Posts filed under ‘Army’

FRIDAY FOTO (January 4, 2019)

Combat Light Show.

Night Fire

(U.S. Army photo by Army Captain Johnathan Leigh)

Like some modernistic painting, this December 20, 2018 photo shows soldiers conducting a night fire mission while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.

As Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman reportedly said: “A battery of field artillery is worth a thousand muskets.”

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January 4, 2019 at 10:57 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 28, 2018)

Macbeth, Act IV, Scene II

Advanced Skills Sniper Training

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Connor Mendez)

This photo, taken December 12, 2018, shows Army Special Forces (Green Beret) snipers sprinting uphill during advanced skills sniper training at Fort Carson, Colorado.

The camouflage outfit they wear is known as a ghillie suit. We’ve written about ghillie suits several times in the past. Designed to look like heavy foliage in a forest or field, it was originally developed by Scottish gamekeepers as a portable hunting blind and first adopted for war in 1916. The name derives from a Scottish word for “lad” or “servant.”

Speaking of Scotland, these ghillie men remind us of a key scene in William Shakespeare’s drama, Macbeth, by longstanding theater world superstition, referred to simply as “the Scottish play.”

In Macbeth, the murderous title character has usurped the crown of Scotland and fears retribution, but three witches — or weird sisters — conjure an apparition that promises  Macbeth will never be defeated until Birnam Wood marches to fight him at Dunsinane Hill.

Since trees can’t uproot themselves and march, Macbeth thinks he has nothing to fear, but later in the play he is defeated by an army emerging from the woods using felled branches as camouflage — so it looked like the woods were walking indeed.

December 28, 2018 at 12:15 am Leave a comment

SEASON’S GREETINGS: Yuletide Customs and Activities of Those in Uniform

Flying Elves

Santa, Elves jump for Operation Toy Drop 2018

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristof J. Rixmann)

Airmen dressed as Santa’s elves conduct static line jumps out of a C-130J Super Hercules during Operation Toy Drop 2018, to deliver gifts via cargo delivery system drops at Alzey drop zone in Germany, on December 13, 2018.

Singing Sergeants

USAF Band Singing Sergeants Perform at Joint Base Andrews

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Michael Keller)

Tech Sergeants Ashley Keeks (left) and Adrienne Kling — members of the Air Force Band’s Singing Sergeants ensemble — sing Christmas carols at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on December 19, 2018.

‘Lest We Forget

27th National Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington National Cemetery

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

Marine Corps Major Jason Bowers lays a wreath in front of a headstone during the 27th National Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia on December 15, 2018.

Here Comes Santa Claus

U.S. Indo-Pacific Forces Participate in Annual Operation Christmas Drop

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Barry A. King (left) and 1st Lieutenant Emery Gumapas make adjustments aboard a C-130J Super Hercules on its way to airdrop supplies to the island of Nama in Micronesia on December 10, 2018, during Operation Christmas Drop, a humanitarian operation and training mission for U.S., Japanese and Australian cargo plane crews.

G’Day Santa

Operation Christmas Drop 2018 is a Wrap, Until Next Year Micronesia

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

As noted in the photo above, American crews and aircraft aren’t the only participants in Operation Christmas Drop. Here we see Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lieutenant Simon Mason, a C-130J pilot f the 37th Squadron RAAF Base Richmond, Australia, checking the horizon on Santa 99’s way to the atoll of Kapingamarangi in the Federated States of Micronesia on December 13, 2018.

Starting with the first airdrop to Kapingamarangi 67 years ago, Operation Cargo Drop is the world’s longest running airdrop training mission, providing critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands and affecting approximately 20,000 people across 1.8 million square nautical miles of operating area.

A Visit from St. Nicholas — and the Marines.

XMAS No. 5 USMC Sgt Reading story

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Samantha Schwoch)

Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Marcus B. Bailey reads “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” to children attending a holiday concert in New Orleans on December 9, 2018. The concert is designed to promote the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.

