Telling War Stories

There I wasn’t: The Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, August 2009 (Wikipedia)

W.J. Astore

Combat myths matter to more than just military members. So do their ramifications.

I don’t have any personal war stories to tell.  In my twenty years in the U.S. Air Force, I never saw combat.  I started as a developmental engineer, working mainly on computer software, and morphed into a historian of science and technology who taught for six years at the USAF Academy.  I worked on software projects that helped pilots plan their missions and helped the world to keep track of objects in Earth orbit.  I taught military cadets who did see combat and served as the dean of students at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, where I saw plenty of young troops cross the graduation stage with language skills in Arabic and Pashto and other languages as they prepared to deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.  But no combat for me.

I got lucky.  As one friend, an Army colonel, told me: any day you’re not being shot at is a good day in the Army.  The result, however, is that I can’t tell exciting war stories that begin: “There I was” in Baghdad, or Kandahar, or Fallujah, or the Korengal Valley.

But I was involved in computer simulations (“war games”) at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado near the end of the Cold War.  The one I remember most vividly ended with a Soviet nuclear missile strike on the United States.  As I watched the (simulated) missile tracks emerge from Soviet territory, cross the Arctic circle, and terminate in American cities, I had a momentary glimpse of nuclear terror.  What if I ‘d just witnessed the death of millions of Americans on a monochrome computer screen?  That’s a “war story” that’s stayed with me, and so I’m a firm supporter of eliminating all nuclear weapons everywhere.

That’s my “there I sorta was” story.  Yet, whether you’ve served in the military or not, all Americans tell themselves war stories, or rather stories about America’s wars.  The basic story most tell themselves goes something like this:

America is a good and decent country, our troops are heroes, that we wage wars reluctantly and for noble causes, and that our wars are almost exclusively defensive or preventive.  We tell ourselves we don’t want to be bombing and killing in Afghanistan and Iraq and Somalia and Yemen and elsewhere, but we have to be.  Bad people are doing bad things, and we need to fight them over there else we’ll have to fight them right here.

Yet what if the stories we tell ourselves are all wrong?  What if we are the bad people, or at least the ones doing much of the bad things?  And, even if those stories aren’t always wrong and we aren’t always bad, what are the costs of permanent war – all those “bad things” associated with war – to our democracy, what’s left of it, that is? 

A book I return to is Every Man in this Village is a Liar: An Education in War, by Megan Stack.  Stack was a war correspondent who witnessed the effects of war in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  She focuses not on strategy or tactics or weaponry or combat but on the impact of war on people.  And in her chapter on “Terrorism and Other Stories,” she reaches this powerful conclusion:

It matters, what you do at war.  It matters more than you ever want to know.  Because countries, like people, have collective consciences and memories and souls, and the violence we deliver in the name of our nation is pooled like sickly tar at the bottom of who we are.  The soldiers who don’t die for us come home again.  They bring with them the killers they became on our national behalf… 

We may wish it were not so, but action amounts to identity.  We become what we do.  You can tell yourself all the stories you want, but you can’t leave your actions over there … All of that poison seeps back into our soil.

Nothing has changed since Stack’s book was published a decade ago.  U.S. forces remain in Iraq and Afghanistan, still fighting that word, terrorism, even as there’s renewed talk within the Pentagon of a new cold war against Russia and China.  A reboot of that Cold War I thought I’d witnessed the end of thirty years ago.  (I even got a certificate signed by President George H.W. Bush thanking me for helping to win that war.) Could it be that real enemy doesn’t reside in Moscow or Beijing, but in us?  As Stack continued:

And it makes us lie to ourselves, precisely because we want to believe that we are good … we Americans tell ourselves that we are fighting tyranny and toppling dictators.  And we say this word, terrorism, because it has become the best excuse of all.  We push into other lands, we chase the ghosts of a concept, because it is too hard to admit that evil is already in our own hearts and blood is on our hands.

