Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Official 2nd Armored Division (Fwd) Monument Fundraiser

Official 2nd Armored Division (Fwd) Monument Fundraiser: Your donation will help establish a monument honoring the soldiers of the 2nd Armored Division (Fwd)(1975-1992).

Sunday, November 8, 2020

'God Bless America' Has A Sweet Ring Post-Election


When it was announced yesterday that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden won the election, along with Sen Kamala Harris as VP, I thought of an old friend of mine: Joe Caliendo. 

Joe Caliendo was the chairman of the Middletown Township Democratic Party, in Central New Jersey. During the early 2000s, I worked with Joe to help get Democrats elected in Middletown and the surrounding area, known as the Bayshore section of the state. 

Joe was this guy with a hard surface. But down deep the thing he really belieived in was people working hard all their lives and them getting a fair shake in what should be their "Golden Years." Joe worked hard all his life, first working on a farm and then as a lifetime union member. He was a good family man, as well. And, he defended what he believed in, politically, all his life. 

Joe passed away several years ago, in his 70s. He was always afraid that some hard line guy would become president and steal Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. away from people. The presidency of Donald Trump would have been Joe's nightmare. But this election, where Biden and Harris overcame the odds, would have put a spring in his step for a long time. 

When  I heard the news, I looked up and pointed. Then I said, 'This one is for you, sir.' And, I have no doubt he heard me. 

You see, America isn't just a socio-economic creature, or a set of states with defined geographic limits. America is a creation of inspiration and hope for today and the future. Ever since Donald Trump was elected as president, he created divisions among people. Trump encouraged racism and white supremacy. Trump fostered the idea that working Americans were more serfs than citizens. 

Social Security, Medicare and so many other necessary institutions were at risk of being wiped from the map. Then, just as the darkest parts of the Bible were about to come true under Mr. Trump, Americans stepped in and voted patriotism over paranoia, understanding over hate and hope over hatred. 

I have never seen an election like this one in my life. But, I was so glad to have the chance to experience this one. As the reality of the new president becomes more and more real, it occurrs to me that God really did bless America this time.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Life Is About Progress, Not Perfection

I seem to be interested in the questions of how to grow old as painlessly as possible these days. We live at a time when popular culture despises age and celebrates youth. That was all well and fine when I was young and used to time my runs. It's not so great now that I have some snow on the roof and clay on my boots. Inevitably, if we are lucky, we get to grow old. There is a celebration in that sentiment, an idea that people who live to a certain maturity have been through the storms of life and have come out the other side to some peaceful piece of water.

   If there was a thing I could offer by way of advice to younger people it is this: Be easy on your body and avoid bad habits. Oh, I have mine, no doubt. I use tobacco quite a bit and I wish I never got into it, but I did. To be fair, tobacco use was very common when I was a kid. Of course, I grew older and should have grown wiser but that is not always the case with everyone. 

   Perhaps the thing I learned best over the years was to maintain good, close relationships with family and friends. To have a good support system is no small thing. No man or woman is an island. I would offer that, to some extent, growing older is a team sport. It's about supporting people in your life and receiving support from them when it is needed. 

   At different points of my life so far, I have been a church-going person. But, for years, I held grudges and made it a practice to have unkind thoughts about others. And, it wasn't that hard to goad me into an argument. Sure I have come across some jerks, we all have. Then again, I was the jerk more than a few times. What do I do different? Well, I have forgiven those who I needed to forgive and have asked forgiveness from the people I needed to ask. I do not make new grudges either and make an effort not to think badly of others. This may sound a little unrealistic but if you practice at it then you get better at not keeping negative emotions. Oh, no one is perfect. My Mom used to say there was only one perfect person in this world and he was crucified on account of it. 

   How we choose to wear this world, loosely and light or heavy and burdened is up to each of us. This goes back to one's individual health. People try to lose weight to help their health, they give up smoking or drinking, maybe they take up walking or working out. Yet, setting aside one's grudges and negative attitudes does improve one's health.

