17 November 2005

This Day In History

1965 1st Cavalry unit ambushed in the Ia Drang Valley

During part of what would become known as the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, a battalion from the 1st Cavalry Division is ambushed by the 8th Battalion of the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment. The battle started several days earlier when the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry engaged a large North Vietnamese force at Landing Zone X-Ray at the base of the Cheu Pong hills (Central Highlands).

As that battle subsided, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, was ordered to move cross-country to Landing Zone Albany, where it was to be picked up by helicopter and moved to a new location. The U.S. unit was moving through the jungle in a long column when the North Vietnamese sprang a massive ambush along the length of the column from all sides. Companies C and D took the brunt of the Communist attack--within minutes, most of the men from the two companies were hit.

The North Vietnamese forces had succeeded in engaging the U.S. forces in very tight quarters, where supporting U.S. firepower could not be used without endangering American lives. The cavalrymen returned fire, but the Communistss were fighting from prepared fighting positions and many of the American leaders had been felled in the initial stages of the ambush. As night fell, the cavalrymen waited for the North Vietnamese to attack but illumination flares provided by air force aircraft made the enemy cautious. By morning, they had withdrawn.

Senior U.S. military leaders declared the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley an American victory. That had clearly been the case with the fight at Landing Zone X-Ray, where the three-day battle resulted in 834 North Vietnamese soldiers confirmed killed with another 1,000 communist casualties likely. However, the battle at Landing Zone Albany was another story. Although there were over 400 enemy soldiers lying on the battlefield after the fighting was over, the battle had been an extremely costly one for the 1st Cavalry troopers. Of the 500 men in the original column moving to Landing Zone Albany, 150 had been killed and only 84 were able to return to immediate duty. 93 percent of Company C sustained some sort of wound or injury--half of them died.

The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley was important because it was the first significant contact between U.S. troops and North Vietnamese forces. The action demonstrated that the North Vietnamese were prepared to stand and fight major battles, and senior American leaders concluded that U.S. forces could wreak significant damage on the communists in such battles. The North Vietnamese also learned a valuable lesson during the battle: they saw that they could negate the effects of superior American firepower by engaging American troops in physically close combat, so that U.S. artillery and air fire could not be used without endangering American lives. This became standard North Vietnamese practice for the rest of the war.

16 November 2005

This Day In History

1941 Goebbels publishes his screed of hate

On this day in 1941, Joseph Goebbels publishes in the German magazine Das Reich that "The Jews wanted the war, and now they have it"-referring to the Nazi propaganda scheme to shift the blame for the world war onto European Jewry, thereby giving the Nazis a rationalization for the so-called Final Solution.

Just two days earlier, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, having read more than a dozen decoded messages from German police which betrayed the atrocities to which European Jews were being subjected, had written in a letter to the Jewish Chronicle that "The Jew bore the brunt of the Nazis' first onslaught upon the citadels of freedom and human dignity.... He has not allowed it to break his spirit: he has never lost the will to resist." And active Jewish resistance was increasing, especially in the USSR, where Jews were joining partisans in fighting the German incursions into Russian territory.

But it was proving too little too late, as Goebbels, Himmler, and the rest of Hitler's henchmen carried out with fanatical glee the "elimination of the Jews," using propaganda and anti-Bolshevik rhetoric to infuse SS soldiers with enthusiasm for their work. As Goebbels wrote in Das Reich: "[T]he prophecy which the Fuhrer made...that should international finance Jewry succeed in plunging the nations into a world war once again, the result would not be the Bolshevization of the world...but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. We are in the midst of that process.... Compassion or regret are entirely out of place here."

15 November 2005

Anyone See Father O'Reilly?

There's no denying that President Bush seems to be in a slump. Polls aside, because looking at the way these polls were taken you will see that they are a little weighted with Democrats and so-called Independents, anyways, I still wish the numbers were better.

Yet after getting nothing but bad press since the beginning of the year by a more than compliant press, I'm surprised they haven't lynched him yet!

But beginning last Friday, on Veteran's Day, the President began to hit back and hit with vengence. It's about time. Some media types think it's too little too late. Maybe, but we've got three years left, plenty time to get things going again.

For too long this administration didn't fight back, with the liberal left thowing out every conceivable crazy theory with no chalenge by the administration. Honestly, I have been getting a little frustrated.

Every President that has had a second term has had a slump. Some, like the last one had a lot more than a slump!

In any case, everyone of them rebounded, and now that Bush is fighting back, not with rhetoric, but with the truth. When you hit these liberals with the truth they either resort to calling you a neoconservative or blowing a gasket like Howard Dean does on every occasion he opens his mouth.

So team Bush was in a little downward spiral, but it has begun to pass as shown on Veterans Day and a couple more over the weekend and last night was another great night.

Team Bush is on the rise again!

This Day In History


Erwin Rommel, the German commander known as the "Desert Fox" for his cunning in North Africa during World War II, is born in Heidenheim, Germany.

Rommel's father and grandfather were teachers, but he chose a military career for himself, enlisting in the German army as an officer cadet in 1910. He served in World War I as a lieutenant and was decorated for bravery and recognized for his leadership abilities. While other promising officers in his situation sought a wartime place on the general staff, Rommel remained in the infantry as a front-line officer. Between the wars, he taught at various military academies and wrote an important textbook on infantry strategy.