As Americans we need to stop telling ourselves self-serving war stories and start telling much tougher ones about working for peace.  We need to stop telling (and selling) stories about a new cold war and stop “investing” a trillion dollars in new nuclear bombers, missiles, and submarines.  I’ve seen those simulated nuclear missile tracks crossing the pole and ending in American cities; that was scary enough. The real thing would be unimaginably terrifying and would likely end life on our planet.

What mad story can we possibly tell ourselves to justify the continued building of more ecocidal and genocidal weapons?

We humans are great storytellers but we’re not smart ones.  Perhaps it’s the power of our stories that has led us to be the dominant and most destructive species on this planet.  The problem is that we still tell far too many war stories and value them far too highly.  Peace, meanwhile, if mentioned at all, is dismissed as fantasy, a tale to be told to children alongside stories of unicorns and fairies—which, to the first generation of voting age adults never to have known it, it sort of is.

Unless we smarten up and grow as a species, our collective war stories will likely be the death of us.

William Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and history professor, is a senior fellow at the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN), an organization of critical veteran military and national security professionals.

40 thoughts on “Telling War Stories

  1. I look forward to reading what you write and of the hundreds of email articles I get every day, I look for yours first. Sometimes I pass them on and sometimes I print them out. Thank you for your honesty.

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  2. I wrote this article back in November. Today I’d add that constant warfare overseas — and the valorization of warriors as heroes along with the militarization of our lives, including our discourse — helped set the stage for chaos at the Capitol. It’s no accident that Trump and especially Rudy Giuliani used the language of combat and war to motivate the rioters. For them it’s all about “taking the country back,” as if the country is facing a foreign occupier who must be defeated and expelled.

    In a sense, Trump and Giuliani told their own phony war stories, and some of their supporters embraced them and decided to play their own roles in capturing the Capitol, at least for a moment.

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  3. Something similar here. I was in a TDY outfit. We went all over the world in small teams for weeks or months returning to F.E. Warren in Cheyenne for a few weeks and and then out again in other teams (whoever was available for assignment). I was in the 1st geodetic survey squadron and was trained at the Army’s engineer school in Fr. Belvoir. Out of the 18 Air Force guys in my class all but 2 went from Ft. Belvoir to Keesler for further training and then deployment to SEA for Combat Skyspot (radar guided bombing). I went from Ft. Belvoir to F.E. Warren and immediately worked on computations for Skyspot surveys setting the positions (elevation, latitude, longitude, azimuths, etc) of the radars which guided the bombs. So, I never saw the enemy directly or fired any weapon directly (except to qualify on the range) and yet had my hand in who knows how many deaths in North Vietnam and elsewhere, including Laos and Cambodia because of numbers which were the basis for where weapons were dropped.
    Then there were the annual missile site surveys where we hit every site and made sure the positions (lat/long/ele/azimuths) were still valid from the A-point on a site so that the targeting teams could target the missles. (side note: they were originally called Targeting and Analysis so we called them T&A until at some point they became Combat Targeting Teams with blue dickies and bloused pants which meant we REALLY called them T&A)
    In August 1972 I was on a team sent to Whiteman (Missouri) to certify the first geosensors which were a gyroscopic unit, about the size and shape of a hat box which sensed directional north from the earth’s rotation, eliminating above ground annual surveys of Minuteman sites. Recently I checked the web to see whether I remember the name “geosensor” correctly (I did, though it was part of a larger computer system for targeting).
    It was incredibly disconcerting this time. Very, very Dr. Strangelovian and, truthfully, sickening. The very thought of the “logic” of ever using these weapons. What the H… did we ever imagine we were doing? Clearly, what I was reading had no deeper thought of the consequences than win or lose, and only in limited terms.
    Something similar to a piece I read yesterday about a new form of nuclear power (small, local reactors). Being a science kid I was once a huge advocate of the benefits of such “clean” and seemingly boundless, seemingly cheap electricity from nuclear. The article, written by a (young?) woman (her teensy thumbnail picture looked young) was much the same as if it had been written in the 1950’s.
    This time I could do a text search and looked in vain for any words which might tell me about waste disposal. Nada. Not one word or even side reference.
    There is the catch. We have never come up with a good disposal for nuclear waste. Never. As a journalist I might normally qualify a statement like that with “so far as I could tell” and so forth. But had we such a solution this solution would have long been used for Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima or Handford or (can’t recall the name of the plant in the UK) and so many others we don’t usually hear about.
    This waste will last well beyond any imaginable human civilization, and, who knows (journalistic qualifier here), maybe until Homo Sapiens morphs into the next Homo species.
    I’ll stop now. I got running on and don’t really know how to end this. Something our “leaders” also don’t seem to know how to do.

