Archive for August, 2013

Carlson’s Raid on Makin Island 17-18 Aug 1943

August 19, 2013

All, here is a glimpse since the Green Mountain Boys/Rangers to the first in the origin of special ops and MARSOC

“The war news in America in 1942 was bleak. Our navy has lost the bulk of its striking power, with the exception of the carriers, at Pearl Harbor. German U-Boats prowled the Atlantic and exacted a terrible toll on United States shipping. American outposts such as Guam and Wake Island had already fallen to overwhelming Japanese forces in December 1941, and other U.S. forces in the Philippines surrendered in early May 1942. Although the U.S. Navy won the most important naval battle of the war off Midway Island from 4-6 Jun, the full impact of the victory, which put the Japanese Navy on the strategic defensive, was not yet fully appreciated by the Pacific Fleet staff. Most Americans thought the Pacific Ocean was rapidly becoming a Japanese “lake”.

In August 1942, however, two events were to take place that would capture the imagination and hope of the American people. The first was the landing of the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands on the 7th; the second was a daring raid on Makin Island by two companies if the 2d Raider Battalion in the 17th and 18th. . .”

Lest We Forget

Carlson’s Raid on Makin Island – MCG – Aug 2001


Why ‘Chesty’ Still Inspires The Marines

August 13, 2013


July 27, 2013
Wall Street Journal
July 27, 2013
Pg. C12

Why ‘Chesty’ Still Inspires The Marines
By Amanda Foreman

The Korean War rarely gets a mention these days. Sandwiched between the epic struggle of World War II and the moral carnage of Vietnam, the conflict has suffered by comparison. It is all the more reason why the 60th anniversary of the Korean Armistice should not pass us by this week without a few moments of reflection.

The 2.5-mile-wide demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea was officially established on July 27, 1953. To some, the DMZ’s existence is another reason not to dwell on the war. But to others, it is an emblem of the hard-won peace that has since endured-a peace that was achieved with the help of men like Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, the most highly decorated Marine in U.S. history.

Puller, who died in 1971, may be little known outside of the Marine Corps. But his name lives on among the men and women who serve. At any Marine base around the world, the close of day is often greeted with the cry, “Goodnight, Chesty Puller, wherever you are.”

Puller was in his early 50s when the Korean War began and already a legend in the Corps. He was old-style, the kind of soldier who insisted on leading his men from the front. In November 1950, Chesty was given command of the 1st Marine Division and dispatched to a remote area in North Korea known as the Chosin Reservoir.

As related in Jon T. Hoffman’s “Chesty,” the Marines barely had time to set up base camp when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army attacked their position. The embedded journalists immediately confronted Chesty, demanding to know his plan. Calmly he replied: “We’ve been looking for the enemy for several days now. We’ve finally found them. We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem of finding these people and killing them.”

His bravado wasn’t simply for show. Chesty always stationed himself wherever the fighting was at its fiercest. At Chosin, the heat of action was around the base perimeter. When a frightened major dared to ask about the line of retreat, Chesty radioed the base’s artillery commander and ordered him to fire on any soldier who abandoned his position; then he turned back to the unfortunate officer and said, “That answer your question? There will be no withdrawal.”

The “Chesty effect” on the division was palpable. A battalion commander recalled: “Puller gave us pride in some way I can’t describe. All of us had heard hundreds of stories about him. He kept building up our morale higher and higher, just by being there.”

On Dec. 6, 1950, Chesty was ordered to break out of Chosin Reservoir and open an escape route to Hungnam port. The 80,000-strong PLA was no longer the only enemy confronting the Marines. By now the temperature had dropped to 25 degrees below zero. Fighting every step of the way, Chesty succeeded in not just bringing out the wounded and the dead but also every vehicle and piece of equipment worth saving. Behind him, spread out for miles, lay the broken remnants of seven Chinese divisions.

In his inimitable way, Chesty refused to call the retreat a defeat, let alone a retreat. As the general waited to board his ship, he ordered reporters to “Remember, whatever you write, this was no retreat. All that happened was we found more Chinese behind us than in front of us. So we about-faced and attacked.” The Navy rewarded Chesty for Chosin Reservoir with his fifth Navy Cross.

With a resurgent North Korea under Kim Jong Un once again threatening to destabilize the region, it is worth remembering that weapons are important but leaders like Lewis “Chesty” Puller are priceless.

There is always a way to get a beer.

August 10, 2013

Nothing has changed over the years. There is always a way to get a beer.

The underbelly of history. A lot of stories like this buried with the men who fulfilled the missions.


In the lighter moments of WWII, the Spitfire was used
in an unorthodox role: bringing beer kegs to the men
in Normandy.

During the war, the Heneger and Constable brewery donated free beer to the troops. After D-Day, supplying the invasion troops in Normandy with vital supplies was already a challenge. Obviously, there was no room in the logistics chain for such luxuries as beer or other types of refreshments. Some men, often called ‘sourcers’, were able to get wine or other niceties from the land or rather from the locals. RAF Spitfire pilots came up with an even better idea.

The Spitfire Mk IX was an evolved version of the Spitfire, with pylons under the wings for bombs or tanks. It was discovered that the bomb pylons could also be modified to carry beer kegs. According to pictures that can be found, various sizes of kegs were used. Whether the kegs could be jettisoned in case of emergency is unknown. If the Spitfire flew high enough, the cold air at altitude would even refresh the beer, making it ready for consumption upon arrival.

A variation was a long range fuel tank modified to carry beer instead of fuel. The modification even received the official designation Mod. XXX.
Propaganda services were quick to pick up on this, which probably explains the official designation.


Mod. XXX tank being filled.

As a result, Spitfires equipped with Mod XXX or keg-carrying pylons were often sent back to Great Britain for maintenance or liaison duties. They would then return to Normandy with full beer kegs fitted under the wings.


The Spitfire had very little ground clearance with the larger beer kegs.

Typically, the British Ministry of Revenue and Excise stepped in, notifying the brewery that they were in violation of the law by exporting beer without paying the relevant taxes. It seems that Mod. XXX was terminated then, but various squadrons found different ways to refurbish their stocks, most often done with the unofficial approval of higher echelons.

In his book Dancing in the Skies, Tony Jonsson, the only Icelancer pilot in the RAF, recalled beer runs while he was flying with 65 Squadron. Every week a pilot was sent back to the UK to fill some cleaned-up drop tanks with beer and return to the squadron. Jonsson hated the beer runs as every man on the squadron would be watching you upon arrival. Anyone who made a rough landing and dropped the tanks would be the most hated man on the squadron for an entire week.


Water bombing forest fires

August 4, 2013


Water bombing forest fires
Very courageous and skilled pilots. The shots of the pilot wrestling with the controls is revealing…

The old company, Bombardier Aerospace, makes these. They don’t ‘motor around” to fill the tanks—they touch down at approach speed, open the fill scoops, add lots of power, and the tanks fill in seconds. There’s one scene in the film where you can see the two tank level gauges rapidly go up. The other neat thing is watching the magnitude of the flight control inputs, especially aileron, as they are maneuvering down low—sometimes the pilot is literally going stop to stop. Real flying!