   The first 40 years of my life I made many more mistakes than I make now. Oh, boy, did I make mistakes. And, I still make some good-sized blunders. The difference now, I guess, is that I am trying to make progress, knowing that perfection alludes us all. 

-- Jim Purcell

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Chronicles will not be a YouTube show for now

 I have been struggling for a short while with the idea of creating a YouTube show for The Purcell Chronicles. I was tempted because I like doing media and applying myself to something constructive. However, after I wrote the first script I paused. 

   I was a print journalist back in New Jersey for several years. I really liked the work and it was never boring. As a journalist who was frequently in print I had to give up something I really missed -- my privacy. Thanks to my editorial opinion, lots of people did not like me to the point where my mailbox was busted in, my car tires slashed, people sometimes said unkind things to me in the supermarket -- there was a lot of foolishness. Of course, there were also people who did like what I wrote too. But, whether someone did or did not like my work I just wanted to do my job and be left in peace. Well, it doesn't always work out that way. 

   In writing that first show script, there was politics in it. And, politics creates a flash -- even if it is a dopey YouTube show. While I cherish my right to vote, and my right to hold certain opinions, I would really hate creating chaos in my life at this bend in the road. It's unhealthy. Then I thought...maybe I'll do sports. But, sports really isn't a thing right now: Even our greatest athletes get COVID so this would be a very weak time to start talking sports. Still, I would bump into that pesky loss of privacy.

   Finally, I just gave up on the idea. I have a wonderful little mountain home, an incredible wife and even a pet parrot. In addition there are really nice people I have made friends with here in the community I live in and there it is: I do not think a YouTube show would be great for my health and my world is as big as I like it and I wouldn't want it to get any bigger. The only way one can give away their privacy is to do it themselves, and I'm not going to do that again. When I was a kid I used to think privacy was no big deal ... and then I grew up.

   So that is the end of that. I like posting on a little blog every now and again and that is about my speed. I appreciate the readers who come by and this is just the right size for an old retired guy. 

--- JP

Monday, September 14, 2020

Taking a Break for Awhile

 Hi Readers,

Thanks for stopping by and making TPC what it is. I am going to take a break for awhile on hiatus. Will check in later to let you know the deal. All best. 

MQ-9 Reaper UAV: The Most Feared USAF Drone in the World

Friday, September 11, 2020


9-11: So here we are again. The truth is that no one who wasn't there or who lost someone can know the horror of it all. It is 2020 and I have been living with it for 19 years. I worked one shift, on September 14th, 2001 and I cannot get it out of my head. The people who worked at the pile, towers North and South, have seen terrible things. It was enough to drive me mad for awhile, and in the years since then I hate September 11th. For years I tried to forget about it and act 'extra sane' on its anniversary. But, I am older and retired, so I truly do not give a damn what anyone thinks one way or the other. 

    There is dying and then there is how these people died. It still makes me angry, and sad. For weeks after my shift, I would break down and cry without any notice or warning. There were times I would have to pull my car over or I would have had an accident. Sometimes, I cried very hard and for a long time. I casually knew a few people who perished. But the sight of the body bags on the sidewalk next to the bank has never left me. The lady at her desk on the 2nd floor of Tower South, the sides of the building peeled away, looked like she was just taking a nap at her desk. I could even see family photos on her desk. 

    I was 33 years old then. God has seen fit to let me become 54. Other workers at the site have died through the years, of various cancers and related illnesses. And, for a long time, I thought I would join them. I would not change one single thing about going Downtown with the Keansburg Police Department and off-loading non-perishables for the workers. 

    When we were on the scene, I noticed that the Kreissparkasa Bank building looked broken and loomed over everyone on the site. It turned out to be a trick of dirt and light, but all of us thought that, at any minute, that building could fall on us. I went there with Jimmy Piggott, the assistant chief at Keansburg. I pointed out the building to him when we got there. He said, "No, that does not look healthy at all." I asked him what we would do if the building fell. He told me, "You won't have to worry about it, you'll be dead right away." Actually, that was some comfort. 