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  4. Update: You article inspired me to add my comment, with a few pics and new paragraphing to one of my blogs. So, I copied my remark here to my blog and added a couple of pictures from a job in 1970 to the Salton Sea for the Navy parachute test range and another from a job in North Dakota on a missile site (picture is actually the pylon outside the site, used to provide an azimuth for the targeting teams.
    https://wordpress.com/view/mikestrongblog.wordpress.com
    or
    mikestrongblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/11/strangelove-stories-and-strange-loves/
    Cheers and apologies for over commenting,
    Mike

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      1. Ha. Hippie hair. That brings up a funny memory.
        Because we were TDY most of the time and often in civvies we tended to be a tad shaggier than other outfits. The TDY (temporary duty, for those who don’t know the abbreviation) I was on in London (twice there) were, as usual, not housed on base. We were in a famous guest house at 55 Hanger Lane in West London and drove out from there west, north and east.
        While we were there a captain finally realized we were not civilians and made us go downtown and get haircuts. It so happened the place I got my cut also had wigs. So I got the cut and bought a shoulder-length wig that matched my hair (auburn/red in those days). So, I looked pretty funny. I eventually lost the wig to a dumpster many moves in later years.
        I’d come across it once in a while in a box and laugh at myself.
        Cheers.

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    1. I enjoyed hearing about your expertise. We’ve come a long way with our new and improved technologies for better living. I just finished reading again, in Surveillance Valley, about the first “computers”….
      (squads of clerks who used pens paper and adding machines) to crunch the numbers for firing tables. It blew my mind to learn that artillery like the
      155-millimeter Long Tom had a firing table with 500 variables in it. The need for quicker solutions eventually birthed the first digital computers like the ENIAC.
      “Robot Calculator Knocks Out Figures Like Chain Lightening “ a 1948 headline out of the Philadelphia press blurted. They nicknamed it “mechanicalEinstein“!
      Why does his genius always get dragged
      into those “poisoned pools of sickly tar”?
      Stuck knee deep in everlasting waste; our boots trudge on, pulling our convictions toward hollow victories, marching on our noble missions through the forever warscape.

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  5. >> We humans are great storytellers but we’re not smart ones. Perhaps it’s the power of our stories that has led us to be the dominant and most destructive species on this planet. The problem is that we still tell far too many war stories and value them far too highly. Peace, meanwhile, if mentioned at all, is dismissed as fantasy, a tale to be told to children alongside stories of unicorns and fairies <<

    That is a really great paragraph.

    Thank you.

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    1. Thanks so much. “The greatest story ever told” has been said of the Bible. It’s truly amazing how powerful our stories are. They can mobilize us to great deeds and to dire ones as well.

      Trump keeps telling a story of a stolen election and an America that needs to be saved by “taking it back,” and despite his well-earned con man reputation, millions still believe him. Probably because they want to believe. They’re caught up in a narrative from which there’s little escape; in a sense, the narrative is like a spider web built with seductive lies. Once stuck, only the strongest can fight their way out of it. And I mean mentally strong.

