From last night's Saturday Night Live, which I don't watch. But nonetheless, an instant classic. In the Boston area, anyway.
Boston Maggie understands....
H/T Corey T.
Heartbreak Ridge, one of the classic motivational movies of the reborn Reagan-era military, was released thirty years ago last week, on 5 December 1986. The Navy's Top Gun, released in May of 1986, is, of course, the other biggie from that time.
I was a Fort Sill as a brandy-new 2nd Lieutenant when the film was released, and went with a bunch of the Marines in my class to see it immediately. Of course, the Army Lieutenants were kinda pissed because it was such a motivating flick and the Army had nothing comparable to it or to Top Gun. Clint Eastwood played the lead as the Medal of Honor awardee and Korean War Veteran Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway, Marsha Mason the ex-wife he still loves.
Heartbreak Ridge is no masterpiece, to be sure. The movie of course has goofy Officers, including the commander of the division's Reconnaissance Company who supposedly "transferred over from supply", not something the Corps would ever countenance. The Recon Lieutenant is also portrayed as a broke-dick, which I have never seen or even heard of. They tend to be more than a little motivated and physically tough as nails, leading from the front. Camp Talega, a WWII-era set of Quonset Huts, and the arid terrain of Pendleton, pass for Camp Lejeune, which is marshy, humid, and pool-table flat. The battle scenes are a fanciful portrayal of Grenada, which had occurred three years previous (1983), and were filmed in Vieques. Like most cult favorites, Heartbreak Ridge has a ton of favorite scenes and quotes to unwrap when the beer flows, and once upon a time you were persona non grata if you had not seen the film at least once.
For all its flaws, the movie does get some things right. The special comraderie of young Marines is well-depicted, as is the widely varied racial and ethnic composition of the Marine Corps, then and now. And Gunny Highway's instilling in a platoon of undisciplined and beaten down Marines a sense of unit and individual pride is not far from the mark. Inspired leadership does work wonders. Highway himself is not as implausible as he might seem. Then, there were still a handful of Korean War Veterans still on active duty, and most of the Combat Arms Field Grade Officers and SNCOs were Vietnam Veterans and many were walking legends in a Corps which had few who had seen combat on any scale whatever. A good many of those Vietnam Veterans shaped the 1980s Marine Corps into something far better than they had endured in the 1970s post-Vietnam Carter years. The movie is also a not so subtle tribute to the honorable service of those men who came home from Southeast Asia to a nation that was at best indifferent and at worst, ungrateful.
The best part of Heartbreak Ridge from a cinematic standpoint was the opening credits. Brilliant and moving, the film opens to authentic B&W footage showing the horrors of war in Korea, set to the guitar and voice of the late Don Gibson's 1961 "Sea of Heartbreak". (Finding the opening in its original form is nearly impossible due to copyright issues, but here is the opening credits with a different arrangement of Gibson's hit.)
Oh, and h/t to DB for the inspiration. Funny how the mind works. URR here, by the way, as if you didn't know...
(URR) Actor Ron Glass, whose most famous role was that of fastidious Detective Ron Harris of the 12th Precinct in the magnificent sitcom series Barney Miller, has died at 71.
Ron Glass was an accomplished actor, appearing in dozens of television series and programs, and was nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of Detective Harris in the underrated Barney Miller. Despite the passage of forty years, give or take, each episode of that series remains as entertaining as the day it was aired. The humor of the caricature and absurdity of life inside the drab confines of the station of Greenwich Village's Finest had a gentility and intellectual aspect that is almost entirely absent from today's mean-spirited and crude insult that passes for "humor".
The series, which ran for seven seasons (1975-82) featured such talent as Jack Soo, Abe Vigoda, Max Gail, James Gregory, Hal Linden, and Steve Landesberg, each playing quirky and offbeat characters which made every episode worth the watch. Chief among them, however, was Glass as the impeccably dressed and groomed Harris.
In one memorable scene, in which Captain Miller hears that Harris had pursued on foot and wrestled a suspect to the ground, he is surprised to find Harris looking dapper in his tie, vest, and jacket, like he just stepped out of a fashion magazine.
Barney says "After all that, I thought you'd be a little more, I dunno, disheveled." To which Harris replies with flawless deadpan, "Can't do it, Barn." Brilliance.
Ron Glass, RIP You will be missed.
Not just any porn. Hard-core tranny porn. So the Independent tells us.