    Before 9/11 I thought that my heart had been broken by my ex-wife. But, it hadn't. I knew real heartbreak in the months after the attack.  I cannot put into words what changed in me. Yet, I know something is missing now. 

    I can pretend nothing is wrong, but I do not want to keep the charade up anymore. I called my therapist today and told him I cannot do our appointment today. I want to mourn again. I want to allow myself to feel what happened in my heart again. And, I do not want to pretend for the sake of anyone. 

    People always want to make today political. I can't stand them. I remember that some of us felt we had to do what we could to help. I see the 9-11 hate stokers as a virus that should be ended with a vaccine. Yeah, some Arabs got together and killed a lot of people. It doesn't mean every Muslim did. People are people, for the good and bad. 

    Do not judge people as a group. Judge people one at a time, as they come. Today, I am still being treated by the 9/11 Health Program. I am thankful for it, and I hope everyone keeps it going: because I need it and depend on it. I am so over hate and ideas of vengeance. I want to live a quiet life and grow older with my wife. That's about it. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Challenges to Patriotism Today


I love this country. I consider being a citizen of the United States a true gift, and am humbled by that. When I was a child, I mean as young as five or six old, my friends and I would have some good answers about why America was great, if someone had asked. And, we were not rocket scientists. By the time we were 7 or 8 years old, our preoccupation with finding Playboy magazines, grubbing free pot from our older siblings and sneaking booze from our parents' liquor cabinets were main themes to our coming together. Well, we played sports too; pick-up baseball, basketball and football. Girls were, and still are I think, the great mystery: We had no idea how to get a girlfriend and this was also a reason I hung out with my fellow juvenile delinquents. And yet...we could still come up with great reasons why we loved America and why it was the greatest nation on earth. 

    As young and dumb as we were, we knew that we had some of the brightest minds in the world right here in the USA. We all knew about Dr. Jonas Salk coming up with a vaccine to combat polio. Some of the guys even had relatives that suffered from the disease and we knew something about it. We knew America were part of the Allies who won World War 2. We knew the Korean War was a tie, and by 1972 (when I was five years removed from crapping in my diapers) it did not take a brilliant mind to see Vietnam was looking like another tie. We knew people were allowed to worship God as they liked here. We knew that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that slavery was the worst crime in the history of mankind short of the Holocaust, which we also knew about. Our parents belonged to unions, and we all knew that was how our families were all able to live in the suburbs. We loved baseball, football and basketball -- and could care less about soccer (professional or otherwise). I say all that to say this, we knew more about why it was great to be an American than most people today and none of us kids were even remotely considered bright. 
Diners have gotten better over time. That's one thing.
Diners have gotten better. Well that is one thing

    Today, doctors who have advanced degrees and a lot of clinical experience in fighting terrible illnesses are looked down on by some, and there is even a cult following around an anti-vaccination sentiment by many mouth breathers around this country. And for the record, anyone who buys into that is as dumb as a box of rocks. Today, there are groups of historical revisionists who believe that the Germans and Japanese were oppressed by the Allies and that they were somehow the good guys. In this case, it is probably not a bad thing that my Dad and uncles have passed on because they all fought in World War 2 and they would have fought any idiot that let such nonsense out of their mouths. By 'fighting' I do not mean writing a strong letter to the editor and I do mean they would whip their ass. When it comes to the Civil War revisionists they would not have been swinging punches but they would have told those people they were "dumbasses" and left it at that. My Pop was a racist and he still thought slavery was wrong and freeing the black people was a great achievements by American. Oh, and if someone was spouting pro-Nazi or pro-Klan stuff around him he would start a fight with them and if a cop did show up to arrest someone it would be the idiot spouting Nazi or Klan nonsense out of their stupid mouth. 
A lot of things suck today, let's
be honest. Enjoy the good stuff

