Posts tagged ‘history’

FRIDAY FOTO (July 3, 2020)

Solemn Masked Men.

Military Funeral Honors with Modified Funeral Escort are Conducted for U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jesse Lewis Jr.

(U.S. Army Photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon conducts military funeral honors with a modified escort for Navy Commander Jesse W. Lewis Junior at Arlington National Cemetery on June 29, 2020.

It was the first funeral service since March 26 to include a caisson, the next step in Arlington National Cemetery’s phased plan to resume greater support to military funeral honors as COVID-19 cases within the national capital region trend downward.

According to the Arlington website:

 Military funeral honors with modified escort consists of individual service branch body bearers, a firing party, an escort commander with guidon, escort, bugler, drummer, national colors and chaplain. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment’s caisson platoon may also be requested. Additionally, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps service members with ranks O-6 [colonel] and above may receive a caparisoned horse and flag officers [generals and admirals] from all services may receive the appropriate presidential salute battery (PSB) gun salute. 

The U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard also participated in the ceremony for the Navy veteran.

Military Funeral Honors with Modified Funeral Escort are Conducted for U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jesse Lewis Jr.

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

July 3, 2020 at 4:42 pm 1 comment

SHAKO: In a First, New Aircraft Carrier to be Named for African American Hero of Pearl Harbor

USS Doris Miller (CVN81).

The Navy is naming its next aircraft carrier, (CVN 81) the USS Doris Miller, after Pearl Harbor hero Doris “Dorie” Miller, the first African American awarded the Navy Cross.


Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz personally pins the Navy Cross on sailor Doris “Dorie” Miller. (U.S. Navy photo)

At a Martin Luther King Day ceremony (Monday, January 20) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly announced the future CVN81 would be named for Miller. It would be the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier was named for an African American and also the first time one was named for an enlisted sailor.

The son of a Texas sharecroper, Miller was just 22 when he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Navy’s second highest decoration for bravery, for his actions on December 7, 1941.

The U.S. Army and Navy were largely segregated all-white organizations in 1941 and the few blacks in the services were assigned menial jobs, like Miller, a messman — essentialy a waiter, busboy and dishwasher — on the battleship USS  West Virginia. When the Japanese attack began, Miller began passing ammunition to antiaircraft gunners. A big man — high school football player and boxing champion of the West Virginia’s crew — Miller began carrying the wounded to safety. Among them was the ship’s commander, Captain Mervyn Bennion, who died from his wounds during the attack.

Miller then manned a .50-calibre Browning anti-aircraft gun, for which he had no training, and continued firing on the enemy planes until he ran out of ammunition. Struck by two armor piercing bombs and five torpedoes, the West Virginia was afire and slowly sinking when the last remaining officer ordered the crew to abandon ship.

Miller was commended for his heroism by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on April 1, 1942, and on  May 27, 1942 he received the Navy Cross personally from Admiral Chester Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.

Eventually promoted to Ships Cook, 3rd Class, Miller shipped out on the escort aircraft carrier, Liscombe Bay (CVE 56) in 1943. The ship was torpedoed and sank within minutes during the invasion of the Gilbert Islands (Operation Galvanic). Only 272 members of the crew survived, while 646 died, including Miller.


Family members of Dorie Miller unveil a plaque commemorating the future Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Doris Miller (CVN 81) at a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration event at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin R. Pacheco)

Family members were on hand to unveil an artists’ rendering of what the USS Miller will look like. The carrier will be the second Navy ship named for Miller. In 1975 the Knox class frigate, USS Miller (FF-1091) was launched.

Regular visitors to 4GWAR may remember we told Dorie Miller’s story in our Pearl Harbor anniversary post on December 8, 2019.

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.west point cadets.pdf

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.

January 22, 2020 at 1:06 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: The Passing of Eminent British Military Historian Michael Howard

He Expanded Military Studies Beyond Battles.

Sir Michael Howard from Library of Congress

Sir Michael Howard (1922-2019)

We learned from our Monday morning paper, (The New York Times, December 2, 2019) that the eminent and influential military historian, Sir Michael Howard, died on Saturday — just a day after he turned 97.

