Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

Monday, May 3, 2010

Doug Hegdahl's POW story

People ask me why I blog and I really don't have a valid answer. And then I find an amazing true  story like the one over at Nobody Asked Me and I realise just what it is that keeps me sharing and caring on the interwebs.

Its a story I've never heard before about a POW in Vietnam, how he got there and how he got out. Here is a short excerpt from the tale;

Christmas in Vietnam, 1967In trying to get people to accept early propaganda releases, the Communists would have some "good cop" interrogator like the ones we called the "Soft Soap Fairy" talk to the prospect and sound him out for pliability. They got Doug one day and asked what we eventually learned to be the lead question: "What do you want more than anything else in the world?" The answer of the weak and willing was : "To go home to my family." Doug thought for a long time, then cocked his head with a smile and said "Why, I'd like a pillow, Sir." This was not an unreasonable response since we had no pillows on our cement pads or bed boards. However, the response sure confounded the enemy. They eventually came up with a name for Doug amongst the guards and interrogators: "The Incredibly Stupid One." His original resistance ploy had paid off.

Because they thought him stupid, they would let him go out in the cell block courtyard during the siesta to sweep up the grounds period monitored by only one sleepy, peasant guard. I thought that was great since it kept him from skipping and I could get some rest. However, curiosity got the better of me and I started to watch him through a peephole we had bored in the cell door. He'd go sweeping and humming until the guard was lulled to sleep. Then Doug would back up to a truck, spin the gas cap off the standpipe, stoop down and put a small amount ("Small, because it's going to be a long war, Sir.") of dirt in the gas tank and replace the cap. I watched him over a period of time do this to five trucks.

Now, I'm a liberal arts major who shot himself down, so all I can do is report what I saw. There were five trucks working in the prison; I saw Doug work on five trucks; I saw five trucks towed disabled out of the prison camp. Doug Hegdahl, a high school graduate from the mess decks fell off a ship and has five enemy trucks to his credit. I am a World Famous Golden Dragon (VA 192) with two college degrees, 2000 jet hours, 300 carrier landings and 22 combat missions. How many enemy trucks do I have to my credit? Zero. Zip. Nada. De Rien. 0. Who's the better man? Douglas Brent Hegdahl, one of two men I know of who destroyed enemy military equipment while a prisoner of war.
So go here and read the whole story. And tell the Old NFO that Jumblerant sent you.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pacific Disappointment

I've just finished watching the first in a series of shows by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and I'm quite disappointed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of these giants of the movie industry. I loved 'Band of Brothers' and no doubt I'll enjoy the rest of the series of 'Pacific' but right now its not doing it for me.

Oxford University Edition cover of With the Ol... I understand that 'Pacific' is based very loosely on Eugene Sledge's book With the Old Breed At Peleliu and Okinawa. This is a masterpiece of a book which I have read, and reread often. It really brings war on the Japanese front alive in a way that few other books have been able to do.

If you want  a few good books about the 2nd World War and are fed up with Stephen Ambrose's regurgitation of the same few stories under different titles then may I suggest the following;

A Writer at War - Vasily Grossman, with the Red Army 1941 - 1945
Sniper on the Eastern Front, Albrecht Wacker (The German side of battle)
The Day the War Ended - Martin Gilbert (A myriad of 2WW first hand accounts)

Cover of "A Writer at War: Vasily Grossma...But I digress. "Pacific" doesn't follow the same format as Band of Brothers which is a bit of a shame as we don't go through training with the 'team'. We don't know their names, we don't know their ranks or place in the hierarchy of the unit. So all we get to see are a few Marines going to war.

So far I can take it or leave it. There is no doubt in my mind that I'll watch the whole series, I just don't really care right now what happens to the characters. Which, I guess, is a shame.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

The kids of today

So whats it all about? Where are we going adn what are we leaving our children and our children's children?

According to Tom Brokaw we are seeing the end of the 'Greatest Generation'. Surviving fighters of the Second World War, as well as Holocaust Survivors are dying off and we are left, at best, with video interviews and autobiographies. So where are we, the children of the children?

I hadn't given it much thought until I saw this video, and I suggest that you too watch it to the end:

Hat tip to Old Plod


Monday, December 7, 2009

Religious Perspectives

Sugar Plum SnowflakeImage by CaptPiper via Flickr

Sebastian over at Snowflakes in Hell has a very interesting article that I happily stumbled upon. Its always nice to hear someone on your side of the battle against antisemitism and general hatred.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No more Obama / Hitler comparisons

I'd like to apologize on behalf of all the blogs that I have read saying nasty things about President Obama, especially the comparison with Hitler.

The Black Power salute was a noted human right...Image via Wikipedia

It is unfair and rude.