    Holocaust deniers are as bright as folks injured to the head by gardening tools. Yet, denying the Holocaust is their thing. Dad would have had a problem with that because, during World War 2, his Army unit actually liberated a death camp. He saw what the deniers said never happened. But it did happen and Pops spent a healthy chunk of his life trying to forget about it. As for hating on unions, that is just moronic. Unions were the catalyst that made a comfortable middle class possible. Well, unions are dead now, by and large, and the gulf between the rich and poor has never been wider. And, what brain surgeon thought that was a good idea? 

     My gang of friends as a kid would not have cared if players took a knee before athletic events. We watched sports like a religion, and played them on back lots, parking lots, parks and even the street. The boys and I did not pay much attention to politicians or what they believed in. Universally, we thought anyone who bought into being a fan of McGovern or Nixon or Ford or Carter -- or just about anyone -- was one of the dumbest things anyone could do. These people were total saps. I'm not saying that we didn't believe in voting. But, all of us had parents who had decent jobs, health insurance and paid vacations. All of us had grandparents who were retired and had pensions and Social Security. So, if any lying politician wanted to take any of that away, and our parents would talk about that stuff, then they could pretty much suck it, in our venerable opinions. 

    Most things have gotten progressively worse since 1978. I do mean 'most things.' Our politicians today are pretty much a plague and not even as good as the politicians of yesteryear (who we thought were total morons). Professional sports today is OK but usually any great player in any cool sport spends most of their time on the disabled list now. Sadly, I am a Mets and Jets fan and am still holding my breath for a championship from either one of those chuckleheads. I used to be a New Jersey Nets fan, but they moved to Brookkyn and, in my book, they can go screw. Now there is a movement to stop police officers from flagrantly killing black people. As it happens, there is a lot of proof about cops killing a lot of black people under their authority (there are even videos about it). So, a lot of people got together and came up with "Black Lives Matter." It's a straightforward cause. Some players take a knee before events on the field and, as a result, there are many fans who want to boycott the sports where players do that. Well, hell -- as much as sports are not as good as the Golden Age of the late 1960s through the 1980s it is at least something to watch that is good. Take that away and I will be chewing the carpet as a hobby. I mean, I cannot do sports anymore because my knees, shoulder and ankle are permanently messed up, not to mention my chronic COPD. So all I have left is watching other people do sports.

    On to music: Have you ever noticed that most of what you might hear on the radio is from the late '60s through the '80s? Why? I have that answer: Because music after the 1980s usually sucks, with some exceptions. It's like the collective 'stupid' has sunken into so many brains that it has even screwed up rock 'n roll. How does someone screw up rock? WTF. In the 1970s, young people made love everywhere. Heck, in '73, I was walking out my front door and the neighbor girl and her boyfriend were doing it in the side yard of the house next to my parents'. At 7 years old, my thought when I saw this was, "Hey, different strokes for different folks." Today, if a kid saw that there would be an ABC News Special Report about it. Hardcore religious personalities (most of whom are perverts when the camera is not on) would be decrying the lost innocence of a 7 year old. Yet, we are people and people have sex. Sure, they should have brought it inside but is it really such a Doomsday scenario if anyone broke the rules. Sure, messing around in the middle of the day outside in the side yard is a poor decision. It should not be a

    The one thing that has gotten better with time (and that is, indeed, a small list) is diners. In New Jersey, New York and Connecticut there are the best 24-hour diners. It may not be much, but there are some things that have improved with time. Cars -- not so much. Show me how to improve on a 1971 GTO and I will help you find a qualified mental health professional. 

    Does a decline in the overall standard of living prove a challenge to patriotism? Does your country fighting wars all around the globe for no apparent reason challenge patriotism? Does a loss of insurance coverage for most non-millionaires prove a challenge to patriotism? How about Nazis and Klansmen being looked up to by so many people today create a challenge to patriotism? Well, these things sure can. Add to that the nation being led by a band of authoritarian asshats and 'viola!' there are not that many great things as there used to be there as an American. 

