Category Archives: veterans

Declassified World War II escape and evasion record prompts forthcoming examination of combat trauma among Allied airmen flying bombing runs over occupied Europe.

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

Here’s an excerpt from the forthcoming article. It draws from a 2016 trauma medicine article by a decorated 24-year U.S. Navy veteran who served as a combat doctor in Afghanistan and Iraq.  In this excerpt, the trauma surgeon and his colleagues explain why a high-velocity round from a rifle such as the AK47, M4, and AR15, does vastly more damage to the human body than Hollywood’s led us to believe.

“Allied airmen who were lucky enough to make it back to Britain often had combat injuries that current day civilians in much of the world never encounter. Injuries that we cannot imagine but which all the time send our warriors back to us broken in part or in whole. Injuries that far too often send the ones we love back to us in boxes draped in our nations’ colors.

“Modern warfare is a lazy Susan, overstuffed with both new and old ways to kill. Each turn of the wheel and selection of another weapon lengthens the types and severities of the combat wounds that stow away in returning service members and then refuse to leave once those warriors get home.

“Writing in a 2005 article in Techniques in Orthopaedics, Montreal-born Dr. Richard Gosselin explains that when it comes to combat injuries, things are seldom as good as they look. “War wounds are often worse than they appear. High-energy projectiles, deep penetration of foreign material, dirty field conditions, delayed evacuation, and/or ill-advised initial treatment such as prolonged use of tourniquet or primary wound closure may all contribute to wounds with extensive tissue damage and severe contamination. Unless evacuation time is short, which for civilians is usually the exception, life-threatening injuries will have already self-triaged[i]

 

Screen-Shot-2015-11-18. Exit wound from M4 round. SOFREP article by Dr. Dan Pronk. TacMed Australia. 375 x 250
exit wound caused by high-energy round fired by an M-4. photo taken by Dr. Dan Pronk, former special operations doctor with the Australian Armed Forces. from December 19, 2015 SOFREP article “Why I’d Rather be Shot with an AK-47 Than an M4.  https://sofrep.com/45197/why-id-rather-be-shot-by-an-ak47-than-an-m4/

“Maybe a comparison of two injuries caused by two very different firearms can make it easier to imagine something of what those we send to fight for us often have to go through. Forensic surgeon Bill Smock explained in a recent interview that “If a bullet from a handgun strikes a liver, it injures the organ by poking a hole and causing tissue disruption around the path of the bullet. More specifically, a 9-millimeter handgun creates a hole that disrupts three-quarters of an inch around the bullets path, . . .”

 “. . .But with a rifle round, you have massive tissue disruption,’ Smock said. Rather than three quarters of an inch around the wound path, it is disrupted three to four inches around that same tissue.’”[ii]

 “Peter M. Rhee, a decorated 24-year U.S. Navy veteran and a combat doctor in Afghanistan and Iraq, and his colleagues explain in a 2016 article in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery why there’s so much destruction to the human body when it’s entered by a high-velocity round from a rifle such as the AK47, M4, and AR15:

 “Lacerating and Crushing

 “. . . high energy rounds may begin to tumble as energy is dissipated upon travel through deeper tissue. The natural tendency is that the high-energy bullets will become unstable as they decelerate. These bullets may pitch and yaw, and the back end of the bullet may become the leading edge. During this distance, the energy of the projectile is absorbed by the surrounding tissue, causing stretching and tearing of tissue.”[iii]

“Cavitation

 “Illustrated by a color photograph of a surgeon’s hand sticking through a gunshot wound in someone’s neck, the former U.S. Navy combat doctor puts it this way: “A bullet with sufficient energy will have a cavitation effect in addition to the penetrating track injury. As the bullet passes through the tissue, initially crushing then lacerating, the space left by the tissue forms a cavity, and this is called the permanent cavity. Higher-velocity bullets create a pressure wave that forces the tissues away, creating not only a permanent cavity the size of the caliber of the bullet but also a temporary cavity or secondary cavity, which is often many times larger than the bullet itself.”[iv]

“Lest we forget: the rounds that German fighters used to down Allied bombers and then their airmen descending by parachute, those rounds were designed to kill airplanes.[v]

 

[i] Richard A. Gosselin, M.D., M.P.H., F.R.C.S.(C).  War Injuries, Trauma, and Disaster Relief. Techniques in Orthopaedics 20(2):97, 99. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2005.

