Discussion in 'Military History' started by bronk7, Mar 5, 2016.
Good discussion so far, guys. Keep it gentlemanly.
This is an interesting article. It is from a liberal source and I can quite assure that I am not very liberal politically, but it is interesting. Worth a read. It does fall in line with a lot of my thinking about WW2. That part might come from my background of growing up in an Anabaptist Mennonite rural community (I am neither). I know of families who shunned their sons because of going into the military. One local Mennonite scared the daylights out of locals when he broke formation from east to west coast and buzzed the town in a B17 at treetop levels. That was the last anyone ever heard from him. But being really young during Vietnam, I did hear the discussions and several near hangings during WW1 and WW2.
Something that surprised me from my interviews was how anti military the WW2 vets were in the current era. They hated the military and they hated the current use of the military, almost in unison. Current wars brought up a lot of PTSD issues. Keep in mind that most (not all) were working class or farm kids whose formative years were during the Depression and it's aftermath. In other words most of them were die hard Democrats and not just because of a love of FDR. They could tell you the policies.
Anyway an interesting read: http://www.dailykos....7/3/12/310930/-
everyone should hate war......and obviously the military was not going to be able to stop North Vietnam forever....so, people would 'hate' how things went in Nam......and there was My Lai, etc....did they really hate it, or just the 'pettiness'? we had Marines that got into trouble, and like most humans, they blamed someone or something else--this time the USMC.....can you be more specific on how and why they hated the military and how many?
my dad never said anything like that at all....he was proud of it....he never mentions his comrades being like that ...we had a gunny who was in Nam, and a Colonel that won the CMH.....they seemed to like the military--they were 'lifers'...hard to believe the majority hated the military........??
In Vietnam morale wasn't really a problem until post-Tet offensive. Public support for the war had plummeted and we made the decision to pull out. Morale began a gradual decline in mid-1968, maintained a gradual drop through 1969 then turned sharply downward in 1970. It should not be surprising, moral drops in most forces once it is realized that the cause is lost. Nobody wants to be the last man killed in a lost effort.
Studies have consistently shown that 90%+ of Vietnam Veterans (actual ones*) do not regret having served, and one statistic that I found surprising is that in the neighborhood of 70-75% would do it again knowing the outcome. I do think that had these studies been conducted closer to the end of the war the percentages would be lower (they were conducted from the 80's to present). Time does change ones perspective, both by coloring ones recollections and in placing the event in historical context.
*as stated earlier;
The 2,709,918 figure, as having served in theater, is a solid number. Then subtract out combat, and non-combat deaths during the war. Then subtract out those that have died by other causes since the end of the war and you can begin to see how big the "phoney vietnam vet" problem is. The 13,853,027 figure for those claiming to have served IN Vietnam even dwarfs the total the 9,087,000 total that served in the military from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975. (Approximately 50,000 personnel serve prior to the 1964 date, primarily as advisers, trainers).
Per our earlier discussion, here is an interesting 1987 study on the subject from the army.mil website. I was not aware of this prior to reading the study but the 6 month officer rotation policy for the Army (the Marine Corps did not have a similar policy) was a holdover from the Korean War. Apparently, from this study at least, it had a number of positive aspects as well.
My interviews got pretty deep. It was a very lengthy process. Many of the guys (vast majority) had pretty intense reactions to recent wars. Yes they hated the use of our military and they hated the military. They hated the conditions, not always fighting for clear objectives (mostly Opheusden and after Bastogne).
They hated the way medals were given. Odd thing was they were all over the board on opinions of the enemy (Germany and the German soldiers). For sure not as intense as a group as the intensity toward the military. Very compassionate about modern soldiers, not the military. They had a rather severe disdain for certain officers (not all), but it was surprising how deep it way.
One of the guys had to be physically restrained by his wife and others during his viewing of Saving Private Ryan in re to killing enemy soldiers. He hated them. Funny thing is that he is probably the most adjusted of the guys deep down.
