Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Letters Home: Vous sortez du secteur français

July 26, 1953

Dear Mom, Dad and all,

I got back from Baumholder Friday. It was wet and muddy there. I had to sleep in my jeep because the ground was too wet to sleep on at night. The officers we had with us were umpires for the 2nd Armor Div. They would judge them on their simulated attacks on hills and city's. I guess they didn't do no good because they didn't get much score. Enough of that.
Sounds like you got a good deal, I was surprised they allowed 600 for the merc. One thing, you forgot to tell me the color. [1]
I don't know what I want to do about a car when I get back. Dad needs a good car for driving back and forth to work.
That Muller boy that came in the army with me lost his stripes. He told his tank commander off. And said something about being a short timer.
We are supposed to leave here no later than Sept. 24. I think it will be about the 15th. [2] I hope anyway.
Bye for now,
Love, V.
[1] I'm pretty certain it would have been a 40's era Mercury.
[2] My father's time in Europe, and in the Army, ended with his honorable discharge that Fall.


  1. Oy.

    But for the good news, I don't think wars ahead will be fought in the ways they were fought, before.

    The will be fought, though, after all.

  2. What's the aphorism: "we're always fighting the last war"?

    Hell of a lot of good tanks did 10 years later in Vietnam. We made much more use of choppers and the like. I had a much older cousin (from Richaland Center) who was a gunner on board a chopper over there. He came back a real mess. He would sit bolt upright in bed everytime he heard dyanamite blast in the quarry when he got home.

    I've only ever heard of war second hand. My backyard neighbor did two tours of Iraq in the marines. I was just over there celebrating his birthday last weekend. Hell of a guy, crusty as all get out and his serial dating is almost comical. He adores kids though.

  3. the most humorous tank in Nam was the M551 Sheridan....originally made to be air dropped it had such light armor it wasn't that good a tank...and when they up armored it, you couldn't air drop it!

    These tanks in the photos look like M24 Chaffees...but I could be wrong there.

  4. Could have been Ron. I know from some of his letters that they were using some of the bigger ones in Korea and in Germany--ones armed with 90mm guns like he wrote about here.

    They trained on Sherman class tanks back in the States which were even smaller. Here he's talking about watching the 2nd Armored Div. (Hell on Wheels). He belonged to the 3rd Division (3rd Herd). Playing war games with lesser weapons makes some sense and yet it doesn't.

  5. Korea, alas, was purposely fought to a stalemate. India kept opening the diplomatic pouches. And, Truman fired MacArthur.

    At least MacArthur, to set the record straight, said that if you're going to fight you go to win!

    Truman didn't believe him.

    But in all "the old soldier didn't fade away" ... but the brightest tactician we ever had ... was up ended by a politician from Missouri.

    If Korea wasn't stinko enough ... we then got Nam. And, then we got the insane dubya's response to 9/11.

    to fight, or not to fight, now, hardly makes a difference.

    But, just as an aside, I like Israel's way. They understand that IF they go in ... whatever they win ... has to get returned. So sacrificing life for bullshit is really not worth it.

    On the other hand the Israeli draft has everyone in that little country prepared to shoot a gun. They spare no expense when it comes to ammunition.

    We can't even figure out how to turn shit holes like Iraq and Afghanistan to any advantage.

    On the other hand? Over in Israel you can always find someone who speaks the other languages. Where, again, we fail.

    Oh. I meant to add. Back in WW2. When Patton was in charge of tank warfare ... the "berms" (?) in France were hard to penetrate. So a PRIVATE who was familiar with iron works ... took some steel pieces of scrap ... And, added it to the front of the tanks ... that could dig in UNDER the berm and lift it up. Boy, did this surprise the germans!

    The other thing that suprised the germans and the french? When we got to europe and unloaded all our tanks and trucks ... we created ONE LONG LINE OF VEHICLES. This, too, popped out the eyes of the french, and germans, alike.

    (Israelis really don't do parade ground marching all that well, either.) But Patton, Grant and MacArthur ... get the applause that go to the greats of battlefield commanders.

  6. I believe this is correct....I think all the train engines and 80% of the transport trucks used by Russia in WWII come from US Lend Lease

  7. @Carol: I wonder how any of those great generals would have have fought and commanded an all volunteer force.

    @Ron: I never knew that. I knew we gave a lot to the Brits.

  8. Alas, dear Bruce, we don't have great generals anymore. We have a volunteer force that seems to come from our heartland. Not many middle class kids. And, the leadership is PURE BUNK.

    It's a be-ribboned insiders club.

    The country to use, if you want to see how a good army functions, is to cast your eye on Israel. Small enough to view different aspects of terrain. From fertile ground. To hill country. To dessert sands.

    NO BULLSHIT. BULL SHIT DOESN'T FLY! Risk taking abounds within the rules. The rules say that if you "cross a line" you'll have to give it all back. So don't lose any lives crossing any lines. WAIT!

    WAITING is not a bad tactic! It also exhausts your enemies. Why? Because they get all exercised running up to the line to taunt you.

    Oh, yeah. And, you must have a great intelligence agency. In Israel there are only 50 Mossad agents. Fine tuned. And, trained well. With all sorts of languages spoken on the ground ... so just about anything can get translated.

    Heck, even Nafi Diallo's conversation in her native tongue would have been no problem to decipher.

    Deciphering code is an important gambit where we're also very lackluster, here. Alas.

  9. @Carol: We are bunkering & retrenching. The next war may have some very important physical components, but will have a significant cyber warfare component. Depending on the enemy, we may still have an advantage, numerically.

    Old fashioned physical vulnerability may actually increase for us.

    I'm making this up of course, but it's on my mind.