[ii] “What a bullet does to a human body. PBS NewsHour. Feb. 17, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/what-a-bullet-does-to-a-human-body

[iii] Peter M. Rhee, MD, MPH, Ernest E. Moore, MD, Bellal Joseph, MD, Andrew Tang, MD, Viraj Pandit, MD, and Gary Vercruysse, MD. Gunshot wounds: A review of ballistics, bullets, weapons, and myths. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 80(6): 853, 863 and Figure 13 A, B. Wolters Kluwer Health 2016.

[iv] Id. at 863.

[v] Re: German Luftwaffe ammo during WWII: http://www.inert-ord.net/luft02h/index.html

(END OF EXCERPT)

* * *

Author Link:

https://combatresearchandprose.com/about-this-researcher/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesbloeser/

(Photo: Wee Willie, Boeing B-17G-15-BO Flying Fortress 42-31333, is going down after hit by antiaircraft artillery over Stendal, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, 8 April 1945. (U.S.A.F.); Accessed at thisdayinaviation.com March 12, 2018).

 

ckb face indian screen image indirect 150 x 221Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted, Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.  

http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

 

BBC World Service – Outlook, The African girl raised by Kim Il-sung

Screenshot_20190413-135144_Chrome-2.jpg
“In the early 1970s Monica Macias was born in the tiny country of Equatorial Guinea, the daughter of the President, Francisco Macias Nguema. Her father was a notorious figure, described as one of the most brutal dictators the African continent has ever seen. But Monica never really knew him because at the age of six, she was sent to live in North Korea – a country under the authoritarian control of Kim Il-sung, a friend and ally of her father. Kim Il-sung would become a father figure to Monica, overseeing her life and education for the rest of her childhood.”
BBC World Service – Outlook, The African girl raised by Kim Il-sung

 

The following is excerpted from mom’s recently completed manuscript for her historical memoir, Vaccines & Bayonets: Fighting Smallpox in Africa amid Tribalism, Terror and the Cold War.www.vaccinesandbayonets.com

embassy seal 1.95MUSICAL MINISTERS – AGAIN

Excerpt from November 19, 1970 letter to William Foege, M.D., Director, Smallpox Eradication Program, CDC, Atlanta,

From Carl Bloeser, Operations Officer, Equatorial Guinea

Once again we’re having a week of ‘musical ministers,’ something we’re all getting used to. The Minister of Health has been appointed Minister of Mines and Industries. The Minister of Mines and Industries is the new Minister of Justice, and of course that means that Dr. Rafael Obiang, the Minister of Justice and head of the Juventud, is the new Minister of Health.

I think it would be fair to say that Dr. Obiang would win hands down any contest for Equatorial Guinea’s most sinister man.

He is out of the country now. I doubt I’ll have the chance to see the new Minister before next week….

Certainly in the months to come, we will have to consider the political override to our programming in Equatorial Guinea. I will keep you informed of developments in the monthly activity reports.

* * * 

THE TERROR

November 24, 1970

“Don’t speak. Just listen. Grab the kids and an overnight bag. Be ready in ten minutes.”

 Carl was calling from his office at the American Embassy. My husband could be a bottom-line person if he had to be, but this time his voice sounded different, wooden.

Questions whirled in my brain.

 What’s happening this time? Who’s coming for us? Where are we going?

No opportunity to ask. Not safe to ask. The phone clattered back into its cradle as I ran to get our children and a few essentials.

Minutes later our family and Chargé d’Affaires Al Williams rode in palpable silence through the sultry equatorial afternoon. The pungent smell of moist earth and decomposing undergrowth hung on our clothing and stuck to our skin. My preoccupied stare settled on the

American flag fluttering from the miniature flagstaff of the embassy car, its presence announcing that either the ambassador or the Chargé was in the car. In theory that would give us diplomatic protection. I counted on more than theory.

monster image. 315 x 175

No one spoke until we were safely inside the Embassy Residence and out of earshot of the driver, who we were sure worked for the police.

Answers to my questions came soon enough. We would spend at least this night under the protection of the flag. Dr. Obiang, the new Minister of Health, had let loose his gangs of armed youth against the Portuguese community, and they were slashing their way through the street three blocks away. Their clubs and machetes were demolishing shops and bludgeoning any Portuguese they could get their hands on.