    People today are poorer than ever in the USA, more hateful about politics and each other, professional sports is just OK, cars and phones are smarter than the people who use them, don't get me started on the educational system for kids today, somehow people are less literate today than 40 years ago and people say dumber stuff today than in the history of the planet. How do you fix all that? Well, you can't. It would be like trying to sop up the Atlantic Ocean with a Shop Vac.

    The best thing any of us can do is to pray, be kind to those we love, have hobbies, stay as positive as we can and be nice to people. If you cannot be nice to some people, at the very least put up with them and stay courteous. Dancing helps too. 

(Jim Purcell is a former print journalist who is retired and resides in the Great Smoky Mountains with his wife.)


Thursday, July 30, 2020

If President Loses Election and Fails to Step Down...What Next?


Our American Constitution was signed in 1783, and in it the tenure and condition of the presidency was laid out in great detail.

    People concerned about this are asking themselves..."What happens if President Trump will not step down or recognize the results of the 2020 General Election?" That is a great question. The United States of America has never encountered this with respect to a sitting president. Try as historians and political theorists may, there is no precedent about a president not recognizing a loss at the polls and still retaining control of the government. 

    Before I go further, I must note that the Electoral College, which attempted to skew the results of the last General Election in favor of Mr. Trump, was created to avoid electing a candidate that may place national security at issue. And, since it is clear the Electoral College can no longer fulfill its role as a protector of the nation then its usefulness has come to a place in the road where it should be asked 'what use is it then?' Also a wonderful question. 

    The precedents for Mr. Trump's possible actions following an election loss do exist, though in a part of history that is dark and does not immediately come to mind. There have been occasions when popes and anti-popes have been elected and pitted one against the other. Certainly, history is resplendent with royal families feuding for control of nations. But, all of this should have nothing to do with our American way of life. Well, it does.

    Whether it is the War of the Roses, the 100 Years' War or the many Anglo-Franco wars during the middle ages or the myriad of uprisings in the Third World that littered the 20th century, the result is the same. It means civil war. I am not saying that I would ever want to see anything like a civil war again be fought in this country. It is the most disastrous affair I could contemplate. 

    However, we Americans have a president who has flaunted his support among militant reactionary civilian organizations (since 2016). We have a president who states that elements of the military would support him should he attempt to exceed his office. This claim is unique and disturbing for anyone who is a student or adherent of the Constitution. 

    During my time in the military, it was my privilege to work in the proximity of some Army generals and, as I recall, field grade and general officers of the military are perhaps the most ferocious protectors of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I would be very shocked if any, let alone many, of these men and women would side with a rogue president. As for the reactionary groups that the current president cites, I would not be shocked if these people fled to his side in such a situation.

    If legitimate authority does not address this potential uprising by the current president, under the situation he has repeatedly teased, then bloody conflict will rule our land for a time. Any direct challenge to the Constitution must be met with a united front by all Americans, regardless of their political affiliations. Failing this, there will be bloodshed. That is all I am speculating about. 

    I believe it would be judicious for reasonable people in government to throw the proverbial 'wet towel' about any speculation about Mr. Trump may exceed his office. Trump is not special compared to the rights and guarantees the Constitution offers to American citizens. 

    This speculation offered by the current president does, in my opinion, constitute a threat to U.S. national security. And it is not just because I do not agree with Mr. Trump's decisions in office (for the record, I do not agree with many of his decisions). Any threat, foreign or domestic must be met with determination and resolve. I daresay that the time for polite rebuttals may be coming to an end, as the election is about 100 days out at this point. 

    I am worried. I am concerned. I do pray for reasonable reactions by good men and women in government leadership. These are perilous times, perhaps the single occasion where a sitting president has flouted the guarantees of the Constitution. May God protect our republic. 

