United States Merchant Marine

Something for the weekend.  Labor Day weekend seems a fitting time to recall again the United States Merchant Marine.  The civilian fleet that carries imports and exports to and from the US, during war time it becomes an auxiliary of

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August 19, 1944: Liberation of Paris

The City of Lights liberation by the Allies began seventy years ago today.  It started, fittingly enough, with uprisings of Free French resistance forces throughout the city, launching attacks on the German garrison.  Some 800 Free French fighters would die in these

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Patton Unleashed

Today seventy years ago Operation Cobra began, the breakout of First United States Army from the Normandy Peninsula.  By the end of July the First Army had shattered the German forces before them and broken out of Normandy.  The stage was

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Yankee Ingenuity in Normandy

  There was a little sergeant. His name was Culin, and he had an idea. And his idea was that we could fasten knives, great big steel knives in front of these tanks, and as they came along they would

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To Hell and Back

“I never liked being called the ‘most decorated’ soldier. There were so many guys who should have gotten medals and never did– guys who were killed.” Audie Murphy   Today would be the 88th birthday of Audie Murphy if he had not

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Quartered Safe Back Then

  Bookworm of Bookworm Room has a first rate post in which she notes the decline in American appreciation of heroism from World War II to today.  She quotes this passage from the superb memoir of the novelist George MacDonald

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FDR’s D-Day Prayer

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has

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D-Day: A French Priest is Grateful

Today, seventy years on, this is heart warming:   As a Frenchman and as a priest, I’m really aware of what we owe this young generation of soldiers who died for us French to be free,” said Father Pujos, 44, who

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The Great Crusade

Eisenhower, on D-Day morning distributed to the troops a general order, which is like a handbill, and everybody read it.  And he said “we are about to embark upon the great crusade, which we have been preparing for, for many

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Father Airborne

  A leap year baby, Francis L. Sampson  was born on February 29, 1912 in Cherokee Iowa. A quarter of a century later he graduated from Notre Dame and made a bee-line for St. Paul’s Seminary at Saint Paul Minnesota. 

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Patton’s Granddaughter Is A Benedictine Nun

Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by Praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops

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June 5, 1944: Liberation of Rome

In the afternoon of the same day, Wednesday, June 7th, the Pope received, in a memorable and moving general audience in the Sala Clementina, some seven hundred grimy Allied soldiers, most of them fresh from battle and all of them

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First US Army Group

“There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the

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World War II Day by Day

An interesting look at World War II on a global scale day by day.  Amazing to recall how seventy years ago battles were being fought that set the course of our world, and greatly impacted the lives of us all

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March 24, 1944: The Great Escape

Seventy years ago was a busy time at Stalag III, a German POW camp near the town of Sagan.  76 Allied pows escaped the camp in the largest mass escape of Allied prisoners during the War.  The plan of the

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The Rear Gunner

An interesting training film made by Warner Brothers for the United States Army Air Corps in 1943.  Burgess Meredith has the feature role as the tail gunner in training.  Ronald Reagan is in a supporting role as the pilot of

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Buchenwald

I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it, I have no words. Edward R. Murrow at Buchenwald, April 15, 1945 1944 was seventy years ago, and on this blog we will have

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Why We Fight: The Battle of China

Hollywood director Frank Capra directed many classic films including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life.  However, he thought his best work was the Why We Fight series of films that he directed for the Army during

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Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.: American Eagle

Benjamin O Davis, Jr, a 1936 graduate of West Point, probably did not have any premonition when he graduated that he and his father were destined to write an interesting chapter in American military history.  At the time of his graduation from West Point, the

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The Fighting Lady

A great wartime propaganda film from 1944, The Fighting Lady.  The film was made aboard the USS Yorktown, but for wartime security considerations it was designated The Fighting Lady in the film.  Hollywood star Robert Taylor, then serving in the

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To Rouse A Sleeping Giant

A fascinating video detailing the paths of Japanese and US merchant shipping during World War II.  Beginning in 1943 the US is increasingly dominant with the Japanese shipping clinging to the Asian coast down to the oil in the Dutch East

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World War II in Europe Day by Day

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Patton’s Weather Prayer

    “Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who

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December 11, 1941: Germany and Italy Declare War on the US

    In a marathon speech before the German Reichstag on December 11, 1941, Chancellor Adolf Hitler declared war on America.  The tone of the speech is indicated in its closing paragraphs: Ever since my last peace proposal of July

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Victory at Sea

Something for the weekend.  The main theme from The Victory at Sea documentary series.  Originally broadcast from 1952-1953 on NBC, the documentary series on World War II at sea was endlessly shown in reruns as I was growing up, and

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Czeslawa Kwoka

  Let not anyone pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look

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With the Wolfhounds

NEC ASPERA TERRENT No Fear on Earth-motto of the Wolfhounds John W. Scannell came into this Vale of Tears on March 28, 1907.  Ordained a priest on May 26, 1934 for the Archdiocese of Denver and was assigned to Saint

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Black Cats Hunt by Night

World War II in the Pacific was often an improvisational war for the US in the early years, before US war industries came fully on line and the US buried Japan under a wave of ships and planes to seize

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Appeasement Back in Fashion

I do not grudge our loyal, brave people, who were ready to do their duty no matter what the cost, who never flinched under the strain of last week – I do not grudge them the natural, spontaneous outburst of

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Twelve O’Clock High

  Something for the weekend.  The score from the movie Twelve O’clock High (1949).  A film shorn of any Hollywood glamor or heroics, it tells the story of the fictional 918th bomb group as it pioneers daylight precision bombing in

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The Song of the Seabees

Construimus, Batuimus (We Build, We Fight) Something for the weekend.  Judy Garland singing The Song of the Seabees seems appropriate for a Labor Day weekend. At the outset of World War II, the Navy faced a task of unbelievable difficulty. 

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Devils’ Bargain

The 74th anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet agreement.  Two of the three great mass murderers of the last century, Mao would complete the trio, the marriage of convenience of Hitler and Stalin signaled the onset of World War II.  Communists who had

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USS Indianapolis

My family and I are back again from our much needed vacation.  As usual, Gen Con was a great deal of fun, and I did not get thrown in the Klingon jail, thanks to my daughter blowing her money on a

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