Minutes earlier Carman had phoned the alert to the chancery. She had just left it herself and stumbled into the attacks as she walked the few blocks to the Residence. She escaped harm only because her hairdresser spotted her and rushed from the shop screaming to the mob.

“No es portuguesa! Es americana!”

We learned that farther up the West African coast, the citizens of Portuguese Guinea (later Guinea-Bissau) fighting for independence from Portugal believed they had sighted a submarine off their shores. On the heels of a November 22 Portuguese-led attack on their neighbor, Guinea-Conakry, the sighting triggered a massacre there. So Equatorial Guineans would also go after the Portuguese—a show of solidarity.

Our embassy residence with its spacious entry hall and curving staircase stood on a slight rise a block from the harbor. Across the street sprawled the hacienda-style police station. The juxtaposition was jarring—serenity and hospitality on one side of the street, official torture and murder on the other. But on this night, most of the killing was a few blocks away.

Al telephoned President Macias and told him he had gathered all the Americans at the American Embassy Residence, and that we were under the protection of the United States Government. He expressed confidence in Macias’s ability to make sure no harm would come to us.

It appeared that nothing could ruffle either of the Williams. Carman liked to “let her hair down”—I often pictured her in a hippie commune—but when she needed to observe protocol she did it with flair. Al epitomized the calm and collected diplomat. His stance when in peril: It’s just part of representation.

Now he and Carl periodically cracked the door for an instant to look and listen for any up-to-the-minute sliver of intelligence. They otherwise talked, smoked Cuban cigars, drank the Spanish brandy Fundador and looked for things to laugh about. Gallows humor. One had to distance oneself in order to survive this place.

The Residence had moved from smaller quarters a few weeks earlier. I helped Carman hem new draperies for the massive windows to the accompaniment of her upbeat conversation and laughter.

Charles and Ginger drew pictures and devised paper creations, hopefully not hearing enough conversation to be aware of our situation. (Later I would learn of Charles’s being traumatized by his memory of human screams coming from the police station.)

Just now, he looked over at his dad at the sound of furtive conversation and hollow laughter coming from the far corner of the room.

dad state ID. 250 x 166Al and Carl were discussing the embassy’s Escape and Evasion Plan.

Seriously? This was our E and E plan? We would sneak down the arm of the bay to the Bahia, and swim thirty yards to that tiny button of land that peered above the surface of the water. Al lowered his voice and I strained to hear the hushed exchange. I wondered at the few words I could make out.

…if we…rescue team…

Then I think I heard something about a submarine rescue. Would they really come for us?

Carl leaned forward, his balding head shiny with perspiration. He rubbed a hand across his chin, further muffling his voice.

…don’t like it, Al…kids…sharks…rather try rainforest…

I’d read somebody had invented an inflatable life boat. If only we had one of those.

So here we were, the six permanent Americans on this small island where tropical foliage and black sand beaches camouflaged the struggle for survival under a brutal and xenophobic government.

I felt oddly unafraid, and Al and Carman took their “just part of representation” attitude. But after they concluded that we should all go to bed for what was left of the night, a stealthy disquiet settled beneath my calm exterior. I was thankful for one thing—this was not, at least, one of the few times when Al had to be away and left Carl as acting de facto chargé d’affaires. I’d have hated for him to have to deal with such a touchy situation.

Sleep eluded me that night as the hands of the clock made their rounds. Thoughts picked their way through streets and alleyways of littered memories. I searched. I teased out threads.

Why on earth had Carl agreed to come to this place after reading all those cables? And what did he see when he came and investigated in person?

I knew he couldn’t share all that he learned. But whatever it was, he had said he was needed here. Being needed seemed to override everything else in Carl’s mind. He welcomed tasks that no one else would take on and thrived on accomplishing the impossible. It seemed to be something he could not resist.

In a high-ceilinged guest bedroom Carl’s quiet, regular breathing told me he was sound asleep. I was wide awake.

Can’t get comfortable. Will try not to wake Carl.

The brain that I could not turn off ruminated in a continuous loop. I worried about our UN friends. They were no longer allowed to have contact with embassy people. Where could they find a safe haven tonight?

I turned my pillow over. The cooler surface soothed me. Maybe now I could sleep.

Macias Ngueme coin 1978 president for life, ie. until 1979. 225 x 223But no. President Macias was on his way to slaughtering, imprisoning or driving into exile a third of his people. Amnesty International would attach the nicknames Dachau of Africa and Auschwitz of Africa.

