Cone of Silence

It looks as if with the official departure of the US military from Kabul, a media cone of silence perpetuated by the National Establishment Media has descended over the whole ghastly mess, leaving a good many of us who have been following the chaotic and bloody disaster that it was with unanswered questions. Like – exactly how many Americans were left behind in Afghanistan? American citizens and employees of international and US-sponsored NGOs, or dual nationals home visiting relatives in the “Old Country” over the summer vay-cay? A couple of hundred? Or thousands? Independent military reporter Michael Yon and others across the indy blogosphere reported that American citizens – with their passports in hand – were turned away from entering the Kabul Airport by the US Army, and it is those people who are stranded in Afghanistan now. Well, maybe. Between the proverbial fog of war and the cone of silence – a great many questions remain.

Read more

Following Orders

The career field in which I served for twenty years was a small one, and one with some inherent peculiarities, one of which was possession at radio detachments of a library of pop music intended for broadcast on AFRTS channels. One of those things which was instilled in broadcast field recruits early on in our training was that no one of any higher rank (or degree of inebriation, often the case) was permitted to remove recordings from our library for personal amusement. Many were the tales of duty E-2s or E-3s refusing such orders from senior officers, who were operating under the (often alcohol-inspired) delusion that the AFRS library operated on the same basis as the local base library. This often happened late at night when the most junior staffers were on duty. That was an order that we had to and would refuse, no matter the rank, and degree of inebriation of the commander demanding it. In that, we could count on the complete backing of our broadcast command, especially when they were informed of it, sometime the following morning. No one, not even (according to some legends, the base or wing commander) was allowed access to the AFRTS library, much less to remove elements of it from the custody of the AFRTS outlet, even if that only custodian was a lowly first-hitch enlisted.

Read more

Nagasaki: The Atomic Bombing Mission That Almost Wasn’t, plus 76 years

This column is adapted from a recent e-mail from Ryan Crierie that is reposted here with his permission.   It is the tale of how almost everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, on the day Nagasaki was nuked.

This is a U.S. military map of the radioactive fall out caused by the nuclear strike on Nagasaki.  See the pattern of black dots upper right.

And make sure to read through the P.S.  There is a historical “What If” stinger waiting for you there.

Read more

The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, Plus 76 years

Seventy five years ago today the B-29 Enola Gay dropped the Little Boy gun-type atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people died, sources vary.

It has been a now 11 year and counting tradition of the Chicagoboyz blog to commemorate this bombing and the events immediately after.  Today’s post will speak of the anniversary and share forgotten history from before & after the event.  Per the wikipedia article:

The bomb was dropped by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., commander of the 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces and Captain Robert A. Lewis. It exploded with an energy of approximately 15 kilotons of TNT (63 TJ) and caused widespread death and destruction throughout the city.

This act set in motion historical events that lead to the surrender of Imperial Japan, the start of the nuclear age and the Cold War with the Soviet Union that ended in 1989.  Yet for all of the event’s importance we, seventy six years, on know less about it’s real history than the myths that arose in Cold War propaganda afterwards.

Enola Gay: The Story of the Most Historic Boeing B-29

The fully restored in 2003 B-29 Enola Gay at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Read more

Battle of Britain + 81

This month marks the 81st anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  It was the first major battle that was fought entirely in the air, and it pioneered the use of radar as a force multiplier. The history of this battle is very interesting from the military and technology standpoints–but those things are not the focus of this post.

With the fall of France (June 22, 1940), many people believed that further resistance by Britain was hopeless.  The French writer Georges Bernanos, living in exile in Brazil, wrote (in December of that year) about how many establishment figures had been willing to despair…and how epic a story Britain’s survival in fact was:

No one knows better than I do that, in the course of centuries, all the great stories of the world end by becoming children’s tales. But this particular one (the story of England’s resistance–ed) has started its life as such, has become a children’s tale on the very threshold of its existence. It mean that we can at once recognize in it the threefold visible sign of its nature. it has deceived the anticipations of the wise, it has humiliated the weak-hearted, it has staggered the fools. Last June all these folk from one end of the world to the other, no matter what the color of their skins, were shaking their heads. Never had they been so old, never had they been so proud of being old. All the figures that they had swallowed in the course of their miserable lives as a safeguard against the highly improbable activity of their emotions had choked the channels of circulation..They were ready to prove that with the Armistice of Rethondes the continuance of the war had become a mathematical impossibility…Some chuckled with satisfaction at the thought, but they were not the most dangerous…Others threatened us with the infection of pity…”Alone against the world,” they said. “Why, what is that but a tale for children?” And that is precisely what it was–a tale for children. Hurrah for the children of England! 

Men of England, at this very moment you are writing what public speakers like to describe in their jargon as one of the “greatest pages of history”….At this moment you English are writing one of the greatest pages of history, but I am quite sure that when you started, you meant it as a fairy tale for children. “Once upon a time there was a little island, and in that island there was a people in arms against the world…” Faced with such an opening as that, what old cunning fox of politics or business would not have shrugged his shoulders and closed the book?

But only a two years earlier, Britain had signed the Munich agreement.  General Edward Spears, along with many others was overcome by despair:

Like most people, I have had my private sorrows, but there is no loss that can compare with the agony of losing one’s country, and that is what some of us felt when England accepted Munich.  All we believed in seemed to have lost substance.

The life of each of us has roots without which it must wither; these derive sustenance from the soil of our native land, its thoughts, its way of life, its magnificent history; the lineage of the British race is our inspiration.  The past tells us what the future should be.  When we threw the Czechs to the Nazi wolves, it seemed to me as if the beacon lit centuries ago, and ever since lighting our way, had suddenly gone out, and I could not see ahead.

Yet it was only two years after Munich that Britain demonstrated its  magnificent resistance to Nazi conquest.

The Battle of Britain has been, fairly, called a battle that saved civilization. But the saving of civilization is not a one-time thing, and there are today very serious threats to individual liberty and the rule of law..really, to civilization itself…in Britain as well as in the US. There are many dark clouds overhead and on the horizon. But the Battle of Britain should inspire us with the thought that battles that seem to be hopeless may, in fact, be winnable through sufficient determination and skill.