The WW2 guys didn't regret serving if asked that question. There seemed to be a deep sadness over innocence lost. Again, I'm talking about a relatively small sample from one unit. They seemed to dislike being called heroes, but not out of humbleness. It was much deeper than that. I came away thinking they really don't/didn't like being thanked for their service. All but one seemed to appreciate listening and the attempts to understand not the victories, but the pain of the trauma, especially when they felt powerless (artillery and being ordered to do something counter intuitive) and the loss of friends. Loss could be killed, severely injured or something that caused them to being suddenly and forever removed from their life. As an example, one guy (a bazooka man) had his assistant hit by the same tank. The other guy was never seen again after taken to medics and he never learned anymore about it.
I don't have stats on friendly fire incidents. A huge source of pain and anger comes from friendly fire incidents that were well known among the soldiers, but denied by the officers investigating. Maybe airborne was more susceptible?
The worst one came from the Douve River crossing at Brevands. The guys knew it was US mortar rounds. There were some German mines in the area. I've read the hospital and death reports. Most injuries were likely mortar as the guys knew. There were some guys who could have hit mines. McAuliff denied mortars. Another one of the bigger incidents came from P47 attacks near Foy. Colonel Wear was relieved withing 18 hours after the Douve crossing, but the official rant was mines.
very interesting information in that link Price...ty......said maneuver battalions suffered less casualties with experienced COs...this is just common sense, no?........my uncle served from 1943 to 1945...now, not constant combat-but still a long tome......I read where you get them some sleep, food, etc and they ready to go some more.....and as the link said, Nam had more of the 'home' comforts more often......
but they knew that had to get to 'Berlin'.....a 'target', no
Honestly, no it wasn't a thought until they thought they might glide to Berlin, but that was soon not an objective. All they knew was what was in front of them. News wasn't that fresh. They were told where to be and they did it. They had little respect for many of the officers (not just normal bitching about ranking officers). There were good ones as well they did respect. The disrespect was a lot more deep seeded than I expected. If I could post pics I'd put up a letter to George Koskimaki about this type of thing. Very pervasive. G Co's Capt Evans who became a Vietnam Colonel was wounded at Marvie but not friendly friendly fire. It was an attempt to kill him. Two guys right there backed each other up in my interviews. The MR just says wounded. He returned going to Alsace. The private was KIA at Marvie shortly after.
That limited scope is one of the reasons they didn't break. The enemy did over run 2nd BN at Marvie but they didn't leave. The guys more inclined to run were the older guys. The younger guys indicated the older guys were stronger in the beginning but as things wore on....the older guys weren't as effective.
2nd BN mortars did run in the first battle of Marvie but that was because the mistook the 326 combat engineers pulling out as the 327 replaced their position as a rout as German armor and infantry swarmed Marvie as the 327 was just getting into the village. Col Rouzie and Col Harper were behind Marvie overlooking the village and reported that Marvie had fallen just outside of Bastogne as they were mis-evaluating the situation. The Germans couldn't see the 10th's positions on the right through the fog and they thought the US was leaving as the 326 pulled out. They strode right into a hornets nest.
I was in the USMC for 8 years.....I know about respecting or not respecting COs, officers, Non Coms, etc......some are good at what they do and tactful, and know how to work and talk with people......some are good at what they do, but don't know how to work with people....some are neither, etc etc....most of our officers were good to go
''little respect for many of the officers''?? possible because there were so many officers needed they couldn't weed out bad ones like when I was in....I'm guessing, they wouldn't listen to officers who did things that would get them killed....??
I am not sure if you talked about the battle place. If you are closing in on your own country you are more motivated and fighting in Europe against some guy named Adolf.
For instance the Finns in summer 1944 after the massive Red Army breakthrough talked that either it stops here or we don´t have home. Their bravery gave us home. Never underestimate the "enemy" when
you are going closer or deeper in his homeland.
good point Kai...and the lines of communication shorter......can you tell us about how the Finns rotated troops??
I read Captain Evan's report. Never talked about the incident, but did about that battle where he was shot be his own man. He mentioned that he preferred to bring in new officers w/o combat experience to taking experienced men out of the squad.
At Marvie, Evans didn't get intelligence that the enemy was operating in the immediate area and according to witnesses, though normally calm (led by example at Opheusden in disregard to his own safety) he completely fell apart. Still many did not like him. The blamed him for being the lead company in 2nd BN on many difficult situations compared to others. To a degree, my opinion is that this is correct, but sometimes it was just timing.