Have to put these dark visions out of my brain. I need to pray. Why can’t I pray?

I slipped out of bed and wandered in silence through the darkened expanse of the Residence. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I finally fell into a fitful sleep.

Despite the night’s anxiety, neither escape option had to be employed, and in the morning Al deemed it safe for us to return to our own house. We exited the embassy into a sunny day and surface calm. There were no sounds, as yet, coming from the police station across the street. So far as I know, no one ever learned the body count for the night just passed.

 Carl put the crisis behind him and pursued his objective with even greater resolve. At home, we continued with what passed for normal. Carl and I added more pieces to the jigsaw puzzle on our dining room table. Ginger played with her dolls. Charles played in his fortress, barricaded behind its walls.

* * *

SINISTER MINISTER

Two days later, Carl wrote in a follow-up to the November 19th letter to Dr. Foege, that despite repeated requests to meet with the new Minister of Health, he had not yet succeeded. In understated bureaucratic-speak, chilling as I look at it now, he said:

“Dr. Obiang is just not available at present. He seems to be quite occupied at this time with Juventud activities. On Tuesday, November 24, the Juventud was unleashed on the Portuguese community of Fernando Po. It now appears that I may be able to meet with him on Monday, December 7….

“I would suggest that authorized personnel review two classified cables concerning this matter at an early date: [Carl listed two classified cable identifiers.]”

A representative from the International Commission of Jurists would report a few years later that the Juventud was responsible for much of the looting, killing, execution, torture, burning of villages and “informing on anyone.” His report says that they practiced “violence as a line of conduct generally aimed at terrorizing the population.”

The new Minister of Health was efficient.

 

The foregoing is excerpted from mom’s recently completed manuscript of her historical memoir, Vaccines & Bayonets: Fighting Smallpox in Africa amid Tribalism, Terror and the Cold War. vaccinesandbayonets.com

Image attribution: Seal of the United States Embassy, public domain; Mask of death from “Africa’s Greatest Dictators,” Vice.com (July 15, 2010); image of 1978 EG coin featuring Macias Nguema as “President for Life,” public domain.

 

Charles.photo.lawlibrary. 150 x 200About the Kid From the Fortress

Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked this author to share with those best able to prevent the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that. http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

2018 ARMY-NAVY game: “This game is the only game, where everyone on the field playing, is willing to sacrifice everything, put their life on the line, and die for everyone watching.”

Journeyman Pictures’ Battlefield ER: The brutal life of a warzone medic

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

 

 

U.S. troops carry a wounded Afghan National Army soldier 400 x 276
U.S. troops carry a wounded Afghan National Army soldier to a U.S. Army MEDEVAC helicopter in Qandahar, Afghanistan. (PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

“In the heart of Taliban territory, a talented and youthful team of medics race against the clock to save a constant stream of casualties, bracing themselves for the bloody consequences of the imminent ‘surge’.

“Welcome to M*A*S*H 2010, where a brave medical team are on 24 hour alert. “We’re the busiest Forward Surgical Team in Iraq and Afghanistan”. In the next moment, the alarm sounds and the medivac helicopter is taking off. “Is it a US…an Afghan…a child?”, asks the pilot, as a giant smoke cloud from an exploded mine-resistant vehicle comes into view. Two American soldiers have been killed and three wounded by an IED. All are loaded onto the helicopters and the golden hour in which they can be saved, begins…”We provide 21st century intensive care”, shouts Major Bryan over the blood-urdling screams of the injured. . . .”

The Golden Hour / Battlefield ER: The brutal life of a warzone medic. ABC Australia. (Journeyman Pictures.  December 16, 2013.) (26:42 min)

 

 

 

 

 

United-States-Marine corporal on medevac helicopter in Afghanistan. The Guardian. multi source image 300 x 230 cropped
Injured Marine Cpl. Burness Britt reacts after being lifted onto a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army’s Task Force Lift “Dust Off,” Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment June 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

No guaranteed ‘golden hour’ for Marines headed into the next big fight.”

“A lifesaving Defense Department policy that whisks wounded troops off the battlefield to lifesaving care within the first hour of injury is a luxury Marines may not have headed into the next big fight.

“The policy is credited with a near 98 percent survival rate, Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, Joint Staff surgeon, told audience members at a Navy medical symposium held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, on Wednesday.