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  6. My own memoir of REFUSING to go to war to fight for LIES addresses many of the issues raised in this essay. I may even be able to publish it by year-end, if I succeed in crowdfunding sufficiently. Meanwhile, I’ve commented here before that I’ve found a large number of memoirs for sale on Amazon that PURPORT to be tales of combat in Vietnam, HEROIC tales of course, and they have a rather fanatical following. Given the atmosphere in US today, with all the gun-toting idiots wearing camo, etc. playing at being soldiers, I have sincere doubts as to how many of these memoirs are authentic vs. complete fictions by folks who never set foot in SE Asia.

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  7. In response to your title, telling war stories, let me tell an anti-war story, a bit of a sad one.

    My dad was a conscientious objector during WW2. He had been too young to serve in WW1. He was socialist in that he disapproved of the disproportionate distribution of wealth in America and greatly admired FDR. I heard that he was watched by the FBI during WW2 after he had said something in public to the effect that all weapons of war should be at the bottom of the ocean. This sounds like a guy not afraid to voice an opinion when virtually everyone around him opposed his view.

    But here is the strange part that intrigues me to this day. When I was of age to be drafted to go to Vietnam, Dad said absolutely nothing to me about whether to go or to avoid the draft, nor did I, the innocent and self-absorbed youth I was, even think to ask him. Throughout the time I knew him until his death at 75 when I was 21, not once did he speak out against war, nor did he speak for it.

    He did have a fondness for Germany having received a scholarship in the 20’s to get a degree there, using his free time to bicycle around the country staying at private homes overnight and spoke fondly of this. He did mention to me once that America had been warned by Germany about the Lusitania (sunk by a German u-boat) and once he told me of how arrogant the French were when he encountered checkpoints on his bicycle rides in Germany.

    An ordained minister of the Methodist Church, a pacifist, a follower of the Prince of Peace…how could he possibly remain silent during the disaster of Vietnam?

    Of course he can never reveal the reason now, but I have come to the conclusion that his personal experience in Germany between the wars was life altering (being in his mid 20’s). Fluent in German from schooling, not from family, he was able to get deeply involved with people there. It was a nightmare for him to think of these kind people as the enemy, of our armed forces killing them and with strong feelings went into anti-war action with determination even if he stood alone.

    Then came the war’s end and the revelation of the holocaust, a horror beyond imagining committed by the very people he thought he knew so well, led by a maniac that they were wild about and followed right up to the destruction of the country.

    I think Dad’s outlook was critically challenged, collapsed and he became silent, feeling entirely unqualified to speak of good or bad regarding war to his son. I knew him as someone always careful not to speak on anything he did not know for fact. My thought is that his compassionate view of humanity was undone, thoroughly refuted by WW2, a war that America had to fight. When the Vietnam War came along he did not feel he could speak.

    Now that I am 70 it occurs to me: How could he possibly explain his situation to a 21 year old in a way that would do no more than confuse a decision on going off to war? I feel I know the man better now, though it is 50 years I saw him last. What Celine Dion once sang is so true for all of us, “there is only one road I’m walking” and we all do the best we can along the way not knowing what is to come.

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    1. The pressure to conform in this society is enormous (hardly unique for USA, of course) and never more so than during wartime. The “conventional wisdom” is that “When Uncle Sam comes calling, you answer the call.” You don’t look at the atrocities committed in your name. Have I mentioned lately how much I DESPISE the “conventional wisdom”??

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    2. Your story of your father’s beautiful wisdom, reminds me of a less positive one. Officially ‘neutral’ Sweden during WWII in fact was in many ways supporting Hitler (economically) and its population was generally pro-German. Because they simply couldn’t imagine that those civilised Germans could be so primitive and criminal. Until towards the end of the war the emaciated surviving women & children from liberated Ravensbrueck concentration camp were brought there to recuperate. That finally opened their eyes.