It's not immediately clear if the incident was a simple mistake—though it's hard to imagine how getting porn on air would be simple—or if it was the work of a rogue individual. It is also unclear how the unscheduled programming was allowed to stay on the air for 30 minutes.
CNN has not had the best of weeks, being slammed on Tuesday for running an "If Jews Are People" headline.
"If you've forgotten what it feels like to be satisfied with your entertainment provider, now is the time," the homepage for RCN reads, in an excerpt it's now hard not to read as double entendre.
At least someone had a sense of humor about it.
Beavis and Butthead, call your office.
(URR here.) On the heels of yesterday's Part I investigation which revealed incitement of violence at the campaign rallies of Donald Trump (paid for by the DNC and George Soros), we have the above, which details the extensive and decades-long election fraud perpetrated with the full knowledge of the candidates of the far-left. Illegal voters, bused from polling place to polling place. Dead people registered to vote. What was once a punch line for Chicago politics is now a national crisis, and a national disgrace. Watch the whole thing. Listen to the language, the tone, the contempt for law and for their political opposition. Win the election, even if you have to steal it in the night. Yesterday and today's videos are on top of at least seventeen separate voter fraud investigations in eleven states at last count. Not to mention the Wikileaks evidence, which is overwhelming, that Clinton rigged (and stole) the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders. Bernie, for his part, rather quickly endorsed Hillary, perhaps because he didn't want to have his brakes fail. Or suddenly feel suicidal. Or maybe, he didn't want to have an accident lifting weights.
To all those here and on the porch who claim that voter fraud is somehow "negligible", you are either naive to the point of stupidity and expect others to be as stupid, or you are lying and know you are lying. Here is incontrovertible proof that the far-left and Clinton campaign is using the thug tactics of the totalitarian regimes of the last century and this one, while weaponizing a corrupt government to punish and persecute extralegally law-abiding American citizens for the "crime" of being political opponents. So, do you prefer Brown Shirts, or Black ones? Of course, the mainstream media is assiduously ignoring these stories, but they are getting out anyway, thanks to the remaining free-speech power of the internet. Which, with Google and Twitter and Facebook deeply in the pocket of the far-left, may not last long.
Arm up. They will come for those when they are done stealing the rest of our government.
Perhaps Barack Obama would care to address the criminal actions in the video instead of trying to pretend that it didn't happen. But then, I am sure he found out by watching the news. Who knew he caught Hannity?
URR here. It doesn't get much better. XBRAD may have posted this at some point previously, but I don't care. It's a damned fine documentary.
Some superb video of the old "four pipers" bouncing around in the North Atlantic circa World War I, to boot! If I'd been a destroyerman, this would have been a must-have. Narrated by Senior Drill Instructor T/Sgt Moore? Can't beat it. Even if he steals a line or two from Victory at Sea...
(URR here.) Very interesting explanation of the tactics and weapons involve in ASW. Cool footage of the S-2F and the P-2V Neptune, to boot. Gotta dig the midnight-blue paint schemes, too.
The Soviets in the late 1940s, with the German Type XXI technology at their disposal, began producing Whiskey-class diesel boats in huge numbers. This caused something akin to near-panic for the West, as loss of the sea lanes would spell disaster should the Cold War turn hot. US Navy counter to these boats (and the Romeos and Zulus, all capable of roughly double the submerged speed of the German Type VII and IX series boats of the recent war) included modification of a great many Sumner and Gearing-class DDs into sub hunters (DDH) and sub killers (DDK), fitted with ahead-throwing weapon systems (Hedgehog) and significant sonar upgrades. In the air, the development of the rockets, depth bombs, and homing torpedoes discussed in the video gave great advantage to aircraft, as did airborne radar and MAD (magnetic anomaly detection) gear. True aerial ASW had only been in existence for about 12 years, and until these systems matured, was largely limited to attacks on surfaced boats, or depth charge attacks in suspected locations. Eighteen minutes, and change. Worth the watch.
Very sad news this morning from Missoula, Montana. David Thatcher, one of two surviving Veterans of the famous April 1942 Doolittle raid, has passed away at 94. (URR here.)
Thatcher was a 20-year old aerial gunner on the B-25 nicknamed "The Ruptured Duck". His story figures prominently in the classic "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo", written in 1943. I devoured that book at age ten, and was enthralled at the tale of heroism and daring that was the Doolittle raid. And with Thatcher's cool headed actions in treating and saving his crew mates. Amazingly, following the harrowing escape from Japanese-held territory, Thatcher flew in raids again in North Africa and Europe. No "safe space" for his generation.
