A Marine Corps bugler plays “Taps” beside the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
You’ve probably seen the famous photo of the Iwo Jima flag-raising. You may even have seen a photo of this statue, which stands across the river from Washington, D.C. But you may not have seen one that demonstrates just how monumental this sculpture is. After the bloody World War II battle, Admiral Chester Nimitz made the now-famous observation: “Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
The Independence Day festivities haven’t begun yet (although July 3 is the day this year we’ll celebrate the nation’s birthday because the 4th of July falls on a Saturday), but we wanted to present a FRIFO with a little history, a little color and, perhaps a little magic. We think this photo fits the bill. Please click on it with mouse or finger to enlarge the image for the full effect.
And have a safe and happy holiday while pausing to remember the 56 brave men who pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” and signed a document 239 years ago on a hot summer day in Philadelphia that changed the world. And please remember all the brave men and women who came after them to defend the ideas behind that document on battlefields and factory floors, in courtrooms and classrooms, at town halls and lunch counters.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA, AND MANY MORE.
Suspected Boko Haram Attack.
More than 100 people are reported to have been killed this week by suspected Boko Haram Islamist extremists in northeastern Nigeria, according to area residents.
Dozens of militants stormed three remote villages in Borno state “slaughtering residents and setting houses ablaze in the bloodiest day of attacks by the extremist group since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in May,” AFP, the French news agency reported. The terrorists attacked worshipers just after prayers at several local mosques. Buhari, a Muslim and former army commander, has vowed to crush Boko Haram, which launched a terrorist campaign to establish a strict Islamic state in 2009.
Gunmen killed at least 97 people in the village of Kukawa on Wednesday (July 1). In two other villages about 50 kilometers (31 miles) away near Monguno, gunmen killed 48 people and injured 11 others, AFP reported. All three communities are located near Lake Chad (see map), close to where Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon intersect, and has been a focal point of the unrest. Boko Haram has stepped up its campaign of violence, since Buhari was elected, killing some 400 people.
According to Amnesty International, at least 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since 2009, BBC reported. Boko Haram has affiliated itself with the self-styled Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) which has spread a reign of terror over parts of Syria and Iraq.
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U.N. Peacekeepers Killed.
Six United Nations peacekeepers were killed and five were wounded when their convoy was attacked in northern Mali Thursday (July 2), according to the Voice of America website.
A statement from the U.N. peackeeping force in Mali — MINUSMA — said the convoy was attacked about 45 kilometers (27 miles) southwest of the city of Timbuktu. The U.N. said all of the killed and wounded were from Burkina Faso. The statement also said the latest attack brings to 42 the number of peacekeepers killed and 166 wounded in hostile action in Mali since 2013. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Violence has continued in northern Mali despite a French-led military campaign in January 2013 to drive al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels that seized control of nearly half the sprawling North Africa country after a Tuareg uprising led to a military coup that plunged the country into chaos.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports, officials in neighboring Mali are reinforcing security along its northern border after recent attacks just across the border in Mali that are being blamed on Islamic insurgents.
Armed men attacked and briefly took control of Fakola, a town in Mali’s southern region of Sikasso, close to the border with Ivory Coast, on Sunday (June 28). The raid followed a similar attack weeks earlier during which dozens of suspected Islamist militants hit a police station in the nearby town of Misseni, Reuters said.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa grower and French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy, is emerging from a decade-long political crisis and now is in the midst of an economic revival.
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Tunisia Beach Attack.
Eight suspects, including a woman, are being held in custody on suspicion of being directly linked to the June 26 deadly attack on vacationers in the Tunisian resort of Sousse, the BBC reports.
Thirty -eight people were killed when a gunman opened fire on tourists staying in the popular resort of Port El Kantaoui, just north of Sousse. The self-described Islamic State, a violent extremist organization that has captured parts of Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Thirty of the victims were British and were staying at the Hotel Rui Imperial Marhaba and neighboring Hotel Rui Bellevue Park. Dozens more are still being treated in hospitals. The other victims were from Belgium, Germany, Russia, Ireland and Portugal, according to CNN.
Tunisian authorities have identified 28-year-old student Seifeddine Rezgui as the gunman. In March, two gunmen killed 22 people in an attack at the famous Bardo museum in Tunisia’s capital, Tunis. Islamic State has built a significant presence in Libya, Tunisia’s neighbor, and it thought to control the major towns of Derna and Sirte, the BBC said.
Your 4GWAR editor is on vacation. Postings will resume on Thursday, July 2.
Until then: Be safe. Be smart.
A member of Special Operations Command throws the shot put during field competition for the 2015 Defense Department Warrior Games, at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, June 23, 2015.
The Warrior Games, founded in 2010, is a Paralympic-style competition that features eight adaptive sports for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force, Special Operations Command, and the British Armed Forces.
To see more photos of these amazing people, click here.
A Month to Remember.
The month of June is when summer really gets going (in the northern hemisphere). Traditionally, it’s a time of graduations and weddings and outdoor recreation before the heat gets oppressive and the bugs become maddening. This year, it also marks the anniversaries of several significant historical events.
Napoleon Meets His Waterloo.
It’s been 200 years since combined British, Dutch, and Prussian forces under England’s Duke of Wellington defeated France’s Armee du Nord (Army of the North) near the village of Waterloo. The climactic 9-hour battle on June 18, 1815 led to defeat and final exile for French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte — ending France’s domination of Europe and changing European diplomacy and politics for decades.
The basic story:
Napoleon, defeated in 1814 and sent into exile on the island of Elba, escapes and returns to France, raises an army, scares the reigning French king and his government out of Paris and marches to Belgium to confront the latest international alliance (Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, Russia, Prussia and several smaller German states) formed to defeat him.