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      1. A huge failing of modern human society is the tendency to COMPLACENCY: “Gee, it’s too bad those folks are being murdered over there, but it doesn’t affect me or mine personally. Yawn.” Simple human to human solidarity? Oh-oh, sounds like a crazy Socialist concept!

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        1. It sure isn’t socialism. How about humanism, or being humane?

          And doesn’t Christianity teach that every person is my brother or sister, and that I should love them?

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          1. Interesting you’d bring up that point today, when the NY Times just published a story describing Josh Hawley’s extreme religious beliefs. Evidently, he espouses a form of Christianity that says the entire world is under the jurisdiction of Christ, no exceptions, and the duty of believers is to make sure that ALL are brought under His rule. They are to “seek the obedience of nations.” There is no such thing as individual rights.

            I knew Hawley was a whacko, but I had no idea how dangerous his fanaticism is. Here’s the article:

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          2. Denise, I for one don’t need to read another article. “Every knee shall bend” (to JC) has been one of THE fundamental tenets of modern Christian fanatics from the outset! Terri Gross, on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” interviewed some “Dominionists” more than a decade ago. These folks had a detailed plan all worked out for how they would take over the US, essentially founding “The Republic of Gilead” envisioned by Margaret Atwood in 1984.

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          3. Christ is the God of love, not of obedience. If you want obedience, focus on the Old Testament.

            I’m so disgusted by these slingers of the Gospel who deny the fundamental message of Christ to love one another and to forgive those who persecute you.

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          4. THEY–the Christian “fundies”–are salivating to be the ones doing the PERSECUTING!! This really needs to be understood by rational American citizens. Those few of us remaining!

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          5. Well now, I think most all the folks who comment here understand “the problem” with Christianity! Which all started with the Old Testament, actually, with its constant self-contradiction and Jehovah ordering his people to massacre this, that and the other “tribe”!!

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    3. That was a sweet telling of such personal experience. Life is an amazing story teller in it’s own right. Reality and the figures within it does such a magnificent work giving guidance. Especially when one proceeds with awareness. The storyline continues to speak wisdom; and means more as we re-ponder it while we age.
      I am trying to wrap my mind around the WWII experience through a telling of the trial of the directors of IG Farben right now. From what I have gathered so far, their industrial capacity gave Hitler a power that created Germany’s ability to cause so much horror. It’s a tale I needed to understand because my father’s life was profoundly shaped by this conflict. Maybe I’ll share his story here some day; but yours is more than sufficient and I’m going to let it speak to me a while.

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      1. If memory serves, there was a book (I never read it myself) ages ago called “The Arms of Krupp,” which was another industrial conglomerate in Germany (likely still in business). I think I.G. Farben provided the equipment for the death camp gassings.

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        1. Yup. That came out in 1964, when I was in high school (gad 1966) and I remember reading it intensely. The author was William Manchester. What keeps it is mind is the picture on the back cover of the jacket, by Arnold Newman.
          I went looking for a URL for the picture and found an article on the making of the picture
          https://twicemodern.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/arnold-newman-photographer-and-mr-alfried-krupp/
          He set up his lights on Alfried Krupp to the left and right with his factory behind him. Looks satanic. One of the classic portrait/journalism pictures.
          The book itself is massive, detailed and engrossing. It goes way back in the history of that family and how much they were one of the main (essential) war machines for Germany. And one of Hitler’s major backers and utilizers of slave labor. Even now, worth the read and hard to put down.

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          1. Geez, I’d actually forgotten about the use of slave labor. Farben was accused of that, as well. Likely never rec’d any real punishment. All the major industrial ops were probably pleased to get free labor, occasional acts of sabotage notwithstanding.

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          2. I looked over the book blurbs. I knew the Germans loved to build big guns, but didn’t realize Krupp build submarines as well! Leading Family in the Reich! Wow, quite a legacy. Trump can only dream–and I bet he does!–of such status. Needless to say, these bastards should have been “swinging” at Nuremberg. But US undoubtedly wanted their help in rearming Germany against USSR.