Thatcher's death leaves one single surviving Doolittle raider out of the 80 airmen who flew the mission. Retired Air Force Colonel Richard E. Cole, aged 100, is the last with living memory of bombing Tokyo in those dark days of April, 1942. Their generation, and the country for which they bled and died to give us, remain treasures beyond compare. It saddens me to my soul that we are rapidly losing both.
Well done, SSgt Thatcher. I haven't the words to give your courage justice. Hand salute.
(URR here. This is a re-post from 2012 on the 75th anniversary of the beginning of BARBAROSSA. This was also my very first post over here at XBRAD's place.)
Those were Adolf Hitler’s words in December of 1940, as he revealed to his senior Wehrmacht Field Marshals and Generals his plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union.
At a few minutes past 0300 on the morning of 22 June 1941, the rumble of 8,000 artillery pieces shook the western positions of the Red Army, all along the new borders of the Soviet Union. Simultaneously, more than 3,300 aircraft roared overhead on their way to attack Soviet airfields, troop concentrations, command posts, and artillery positions. The most fateful day of the Twentieth Century had begun.
In the west, the Wehrmacht of Hitler’s Third Reich consisted of 2.5 million men and more than 4,000 tanks comprising 180 divisions, organized into three massive Army Groups, which were poised to smash their ideological and political enemies, the Bolshevik dictatorship of Stalin’s Soviet Russia.
Opposing the German onslaught was more than 3 million soldiers of Stalin’s Red Army. Numerically superior to its German opponent in men, aircraft (4,000), and tanks (more than 7,000), the armies on the Soviet western boundary were nonetheless abysmally led and poorly trained. Still reeling from Stalin’s 1937-39 purges of most of its officer corps, and from the bloody humiliation of the disastrous “Winter War” with Finland in the winter of 1939-40, the Red Army was ill-prepared for war against a modern western foe.
The Wehrmacht, on the other hand, was a finely tuned weapon of mechanized warfare, having conquered Poland two years earlier, and overrun France in less than six weeks in 1940. Superbly trained and equipped with modern armor and the most advanced combat aircraft, the three German Army Groups shattered the Soviet forces opposite them. The Luftwaffe swept the Red Air Force, the VVS, from the skies and smashed it on the ground. By the end of the second day, more than 2,300 Soviet aircraft had been destroyed. The Red Army was already being shattered and destroyed piecemeal, in what would be the “great battles of encirclement” of that summer and autumn of 1941, from which few escaped death or captivity. The eradication of the VVS was nearly complete. Nearly. The Red Army almost bled to death. Almost. Yet, somehow, they held on.
Operation BARBAROSSA, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, more than any other, was Hitler’s war. It was the war of Mein Kampf, the war for Lebensraum in the East, whose purpose was to open the great steppes for colonization by the Aryan race. It was a war not just of conquest but of subjugation and annihilation, fought with a brutality that had not been seen in Europe since the Tatar conquests of seven centuries before. It was a war of unspeakable horror and unimaginable suffering, by soldier and civilian alike. Prisoners on both sides died by the millions, worked to death as slave labor, starved, or simply shot or hanged out of hand. But it was also a war of grim and fatalistic heroism on both sides. The German-Soviet conflict, when it ended in the rubble of Berlin nearly four years later, would take the lives of almost twenty-three million souls.
Some of the most enduring images of the Eastern Front, and for the Soviets the Great Patriotic War, are of columns of Russian and German prisoners forlornly marching to their fates (the Russians seemingly always in the dust of the summer, the Germans in the bitter cold of winter). And of grainy images of executions and hangings by the German SS Einsatzgruppen, and far less publicized, of the execution of suspected Russian collaborators by field units of the NKVD, the terror apparatus of Stalin’s brutal regime.
There are lessons and cautions abundant in examining this titanic struggle. Cautions about underestimating one’s enemy, his will to fight for family and homeland. The Russian soldier, deemed racially inferior and incapable of waging modern war, proved individually tough, able to endure hardship and privation in startling measure. He was also fanatical in the defense, fierce in the attack, and bore a hatred of the “blue-eyed oaf” that would be carried across the borders of Prussia with terrible effect.
The Russian was also capable of producing simple but highly effective weaponry, and of mastering its employment. The T-34 and KV-1 tanks that began to appear in the autumn of 1941 were superior to any German design. Soviet aircraft began to close the technology gap with the Luftwaffe far faster than anticipated. Soviet artillery, superior to the Germans even in June of 1941, would dominate the battlefield as the Red Army’s “God of War”. All these would surprise and confound the German commanders who were told to expect an enemy of limited intellect and poor character.