After the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Rommel was appointed to command the Seventh Panzer Division in the invasion of France. Though he had little experience with armored warfare, he immediately grasped its potential and played a leading role in Germany's triumphant drive across France in May and June 1940.

In February 1941, German leader Adolf Hitler appointed Rommel to lead the German divisions dispatched to Libya to stiffen the all-but-defeated Italian forces there. The British commanders in North Africa were no match for Rommel, and by May he had won back nearly all the territory lost by the Italians during the Allies' winter drive. To the Allies and Axis alike, Rommel became known as the Desert Fox for his elegant deceptions and audacious surprise attacks. Hitler promoted him to field marshal.

In 1942, Rommel pressed almost to Alexandria with his Afrika Corps, but he was halted by the British at El Alamein. In October 1942, British General Bernard Montgomery launched a major offensive against Rommel at the Second Battle of El-Alamein, overwhelming Rommel's outnumbered forces. Disobeying an order from Hitler, Rommel ordered a retreat and his Afrika Corps fled to Tunis.

Before the final surrender of Axis forces in North Africa, Rommel was called back to Europe in March 1943 and entrusted with defending northern France from Allied invasion. He erected a sophisticated system of coastal defense works but was denied his request for large numbers of troops to defend against the expected attack. On June 6, 1944, the Allies successfully landed at Normandy.

Meanwhile, a conspiracy against Hitler had been brewing among German army commanders who felt that the Fehrer was leading Germany to certain ruin. The plotters approached Rommel; he was sympathetic but took no direct role in the planning of Hitler's assassination. There was talk that Rommel, a popular figure known as the "people's marshal," would serve as German head of state after Hitler's death.

Three days before the attempted coup took place, Rommel suffered serious head injuries after a British aircraft attacked his car. He was thus in the hospital on July 20 when Hitler narrowly escaped being killed by a bomb in Berlin. However, the conspirators, arrested and tortured for information, revealed Rommel's involvement. Hitler sent two generals to Rommel, who was just recovering from his injuries, to offer him the choice of suicide or trial. Rommel chose the former and on October 14 took a lethal dose of poison. He was later buried with full military honors.

14 November 2005

This Day In History

1882 Franklin Leslie kills Billy "The Kid" Claiborne

On this day, the gunslinger Franklin "Buckskin" Leslie shoots the Billy "The Kid" Claiborne dead in the streets of Tombstone, Arizona.

The town of Tombstone is best known today as the site of the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral. In the 1880s, however, Tombstone was home to many gunmen who never achieved the enduring fame of Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday. Franklin "Buckskin" Leslie was one of the most notorious of these largely forgotten outlaws.

There are few surviving details about Leslie's early life. At different times, he claimed to have been born in both Texas and Kentucky, to have studied medicine in Europe, and to have been an army scout in the war against the Apache Indians. No evidence has ever emerged to support or conclusively deny these claims. The first historical evidence of Leslie's life emerges in 1877, when he became a scout in Arizona. A few years later, Leslie was attracted to the moneymaking opportunities of the booming mining town of Tombstone, where he opened the Cosmopolitan Hotel in 1880. That same year he killed a man named Mike Killeen during a quarrel over Killeen's wife, and he married the woman shortly thereafter.

Leslie's reputation as a cold-blooded killer brought him trouble after his drinking companion and fellow gunman John Ringo was found dead in July 1882. Some Tombstone citizens, including a young friend of Ringo's named Billy "The Kid" Claiborne, were convinced that Leslie had murdered Ringo, though they could not prove it. Probably seeking vengeance and the notoriety that would come from shooting a famous gunslinger, Claiborne unwisely decided to publicly challenge Leslie, who shot him dead.

The remainder of Leslie's life was equally violent and senseless. After divorcing Killeen in 1887, he took up with a Tombstone prostitute, whom he murdered several years later during a drunken rage. Even by the loose standards of frontier law in Tombstone, the murder of an unarmed woman was unacceptable, and Leslie served nearly 10 years in prison before he was paroled in 1896. After his release, he married again and worked a variety of odd jobs around the West. He reportedly made a small fortune in the gold fields of the Klondike region before he disappeared forever from the historical record.

13 November 2005

This Day In History

1982 Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated

Near the end of a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington after a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 57,939 Americans who died in the conflict, arranged in order of death, not rank, as was common in other memorials.

The designer of the memorial was Maya Lin, a Yale University architecture student who entered a nationwide competition to create a design for the monument. Lin, born in Ohio in 1959, was the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Many veterans' groups were opposed to Lin's winning design, which lacked a standard memorial's heroic statues and stirring words. However, a remarkable shift in public opinion occurred in the months after the memorial's dedication. Veterans and families of the dead walked the black reflective wall, seeking the names of their loved ones killed in the conflict. Once the name was located, visitors often made an etching or left a private offering, from notes and flowers to dog tags and cans of beer.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial soon became one of the most visited memorials in the nation's capital. A Smithsonian Institution director called it "a community of feelings, almost a sacred precinct," and a veteran declared that "it's the parade we never got." "The Wall" drew together both those who fought and those who marched against the war and served to promote national healing a decade after the divisive conflict's end.
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