(Jim Purcell is a U.S. Army veterans and graduate of the New York Theological Seminary. He was a print journalist for 20 years before retiring from the industry.)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

'The Majestic' and it's message to me about service


I just got done watching one of my favorite movies, called "The Majestic" from 2001, starring Jim Carrey. It is one of Carrey's little-known works. And, it was panned by many critics at the time. But, it struck a chord with me, then and now. 

   It is not so much that the story had compelling narrative or acting in it, no disrespect to Mr. Carrey (who rendered a wonderful performance in my book). It was the subject matter of the story. In "The Majestic," Carrey portrayed a Hollywood writer who loses his memory after a car accident and washes up in a California town a decade after World War II concluded. The town sacrificed 17 of her sons during the war, and he is mistaken for one of those lost, a "Mr. Luke Trimble." The story unfolds that Carrey's character eventually remembers who he is and testifies before the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the McCarthy Era.

   What struck me about this show was the way "Luke Trimble's" father, his friends and his old love received back one who was thought lost to death. This is what struck me.

   I have a brother, David, who was named for U.S. Navy Gunner's Mate 2nd Class David A. Purcell, 19, killed by enemy forces during the Anzio-Nettuno landings on January 26, 1944. Like the character in "The Majestic," my father's brother was originally declared missing. I would come to learn through my early youth that David's death devastated my Dad's family: his mother, Grace; brother, Charlie; and sisters, Marie and Susan. I know Dad never got over it, not the rest of his life.

   He could not mention his brother without tears coming to his eyes, even into his 70s. So, what I learned about my uncle was learned from my aunts and their husbands during family get-togethers during Thanksgiving and Christmas. And, when they confided these things to me it was always out of ear shot from my Dad, who would go skulking to his bedroom if he heard it.
Gunner's Mate 2nd Class David A. Purcell was
an LST driver who died in Italy during WWII

   By all accounts, David was a lively boy, full of practical jokes and laughing. I was told he took very little seriously and loved his family, especially idolizing his older brother, my Dad. David loved his Mom, his family, girls, dances and sports.

   My Dad being a soldier in the New Jersey Army National Guard at the outbreak of the war, he was among the first to be federalized and go off to war, leaving behind his family, and especially his kid brother. One of my aunts later told me that David was the "heart" of the family, and that when he died it was like that heart stopped with him.

   When I see "The Majestic," it's like looking into a mirror of what it might have been like if my late uncle had come back after being reported missing. There would have been broken hearts mended, a broken family healed, and my broken father unbroken. Of course, my grandmother Grace, I am told, put on a brave face. But, she was a woman of great love and emotion, and I cannot imagine what she went through with the passing of her youngest. Now, what if he never died? What if he had come back, whole and healthy? How was history changed by the death of this strong, delightful young man?

   I tear-up when I see "The Majestic" every time, I admit. My uncle died many years before I was born, but I noticed his loss even in my life growing something that was supposed to be there was gone.

   World War II was a fight that had to be fought for the very freedom of our nation and world. And, those that died during that great struggle should always be remembered, as anyone who laid down their lives for this nation should.

   But, I ask this: If one truly wished to support our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, and their families, would not the thing to do be only fighting wars that were necessary for our nation's freedom from attack, and getting these terrible wars over with as expeditiously as possible? I do not believe that supporting wars for their own sake is not supporting anyone, most especially those who have to perish in them and those they leave behind.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

What Civilians Can Learn From the Military


Disunity. Mean-spirited divides. The wish to persecute one another loudly and publicly. This is the people of the United States today. Powerful political, corporate and social forces are threatening to destroy our country, as never before. 
The military teaches life lessons to its members about teamwork.

  I had a sergeant in the Army, long ago, who once said that he throught America was better-off when there was a draft. He said that military service could be a common touchstone in everyone's life...whether they were in uniform or had left the service to be a civilian (and a veteran). He thought that unavoidable military service would restore the common sense, unity and morals of the American people. I disagreed with him at the time, because I never wanted to trust my life to anyone who didn't want to be a soldier. I think I was wrong, though.

