A Military K9’s Sendoff

A retired K9 reaches the end of the line. Weblo’s Final Flight: A Special Operations Military Working Dog Receives Hero’s Goodbye.

“Our working dogs are selfless in everything they do simply to please their handlers and those who work with them,” said Sergeant Major (retired) Jeremy Knabenshue, a veteran who worked as a K9 handler in the U.S. Army. “They give everything they have — to include their lives — without question to protect their pack.”

Coffee or Die usually worth a look.

Happy Birthday (Belated) Lawrence Brooks

The nation’s oldest WWII veteran just turned 110.

A man considered to be the nation’s oldest living World War II veteran was serenaded and showered with kisses during a celebration of his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Lawrence Brooks was born Sept. 12th, 1909.

Ratko Mladic Guilty of Genocide

People don’t even remember the war in Bosnia, let alone the people who were responsible for the atrocities. Ex-Bosnian Serb commander Mladic convicted of genocide, gets life in prison.

Both Republican (Bush the Elder) and Democratic (WJ Clinton) administrations ignored the war in Bosnia, even though it was waging only a couple of hundred miles from Germany. Or so. But then people don’t remember how World War One got started.

The U.N. Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found Mladic guilty of 10 of 11 charges, including the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and the siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 civilians were killed by shelling and sniper fire over 43 months.

As for the United Nations, their role in Srebrenica has been white-washed.

The Dutch peacekeepers looked on helplessly as Serb forces separated men and boys from women, then sent them out of sight on buses or marched them away to be shot.

The UN Peacekeepers put up no resistance when confronted by Serbs. And stationing UN “troops” in Srebrenica was just stationing a supply depot for the Serbs.

It is hard to learn the lessons of history, if no one studies history. And no one remembers Srebrenica.

Why Are We Fighting So Many Wars?

I would love to know what this is costing the US taxpayer, in a line-item format. Overextended?

The image is disturbing. How many places are we deploying our military? Too many. (Click the image to enlarge.)

This comment on yesterday’s post by fellow Lexican, all around good guy, and retired officer of the Naval Service (who goes by the moniker Air Boss* – for such he once was), made me do a little research.

We need to stop fighting multiple undeclared wars all over the world without the full participation of the American People.

October 25, 1854: The Charge of the Light Brigade

On October 25th, 1854, during the Crimean War, a British light cavalry brigade was ordered to make a disastrous charge. The Charge of the Light Brigade, 160 165 Years Ago.

Czar Nicholas I of Russia basically Went to war with the Ottoman Empire. France and England were disturbed at his territorial goals, which apparently included Constantinople. This would give the Russian Fleet access to the Mediterranean Sea. Fighting broke out in 1853, and Britain and France declared war in March of 1854.

As for the battle in question. Egos got in the way of communication. Orders were poorly understood, and not communicated correctly. A lot of people died as a result of idiocy on the part of officers. Which was apparently not that uncommon in the 19th Century.

In the end, of the roughly 670 Light Brigade soldiers, about 110 were killed and 160 were wounded, a 40 percent casualty rate. They also lost approximately 375 horses.

The Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem, “The Charge Of The Light Brigade”, was written to immortalize the bravery of the men involved. The most famous couplet from that poem is probably, “Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die.” The poem begins as follows.

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

The First Lady of Naval Cryptology

[UPDATE: Some folks seem to think I spelled Cryptography incorrectly in the title to this post. But that isn’t how Agnes Meyer-Driscoll was known. See Remembering the First Lady of Naval Cryptology. I originally referenced the NSA’s site, because why not. Maybe I should have used the Navy’s site.]

Agnes Meyer Driscoll sounds like an extraordinary woman. She was born July 24, 1889 and passed away on September 16, 1971.

In June 1918, about one year after America entered World War I, Agnes Meyer enlisted in the United States Navy. She was recruited at the highest possible rank of chief yeoman and was assigned to the Code and Signal section of the Director of Naval Communications. Except for a two-year hiatus, when she worked for a private firm, Agnes Meyer Driscoll (she married in 1924) would remain a leading cryptanalyst for the U.S. Navy until 1949.

She worked to break the Japanese naval codes of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. She worked to break the cipher of the Orange Machine, which wasn’t quite the Japanese Enigma. And she did work on Enigma, though that code was broken by the British.

In 1949 she transferred to the Armed Forces Security Agency, which became the National Security Agency in 1952. She retired in 1959.

