Van E. Harl
LOSS OF OLD VETERANS – RE-EMERGENCE OF AN OLD VILLAIN
We have lost a number of veterans in the past month. Captain Eugene “Andy” Anderson of Altus died July 10, 2005 and was buried with full military honors. He had been a POW of the Germans during the Second World War.
It was suggested I look into the history of another Altus veteran who recently died. Retired Navy Captain Marshall Harlan Austin an Altus High School Graduate had died out in California at the age of 94. I started doing some research on Captain Austin and discovered he was a WW II Navy submarine hero. He had graduated from the Naval Academy in 1935 and served on a number of submarines before becoming the commander of the USS Redfin. Researching the history of the USS Redfin is like reading the script of a WW II John Wayne submarine movie. If fact Hollywood could make an outstanding action movie about Captain Austin and his submarine combat patrols against the Japanese. He sailed into the middle of a Japanese fleet, lying on the bottom of the ocean waiting to strike, and coming under depth-charge attack.
We also lost another veteran, now actually he was a Canadian military veteran. Lieutenant James Doohan had started out in the Royal Canadian Army as an artillery officer. He was part of the D-Day invasion and was wounded six times during that assault. Even after his serious wounds he stayed in the military, but crossed over to the Canadian Air Force. He flew as an artillery observation officer. His final flying assignment was as the chief engineer of the Star Ship Enterprise on the TV series Star Trek. You might remember James Doohan as “Scotty”.
General William Westmoreland died on July 18, 2005. He was the Commander of American military operations in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. Coming back to the US, Four Star General Westmoreland served as the Army Chief of Staff. He saw combat in WW II which was a popular war, so he got to come home a hero from that conflict. However as one of the most well known figures of the Vietnam conflict he was villainized in the press right up to his death. Much of the blame that was forced on him was due to the politics of President Johnson. Mike Wallace of the CBS 60 Minutes TV show took particular delight in attacking General Westmoreland and it required a law suit by the General to put a stop to Rather’s actions. I understand Wallace had some mental health issues after that court case was finished.
We continue to lose new, young veterans in the war on terrorism almost every week. I subscribe to a number of military related publications that list the names and in many cases print the pictures of the recently fallen. This past July has been an extremely sad month for the US Marine Corps. As a young high school student I wanted to be a Navy Corpsman assigned to a Marine Infantry company. The Marines do not have their own medical personnel they use Navy docs and corpsman (medics). So when I see the multiple pictures of killed Marines, there is also the picture of some young Petty Officer Third Class Corpsman who was killed in action along with the Marines that he was there providing emergency combat medical attention to. Remember we are dealing with an enemy mindset that believes it is just and right to killed Medics and Chaplains.
And now the “has-been” of all lost causes has raised her head to proclaim, “I am Jane – hear me roar.” Yes Jane Fonda has decided she just simply has to come out against the current war on Muslim extremists. I can’t wait to see the picture of her holding a Soviet made, shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile, as she is surrounded by the followers of whatever Muslim extremists faction that lets her play in their sandbox. She will do anything to keep her old, tired, surgically enhanced body in front of a camera and sell more of her books, even at the expense of our military currently serving in the Gulf. If any GI, Marine or Sailor is harmed because of her actions, I would hope our Justice Department would move a lot more swiftly this time to bring her into a court of law. Jane – do something good for this Nation, retire to some remote desert area and leave the real world alone. Oh wait, you did that and Ted Turner threw you out. Bounce high Jane.
©Copyright August 10, 2005 by Van E. Harl