Hitler, after all, managed to get the Olympics.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Medics & Miniguns

I'm a huge fan of Micheal Yon and his reporting from today's war zones. He recently wrote an excellent article on armed medics. I wasn't sure whether or not to share it as its all a bit serious and has guns in it and I'm sure some people won't like that.

On the other hand, if I were in a war zone and had the need for a helicopter rescue squad I would really appreciate it if they were armed to the teeth.

Decide for yourself - here's the link


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pilot arrested over 1,000 deaths in Dirty War

So whats the big deal? A pilot was arrested over the murder of 1,000 more people in the Dirty War. Fine. Just desserts.

But the Dirty War was not in some Third World dust bowl and the pilot wasn't some Russian mercenary who had a drinks problem and a spare plane like in the movies.

The Dirty War was alluded to in many of the Falklands War books I have read. It is given as one of the reason for the creation of the war back in April 1982 - not that long ago by many people's standards.

In his second book 'Spearhead Assault' John Geddes specifically mentions not only battalion 601, the now notorious army unit who created the concept of The Disappeared, but also The Naval Mechanics School which the Times article in the headline mentions.

Cover of Cover via Amazon

Copyright John Geddes, Spearhead Assault

The young man is dropped out of the back of the plane whilst it flies over the River Plate. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the pilot knew when taking off that he was going to be coming back with at least one less passenger.

I apologise. I was a bit naughty. I cropped some words from the headline to this blog from the original article in The Times. It originally read;

Budget airline pilot, Julio Alberto Poch, arrested over 1,000 deaths in Dirty War

A short stop pilot flying between Italy and Holland was arrested yesterday for assisting in the murder of over 1,000 people.

We have moved away from that war-torn Third World country in central Africa that the original headline alluded to, and are now discussing Argentina in the 1970s through to the 1990s killing people for their political beliefs. The victims who became known as 'The

Poster by the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo NGO w...Image via Wikipedia The Disappeared


I don't know much about this period in time in South America but I do intend to find out more about how so many people could go 'missing' without there being more of an outcry throughout the world.

Argentina is after all the country who not only hid high ranking Nazis after the Second World War, but the only democratic nation I can think of, that could not decide which side to be on during the war. (France {probably} doesn't count).

I guess we should all be happy that we weren't on the flight that was delayed because of the arrest of the Captain due to Mass Murder. I just hope that some families in Argentina, and those who escaped to restart their lives scattered around the world, sleep better tonight knowing that one more killer is getting brought to justice.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

World War 2 and all that jazz

Yesterday I wanted to blog about the 70th Anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Germany which was the wake-up call that started World War 2. I was worried that it might be a bit too serious, even morose, so deferred it for a day whilst I thought about it.

The Times newspaper of London gave me the push I needed to start the blog when I saw today that they were offering free ring tones of Winston Churchill's famous speech 'We shall fight them on the beaches'.

Bad taste? Modernity gone mad? I think its a sign of the times (no pun intended) when no news source that I read (Fox, Sky, Times, Telegraph, YNet, CNN*) even mention the anniversary of the beginning of World War 2.

NY - Hyde Park: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presiden...Image by wallyg via Flickr

Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man, has a couple of interesting posts about World War II;

1. September 1st, 1939

German forces have invaded Poland and its planes have bombed Polish cities, including the capital, Warsaw.

The attack comes without any warning or declaration of war.

Britain and France have mobilised their forces and are preparing to wage war on Germany for the second time this century.

2. Dame Vera Lynn - an icon of the struggle and fortitude of the British public through the blitz, rationing, the blackout and the sending off of the menfolk.

So go forth and read about the beginning of the war and spare a thought for the fact that the War changed the world in so many ways, for good and for bad.


* EDIT: some news agencies mention the marking of the anniversary but do not contain articles about the start of the war itself

Friday, July 31, 2009

Woodstock reality

This ain’t Hell, but you can see it from here wrote a very interesting introduction to a highly poignant article yesterday; 'Panel 19 West, Line 43-64'

Its about a certain section of the Vietnam War Memorial and the 109 American soldiers who died between August 15 and August 18, 1969. That date? Woodstock.

WASHINGTON - JULY 08:  Vietnam War veterans (L...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

For something interesting, and even meaningful, to go with your coffee, go over and read it.

And by the by, its a great blog to read on a daily basis too.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women

LONDON - MARCH 18:   (FILE PHOTO) World War I ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Britain's last World War I veteran, and the World's oldest man, Henry Allingham, passed away recently at the ripe old age of 113. And what did he say was the key to his longevity?

"cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women."

But all jokes aside, he was a modest man who served as Britain's conscience, reminding young people time and time again about the true cost of war.

More at the link

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