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  8. Thank you for the TomDispatch post on being a
    POW in the stockade of the MIC forever warscape.
    I will use it when I get lashed by my loved ones for telling them that the military is a problem that needs to be honesty inspected. your thoughts and ideas will be more of original creations heirloom seeds for my packet that I can use to cast on rocky ground.
    I consider myself blessed to have so many wonderful ideas from your experience and also find everyone’s presence on this site encouraging; because from my experiences, you get a can of verbal whip ass opened up every time you speak of lessening the military presence in our national landscape . It’s a good salve for souls trying to raise the flag of objection.✌🏼❤️🙏g

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    1. Many thanks for the inspiration! I am posting it here tomorrow with a “thank you” to you. Again, your comment helped to inspire it. 🙂

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      1. That’s a hoot! I’m getting old and my memory of writing that was not very sharp. I figured one of us posted that here but I could relate to it as I read it. Now I know why!🙃I can hear WC Fields
        telling me…” You sir are a dunce!
        D-U-N-C-E.” Thanks for your kind words and I am happy to be of service. I hope YOU understand what an inspiration, and how important you are, to all of us.

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      2. From the referenced article at TomDispatch:

        “Whereas this country’s profligate and prodigal military complex has given us stunning failure after stunning failure overseas (just consider all those disastrous efforts to win “hearts and minds” from Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq and on and on), it has proved stunningly successful in winning — or at least taming — hearts and minds in the homeland.”

        All that “hearts and minds” bullshit (both abroad and at home) puts me in mind of a little POW “war” story of my own:

        The seven weeks of training at the Naval Amphibious School at Coronado Island, San Diego (1969), started out pretty well. Since we didn’t have enough time at the facility to warrant getting stationed there, we got Temporary Attached Duty (TAD) status, which meant that the Navy issued us some money for short-term housing. So another E-5 student and I chipped in to rent an apartment together in nearby Mission Bay. Not bad.

        The first month — the academic (classroom) phase — went quickly. It seems that I remember reading Street Without Joy, by Bernard Fall (about the French experience in Indochina) which only served to reinforce my already bad attitude about anything to do with Vietnam. Apparently, we had already lost the war sometime back in my freshman year of high school (1961-1962). Good to know this seven years later with two more years of my life scheduled to waste losing some more. Mostly we just read from prepared military materials and heard lectures on Vietnamese culture, military organization, economy, etc. All of it had something to do with “winning the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese. If I remember correctly, the standard military translation of that policy went something like, “Grab ’em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow.”

        The last three weeks royally sucked. First, we had to head out to Camp Pendleton for two weeks of weapons and “infantry patrol” training with the Marines. One of my shipmates in Vietnam, Mike Taylor, sent me a picture of what we sailors — with him as an example — looked like when we first arrived. (Mike got to skip the SERE training — more about that shortly.)

        The Marine gunnery sergeant instructors had a lot of fun with us sailors. Before every demonstration of the right way to use a machine gun, hand-grenade, or mortar round, they would ask for a volunteer to show everyone “how John Wayne would do it.” Nobody volunteered. The Marines showed us how to “maintain interval” as we “patrolled” through mock-up villages. Naturally, we bunched up — misery loves company — and marched right into one ambush after another, “getting killed” many times, fortunately with blank ammunition. On one occasion, the marines put us through a gas-mask exercise in a closed compartment like you might find on a ship. Once inside, they inflated the compartment with tear gas and told us to take off the masks and sing the Marine Corps Hymn before they would let us out. Naturally we refused and did a lot of choking and gagging since most of us Navy men didn’t even know the damn song.

        After Camp Pendleton, those of us scheduled for Defense Language School had to endure a week of SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) training out in the scrub brush and desert at nearby Warner Springs.