There are also many myths and misconceptions surrounding the struggle between these oppressive dictatorships. Here are two:
Because the Germans did not win does not mean they were not capable of winning, or the Soviets capable of losing. Had the Ostheer kept its focus on Moscow as the main objective (the plan was to surround, not enter the city), and had Hoth’s Panzers been unleashed in the first week of August, rather than frittered away in other operations until October, the capture of the European capital of the Soviet Union was within its capabilities. Perhaps even more important than the purely political prize was the massive Soviet war industry that occupied the so-called “Moscow-Gorky Space”. Siberian forces did not begin to arrive to defend the city and its immediate area in significant numbers until late September, 1941. The capture of the Soviet war industry, which included the massive tank works at Gorky itself, and the aircraft engine factory at Kuibyshev, would have deprived the Soviet Union of its most valuable asset, the ability to replace the massive combat losses with more modern and capable equipment. Had those factories been destroyed or fallen into German hands, there would have been no MiG or Yak fighters, no Il-2 Sturmoviks, no PE-2s, or any of the other increasingly modern aircraft that would eventually sweep the Luftwaffe from the sky. There would have been no replacement divisions of T-34/76 and /85 tanks, no self-propelled guns, no artillery pieces to replace those lost in the massive battles or worn out in extensive combat. Without those factories and the hardware they produced, there would have been no rehabilitation of the VVS or of the Red Army into the juggernaut that crushed Army Group Vistula into bits and eventually subsume eastern Germany.
While it is true that the Soviet Union bore the unquestioned preponderance of the weight of German arms (at various times, 80% of German combat power was employed in the East, and nearly 80% of all German losses were inflicted by the Soviets), and the suffering and casualties of the Soviet military and civilian population exceeded the rest of the Allies combined by a wide margin, Stalin’s Russia could not have won the war without Allied, and particularly American, assistance. While many are familiar with pictures of some of the 9,000 US and British tanks shipped to the Soviets under Lend-Lease, these represented only about 20% of Soviet tank production during the war. There is little question upon any examination, however, that there were two absolutely critical areas of direct assistance were the linchpins of the survival of the Soviet Union in the dark days of 1941-43, and their drive to ultimate victory in 1944-45. The first of these areas was in food production. The United States shipped more than seventeen MILLION tons of food, wheat and canned goods, to the Soviet Union whose agricultural bread basket was under German occupation. That food sustained the Red Army and Russian war industry workers when none other was available. Without it, the prospects for Soviet victory would have been slim indeed. The second item so critical to the Soviet war effort was the supply of more than half a million American trucks. Tough, six-wheel drive vehicles which carried logistical supplies from the rear areas to the front, and which mounted the famous 122mm Katyusha rocket launchers by the tens of thousands, allowed the Red Army to supply itself on the battlefield in the defensive struggles of 1942 and carried that Army to the great offensive drives that eventually smashed the German Ostheer. Those trucks represent more than 70% of total Soviet vehicle production, freeing their industries to produce the war weapons, tanks, artillery pieces, and armored vehicles that equipped the Red Army.
The final victory of the Soviet Union is, however, a testament to the tough, fierce, and brave Russian soldier. His image, the hardened veteran soldier sitting atop a T-34 with PPSh in hand, scanning for a glimpse of the hated enemy, his mustard-colored quilt uniform covered with dust and snow, will endure for centuries in the collective consciousness of the Russian people.
The German invasion of the Soviet Union has never been comprehensively treated. The subject is far too large. It is too complex and incapable of being understood, except gradually, within the context of its salient events, and those of the rest of the world during and since. A thousand volume work on the subject would still require an explanation and a qualification that such a work was by no means all-inclusive. Yet, it remains one of the most compelling subjects for historians, social and military, because of the world-altering impact of the events themselves and their decades-long aftermath. The magnitude of the struggle defies modern understanding. As does the agony of the armies and the peoples locked in the grips of that mortal struggle.
And so it is likely to remain. And it began with the flash of cannon and the roar of engines, in the morning darkness, seventy-one years ago today.
PS: I am humbled and grateful to xbradtc for allowing me the intellectual pleasure of writing on this blog. And for his unwavering faith that a Marine actually knew how to write, and that I wouldn’t eat the crayons.