Hat tip to Coffee or Die (which is becoming one of my favorite reads). 7 Badasses in the U.S. Navy — Who Aren’t SEALs! Which is worth your time in its own right. (Beach Jumpers, the USS Seahorse, and more.)

The White Rose of Stalingrad

Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak (Лидия Владимировна Литвяк) 18 August 1921 – 1 August 1943. She was known to everyone as Lilya. ‘The White Rose of Stalingrad’ was a female pilot who terrorized the Nazis.

Litvyak was only 20 years old when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. The young girl rushed to the recruiter and tried to join to be a fighter pilot. The recruiters sent her packing. In their minds, she was just a small, young girl.

In truth, she was flying solo at 15 and was an experienced pilot. A biographer estimated she trained more than 45 pilots on her own. She knew she could do this. So instead of giving up, she went to another recruiter and lied about her flying experience, by more than a hundred hours. That did the trick.

She flew a number of missions in an all-women fighter regiment, but was later transferred to a mixed gender regiment over Stalingrad.

The Wiki says she was the first female pilot to shoot down an enemy fighter in combat, and she was the 2nd woman pilot to achieve the title “Ace.”

Back to “We Are the Mighty.” On August 1st, 1943:

“The White Rose of Stalingrad” was last seen being chased by eight Nazi ME-109 fighters on an escort mission south of Moscow. Her body was lost until 1989 when historians discovered the unmarked grave of a female pilot in the Russian village of Dmytrivka.

The next year, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev awarded Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak the title “Hero of the Soviet Union,” the USSR’s highest military honor.

Badass of the Week’s story on Litvyak is fairly colorful, and worth a look as well.

For the next year, the White Rose of Stalingrad ignited enemy fuselages up and down the Eastern Front. She was transferred to a Guards Regiment, the elite of the Soviet military, and flew as a Junior Lieutenant and Flight Commander in the recently-established all-female 586th Fighter Air Regiment. She flew bomber escorts, attack missions, and was so ridiculously awesome that she was given a James Bond license to kill at will – she was assigned “Free Hunter” status, meaning that she was free to go balls-out into enemy airspace without orders to do so. Over that year she flew 66 combat missions, sometimes four or five a day, including one attack when she busted through a gauntlet of AA guns and fighters to shoot down an observation balloon that was fucking with the Red Army and helping Nazi artillery range their shells on Russian positions outside Stalingrad. So fuck those guys. She notched twelve solo kills – the most of any woman ever – and had four or five more assisted kills. Basically, she kicked some Fascist ass.

Lilya Litvak was one of only 2 female fight-pilot, aces in history. The other was her wingman Katya Budanova.

This video is 10 minutes, longer than I like for something like this, but interesting enough to be worth your time. It isn’t perfect, but there you go. YouTube will choke on the privacy settings in your browser; use the link when that happens. (You do have privacy cranked up to 11, don’t you?) And no, the video isn’t perfect, but then what it?

A NOTE: Several people have asked me, “Why all this Soviet history?” Well, I love WWII history, and I’ve studied a lot of the American and British involvement, but the Russian side of things I hadn’t studied until just recently. I also love stories about strong women, and given that the Russians were the only country who deployed women in combat in WWII, it seemed natural to look into it.

It is sad really that the some of the same people who will defend studying Lee’s Army of Virginia and what they managed to do during The Civil War will give you grief, if you apply the same standards elsewhere. The Soviet Union was a horrible country, but some of the things its citizens and soldiers did were amazing.

It is also nice to throw some sand on the people who say women have no place in combat, by pointing out the pilots and snipers who did amazing things. History can teach you a lot, if you bother to look.

John A. Chapman: July 14, 1965 – March 4, 2002

PawPaw’s House brings us the story of a Combat Controller in the United States Air Force who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. John Chapman, USAF.

John Chapman was a US Air Force combat controller. These guys work closely with units on the ground to help deliver assets to the battle. (That’s a gross over-simplification).

There is drone video of the engagement in question, and commentary at the link above.

Trigger warning. This is combat footage where men fight and die.

Sounds Like Red China Is Determined to Invade Taiwan

At least at some point in the future, and they are pissed that The United States is interfering. China cries foul at US Abrams, Stinger sale to Taiwan.

Shortly after news broke on Tuesday (July 9) that the U.S. State Department has approved US$2.2 billion worth of Abrams tanks, Stinger missiles, and other equipment, the Chinese government has cried foul at the deal, saying it represents “outside interference” with the “Taiwan question” and urged the U.S. to immediately cancel the deal.

Taiwan is not “internal” to Red China, no matter how much they say otherwise.