Toy Drop Objective

XMAS No. 7A

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Sinthia Rosario)

Captain Rizzoli Elias, company commander of the 5th Quartermaster Theater Aerial Delivery Company in the 16th Sustainment Brigade, gives a German child a stuffed animal as part of Operation Toy Drop at Alzey, Germany on Dedcember 13, 2018. Operation Toy Drop is an annual multi-national training event designed to strengthen relations with the local community and develop interoperability among military partners.

Santa Gets a Lift.

XMAS No. 8 Coast Guard Santa

(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter delivers Santa, his elves and gifts to the children of various remote villages in Alaska on December 12, 2018. “Santa to the Villages” was created in 1974 by the Coast Guard Spouses Association in an effort to spread holiday cheer to children throughout remote portions of Alaska.

Santa Training

XMAS No. 10 Canadians Santa

(Canadian Army photo by Corporal Genevieve Lapointe)

Alaska isn’t the only part of the Far North to be visited by Santa. He worked out with the Canadian Army to get ready for his big day, whi8ch will include climbing up to a lot of chimneys.

Pushing Parcels

XMAS No. 11 Canadians Op Parcel Push

(Photo by Second Lieutenant Natasha Tersigni, 38 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs)

Members of Fort Garry Horse and 38 Combat Engineer Regiment prepare Christmas hampers during their 33rd annual Exercise PARCEL PUSH last December. Canadian Army Reservists and Army cadets will be delivering Christmas hampers again this year on behalf of Winnipeg’s Christmas Cheer Board.

Snow Singers

XMAS No. 12 82nd Airborne singers

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Michelle U. Blesam)

Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s band and chorus perform holiday classics during a concert at the Crown Theatre in Fayetteville, North Carolina on December 13, 2018.

 

 

December 24, 2018 at 11:58 pm 3 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (December 14, 2018)

Dashing Through the Snow.

Winter Warriors

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Felix Fimbres)

Army Reserve soldiers practice navigating through snowy terrain during winter warfare training at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin on December 8, 2018.

This is the second photo we’ve seen in recent weeks of Army troops in winter warfare training wearing camouflage white on their lower half only. (See photo below).

Does anyone know the logic behind this? Camouflage protection in snowy woods? The white jackets are on back order?

1 Geronimo paratroopers conduct live-fire training at JBER

(U.S. Army photo by Alejandro Pena)

In this photo, Army paratroopers of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) er breached a simulated enemy obstacle during infantry platoon live-fire training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska on November 8, 2018. Were the white uniform tops on back order?

December 13, 2018 at 11:41 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 30, 2018)

Underwater Promotion.

FRI FO test 11-30-2018

(NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory photo)

Army astronauts Colonel Andrew “Drew” Morgan (left) and Lieutenant Colonel Anne McClain prepare to be promoted to their current ranks while underwater following required training in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Sonny Carter Training Facility in Houston, Texas.

This photo was taken in September, but now Lieutenant Colonel McClain is in Star City, Russia, preparing for a December 3 launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station.

“I am so happy that I’m going to have six months in space,” McClain — who is part of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s small astronaut detachment — said during an early November teleconference press briefing. “We’re not just going to space to visit, we’re going to go there to live.”

A West Point graduate, test pilot and combat helicopter pilot, McClain was selected for NASA’s human spaceflight program in 2013, along with fellow West Pointer, Colonel Morgan, a medical doctor, Special Forces emergency physician and former Army parachutist and skydiver.  His space mission is slated for launch in July.

If her launch goes as planned, McClain will be the first active-duty Army officer in space since 2010. Her three-person crew is expected to launch from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft and rocket.

“Feeling the thrust of the rocket is going to be something that I am really looking forward to,” she said. “It is going to be a completely new experience.” McClain, 39, of Spokane, Washington, will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 58/59.

