I recently read a book that was pretty objective who was not championing War but would defend the soldiers in any case. And why not? Afterall many young servicemen left home never to return. Girlfriends across the country received that awful news and particularly as time wore on the reporting of these mini-disasters brought the issue to light.
The story of Joe Basilone was very important because it gave GIs and particularly NCOs, (enlisted men) with a true hero. The depiction of Sgt Basilone in The Pacific chronicled his life and his death, was unremarkable. He died as most other men do, doing their job. And wow, their job. The very idea that war can noble is a stretch but the punch line was the release of Jewish Prisoners where the full of weight of reality slammed us in the bread basket and our hero became the stuff of legends.
Near the start of the movie the Marine Sergeants were rounded up as the commanding officer told the men that they are backbone, the very marrow of the military. And at some point the Sgts colluded to get rid of a good soldier but unlikeable otherwise. I remember a Major in our unit in New Jersey pondering over who Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb was. He said, ‘ I don’t recognize these names”. I swear to God, I could hardly contain my laughter. At least I had some quality bench warmers, if you know what I mean.
Pretty soon I will publish my pics as a very young man and Senior Airman (at the time). Also pics of my dad and his service to our country. I was in Germany the first time at Rhein Main AB. I was part of the Field Maintenance Squadron and I actually put patches on the wings of C-130s with glue. Crazy but true and there were I think two Iranian civilians working there.
The base was closed like so many ancient Museums. When I was TDY I was in one of the barracks you see to the right. World War II Barracks, Deutscher-style. The Flughafen.
The most memorable remembrances were that of those old barracks. It was like being in a time warp and only about 30 years after the Nazi’s had surrendered. One of the coolest things was the Canteen down the hall. It was open most nights til very late and the TV in there was black and white and playing Armed Forces TV.
In the minutes (years) that has elapsed, the corpses of all these people have become more of a shadow to the young just as WWII was obscure to me. Though I was born only 11 years from the end of that crazy bloodbath and subsequent bombing.
I remember one night being so tired and it was only 6pm and I dozed off in my room, still in my fatigues. I awoke with a start and the time was 7PM. I did not know this and thought I was late for work. It was the evening and discovered that when I smelled cheeseburgers cooking and the Germans in that canteen can cook even burgers.
There was also a place called the Pits where people lost their clothes and their inhibitions which the Germans were more comfortable. Americans wee like Beavis and Butthead marvelling over Buttkiss and ‘doing it’.
It is past three AM here right now and I am going strong. The thing is that I am homeless though not destitute, I do harbor some non-violent anxiety towards some people at the VA Hospital but largely I respect what the hospital does. Serving so many people and some are World War II vets. Some say it is a morbid place but I do not see that. Rather I take the time to accost and befriend these ancient heroes and sometimes it is the only real contact where an old soldier can relive his glory years as well as the horrors and pride that they survived and also the bitter losses of their fellow servicemen.
The Tuskegee Airman esteemed themselves and were heroes themselves. They were very efficient and had good discipline. I want to meet an Airman before the last of them die and back then there was no Air Force as we know it today.
So while humans make awful decisions and our troops die as a result as in Vietnam, we are still proud, strong and humane.