   Why does America have a 20-year war still going? It's because there is no draft. If there was then John and Jane Smith, residing on Main Street, USA would probably seek to have the government end its policy of military adventurism around the globe. With volunteers, the government can do anything it wants. With's a whole other Magilla Gorilla.

   And that is why there will probably never be a draft again.
The military develops individual character.

   The military teaches people to be organized, disciplined and focused. I think service makes each of us closer to that 'best version' of ourselves that so many are always seeking. When I was a 17-year-old mortarman, I entered the military without a lot of experience with diversity. Well, that changed pretty quickly. In an infantry platoon, it is impossible for the unit to function when even one racist is in its ranks.

   Today, from what I have gathered, units do not use the 'informal methods' of my day. This means that, in the '80s, when someone was impacting the unit with their nonsense, soldiers in the unit got together and made sure that the offending trooper received a punitive reminder that 'uniqueness' was not tolerated. Soldiers solved their problems among themselves. No one was 'special,' and maybe it is the mantra 'everyone is special' that should be blamed for our national catastrophes.

   Currently, people who have done nothing but seek to avoid military or public service have labeled themselves as "patriots," while actual patriots, former servicemen and women, are branded with derogatory terms because they do not travel lock-step with the Great Unwashed Masses of division-focused cliques.

   I do not agree with everyone I served with in any variety of issues. But, in disagreement, we treat each other with respect and intelligence. It is because the bond we share with each other is more important than whatever might divide us.
'If America does not mean more to someone than their own image then America falls apart.' 

   Our individual experiences craft who we are. If someone does not experience diversity then they will fear it, without exception. If someone does not see the perils that can become of marginalized people, firsthand, then they will have no compassion or empathy. When people do not know how to create consensus or are unaware that this is necessary, then we are on the road of creating people who have the capability of becoming monsters. And, being sheltered in life creates a sense of entitlement, of imagined privilege and fear of what is not known or different.

   The military functions, any branch, because people must work together efficiently, without a lot of loose talk. If someone cannot be part of a team, will not work with other people in their unit then it is impossible for the unit to function correctly. Usually, people deficient in teamwork are vetted out of the service. In civilian life, though, these people are usually elected to high office. Who suffers? The nation, the republic, the ordinary Jane or Joe on the street.

   If America does not mean more to someone than their own image then America falls apart. Make no mistake about it: America is falling apart and in many ways has already fallen apart. Our metaphoric house is on fire; I suggest putting it out.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Where Do Guderian, Rommel Belong in Tank Warfare History?


I am the son of a U.S. World War II European combat veteran. My uncle, a 19-year-old LST driver for the U.S. Navy, was killed by the Germans at the Anzio Beach landings, in 1944. Most of my uncles fought the Germans during World War II. And, my family lived with my Dad's undiagnosed PTSD all our lives before he passed. During my early years, I was an intelligence analyst with the 4th Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Division (Forward), in Garlstedt, Federal Republic of Germany in the 1980s. I wanted to qualify this up front, before i offered commentary about where German tank masters belong in history.
Erwin Rommel (circa World War I)

  I have biases, of course. But, I have stated them honestly: so, we can begin, I suppose.

  In important ways, Germany was a leader in the development of armor, armor tactics and combined arms tactics using armor as a centerpiece.

  I believe if you had to boil everything down to two central figures in German tank history, it would come down to understanding the contributions of two German Army officers: Generalfieldmarschall Johannes Erwin Eugen Rommel (1891-1944) and Generaloberst Heinz Wilhelm Guderian (1888-1954).

