Category Archives: History

A Distant Christmas Eve

For those of us who have been allowed more years, it is interesting what age does to perspective.  When I was in the Army serving in the FRG – Federal Republic of Germany in 1973 and 1974, I thought WW2 was ancient history. I was 23 years old.

And I had had a college deferment, so by the time I got drafted at the ripe old age of 22, I was considered an “old man” in some quarters.

And how I ended up in Germany – a bureaucratic quirk of fate – is the subject of another story.

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Post Pax

By lex, on February 11th, 2012

Pax Americana has been pretty good for America, and the rest of the world as well. But battered and scarred by combat in inhospitable places, and with pocket book issues facing the electorate as we move ever closer to a cripplingly expensive European-style welfare state realizing the progressive vision, public men are openly predicting that a post-American world will be not merely a better place, but more of the same. Writing in the WSJ, Robert Kagan opines that the world that most of us have grown up knowing, one of relative peace and prosperity, one of “free minds and free markets”, is a historical anomaly that may not survive the removal of its foundation stone:

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Heterogametic Sex

By lex, on January 30th, 2012

England’s King Henry VIII famously went through six wives on his way to finding one that would deliver a male heir for the throne. Poor Catherine of Aragon was a political marriage that didn’t quite take, although her daughter Mary would survive to give Ann Boleyn’s Elizabeth a hard time. Elizabeth I was their only issue and would go on to make any mother proud, but Ann lost three subsequent pregnancies to miscarriage, and her head soon followed. Jane Seymour gave birth to the heir Henry craved, but lost her life doing so. Ann of Cleves probably got the best of the bargain when Henry – by this time morbidly obese and oozing – declared he liked her not, and had the marriage annulled. Catherine Howard lost her heart to another man, and her head followed. Catherine Parr survived the king’s fatal attractions chiefly by outliving him – he died two and half years after their marriage.

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Last Man

By lex, on January 19th, 2012

Philip Johnston was a missionary’s son who grew up on a Navajo reservation, and fought in World War I. He was aware of the Chocktaw code talkers who served in Europe alongside the allies, and recommended to Major General Clayton B. Vogel, the commanding general of Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, that Navajos be recruited to serve in the Marine Corps in an identical role. The Navajo language is a complex one, whose “syntax and tonal qualities, not to mention dialects, make it unintelligible to anyone without extensive exposure and training”. It was, at the outbreak of the Pacific War, unwritten, and therefore presumably unbreakable.

Around 400 Navajos served with the Marines at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, and Iwo Jima – and at all the Pacific assaults the Marines conducted between 1942-1945.  They served with all six Marine divisions. Their encryptions were fast, accurate and never broken. And valuable: Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, declared, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.”

So highly was the Navajo code valued, that it remained a military secret for years after World War II. It wasn’t until 1992 that their efforts were publicly recognized.

The last of them has stepped into the clearing at the end of the path:

Keith Little did not know the full extent of his contribution as one of the Navajo Code Talkers to the American effort in World War II until much later in life.

Mr Little, one of the most recognizable of the four remaining Code Talkers, was 17 when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, becoming one of hundreds of Navajos trained as Code Talkers.

He spent much of his later life towards the creation of a museum that he never saw realized: Mr Little died of melanoma Tuesday night at a Fort Defiance hospital, said his wife, Nellie. He was 87.

Semper Fi, Marine.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, History, Lex, Marines

The Latest Outrage

By lex, on January 12th, 2012

Third Battalion, Second Marines is in the headlines, and not in a good way:

The U.S. Marine Corps is investigating a video that surfaced online today in which several Marines appear to urinate on the corpses of suspected Taliban fighters.

The video, which is less than a minute long, appears to show four men in uniform looking around before urinating on three dead bodies, at least one of the men chuckles as they do so.

“Have a great day, buddy,” one of the men is heard saying, apparently to a dead body.

The Marine Corps responded quickly after reports of the video surfaced, calling for a full investigation.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, GWOT, History, Lex, Neptunus Lex, Politics

Pick Five

By lex, on April 2nd, 2011

The Hobbit and I were just having a chat (and this is not rigorously considered) but here are five people from history I’d like to have dinner with, in no particular order.

Five men:

  1. Winston Churchill
  2. Theodore Roosevelt
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. William Butler Yeats
  5. William Shakespeare

Five women:

  1. Amelia Earhart
  2. Margaret Thatcher
  3. Abigail Adams
  4. Queen Elizabeth I
  5. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

You go.

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A difficult man

By lex, on August 4th, 2008

My favorite professor at the US Naval Academy was a nattily dressed Pole with a charming accent and a casually exuberant attitude that stood in vivid contrast to the dour, patched elbow shabbiness of his departmental colleagues. Most of them were humorless liberals of the garden variety East Coast cohort, men and women who seemed to have purposefully installed themselves within the belly of the military-industrial beast, the better for to shake us from the bourgeois certainties of our middle class upbringing and preach the gospel of the Omnipresent Virtuous State. So long, you know, as the machinery of state was composed of bureaucrats from correct-thinking cadres.

Otherwise, not so much.

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