After all the hoopla at the Academy Awards, it’s comforting for this elderly Navy vet that a couple of World War 2 movies about England were on the list of honorees. “Dunkirk” portrays the disaster when British troops had to escape in 1940 to avoid being overrun by victorious Germans after France had surrendered.
The other movie, “Darkest Hour” is about Winston Churchill, wartime prime minister. It covers the same historic moments when many English officials were urging Churchill to negotiate with the Germans to save the British troops from being wiped out at Dunkirk. He refused, ordered the evacuation and the rest is history.
If your travels take you to London, consider visiting a vivid reminder of those historic moments, the underground bunkers that include the Imperial War Rooms. They’re located at Clive Steps at King Charles Street, near St. James Park. For times, descriptions, fees and other info, go to http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms
Big discussion going on about singer Fergie performing the song at the recent NBA All-Star Game. To her many fans, it was her just being the creative Fergie. To traditional music lovers and strict patriots, it was high treason.
My National Anthem memories go back to 1945, when WW2 ended. Just before my 20th birthday in August, two atomic bombs caused the Japanese to surrender. My ship, a Navy attack transport, was ordered to proceed from its berth in the Philippines to Shanghai.
We were to pick up freed American prisoners of war and bring them back to the Philippines for medical treatment, followed by air and ship passage home to America. When we approached the Shanghai docks, we could see they were cheering and waving. We brought several hundred to bunk in our troop compartments.
They were all in rags and painfully thin as a result of the cruel Japanese treatment during their years of captivity. After showers and new clothes, as they lined up on deck for their first Navy meal, some began to sing.
First, it was the National Anthem, but their weak physical conditions and dry throats couldn’t hit the high notes. Then some of my shipmates started singing “God Bless America”, and all the POWs joined in with the more melodic song. Maybe that’s what Fergie should have done.
Named USS Sea Hunter, the drone combat vessel will operate totally by experts in control rooms back on land. It’s being developed and tested as an anti-submarine warfare vessel by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
How does this former sailor who served in World War 2 and Korean War feel about this scuttlebutt? Do I regret that it won’t have crew’s quarters crowded with four-stacked racks. That’s where I once dwelt nightly among loud snores, thick cigarette smoke, illegal booze and frequent flatulence?
What kind of mess hall would be most appropriate for a ship full of non-human swabbies? Would the meal menus be only oil cans, or traditional Navy dishes, such as shit on a shingle (creamed chipped beef on toast)?
If some electronic cog or wheel on a mechanical sailor fails to do its duty, will the metal crewman be up for trial by captain’s mast? Further, if found guilty, would the digital swabbie be sentenced to 40 days of rusty rivets or piss and punk (water and bread) in the ship’s brig (prison)?
The non-human sailors may come back aboard the Sea Hunter after a night of fusing and fussing with robotic maidens in port. Will they then be required to go through the usual VD routine? Of course, the most important one will be short arm (genital) inspection by medically-qualified digital penis machinists (pharmacist’s mates). Final question: Would a crewless ship be commanded, as too many regular ones are, by clueless officers?
Wishing Anchors Aweigh to the U.S. Navy’s new mechanical messmates!
Where did all the decades go? It happened 76 years ago! How many of us, including ex-swabbie me, who fought in World War 2 are still kicking? According to published stats, 16 million Americans served, and less than two million of the very old guys survive today.
At these times of remembrance, along with many other images, I recall watching street parades in the late 1930s. Marchers I saw included many World War 1 vets, then in their early 40s, and very, very old guys in their early 90s who served in the Civil War.
Of course, now as ancient as the former Union and Rebel vets, I understand that all wars are incredibly stupid. Basically, they’re started by limp old guys in fancy uniforms. They find reasons to start wars, then send healthy young teens out to kill each other. Meanwhile, munitions makers get rich and the old guys pin medals on each other.
Even more troubling is that if Japan had followed up the Pearl Harbor attack and won World War 2. Think of how terrible American life would be today! We’d all be forced to drive Japanese cars, buy their cheap toys, tv sets, smartphones, shoes and wear their clothing. Even worse, we’d have to go to their restaurants and eat sushi, tempura and okonomiyaki!
There’s no joy in Dodgertown as the Astros win and go home with the loot. While the memory fades, I can’t help brooding about the average ticket price for the 7th game between Los Angeles and Houston Astros at Dodger Field. It was more than $1,700.
That was for spending two hours seated next to drunks and screamers while off in the far distance some guys hit balls and ran around the field. Of course, added on ticket prices were $100 parking, $25 hot dogs and $20 beer in small paper cups.
It all takes this old guy back to a game at Philly’s Shibe Park, when the Yankee star Joe DiMaggio set the season hitting streak record of 56 consecutive games. It was against the Athletics on July 17, 1941, and my big brother took me to the game. He was 19 and I was 15.
Within several months, on December 7, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. My brother was at the Army recruiting station the next day, and served in the Pacific. I had to wait until I hit 17 to enlist in the Navy, and also served in the Pacific and the Philippines.
And did I forget to mention that our day at the ball park cost 50¢ each for bleacher seat tickets, plus 5¢ per soda and hot dog? We didn’t need the parking lot because we had no car, and paid 7.5¢ for a Philly trolley car ride to the stadium. And nobody questioned whether Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio’s hits were with juiced baseballs.
As the Pittsburgh PA senior celebrated her birthday, she claimed she never drinks the stuff. This 92-year-old youngster agrees. I’ve always hated the smell and taste of the dank liquid, and always avoid coffee. There was just one time I tried it way back during my World War II Navy days.
Aboard ship one cold night I had the dog watch on deck. That’s from midnight to 4 am, and I needed something warm to fight the chill. A mess cook brought me a steaming cup of black, no sugar coffee. I took a sip, gagged, then poured the rest of it over the side into the ocean.
Never touched the smelly stuff since. Hmm. Thinking now of how to celebrate my 112th birthday. Maybe with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
According to several recent beancounter research organizations, most blubber-assed kids in the U.S. today couldn’t qualify to serve in the Armed Forces. This fat fuss reminds an old sailor of the recruiting scene in World War 2.
Just hours after the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan in December 1941, millions of red-blooded teen boys rushed to recruiting stations to sign up. Additionally, those age 18 and above who weren’t so anxious to enlist knew they’d soon be drafted into the Army.
When I hit age 17 eight months after the Pearl Harbor attack, to avoid spending the war in an Army mud hole, I enlisted in the Navy. I remember some applicants in the recruiting station were turned town. They had heart murmurs, flat feet, thick glasses or other physical problems. I don’t recall any being sent home for being too fat.
However, updated WW2 statistics may reveal that many recruits with the most blubber were promoted to officer ranks. Then they served bravely through the war on their huge fat asses defending desks at the Pentagon in Washington DC.