  During World War I (1914-1918), Rommel was an infantry lieutenant in France and Romania. While in this capacity, Rommel developed his own style of combat which involved covering fires with rapid troop advances. He also innovated the use of penetrating attacks, the doctrine of which were later used by the German Army as well as Allied Forces. This stylized approach amounted to the genus of the idea of "Blitzkrieg tactics" in the next war. Rommel did not play a role in the adoption of Blitzkrieg by the German Army of the late 1930s, but he certainly laid down the gospel of attack from which later leaders would place the tank at its center. These ideas were published by Rommel in 1935, in his book "Infantry Attacks." This work appeared after, the year before, he had written a  manual for infantry attacks for the German Army.

  It was Guderian who would go on to refine Rommel's ideas of attack, and codify them in a technique known in World War II as Blitzkrieg, or "Lightning War." During World War I, Guderian was a communications officer who commanded a radio station. Certainly, this must have given him an appreciation for close communications of units that he would remember later. However, when he was promoted to captiain, young Guderian was placed in command of an infantry company. Later during the war, Guderian would serve as a General Staff officer.

  Aster the war, Guderian became an admirer of World War I tank ace Ernest Volckheim (1898-1962). Guderian began to consume whatever he could about armored development and combat. In addition, he wrote scholarly military articles about the subject. By 1928, Guderian was considered the voice of Germany's armored development. And, by 1938, Guderian was promoted to the rank of colonel-general and placed in command of Germany's motorized forces and armored development. And it was during this time that Guderian brought together Rommel's concepts of attack with his own insights into armored development and the use of combined air into the Blitzkrieg strategy, which created a new doctrine in armored warfare, but heralded the darkest of times for Europe during World War II (1939-1945).

Guderian (circa World War II)
  During the war, Rommel learned a great deal from Guderian's insights. And, he applied them with vicious efficiency as a tank force commander. Rommel used armor so well, in fact, that for many of his enemies he was considered the armored warfare leader of the day.

  Well, after this bit of history, let's get into it about where these men belong in the history of armor. We can start with the elephant in the room: they fought for an unholy cause under the most evil leader in the history of humanity. Despite attempts by Rommel and Guderian apologists of the past half-century, the fact remains that no one became a field marshal or a general in Hitler's army by being against him. These men were pro-Nazi, whether or not they agreed with all the things Nazis believed in. Should someone get a pass if they say, "I was a Nazi, but I never believed in..."? In my view, one is either a Nazi or they are not a Nazi and both Rommel and Guderian were Nazis. Yes, later in the war Rommel did try to kill Hitler as part of a failed coups. But, whether or not the coups succeeded, Rommel was a Nazi. So, when I go forward from here there will be some words missing from my description of either of them. Some of these words will be 'good,' 'great,' or 'well-intentioned.' These men were master's of death and evil. But, their 'contributions,' such as they were, led to the advancement of armored theory. This cannot be denied, in my opinion.

  During the Interwar Years between World War I and World War II, perhaps Guderian was the most important figure in the development of the production and use of armor. In the United States, later advocates of armor like General George S. Patton Jr. had happily reverted to horse vavalry ways. At least, this was so until the world got a taste of what armor could do during the late 1930s.

  To be honest, Rommel and Guderian laid the bedrock of the use of the tank as the focus of a combined arms attack. Without them, perhaps the opening days of World War II would have started with ancient cavalry attacks waged against protagonists. In many ways, the combined arms theories used by modern armies have their origin in Blitzkrieg. It's probably not popular to say, but it is true that modern tank warfare's unlikely fathers were Rommel and Guderian. But, even after more than 70 years, it galls me to have to credit these guys with anything remotely relevent. But, even the Devil gets his due sometimes, and that is a very adequate saying to apply to this discussion.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Al-Shabab warns US partner forces in Africa that America will abandon them like it did Syrian Kurds

Al-Shabab warns US partner forces in Africa that America will abandon them like it did Syrian Kurds: Al-Shabab said in a message that the raid on Manda Bay should “serve as a stern warning” for African forces that “when the situation gets difficult” American troops will “abandon you