        We spent many days and nights marching around in the dirty dust and scanty vegetation, up and down hills, with hardly anything to eat except a bite of an apple, a handful of rice, and a little water once in a while. After five days of that, we got so weak that we could barely stand up without fainting. At night, we had to use a thin plastic “shelter-half” to drape over a nearby bush as a sort of “tent” along with a fragment of a parachute for a makeshift sleeping bag as we tried — mostly without success — to catch a little shut-eye lying on the freezing-cold ground. So much for “Survival.”

        Then came “Evasion.” Our instructors took us up to the top of a hill, pointed down towards a little valley and told us that if we could reach “that American flag at the end of the valley” without anyone capturing us, then we would get something to eat as a reward; but in any case, if we successfully evaded capture, we would hear a horn blow after a few hours and we should then just surrender ourselves. Since those of us who wore eyeglasses had to give them up before the training began, I could barely see any valley, let alone an American flag waving somewhere off in the distance. So when the whistle blew and everyone else took off running straight down hill, I crawled under a nearby bush — not knowing what else to do — and waited until the sounds of scuffling and swearing nearby dwindled and then stopped. After quite a while, figuring that most everyone else had already gotten captured, I got up and slowly started walking downhill, hoping to discover this American flag and a promised bite to eat. Along the way, I found this cactus plant with many large purple fruit. I started devouring these — they tasted great — but discovered that the skins had hundreds of tiny little needle-like thorns which pierced my lips causing them to swell up, all stained purple. What I looked like when I finally heard the horn and gave myself up, I have no idea.

        As I approached the waving American flag and the instructors gathered around it, I could see them giving a few of my fellow trainees — captured earlier — the waterboard treatment which, from all appearances, they did not seem to enjoy, to say the least. Focused on getting my promised bite to eat, I confess to dawdling as long as possible in giving myself up. One of the instructors ordered me to “hurry up,” gave me an apple, and then smacked it away with the back of his hand after I had taken a single bite. He demanded to know my name, rank and service number which I think he expected me to bravely withhold so that he could throw me down on the ground and try to drown me until I divulged this precious information. But I understood the International Red Cross would want to know these things in order to let my country and family know that I had not died but had become a prisoner of war, so I “confessed” immediately. My quick and willing answer really annoyed this petty asshole who sneered at me and loudly announced: “I’ve got a little sister that could hold out longer than you, Murry.” Good for your sister, I thought, but time had run out on the “evasion” stuff and we had to move on to . . .

        “Resistance” and “Escape”

        We got thrown into a little POW camp for a day-and-night, just to show us what we could expect should the “Viet Cong” ever capture us. Our instructors knocked us around a bit, some petty abuses, some “interrogations,” putting bags over our heads, forcing us to kneel down in these little boxes until our legs cramped, etc. We “resisted” by singing some songs and other stuff I don’t remember: all to engender solidarity. No one, to my knowledge, escaped. Then came the morning. A trumpet blew. an American flag ran up a pole. “Hurrah!” I suppose some of my fellow trainees cheered at the cheap theatrics. But the Sand Pebble in me simply thought: “Can I go now?”

        Then back to the main base at Coronado — starving, dirty and unshaven — for some real Navy chow. We all filled our plates with piles of food, only to discover that our stomachs had shrunk so much that we could barely eat more than a few bites before feeling “stuffed,” unable to eat any more. FTN.

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  9. Bill, I have to commend you on your prolific, consistently excellent, writing ability that is so relevant for Our Common Future in this World.
    Your latest contribution to ‘Information Clearing House’ is one more thought provoking read for the Thinkers.
    ‘POW Nation – When Will The U.S. Free Itself From War?’
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/56172.htm
    I shared it on Twitter and my Public FB page.

    Below is my reply to the 1 other comment on your article,

    My personal reference Bible was printed in 1855. These explicit words are in it, “‘Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.”