Howard was former Chichele Professor of the History of War at Oxford University and Regius Professor of Modern History — one of Britain’s most prestigious academic chairs — also at Oxford. He also served as Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University.

In addition to his academic honors, Howard, who served as a lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards during World War II, was awarded the Military Cross — Britain’s third highest decoration for gallantry — for leading an almost suicidal bayonet charge against a German machine gun nest in Italy. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his academic work in 1986.

Among historians, Howard was credited with changing the profile of military history from an account of specific battles or campaigns to a broader assessment of the context of those conflicts. Among his significant works was a study of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71  published in 1961,that sought to illuminate the societal roots of the opposing armies. He contributed to a major British study of World War II. In 1977, he was the co-translator, with the American scholar Peter Paret, of the 19th-century classic “On War” by the German military philosopher and theorist Carl von Clausewitz, according to the New York Times obituary by Alan Cowell.

“The history of war, I came to realize, was more than the operational history of armed forces. It was the study of entire societies,” Howard wrote in 2006 memoir, Cowell noted.

Sir Michael Howard books.jpg

Some of Michael Howard’s best-known works. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle, copyright Sonoma Road Strategies)

The British newspaper, The Guardian described Howard as “the most influential British military historian of his generation.” Adam Roberts, senior research fellow in international relations at Oxford University, wrote “He left a mark on public and professional debate in Britain and internationally. He also had a key part in building institutions” which included the International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in London, “which became the model for similar think tanks around the world.”

Howard also founded what is now the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the Study of War at King’s College London and the graduate studies programme in international relations at Oxford.

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On a personal note, your 4GWAR editor read the books in the photo above for a class on Military Thought and Theory at Norwich University (and found Howard and Paret’s translation of On War, the most understandable after several failed attempts to read earlier/lesser versions of von Krieg). As part of the Master of Arts in Military History program at Norwich, we were expected to declare what school of history we allied ourselves with and after much grumbling about looking at history through the telescope of an -ism or -ology, your editor picked War and Society — which Michael Howard had a large hand in developing — as the most relevant in a world that has always been more complex than we thought it was. We think we made the right choice.

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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.

West Point cadets

December 3, 2019 at 12:38 am 4 comments

SHAKO: Defenders Day Blast

Purple Cannons Majesty.

Old Guard Artillery Baltimore

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Jacob Holmes)

Soldiers assigned to the Presidential Salute Battery of 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” participate in a Defenders Day performance at Fort McHenry in Baltimore on September  14, 2019. Defenders Day commemorates the successful defense of Baltimore from a British invasion force during the War of 1812.

Based at Fort Myer, Virginia, the 3d U.S. Infantry is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving the  nation since 1784. “The Old Guard” is the Army’s official ceremonial unit that accompanies honor funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and serves as escort to the president. Other units in the regiment include the Continental Color Guard, red-coated Fife and Drum Corps, and the U.S. Army Drill Team.

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.west point cadets.pdf

 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.


October 11, 2019 at 2:18 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 19, 2019)


FRIFO 7-19-2019 OLD GUARD Bayonet Charge

(U.S. Army photo by Army Sergeant Jacob Holmes)

Members of the Continental Color Guard and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, advance with fixed bayonets during a performance at Virginia’s Shenandoah River State Park on July 10, 2019.

The 3rd Infantry (The Old Guard), is the Army’s oldest active infantry regiment with direct lineage to George Washington’s original Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The officer (or sergeant) at the center of the photo is brandishing either a halberd  or espontoon, variants of a once fearsome, two-handed, pike-like weapon that combined an ax, spear and hook used for slashing, stabbing or unhorsing the enemy.  By the late 18th Century, however, halberds and espontoons were largely just a symbol of rank and a tool for keeping advancing troops in straight lines.

The uniforms worn by the Color Guard and C-in-C’s Guard are replicas of the 1784-style infantry uniforms worn by The Old Guard’s predecessor, the First American Regiment. The pattern of the uniform for wear by all Continental Army infantry units was approved by General Washington in 1782. It consisted of a blue coat faced with a red collar, cuffs and lapels, white buttons and lining, long-fitting overalls, and a black cocked hat with cockade.