“But as the U.S. is facing more capable adversaries, it’s a promise the Defense Department no longer believes it can keep.”

Shawn Snow. “No guaranteed ‘golden hour’ for Marines headed into the next big fight.” Marinecorpstimes.com (February 15, 2018) 

https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2018/02/15/no-golden-hour-for-marines-headed-into-the-next-big-fight/

 

Feature image courtesy Talking Proud Archives — Military Medevacs & Medics, Angels of Mercy. Accessed 25 July 2018

 

ckb face indian screen image indirect 150 x 221

Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted, Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.  

http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

 

 

GI: Owned Lock, Stock, and Barrel

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

 

A former special operator has remarked that his generation suffers from a kind of moral relativism that assumes all purported “truths” are equally valid. He pointed out that it matters little that someone disagrees with the proposition that “2 + 2 = 4.” Mathematicians don’t waste time listening to arguments otherwise. And neither does the military, he explained.

Calculating and acting on the correct answer to complex mathematical equations was the job of, among others, World War II bombardiers. And tens of thousands of Allied navigators and radiomen and pilots and gunners died getting bombardiers to their job sites, so they could do what they’d been trained and tasked to do. More people than anticipated died 20,000 feet below when a bombardier got the math wrong.

Of course, the mathematics of calculating the correct and desired damage to a target – computer assist or not – has never been the only part of the military’s mission that’s nothing more than a car on blocks if alternative, or preferred, truths are given the time of day.

grandad dress and decoration post DPRK. 225 x 300Facts no one in our family ever talked about, truths about where and why and how my grandad was critically wounded in combat, have made me reflect on another non-negotiable fact of military service that is both unknown and unfelt by most of the 92.7% of us in this country who have never served under arms: the fact of being government property to be used as the nation deems necessary.

What I’ve learned by researching the Korean combat experiences of other soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division has told me much I never knew about what grandad was made of. It’s given me a narrow space in a fence through which I can see part of why this World War II drill instructor I called “grandad” was never the same after Korea. And what I’ve seen has forever axed the thought that I might one day change my hard-to-spell surname from that of a soldier from Queens with an 8th grade education who adopted two Tennessee boys and then raised my dad and his kid brother as best he knew how.

In a September 13, 2017 Brookings’ blogpost, “Catastrophe on the Yalu: America’s Intelligence Failure in Korea,” Bruce Riedel, the Director of Brookings’ Intelligence Project, suggests that the bloodletting at Unsan – during which U.S. Army Master Sergeant Charles Bloeser was forever wounded – didn’t have to happen. Three days of fighting legions of battle – hardened Communist Chinese troops who weren’t supposed to be there was due to “a catastrophic intelligence failure. . .. the result of terrible intelligence management, not the poor collection or analysis of information.”

Casualty records at the National Archives report that grandad was “[s]eriously wounded in action by missile” on November 2, 1950. In an excerpt in Vanity Fair from The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, David Halberstam explains what happened one day earlier, when the two-star general commanding grandad’s division asked for permission to pull back:

On the afternoon of November 1, Major General Hobart R. “Hap” Gay, the First Cav division commander, was in his command post with General Charles Palmer, his artillery commander, when a radio report from an observer in an L-5 spotter plane caught their attention: “This is the strangest sight I have ever seen. There are two large columns of enemy infantry moving southeast over the trails in the vicinity of Myongdang-dong and Yonghung-dong. Our shells are landing right in their columns and they keep coming.” Those were two tiny villages five or six air miles from Unsan. Palmer immediately ordered additional artillery units to start firing, and Gay nervously called First Corps, requesting permission to pull the entire Eighth Cav several miles south of Unsan. His request was denied.

honor-guard-w-flag-arlington-natl-cemetary-multi-sourced. 300 x 166

 

The Army’s Military History Center describes what happened next:

“Thousands of Chinese [] attacked from the north, northwest, and west against scattered U.S. and South Korean units moving deep into North Korea. The Chinese seemed to come out of nowhere as they swarmed around the flanks and over the defensive positions of the surprised [] troops.” As the lead to the Halberstam excerpt puts it, “hundreds of Americans got slaughtered at Unsan, one of the worst defeats of the Korean War.”

In “one of the most shameful and little-known incidents in U.S. military history,” writes Charles J. Hanley (quoting Korean War historian Jack J. Gifford), some 600 of the 3rd Battalion’s 800 men” were “[t]rapped by two Chinese divisions,” and “left to die in far northern Korea.”