While her crew prepares to lift off on a rocket similar to one that suffered a malfunction October 11 — triggering an automatic abort and emergency landing, McClain says she’s not worried. The Soyuz rocket, she noted, has had an amazing track record. Before last month’s incident, the rocket’s previous aborted mission was in 1983.

“I saw that October 11 incident, not as a failure, but as an absolute success,” she said. “What this really proved was that the Russian launch abort system is a really great design and for that reason we have that backup plan.

McClain’s crew also received a debriefing from both astronauts in the aborted mission — Air Force Colonel Nick Hague and his Russian counterpart, Alexey Ovchinin.

November 30, 2018 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Thanksgiving, Then and Now

Feeding the Troops Today.

USS Blue Ridge Sailors prepare Thanksgiving Meal

Sailors prepare turkeys for a Thanksgiving celebration aboard the USS Blue Ridge in Yokosuka, Japan, November 21, 2018. (U.S. Navy photo Petty Officer 3rd Class Dylan McKay)

It takes a lot of coordination and attention to detail to make sure service members get the Thanksgiving meal they deserve, according to Rich Faso, deputy director of the Defense Logistics Agency’s Troop Support Subsistence supply chain in Philadelphia. The planning began in May and the work continued until the last deliveries were made.

By Thanksgiving Day, some 300,000 pounds of traditional Thanksgiving food had arrived at military field kitchens and galleys throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe and to troops supporting Customs and Border Protection on the Southwest border, said Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Robert Manning said.

“Intense Attention to Every Detail” Gator Paratroopers Prepare Thanksgiving Feast for Panther Brigade

Army Private First Class Dayana Abril pipes frosting onto a cake to serve during a Thanksgiving feast at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The battalion prepared 640 pounds of turkey, 558 pounds of steamship round, 72 pounds of shrimp, more than 100 pies, 700 servings of sweet potatoes and approximately 800 servings of green bean casserole. (U.S. Army photo by Major Thomas Cieslak)

Overall, according to the Defense Department, deployed troops received.:

Whole turkeys: 9,738
Pounds of roasted turkey: 51,234
Pounds of beef: 74,036
Pounds of ham: 21,758
Pounds of shrimp: 67,860
Pounds of sweet potatoes: 16,284
Pies: 81,360
Cakes: 19,284
Gallons of eggnog: 7,836

 

Giving Thanks in 1863.

 

Here at 4GWAR, we’re mindful that the first official national day of Thanksgiving came in the midst of a terrible Civil War that had cost thousands of lives and was still far from over. It seems remarkable to think President Abraham Lincoln decided the country needed to pause and consider what it did have to be thankful for despite all the carnage.

Here is what Mr. Lincoln had to say about all that 155 years ago.

Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Lincoln illustration courtesy of Accessible Archives website.

 

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as aday of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

It’s important to note the call for a day of national thanksgiving was first raised by prominent writer and editor, Sarah Josepha Hale.

Happy Thanksgiving — and safe travels — from 4GWAR!

*** *** ***

SHAKOSHAKO 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.

November 22, 2018 at 11:58 pm 3 comments

SHAKO/FRIDAY FOTO: Devil Dogs

The Devil Dogs’ Dogs

Dog days aboard Wasp

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Bernadette Plouffe)

Marine Corps military working dogs rest at the feet of their handlers aboard the USS Wasp in the South China Sea on October 1, 2018.

O.K., this is kind of an unusual format for the 4GWAR blog, but since November 10 marks the U.S. Marine Corps’ 243rd birthday, we seized on the opportunity to combine the regular Friday Foto for November 9, with a SHAKO feature on a World War I battle that has taken its place with other iconic engagements like Iwo Jima and Tripoli in the history of the Corps.

The nearly month-long Battle of Belleau Wood (June 1-26, 1918) was the first major engagement of American troops on the Western Front in World War I. It also is one of the most significant battles fought by the U.S. Marines, earning them France’s highest military award and the nickname Devil Dogs from the Germans.