A uniform similar to the First American Regiment’s can be seen in the foreground of this painting of the the Continental Line during the 1781 Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina.

With FRIFO 7-19-2019 Guilford Courthouse

Battle of Guilford Courthouse by H. Charles McBarron Jr. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Center of Military History)

The red uniforms in the background of this week’s Friday Foto are not reenactors dressed as British redcoats but the Old Guard’s Fife and Drum Corps. During the Revolutionary War, the fifers and drummers wore the opposite colors of the regiment to which they belonged, according to Kim Holien, the historian at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, an Army-Marine Corps facility — next to Arlington National Cemetery — that is home to the Old Guard’s ceremonial units.

By wearing the reversed colors, the fifers and drummers’ uniforms would stand out on a battlefield obscured by the gunsmoke of 18th Century musketry. Hopefully the musicians wouldn’t be shot deliberately by the opposing side — since they were in effect unarmed — and “during the battle would often act as medical personnel to take care of the wounded,” said Holien.

July 19, 2019 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: The King’s Guard

Guarding History, Too


(Photo by John M. Doyle, copyright 4GWAR Blog)

OSLO, Norway — Members of His Majesty the King’s Guard march to their posts at Oslo’s historic Akershus Fortress Saturday, June 15. Your 4GWAR editor was touring the medieval complex when these troops passed by.

Norway’s King H Håkon V began building Akershus Castle and Fortress in 1299. The medieval castle had a strategic location and withstood a number of sieges throughout the ages. King Christian IV (1588-1648) had the castle modernised and converted into a Renaisssance castle and royal residence.

The complex today contains the castle, the Armed Forces Museum and Norway’s Resistance Museum.  The Resistance Museum chronicles the heroic and harrowing  civilian and military struggle against the five-year Nazi occupation that began when the Germans invaded Norway on on April 9th, 1940.

The King’s Guard dates back to the late 1850s, when the Royal Norwegian Company of Marksmen was established to enhance security around King Oscar I in Stockholm (Sweden). The company was renamed His Majesty The King’s Guard in 1866, and was transferred to Kristiania (now Oslo) toward the end of the union between Sweden and Norway. Since 1888 the King’s Guard has been on duty at the Royal Palace and other Royal residences 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, according to the Royal House of Norway website.

Today the King’s Guard has permanent sentry duty at the Royal Palace, Skaugum Estate, Bygdø Royal Farm when in use, Akershus Fortress and Huseby military camp.

Your 4GWAR Editor is in Norway for the Climate Force Arctic Expedition 2019 to Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of Norway — and a hotspot in both military and climate  strategies.  The rapid melting of sea ice in the Arctic and the opening of new sea lanes has raised U.S. Coast Guard concerns about safety, pollution and search and rescue operations. It has also sparked national security, environmental and economic concerns among the nations bordering the Arctic.

Longtime visitors to the blog may recall 4GWAR has been writing about the Arctic for nearly a decade. We’ll be so far north over the next week that internet connection will be weak, if not impossible, so we’ll be out of touch until late June.

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SHAKO-West Point cadetsSHAKO 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.



June 17, 2019 at 6:15 pm 2 comments

SHAKO: Memorial Day 2019

The North Remembers.


Cavalry charge figures at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial between the Capitol and the National Mall in Washington D.C. (Photo by Ad Meskens via Wikipedia, sculpture by Henry Merwin Shrady )

Memorial Day, by federal law, is commemorated annually on the last Monday in May to honor those who gave their lives for their country. The holiday grew out of local ceremonies throughout the North and South after the American Civil War (1861-1865). In many places, the day — traditionally May 30 — was known as Decoration Day for the flowers and flags that locals used to decorate soldiers’ and sailors’ graves.

In past years, 4GWAR postings on Memorial Day have focused on U.S. military cemeteries, the tradition of decorating graves with small American flags at Arlington National Cemetery and remembering the price paid by those we honor on the holiday.

