Military Lessons: Never Assume…SNAFU…FUBAR…

In November of 1950, the already famous, battle-hardened 1st Marine Division (Guadalcanal etc) is in the frozen mountains of N. Korea when countless Chinese over run their positions around the Chosin Resevoir.

It was during this desperate battle that Marine Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller made his famous comment, “We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem. Now we can fire in any direction.

And that was exactly the situation. The Division was entirely surrounded in sub-zero temperatures…and running out of ammunition.

The desperate call went out for airdrops of ammunition, in particular 60mm mortar ammo (radio code ‘Tootsie Rolls’), which Marines were using to reach into ravines and valleys to kill their enemy.

The word was spread. The Gyrenes trapped at Chosin needed tootsie rolls! Do it NOW!! Every base in Japan and the Asian area rushed their supplies to save their comrades who were dying in the snow.

C-119 “Flying Box Car” transport planes were loaded to the bulkheads. Soon the welcome planes were flying over the Marine’s position and dropping their cargo by parachute.

The desperate supply artillery crews retrieved the precious boxes. Opening them, they found thousands and thousands of…

Tootsie Roll candies.

The air was blue with curses. SNAFU. Situation Normal, All F’d Up. Things were FUBAR. F’d Up Beyond All Recognition.

Everyone who was not artillery were overjoyed. The Marines filled their pockets…the sugary treats provided much needed sustenance when in a foxhole.

When the Chinese would overrun a position, the first thing they did was look for tootsie rolls.

The Marines…infantry or aircrews, quickly discovered that a Tootsie Roll warmed in your mouth made a perfect plug and sealant for bullet riddled planes, fuel tanks, Jeeps, basically any damaged equipment. In the frozen combat hell they were in, the chocolate quickly froze to an almost impermeable fix.

A radio operator who did not know the code, supply crews who would do anything they were asked for their comrades, and Tootsie Rolls helped save the 1st Marine Division.

Oh…and they eventually got the ammo too.

This 1940…or 2020…That Just Doesn’t Happen Any More…Do You Believe in Evil?

Today in History, January 13, 1992:

“The women cried out, but it didn’t matter to us whether the women lived or died. We were the emperor’s soldiers. Whether in military brothels or in the villages, we raped without reluctance.” –Japanese WWII soldier Yasuji Kaneko.

The Japanese government issued an official apology to Korea for having recruited, abducted, and imprisoned thousands of civilian women into “Comfort Stations” to serve as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers and sailors.

Women from Korea, China, Japan and the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and other Japanese-occupied territories were trafficked and raped repeatedly.

Depending on who you ask, between 20,000 and 410,000 women. 75% of the women died in their captivity, and those that survived were rendered infertile due to sexual abuse or venereal disease.

Yes, evil does exist.

Yes, human trafficking does exist.

Do you believe it exists today? Throughout history, societies have believed the evils of the past don’t exist anymore…that they have outgrown them. “This is 1910…..this is 1940….this is 2013….that stuff doesn’t happen anymore….”

First Jet on Jet Combat


Today in History, November 8: 1950- 

The first Jet vs Jet fighter dogfight takes place in the skies over Korea known as “Mig Alley”. USAF Lt. Russell Brown tangled with two Mig 15 fighters and shot one down in his P-80 Shooting Star. The P-80 was soon replaced with the F-86 Sabre, a far superior aircraft more comparable to the Migs. 

In April 1951 a Marine pilot flying a WWII era piston engine F4U Corsair fighter aircraft being used for ground attack during the Korean War, also shot down a Mig 15 jet. 

Sixty-Seven years after the first jet to jet combat over the Korean Peninsula, the Korean War, in effect, continues.  There was a “cease-fire” in July of 1953. The same maniacal family still rules North Korea…for them, the war continues. 

On the Brink of Armageddon

Today in History, October 22, 1962:  President Kennedy announces in a speech from the Oval Office that the Soviet Union has placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, only 90 miles from Florida.  Any city within the United States could be destroyed within moments.

President Kennedy announced the US Navy was conducting a “Quarantine” of Cuba, another name for a Blockade, which “could” be considered an act of war.  He also made clear that any missile launched from Cuba upon any nation in the Western Hemisphere would result in an attack on the Soviet Union.  Could this be interpreted as enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine?

Today we are experiencing stressful times, a showdown with North Korea.  We’ve been here before, even worse.  We are made nervous by the rhetoric voiced by our government.  President Kennedy kept us safe by letting the Soviets and Cuba know the consequences would be dire if they acted in bad faith.  At that time Castro and the Soviet government were viewed as “madmen” much as Kim is today.

Sabres Drawn…


Today in History, October 1: 1947 – America’s first “swept wing” jet fighter, the North American F-86 Sabre, makes it’s first flight. 

 Sleek, beautiful and deadly, the Sabre would go into production and arrive in Korea in time to save the day, as America’s mostly propeller driven air forces were desperately fighting the Russian Mig 15 swept wing fighter. The Sabre and the Mig both had advantages over each other, but American training, as usual, made the difference. The Sabre is my favorite jet fighter. The last one was retired from the Bolivian Air Force in 1994.