Belleau Wood painting

Marines in close combat as depicted in Franc-Earle Schoonover’s Belleau Wood. (National Museum of the Marine Corps collection)

The 4th Marine Brigade, some 9,500 men, was assigned to the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, one of the U.S. units rushed to France just a few months after the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917. The Marine Brigade consisted of two regiments — the 5th Marines and the 6th Marines — each with three 800-man rifle battalions and a machine gun company.

On June 1, a major German offensive moved south to the Marne River, where they were held at Chateau Thierry by French troops reinforced by the U.S. Army. One of the leading German assault regiments, the 461st Imperial German Infantry, occupied Belleau Wood, a former hunting preserve about 50 miles northwest of Paris. It was a nearly impenetrable forest of dense underbrush, trees, boulders and ravines.

In early June, the Marine Brigade was dug into a defensive line near Belleau Wood, facing a wheat field. More than 2,000 Germans with 30 machine guns were dug in amid the trees and rocks. There were 100 more Germans with at least six machine guns concentrated in the nearby village of Bouresches.

Retreating French troops advised the Marines to withdraw. “Retreat? Hell we just got here,” snapped a company commander with the 5th Marines, Captain Lloyd Williams, whose remark became part of Marine Corps lore.

800px-DanielDaly

Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly. (Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections)

The Marines took and held Bouresches and drove the Germans out of the  woods. But success came at a horrendous cost. Relying on their celebrated marksmanship (Every Marine a Rifleman”) the Marines advanced about 400 yards across the wheat field without concentrated artillery support. Heavy German machine gun and artillery fire cut the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marines to shreds.  The 6th Marines’ 3rd Battalion managed to make it to the edge of the woods before enemy fire stalled the advance. In the confusion of battle, another iconic Marine Corps legend was born when Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly — who had earned the Medal of Honor twice, in Peking in 1900 and Haiti in 1915 — turned to his men and growled “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?”

By nightfall on the first day of battle, both Marine battalions suffered debilitating casualties. Six officers and 222 enlisted men of the 4th Marine Brigade were killed in action. Another 25 officers and 834 men were wounded. This amounted to more casualties than the Marines had suffered in their entire history up until that day, Norwich University professor David Ulbrich observed in an anniversary piece for War on the Rocks.

As the Marines moved into Belleau Wood itself, the fighting seemed especially grim, with hand-to-hand fighting, fixed bayonets and poison gas attacks, noted Michael Ruane in a Washington Post column last May.  The headline on his piece noted: “The Battle of Belleau Wood was brutal, deadly and forgotten. But it forged a new Marine Corps.”

Exploding shells splintered the trees, raining down a deadly shower of wood splinters and metal shrapnel. The Americans and Germans grappled in hand-to-hand combat with knives, rifle butts, bayonets and entrenching shovels.

Belleau Wood shattered trees 1918

Tree Damage, Belleau Wood, circa 1918. An inscription on the photograph reads “Every tree in Belleau Wood bears the scars of battle.” (From the collection of Adolph B. Miller (COLL/1068), United States Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections.)

After three weeks of heavy combat, the Germans were driven out of Belleau Wood. The Marines reached the northern edge of the woods on June 26, sending out the report; “Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely.

The victory at Belleau Wood had saved Paris and the French were delirious with joy.  The French government renamed Belleau Wood, the “Bois de la Brigade de Marine” and both the 5th and 6th Marine regiments were awarded the Croix de Guerre.

The Germans, too were impressed with the Marines. An official German report described the Marines as “vigorous, self-confident and remarkable marksmen.” Captured German soldiers and their letters described the Marines as Teufelhunde, or Devil Dogs.”

Marines in gas masks

Marines train with gas masks in France. (Photo: Marine Corps History Division)

 

 

 

November 11, 2018 at 12:47 am 1 comment

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