But this year, we note the controversy surrounding Civil War monuments and statues honoring Confederate heroes. To many, they are racist icons created during the Jim Crow er. For others, they are reminders of the “Lost Cause,” and part of an honorable heritage. So we thought we’d look at the monuments and statues — mostly in Northern states — dedicated to those who fought to preserve the Union.

For example, the charging cavalry group pictured above is just part of a massive memorial to Union Army commander and 18th U.S. president, Ulysses S. Grant. In fact, that sculpture group, and another depicting a team of artillery horses hurtling along with a caisson and cannon in tow, are far more dramatic than the centerpiece equestrian statute of old “Unconditional Surrender” Grant.

Even monuments like this, are not without critics, mainly for honoring leaders who mistreated or ignored the mistreatment of blacks and Indians after the Civil War. Nevertheless, cities and towns from Maine to California have dedicated monuments of all shapes and sizes to Union troops and their leaders. Below is a small sampling from around the country.

Many statues and monuments — particularly in Washington, D.C. — are dedicated to generals like Grant,  William Tecumseh Sherman and George Henry Thomas, and admirals like Samuel Francis DuPont and David Glasgow Farragut (see photo below).


(Photo by David Washington, via Wikipedia)

Admiral Farragut, of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” fame, stands atop a granite base in a park and city square named for him. The statue was sculpted by female artist Vinnie Ream. This monument to the U.S. Navy’s first admiral, was dedicated in 1881 in an extravagant ceremony attended by President James A. Garfield  and thousands of spectators. It was the first monument erected in Washington, to honor  a naval war hero.

Other outdoor art works are dedicated to local heroes or favorite sons like the monument to Pennsylvania’s George Gordon Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg and later Civil War battles. Paid for by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania when few in Washington favored lionizing Meade — the monument stands on Pennsylvania Avenue, the main route of parades in the nation’s capital.

In Boston, the memorial to young Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, also pays tribute to his 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the first African American army units to fight in the Civil War.   The high relief bronze was created by noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and readers may remember it was featured at the end of the 1989 Oscar-winning film Glory.


(Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, Photo by Jarek Tuszyński via wikipedia commons)

In Washington, D.C., all of the 200,000 African Americans who served in the Union army and navy are remembered in the African American Civil War Memorial.


(Spirit of Freedom statue by Ed Hamilton 1997, National Park Service photo)

Elsewhere, a single soldier was enough for memorials like the Kent County Civil War Monument in Grand Rapids, Michigan …



Or two in front of the DeKalb County courthouse in Sycamore, Illinois …

Sycamore_Il_Civil_War_Memorial AMurray

(Photo by A. McMurray via wikipedia)

A lone artillery man in Scituate, Rhode Island …


(Photo by Beth Hurd via Rhode Island USGenWeb Genealogy and History Project)

A member of New York’s “silk stocking” 7th Militia Regiment, formed by many of the city’s socially elite …


(Photo by Jim.henderson)

Monuments to the Union army aren’t limited to the North. This statue, known as “Taps”, is located in Little Rock National Cemetery in Arkansas. It is dedicated to the 36 soldiers from Minnesota who are buried there.

Minnesota_Monument in Ark

(Photo by Valis55 )

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SHAKO-West Point cadetsSHAKO 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.

May 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (April 26, 2019)

Even D.I.s Have to Practice.

Drill Instructor School Drill Practice

( U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Dana Beesley)

It isn’t easy to become a Marine Corps Drill Instructor, or D.I.

Here we see drill instructor candidates practicing their marching leadership at the Marines’ East Coast Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina on April 17, 2019.

After passing the screening process and being selected for the 36-month Drill Instructor Duty tour, a Marine must first attend Drill Instructor School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in California, or Marine Corps Recruit Duty, at Parris Island.

April 26, 2019 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 5, 2019)

Whites (and) Lighning


(Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Barker)

Sailors man the rails aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD1) as it arrives for Exercise Balikatan at Subic Bay in the Philippines. This March 30, 2019 photo practically spans the long history of the Navy and Marine Corps — from the sailors in their summer bell-bottomed dress whites, “dixie cup” hats and black neckerchiefs to the Marines’ newest aircraft, the F-35B  Lightning II jet fighter, parked behind them.The stealthy F-35B is a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, designed to meet the land and ship-based needs of the Marines.

Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine military training exercise focusing on missions ranging from humanitarian assistance and counter-terrorism.

April 5, 2019 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO:Go For Broke!

April 5 Honors Japanese-American Soldiers


The Color Guard of the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team stands at attention while citations are read following the fierce fighting in the Vosges area of France, November 12, 1944. (U.S. Army photo)

Did you know April 5 is National “Go For Broke” Day? At 4GWAR we didn’t either until recently. The phrase comes from Hawaiian pidgen gambling slang. It means roughly “bet it all” or  “wager — and risk — everything for a potential big payoff.”

The term, popularized by Japanese-American soldiers in World War II, is also the motto  of one of the most decorated units in U.S. military history — the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In addition to fighting the Germans in Italy and France in the European Theater of Operations — the soldiers of the 442nd RCT had to battle racial animosity in the wake of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Because of the U.S. military was caught completely by surprise, rumors arose that Japanese living in the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast — most of them citizens — had served as spies and Fifth Columnists for Japan. The Army and FBI found no evidence that Japanese-Americans aided the Pearl Harbor attack. However, a presidential commission created to investigate the disaster noted Japanese “spies” were in Hawaii before the attack, although most were attached to the Japanese consulate in Honolulu, but others had no known connection with the Japanese foreign service. The vagueness of this description led many Americans to conclude there were indeed Fifth Columnists among the Japanese-American population.

Newspaper Japs

(Photo from National Archives and Records Administration)

That prompted the Army — with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s authorization and the acquiescence of Congress and the Supreme Court — to exile all Japanese, both U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, from the the three West Coast states and parts of Arizona to remote inland internment camps under armed guard and harsh living conditions.

Hundreds of young American-born, ethnic Japanese men, known as Nisei, drafted before war broke out, were discharged or segregated in California. A Hawaiian National Guard unit made up of ethnic Japanese was dissolved. Yet, many Nisei wanted to prove they were loyal Americans by fighting for their country. Many older community leaders encouraged them to enlist in the Army as one of the best ways to convince U.S. officials to release the 120,000 Japanese-American men, women and children from the so-called relocation camps.

The 442nd RCT was activated on February 1, 1943, and was composed of Nisei men who had volunteered from Hawaii and internment camps on the mainland. They trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, before deploying to Italy in June 1944, where they joined in combat with the 100th Infantry Battalion — the first Nisei Army unit to be activated in the war — consisting of men from the previously terminated Hawaiian National Guard unit. By mid-August, the 100th officially became part of the 442nd RCT. That’s when “go for broke” became their motto. In 1951, MGM released a motion picture about the 442nd’s combat exploits and battles against racism called “Go For Broke.”

The 442nd at Anzio Beach 1944. (Photo courtesy of Go For Broke National Education Center)

In their two years of service, the 442nd RCT and the 100th Battalion, before it joined the 442nd, earned: 7 Presidential Unit Citations; 36 Army Commendation Medals and 87 Division Commendations.

Individual soldiers were awarded 18,000 decorations, including: 21 Medals of Honor; 29 Distinguished Service Crosses (the second-highest decoration for bravery); 560 Silver Stars (the third-highest bravery medal) and nearly 9,500 Purple Hearts for wounds in battle. The units lost 650 men, more than 3,700 were wounded in action, and 67 were declared missing in action.

On April 5, 1945, the 442nd RCT’s first Medal of Honor recipient, Private First Class  Sadao Munemori, was killed in action near Seravezza, Italy. That’s why April 5 is deemed “Go for Broke” day.

In December 2011, more than 450 Japanese American soldiers of World War II were honored for their heroic actions in combat and steadfast loyalty in the face of discrimination, the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award for service presented out by the U.S.

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SHAKO-West Point cadets

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.


April 5, 2019 at 1:32 am Leave a comment

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