Archive for May, 2018

Something to remember today.

May 28, 2018

Back in 2009, I remember going to the big Memorial Day celebration in Orange. The Patriot Guard Riders didn’t get to make their grand entrance as planned because of the torrential rains, but they still came. I remember that I just about lost it when Beaumont PGR chapter president Sandra Womack told everyone why they still came. She said of the fallen soldiers, “They didn’t get an opportunity to choose the weather they fought in, or to choose whether or not to go.”

We should remember that, today and every day.

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On Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima…

May 16, 2018

…brought to you by a couple of my recent reads…

amoh

I saw this one at Half Price Books a few weeks ago, but it was cheaper on Amazon.

The man in the top right corner, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, is the subject of the book. You might remember him as the commander of the Pacific Fleet when Pearl Harbor was attacked; he was subsequently relieved of his command and replaced by Chester W. Nimitz. This book was the first I had ever seen of the theory that he was made the scapegoat for others’ failures.

Suffice to say it was a revelation. I know you have to have your stuff together to get to the rank Kimmel did, but his pre-Pearl Harbor record goes above and beyond just that. He was one of the most highly-regarded officers of his day.

Which makes the whole thing even more enraging, as enlightening as it was. I really don’t know what the worst part of that whole sordid affair was, but the bit that most readily comes to mind is this:

Several people, among them then-Vice President nominee Harry S. Truman, tried to say that Kimmel and his Army counterpart, Lieutenant General Walter C. Short, did not have any kind of relationship, working or otherwise. As in, they never even talked to each other. But that was not true. They had a fine relationship, both as colleagues and as friends — in fact, they played golf together every week.

Also, both Kimmel and Short knew they were woefully undergunned; they repeatedly begged for more weapons from Washington and were refused every time. And we haven’t even gotten into the monumental amount of intercepted communications between Japanese forces in the months leading up to the attack that were kept from them. One of the people involved in that was Admiral Harold Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, whose friendship with Kimmel went back to their days at the Naval Academy. Stark basically threw Kimmel under the bus in the post-Pearl investigations…and strangely enough, kept up correspondence with him. But Kimmel was having none of it; he never responded to any of the letters, and in fact, the following was written in a draft of a letter to Stark that was found after Kimmel’s death:

“May God forgive you for what you have done to me, for I never will.”

Can’t really say that I blame him.

And then, a friend of mine brought up the possibility that the government knew what was coming and let it happen, which really got me going. Suffice it to say, that if it were true, I think that would be the textbook definition of dereliction of duty, and absolutely worthy of the gallows or the firing squad. I just would not have the words. 2,403 American servicemen dead, 2 distinguished and honorable commanders relieved and disgraced, and for what?

Yeah, I know. Casus belli and all that. But the attack would still have been a fine justification for entry into the war even if it had been an American victory. Yeah, I know. I am saying that with the benefit of 75 years of hindsight. But I am absolutely willing to admit that I may well be wrong.

Which brings me to the next book…

lemay

God, the numbers in this book were just absolutely staggering. 12,000 B-17s rolled off assembly lines during the war. Just shy of 4,000 B-29s. For comparison, we built only 744 B-52s (all models, A through H), 100 B-1Bs….and 21 B-2s. 325 B-29s flew in one raid over Tokyo, 529 in a raid over Nagoya, and 427 in another Nagoya raid two days after that one. They dropped so much ordnance that they completely ran out of the napalm that the Navy had stockpiled for the bombs. Another friend of mine made the observation that one thing that the atomic bomb second-guessers don’t ever think about is exactly what LeMay would have done with all those bombers from the European theater plus all the B-29s all flying from as close as Okinawa instead of the Solomons.

What would he have done? He would have left the rest of Japan in smoking ruins, that’s what he’d have done. That man did not screw around. To twist something I was telling Sabra as I was reading this book, I really don’t think it’s fair to say nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the wrong thing to do when you have the benefit of almost 75 years of hindsight. People seem to whitewash Unit 731, the Rape of Nanking, and the Bataan Death March. You know that an invasion of Japan would have brought about more of that if they had managed to somehow gain the upper hand. And even if they had not, they were all still going to fight to the death. It was going to be brutal either way. The bombings sucked, but in the end, I think it’s safe to say they saved lives on both sides.