“The Yalu disaster was completely predictable,” writes Riedel in his Brookings blogpost. “The intelligence failure was the result of a policy maker’s determination that intelligence support his preconceived views, not challenge them. It is a timeless lesson.”

Knowing that men my grandad trained with and fought to keep alive – men from what Sebastian Junger would call his “tribe” – died in or after a battle that looks like it never had to go down the way it did, infuriates me. And I regret that I didn’t know these things when grandma was alive and might have found in this history at least some solace after living through some very dark years with her husband after he came home.

To my way of thinking, the men who fell at Unsan died with honor. But the likelihood that their lives were wasted is disturbing.

And knowing that many of these men would have died on other battlefields on the Korean peninsula before two years of peace talks would bring an armistice is no comfort. Quite the opposite.

The warriors ordered into a Chinese hornets’ nest with grandad were sons and brothers and husbands and fathers – all soldiers who deserved to fight where they could do the most good. Not here. Not this way.

Ms. Elizabeth M. Collins writes in a November 2016 retrospective at Army.Mil that “[a] 1954 Congressional report termed the Korean War “one of the most heinous and barbaric” periods in history, citing some 1,800 cases of war crimes involving thousands of victims: “Virtually every provision of the Geneva Convention governing the treatment of war prisoners was purposely violated or ignored by the North Korean or Chinese forces.”

 

But here’s where grandad has a lesson for those of us who have never served. Had he known earlier what the intel really showed – that Communist China cared a great deal about what happened the other side of the Yalu river – it wouldn’t have mattered. It must not be allowed to matter.

Like all who serve, grandad was owned by the United States lock, stock, and barrel, to be used as his nation deemed necessary. Even if ordered to march into Hell itself.

The thing about that is this. We who are civilians might see such an order as time for a career change without giving notice. U.S. Marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen, and members of the U.S. Coast Guard who refuse to obey lawful orders breach the law and threaten the order, discipline, and unit cohesiveness without which the nation can neither defend itself nor otherwise pursue its interests.

That was true for grandad, who had solemnly sworn, among other duties, that he would “observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over [him].”

It was true for grandad’s commanding general whose request to pull the Army back had been denied.

 

ENDNOTE content supplied in sequence. Links to numbers to be updated.

[1] Author: Charles L.K. Bloeser, M.A., J.D. Member, Bar of the State of Tennessee; member, Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

[2] (“. . . what if we told you that 2 +2 = ? has stumped even some of the smartest mathematicians because it doesn’t necessarily have to equal 4?”) Elena Holodny. “Here’s How Your Watch Can Prove that 2 + 2 Doesn’t Equal 4.” Businessinsider.com (June 24, 2014).

[3] Mona Chalabi. “What Percentage of Americans Have Served in the Military?” Fivethirtyeight.com (March 19, 2015).

[4]Sixty years later those fallen soldiers, the lost battalion of Unsan, are stranded anew.

“North Korea is offering fresh clues to their remains. American teams are ready to re-enter the north to dig for them. But for five years the U.S. government has refused to work with North Korea to recover the men of Unsan and others among more than 8,000 U.S. missing in action from the 1950-53 war.

“Now, under pressure from MIA family groups, the Obama administration is said to be moving slowly to reverse the Bush administration’s suspension of the joint recovery program, a step taken in 2005 as the North Korean nuclear crisis dragged on.

“If I had a direct line in to the president, I would say, `Please reinstitute this program. There are families that need closure,'” said Ruth Davis, 61, of Palestine, Texas, whose uncle, Sgt. 1st Class Benny Don Rogers, has been listed as MIA since Chinese attackers overran his company — I Company, 8th Cavalry — at Unsan in late 1950.

It was one of Rogers’ I Company comrades, Pfc. Philip W. Ackley of Hillsboro, New Hampshire, whose identifying dog tag appeared in a photo the North Koreans handed over at Korea’s Panmunjom truce village in January of this 60th year since the war started. The North Koreans also delivered photos of remains, a stark reminder that Unsan’s dead still wait to come home.” Charles J. Hanley, “Lost Korean War battalion awaits US MIA decision,” Associated Press (July 18, 2010).

[5] Sebastian Junger. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (London: 4th Estate 2017).

