Friday, October 07, 2005

My Week

I spent significant portions of the first three days this week at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting. Most of the meeting consisted of various generals giving presentations on what their particular part of the Army was doing, but the real center was the exhibit floor, held in C. Wright Mills Memorial Hall. It was like a combination of the book exhibit at a historical conference and a monster truck show--with guns and lots of free pens and candy and stuff. The Brits had several large booths, including one with a bar that offered two free Budweisers to all comers. They had a TV in the bar that played the epic video "Is This The Way To Armadillo?" You name the giant defense contractor, they were there (I thought about asking the Bell Helicopter guys why they killed JFK, but then I thought better of it). And they brought toys--giant toys for killing people or pretending to kill people. Abrams battle tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, HUMVs, Stryker vehicles, simulators, helicopters, guns, knives, body armor, everything. Our military-industrial complex is excellent. [See, the C. Wright Mills thing was a joke.]

Yesterday I went to the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland to look up some information for work. Most of the documents I have found in the archives have been facsimilies of some sort, so it is always cool when you get to handle an original document. Yesterday, I got to read letters signed by George C. Marshall, Frank Knox, Lesley McNair, and George Patton. I also saw an early script for "The Story of GI Joe," and an original of this poster:



Some of the files included original correspondence concerning Chips, the dog who was awarded the Silver Star (scroll down).

This week also gave me the chance to read through some World War II era "Stars and Stripes" (ETO edition) and several articles or headlines stood out.

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 1944:

Soldiers' Pants Too Tight, An Army Survey Shows

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11--Two out of five soldiers questioned on Army likes and dislikes complained that their OD trousers were too tight, according to a survey released today by the War Department. The department ruled that soldiers' trousers could be altered without charge.
President Bush was not available for comment, but critics of the administration question whether the president cares about the tightness of soldiers' pants.

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 1943:

U.S. Has Penny Shortage

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29--In addition to whisky, gas and food shortages, the nation is now confronted with a penny shortage. One investigator placed the blame for the shortage on manufacturers who were melting cents down for costume jewelry.
Critics of the Bush administration argue that the president has given sweetheart deals to the costume jewelry industry, leading to the penny shortage.

***

File these two under "Wow, how times have changed":

Friday, Nov. 19, 1943 headline: "Libs Hit Plane Repair Plant in Norway."

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 1944 headline on article about Japanese-American soldiers: "Italy--Where Japs Fight Germans: Yanks in Miniature Proving Hefty in Combat Stature."

***

Finally, war is hell. Friday, Nov. 12, 1943:

Sailor Threw Knife at Nazi In Mid-Atlantic Sea Fight

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (Reuters)--One of the strangest battles in naval history was fought between the U.S. destroyer Borie and a German U-boat which the Borie had rammed amidships during a battle while on convoy escort duty in the mid-Atlantic, it was revealed yesterday.

After getting "stuck" on the German sub, the Nazis tried to fire their guns and the Borie's crew shot and threw everything they had at them--including shotguns, pistols and rifles. One threw a knife which hit a German sailor in the stomach, knocking him into the sea.

The destroyer's guns fired point blank at ranges between 10 and 40 feet before the U-boat ripped loose. The force of the ramming had opened holes in the Borie's hull but before sinking she circled the cripled U-boat and fired the death blows.
Here are some pictures of the Borie.

It was a good week.

2 comments:

Stephen said...

Jealous.

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