    Most Christian America discounts those words in their Bibles as Most Christian America, like this article says, is the BIGGEST supplier to the World of the Weapons of Death and Destruction. It’s only Business!

    American Christian Leaders living the Lifestyle of the rich and famous don’t even exhort the sheep to raise their voices to prepare the way for the Jesus they claim to worship so he shall judge between the Nations and reprove many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift the sword against Nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

    What you are reading and seeing in the Secular, non-religious, Main Stream Media Today, the pictures and possibilities they propagate, is the Revelation of this Biblical Vision of a Future Time that has Finally Arrived as the Final Final Solution.

    And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. (false beliefs about God in Judaism, Christianity & Islam. Written some 500 years before Islam, the 3rd arm from the Jewish religious record appeared)

    For they are the spirits of DEVILS, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth (1%, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Senators, CEOs, and other Idols of the People) and of the whole world, (the rest of Humanity – us) to gather them to the Battle of that Great Day of God Almighty. (the war is already underway Today between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, leading to the climax of that Great Day. Trump’s War with Islam is acting that line out in Real Time)

    Behold, I come as a thief. (when you least expect it)
    Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
    Revelation 16:13-16

    Armageddon was derived from Har Megiddo, located in Judea and Samaria of occupied Palestine 2000 years ago. Israel as a kingdom disappeared some 800 years before Jesus walked in that area during the occupation.

    Har Megiddo/Armageddon still exists as a physical place in this material world, but is now under the control of temporal Israel re-created from the Bible after an absence of some 2800 years.

    After all those 2000 years, the occupation of Judea and Samaria in Palestine is still an unresolved, violent, open wound in the Middle East and this Material world. That is Spirit

    It’s the DEVIL’s work, not God’s Will according to ALL Christian Bibles!

    If that’s what the People want, they will have it. They certainly don’t question!

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  10. Samantha Power just nominated to head USAID, that ‘humanitarian’ arm of the Pentagon. So maybe I – as a 100 % civilian – should share my equally civilian combat tale which actual concerns if not Korangal valley itself, at least several nearby ones which also were neighbouring notorious Pech valley, which supposedly was full of ‘foreign terrorists’ from Ćhechnia etc and as such was incessantly bombed and otherwise pacified by the US army.

    USAID – through one of its ‘independent consultancy’ stooges DIA – offered a number of European NGOs who already worked in that region since the Soviet invasion and thus had the trust of the local population, a ready-made (and poor quality) ‘development’ project high up in those valleys, which were inaccessible even for Afghans from the main valley, let alone for US spies. While the US army yearned for specific info from the area surrounding Pech valley.
    As usual with USAID, monthly ‘progress reports’ were required (nonsense in forestry and no other donor has such ludicrous requirements except possibly for financial statements) but also bi-weekly oral reports by the local mountain staff, to be delivered in the ‘consultancy company’s building which had huge antennas on its roof. I expect that more explicit explanation is not necessary.

    None of the NGos accepted the offer, which sooner or later would have resulted in what can be seen on the picture at the top of this page : a bomb dropped on one of the participating villages, because some 20 yrs old military ‘analyst’ after reading the latest ‘progress report’ ticked the wrong multiple-choice box on his assessment sheet, as he was feeling pressure to produce some ‘actionable info’ …

    In case anyone needs proof of USAID’s true colours, google USAID + special forces and get some 3,5 million answers … Google DIA consultancies and see how they were rewarded for their work in Jalalabad (American NGO’s mostly would comply with those absurd reporting requirements), by getting an increasingly big chunk of the Afghan USAID pie, overtaking Chemonics, and how they increasingly got attacked, not only in Afghanistan but also in several other countries.
    As for their incompetent ‘Natural Resource Management’ expert, she in fact was a garden/landscape designer who had received a three months crash course in NRM.
    Never liked sanctimonious Samantha Power anyway …

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