[6] Another soldier from the “First Cav” whose honorable service at Unsan was recognized publicly was Tibor Rubin. Mr. Rubin had survived the Holocaust while his family did not. He thanked the United States for his rescue by enlisting in the Army shortly after he arrived in the States and when he could barely speak English. Mr. Rubin was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor in combat at Unsan, but his official citation describes in detail how the soldier single-handedly kept alive as many as 40 of his fellow POWs during 2 years he spent in a Chinese prison camp.

[7] “The first oath under the Constitution was approved by Act of Congress 29 September 1789 (Sec. 3, Ch. 25, 1st Congress). It applied to all commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers and privates in the service of the United States.” Information courtesy history.army.mil, accessed May 28, 2018.

 

 

 

Charles.photo.lawlibrary. 150 x 200Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.  

http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

 

 

 

 

 

Hostile holidays? Give Sir Anthony Hopkins two minutes in Spielberg’s Amistad: a source to turn to when “there appears no hope at all”

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, as John Quincy Adams presenting oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States, in Amistad (1997). This two-and-a-half minute clip reminds us of an oft-forgotten well from which we might draw courage when “there appears no hope at all.”

“The other night I was talking with my friend, Cinque. He was over at my place, and we were out in the greenhouse together, and he was explaining to me how when a member of the Mende—that’s his people—how when a member of the Mende encounters a situation where there appears no hope at all, he evokes his ancestors . . . tradition. See, the Mende believe that if one can summon the spirit of one’s ancestors, then they have never left, and the wisdom and strength they fathered and inspired will come to his aid. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams . . . we have long resisted asking you for guidance. Perhaps, we have feared in doing so, we might acknowledge that our individuality, which we so, so revere, is not entirely our own. Perhaps, we’ve feared an appeal to you might be taken for weakness. But we’ve come to understand, finally, that this is not so. We understand now, that we’ve been made to understand, and to embrace the understanding, that who we are is who we were. We desperately need your strength and wisdom, to triumph over our fears, our prejudices, ourselves. Give us the courage to do what is right. And if it means civil war, then let it come. And when it does, may it be, finally, the last battle of the American Revolution.”

 

Legal citation for the real case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court:

The United States, Appellants, v. The Libellants And Claimants Of The Schooner Amistad, Her Tackle, Apparel, And Furniture, Together With Her Cargo, And The Africans Mentioned And Described In The Several Libels And Claims, Appellees, 40 U.S. 518; 10 L. Ed. 826 (1841).

 

Feature image attribution: Battle Bare for PTSD and Military Suicide, accessed online 21 November 2018 at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/292734044500114364/

 

 

Charles.photo.lawlibrary. 150 x 200Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.  

http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

48,000* paths to homelessness?

The Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm recently testified that there are more than 48,000 state and federal “collateral consequences” in the United States. These “hidden costs” of criminal convictions ar exactly what I was talking about when I wrote this on STRIFEBLOG in August:
.
.
“You do the best you can, though, because you swore you would and because the outcome of a criminal case – regardless of whether a client goes to prison – frequently inflicts significant consequences on the lives and fortunes of not just your client but also your client’s family. A criminal conviction, the criminal record that follows it, and any collateral consequences from the conviction, e.g., loss of professional license, reduction in amount of VA disability compensation, termination of VA pension payments, deportation, denial of access to public housing and federal student aid, etc., can hurt and even destroy families.”

 

Collateral Consequences: Protecting Public Safety or Encouraging Recidivism

“Since most ex-offenders—millions of them—at some point will be released from custody and return to our communities, it is important that we do everything we can to encourage them to become productive, law-abiding members of society and that we not put too many impediments, in the form of excessive collateral consequences, in their way that will hinder their efforts.

“More attention must be paid to this issue to avoid these dangerous and counterproductive results. In a time of intense polarization, this is one of the few issues people can rally around and find common ground. If people are pushed into the corner and denied opportunities for gainful employment and a stable environment for too long, they will have little choice but to recidivate. It is not in anybody’s best interest to relegate the formally incarcerated to a backwater of second-class citizenship status.”

John Malcolm. Vice President, Institute for Constitutional Government, Heritage Foundation.

https://www.heritage.org/testimony/collateral-consequences-protecting-public-safety-or-encouraging-recidivism-0

*TITLE OF POST includes “48,000” in an effort to keep the message clear. Far too many of those 48,000 can shatter a family and thrust moms and dads and kids into homelessness but certainly not all of them.