After getting hit hard east of Carentan and put in reserve they were immediately attached to the 401 and led the charge into an ambush at Carentan. G Co member and Pulitzer awardee Louis Simpson did this poem on that battle narrated by Durning. You do hear a hint of the attitude toward Evans in the poem. Simpson was a runner for Evans.
On another point on this subject of troop effectiveness, something that isn't well known and by discussing it, I'm not making an opinion.
When the 101st got back from Opheusden, there was a lot of depression and a number of suicides. Two of the suicides were an officer and an enlisted men. They were in a gay relationship and caught, both committing suicide. One was married with a family. This happened just before deployment to Bastogne. After most combat activities ceased in that area (north of Bastogne), the 101 including the 327 began weeding out men who were suspected of being gay. Some of the guys knew about it, others did not. A number of men were marshaled out.
One of the G guys this happened to later married in life and had kids. He just wasn't as masculine as others, but it was talked about in the squad and platoon. Some said he just seemed immature physically and suspected he'd lied about his real age.
It happens, I was on a float once where the Captain or Exec, don't remember which, was having an affair with one of the black gang sailors. The officer broke up with the enlisted sailor and the kid committed suicide and left a note detailing the relationship. They flew the officer off the ship almost immediately and tried to hush it up. It was prime scuttlebutt, spread through the ships company like wildfire and even we Marines found out about it pretty quickly.
On another occasion I was a cadre at a school, where we were getting a lot of Marines fresh from bootcamp. We lived in open squadbays with the NCO quarters a little room up by the quarterdeck. I heard a commotion in the middle of the night one night and came out madder than a smashed cat, hollering what the f--k is going on. Turns out we had a gay Marine that had a crush on another Marine. He came back from a night of heavy drinking, stripped down naked and crawled in the rack with the other Marine. Guy woke up and proceeded to try and beat the gay Marine to death, I had to get several privates to help me pull him off. The gay guy started crying and talking about how he was going to kill himself so I had him sit in a chair on the quarterdeck the rest of the night and put a suicide watch on him. I went and reported it to the duty and they came by bright and early next morning and took him away.
Homosexuality was illegal in the UK during WW2, but not unknown within the armed forces.
My father told me that the bravest man in his unit was a fairly openly gay man. He had made a pass at my father who was straight and told him to get lost. But when the unit was mortared in Normandy, this man was the one who left cover to help the wounded even while the bombs were still falling.
As a regular soldier in the 1980s we thought we knew who was gay or bisexual. I was surprised at the tolerance shown by the senior NCOs who were quite conservative on most matters. But I guess these practical psychologists were well aware of the foibles of the soldiery. And some British military organisations are quite proud of their reputation for sexual deficiency...https://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Royal_Marines
One of the reasons that the British Army was happy to disband the Womens Royal Army Corps in 1990 was the institutionalized lesbianism and some unsavory stories about sexual bullying. Not making this up!
Most don't sign up for military service with the possibility of some freak climbing into your bed while sleeping. That would really mess with moral and quality sleep time.
Now really wonder how women combatants could possibly fit in without worrying about some creepy dude trying to crawl into bed with them after a night of drinking.
Thinking this vid is relevant
another factor to consider was that in Nam, the body count was a factor in how the war was fought....the officers would push their men to get higher body counts...the men would receive ''goodies'' for higher body count, be the bodies civilian or military....whereas in WW2, ground gained was the factor
Fred's got this.
great article...many, many aspects to discuss.....this one is first
''small'', well trained units can be 'better', more than just light infantry....one example I just read--I think in Breakout about the Chosin...my dad's best friend is quoted in the book.....a Marine Colonel, or LTCol,--I forget-- sends a Marine to check what's going on...the Marine comes back and says the Chinese are behind us...the Col, smoking a cigarette, says ''what else did you learn?' !!!!!! the Marine says, sir, ''that's pretty big news by itself''.....the Col takes a puff and says ''we'll take care of them'' !!!!! sub zero temps, outnumbered and enemy all over, ..this is a lethal, deadly major problem, and he says with no worries, ''we'll take care of them'' .....he had confidence in himself and his fellow Marines...and the USMC was one of the few units not chewed up in the Chinese attack...
you want confidence, etc....
most military men know, after being in combat, this is not the case....fear, hunger,tired,etc---these are the emotions of battle...