsay graduated from the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, at Fort Benning, Georgia, in May 1953 as a second lieutenant in the infantry. He then went on to graduate from the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, also in Ft. Benning; the U.S. Army Language School (German and Russian), in California; the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, in Virginia; and the National War College, at Fort McNair, in Washington, DC.

   Gen.Lindsay would earn his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master’s Degree in foreign affairs from George Washington University, in Washington DC.

82nd ABN Div
   Gen. Lindsay’s first assignments were in the 7th Special Forces Group and the 82nd Airborne, where he held positions from platoon- through division-level. During the Vietnam War, Gen. Lindsay served as an advisor to the Vietnamese Airborne Brigade; commanded the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, in the 9th Infantry Division; and served as the operations officer for the 9th Infantry Division.

   During his long service, Gen. Lindsay was awarded: the Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab, Air Assault Badge, Distinguished Service Cross and Distinguished Service Medal, four Silver Star Medals, the Legion of Merit, four Bronze Star Medals, nine Air Medals and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, among others.

   The general is married with four children and resides in North Carolina. In retirement, Gen. Lindsay founded the Airborne and Special Operations Museum Foundation, in 1990. In addition, he served as a senior mentor the Army’s Battle Command Training Program.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Happy Birthday, Tom Cruise


Actor and producer Tom Cruise was born in Syracuse, New York, on July 3rd, 1962. He has been in the entertainment industry since 1981 and has been made famous for his roles in such films as "Risky Business," "All the Right Moves," "Top Gun," and his contributions to the "Mission Impossible" franchise, among many films.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

SGT Leigh Ann Hester Won Silver Star In Iraq




Leigh Ann Hester Was First Woman To Win Silver Star Since WWII

By JIM PURCELL
Leigh Ann Hester was born on Jan. 12, 1982 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Little could anyone have known when she was born that Leigh Ann would go on to become the first female soldier awarded the Silver Star since World War II.
SGT Leigh Ann Hester

  Leigh Ann enlisted in the Kentucky Army National Guard, in Richmond, Kentucky, during April 2001. While assigned to the 617th Military Police Company, then-Sergeant Hester was cited for her heroic actions that took place on March 20, 2005, during an enemy ambush on a supply convoy near Salman Pak, Iraq.  
   While deployed in Iraq, Sgt. Hester led a team of eight military police officers. Her team’s mission was to shadow a 30-truck supply convoy. However, that convoy was ambushed by at least 50 insurgent fighters using Ak-47s and RPK machineguns, as well as rocket propelled grenades.
   Sgt. Hester’s team moved to the side of the road and effectively flanked the insurgent attackers and cut off their escape route. Sgt. Hester then maneuvered her fire team through the kill zone and into a flanking position. It was there that Sgt. Hester linked up with her squad leader, Staff Sergeant Timothy F. Nein, and the two assaulted and then cleared two trenches of enemy insurgents. During that time, Sgt. Hester killed three enemy combatants.
   By the time the battle was over, 27 insurgents were killed, six were wounded and one was captured. Both Staff Sergeant Nein and Sgt. Hester were both awarded Silver Star Medals following the action. In addition, Specialist Jason Mike, the platoon medic, also received the Silver Star Medal for defending his comrades with his M4 rifle and M249 SAW machinegun. Later, Nein’s Silver Star Medal was upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross.
AFTER HER TOUR IN IRAQ
   Following her return to the United States, Sgt. Hester then transferred to the Tennessee Army National Guard. During 2009, Sgt. Hester took a break from the National Guard and briefly served as a law enforcement officer in Nashville, Tennessee. However, by 2010, she had returned to the Guard in Tennessee.
   Between 2012 and 2014, Sgt. Hester served as an instructor for the 117th Regional Training Institute Military Police School. In 2014, Sgt. Hester then deployed to Afghanistan as a cultural support team member.
   Consequent to her excellent service, Sgt. Hester is reportedly holding the rank of sergeant first class. However, that senior NCO rank may just be a stop along a career that could see even more promotion of this excellent NCO.