Napoleon defeats — but doesn’t destroy — a Prussian army under Marshal Blucher on June 16 at Ligny in Belgium. The emperor’s strategy is to defeat each army separately before they can mass and overwhelm the French. The Russian and Austrian armies are still far off. So on June 18, Napoleon turned on the Anglo-Dutch-German forces under Wellington near Waterloo. Because of heavy rains the night before, the battlefield is sodden and Napoleon decides to delay his attack until the fields dry out enough so his troops and cannon won’t have to slog miles through the mire. Many historians count this as a mistake — if not a blunder — for the delay allows the Prussians to reorganize and come to Wellington’s aid and overwhelm the now-outnumbered French.
Because of the enormity of events that day (Wellington’s forces numbered 68,000. Napoleon had 82,000 at his command and the Prussians brought another 30,000 to their second-go-round with the French.) we leave it to others to describe the ebb and flow of battle.
Here is a sampling of detailed online accounts of the battle:
Under the pressure of attacks by the Prussians and Wellington, the French army falls apart. Napoleon is forced to abdicate again, and is sent into exile again, but much farther away to the island of St. Helena’s in the South Atlantic, where he dies in 1821. Britain, arguably, becomes the most powerful nation in Europe, if not the world. And except for failed revolts and revolutions — mostly in 1848 — there is no big military conflict in Europe until 1854 when Britain, France and Turkey wage war against Russia in the Crimea (which gave us the Charge of the Light Brigade, Florence Nightingale and the original Thin Red Line.)
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Closer to home, there are a couple of other significant events that happened in June.
Regular visitors may remember in April we posted that Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865 did not end the Civil War. There were still two armies, one in North Carolina commanded by Joseph Johnston and another in the West commanded by Edmund Kirby Smith. Johnston surrendered on April 26 and Kirby Smith surrendered on May 26.
Last month we also posted that the last battle of the Civil War was fought at Palmito Ranch on the Rio Grande in Texas on May 12-13. By the way, the Confederates won that battle.
But that still didn’t end slavery in Texas. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 when U.S. Major General Gordon sailed into Galveston Bay with 1,800 Union troops and announced his General Order No. 3.
It informed the people of Texas, that “in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States (President Lincoln), all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”
Until then, the estimated 250,000 slaves in Texas did not know that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had freed them — and all the other slaves in states in open rebellion against Washington, as of January 1863. It’s important to note that the Emancipation Proclamation couldn’t be enforced until Union troops gained control of each state that had left the Union. The last major Union thrust west of the Mississippi River from Louisiana had ended in failure in May 1864.
The date, June 19th — or Juneteenth — has become a significant holiday for African-Americans to celebrate freedom from enslavement.
Happy Birthday, U.S. Army.
On June 14, 1775 — at the urging of John Adams (the future 2nd U.S. president) — the Continental Congress, in effect, created the U.S. Army by voting $2 million in funding for the colonial militias around Boston and New York City. Congress also ordered the raising of ten companies of expert riflemen from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Together with the ragtag militias in New England and New York they would form the first Continental Army. George Washington of Virginia, one of the few colonials with military command experience (from the French and Indian War) would take command in Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 3, 1775.
For more birthday photos around the Army, click here.
Two years later, on June 14, 1777, Congress adopted the 13-star, 13-red-and-white-striped flag as the national flag. Flag day was celebrated on various days in various ways around the United States until the 20th century.
As war wracked Europe and the Middle East in 1916, and it looked more and more like the United States would be drawn into the horrific conflict known as the Great War, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. In August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress — but it’s not an official federal holiday. Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of June 14 as oficially-designated flag day.
SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.
Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Eddie Myers parachutes from a UH-1Y Venom helicopter during insertion training on Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Myers is a parachute safety officer assigned to Detachment 4th Force Reconnaissance Company.
Click on photo to enlarge image.
In a world where North Korea can hack a movie production company’s internal communication and employee data as an act of revenge and diplomatic pique and U.S. authorities are looking into cyber spying on a Major League Baseball team — possibly by another team — it should come as no surprise that another U.S. government agency is upping its cyber defense game.
The U.S. Coast Guard has developed a cyber strategy to guide its priorities over the next 10 years. Those priorities include: defending U.S. cyberspace and the Coast Guard’s network; recognizing cyberspace as an operational domain and defend the Coast Guard’s information and communication networks while developing capabilities to detect, deter and defeat malicious activity in cyberspace; protecting the information system infrastructure that the national Maritime Transportation System relies on, which has economic and national security implications.
Admiral Paul Zukunft, the Coast Guard’s commandant, outlined the strategy this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank. He noted that all aspects of modern life have been enhanced – but often made dependent — on information technology from mobile phones to data storage facilities. And that has made numerous entities, including the nation’s Maritime Transportation System vulnerable to a wide range of cyber attacks by adversaries ranging from terrorists and hostile nation states to transnational organized crime cartels and disaffected or sloppy IT workers.
A key defense, Zukunft said several times was “cyber hygiene,” following safety practices when using government, corporate or personal computer systems. That includes not sharing passwords or using easily corruptible devices like thumb drives.
Zukunft noted that the nation’s security and prosperity is critically reliant on a safe and secure maritime domain, which, in turn is dependent on safe and reliable communications and digital networks. But the Coast Guard faces a daunting task. The two-year-old Coast Guard Cyber Command has just 70 members compared to the thousands at the Defense Department’s cyber unit. The cyber strategy notes that a recent report to Congress indicates an 1,121-percent rise in cybersecurity incidents reported to government agencies from 2006 to 2014. The report, by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) cites a significant rise in the compromise of sensitive information which could adversely affect national security, public health and safety.